And here I thought his job was to ask probing questions. Chuck Todd reimagines journalism: “I think the job for all of us particularly in political reporting is to demystify Washington for the American public but then also try to translate the American public’s frustration for out of touch Washington people.”
In case you thought Medicare was in good shape. “Medicare’s problem is twofold. The program remains highly inefficient because the default FFS option has very little cost control within it. The government attempts to hold down costs with payment regulations, but price-setting does not directly limit volume, or the use of services. In addition, the retirement of the baby boom generation will send enrollment in the program soaring, from 52 million enrollees in 2013 to nearly 82 million in 2030.”
Remember when the Obama team thought the administration had another success story to brag about? “For one thing, the United States shut down its embassy in Libya earlier this summer and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort amid a significant deterioration in security in Tripoli. ‘Due to the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the US embassy in Tripoli, we have temporarily relocated all of our personnel out of Libya,’ a State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said.”
Politicians who thought Bashar al-Assad was the answer to the Islamic State had it exactly wrong. “The Islamic State, which metastasized from a group of militants seeking to overthrow the Syrian government into a marauding army gobbling up chunks of the Middle East gained momentum early on from a calculated decision by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to go easy on it, according to people close to the regime. Earlier in the three-year-old Syrian uprising, Mr. Assad decided to mostly avoid the Islamic State to enable it to cannibalize the more secular rebel group supported by the West, the Free Syrian Army, said Izzat Shahbandar, an Assad ally and former Iraqi lawmaker who was Baghdad’s liaison to Damascus. The goal, he said, was to force the world to choose between the regime and extremists.”
In case you thought we have to wait for President Obama to come up with a strategy, here is an alternative route: “While President Obama dithers, Congress needs to act against ISIS. House and Senate leaders should reconvene Congress this week and take the unprecedented step of authorizing military action against ISIS for President Obama’s signature. Customarily, a president takes the first step, presenting a draft Authorization for the Use of Military Force (similar to a declaration of war), then negotiating with Congress on the goals and scope. But Obama’s intentions are unknown, so Congress should seize the initiative.”
In every policy crisis the administration thought it had a “messaging problem.” They have a judgment and leadership deficit. “White House struggles with message on threat of ISIS.” When you have no policy, a message is hard to come by.
Once it was thought the White House at least could manipulate the media. Now, it creates one bad news cycle after another. “The problem for President Obama has come in managing the symbolic aspect of his office. Playing a round at the Farm Neck Golf Club was appropriate. Giving a speech after the murder of James Foley was necessary. It is the immediate juxtaposition of beheading and golfing that should have raised questions. Those questions would have been so obvious to any reasonably competent deputy press secretary that the incident raises further issues: Is there really no one on the White House staff with the standing to confront Obama when he is about to make a self-evident mistake? Is he surrounded by sycophancy? Or has reelection liberated Obama from all considerations of symbolism or appropriateness?” Yes, to all.