8 a.m. ET: President Obama went to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, and he delivered something in return -- the clearest articulation yet of his foreign policy views.
In case you haven't heard, Obama accepted the peace prize even as he ordered an intensification of the war in Afghanistan. This was real irony, not the fake Alanis Morisette kind. The Los Angeles Times writes that Obama used "a ceremony honoring the pursuit of peace to lay out a moral justification for war." The New York Times editorial board says he "returned again and again to Afghanistan, arguing that the war was morally just and strategically necessary to defend the United States and others from more terrorist attacks."
Like some other observers, Jake Tapper thinks the speech "was nothing short of the Obama Doctrine -- the most comprehensive view we've been offered yet of how the president views foreign policy -- and how he sees himself within the pantheon of world leaders." The Wall Street Journal saw in Obama's "embrace of armed might in the service of a 'just war,' a sharp change in emphasis from his past rhetoric criticizing the foreign policy of the Bush years." Is Obama really in the midst of a foreign-policy metamorphosis? Robert Kagan thinks so: "Something about this Afghan decision, coupled perhaps with events in Iran, has really affected his approach. I don't know what to say about an 'Obama doctrine,' because based on this speech, I think we are witnessing a substantial shift, back in the direction of a more muscular moralism, a la, Truman, Reagan." Stephen Hayes isn't so sure.
Obama's address had some unlikely fans in conservative quarters. Newt Gingrich liked it, while Bill Kristol thought 44 sounded a lot like 43. Even Sarah Palin had some kind words. On the other hand, John Bolton thought the speech was "pedestrian, turgid and uninspired."
Dan Balz noted how much has changed since Obama was on the campaign trail: "The politician who had sought the White House as the champion of the antiwar forces in his party spoke as the commander in chief, offering a principled defense of waging just wars." Eugene Robinson suggests that the pros and cons of war laid out by Obama were the same "arguments and counterarguments that might have been running through his mind during the long policy review leading to the Afghanistan surge." Peter Beinart says the speech demonstrated that Obama "understands, in a way Cheney and Palin never will, that true moral universalism requires recognizing that Americans are just as capable of evil as anyone else. And that means recognizing that we are in just as much need of restraint."
Did the chances of a bicameral health-care deal improve Thursday? Nancy Pelosi said that she liked the idea of a Medicare buy-in for people aged 55-64, but she hasn't necessarily endorsed the entire Senate health-care deal (the one that may not really be a deal). Still, Pelosi's comments improved the chances "that the two chambers of Congress can work out differences on health-care legislation," the Wall Street Journal writes. But not everyone is on board yet. "Senate moderates who are the linchpin to passing a health care reform bill raised fresh worries Thursday about a proposed Medicare expansion," Politico reports, as Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson and Olympia Snowe all sounded notes of caution.
More so than the Medicare proposal, an amendment to allow the reimportation of prescription drugs is causing headaches at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. The Senate "found itself tied in knots" on the issue Thursday, the New York Times writes, as "Democratic leaders delayed a vote, in part, because they feared that the proposal would be approved, potentially blowing apart a deal negotiated by the White House and the pharmaceutical industry." That deal with PhRMA has created an odd dynamic, as current and former (Rahm Emanuel) Democratic leaders now find themselves fighting against a legislative proposal they had long backed. The Hill points out that Obama himself was a co-sponsor of reimportation legislation when he served as president.
Separately, Ezra Klein reviews the amendments being offered by Susan Collins and Ron Wyden, concluding that "whether you like these amendments or you loathe them, they're the sort we need more of." The New York Times looks at premiums under the Senate plan, noting: "Anyone who wants to buy the same health benefits as members of Congress, or to buy coverage through Medicare, should be prepared to fork over a large chunk of cash." USA Today goes outside the Beltway and finds that "men and women at the front lines of the national health care debate — who run hospitals, nursing homes, community health care centers and private practices — say they are hopeful, but wary, about the changes that might follow if Congress passes legislation to overhaul the health care system.
In Copenhagen, "the uproar over stolen e-mails suggesting scientists suppressed contrary views about climate change has emboldened skeptics," the Associated Press reports, though Obama has no plans to alter his stance despite the complaints of conservatives. Michael Gerson argues that "the hacked climate e-mails reveal a scandal, not a hoax. Even if every question raised in these e-mails were conceded, the cumulative case for global climate disruption would be strong." Charles Krauthammer compares the current push for a climate change pact to the creation of OPEC, writing: "The raid on the Western treasuries is on again, but today with a new rationale to fit current ideological fashion. With socialism dead, the gigantic heist is now proposed as a sacred service of the newest religion: environmentalism."
December 11, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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