Analysis: A tortuous September awaits Obama

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama confronts a tortuous September, and it’s not just the divisive political fight over health care.

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama confronts a tortuous September, and it’s not just the divisive political fight over health care.

Back from his first presidential vacation—a break interrupted by the death and remembrance of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and the nomination of the Federal Reserve chief to a new term—Obama settles back into the Oval Office well-aware his approval ratings have fallen.

He now must spend heavily from that shrinking fund of political capital—with a highly uncertain outcome—if his vision of health care overhaul is to emerge from Congress.

The White House at one point indicated it was ready to abandon its government- run public option designed to cover the 50 million or so Americans who have no health insurance, then, confusingly, backed away from that.

The lower-cost plan would embrace those who can’t afford insurance or don’t have it through their workplace. It also, the argument goes, would force private companies to lower the cost of insurance premiums to stay competitive.

That plan faces fierce opposition among Republicans and many conservative Democrats, and it will take a huge amount of White House muscle to keep it alive.

Then there is Afghanistan and declining support for the war effort there, nearly eight years after the U.S. invaded and drove the militant Islamic Taliban from power, forcing it’s al-Qaida allies—including Osama bin Laden, it is believed—to scatter to mountain hideouts across the border in Pakistan.

The administration has said it plans this month to finish a reassessment of the war to which Obama has already dispatched nearly 20,000 additional troops, raising the total to about 68,000 by year’s end.

As part of the study, commanding Gen. Stanley McChrystal is widely expected to ask for even more forces, as he tries to implement the kind of counterinsurgency strategy that prevented Iraq from descending into all-out civil war two years ago.


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AP Photo/Brian Snyder

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