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Another Shot at the Safety Net

"Meeting these goals requires bipartisan effort. And two months ago, you showed the way. By strengthening Medicare and adding a prescription drug benefit, you kept a basic commitment to our seniors: You are giving them the modern medicine they deserve."

In 2005 : "To make our economy stronger and more productive, we must make health care more affordable and give families greater access to good coverage and more control over their health decisions."

Speaking of Medicare

Bush's track record regarding health care consists of one big asterisk: The Medicare drug benefit.

As Kevin Freking writes for the Associated Press: "The program got off to such a difficult start that more than 20 states opted to provide emergency coverage for low-income residents who ran into difficulty. Some people did not show up in pharmacists' computers as being enrolled in a plan, and others were charged far more than they were supposed to pay."

So here's a question: Even if you think Bush's health-care ideas are good, can you trust him to execute them competently?

Harold Meyerson argues in his Washington Post opinion column today that incompetence "is this president's defining attribute."

Live Online

I'm Live Online today at 1 p.m. ET, happily taking your excellent questions and comments about the White House. I might even take a few questions about the joys of fatherhood, which are legion.

The Inaugural Address: One Year Later

Peter Baker writes in The Washington Post: "In the year since Bush redefined U.S. foreign policy in his second inaugural address to make the spread of democracy the nation's primary mission, the clarion-call language has resonated in the dungeons and desolate corners of the world. But soaring rhetoric has often clashed with geopolitical reality and competing U.S. priorities.

"While the administration has enjoyed notable success in promoting liberty in some places, it has applied the speech's principles inconsistently in others, according to analysts, activists, diplomats and officials. Beyond its focus on Iraq, Washington has stepped up pressure on repressive regimes in countries such as Belarus, Burma and Zimbabwe -- where the costs of a confrontation are minimal -- while still gingerly dealing with China, Pakistan, Russia and other countries with strategic and trade significance. . . .

"The broader question is the degree to which Bush's speech marked genuine change in policy rather than so much talk. In many parts of the government, democracy promotion seems still to take a back seat to other goals."

NSA Watch

Steven Thomma writes for Knight Ridder Newspapers: "President Bush will speak Wednesday at the National Security Agency to defend his order to the super-secret spy center to conduct warrantless eavesdropping on Americans.

"But the speech will be much more than a defense. It also will be the photo-op spearhead of a campaign to turn the controversy into a plus for Republicans by transforming the 2006 congressional elections into a referendum on the war on terrorism. . . .


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