One Christian’s perspective on today’s news:
1. Michael Scherer from Time commits the unforgivable sin of suggesting (and explaining more fully in Time) that protesters are not wrong to be concerned about federal funding of abortion. The responses he gets from commenters are pretty funny. I put in a few counter-responses myself.
2. Ed Morrisey culls together some of the best resources on the actual number of Americans who do not have insurance involuntarily. In other words, when one subtracts illegal aliens, those who are covered by various government programs, and those who choose not to purchase health insurance even though they could, what is the number remaining? The answer, according to the U. S. Census Bureau, is 9-14 million, and the bureau suspects this is an over-estimate.
Morrisey’s point is that if the government paid $300 per month for 14M people, it would come out to $50B per year, which is one quarter of the cost of the current proposals. Yet Christians should be careful when it comes to these sorts of figures. Do we want illegal aliens to be refused genuine emergency health care? Of course not. If a young woman from Mexico brings her son to the ER with a brain hemorrhage, of course we would not want the child to be turned away. And we probably don’t want the hospitals to have to eat the costs, and private charity organizations could not currently handle the burden. So, while it’s important to be accurate and honest with the numbers of involuntarily uninsured Americans, it’s also important to remember that we cannot simply discount the medical needs of illegal aliens. I think most Americans would agree that that is not the kind of society we want to be.
4. Intelligence memos were released that show the intelligence that was gained through interrogation of detainees in the war on terror. However, the memos, at least in their redacted form, do not make clear what intelligence was gained through ordinary interrogation and what was gained through enhanced interrogation, or interrogation that employed harsh methods. Dick Cheney issued a statement claiming that the memos vindicate his claims that lives were saved through the enhanced interrogation program, and he does seem to be correct, at least in the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad.
An Inspector General report details some of the excesses of the enhanced interrogation program. At least, most will consider them excesses. With all the backbiting and possible prosecution, no wonder the CIA is happy to have interrogation responsibilities removed. Whether it serves the interest of our national security, of course, is another question.
5. Another deal the administration cut in order to get crucial support for its health care reform proposals.
7. Today’s Two-Sides. Eugene Robinson declares that the CIA’s abuses must be investigated. On the other side, Jeffrey Smith explains 6 reasons why CIA interrogators should not be prosecuted. And William Murchison argues that the decision to reopen these cases can only be politically motivated, since it serves neither national security nor common sense.
8. Column of the Day. For the COTD’s, I try to pick columns that are not especially ideological. This piece from Bill McGurn at the WSJ comes from a conservative place ideologically, but it speaks of how Obama might, like Clinton after the 1994 Republican “revolution,” tack back to the center and emerge a more popular and ultimately a more effective leader. Here is McGurn on the Clinton-Obama comparison:
“Back in 1994, Mr. Clinton faced pretty much the same problem. Though he too had won the White House promising to be a new kind of Democrat, his first two years had a distinctly liberal tenor: battling over gays in the military, promoting a new energy tax, turning a promised middle-class tax cut into a huge tax hike, and trying to push through universal health care. Though he continues to deny GOP contributions to his success, after his 1994 health-care defeat, Mr. Clinton did what all smart pols do: He appropriated the most appealing parts of his opponents’ agenda.
“The result was a new Bill Clinton, embracing everything from deregulation and welfare reform to the Defense of Marriage Act. In his 1996 State of the Union, he even struck a Reaganite chord by announcing that “the era of Big Government is over.” From this newly held center, Mr. Clinton advanced his presidency and pushed, both successfully and unfairly, to demonize Mr. Gingrich. Mostly he got away with it.
In his book “The Pact,” historian Steven M. Gillon puts it this way: “Ironically, Gingrich’s revolution may have saved the Clinton presidency by freeing him from the control of his party’s more liberal base in Congress, giving him the opportunity to return to the moderate message that helped him win election in the first place.
“It was Gingrich who changed the language of American politics and forced Clinton to play the game on his turf,” he writes. “But it was Clinton who ultimately got the credit and emerged as the decade’s most popular leader.”
There’s much to be said for a split government and the way it forces both parties toward the center. I think the American people are going to agree with this in the 2010 midterms, unless the economy returns with a vengeance.