PALS AROUND WITH TERRORISTS?
Sarah Palin is an idiot; but just to make the point to those who haven’t gotten it, the Wall Street Journal notes that, far from palling around with them, he kills them:
President Obama has . . . stepped up the pace of drone attacks, which are now thought to have killed more than a third of the top Taliban leaders. These columns reported a month ago on an intelligence report showing that the strikes are also carried out with little or no harm to civilians.
For cosmetic political reasons, the Obama Administration no longer wants to use the phrase ‘global war on terror.’ Yet in Pakistan and Afghanistan it is fighting a more vigorous war on terrorists than did the previous Administration. Whatever you want to call it, the death of Baitullah Mehsud makes the world a safer place.
HEALTH CARE – IT’S GOING TO WORK OUT
‘The truth is that everything that’s taking place right now is irrelevant,’ he writes. What matters is what happens in conference once the House and Senate pass their bills. (Something neither the House or Senate did in 1993, when the Clintons were trying this.)
Only after something passes the House and the Senate will the real work begin. The conference committee to hammer out a final, identical bill will be the mother of all summits. That’s where President Obama must weigh in heavily to shape and then sell the outcome. . . . The White House’s only job until we get to conference is to shape the climate of opinion with one simple end in mind. Legislators need to get the message that their constituents want “change” on health care, and will punish them for supporting the status quo. . . .
You can’t channel surf on cable these days without seeing pundits who insist that [Obama] has blown it by not detailing what he wants in a final bill . . . The nattering nabobs of an earlier era would have likewise slammed Abraham Lincoln when he said, apropos of his general outlook, that “my policy is to have no policy.” But Lincoln knew a thing or two about political leadership. Within general parameters (pro-slavery or anti-slavery, pro-health reform or anti-health reform), a president’s job is to preserve enough flexibility to get the results he seeks while carrying most of the people along with him. A studied ambiguity as events unfold is indispensable to this task, and Obama intuits this just right.
Once we get to conference, however, Obama’s role must change. That will be the moment. That’s when he and his team have to knock heads, crafting a deal that covers everyone, funds this in economically rational ways, and slows system-wide cost growth. As importantly, that’s when Obama must move from Rose Garden jawboning and press conference talking points to a riveting series of speeches on health care that will rival his race speech during the campaign. He needs to take the issue to an entirely new level of adult conversation, frame the case for “change” versus “the status quo” in ways that empathize with the fears and aspirations of all sides, and show why the path he’s forged is good for average Americans and a fit with the journey the country has been on since its founding. Only Obama can provide the macro political framing and cover and energy that at the end of the day (around Thanksgiving) gets a majority of legislators to transcend their own preferred versions of reform and agree to act.
Even if his poll numbers are a bit tarnished, does anyone really want to bet against Obama seizing the presidential megaphone and making this compelling?
Between now and then, everyone should take a deep breath. The talking heads have to fill up air time, but the rest of us should remember: until we get to conference, it’s all prelude.
NAQ – THE SPACULATION CONTINUES
There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that, if this deal is approved, our NRDC warrants get an extra three years to run, way out until October 23, 2014. Just in time for my 100th birthday! (I really have to change the photograph on this page.) The bad news is that the strike price at which they are exercisable will rise from $7.50 to $12 (though the price at which conversion can be forced will rise from $14.25 to $18.75). If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just as well. If you’d like a refresher, here‘s a recap of the various SPACs we have dabbled in as they looked 15 months ago. But if you do own the warrants, here’s the deal: The stock closed yesterday at $10.02. The warrants will now give you the right to buy it at $12 any time until October 23, 2014. If the stock should rise, say, 60% in that time, to $16 (and assuming this deal is approved), the right to buy a $16 stock for just $12 would be worth approximately $4 – a nice gain on today’s 27-cent warrant price. But if the stock appreciated less than 20% – let alone fell – the warrants would expire worthless. And so, here in Casablanca, we wait. And wait. And wait.