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Obama agenda: In the Granite State

President Obama's town hall in New Hampshire today, the AP says, "seeks to shift focus onto those who are already insured and explain what the overhaul would mean to them. Obama plans to discuss consumer protections he recently laid out, including efforts to end denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions."

The New Hampshire Union-Leader: "If you want to see the President talk about health-care reform at Portsmouth High School today but weren't one of the 1,800 people selected by the White House: good luck. And, if you had plans to drive through the city tomorrow: think again. With thousands of people -- invited guests, protesters and the national media -- expected to swarm the Stone Gymnasium this afternoon, final preparations were under way yesterday. ... Police said only ticketed guests will be allowed onto Andrew Jarvis Drive, the road leading into the school."

The Portsmoth Herald's editorial page: "We know that shouting, bullying and grandstanding are merely sound and fury signifying nothing. So it is with great confidence that we look forward to Tuesday's health care forum with President Obama at Portsmouth High School. If the local citizenry is able to set the tone for tomorrow's town hall meeting then the president will hear thoughtful questions and provide in-depth answers that go beyond sound bites. We have seen coverage of health care town halls in other parts of the country that have degenerated into the worst kind of political debate, where violence and ignorance get the upper hand and nothing is accomplished, nothing learned... Changing our health care system is an enormous undertaking... Change is never easy, especially for a personal issue such as health care but we shouldn't let fear, uncertainty and confusion derail us from talking to each other with civility and respect and doing the right thing."

The Los Angeles Times' Parsons gets to the nut as to why the White House has struggled so far in this debate. "Confusion over what a final healthcare bill will say -- legislation is still being written -- has given Republicans the opportunity to rally opposition, especially at town halls. On the other hand, the vitriol of some critics -- who hanged one congressman in effigy and shouted down Democrats at some gatherings -- has given Democrats a chance to highlight and criticize opposition tactics."

Remember the issue of toxic assets? Well, banks still have them -- and no one's talking about it. In fact, apparently the government has yet to purchase a toxic asset. "The Troubled Asset Relief Program was originally conceived as a program for the government to buy troubled and unsalable mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. But the Treasury has never actually used the program to buy assets, in part because it was faster to invest money directly into the nation's banks and in part because banks have not wanted to sell their problem loans and book the loss in their value."

The New York tabs go nuts with Hillary's response on her thinking she was being asked about what her husband would think about a trade deal. The New York Daily News cover: "Hillary rages at student... Hey, I'm the boss not Bill." 
The New York Post cover: Banner headline: "I'M THE BOSS" over a picture of Hillary Clinton pointing at herself.

By the way, just how strange are the political dynamics in Afghanistan? There is talk of creating a chief executive position underneath President Karzai and filling the post with one of Karzai's chief rivals. Apparently, the U.S. is working this angle behind the scenes. "The latest U.S. overtures have focused on Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister who is challenging Karzai for the presidency. A campaign aide to Ghani said Monday that both Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry and regional envoy Richard C. Holbrooke had made recent visits to explore the idea, a sign that the United States might be interested in an Afghan government with a more technocratic bent."