From NBC's Mark Murray
As you know, we aren't publishing First Thoughts on Fridays this August. But here are some news articles/headlines that caught our attention:
The New York Times traces the evolution of the false "death panel" charge on health care. "[T]he rumor ... was not born of anonymous e-mailers, partisan bloggers or stealthy cyberconspiracy theorists. Rather, it has a far more mainstream provenance, openly emanating months ago from many of the same pundits and conservative media outlets that were central in defeating President Bill Clinton's health care proposals 16 years ago, including the editorial board of The Washington Times, the American Spectator magazine and Betsy McCaughey, whose 1994 health care critique made her a star of the conservative movement (and ultimately, New York's lieutenant governor)."
Speaking of the Washington Times, it reports that "Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, the White House official targeted by Sarah Palin and other conservatives as an advocate for health care rationing and 'death panels,' said Thursday his 'thinking has evolved' on the need to decide who gets treated and who does not. 'When I began working in the health policy area about 20 years ago ... I thought we would definitely have to ration care, that there was a need to make a decision and deny people care,' said Dr. Emanuel, a health care adviser to President Obama in the Office of Management and Budget, during a phone interview. 'I think that over the last five to seven years ... I've come to the conclusion that in our system we are spending way more money than we need to, a lot of it on unnecessary care,' he said. 'If we got rid of that care we would have absolutely no reason to even consider rationing except in a few cases.'"
The latest prominent Republican to repeat the debunked charge: Rudy Giuliani.
Paul Krugman argues that Obama -- who thought he could avoid the political wars of the 1990s -- is finding out that it's easier said than done. "Sure enough, President Obama is now facing the same kind of opposition that President Bill Clinton had to deal with: an enraged right that denies the legitimacy of his presidency, that eagerly seizes on every wild rumor manufactured by the right-wing media complex."
Sticking with health care, Bloomberg News reports that 3,300 lobbyists have lined up to work on the issue of health care. "That's six lobbyists for each of the 535 members of the House and Senate, according to Senate records, and three times the number of people registered to lobby on defense."
The Wall Street Journal writes about a town hall held by conservative Indiana Democrat Joe Donnelly. "The anger that has settled around similar events in other states never hit Mr. Donnelly, who deftly parried complaints about too much government with questions about which entitlements the audience would be willing to sacrifice. 'If [reform] doesn't work, it screws up an awful lot,' he said. 'But the other thing I want to ask is, of those with Medicare, how many want to give it up? That's why we need some kind of reform.'"
And sources have told a local North Carolina news outlet that John Edwards will admit he's the father of his ex-mistress's 18-month-old baby. NBC News has not been able to confirm that story.