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Pundits & Editorials

Health care mobs motivated by fears, but which ones -- policy, the president or Pelosi? Plus: Breaking down Obama's slump in the polls.

• Mobs at town halls are "something new and ugly," and Paul Krugman says participants are "probably reacting less to what Mr. Obama is doing, or even to what they've heard about what he's doing, than to who he is."

Peggy Noonan hears a clear message from the crowds: "You're terrifying us."


Ronald Brownstein hails the bipartisan cooperation that the Senate Finance Committee has long made its goal, but Chairman Max Baucus' "effort appears more likely to demonstrate the decay than the vitality of that committee tradition."

• The health care debate marks a swap in arguments from the parties, notes William Schneider as he remembers that "not so long ago Republicans were depicting themselves as the party of big, bold ideas and mocking Democrats" for having "the philosophy of the stop sign."

Michael Kinsley notes that insurance companies have changed their tune on health care since the '90s, but "these health insurers manage to be phonies even when they're telling the truth."


Charles Krauthammer's idea for health care reform: "Tax employer-provided health-care benefits and return the money to the employee with a government check to buy his own medical insurance."

Kimberley A. Strassel warns Blue Dog Democrats faced with a tough vote on health care that their constituents "might look at [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi's ambitions, and decide a vote for" them "isn't worth the risk of keeping her in power."

• Writing for the Wall Street Journal, pollster Scott Rasumussen says findings show the toughest barrier to health care reform "is that 68% of American voters have health-insurance coverage they rate good or excellent."

• "The first six months of Barack Obama's presidency and his agenda's loss of momentum" might indicate "that Americans who seemed so gung-ho for change in 2007 and most of 2008 subtly shifted gears last fall -- and nobody noticed," according to Charlie Cook.


Michael Gerson agrees that polls show Obama's honeymoon is over and asks, "What did Obama use this initial period of unique standing and influence to achieve?"

• "Coupled with the new fuel economy standards," an increased gas tax "could take this country a long way toward reducing carbon emissions," the New York Times believes.

• Writing for the New York Times, GOP national security expert Douglas H. Pall congratulates the Clintons for "restraint from political grandstanding" in North Korea and for an approach that possibly "will have a positive effect on our troubled nuclear negotiations."

• The Washington Post cheers the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor but is left wondering "what kind of justice" she will be "now that the burdens of precedent are no longer absolute."

• As Obama administration searches for ways to fix the housing crisis, the Washington Post requires it to "reject the old business model under which Fannie and Freddie pursued profit for private shareholders with funds borrowed cheaply based on a perceived government guarantee. Private benefit, public risk was a formula for disaster."

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