Katie Connolly

Stories by Katie Connolly

  • 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,...
  • Michael Steele Sends Mixed Messages on Medicare

    That RNC Chair Michael Steele said something confusing isn't really news. Steele has been an erratic leader at best since he won the chairmanship earlier this year. His mixed messages on Medicare though reflect the difficulties of getting a straight answer in the health care debate. ABC News points out that in 2006, Steele told that Medicare cuts should be on the table to help "control runaway spending." But yesterday, Steele hit the airwaves to unveil a "Seniors Bill of Rights" which aims to protect Medicare from cuts, telling Good Morning America that seniors had come under fire in reform efforts. Steele also wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post urging the preservation of the Medicare system, which is of course, a government run system. "We need to protect Medicare and not cut it in the name of "health-insurance reform,"" Steele wrote.Today on Fox and Friends Steele, perhaps understanding the contradiction between being both a vocal...
  • Five Important Health Care Reforms We Aren't Talking About

    Much of the debate about health care reform in recent weeks has focused on a just a few elements of the entire reform proposal - things like the public option and end of life counseling. But the proposed legislation is complex and wide-ranging, and the national fixation with just a few proposals is coming at the expense of meaningful discussion on other reforms which could have significant impacts on the state of health care. Here are five other changes reformers are trying to implement that we think are worth talking about:...
  • Was McCain Right on Kennedy?

    On Sunday, John McCain told George  that Ted Kennedy's absence was sorely impacting the health-care debate. "No person in that institution is indispensable, but Ted Kennedy comes as close to being indispensable as any individual I've ever known in the Senate because he had a unique way of sitting down with the parties at a table and making the right concessions," McCain said, adding that health-care reform would likely be in a very different place today if Kennedy was present. Pundits tend to agree with McCain that Kennedy is uniquely placed to deal with Republicans. Ezra Klein doesn't. Here's Klein: This stuff just isn't plausible. Kennedy was around in 1994 and there was no deal. More to the point, Kennedy's committee, the HELPCommittee, has passed health-care reform. Kennedy's staff, as you might expect, led their effort. But neither Kennedy nor his staff can make the deals for another committee.If Kennedy were in the Senate now,...
  • Hillary's Rank on Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women Drops

    Is Hillary Clinton less powerful now than she was as a senator? Forbes Magazine's list of the 100 Most Powerful Women indicates she is. ABC's Kirit Radia notes that in 2004, Forbes ranked then Senator Clinton at number 5. In this year's list, released last week, Clinton comes in at number 36, immediately after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. German Chancellor Angela Merkel tops the list - an honor that Clinton's predecessor, Condeleezza Rice, held twice. Michelle Obama came in at number 40. According to Radia, Clinton's ranking has been slipping for years (2005: 26, 2006: 18, 2007: 25, 2008: 28.) But now that she is America's top diplomat, this year's drop seems particularly surprising. Forbes takes into account the size of the organization each woman is responsible for in its rankings. The State Department is a significantly larger organization than a Senate office. Its 2010 budget is $16.4b. Clinton's power within the department is arguably more...
  • Obama's Vacation Reading List

    Curious about what President Obama is planning to read during his vacation? Well, now we know, thanks to Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton. Obama has taken five books (that we know of) to Martha's Vineyard, a mixture of fiction and nonfiction. (Watch for these titles to rocket up bestseller lists.) They're all American authors. Judging by the list, our president is fond of crime novels and has a penchant for the writers of TV series The Wire. Here's the list:  The Way Home by George Pelecanos: Set in Washington DC, this thriller revolves around Chris Flynn, a 26-year-old released from a stint in juvenile detention. While working for his father as a carpet layer, he discovers a sack of money stashed under the floorboards at a job site, setting in place a chain of life-altering events. Pelecanos is a celebrated crime novelist, and was a writer for HBO's award winning series The Wire. The book traverses familiar terrain─racial tensions, urban decay, and difficult...
  • Fox Viewers More Likely to Believe Death Panel Myth

    For the second time this week, polling shows that a worrying number of people believe that health-care-reform legislation will create so-called death panels. The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday found that 45 percent of respondents believe that the proposals would allow government to make end of life decisions on behalf of Americans. A poll released by the Pew Research Center today isn't quite as disturbing─only 30 percent of those polled believed the myth. But here's where it gets interesting. Unsurprisingly, Republicans are more likely to believe in death panels, but fully 20 percent of Democrats also bought into the notion. The numbers also vary markedly depending on which news outlet is the preferred source of information, with Fox News viewers significantly more likely to think death panels are part of reform. Here's the breakdown:  
  • What Are the Craziest Myths About Health Care?

    Over the past few weeks, misinformation circulating about Obama’s health-reform bill has gone from mildly plausible to downright demented. The myths are so pervasive that even the White House is worried. They've set up a Web site to counter some of them. “What we learned in the campaign is that in today’s world, where what qualifies as news is often something that you’ve heard from your neighbor who got it from another friend who is sure that they got it from an authority, you have to take that seriously,” Linda Douglass, communications director for the White House Office of Health Reform, told the Gaggle last week.     There’s a discernible pattern to the emergence of health-care misinformation. The more startling claims often surface on conservative blogs like Hot Air or in Investors Business Daily editorials. They “go viral” being e-mailed through activist networks, referenced on respectable blogs like The National Review’s Corner or linked through news aggregators....
  • August, Rahm, and Health Care

    Many pundits have noted of late that August has rarely been kind to Barack Obama since he hit the national stage. The folks over at First Read have pointed this out numerous times. Today, Ed Kilgore kicks the idea around in The New Republic. Here’s Kilgore:...
  • Red States Tend to Have More Uninsured People

    Today Gallup has posted some interesting figures on the percentage of uninsured people in each state, based on survey data they have collected over the first six months of the year. Unsurprisingly Massachusetts, which mandated universal coverage a few years ago, comes out on top. But despite the new system, 5.5 percent of the state's residents remain uninsured. There's not a single red state in the top 10 most insured: Massachusetts, Vermont, Minnesota, Hawaii, Delaware, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. But six red states feature in the bottom 10, with Texas taking the cake for the most uninsured with 26.9 percent. The red state performing best was North Dakota, coming in at 15th with 12.9 percent uninsured. Chuck Grassley's home state Iowa follows with 13.5 percent. Obviously there are dynamics at play in each state that influencethese numbers─unemployment levels, economic outlook, etc.─but it isinteresting to note that while...
  • Fake Outrage Over Michelle Obama's Short Shorts

    My colleague Kate Dailey, who writes our Human Condition blog, has an interesting post examining who precisely is outraged by Michelle Obama's decision to wear shorts during a recent sightseeing trip to the Grand Canyon. Kate can't find anyone who's geniunely perturbed by the shorts. She writes:I searched The National Review and Googled "Ann  Obama...
  • Is South Carolina Turning on Jenny Sanford?

    Yesterday I took a break from reading about health care reform to flip through Rebecca Johnson’s story about Jenny Sanford in this month’s issue of Vogue. I’m not alone in admitting my repulsed fascination with her husband’s tawdry adventures. And I’m certainly not the only person who admired Jenny’s grace and resilience in those tumultuous days after her husband’s emotional circus of a press conference. Which is why I was so surprised to read the vituperative criticisms of her written by readers of South Carolina’s The State newspaper.State reporter Gina Smith posted a summary of the Vogue piece online yesterday. It was the most read piece on the site and has attracted hundreds of comments. I was curious to read what others thought of the piece. I wanted to see if people shared my reaction─a sense of hope in the possibility of reinvention after tragedy; sadness for a woman who had to live this humiliation publicly. Judging by the comments, I’m probably in the minority.   Now I’m...
  • Five Moves DeLay Won't Use on 'Dancing With the Stars'

    Surprise is perhaps the mildest way to describe the reaction to Jake Tapper’s Monday morning scoop: former Republican majority leader Tom DeLay will join the cast of Dancing With the Stars (DWTS). It’s not unusual for politicians to seek a second life after politics, a reinvention. Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Al Gore have found success as international defenders of the poor, the displaced, and the planet. Mike Huckabee has a television show, as does Joe Scarborough. But none of them left office shrouded in such a dark cloud as DeLay, who is still awaiting trial on charges of violating campaign-finance laws. So before DeLay transforms into a warm, fuzzy reality-TV star, we thought we’d take a quick trip down memory lane. In all those years busting heads in Congress, DeLay surely picked up a few skills to help him survive the dog-eat-dog world of reality TV. But here are five moves that he won’t be able to use on the dance floor.1. Redistrict to get more votes. To win DWTS,...
  • Things We Never Thought We'd See: Rahm Reads to Kids

    Today in things we never thought we'd see ... The White House has posted a video on its blog of chief of staff Rahm Emanuel reading a children's book to a group of kids as part of a summer reading initiative organized by the Department of Education. Rahm, who is notorious for his temper and profane language, entertains the kids with his rendition of Duck for President, a book about a young duck who defies the odds by winning the presidency. The best part comes at about 1:40, where he reads this passage about Duck's opponent, "Farmer Brown was furious. He ran to the barn and found the animals registering to vote," and then quips, "It's obviously not in Chicago." Watch the video here.
  • House Dems Say Bill Won't Pass Without a Public Option

    Major newspapers today are reporting that the Obama administration is backing away from including a public option in health-care-reform legislation. I'm in the camp that tends to believe that the cautious language employed by officials like HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in recent days isn't actually new, nor does it necessarily signal the death of the public option. One reason is the difference between House and Senate politics. All of today's talk about shifting from a public option to a co-op arrangement emerges from the need to compromise with centrists in the Senate. In the House however, the political center is very different. There you have folks like Congressman Anthony Weiner from New York, who, like a significant number of his peers, still advocates for a single-payer system, even though that's not really on the table this time. For them, even the public option represents a compromise of sorts, so shifting even further to the right, and sanctioning co...
  • On Health Care, What Does 'Getting it Right' Mean?

    Reading Politico's daily health-care roundup Pulse this morning reminded me of a statement Sen. Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, made to Charlie Rose earlier this month. According to Politico, we should be expecting Democratic lawmakers, in line with the president's wishes, to push for movement on the health-care reform bill by mid-September, but some, like Conrad appear reluctant to move so fast. "More important than any artificial deadline is getting this right," Conrad told Rose. In this context, does getting it "right" actually mean good policy? ...
  • Race Relations Look Worse to Outsiders

    People tend to overestimate racial tensions between races other than their own. For instance, two thirds of black Americans said blacks and Hispanics get along well; 60 percent of Hispanics agreed. But only 43 percent of whites thought so. "When it is your group involved, you judge based on your own … experiences," says Gallup's Lydia Saad. "You're drawing on a different set of information," not just the strife that makes news.