The New York Times writes, "Democrats have displayed a striking degree of pragmatism in seeking to push the health care bill through Congress, embracing or rejecting ideological considerations as needed to keep the legislation moving. But if the flexibility shown by party leaders on issues like abortion and the proposed government-run insurance plan has kept the legislative process on track, it has also left many liberals off balance and risked alienating the party's base as the midterm elections approach."
"President Obama suggested Monday that he was not comfortable with abortion restrictions inserted into the House version of major health care legislation, and he prodded Congress to revise them," the New York Times also notes. "'There needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we're not changing the status quo' on abortion, Mr. Obama said in an interview with ABC News. 'And that's the goal.'"
More: "On the one hand, Mr. Obama said, 'we're not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions.' On the other hand, he said, he wanted to make sure 'we're not restricting women's insurance choices,' because he had promised that 'if you're happy and satisfied with the insurance that you have, it's not going to change.'"
Bipartisanship? Who needs it, says Democratic strategist Paul Begala. He points to former president Bill Clinton's passage of his 1993 economic plan, which Begala writes was the "first piece of major legislation in modern history to pass without a single vote from the party opposite." Begala compares the Republican predictions made then with those of today, with Dick Armey saying Clinton's bill was a "job killer," and House Minority Leader John Boehner saying the health care bill is "the greatest threat to freedom that I've seen in the 19 years I've been in Washington."
The president and first lady head to Fort Hood today. President Obama will meet with family members of those affected and make remarks. The AP says this "is his time to take on the healer-in-chief role that can help shape a presidency at a time of national tragedy."
Per the San Antonio Express-News, "Plans call for a traditional military memorial, with a prologue, prayers, speeches, a sermon, music, a 'roll call' tribute to the 13 dead, and a rifle salute. The post commander, Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, said at a news conference Monday that he expects up to 5,000 people to attend the event."
"President Barack Obama is nearing a decision to add tens of thousands more forces to Afghanistan, though probably not quite the 40,000 sought by his top general there," the AP reports. "Administration officials told The Associated Press on Monday the deployment would most probably begin in January with a mission to stiffen the defense of 10 key cities and towns. An Army brigade that had been training for deployment to Iraq that month may be the vanguard."
As we mentioned in First Thoughts, however, the Obama White House disputes this report, noting that the president has yet to make up his mind.
"A survey of troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan concluded that having gay or lesbian soldiers in fighting units has no significant impact on unit cohesion or readiness. The data raise new doubts about the underlying assumption of the congressional ban, namely that military discipline will fall apart if gays and lesbians are permitted to serve openly… RAND and the University of Florida found that '40 percent of the military members surveyed expressed support for the [current] policy, while 28 percent opposed it and 33 percent were neutral - less support than seen in previous surveys,' according to a release from RAND, which also advises the Pentagon on a host of security matters."