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Hoisted from the Archives (2002): Mark-My-Beliefs-to-Market Time: Argentina

The Peculiar Puzzle of Blanche Lincoln and Carl Hulse

Matthew Yglesias writes:

Matthew Yglesias: Blanche Lincoln, Racing Horse: Blanche Lincoln has emerged as one of the pivotal votes in the US Senate debate about health care reform. So an article about her and her role in the debate seems like a smart thing for a newspaper to run. Which makes Spencer Ackerman’s tweet quite apropos: “Hey let’s say that I didn’t pay any attn to HC yesterday. Shouldn’t this piece [by Carl Hulse in the New York Times tell me why Lincoln opposes the bill?” Exactly. It’s striking to me how little scrutiny the stated views of public option opponents tend to get....

The situation is even weirder, for, as Ivan Volsky points out:

Blanche Lincoln’s Website Still Says She Supports The Public Option

This leads to the question: just what in the Holy Name of the One Who Is does Carl Hulse think that he is doing?

Carl Hulse: Blanche Lincoln, Clout Rising, Cements Role at Heart of Health Debate: No sooner had Senator Blanche Lincoln promised to deliver one crucial vote in support of a health care overhaul than she threatened to withhold the next one... keep her squarely at the center of the increasingly contentious health care fight.... Mrs. Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas, said that more than $3 million in health care advocacy advertisements aimed at her had already been broadcast in Arkansas. But she insisted Saturday that her position on health care would not be shaped by political considerations. “I’m thinking about the 450,000 Arkansans who have no health insurance,” she said as she lent her support to an initial procedural step in the most closely watched floor speech of the day. “I’m not thinking about my re-election, the legacy of a president or whether Democrats or Republicans are going to be able to claim victory in winning this debate.”

Yet the political implications are inescapable.... The health care fight has come at a time when Mrs. Lincoln’s influence is increasing in the Senate. A committee shuffle after the death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy elevated her to chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee.... Some Democrats and other observers say they believe Mrs. Lincoln can make a case that her central role in the debate is a positive development in a state where people lack health insurance at a higher rate than the national average. The Democrats’ bill would offer subsidies to low- and moderate-income people to help them buy insurance.... Mrs. Lincoln has to juggle their interests with those of business leaders and others in Arkansas opposed to the measure. She said it was her constituents’ views and needs — not the contents of political commercials — that would determine her position. “My first loyalties are with the people of Arkansas,” she said. “Not insurance companies, the health care industry or my political party.”

The only explanation is that Carl Hulse thinks that it would be really embarrassing if he were to ask Senator Lincoln questions like: "Why do you think the health care bill as a whole would be good for the people of Arkansas?" and "Why do you think the public option would be bad for the people of Arkansas?"

And unless the New York Times has reporters who will ask such questions, there is no point to having a New York Times.

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?