There's quite a lot of question about whether Obama can turn health insurance reform around when he comes back from vacation next week. My guess is that he has to do it pretty quickly--within a few weeks--or any idea of really substantial reform is fairly hopeless. But I certainly don't think it's impossible. The man can talk.
But I gather that liberals are getting more and more worried. Why? Because the gratuitous nastiness from across the aisle. Take this post from the American Prospect:
I'm not saying The Atlantic should fire her. But perhaps her bosses ought to sit her down and have a discussion about the rigor with which one should approach writing, even blog writing. For instance, there are claims of opinion ("Coffee ice cream is tasty"), which require no particular support or justification, and then there are claims of fact ("Pharmaceutical companies make most of their profits in the United States") which do require that one be accurate. McArdle doesn't seem to know the difference. Fortunately, today we have this thing called "the Internet," which on a whole range of topics allows one to quickly and easily verify whether the impression one has, or something one vaguely remembers hearing somewhere, is actually true. If you can't be bothered to look it up, you might try inserting some qualifiers - "I seem to remember that..." or "I believe that..." or "I'll have to check this, but I think that..." - before making emphatic empirical claims. That way, if it turns out that you're wrong, you can easily correct the record, without looking like an idiot or a jerk (or maybe both).
If they had that conversation with her, then maybe she'd be less likely to find herself saying things like, "It wasn't a statistic - it was a hypothetical."
The reference is to my off-the-cuff remark about slashing pharmaceutical profits by 80%. I should note, to be fair, that there were two portions of the comment: one in which I repeated an estimate I had heard from several people, that the US accounted for something in the range of 85% of pharma net profits after you accounted for various issues, which I then turned into 80-90% when typing--a fairly common way to give a range on an uncertain verbal statistic. And then I said, "So if you slashed pharma profits 80% . . . " When asked about it on the Washington Post live chat, I forgot the first, and thought the commenter was referring to the postulated hypothetical destruction of all US profits. It's not clear which part of the comment they are referring to.
But this "error" that I didn't check was not, contra Waldman, in a blog post, but in a comment, followed by a live chat on the Washington Post's site. Waldman doesn't seem to know that, which implies that he didn't look. I mean, I'm not saying that Waldmann should be fired. But maybe his bosses should sit down and have a talk with him about primary sources.