Katie Connolly

Stories by Katie Connolly

  • Clinton Wanted to Mail His Ear to NEWSWEEK? Huh?

    Since Susan Page's exclusive preview of Taylor Branch's upcoming book about Bill Clinton appeared on the front page of on Monday, we've been treated to all sorts of juicy tales from the Clinton years. Courtesy of a series of recorded interviews Branch conducted with Clinton, we've heard about drunken Boris Yeltsin trying to hail a cab in his underwear on Pennsylvania Avenue and Clinton's tiffs with Al Gore after the VP lost the 2000 election. But none of these stories grabbed our attention more than this one, which we learned about from David Corn at :Clinton insisted to Gore that he hadn't cared about how Gore had...
  • Sarah Palin 2.0

    Sarah Palin 2.0 was unveiled last night at a speech to Asian bankers and investors in Hong Kong. The event was closed to the media, which is perhaps unsurprising. She's made no secret of her disdain for the press, and if she's testing out new ideas, she won't want them mercilessly picked apart by a news media that is admittedly prone to criticizing her. But, of course, audio from the speech has emerged, so we have a pretty good idea of what she said. She covered a range of topics including the financial meltdown─"We got into this mess because of government interference in the first place ... We're not interested in government fixes, we're interested in freedom"─and the rise of China, which she said "rightfully makes a lot of people nervous." She also spoke extensively about cultural and economic links between Alaska and the Pacific Rim and about the need for a rebirth of the GOP. There was no mention of death panels or lies about her....
  • The Post-Speech Polls: Where Obama Is At

    It's no secret that August was a bad month for the President. Health care reform stalled, his approval ratings slid and the faces of angry voters castigating their representatives were plastered all over the media. So has September treated him any better? Judging by a series of polls conducted since the President's speech to Congress, things are looking up a little for the president, but the evidence is far from overwhelming....
  • Public Option Revived by a Republican. No, Really.

    Liberals were disappointed when Max Baucus's long awaited health-care bill was unveiled last week without a public option. Baucus had instead included not-for-profit co-ops as his preferred mechanism for providing affordable coverage to the uninsured. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) gave voice to the general feeling on the Congressional left when he pronounced the Baucus plan "dead on arrival," largely because of it's lack of a public plan. But now amendments to the Finance chair's bill are flooding in (there's over 560 of them), and Maine Republican Olympia Snowe is offering some relatively progressive revisions, including reviving the notion of a public plan. Snowe would have a public plan enacted via a "trigger," that is, if insurance companies in any particular state fail to provide uninsured residents with an affordable plan, then that would "trigger" the creation of a public plan in that state. This way, insurance companies are...
  • Bipartisanship Ain't What It Used to Be

    Kevin Drum, over at Mother Jones magazine, made a compelling case earlier this week for the merits of true bipartisanship. He writes:...
  • Weekly Obsession: Outbursts and Apologies

    Edmund Burke famously once said that manners were more important than laws: "Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in". This week will likely be remembered as the week America forgot its manners. From Wilson to Kanye, incivility has been rife. Our talented video team has put together an homage to those who just couldn't keep their mouths shut in a new feature, Weekly Obsession. Enjoy.
  • What You Need to Know About the Baucus Proposal

    Sen. Max Baucus's health-care reform proposal, released yesterday, will likely dominate the reform conversation for the next few days. At 220 pages, the chairman's mark, as it is called, is an easier read than H.R. 3200, the House bill. Still, it's a lot to get through. So I've put together this cheat sheet:1.    Illegal immigrants: Baucus vowed to reexamine this issue following Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst last week. His bill goes further than the House's, which explicitly prohibits government subsidies for undocumented workers. Baucuscare will require a citizenship check for individuals wanting to purchase insurance through a health-insurance exchange, although parents in the country illegally who wish to buy insurance for lawfully present children will be permitted to do so. For more on the issue of illegals and insurance─and how denying them access will probably end up costing you more money─read Andrew Romano's insightful analysis.2.    Co-ops:...
  • About Those Czars...

    Anyone who watches cable news surely knows that conservatives are getting themselves all hot and bothered over the Obama administration's appointment of so-called czars. Today, the Democratic National Committee is going nuts in response. I've got more e-mails from them about this today than I care to count. This whole debate is descending into complete partisan hackery: GOP operatives are fanning ridiculous fears while Democrats are proffering inflated claims to counter them. That said, a lot of people do appear concerned by the existence of "czars," so I think the issue merits a quick discussion. Of course, the points I'm about to list come with the caveat that a lack of accountability for public officials should always be of concern in a democracy. But these czars aren't beyond the bounds of reproach, nor are they entirely apart from the democratic process—they're accountable to the White House, which of course is elected. Some of them even...
  • SCOTUS Watch: More on Justice Stevens Retiring

    Earlier today, NEWSWEEK's Howard Fineman reported that Justice John Paul Stevens has not appointed a full contingent of clerks for next year, prompting his prediction that the longest-serving current Supreme Court justice (and the oldest) will retire next spring. This afternoon Fineman learned that two days ago, Justice Stevens sent an unusual e-mail to all his former Supreme Court clerks─several dozen lawyers, dating back to his early days on the court─inviting them to attend a reunion in D.C. next May. Stevens has never been the socialite of the court. He doesn't share some of his colleagues' penchant for ceremony, nor does he care much for reunions, so the e-mail invite struck many as conspicuously out of character. One clerk told Fineman that many of the clerks have concluded among themselves that Stevens will announce his retirement at next May's reunion. I'm not much of a gambler, but based on this latest tidbit, I wouldn't be betting against...
  • Senate Dems' Game Plan on Health Care

    Ben Smith at Politico has got his paws on an interesting memo from David Binder, one of the guys who ran President Obama's polling and focus groups for his campaign. Binder conducted focus groups in Arizona to gauge voter reaction to Obama's address to Congress Wednesday night. Here's what Binder found:The most strongly rated passages of the President's speech (with...
  • Reform or Not, Health Care Is Changing

    NEWSWEEK's economics guru Daniel Gross has a fascinating column out today about whether, health-care reform notwithstanding, we are entering an era in which only a minority of Americans have access to employer-based coverage. Gross uses census data to make his point. Here are the important stats:...
  • Tort Reform: Obama's Silver Bullet

    In last night's speech to the joint session of Congress, the president was pretty tough on his opponents, pounding them on "scare tactics" and accusing them of trying to score short-term political points at the expense of the nation's well-being. But he held out one glimmer of hope to Republicans: medical-liability, or tort, reform. "I don't believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet, but I've talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs," the president said, prompting enthusiastic applause from the GOP. He unveiled a plan to pursue "demonstration projects" in various states that would explore several options for reducing defensive medicine practices while ensuring patient safety. Obama has directed Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to commence work on the projects immediately.Tort reform has long been a pet issue for Republicans, and it's broadly...
  • Grading the Health-Care Speech

    It's been more than six months since I last sat in the chamber of the House of Representatives to watch President Obama address a joint session of Congress. In some ways it felt very similar. Obama still got a rock-star reception when he entered the room. Hillary Clinton was again greeted warmly, like an old friend, by her former Senate colleagues. John McCain and Lindsey Graham sat together, chattering to each other at every opportunity, reluctantly joining the standing ovations at a few choice points. Anthony Weiner couldn't stop checking his BlackBerry. Nancy Pelosi popped up so promptly and often that she appeared animatronic. In between, she surveyed the room with her cool, critical eye. Not everything felt the same, though. For starters, Al Franken was on the floor. And this time, John McCain got props for a health-care proposal and gave the president a big grin and a thumbs-up. In a marked departure from his February speech, Obama got heckled and, at one point,...
  • Musical Chairs in the Senate Present Worries for Enviros

    Last night The Washington Post reported Sen. Chris Dodd's decision to decline the chairmanship of the powerful Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP), previously chaired by Ted Kennedy. Dodd wants to stay put as chair of the Senate banking committee so he can have a strong hand in developing a robust new regulatory framework for the finance sector. As a result, the HELP chairmanship will likely fall to Iowa's Tom Harkin. The committee is a natural fit for the reliably liberal Harkin, who is best known for championing disabilities legislation.  To take up the new position, Harkin will vacate his seat at the head of the agriculture committee, opening it up for Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln, thus striking fear into the hearts of environmentalists. Why? Lincoln is a cautious moderate from a relatively conservative state. She's been a holdout on health-care reform and flatly opposes a public option. "For some in my caucus, when they talk about a...
  • How Obama's Speech to Kids Became Political Theater

    In 1986 when the space shuttle Challenger launched, school teacher Christa McAuliffe was among the crew. Awed and inspired by McAuliffe, teachers and students across the country watched the launch live in their classrooms. Thousands of school children were glued to television screens when, horrifyingly, the shuttle broke apart 73 seconds after takeoff, killing everyone on board. At the time, Chester E. Finn, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an educational think tank, worked for the Reagan administration in the Department of Education. When Reagan decided to address the nation about the Challenger disaster that evening, Finn recalls school children being encouraged to watch the president's speech to help them deal with the trauma. "That was one of his fine moments," Finn recalls of Reagan's speech. "Not one single solitary soul that I am aware of criticized him." But today, if the response to President Obama's address to school children...
  • Full Text of Obama's Speech to Schoolchildren

    The White House released the text of the president's speech to the nation's schoolchildren yesterday. As promised, the speech urges children to work hard and stay in school. Obama exhorts children to take responsibility for their own education, telling them it is OK to ask for help when it's needed. "We can...
  • 2010 Preview: Hottest Senate Races for Republicans

    'Tis the season to retire, if you are a moderate Republican senator. Judd Gregg, George Voinovich, and Mel Martinez all announced they would vacate their Senate seats by 2010, leaving Democrats covetously eyeing their seats. GOP primaries for vacant seats will be an interesting signal of whether party faithful approve of the rightward trend of their Senate caucus, or if they value the presence of a few moderates. And whether Democrats can knock off any Republicans in general races will provide clues as to whether the Obama effect was a one-off, or a longer-term shift in the American electorate. But if Dems do grab a GOP seat or two, what sort of Democrats will they be─Al Frankens or Ben Nelsons? (Clue: not Frankens.) Whichever way these races go, it's unlikely that Harry Reid will have any fewer headaches. As for deadpan Mitch McConnell, he might be cracking a smile or two.Louisiana: Former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards once famously...
  • This Summer's Five Political Winners

    Yesterday, Politico's Josh Kraushaar compiled a list of the casualties of what's been a particularly brutal August recess. Kraushaar is right—bodies are piling up on both sides of the aisle as the health-care debate becomes increasingly volatile. With even the White House looking seriously bruised, it's hard to think of any politician who has fared well over the last month. But there are a few winners amid the casualties. Here is our take on who they are:...
  • Poll Finds Large Majority Of Americans Happy with Their Health Insurance

    Gallup has today released some analysis on public perceptions of health insurers based on polls conducted from 2006-08. The data cuts to the heart of why the the President is having such difficulty in selling plans to reform health insurance: public or private, people like their health insurance. According to Gallup's data, 87% of people with private insurance and 82% of people on Medicare or Medicaid say that the quality of their health care is excellent or good. Similarly, 75% of those with private plans and 74% on government-run plans rate their insurance plan as excellent or good. It's hard to convince people that change is necessary when they are pretty content with how things are, which is part of the reason Obama's job is so hard.The problem is that the polls like this don't capture the critical reasons why reform is necessary. Firstly and foremost, this poll doesn't represent the voices of millions of uninsured Americans, and extending coverage to...
  • Money for Illegal-Immigrant Emergency Care Running Out

    One of the most pervasive lies about health-care reform is that it provides free coverage for illegal immigrants. The claim, circulated in a long chain e-mail, is categorically untrue. In fact, no one gets free health care with health reform. But the question of providing emergency care for those in the country illegally is a tricky one. Currently, illegal immigrants can receive health services at hospital emergency rooms. “Hospitals are required by law to assess and stabilize anybody who walks through the emergency-room door," say Richard Coorsh of the Federation of American Hospitals, referring to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act of 1986. Hospitals simply aren't allowed to refuse treatment in emergency situations, regardless of the patient's immigration status. It's part of our social contract, and anything else would be morally unacceptable. Unfortunately for hospitals, though, most illegal immigrants can’t pay for expensive hospital bills ...
  • Orrin Hatch Pens a Song for Kennedy

    Conservative Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch struck up an unlikely and enduring friendship with Ted Kennedy over the years they shared in the Senate. It was a hugely unexpected relationship. Hatch had even told NEWSWEEK that he ran for the Senate to fight against Ted Kennedy. Yet the two men worked together on a range of bills, including the children's health-insurance program, and became personally very close. Hatch last spoke to Kennedy about a month ago, when they again discussed health care. The Salt Lake Tribune reports: Hatch also likes to write songs, and he's written one with singer Phil Springer that he released on his YouTube channel today. I've posted the lyrics after the jump. Enjoy.  Through the darknessWe can find a pathwayThat will take us half wayTo the stars.Through the rain and fogWe can find a clear dayShoo the shadows and doubts awayAnd touch the legacy that is ours.Yours and mineAnd our children'sFor all time.Just honor himHonor himAnd every fearWill...
  • The Battle for Kennedy's Seat Begins

    Along with his multitudinous gifts as a legislator, Edward Kennedy also held one of the most coveted prizes in the Democratic Party─a Massachusetts seat in the U.S. Senate. Perhaps the bluest of the blue states, election to the Senate from Massachusetts is about as close as a Democratic lawmaker can get to a lifetime appointment. None of Kennedy's personal foibles or controversies ever really hampered his reelection bids. Massachusetts hasn't had a vacant Senate seat since John Kerry won the junior spot in 1984. Now the Kennedy seat is up for grabs. Potential successors have been jockeying for months, even years─albeit quietly, out of respect for the ailing Kennedy. But in the coming weeks, competition for the seat is bound to heat up. Succession was clearly on Kennedy's mind in his final days. Under Massachusetts law, a special election must be held within 145 to 160 days of a Senate vacancy. Last week Kennedy penned an emotional letter to his state's lawmakers,...