WASHINGTON (CNN) - Longtime Democratic strategist Paul Begala hammered former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Friday - calling her "flaky and an intellectual lightweight."
Begala was asked on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" to respond to a Politico story in which former House Speaker Newt Gingrich outlined several ways for Palin to repair her image.
Although Begala called Gingrich "a brilliant political strategist," he said giving advice to Palin is an exercise in futility.
"Here's the problem," said Begala, a CNN contributor. "He is trying to treat her like a serious person. She is not. OK? She is about half a whack job. She does not have the intellectual heft of Newt Gingrich or almost anyone else in the Republican Party, and I think she has proved that."
He continued: "I admire Newt Gingrich for pretending that she is a serious person. But Sarah Palin has proven herself to be flaky and an intellectual lightweight."
Conservative journalist Terry Jeffrey, appearing alongside Begala, defended Palin for having "rock solid principles." But he said Palin needs to be more aggressive in opposing the president's policies. At this point, Jeffrey said, "I think it's not proven" she can go toe-to-toe with President Obama.
(CNN) - Sarah Palin is keeping up her full court press against President Obama's health care plan, penning yet another Facebook message that accuses the administration of misleading the public about its true goals.
In a lengthy, annotated post, the former Alaska governor claims victory for the Senate Finance Committee's decision to remove a provision creating end-of-life consultations from its draft legislation. Palin wrote last week that such a measure would establish "death panels" to evaluate elderly and infirm members of society - a claim that has been repeatedly debunked and even criticized by fellow Republicans.
"It's gratifying that the voice of the people is getting through to Congress," Palin wrote late Thursday. "However, that provision was not the only disturbing detail in this legislation; it was just one of the more obvious ones."
She writes that the plan making its way through Congress will "inevitably" lead to health care rationing. Pointing to an essay co-written earlier this year by White House health care adviser Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel - the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel - Palin claims the president wants to enact a rationing system that would "refuse to allocate medical resources to the elderly, the infirm, and the disabled who have less economic potential."
(CNN) - A bill to overhaul the nation's ailing health-care system may not pass until January or later, Democratic Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania said Friday.
His comment to CNN affiliate WJPA differed from President Barack Obama's repeated insistence that Congress will pass a health care bill by the end of 2009.
Speaking in Bentleyville, Pennsylvania, Murtha said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted a health-care bill passed before the current August recess.
"She said we're going to have it before we left," Murtha said. "We said, 'No, no, we want some time to think about this.' We're taking some time to make sure it's done right. I don't know that we'll get something done before January, and even then we may not get it done. We're going to do it right when it's finally done."
There are deep divides between Democrats and Republicans over the health-care issue, and Murtha said more time is needed to come up with a solution that works.
(CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton was on his toes - and on message - as he urged supporters of President Barack Obama's health care reform agenda to step up their efforts.
Speaking Thursday to a crowd of political activists at the annual Netroots Nation convention in Pittsburgh on Thursday, Clinton said a big victory on health care would have serious political implications.
"The president needs your help," Clinton said. "The minute the president signs this bill, his approval will go up. Within a year, when the good things begin to happen, and the bad things they're saying will happen don't happen, approval will explode."
The four-day convention for left-leaning bloggers, thinkers and activists is themed "This ain't no tea party." It's a not-so-subtle jab at recent conservative grassroots efforts against the White House's fiscal agenda.
"Everybody knows what happened in 1993 and 1994," Clinton said, referencing his own administration's failed attempts at health care reform. "One thing we know is that if you get out there and do not prevail the victors get to rewrite history."
BELGRADE, Montana (CNN) - Fixing the nation's ailing health-care system requires both improving health insurance practices and reducing the costs of treatment, President Barack Obama told a largely supportive Montana audience Friday.
Obama sought out questions from skeptics of his proposed health-care overhaul at his second of three town hall meetings this week to reach out to the American public on his top domestic priority for 2009.
One man who identified himself as a proud National Rifle Association supporter and believer in the Constitution in the traditionally conservative stronghold asked how the government would pay to expand health insurance coverage to 46 million uninsured people.
"You can't tell us how you're going to pay for this," said the questioner. "The only way you're going to get the money is to raise our taxes. That's the only way you can do that."
Obama responded with his oft-repeated explanation for how two-thirds of the cost of overhauling health care - estimated at about $900 billion over 10 years - would come from eliminating waste and improving efficiency in the current system that includes the government-run Medicare and Medicaid programs for the elderly and impoverished.
The rest would have to come from new revenue, he agreed with the questioner, and he called for reducing the amount of tax deductions that people making more than $250,000 a year can make on their income taxes.
"If we did that alone, just that change alone ... that would raise enough to pay for health-care reform," Obama said, noting that would meet his election campaign pledge to avoid any tax increase on people earning less than $250,000 a year.
(CNN) - Pres. Obama has been promising the American people transparency ever since he was on the campaign trail.
And, when it comes to the $700 billion dollar bank and auto bailouts, known as TARP, and the $787 billion economic stimulus package, the president vowed an unprecedented level of openness.
A lot of information has been made public through websites like recovery.gov and financialstability.gov. The administration calls these sites “pioneering” compared to how government worked in the past.
But we’re talking about almost $1.5 trillion dollars here – and there is key information that the public doesn’t know about how and where this money is being spent.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion, click here.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - U.S. Senator Jim Webb arrived in Myanmar on Friday where he is scheduled to meet with the reclusive country's military junta, his office confirmed.
The Virginia Democrat is the first member of Congress to visit Myanmar in more than a decade. It will also be the first time a U.S. official meets with Myanmar's top official, junta leader Senior General Than Shwe.
Webb is chairman of the East Asia and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Webb is scheduled to depart Myanmar - also known as Burma - on Sunday. His office would not discuss what the first-term senator plans to discuss during his scheduled meeting with Than Shwe.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama's newest "homeboy" had some tough questions Friday for Wolf Blitzer.
"Why do they call you Wolf?" 11-year-old Damon Weaver asked Blitzer during an interview that will air Friday on The Situation Room. When Blitzer replied that Wolf is his real name, Weaver quickly responded, "Is that because you have a lot of hair on your face?"
Weaver, a soon-to-be sixth grader from Pahokee, Florida, made national headlines this week when he landed a coveted 10-minute interview with President Obama. The rising media star asked Obama if he had ever been bullied, whether he could slam dunk a basketball and if he could be the commander-in-chief's "homeboy."
After fielding a series of questions from Blitzer about his Obama interview, Weaver turned the tables and grilled the CNN anchor. At 11-years-old, he is reaching for the sky, literally. Weaver said that he wants to be a journalist, astronaut and "more" when he grows up.
Tune into The Situation Room this afternoon to see the interview.