The Affordable Care Act was always big. It was always complicated. It was always inelegant. But it was always meant to be universal, reaching all Americans regardless of their income or political tendencies or hometown. Yet over the past two years, the law has splintered and that goal has been dashed, at least for now. And the greatest risk posed to the A.C.A. by the court decision in Halbig v. Burwell, released this week, is that the law might splinter further.
Every week, New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich talks with contributor Eric Benson about the biggest stories in politics and culture. This week: Why John Kerry can still help end the Gaza war; President Obama's Malaysia Flight 17 response and its critics; and Rick Perry deploys the National Guard to the border.
Is August over yet?
At least when it comes to finance and domestic politics, that month’s typical ennui has already set in, and how. Conflicts are erupting or intensifying around the world. But Congress has given up on legislating. The markets have quit gyrating. In the administration and on the Hill, aides are bored and restless. Heck, the president seems bored and restless. Washington, a town that for a few years lived crisis-to-crisis, is now beset by a queasy feeling of paralysis, of steady-statism. Call it the Big Lull.
A year ago, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced with much fanfare that he was forming an investigatory panel, known as the Moreland Commission, to address reports of rampant corruption in Albany. Cuomo declared that the commission would be "totally independent," and could even investigate his administration. "Anything they want to look at, they can look at — me, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the comptroller, any senator, any assemblyman," he said. The reality was very different. Cuomo abruptly shut down the commission in March, prompting Manhattan's U.S. attorney to take up its unfinished investigations into criminal activity in the state legislature, as well as accusations that Cuomo meddled with the commission's probe. Now the New York Times is giving prosecutors a hand. During a three-month investigation, the paper found extensive evidence of how Cuomo's office successfully objected anytime the commission focused on the governor or his associates.
Just after his first introduction to Vladimir Putin in 2001, then brand-new President George W. Bush memorably announced that, by looking into his Russian counterpart's eyes, he had managed "to get a sense of his soul, a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country." But, ten years later, Vice President Joe Biden visited Putin and determined that Bush must have been hallucinating or something.
A few months ago, President Obama delivered a tribute to Lyndon Johnson that was also a tribute to his optimistic vision about American history. Obama reminded his audience that the triumph of justice was not easy, continuous, or automatic. “[W]e know we cannot be complacent,” he warned, “For history travels not only forwards; history can travel backwards, history can travel sideways.” This was Obama’s caveat to his main point, which is that, for all the struggle and imperfection and reversals and injustice that remained, over the long haul, moral improvement has carried the day:
“Still, the story of America is a story of progress. However slow, however incomplete, however harshly challenged at each point on our journey, however flawed our leaders, however many times we have to take a quarter of a loaf or half a loaf — the story of America is a story of progress.”
Karl Rove has a column today promising Republicans that they can still win by running against Obamacare. And when Rove tells Republicans they’ve got a winning hand, you should listen, because he would never wildly overstate his party’s prospects. Except that one time in 2000 he predicted George W. Bush would win 320 electoral votes. And that time in 2006 when he insisted Republicans would definitely hold both houses of Congress. And that other time in 2000 when he assured reporters that Bush would win the New Hampshire primary. And of course that time in 2012 when he refused to accept the outcome of Fox News’ own election desk.
There are only two reasons New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would visit Iowa — and the state fair's famous butter cow won't be on display for another three weeks. That means Christie's campaigning for president, and the New York Times has some details on just what that will look like. Christie's schedule has him hitting three cities on something of a handshake tour, ostensibly in support of Iowa's Republican governor Terry Branstad, but really designed to show off his personality and skills at retail politics, which he sees lacking in his likely tea-party opponents.
Deep behind a tangle of denial and rebranding initiatives, a GOP resuscitation plan emerges.By Frank Rich
When Mark Sanford decided to run for office again, he asked his ex-wife, Jenny, for her blessing. Whether he has her vote is another matter.By Jason Zengerle
Jon Favreau’s most enduring riffs.
Wonkblog Jan. 21, 2013
For all the sound and fury, Washington’s actually making real progress on debt.By Ezra Klein
Mother Jones Jan. 15, 2013
Our debt dysfunction began with the Constitution, funded Manifest Destiny, and makes the trillion dollar coin look tame.By Tim Murphy
Salon Jan. 15, 2012
Harry Reid and other pro-gun Democrats leave Obama in need of unlikely allies.By Steve Kornacki
New York Magazine / Nov. 5, 2010
After November's glitch, Boehner, McConnell and Congress strike familiar poses.By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Jan. 25, 2009
Obama drew progressive ire from day one.By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Nov. 30, 2008
How one undocumented family lives in our sanctuary city.By Jeff Coplon