The Skinny: Father Knows Best

President Bush, right, says goodbye to his father former President George H. W. Bush, during their departure from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2006 in Atlanta, Ga. They traveled to Atlanta, to attend funeral services for Coretta Scott King. AP

The Skinny is Hillary Profita's take on the top news of the day and the best of the Internet.



With the departure of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the nomination of Robert Gates, former CIA director under Bush 41, the suggestion of a "Father Knows Best" theme is not lost on the nation's newsweeklies.

Newsweek and US News employ the same headline on the matter, actually ("The Rescue Squad,") while Time puts it in a slightly different package, but the message is still the same: "Led by former CIA Director Gates and former Secretary of State James Baker, who co-heads a commission on Iraq, Dad's former aides will present the son with a plan for saving his presidency and, with it, some remnant of the family's brand name."

One magazine, however, took a completely different route, as John Harwood of the Wall Street Journal noted in Washington Wire: "The November issue of Texas Monthly features a cover photo of Robert Gates. The article calls him an 'Agent of Change' and declares 'Robert Gates to the Rescue.'

The only problem: the article concerns Gates' leadership of Texas A&M University, not his selection as Rumsfeld's replacement. Which explains the main cover headline: 'Can This Guy Save the Aggies?'"

Signs of the Times

Ah, Election Day has passed us by. No, seriously. Enough. Take your campaign signs down. A New York Times front pager examines the penalties in place in at least nine states for candidates who don't remove their signs in a reasonable amount of time.

In Delaware, you'll be charged $25 for every sign on public property 30 days after the election. In Memphis, it's $50. The good news is that some outposts of Chick-fil-A offer a free sandwich for any customer who turns in a political yard sign. New York City, which apparently doesn't want to bother with any of these fun games, bans political signs from all public property.

Polls Are Hanging Around, Too

The election may be over, but the polling isn't! And the poll featured on USA Today's front page revealed this shocker: "In the poll taken Thursday through Sunday, just after Democrats swept to majorities in the House and Senate, 61 percent of those surveyed said that they want Democrats to have more influence than President Bush on the direction of the nation.

Nearly half said the country will be better off under Democrats; 16 percent said it will be worse off; and one-third predicted no difference." I suppose that piece of wisdom could have been gleaned by taking a gander at the election results, but then again, there wouldn't be any fun charts to look at.

Health Care for a Mere $300B

Polls of course, are great fun, but there were actually some issues at play in this last election, one of them that 50 million American's don't have health insurance, for example. And the L.A. Times puts a front page story in its pages about a proposal to cover the uninsured within about 10 years.

It's not a proposal from any politicians, of course. They're busy enough removing signs from public buildings. The plan comes instead from America's Health Insurance Plans, the trade group that represents insurance companies. There are a few holes in the plan, the Times points out, such as, "whether it is even workable," or "how to pay its estimated 10-year price tag of $300 billion." But I won't bore you with the details.

In other health-care related news, one London hospital has "revamped its patient handoff techniques by copying the choreographed pit stops of Italy's Formula One Ferrari racing team," writes the Wall Street Journal. Don't worry, while it sounds scary, this is actually good news – the process has been reducing errors and other hospitals have adopted similar non-traditional strategies.

Sunny Iraq

A redux of President Bush's meeting with the Iraq Study Group gets front page attention in several papers, and in the Journal's news box, and most provide a similar storyline: The administration would like to hear your fresh ideas. Ooh. Except that one.

Wrote the NYT: "Bush says he's open to change in Iraq, but ..." That was the headline, actually. The Los Angeles Times reversed the order of the clause: "President Bush cautioned Monday against holding talks with Syria and Iran and beginning a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, two key proposals gaining support at home and abroad. But the president said he was open to 'new ideas' on his administration's approach to Iraq after meeting with members of the Iraq Study Group."

And the Washington Post: "Bush offered little indication that he is planning to adjust his approach, telling reporters gathered in the Oval Office that 'the best military options depend upon the conditions on the ground' in Iraq."
  • Dan Collins

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