8 a.m. ET: Is President Obama losing his trademark cool over global warming? Not quite, but the temperature in Copenhagen does appear to have risen Friday.
"A clearly frustrated President Barack Obama displayed impatience Friday with world leaders' failure to reach a new climate accord," the Associated Press reports, after Obama's speech to an international audience. Obama said that "the time for talk is over" and "there is no time to waste." The New York Times writes that Obama "called on world leaders to move swiftly to address climate change, and, in a direct challenge to China, pressed for a global climate change accord to include a way to monitor whether countries are complying with promised emissions cuts." Though Obama did make his big speech, the deterioration of the Copenhagen talks changed his role there. "The result is an Obama forced to transform rather dramatically from America’s grand orator to its top negotiator," Newsweek writes. A separate Associated Press headline: "Obama hopes to seal the climate deal in Copenhagen."
The Washington Post says Obama arrived in Copenhagen Friday "and promptly tore up his schedule, holding emergency meetings with world leaders in an uphill attempt to seal a last-minute climate change deal on the final day of the global climate-change summit." The Los Angeles Times writes "key concessions from the United States and China jolted climate negotiations Thursday in Copenhagen, providing optimism" ahead of Obama's arrival. But CNN reports that while there had been some optimism, "U.S. officials, however, downplayed the possibility of a major climate deal after negotiators met through the night and into the morning on Friday." The administration is certainly trying to get a deal, as the Wall Street Journal describes: "Obama played a big card Thursday, authorizing Mrs. Clinton to tentatively endorse European proposals that rich nations come up with $100 billion a year over the next decade to help poor nations fight climate change."
And if there's no big agreement in Copenhagen? Politico writes that "allies at home and overseas were engaged in another rescue mission of sorts: guarding his prestige from taking a hit if the talks flop." The bountiful new Washington Post-ABC News poll found that Obama's "approval rating on dealing with global warming has crumbled at home and there is broad opposition to spending taxpayer money to encourage developing nations to curtail their energy use." The president's approval on the issue has dropped from 61 percent in April to 45 percent now. Support for regulating greenhouse gases has also fallen, but such rules are still supported by a substantial majority of respondents.
The Senate continued its pre-holiday death march Friday morning, voting around 2 a.m. to invoke cloture on the defense appropriations bill. That sets up a vote on final passage for the defense bill Saturday morning, which will then let the chamber get back to its procedural hoops on health care and a good chance that the final vote on reform happens Dec. 24. Drudge is trumpeting it: "DEMS PLAN CHRISTMAS EVE VOTE!" Dana Milbank chronicles the outrage among Republicans at the thought their holiday might be ruined.
Does Harry Reid have 60 votes yet for passage? Ask Ben Nelson, who is still doing a lot of thinking and considering. The New York Times says "the White House and Senate Democratic leaders seem willing to give [Nelson] just about anything he wants to win his support of major health care legislation. Anything, that is, but the item at the top of Mr. Nelson’s wish-list: air-tight restrictions on insurance coverage for abortions." On Thursday, Nelson "rejected an overture by party leaders to address his concerns about the bill's handling of abortion. Among other things, Democratic leaders proposed to create a new tax credit that would promote adoptions," the Wall Street Journal writes. In theory, Nelson said in an interview Thursday with a Nebraska radio station, Democratic leaders could offer him something that would allow passage of the bill before Christmas, "but I don't see how."
Beyond Nelson, other obstacles are "piling up," Politico writes: "Reid still had no legislative text and no cost analysis to release. ... Two powerful unions blasted the bill. House Democrats threatened to undo the Senate bill during a conference committee. And a Democratic war over the bill raged on the Internet and cable news." The New York Times says "the White House scrambled Thursday to tamp down the revolt" from liberals, who are fed up with the concessions made to attract the likes of Nelson and Joe Lieberman. The Los Angeles Times examines what dropping the public option means for the substance of the bill: Democrats "effectively pinned their hopes of guaranteeing coverage to all Americans on a far more conventional prescription: government regulation. The change sprang from a compromise made to placate conservative Democrats wary of a new government program. But shorn of a 'public option,' the Senate healthcare bill has reverted to a long-established practice of leveraging government power to police the private sector, rather than compete with it."
David Axelrod and Nancy-Ann DeParle had a conference call Thursday with liberal bloggers on health care. During the session, Axelrod retreated a bit from his previous assertion that Howard Dean was "insane" to call for the bill to be killed. At Daily Kos, mcjoan was unimpressed, saying Axelrod pushed "the false choice that has prevailed in the reaction we've seen in the last few days that it was either this current compromise or the status quo." Nate Silver is still making the case to his fellow liberals for why they should back the Senate bill, despite its perceived flaws. Ezra Klein looks at the current state of private insurance to make the same point: "This is not a great bill. But the status quo is very, very bad. The cost controls may be insufficient, but in the status quo, they simply don't exist. Private insurance isn't optimal, but it's better than the total absence of coverage."
December 18, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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