Kennedy: "Incremental measures won't suffice anymore"

The media is abuzz today with speculation about how Ted Kennedy's absence will impact the health care reform debate. And, as usual, the conventional wisdom is starting to coalesce around a frame designed by Republicans and propagated by the traditional media.

It's clear that Republicans came up with this strategy at least a week ago: praise smear Kennedy as uniquely skilled at extracting concessions from liberals (what Republicans call "bipartisanship") and suggest that Kennedy's absence means reform will fail. They're trying to use the death of their "friend" to either kill health care reform outright, or to pressure House progressives into giving up on the public option.

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MSNBC hack says Kennedy would kill Public Option

That didn't take long. Who would have guessed that the traditional media vultures would do their best to completely distort and deface Ted Kennedy's legacy? After all, Kennedy's Republican "friends" had already begun pointing the way.

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Baucus and Conrad endorsed reconciliation for health care reform

I was just re-reading a diary I wrote last February predicting that Democrats would need to use reconciliation to pass health care reform, and noticed an interesting quote from Max Baucus.

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Help stop healthcare lies on MSNBC

One of the reasons Republicans are often so successful at framing national debates is the cooperation of particular media figures who possess an undeserved reputation as "centrists" or "nonpartisans." John Harwood, of CNBC and the New York Times, is the epitome of this kind of punditry. Harwood was in fine form today on MSNBC's The Ed Show, repeating and reinforcing lies about healthcare reform. And nobody challenged him.

MSNBC needs to hear from us. They need to know that providing a platform for conservative propagandists like Harwood is unacceptable.

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Senators Kyl, Sessions don't know if Sotomayor is a racist

On the Sunday morning shows, Senators Jon Kyl and Jeff Sessions did their best to dance through the minefield laid by the titular leaders of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich. People of decency and character wouldn't have to dodge anything, but these two senators have to be careful not to offend the substantial number of bigots in the GOP base, while avoiding any quotable race-baiting.

The tactic was obvious and they would have been called out on it if there had been a competent journalist in the room. Both Republican senators were asked if they believe that Sonia Sotomayor is a racist and they both refused to give a straightforward answer.

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Meltdown: Cornyn repudiates Rush and Newt, wingnuts freak out

The political quandary facing Republicans becomes more evident every day. The stark division between its radical base and the rest of the country would be difficult enough to navigate under any circumstances, but Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich insist on making the task completely impossible. And there is seemingly no way out.

Yesterday, Texas Senator John Cornyn, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, stepped forward to repudiate Rush and Newt for their disgusting and politically-suicidal racial attacks on Sonia Sotomayor. And the predictable backlash from the the Republican base began almost immediately.

Free Republic, the heart and soul of Wingnuttery, is erupting with anger. They want their racism, damn it! And John Cornyn can go to hell!

Watch the Republican Party driving itself into extinction...

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Obama reserving the right to torture? Non-denial denial from White House (UPDATED)

I don't have any desire to write an "Obama=Bush" diary and that's not what this is. But I think it's important to point out that the White House has failed to deny one of the most outrageous accusations leveled by Dick Cheney in his speech Thursday morning. And I find it more than a little disturbing.

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Frank Gaffney: Obama sending "coded" messages to Al-Qaeda


Neocon mouthpiece and conspiracy-theorist Frank Gaffney scurried out of his hole again today to spread his typically deranged propaganda on Hardball. Deranged? Yup. According to Gaffney, President Obama is sending "coded" messages of "submission" to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

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Cantor, Steele repudiate Rush; wingnuts freak out (Updated x2: RedState of Denial)

Republicans are hopelessly stuck with the same problem that has plagued them through two election cycles: a vast gulf between their base and majority of Americans. And, as we know, Obama and Democrats have successfully exploited this by focusing attention on Rush Limbaugh, driving the wedge between Republican officials and American voters even deeper.

So what happens when two high-profile Republicans try to distance themselves from Limbaugh -- the Republican base erupts and condemns their own leaders. Can't win for losing in the GOP these days.

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Obama's Plan for Filibuster-Proof Health Care Reform UPDATED

Maybe I'm missing something here, but I think a major element of President Obama's health care reform strategy is emerging. I've wondered for a while how meaningful reform legislation could possibly get 60 votes in the Senate. After all, it's no secret how much Republicans fear universal health care enacted by a Democratic President. Back in 1993, Bill Kristol sounded the alarm:

"The plan should not be amended; it should be erased," Mr. Kristol advised the GOP. And not merely because Mr. Clinton's scheme was (in Mr. Kristol's view) bad policy, but because "it will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests."

Historian Rick Perlstein suggests that this memo is "the skeleton key to understanding modern American politics" because it opens up a fundamental conservative anxiety: "If the Democrats succeed in redistributing economic power, we're screwed."

But guess what? We won't need 60 votes this time. The key is reconcilation.

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