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Consider Lincoln

Author: Walter Russell Mead, Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy
January-February 2010
American Interest


Dear Mr. President,

It's been nearly a year since Inauguration day, and it's fair to say that things could be better. I think you know the lay of the land, but please permit me a brief summary.

Just two months ago, on the first anniversary of your election, and the first time the voters had spoken since then, your party lost state gubernatorial and house races in Virginia and New Jersey to unabashed conservatives. These are two states you carried in the election, so perhaps the depth and meaning of your victory is not quite what you supposed.

The bigger picture is darkening, too. Your health care timetable is slipping again, despite the House's passing a bill in mid-November. You had hoped to get a law passed last summer; now, depending on what the Senate does and the prospects of a deal with the House, it looks as if you might not get a bill until well into 2010. If then. It could still fall apart, or end up being less than you had hoped.

Whatever happens with health care, Blue Dog Democrats will be more nervous than ever about looking too liberal when they go to voters next year-that's why 39 Democrats voted against the House's health care bill. And the longer the health care ordeal drags on, the harder it will be to get Congress to deal with your other priorities: cap and trade, immigration reform, financial reform and more.



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