Chastened by the Democratic Senate loss in Massachusetts, President Barack Obama and congressional allies signaled Wednesday they will try to scale back his sweeping health care overhaul in an effort to at least keep parts of it alive.
A simpler, less ambitious bill emerged as an alternative only hours after the loss of the party's crucial 60th Senate seat forced the Democrats to slow their all-out drive to pass Obama's signature legislation and reconsider all options.
The stunning Republican victory in Tuesday's Massachusetts Senate race will force Democrats to fundamentally rethink the meaning of Barack Obama's election to the presidency, especially the notion that Americans want more government help in matters such as obtaining health insurance.
Scott Brown's win in a liberal state will do more than vastly complicate Obama's bid to overhaul the U.S. health care system and pass climate-change legislation. It will prompt politicians of every stripe to redouble their efforts to understand voters' anger and desires ahead of the November elections for Congress, governorships and state legislatures.
John Triolo, a 38-year-old retail sales manager, is like more than half the voters in "true-blue Democratic" Massachusetts: an independent.
Triolo supported Barack Obama's bid for the presidency because he wanted change. But on Tuesday, in a race seen as a referendum on Obama's legislative agenda, Triolo cast his vote for upstart Republican Scott Brown over the once heavily favored Democrat, Martha Coakley.
"I wanted change," Triolo said of Obama, "I thought he'd bring it to us, but I just don't like the direction that he's heading."
The buck stops ... Well, it was hard to tell just where the buck stopped Tuesday as Democrats in Boston and Washington began dodging blame and pointing fingers at each other even before the first returns were in.
Cool-headed analysis of what was driving independents to Republican Scott Brown's column? No. The issue was who botched Democrat Martha Coakley's Senate campaign more: her state people or national Democrats.
Most spoke the classic Washington way, under the cloak of anonymity. But President Barack Obama's senior adviser took precise, public aim at Coakley's camp as Brown closed in on the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's seat.
Democratic lawmakers who once saw health care overhaul as a historic quest are now anxious about getting the debate behind them, with Tuesday's Massachusetts Senate race underscoring how hard and joyless the effort has become.
Regardless of whether Democrat Martha Coakley squeaks past Republican Scott Brown, their down-to-the-wire campaign has shaken some Democrats' belief that most Americans will see the proposed health delivery changes as worthwhile. Emboldened Republicans, meanwhile, see the Democrat's struggle in liberal Massachusetts — where health care was a central issue — as a harbinger of GOP gains in November's midterm elections.
Relief workers say pockets of violence in Haiti's devastated capital are hindering a slow increase in much-needed aid delivery, and some residents have banded together to protect the few possessions they have left.
As thousands of others head to the countryside, people in one hillside Port-au-Prince district blocked off access to their street with cars and asked local young men to patrol for looters.
"We never count on the government here," said Tatony Vieux, 29. "Never."
Jay Leno turned serious on his show to discuss the late-night chaos at NBC, telling viewers that he'd been doubtful about launching a prime-time show but was prevented by NBC from going to another network instead.
Leno, in explaining events from his standpoint, also said Monday that he had told NBC he'd return to the "Tonight" slot only after Conan O'Brien rejected the network's plan to put both men on in late night.
NBC continued negotiations Monday on an exit deal with O'Brien that would clear the way for Leno to reclaim the 11:35 p.m. EST slot occupied by "Tonight," which he hosted for 17 years before turning it over to O'Brien last spring.
The FBI violated the law in collecting thousands of U.S. telephone records during the Bush administration, The Washington Post reported Monday.
Citing internal memos and interviews, the Post said the FBI invoked nonexistent terrorism emergencies or persuaded phone companies to provide information as it illegally gathered more than 2,000 records between 2002 and 2006.
The bureau said in 2007 that it had improperly obtained some phone records, and the Justice Department inspector general is expected to release a report this month detailing the extent of the problem.
Thousands of U.S. Marines were expected off the shore of this crumbled capital city Monday to help relief organizations get supplies to Haitian earthquake survivors who questioned foreigners, soldiers and God about aid yet to arrive.
The troop increase and an expected request to the U.N. for more peacekeepers were coming a day after sporadic violence and looting in Port-au-Prince underscored how an uptick in water and food deliveries still fell far short of overwhelming demand.
"We don't need military aid. What we need is food and shelter," one young man yelled at U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during his visit to the city Sunday. "We are dying," a woman told him, explaining she and her five children didn't have any food.
Fewer Americans believe the presidency of Barack Obama, the first African American elected to the White House, has helped advance race relations compared with a year ago, a Washington Post-ABC News poll suggests.
The poll, published on the U.S. holiday commemorating civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., found 41 percent now say Obama's presidency has helped race relations, compared with 58 percent on the eve of Obama's inauguration a year ago who said his presidency would help race relations.
The decline was the sharpest among African Americans, with 51 percent now saying Obama has helped advance race relations, compared with 75 percent who, last January, said they expected Obama's presidency to help.