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That he doesn’t deny the problem doesn’t mean Obama is going to do much about it. He rejects cutting benefits, raising the retirement age, or any form of privatization. His solution is to simply eliminate the cap on payroll taxes. In other words, he tells the audience that we can get the rich to pay for it. Problem solved.
Otherwise the event is like the one in Columbus. The panel is five simpatico people, all women, talking about their problems with health care. He listens attentively to their woes. The first lady, who is taking care of her mother, tears up talking about her case. Obama gets her a tissue.
“This stuff breaks me up,” he says.
Dayton (evening): After the rally, reporters pile into a plane bound for Cleveland. This time, Obama flies with us. From my seat, I see him in the forward cabin goofing around and wrapping a shawl around his head, to mock the Drudge report.
Obama comes back to talk to the reporters, greeting everybody. He is in good humor. When he shakes my hand, I mention seeing him wrap the shawl around his head. He smiles and says, “I was just keeping my head warm.”
One reporter shows him a video clip of some particularly “fired up” fans at a rally. “It’s a cult,” he says. Another asks him if he is looking forward to the debate. Obama rolls his eyes and says that at this point, 19 debates in, he could give Clinton’s answers for her and she could give his. “And so could all of you,” he adds.
I ask, “Have you come up with a response yet to the fact that your health insurance plan doesn’t cover absolutely everyone?” He smiles and says, “I like this guy. We should put him in prep.”
The cross-state flight is brief. Reporters amuse themselves by rolling oranges up and down the center aisle of the plane while it is in lift-off. The stewardess serving my section has amazing attitude. She holds up a tray of desserts for the reporters, and asks, “You guys want some of this s—t?”
Cleveland, Tuesday, Feb. 26 (morning): I arrive for the pre-debate press availability early and end up sitting next to the correspondent from the BBC. It is eerily quiet. “Like waiting for the Queen,” he says. Maybe we’ll get a wave from him, I say.
Obama arrives with Sen. Chris Dodd at his side. The ex-rival endorses Obama and urges the party to unite around him. It is a melancholy moment for him, the senator explains. “A little over a year ago, I envisioned a morning like this, but with probably a different arrangement. I fully expected Barack Obama to endorse my candidacy,” Dodd says. While endorsing Obama, Dodd talks at length about his favorite subject: Chris Dodd. He talks about his time on the campaign trail, career in the Senate, his years in the Peace Corps, and so on and so forth.
The ABC guy asks a few questions about one of Dodd’s tougher press releases regarding Obama. The reporter quotes from the 2007 release: “Sen. Obama’s assertions about foreign and military affairs have been frankly confusing and confused. He’s made threats he should not have made and made unwise categorical statements.” Dodd gropes for an answer. “Well, you can fly-speck every statement we made,” he shrugs.
Cleveland (afternoon): While waiting for the bus for the debate, I cool my heels in the lobby. A guy steps out of the elevator looking an awful lot like Jesse Jackson. It is Jesse Jackson.
Jackson walks over and talks to the New York Times and Dallas Morning News guys. I want to ask a question but have a hard time finding an opening. He talks and talks while they nod. There is no break. I never see him breathe. Finally, I get the chance. He shakes my hand and it vanishes inside his mitt. “Are you here to make an endorsement?” I ask.
“I have made an endorsement. I am supporting Barack Obama,” he tells me. He looks annoyed that I did not know this. Follow up: Why is he here? “I feel it is my duty, as a former candidate, to offer him my wisdom,” he says. He doesn’t say whether this wisdom was solicited.
We load onto the bus. A campaign staffer warns us that there will not be food at the stadium. We should load up on chips and granola bars now. This does not go over well. The New York Times guy warns, “You don’t want us covering this event with low blood sugar.” It could affect the coverage, he warns.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?