August 3, 2009


Jumblatt to leave March 14 alliance (Mitchell Prothero, August 03. 2009, The National)

[D]espite the success in the elections, the taint of sectarian campaigning by some parties in March 14 upset several political figures, including Mr Jumblatt who became visibly uncomfortable and began moderating much of his anti-Syrian and Hizbollah rhetoric even before the polling began.

“The 2009 parliamentary elections resulted in sectarian alliances that should be eliminated,” he told his PSP followers. He described the campaign’s tactics and said they “rejected the opposition on sectarian, tribal and political levels”.

Mr Jumblatt confirmed the statements to The National, describing them as part of a reconfiguring of the PSP’s positions from the March 14 position of regional pro-Americanism and back towards the party’s history as a pan-Arab socialist movement committed to reducing outside interference and political resistance to Israeli and American policies in the region.

In the process, he underscored, once again, his reputation for being one of the most ideologically flexible political leaders in Lebanon.

Mr Jumblatt has long been famed for his willingness to tack positions according to prevailing winds, and had been expressing discomfort with many of his allies in March 14, particularly the hard-right Christian parties that he once battled throughout Lebanon’s civil war, and with US foreign policy seemingly shifting to engage Syria and Iran rather than isolate them, Mr Jumblatt’s renunciation of his allies came as little surprise to many.

“Everybody saw this coming,” according to Elias Muhanna, who edits the popular Lebanese political blog “The writing was on the wall practically the day after the Doha agreement was signed. Jumblatt clearly senses that the old bipolar configuration has exhausted itself, politically, or at least that his pole no longer has the foreign support that it used to, so he’s cutting himself loose.”

As part of his effort to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of the Arab world’s secular left, Mr Jumblatt admitted to having made a mistake in closely aligning with the previous US administration as a buttress against Syria.

Democrats reframing insurers as obstacle (Lisa Wangsness, August 3, 2009, Boston Globe)
Congressional Democrats - under assault from Republicans who say their approach to healthcare overhaul is too expensive, rushed, and heavy-handed - are heading into the summer recess with a target of their own: insurers.

They are casting the insurance industry as an obstacle to cheaper coverage for all, and in doing so, are taking aim at an erstwhile ally.

Democrats and the White House have spent much of the last year flaunting the newfound cooperation of old enemies like drug companies and the insurance industry. But now they face a new political calculus. [...]

Insurers have vociferously opposed a government insurance option, but they have also funded a seven-figure TV ad campaign endorsing an overhaul, at least in a general way, and they have spent months negotiating with Democrats. The industry has offered to stop refusing coverage to people with a pre-existing condition, as long as all Americans are required to obtain insurance.

Insurers are trying to appear cooperative in hopes of heading off the public option. They see it as unfair competition that could bankrupt the industry, but which liberals consider vital to holding down premium increases. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a supporter of the public plan, called insurers “immoral’’ last week, frustrating the insurance lobby.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 3, 2009 6:56 AM
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