segunda-feira, 31 de agosto de 2009

Reforma da Saúde dedicada a Ted Kennedy?

O desafio foi lançado por Robert Byrd, da Virgínia Ocidental, o mais velho senador no Capitólio: aprovem a Reforma da Saúde e dediquem-na a Ted Kennedy, que se bateu por ela como uma leão...

«According to Michael O'Brien, a reporter for The Hill newspaper, Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) thinks that the health care reform bill should be named for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA):

In his honor and as a tribute to his commitment to his ideals, let us stop the shouting and name calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear his name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American.
It "seems like a no-brainer," Steve Benen, who blogs for The Washington Monthly, writes. "I don't imagine changing the name of the bill to honor Kennedy will necessarily change the equation, but it would be a gracious gesture."

The idea seems to be gaining traction, Politico reports:

Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor at the Cook Political Report, said the news will strengthen Democrats' resolve to get a bill passed. But it's unclear whether they will work harder to get a bipartisan bill that can pass the Senate or decide to go it alone.
"Maybe, at least within the Senate, it takes on a more civilized and bit more somber tone," Duffy said.»

in NPR's News BLOGS

quinta-feira, 27 de agosto de 2009

Especial Ted Kennedy (XII): o fim de uma era

(o CASA BRANCA terá uma breve paragem de três dias, mas no domingo à noite já está de regresso. Até já, então)

'How The Kennedys changed America' - ensaio de Janet Daley, no

«So it's over. The Kennedy era, in which the political consciousness of most of my American generation was born, ends with a lingering illness and quiet mourning, so unlike the violent deaths of Ted Kennedy's elder – and greater – political brothers.

However much the youngest sibling may be lionised in the coming days, it was John and Robert Kennedy whose lives truly electrified American politics and whose assassinations almost certainly precipitated, as Norman Mailer once claimed, a national nervous breakdown. It was that catastrophic psychic blow, Mailer argued, that gave rise to the youth culture of the Sixties, with its bizarre mixture of high idealism and narcissistic pleasure – which, as it happens, was a particularly apt memorial (even if we didn't know it then) for the Kennedy dream. Having lived through that time at Berkeley, where we more or less invented what became the international student revolution, this analysis seems sound to me.

Ted Kennedy: Barack Obama to deliver eulogy at funeral It is almost impossible to overestimate the impact that the presidential campaign, then the election victory, and then the murder, of President Kennedy had on an impressionable new cohort of Americans who were just emerging from the Eisenhower years, and a period of conformist stagnation. (Time magazine had called our immediate predecessors "the silent generation".)

All that hope, all that promise: the Peace Corps, the first official recognition of the goals of the civil rights movement, the truly magnificent rhetoric of the Kennedy speeches (don't let anyone tell you that Barack Obama's speeches are anything like as fine) – and it was extinguished in what was then an unthinkable act.

The shock was literally staggering. I can still, to this day, recall it in all its visceral intensity, as can, I am sure, almost every one of my countrymen who was sentient at the time. When Bobby Kennedy, too, was struck down, there was an almost fatalistic sense of futility. Perhaps it was at that moment that the Sixties movements moved well and truly into their nihilistic phase. For there was still a belief then that these were two quintessentially good men who embodied the best intentions of the United States to live up to its own definition of virtue. That was, of course, before we learned the truth about their private lives.

Ted Kennedy's misadventure at Chappaquiddick is now remembered for its political significance in supposedly ending his presidential ambitions, rather than for the truly horrific fact that a young woman drowned because she was trapped in a car which Kennedy drove off a bridge (and from which he managed to extricate himself). That he was almost certainly technically drunk at the time, which helped to account for his unforgivable delay in reporting the incident, and that the following hours were devoted to a desperate scramble to cover it up, were too much even for a country that was inclined to give any Kennedy the benefit of the doubt.

But at that stage, we still did not know the half of it. Young Teddy was thought to be the weak link, the wild card: the inveterate adulterer and feckless drinker who simply hoped to ride the wave that had been created by his heroic brothers.

But oddly, even after we learned, in quite grotesque detail, of the discrepancy between the private and public morality of the senior Kennedy men – in John Kennedy's case, a compulsive sexual promiscuity that was close to pathological – and of the sordid arrangements that were made to procure hundreds of women for JFK by members of the family itself, the legacy was not utterly destroyed.

It was all so strange and disillusioning that, when the first rumours hit the streets, it was thought to be the product of some politically motivated conspiracy. And some of the details did seem scarcely credible. Even allowing for the energising potential of election victory, could the new president really have had intercourse with nearly half a dozen women other than his wife on the day of his inauguration? Did his brother-in-law, the actor Peter Lawford, really pimp more or less openly for him with the acquiescence of the security services? Was Marilyn Monroe handed back and forth like a parcel between John and Robert Kennedy and did their cavalier treatment contribute to her death? Was the president, John Kennedy, really sharing a mistress with a Mafia boss at the same time as the Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, was supposed to be investigating the Mafia?

In the end, there was too much evidence and eye-witness testimony to permit continued denial. America came to terms with the idea that there could be a veritable schizoid split between a person's public morality and his private life: the highest aspirations to civic idealism could reside alongside the most sordid, amoral personal irresponsibility. It is important to note that what John Kennedy apparently engaged in was not discreet or sincerely meant adulterous affairs but what we would now call sexual exploitation: the casual, impersonal use of countless women who were delivered, used, and then discarded with efficient abandon.

Even allowing for the pre-feminist standards of American attitudes to women among his generation of war veterans (this was, after all, the Mad Men era), his habits showed exceptionally brutal cynicism. The sort of personality which is associated with such behaviour may be of clinical psychological interest in itself, but combined with a capacity for apparently genuine belief in the highest standards of civic righteousness and aspiration toward the social good, it should constitute one of the great mysteries of the human condition.

Perhaps surprisingly then, given the national tendency to analyse even quite innocuous things to destruction, America did not become overly preoccupied with the great contradiction at the heart of the Kennedy mythology.

Those who revered the late president and were traumatised by his death, still revere him "in spite of the women", as they would say with a worldly shrug, deciding, after all, that it did not matter that much. Those who disliked him (and there were more of those than the outside world realised, mainly in the South, where they resented his endorsement of the civil rights campaign) loathe him still, taking all the dishonourable evidence as corroboration of their view of him as a corrupting force in American life.

The former, needless to say, tend to be liberal Democrats who decided some time in the Sixties that your behaviour in sexual relationships wasn't a part of morality as properly understood, anyway. A good many truly courageous civil rights workers I knew treated their girlfriends quite abominably: I recall one pregnant girl being abandoned with scarcely a backward glance by a young man who headed down to Mississippi to risk his life registering black voters.

The Kennedy-haters are inclined to be both social and political conservatives who regard his debauched history as a straightforward vindication of their own instincts. But the acceptance won out and it reached its apotheosis with the political survival of Bill Clinton. Once Monica Lewinsky had become the most famous intern in White House history, America's ability to live with the contradiction between public righteousness and private depravity was fully established.

It would have been unthinkable for the United States of the early Sixties to have been so insouciant about John Kennedy's proclivities. Had they been exposed while he was in office, he could certainly not have remained in the White House – which is why presumably the entire establishment connived at keeping them an open secret. But that was then and this is now. The subsequent disclosure of what really went on in the Kennedy ménage made it possible for a later incarnation of that same phenomenon – the politician who wants to improve the world but thinks little of abusing the trust of those closest to him – to be tolerated.

I rather doubt that this would have been the legacy of choice for those whose political idealism was inspired by the young John Kennedy: that he would make the world safe for philanderers.»

Especial Ted Kennedy (XI): Jean, a última sobrevivente

Edward e Jean, numa foto de Junho de 2005 no New York Social Diary

Com a morte de Edward, dias depois do falecimento de Eunice, Jean Kennedy Smith passa a ser a única dos nove filhos de Joe Kennedy e Rose Fitzgerald, o casal de irlandeses católicos que lançou as raízes da maior dinastia política da América.

Com 81 anos, Jean vive em Nova Iorque e está retirada da carreira diplomática. Chegou a ser embaixadora norte-americana na Irlanda, por nomeação do então Presidente Bill Clinton, em 1993.

Especial Ted Kennedy (X): Edward ainda viu Obama na Casa Branca

(Barack Obama e Ted Kennedy, então senadores, quando ouviam, no Capitólio, o discurso do Estado da União feito por George W. Bush, em 20007)

Especial Ted Kennedy (IX): Obama rotula-o de «melhor senador americano dos nossos tempos»

quarta-feira, 26 de agosto de 2009

Especial Ted Kennedy (VIII): o apoio crucial a Obama

Foi o primeiro 'tubarão' do Partido Democrata a declarar apoio a Barack Obama, quando quase todas as fichas estavam do lado de Hillary. Há, mesmo, quem diga que se Ted não tivesse avançado com esse apoio a Obama (a par da sua sobrinha, Caroline Kennedy), Barack Obama não seria hoje Presidente dos Estados Unidos.

Especial Ted Kennedy (VII): a reacção, muito emocionada, de Joe Biden

O vice-presidente dos EUA foi colega de Ted Kennedy no Senado durante 36 anos. Foram, ambos, dois democratas com grande capacidade de fazer pontes bipartidárias:

Especial Ted Kennedy (VI): discursos de um percurso de meio século

Especial Ted Kennedy (V): Obama está «devastado»

Especial Ted Kennedy (IV): momentos que marcaram uma vida inteira dedicada à política

Watch CBS Videos Online

Especial Ted Kennedy (III): uma foto histórica na Casa Branca

1962, o ano em que Edward chegou ao Senado: na Casa Branca, com os seus irmãos Jack, que era Presidente, e Bobby, procurador-geral

Especial Ted Kennedy (III): John Kerry, o companheiro no Senado

Representaram juntos o Massachussets no Senado por mais de 20. Ted foi apoio de peso na corrida presidencial de Kerry, em 2004, tal como foi, em 2008, para Obama.

Especial Ted Kennedy (II): testemunhos dos analistas

Edward M. Kennedy (22 de Fevereiro de 1932/25 de Agosto de 2009)

Ted Kennedy, senador durante quase 47 anos seguidos, irmão de John e Bobby Kennedy, morreu ontem à noite, no Massachussets, dias depois do falecimento da sua irmã, Eunice. É o desaparecimento do patriarca do clã Kennedy. O CASA BRANCA, ao longo de todo o dia de hoje, recordará o percurso e o legado de um dos políticos americanos mais respeitados do último século.

Um artigo de Martin Nolan, no Boston Globe:

«Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who carried aloft the torch of a Massachusetts dynasty and a liberal ideology to the citadel of Senate power, but whose personal and political failings may have prevented him from realizing the ultimate prize of the presidency, died at his home in Hyannis Port last night after a battle with brain cancer. He was 77.

“We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever,’’ his family said in a statement. “We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness, and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.’’

Overcoming a history of family tragedy, including the assassinations of a brother who was president and another who sought the presidency, Senator Kennedy seized the role of being a “Senate man.’’ He became a Democratic titan of Washington who fought for the less fortunate, who crafted unlikely deals with conservative Republicans, and who ceaselessly sought support for universal health coverage.

“Teddy,’’ as he was known to intimates, constituents, and even his fiercest enemies, was an unwavering symbol to the left and the right - the former for his unapologetic embrace of liberalism, and latter for his value as a political target. But with his fiery rhetoric, his distinctive Massachusetts accent, and his role as representative of one of the nation’s best-known political families, he was widely recognized as an American original. In the end, some of those who might have been his harshest political enemies, including former President George W. Bush, found ways to collaborate with the man who was called the “last lion’’ of the Senate.

Senator Kennedy’s White House aspirations may have been doomed by his actions on the night he drove off a bridge at Chappaquiddick Island in 1969 and failed to promptly report the accident in which Mary Jo Kopechne, who had worked for his brother Robert, died. When Kennedy nonetheless later sought to wrest the presidential nomination from an incumbent Democrat, Jimmy Carter, he failed. But that failure prompted him to reevaluate his place in history, and he dedicated himself to fulfilling his political agenda by other means, famously saying, “the dream shall never die.’’

He was the youngest child of a famous family, but his legacy derived from quiet subcommittee meetings, conference reports, and markup sessions. The result of his efforts meant hospital care for a grandmother, a federal loan for a working college student, or a better wage for a dishwasher.

“He died the way he lived,’’ said a longtime Kennedy staffer, who did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of the moment, breaking up with emotion during the interview. “Fully in the moment, with incredible courage. He knew exactly what was going on. He wasn’t afraid. And given everything that he had been through his entire life, was always optimistic and knew that this country’s best days always [were] ahead.’’

“Without question Senator Kennedy was the most accomplished and effective legislator for economic and social justice in the history of our country,’’ said Paul G. Kirk, Jr., a former Kennedy aide who is chairman of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. “He was the most thoughtful and genuinely considerate friend I have known.’’

“He taught us to persevere and carry on in the face of loss and adversity,’’ Kirk added. “And we owe it to him to do the same at this time.’’

In a statement, Senate majority leader Harry Reid said, “The Kennedy family and the Senate family have together lost our patriarch. My thoughts, and those of the entire United States Senate, are with Vicki, Senator Kennedy’s children, his many nieces and nephews, and his entire family. . . . It was the thrill of my lifetime to work with Ted Kennedy.’’

Senator Kennedy’s congressional career was remarkable not only for its accomplishments, but for its length of 47 years. Massachusetts voters installed him in the Senate nine times - starting with a special election in 1962. Since the Senate opened in 1789, only Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia and the late Strom Thurmond of South Carolina served longer.

“I have every expectation of living a long and worthwhile life,’’ Senator Kennedy said in 1994. This expectation contrasted with the fate of his brothers. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. was killed in 1944 on a World War II bombing mission. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated while campaigning for president in Los Angeles in 1968.

Senator Kennedy brought to the Senate a trait his brothers lacked - patience - and what his mother called a “ninth-child talent,’’ a blend of toughness and tact.

The ninth child of Joseph P. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy was born on the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birth, Feb. 22, 1932. His brother Jack, then at the Choate School in Connecticut, wrote to his parents, asking to be godfather and urging the new arrival to be baptized George Washington Kennedy.

The parents agreed to the first request but named the child Edward Moore Kennedy. Part of his boyhood was spent in London, where his father was US ambassador to Great Britain. After nine schools on two continents, he entered Milton Academy in 1946 and maintained midlevel grades, including in Spanish, a subject that would trouble him at Harvard College, where, in 1951, he asked a friend to take a Spanish exam for him. A proctor recognized the substitute, and both students were expelled but were told they could return if they showed evidence of “constructive and responsible citizenship».

The incident would become the first of several episodes creating public doubts about his character.

After two years in the Army, Ted Kennedy returned to Harvard, graduating from there in 1956 and the University of Virginia Law School three years later.

At a Kennedy family event at Manhattanville College, the alma mater of his sisters, he met Joan Bennett. They married in 1958, the same year he managed the Senate re-election campaign of his brother John. The outcome was not in doubt; Ted’s assignment was to steer the incumbent to a victory big enough to impress national party bosses. The victory margin was 857,000, the highest in the Commonwealth’s history.

After JFK won the presidency in 1960, he declared in his inaugural address that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.’’ This iconography would play out over generations of Kennedys.

John Kennedy persuaded Governor Foster Furcolo to fill his vacant Senate seat by appointing Benjamin A. Smith II, the mayor of Gloucester who was a friend of the president at Harvard. On March 14, 1962, after he attained the constitutional age of 30 to be eligible for election to the Senate, Edward Kennedy announced his candidacy for the unexpired term. His only public experience was a year as assistant district attorney of Suffolk County, and he had to take on two Massachusetts dynasties.

In the special primary, he faced Attorney General Edward J. McCormack Jr., the nephew of US House Speaker John W. McCormack. At a debate in South Boston, McCormack ridiculed the young Ted, saying the senatorial job “should be merited, not inherited.’’ Pointing his finger at his opponent, he said: “If his name were Edward Moore, with his qualifications - with your qualifications, Teddy - if it was Edward Moore, your candidacy would be a joke.’’

Ted Kennedy looked pained. His silence created a wave of sympathy. He went on to win 69 percent of the primary vote and then to defeat George Lodge, the son of the former Republican senator, in the general election.

Even with a brother in the White House and another as attorney general, a freshman senator was supposed to work diligently for local concerns and to perform committee work in patient obscurity. Senator Kennedy did so, taking on his brother’s legislative concerns on refugees and immigrants. He sought “more for Massachusetts’’ by pursuing fishery development and a Cambridge space research center.

Kennedy’s immediate family grew with the birth of Patrick Joseph Kennedy in 1967, joining Kara Anne and Edward Jr.

On Nov. 22, 1963, Senator Kennedy was presiding over the chamber, a chore assigned to freshman members, when a messenger arrived at the rostrum with the news from Dallas. After confirming with the White House the president’s assassination, Senator Kennedy and his sister, Eunice, flew to Hyannis Port to deliver the news to their father. Joseph P. Kennedy had suffered a stroke in 1961 and could not speak or walk.

In 1964, eager to win a full six-year term, Senator Kennedy planned to visit Springfield to accept the endorsement of the Democratic state convention. On the night of June 19, after casting votes on final passage of a civil rights bill, Senator Kennedy and the convention’s keynote speaker, Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana, boarded a private plane en route to Barnes Municipal Airport in Westfield.

In heavy fog, the aircraft crashed in an orchard, killing the pilot and a Kennedy aide. Senator Kennedy sustained three broken vertebrae, fractured ribs, a punctured lung, and internal hemorrhaging.

After a six-month recuperation, Senator Kennedy was released, but back injuries would cause him pain for the rest of his life. He was reelected with 74 percent of the vote.

In that same election, voters of New York elected Robert F. Kennedy as their senator. The siblings teased each other frequently, but seldom diverged in their liberal voting patterns. Robert had seniority in the family and was a former US attorney general, but Edward took the lead on legal issues such as repealing the poll tax.

In October 1965, Senator Kennedy made his first visit to South Vietnam, a nation not yet dominating the news but one that would profoundly affect the United States, President Johnson, and the Kennedys.

By 1967, antiwar rallies were proliferating and on Nov. 30, Senator Eugene J. McCarthy of Minnesota agreed, after Robert Kennedy declined, to challenge Johnson in the 1968 Democratic primaries. After McCarthy won 42 percent of the New Hampshire vote and before Johnson would bow out, Robert Kennedy reconsidered and entered the contest.

In June, after winning the California primary, Robert Kennedy was assassinated. At St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, the voice of the surviving Kennedy brother cracked as he eulogized Robert as “a good man, who ... saw war and tried to stop it.’’ Senator Kennedy became the surrogate father of his brothers’ children and the patriarchal figure in the growing clan.

Vietnam dominated the 1968 Democratic National Convention, as did speculation about Senator Kennedy’s intentions. “Like my brothers before me, I pick up a fallen standard,’’ he said at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester a few weeks before the convention.

But the Capitol, not the White House, seemed the focus of his intentions. Senator Kennedy surprised many by running instead for majority whip in 1968. By a 31-26 vote, he defeated the incumbent, another son of a political dynasty, Senator Russell B. Long of Louisiana.

Majority leader Mike Mansfield of Montana welcomed his new assistant, saying, “Of all the Kennedys, the senator is the only one who was and is a real Senate man.’’ Senator Kennedy mobilized Democrats against what he called the “folly’’ of an antiballistic missile system proposed by President Nixon. On July 18, 1969, Mansfield predicted that his colleague would not run for president in 1972, saying “He’s in no hurry. He’s young. He likes the Senate».

On that same day, Senator Kennedy arrived on an island that his actions would make notorious. On Chappaquiddick, across a narrow inlet from Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard, six young women who had worked on Robert Kennedy’s campaign gathered for a reunion. Senator Kennedy’s marriage was already troubled, and he had been seen in the company of glamorous women. But the women at Chappaquiddick were all respected political operatives.

Mary Jo Kopechne, 28, had worked for RFK’s Senate office. A passenger in a car driven by Ted Kennedy, she drowned after the car skidded off a bridge. Senator Kennedy failed to report the accident for several hours. The crash gave him a minor concussion and a major personal and political crisis.

As American astronauts walked on the moon, fulfilling a JFK pledge, Chappaquiddick was front-page news across the globe. The senator was unable to explain the accident for days. After consulting in Hyannis Port with his brothers’ advisers and speechwriters, he gave a televised speech a week later. He praised Kopechne and wondered aloud “whether some awful curse did actually hang over the Kennedys,’’ then asked Massachusetts voters whether he should resign. They replied overwhelmingly: No.

His critics snarled that Senator Kennedy “got away with it’’ at Chappaquiddick, but the price he paid was high. Voters expected quick and cool judgment from presidents. Senator Kennedy, in effect, disqualified himself when he confessed on television that he should have alerted police immediately.

He returned to his work in the Senate and in December 1969 began a long campaign “to move now to establish a comprehensive national health care insurance program.’’ He also led the effort to give 18-year-olds the right to vote.

After winning reelection in 1970 with 62 percent of the vote, he found how Chappaquiddick reverberated in the Senate chamber. In January 1971, Byrd unseated Senator Kennedy as majority whip by a 31-24 vote. Years later, Senator Kennedy thanked Byrd because the loss made him concentrate on committee work in health care, refugees, civil rights, the judiciary, and foreign policy, areas in which he would leave a lasting imprint.

As he was rebuilding his stature in the fall of 1973, Senator Kennedy and his wife, Joan, received devastating news. Their 12-year-old son, Edward Jr., had cancer and his leg had to be amputated. Although Ted Jr. persevered, the crisis cooled the senator’s ambitions about running for president in 1976.

The election of 1976 would bring a Democrat back into the White House. Jimmy Carter of Georgia, however, was not a Kennedy Democrat. The ideological divide between the two was profound. Senator Kennedy thought Carter’s health care programs were timid. The president sometimes resented Senator Kennedy’s celebrity status, especially when foreign leaders consulted with the senator.

When the Democrats held a mid-term conference in Memphis in December 1978, it was dominated by the senator’s nautical metaphor. “Sometimes a party must sail against the wind,’’ he said. “We cannot afford to drift or lie at anchor. We cannot heed the call of those who say it is time to furl the sail.’’ Carter’s response to a group of Democratic congressmen: If Senator Kennedy did challenge him in the 1980 election, “I’ll whip his ass.’’

“Well, I’m - were I to make the announcement and to run,’’ Senator Kennedy said, “the reasons that I would run is because I have a great belief in this country, that it is - there’s more natural resources than any nation in the world; there’s the greatest educated population in the world; greatest technology of any country in the world.’’

His responses to questions about Chappaquiddick sounded rehearsed, and the interview was widely considered a disaster. He would not recover.

Three days later, on Nov. 7, 1979, the 47-year-old senator formally declared his candidacy, saying he was “compelled by events and by my commitment to public life.’’

“For many months, we have been sinking into crisis. Yet we hear no clear summons from the center of power,’’ he declared, standing on the stage of Faneuil Hall, before a giant painting of Daniel Webster, a longtime US senator from Massachusetts who never became president.

Unable to persuade Democrats to abandon a Democratic president, Senator Kennedy won only 10 of the 35 presidential primaries. In July, he reluctantly endorsed Carter at the Democratic National Convention in New York, offering his own anthem to the Democratic Party. He cited Jefferson, Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt, and those he had met at “the closed factories and the stalled assembly lines.’’ After congratulating Carter, he added, “For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.’’

In 1981, because of Ronald Reagan’s coattails, Senator Kennedy was in the Senate minority for the first time. But he was accustomed to reaching across the aisle for support. Throughout his career, Senator Kennedy’s name animated Republican fund-raising efforts. In reality, the GOP’s bete noire cooperated with party leaders from Barry Goldwater to John McCain, a list that included conservative stalwarts Robert Dole, Orrin Hatch, and Alan Simpson.

Senator Kennedy’s success owed more to craftsmanship than charm, more to diligence than blarney. In 1985, outside the hearing room of the Armed Service Committee, a reporter encountered Senator John Warner, a Republican of Virginia, who spontaneously volunteered praise of his liberal colleague: “This man works as hard as anyone. When he knows his subject, he really knows it. He listens, he learns, and he’s an asset to this committee.’
In the 1960s, the young senator had learned a lesson from Senator Philip Hart of Michigan, who said of the Senate, “you measure accomplishments not by climbing mountains, but by climbing molehills.’’

In the 1980s, those molehills amounted to the renewal of the Voting Rights Act and an overhaul of federal job training (co-sponsored by a freshman senator from Indiana, Dan Quayle). With his Massachusetts colleagues from the House, Speaker O’Neill and Representative Edward P. Boland, he worked against Reagan administration policies in Central America.

In 1985, Senator Kennedy renounced presidential ambitions, saying to Bay State voters, “I will run for reelection to the Senate. I know that this decision means that I may never be president. But the pursuit of the presidency is not my life. Public service is.’’

“When he finally lifted the curse from himself that Kennedys had to be president, he truly became a legislator,’’ said Simpson, a Wyoming Republican who served 18 years in the Senate with Kennedy. “In fact, he immersed himself in legislation.’’

Others in the Kennedy clan would join him in such efforts. In 1986, he watched with pride as his nephew Joseph won the seat vacated by O’Neill and in 1994 as his son, Patrick, won a congressional seat from Rhode Island.

Not all family matters, however, were a source of pride. In 1991, the senator had to testify in Palm Beach about rape charges brought against his nephew William Kennedy Smith in the aftermath of a drinking party organized by Senator Kennedy. The incident embarrassed the senator into silence during judiciary committee hearings into allegations of sexist conduct against Clarence Thomas, later confirmed as a Supreme Court justice.

Senator Kennedy’s reputation as a roustabout lingered until, years after he and Joan divorced in 1982, Senator Kennedy met Victoria Reggie, a lawyer and divorced mother of two who was 22 years younger than the senator. They wed in 1992 and began a partnership that brought equilibrium and focus to his life.

In 1994, when Republicans would recapture the House for the first time in 40 years, no Democrat was safe, even the leading lion of liberalism. A Republican businessman, Mitt Romney, captured the attention of some Bay Staters until, in a Faneuil Hall debate, Senator Kennedy proved his mastery of the issues. For the senator, it was a relatively close call. He won with 58 percent of the vote, his smallest margin since his first election in 1962.

In Washington, he continued to do battle with Republicans on issues, subtle and unsubtle. In the latter category was one of his favorites, raising the minimum wage, a perennial struggle because its recipients lacked the active lobbies that support business interests.

As he had done for more than half his time in Washington, Senator Kennedy launched his crusade on behalf of those who daily do the menial work that make everyone else’s day cleaner, brighter, and safer. “The minimum wage,’’ he often said, “was one of the first and is still one of the best antipoverty programs we have.’’

During the administration of Republican George W. Bush, Senator Kennedy led the Senate’s antiwar faction as the president persuaded Congress to authorize the use of military force against Iraq.

But Senator Kennedy displayed a willingness to be helpful when he thought Bush was right. He was a force behind Bush’s chief domestic policy achievement in its first term, No Child Left Behind, the sweeping education bill that mandated testing to measure student progress. When Bush introduced him at the bill’s signing ceremony, the president said: “He is a fabulous United States senator. When he’s against you, it’s tough. When he’s with you, it is a great experience.’’

In early 2008, shortly before his cancer diagnosis, Senator Kennedy surprised much of the political world by endorsing Senator Barack Obama for president over Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. The endorsement was seen as a passing of the Kennedy torch to the man aspiring to be the nation’s first black president.

Despite his illness, Senator Kennedy made a forceful appearance at the Democratic convention in Denver, exhorting his party to victory and declaring that the fight for universal health insurance had been “the cause of my life.’’

He pursued that cause vigorously, even as his health declined; when members of Obama’s administration questioned the president’s decision to spend so much political capital on the seemingly intractable issue, Obama reportedly replied, “I promised Teddy.’»

terça-feira, 25 de agosto de 2009

O anúncio da recondução de Bernanke

Obama reconduz Ben Bernanke, num segundo mandato na liderança da Federal Reserve

Um artigo de Eamon Javers, no

«Most people have annual performance reviews to determine whether they get to keep their jobs.

Ben Bernanke has the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

There is no better way to understand President Barack Obama’s decision to reappoint Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve on Tuesday morning than to look at the Dow – which was below 8,000 when the president took the oath of office in January, and closed above 9,500 on Monday.

“Ben approached a financial system on the verge of collapse with calm and wisdom; with bold action and outside-the-box thinking that has helped put the brakes on our economic freefall,” Obama said Tuesday, taking a break from his vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.

With Bernanke by his side, the president heaped praise on the Fed chief.

“As an expert on the causes of the Great Depression, I’m sure Ben never imagined that he would be part of a team responsible for preventing another,” the president said. “But because of his background, his temperament, his courage, and his creativity, that’s exactly what he has helped to achieve.”

Bernanke himself seemed relieved as he stepped up to the podium after Obama finished speaking. Bernanke thanked the staff of the Federal Reserve as well as his wife Anna and two children.

"We have been bold or deliberate as circumstances demanded, but our objective remains constant: to restore a more stable financial and economic environment in which opportunity can again flourish, and in which Americans’ hard work and creativity can receive their proper rewards,” Bernanke said in brief remarks.

The months-long rally that Wall Street has seen since the darkest days of late February and March will likely be viewed by historians as the result of muscular intervention in the markets by the federal government, and Bernanke was joined at the hip with Obama’s team in that effort.

In effect, his reappointment means that the Obama administration is doubling down on the Fed, validating Bernanke’s aggressive approach to cutting interest rates and pumping money into the economy – and signaling that Obama wants to stay the course in hopes of turning some recent positive signs in the economy into a full-fledged recovery.

Likewise, a decision by the president to install someone else at the top of the Fed when Bernanke’s term expires on Jan. 31 would have been seen as a course change in the policies that have underscored Obama’s approach to the global financial crisis of 2008. And any replacement would have met with howls of protest on Wall Street, where Bernanke is viewed as the man who saved the world economy.

“The president wanted the team that has been working to rescue this economy together," a White House official told POLITICO Monday evening. "This continuity is crucial."

Bernanke had broad support on Wall Street, and industry groups had begun a quiet whisper campaign to bolster his prospects of re-nomination, making sure to mention their high regard for Bernanke in White House meetings called on other subjects.

Bernanke was basking in good press in the hours leading up to his reappointment.

His comments on Friday that prospects for economic recovery appeared good were enough to fuel a stock market boomlet, prompting headlines like this one from the Associated Press on Monday: “Bernanke continues to give world stocks a lift.»

segunda-feira, 24 de agosto de 2009

As férias dos Obama em Martha's Vineyard

Um artigo de Nia-Malika Henderson, no

«As the health care debate rages on, President Barack Obama will begin a weeklong vacation Sunday in Martha’s Vineyard, an enclave of liberal royalty far from middle America, where his approval numbers are starting to stall.

Already, at least one group on the right is taking a jab at Obama over his beach vacation — at a 28-acre farm, said to rent for up to $50,000 a week. Obama has struggled against the perception that he has trouble connecting with average voters, and some are questioning his choice of a getaway spot for the well-to-do.

“The danger for President Obama is that he seems to be in what is one of the most elite summer resorts in the United States. From an image-making point of view, it would be better to be in the Wisconsin Dells or Put-in-Bay, Ohio,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian. “There is the connotation with Martha’s Vineyard of East Coast elitism. ... I have a feeling when they decided on Martha’s Vineyard they didn’t know the health care debate would be this brutal.”

The Republican group, Conservatives For Patients' Rights, made an ad called “Surfs Up,” mocking Obama’s leisurely beachside vacation.

“The beach is nice this time of year, but while President Obama vacations, concerns mount about his health care plan,” the ad says. “Mr. President, when you go back to D.C., drop your government-run health care plan.”

But the White House has been unapologetic about both the need for Obama to take a break from the battle over his health plan, and his choice of a venue.

“I don’t think the American people begrudge a president taking some time with his family that’s well-earned and well-deserved for a few days to see and spend time with them,” press secretary Robert Gibbs said. Gibbs also said the president isn’t planning any public events during his vacation but will be in touch with key congressional players.

The politics of presidential vacationing is hardly new. Obama’s predecessor steered clear of vacation spots of the rich and famous, but George W. Bush did take heat for spending a month or more at times on his ranch in Crawford, Texas. His father, President George H.W. Bush, also took flak for tooling around the family’s compound off Kennebunkport, Maine, in sleek cigarette boats during a recession.

Obama’s also has chosen a vacation spot associated with the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who visited twice during his presidency — including once in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Sen. Ted Kennedy has a house in nearby Hyannisport, on Cape Cod. There was some speculation that Obama would visit Kennedy — who is battling a brain tumor — but the two will not meet, according to a Kennedy aide.

Initially, presidential vacation watchers speculated that one of the reasons Obama chose Martha’s Vineyard was to visit Oak Bluffs, a historically black enclave where director Spike Lee, music executive Sylvia Rhone and Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree have houses, and where generations of blacks have spent summers at the Inkwell, as the beach is nicknamed.

But instead, Obama will be about 12 miles away on a secluded property in Chilmark called the Blue Heron Farm, in the same town as Clinton pal Vernon Jordan, who is known to keep a daily, early morning golf date at the Farm Neck Club in Oak Bluffs.

The sprawling beachfront estate includes a golf tee, an apple orchard, gardens, swimming pool and a small basketball court. The president is paying for his family’s portion of the rental out of his own pocket, with the government picking up Secret Service and staff costs.

During the campaign, Obama visited Martha’s Vineyard for fundraising, and in summer 2004, there was a kind of coming-out party for the soon-to-be junior senator from Illinois. Organized by senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, who owns a home on the island, the event drew a crowd of about 300 A-listers to the summer rental of Harvard professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, a friend of Obama’s who once hosted the Clintons at the home in Oak Bluffs.

Obama is expected to see Gates this week as well, friends say — just weeks after Gates attended the “beer summit” at the White House, following Gates’s arrest on disorderly conduct charges at his home by a white Cambridge, Mass., police officer.

Obama came out strongly in defense of Gates, saying police “acted stupidly” in arresting the professor. It was the first racial imbroglio of his term, and set off a firestorm that Obama tried to quiet by bringing Gates and the officer to the White House.

Palling around with Gates could re-open a conversation that Obama doesn’t want to have, some say.

“It would be hard to avoid seeing Skip [Gates] because he is out and about so much. ... but I think it would be a mistake to go over to Skip’s for a beer,” said Melissa Harris Lacewell, a political science professor at Princeton University, who was on the Vineyard last week for an annual conference on race. “He doesn’t want to encourage the sense that he has an intimate relationship to Skip or that he has any lingering responsibility. He [Obama] has done his part in all of this.”

Ogletree, who owns a home in Oak Bluffs, said there aren’t any plans for a reception for Obama similar to the one in 2004. “People are ready, willing and able to host him in any way, but they want him to get privacy and rest,” said Ogletree, a mentor to Michelle Obama who was Gates’s lawyer after he was arrested.

Harris Lacewell said Americans shouldn’t be surprised the president wants to go to a nice place for vacation, especially a place like Martha’s Vineyard, where he has many friends.

“If he wants to hang out where other presidents hang out, then he can,” she said. “America is going to have to get over the fact that the guy is an elite. He lives in the White House — he can vacation in the Vineyard.”

But Obama’s inbox will be stuffed full when he gets back — he's heading into a critical month of September on health care, but also facing big decisions on other parts of his legislative agenda such as cap-and-trade energy legislation, as well as an expected request for more troops from his commander in Afghanistan.

He’ll also face liberals growing anxious that Obama is prepared to sacrifice some of their key priorities on health care and other issues — which would shatter their hopes that Obama would usher in a new progressive era in American politics.

“The President needs to use his vacation not just as a well-deserved break to be with his family but as a time of contemplation, to step back and ask why he ran for president,” Drew Westen, a political psychologist, wrote on POLITICO’s The Arena. “He needs to come out in September with an answer.”

Obama comenta eleições no Afeganistão

Elisabeth Edwards sobre o teste de paternidade que o marido poderá ter que fazer para se saber se John é mesmo pai do filho de Rielle Hunter

CBS/60 MINUTES: Tributo a Don Hewitt

Watch CBS Videos Online

sábado, 22 de agosto de 2009

Mensagem Semanal: Obama ataca os «mitos» em torno dos perigos da Reforma da Saúde

Reforma da Saúde: Obama desafia os críticos

«President Barack Obama is challenging his critics on a national health care overhaul, accusing them of making "phony claims" about the legislation.

"This is an issue of vital concern to every American, and I'm glad that so many are engaged," Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address.

"But it also should be an honest debate, not one dominated by willful misrepresentations and outright distortions, spread by the very folks who would benefit the most by keeping things exactly as they are."

Obama said illegal immigrants would not be part of the health care overhaul, taxpayers would not be mandated to fund abortions and he does not intend a government takeover of health care — all claims that critics have made at contentious town hall-style meetings with members of Congress.

He also took a swipe at "death panels," an idea former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin introduced on her Facebook page.

"As every credible person who has looked into it has said, there are no so-called death panels — an offensive notion to me and to the American people," Obama said. "These are phony claims meant to divide us."

Obama's liberal base was angered this week after he seemed to suggest he would be fine with a plan that lacked a government-run health insurance option.

"This is one idea among many to provide more competition and choice, especially in the many places around the country where just one insurer thoroughly dominates the marketplace," Obama said. "Let me repeat: It would be just an option; those who prefer their private insurer would be under no obligation to shift to a public plan."

In their weekly address, Republicans accused Obama of misrepresenting his proposal.

"As opposition to the Democrats' government-run health plan is mounting, the president has said he'd like to stamp out some of the disinformation floating around out there," said Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga. "The problem is the president, himself, plays fast and loose with the facts."

Price said that the whole plan should be scrapped and lawmakers should start over with a plan that makes sure patients — not Washington or insurance providers — are the top priority.

"We all know that when the government is setting the rules and is backed by tax dollars, it will destroy, not compete with, the private sector," said Price, a physician. "The reality is, whether or not you get to keep your plan, or your doctor, is very much in question under the president's proposal."»

in Associated Press

sexta-feira, 21 de agosto de 2009

CBS/60 MINUTES: Os segredos dos novos aviões americanos, comandados à distância, usados em missões de combate no Afeganistão

Os «predators» são aviões que voam sozinhos, sobre o Afeganistão, em busca dos «insurgents», comandados por especialistas do exército americano sentados no seus postos de comando, no Nevada.

Reportagem de Lara Logan que pode ser vista a partir dos minuto 15 desta edição do «60 minutes», que abaixo reproduzimos:

Watch CBS Videos Online

Um novo tipo de jornalismo político (mais jovem, mais tecnológico) emerge em Washington

Garrett Graff, editor-executivo da revista «Washingtonian», em conversa com Kaylee Hartung, da CBS:

Watch CBS Videos Online

Obama terá uma visita indesejada nas férias em Martha's Vineyard...

Cindy Sheehan, mãe de um soldado americano morto no Iraque, critica a «degradação das condições no terreno, tanto no Iraque como no Afeganistão».

Reforma da Saúde: modelo testado por Romney no Massachussets pode ser denominador comum

«Porque precisamos de uma Reforma da Saúde», artigo de Barack Obama publicado no New York Times e no 'i'

«O nosso país está actualmente empenhado num grande debate sobre o futuro do nosso sistema de saúde. Nas últimas semanas, grande parte da atenção da comunicação social centrou-se nos que falavam mais alto. O que não ouvimos foram as vozes de milhões e milhões de norte-americanos que todos os dias lutam silenciosamente contra um sistema que muitas vezes funciona melhor para as companhias de seguros que para eles.

São pessoas como Lori Hitchcock, com quem falei no New Hampshire, na semana passada. A Lori é actualmente trabalhadora independente e está a tentar lançar um negócio, mas, como tem hepatite C, não consegue encontrar uma seguradora que lhe faça um seguro de saúde. Outra mulher declarou que uma companhia de seguros não lhe fazia a cobertura de doenças dos órgãos internos por causa de um acidente que teve aos 5 anos. Um homem perdeu a cobertura do seguro a meio de uma quimioterapia porque a seguradora descobriu que tinha cálculos na vesícula, facto que ele desconhecia quando subscreveu a apólice. Como o tratamento sofreu um atraso, ele morreu.

Todos os dias ouço mais relatos como estes e é por essa razão que estamos a agir com tanta urgência para lançarmos a reforma do seguro de saúde ainda este ano. Não preciso de explicar aos quase 46 milhões de cidadãos que não têm seguro de saúde como ele é importante. Mas é igualmente importante para os que têm seguro de saúde.

Há quatro maneiras principais de a reforma que propomos proporcionar mais estabilidade e segurança a todos.

Em primeiro lugar, se alguém não tiver seguro de saúde, terá a opção de uma cobertura de alta qualidade e financeiramente acessível para todo o agregado familiar, cobertura essa que continuará a ser válida mesmo se mudar de emprego ou ficar desempregada.

Em segundo lugar, a reforma irá finalmente permitir controlar e conter o aumento vertiginoso das despesas de saúde, o que representará uma verdadeira poupança para as famílias, para as empresas e para o governo. Vamos cortar centenas de milhares de milhões de dólares de desperdício e ineficácia de programas de saúde federais como o Medicare e o Medicaid e em subsídios não supervisionados às seguradoras que não fazem nada para melhorar os cuidados de saúde e fazem tudo para melhorar os seus lucros.

Em terceiro lugar, ao tornar o Medicare mais eficaz, poderemos garantir que mais dólares dos impostos irão directamente para idosos necessitados em vez de enriquecerem as seguradoras. Isso não só irá proporcionar aos idosos de hoje os benefícios que lhes foram prometidos, como irá garantir a solidez do Medicare a longo prazo, para os idosos de amanhã. E as nossas reformas irão também reduzir as comparticipações que os idosos pagam pelos medicamentos receitados.

Por último, a reforma irá proporcionar a cada pessoa certas protecções básicas ao consumo que irão, por fim, responsabilizar as companhias de seguro. Um estudo de 2007 a nível nacional mostra de facto que as companhias de seguros recusaram apólices a mais de 12 milhões de norte-americanos nos três anos anteriores porque tinham tido uma doença no passado. As seguradoras recusavam-se simplesmente a fazer seguros a pessoas ou a cobrir uma doença ou estado clínico específico - e, se o fizessem, cobravam prémios mais altos.

Vamos pôr cobro a essas práticas. A nossa reforma irá proibir as companhias de seguros de negarem cobertura com base no historial clínico. Também não poderão cancelar uma apólice em caso de doença do segurado. Não poderão anular a cobertura quando ela é mais necessária. Deixarão de poder atribuir limites arbitrários aos montantes a pagar em determinado ano ou durante a vida do segurado. E iremos também impor um limite ao montante que poderão cobrar por despesas burocráticas. Nenhum cidadão deve ficar arruinado por estar doente.

Mais importante ainda, iremos exigir que as companhias de seguros cubram exames de rotina, bem como análises e exames de despiste, como sejam mamografias e colonoscopias. Não há razão alguma para que não seja possível detectar à partida doenças como o cancro da mama ou da próstata. Faz sentido, poupa vidas e também pode poupar dinheiro.

Esta é a essência da reforma. Se uma pessoa não tiver seguro de saúde, terá finalmente outras opções de qualidade e financeiramente acessíveis assim que a reforma entrar em vigor. Se uma pessoa tiver seguro de saúde, garantiremos que nenhuma seguradora ou nenhum burocrata governamental se vai interpor entre ela e o tratamento de que precisa. Quem gostar do médico que tem pode conservá-lo. Quem gostar do plano de cuidados de saúde que tem pode ficar com ele. Não terá de ir para filas de espera. Não se trata aqui de pôr o governo a controlar o seguro de saúde de cada um. As decisões de saúde de cada um devem ser apenas do próprio e do respectivo médico: não competem a burocratas governamentais nem às seguradoras.

O longo e aceso debate sobre os cuidados de saúde que tem vindo a decorrer nos últimos meses tem sido benéfico. É um bom exemplo de como as coisas se passam nos EUA.

Mas temos de falar uns com os outros e não sobre os outros. As diferenças de opinião são inevitáveis, mas discordemos em questões reais e não em relação a interpretações falsas, ou até loucas, que nada têm a ver com o que alguém disse ou propôs realmente. Trata-se de uma questão complicada e vital, que merece um debate sério.

Apesar do que já vimos na televisão, penso que está a decorrer um debate sério à mesa da cozinha em todas as casas. Nos últimos anos recebi inúmeras cartas e perguntas sobre cuidados de saúde. Há quem seja a favor da reforma e há quem manifeste dúvidas ou preocupação. Mas quase todos compreendem que é preciso fazer qualquer coisa. Quase todos sabem que temos de começar a responsabilizar as companhias de seguros e a dar às pessoas mais estabilidade e segurança no que respeita aos cuidados de saúde.

Estou confiante que acabaremos por chegar a um consenso, necessário para atingirmos este objectivo. Estamos mais perto que nunca de alcançar a reforma do sistema de saúde. Temos o apoio das associações de enfermeiros e de médicos, porque tanto uns como outros sabem em primeira mão como essa reforma é necessária. No Congresso há um amplo consenso sobre cerca de 80% das medidas que pretendemos aplicar. E temos o acordo das farmacêuticas no sentido de tornarem os medicamentos receitados financeiramente mais acessíveis aos idosos. A associação de reformados AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) apoia estas políticas e concorda connosco que a reforma deve entrar em vigor ainda este ano.

Nas próximas semanas, os cínicos e os derrotistas vão continuar a explorar receios e dúvidas para daí retirarem ganhos políticos. No entanto, apesar de todas essas tácticas para assustar as pessoas, o que é verdadeiramente assustador - e arriscado - é a perspectiva de nada se fazer. Se mantivermos o statu quo, continuaremos a ver diariamente 14 mil pessoas perderem o seu seguro de saúde, os prémios dos seguros a aumentarem vertiginosamente, o aumento constante do nosso défice e as seguradoras lucrarem por discriminarem quem está doente.

Não é esse o futuro que quero para os meus filhos nem para os vossos. E não é esse o futuro que quero para os Estados Unidos da América.

No fundo, não se trata de política. Trata-se, sim, da vida e do viver das pessoas. Trata-se da vida profissional das pessoas. Trata-se do futuro dos EUA. Trata-se de podermos olhar para trás daqui a uns anos e dizer que este foi o momento em que se fizeram as mudanças necessárias e se deu uma vida melhor aos nossos filhos. Acredito que podemos fazê-lo e acredito que o faremos.»

quinta-feira, 20 de agosto de 2009

Ted Kennedy já prepara a sucessão

«Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who is suffering from brain cancer and has missed most of the sessions of the Senate this year, has sent a letter (PDF) to Massachusetts leaders asking for a change in state law to allow his seat in Congress to be more rapidly filled.

The letter, first obtained by the Boston Globe, asks state lawmakers to select a temporary replacement should a U.S. Senate seat become vacant. Under a 2004 revision to the Massachusetts succession law, a U.S. Senate seat that becomes vacant can only be filled through a special election held at least 145 days after the seat becomes available, leaving the state with only one senator for months.

Though it does not articulate this, Kennedy's letter seems an effort to assure that Democrats in the Senate are not missing a key Democratic vote should the longtime senator succumb to cancer in the middle of the debate on expanding health insurance, long one of Kennedy's passions. Democrats have 60 votes in the Senate when Kennedy is able to participate and might need all of them if the chamber's 40 Republicans unify to oppose health-care reform efforts.

"I strongly support that law and the principle that the people should elect their senator," Kennedy wrote in the letter, dated July 2 but only sent to state officials this week. "I also believe it is vital for this Commonwealth to have two voices speaking for the needs of its citizens and two votes in the Senate during the approximately five months between a vacancy and an election."

In his letter, Kennedy calls for state leaders to get a commitment from the person who accepts the temporary appointment not to run in the special election.

Massachusetts lawmakers changed the law to require a special election back in 2004, and it's not clear how they will revise it now, despite Kennedy's plea. In a joint statement to the Globe, state Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert A. Deleo, both Democrats, were noncommittal on the request, saying only "we have great respect for the senator and what he continues to do for our Commonwealth and our nation. It is our hope that he will continue to be a voice for the people of Massachusetts as long as he is able."

Anthony Coley, a Kennedy spokesman, said the release of the letter was not occasioned by any change in the senator's health. Several of Kennedy's Senate colleagues say they have spoken with him in recent weeks, but Kennedy did not attend the funeral last week of his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

"The senator drafted this letter because he is thinking about the future and the interests of the state," Coley said.»

in site do Washington Post, «Capitol Briefing», texto de Perry Bacon Jr.

Os republicanos e a Reforma da Saúde

quarta-feira, 19 de agosto de 2009

Don Hewitt (1922/2009), criador do «60 Minutes»

Decididamente, estamos numa época de perdas de grandes nomes do jornalismo político americano: um mês depois de Walter Cronkite ter falecido, no dia seguinte à morte de Robert Novak, hoje desapareceu, aos 86 anos, Don Hewitt, o criador do excelente programa «60 Minutes», da CBS.

O CASA BRANCA recorda, neste dia, um excerto de uma entrevista concedida por Don Hewitt em que ele se refere ao debate presidencial entre Kennedy e Nixon, em 1960, o primeiro debate político transmitido em directo pela televisão, que Don Hewitt organizou:

Analistas apontam uma nova estratégia da Casa Branca para a reforma da Saúde

'In memoriam' de Robert Novak (1931/2009)

(dois posts abaixo, pode ler informações mais pormenorizadas sobre este histórico colunista político americano e recordar o trabalho sobre o 'caso Valerie Plame', que Novak desencadeou, publicado aqui, no CASA BRANCA, em Dezembro de 2008)

Barack Obama e Bill Clinton têm um encontro marcado para hoje - será a Coreia do Norte o tema da agenda?

terça-feira, 18 de agosto de 2009

Morreu Robert Novak, um dos mais prestigiados colunistas políticos nos EUA

Robert Novak morreu esta terça-feira, aos 78 anos. O colunista do Chicago Sun Times, que durante 40 anos assinou o Inside Report, esteve em várias polémicas e assinou, no New York Yimes, um artigo em que expôs publicamente a identidade de Valerie Plame, esposa do embaixador Joe Wilson e agente encoberta da CIA.

No link abaixo, pode recuperar o trabalho feito no SEXTA sobre o tema, em Abril do ano passado, e já publicado aqui no CASA BRANCA.

Por agora, fiquemos com o texto Lynn Sweet, no Sun Times News Group, sobre Robert Novak:

«WASHINGTON--Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak, one of the nation's most influential journalists, who relished his "Prince of Darkness" public persona, died at home here early Tuesday morning after a battle with brain cancer.

"He was someone who loved being a journalist, love journalism and loved his country and loved his family, Novak's wife, Geraldine, told the Sun-Times on Tuesday.

"Bob was always the pro, no matter what he had going on he was always at the ready to help out on stories, and he broke more than his share. Even as he became a national figure he was always proud to be part of the Sun-Times and we were proud of him," said Don Hayner, Editor in Chief of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Novak was remembered by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as "a good friend and a fine reporter. We spent many hours talking about the ins and out of Washington and Chicago politics together, and I will miss his friendship greatly."

Former Commerce Secretary William Daley and his brother, Mayor Richard Daley, were also friends of Novak. William Daley told the Sun-Times, "Bob was a proud Illinoisan proud of his Joliet upbringing and the university which he graduated.

"He was a tough reporter who was a conservative who believed in reporting and analyzing the politicians and what they said. He loved the Sun-Times with lots of friends there. Even though he had a rough reputation he cared deeply about people who were not the powerful. His sources were a multitude of people from every political persuasion I was proud to be one of them."

Mayor Daley said, "On behalf of the residents of Chicago, I extend my sympathies to the family and friends of Robert Novak.

"With the Chicago Sun-Times as his home base for many years, Bob Novak kept Americans informed about the impact of the federal government on their lives.

"He was an outstanding reporter and a communicator who distinguished himself in both print and electronic media. He will be greatly missed by all who value the role that a free press plays in our society."

Novak's remarkable and long-running career made him a powerful presence in newspaper columns, newsletters, books and on television. His was a conservative voice--but he was hardly a foot soldier of the Republican party. He was a major critic of President Bush's invasion of Iraq.

On May 15, 1963, Novak teamed up with the late Rowland Evans Jr. to create the "Inside Report" political column, which became the must-read syndicated column. Evans tapped Novak, then a 31-year old correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, to help with the workload of a six-day-a-week column.

Evans and Novak were the odd couple: Evans a Philadelphia blue blood and Yale graduate; Novak from Joliet, Ill. who attended the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana campus.

Novak handled the column solo after Evans retired in 1993. The Chicago Sun-Times has been Novak's home paper since 1966.

One of the most controversial chapters in Novak's career was triggered by a 2003 Chicago Sun-Times column he did disclosing the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame.

At the time the outing of Plame was seen as an attempt to discredit her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who wrote an op-ed disputing the Bush White House claim that Iraq had bought "uranium yellowcake" from Niger.

The leaking of Plame's name led to an investigation headed by Chicago based federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, resulting in the conviction of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, accused of lying to a federal grand jury.

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Oh) said "Bob made remarkable contributions in the field of journalism and to the American political landscape. He gave us a lifetime of dedication to the work he loved, and it is hard to imagine Washington without him."

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said Novak was a Washington institution who could turn an idea into the most discussed story around kitchen tables, Congressional offices, the White House, and everywhere in between."

Robert David Sanders Novak, 78, was born and raised in Joliet and his first newspaper jobs were with the Joliet Herald-News and, while a student at the University of Illinois, the Champaign-Urbana Courier. Novak maintained a lifelong tie to the University of Illinois with the school creating the Robert D. Novak chair of Western Civilization and Culture.

Mrs. Novak said that her husband passed away at 4:30 a.m., returning home after being hospitalized between July 10 and July 24. Novak's malignant brain tumor was discovered July 27, 2008. Born Jewish, Novak became a Catholic in 1998 and attributed being able to handle the shock of learning he had a brain tumor in 2008 to his Catholic faith. In one of his last columns--Sept. 7, 2008--Novak wrote about how he learned he had a brain tumor.

"The first sign that I was in trouble came on Wednesday, July 23, when my 2004 black Corvette struck a pedestrian on 18th Street in downtown Washington while I was on my way to the office." Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) is also fighting a brain tumor and Novak disclosed in the column that he found his brain surgeon through the help of Kennedy's wife, Vicki.

In 2008 Novak chronicled his amazing career, in his memoir, The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington. He was known as a conservative pundit who pioneered political talk television on CNN with Capital Gang, Crossfire and Inside Politics.

Novak was a fixture on political shows--on NBC's "Meet the Press" 248 times. But Novak had a long history with CNN. Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide said, "We are saddened by the passing of Robert Novak. He was a journalist of the old school, hard-working, practical and passionate about our profession. From its earliest days and for some 25 years, Bob shared generously with CNN and with CNN viewers his authority, credibility, humor and towering presence. We're grateful to have worked alongside him and send our respect and sympathy to his family."

Never taking himself too seriously, Novak was a member and former president of The Gridiron Club, and looked forward each year to dressing up in a costume lampooning politicians--or even himself. He was last onstage at the Gridiron show as Darth Vader.

He was also a passionate basketball fan, rooting for the University of Maryland Terps.

Besides Mrs. Novak, survivors include son Alex, 41, a marketing executive for Eagle Publishing and daughter Zelda, 44, who is married to the journalist Christopher Caldwell. Novak is the grandfather Jane, Philip, Eliza, and George Caldwell, and Max, Sam, Gloria, and Joseph Novak.

Visitation will take place at St. Patrick's in the City Catholic Church, 619 Tenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., on Thursday, August 20 from 4:00-7:00 p.m. A funeral Mass will be held at St. Patrick's in the City, 619 Tenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., on Friday, August 21 at 10:00 a.m. Interment private. If desired, memorial contributions may be made to the Youth Leadership Foundation, 4101 Yuma Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20016 or the Children's Charities Foundation, 3000 K Street, N.W., Suite 500, Washington, DC 20007-5109».

Israelitas começam a ficar desapontados com Rahm Emanuel

O poderoso chefe de gabinete da Administração Obama (uma espécie de primeiro-ministro do governo americano) é judeu e lutou pelo exército de Israel, em 1991, na primeira guerra do Golfo.

Mas o lobby israelita pensava que Rahm iria ser mais influente na correlação de forças da nova administração americana, que mantém o objectivo dos two states para a questão israelo-palestiniana.

Um texto de Kenneth Vogel, no

As the Obama administration presses Israel to cease settlement expansion as part of a renewed push for a Middle East peace deal — a course of action that many Israelis have interpreted as evidence of the president’s favoritism towards Palestinians — Israelis have increasingly focused their disappointment not on Obama, but rather on his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

An observant Jew with deep ties to Israel, Emanuel is viewed as something of a native son, his rise through the ranks of American politics celebrated by Israelis who reveled in details such as his childhood summers spent in Israel and his volunteer stint during the first Gulf War in an Israeli military program for civilians.

When Emanuel was tapped to be Obama’s chief of staff, a headline in the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz kvelled “Obama's first pick: Israeli Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff,” while the Jewish news service JTA went with “Rahm Emanuel: attack dog, policy wonk, committed Jew.”

But in a dramatic emotional shift, Israelis have become increasingly disenchanted with Emanuel, and the disappointment is especially intense on the Israeli right, which supports Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his opposition to Obama’s call for ceasing settlement activity.

Israelis across the political spectrum were skeptical of Obama’s commitment to the Jewish homeland during the presidential campaign but many viewed Emanuel as a guarantor of their interests, the best hope for continuing the U.S. government’s favorable treatment of the Jewish state.

Today, however, widespread unhappiness with their treatment at the hands of the Obama administration has led to feelings of betrayal—and Emanuel is bearing the brunt of it.

In April, a hard-line Israeli Knesset member, Yaakov Katz, wrote Emanuel accusing him of “condescending” to Israelis and their leaders, and in May delivered a speech from the Knesset floor in which he blasted Obama’s demand that Israel cease settlement building. He also invited Emanuel — whom Katz has called “an Israeli Jew” — to “return to Israel” and to stay in the settlement Katz helped create.

Later, Haaretz reported that conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has feuded with Obama, has slurred both Emanuel and fellow senior adviser David Axelrod as “self-hating Jews.”

A Netanyahu spokesman denied the report, but an Israeli pollster interviewed by POLITICO said Netanyahu’s point of view is shared by many Israelis, and that resentment tends to focus more acutely on Emanuel — whose father is Israeli, and who friends and associates say maintains deep connections to the Jewish state — than Axelrod.

The hostility is not limited to the Israeli right. Haaretz — which is regarded as a more liberal newspaper and thus more likely to give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt — last month caricatured Emanuel as a stern-faced, whip-bearing lion-tamer prodding the United States — represented by a compliant lion with its mouth open wide and teeth bared–to chomp on an unsuspecting Netanyahu (who appears to think the scene is part of a harmless circus trick).

Conservative Jerusalem-based blogger Ted Belman helped promote a protest of the administration’s Middle East policy two weeks ago in Chicago — the hometown of Obama, Emanuel and Axelrod — billing it as the “Rally for Israel against Rahm Emanuel and Obama's efforts to Divide Israel and Jerusalem,” with hardline Jerusalem Post editor Caroline Glick as the keynote speaker.

Father surprised by Israeli reaction
At the heart of the disillusionment with Emanuel is the notion that he is both pushing the administration — and providing cover for it — to demand more concessions from Israel than from its Arab neighbors.

The very existence of that belief has been a bitter pill for the Emanuel family to swallow. The family changed its last name from “Auerbach” to “Emanuel” to honor an uncle who was killed in a clash with Arabs in pre-Israel Palestine. Emanuel’s own middle name is “Israel,” and he compiled a strong, though occasionally dovish, pro-Israel record during his three terms as a Democratic congressman.

Shortly after Obama selected Emanuel for his post, a story in the Israeli tabloid Maariv quoted his father, Benjamin Emanuel, asserting that his son "obviously … will influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn't he? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House."

That comment caused an outcry among Arab American groups and prompted an apology from his son.

But late last month, Benjamin Emanuel — a retired Chicago doctor who was born in Jerusalem and served in a pre-Israeli-state militant Zionist group known as the Irgun or Etzel — lashed out at Israeli treatment of his son.

"I'm simply surprised that in Israel they jump down his throat," he told a Haaretz reporter angrily — and in Hebrew.

"I love the country, my children are Zionists, they came to Israel every year, and I don't know why they're attacking Rahm. I support Netanyahu, I was a member of the Etzel," he is quoted as saying.

Asked about his comments, Benjamin Emanuel told a POLITICO reporter, “I don’t talk to journalists, I’m sorry.”

Rahm Emanuel’s office did not answer questions about the Israeli perceptions, his role in crafting Middle East policy or his connections to Israel. Instead, his spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg said in a statement, “Dr. and Mrs. Emanuel are private citizens. The Emanuel family would greatly appreciate it if reporters would respect their privacy and refrain from calling them at their home.”

History of Israeli obsession
There is a long history of Israeli “obsession with politicians and advisors to the U.S. presidents who are Jewish going back to Kissinger,” said Mitchell Barak, a Jerusalem-based pollster who during the presidential campaign conducted several surveys showing Israelis favoring Republican John McCain over Obama.

Channeling what he said are common Israeli sentiments, Barak said “we were proud that Rahm reached the top and we felt comfortable and secure that he was going to look after our interests. And now we find out that that’s not the case.”

Citing Obama’s call for Israel to cease building new settlements in Palestinian territory, Barak asserted Israelis think Emanuel “is giving Obama his Kosher stamp of approval to be tough on Israel, when they thought he was going to be there to explain our position.”

That sentiment is an unfair characterization and reflects a misunderstanding of Emanuel’s role, said Aaron David Miller, a former State Department official who worked on Arab-Israeli peace negotiations under four presidents.

“On matters related to Israel and Middle East policy, Rahm will have a very strong voice, but he’s not the power behind the throne on foreign policy,” said Miller, who worked with Emanuel during the Clinton administration and is now a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center. “The whole thing is inside Jewish baseball, and it’s not healthy. It’s symptomatic of a real dysfunction in the way some Israelis look at the world and look at America.”

Miller, who is also Jewish, is familiar with some of the pressures confronting Emanuel. In 1989, as a lead peace negotiator for then-Secretary of State James Baker, he was publicly lambasted in Israel along with two other Jewish diplomats as being “self-hating Jews.”

“This is different, though — it’s a complete misreading of Rahm. Rahm is a tough, pragmatic guy who has a real commitment to the security of Israel. His credentials on that are above reproach,” Miller said.

He attributed the Israeli scrutiny of Emanuel to widespread Israeli mistrust of Obama, differences between the two nations on how aggressively to address the Iranian nuclear threat, the president’s call for Israel to cease settlement growth and Netanyahu’s opposition to that call, combined with Emanuel’s Clinton-era experience with Netanyahu, whose aides reportedly first grew wary of Emanuel during their talks with the Palestinians at Wye Plantation in 1998 — in the midst of Netanyahu’s first stint as prime minister.

“All that has a created a perfect storm of suspicion — which has to be addressed if the administration is going to have success in the peace process — and Rahm seems to have emerged as the focal point,” Miller said.

Liaison to Israel, Jews?
Though presidential chiefs of staff typically have played only peripheral foreign policy roles, Emanuel is often viewed as something of a liaison between the administration and the Jewish community when it comes to Israel.

Emanuel was one of only a few aides — Axelrod was another — to attend an initially secret, closed-door meeting in the White House’s Roosevelt Room between Obama and American Jewish leaders meant to allay their growing concerns about his administration’s Israel policy.

One report of the meeting quoted Obama saying he relies on Emanuel to explain the complicated political nuances of settlement issues. Separate Israeli media reports have asserted that Emanuel, in a private conversation with an unnamed American Jewish leader in April and one with AIPAC donors in May suggested that U.S. efforts to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions were contingent upon Israel’s willingness to make concessions in peace negotiations with Palestinians.

A White House aide suggested the reports were inaccurate, pointing to a post refuting them by staunchly pro-Israel blogger Jeffrey Goldberg, who had previously professed that he’s “known Rahm for a long time” and that his selection for the post “makes the entire Does Obama secretly hate Israel?’ conversation seem a bit ridiculous.”

In the White House-endorsed post, Goldberg wrote “I have it on good authority that Rahm told the [AIPAC] audience that Obama believes that it will be easier to enlist Arab allies in the confrontation with Iran if visible progress is made on the Palestinian front.”

That’s roughly the message that Obama delivered to the Jewish leaders at last month’s Roosevelt Room meeting, said Alan Solow, a longtime Obama ally from Chicago who attended the meeting as chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Solow, who knows Emanuel from Chicago political circles, says he does not believe Emanuel will be particularly involved in crafting or advancing the administration’s Middle East policies.

Caricatures predominate
The Israeli media’s characterizations of Emanuel’s role contain “a lot of speculation and opinion,” he cautioned. “That doesn’t always mean that it’s factually-based or accurate.”

Nonetheless, Solow conceded that Obama has a lot of work to do in winning over Israelis if he is to make any headway in the peace process, and he pointed to a June poll by the conservative Jerusalem Post newspaper that found only six percent of Jewish Israelis consider Obama’s views to be “pro-Israel.”

“I would doubt that Rahm would be the front person in making outreach to the Israeli citizenry,” Solow said, adding he and other American Jewish leaders urged Obama to appeal directly to Israelis much like he did to Muslims in his June address in Cairo.

Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz’s chief U.S. correspondent, said “Israel feels pretty vulnerable now” partly because of American pressure, and she conceded that Israelis may have a skewed impression of how much responsibility Emanuel bears for that pressure.

“Some of them probably get the feeling that's all he does — plotting all day against Netanyahu's government,” she said, explaining that her story late last month quoting Benjamin Emanuel puzzling over the Israeli backlash toward his son was an attempt “to try to broaden this perspective a bit” and get beyond the caricature of the White House chief of staff.

Most of the feedback after it ran from Israelis acknowledged a “better understanding of the complexity of this person,” Mozgovaya said.

But, she added, some also blasted him as a "Kapo Jew" — the name for Jewish police officers in Nazi concentration camps. “People wrote that ‘if he wasn’t a Jew, he would be called an anti-Semite.’ So it's very personal.”»