Politics, dear reader, is a thinking person’s game. For example:


Barack Obama thinks Egypt would make a good setting for a much-anticipated statement to the Islamic world. Would-be assassins may think so, too.


Dick Cheney thinks Rush Limbaugh is a better Republican than Colin Powell. The White House thinks every time Cheney (or Limbaugh) opens his mouth, re-election becomes just a little easier.


Sec. Gates thinks Stan McChrystal will do a better job in Afghanistan than David McKiernan. The Blog thinks Gates wishes McKiernan’s ouster was still the biggest news at the Pentagon.


GOP boss Michael Steele thinks former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney’s Mormonism might be a turn off for GOP base voters. Romney thinks Steele should stick it where the moon don’t shine.


Fla. Gov. Charlie Crist thinks being a senator might be fun. So (still) do Al Franken and Norm Coleman.


But the problem with thinking is it usually produces more questions.


Did Nancy Pelosi think silence was a good idea when she found out about torture? Did she think at all?


What will Congress think of the administration’s renewed healthcare push? And what will the president think of the bill congress eventually presents to him?


What was Wanda Sykes thinking when she called Karl Rove the 20th hijacker?


Of the events planned by the White House in the past week, none went better than the healthcare rollout (with the possible exception of the Tar Heel visit). But few policy proposals will face tougher challenges in coming weeks. As the NYT’s Robert Pear wrote, “There was something in [a revamped healthcare plan] for Mr. Obama, and something for the industry—though not necessarily the same thing. Their interests overlap but do not coincide.” Once Congress gets into it, Obama will need all his chips to control the stakes.


Obama’s control may be needed elsewhere first. Though the administration continues to project sunshine on the economy, many economists aren’t buying it. Nobody seems to dispute this: next year, the government will borrow 50 cents of every dollar it spends. Zoinks.


It’s not as simple as cutting waste from the budget. Obama will do that, but he must also fight tooth-and-nail for policy initiatives like carbon emissions, bank reorganization, and the aforementioned healthcare reform to keep his balance sheets in tact. If any one of those fails, the budget will have to be rewritten.


The president’s popularity remains high, which (as the Blog has argued before) is critically important. The president muted his reaction to Wanda Sykes’ out-of-line joke at last week’s White House Correspondents Association dinner, then gave a great speech of his own.


After the laughter comes tears (usually). Obama’s trek is as tenuous as it has ever been. He shoulders many heavy burdens, each tied to the other. Drop any one, and the rest may follow.


But he’s made it this far with a smile on his face, and for now, he trudges on.


Top 5

The week’s best political reporting and commentary…


The Washington Post: “Lawmakers Balk at Holding Guantanamo Bay Detainees in U.S.” by Perry Bacon Jr.


TIME: “Healthcare: Industry Steps Up. Maybe” by Joe Klein.


The Washington Post: “The Reticence in Broadcasting Network” by Dana Milbank.


Los Angeles Times: “Obama’s big bet on Pakistan” by Doyle McManus.


Real Clear Politics: “Catholic Political Divide Over Obama at Notre Dame” by Beth Fouhy.


On Deck:

You know you’re in trouble when…


…Democrats and Republicans agree you’re crooked.


…your best defense is “I thought it would be best if someone else wrote a strongly worded letter.”


…you face 29,000 counts of murder charges two weeks after the leader of the free world called genocide a global security threat.


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