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In today's pages: healthcare bill deals, a tarmac deadline and President Obama's rhetoric

December 22, 2009 | 11:53 am

Benson In exchange for his deciding vote on the Senate's healthcare bill, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) managed to insert some language giving his home state and one of its insurance companies special treatment. Such carve-outs are routinely granted to lawmakers whose votes are considered crucial, but just because the practice is common doesn't mean we have to like it, The Times concludes.

Today's editorial page also weighs in on the Department of Transportation's new order that airlines must unload passengers from planes delayed on the tarmac for more than three hours, a simplistic solution to a complex problem that in some cases will only worsen delays. And Times editorial page editor Nicholas Goldberg recalls the time in 1997 when he tried to get an interview with recently deceased Iranian cleric Hossein Ali Montazeri.

On the Op-Ed page, columnist Jonah Goldberg explains why President Obama has already proved to be a failure: His accomplishments haven't come close to living up to his change-the-world rhetoric.

Biographer Sally Denton, meanwhile, tells the story of Helen Gahagan Douglas, a California candidate for U.S. Senate in 1950 who blazed a trail for prominent female politicians such as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sarah Palin, only to run up against the ferocious chauvinism of Richard Nixon. And former Times staff writer Jocelyn Stewart pens an ode to newspaper delivery drivers like her father, Simeon Stewart.

Cartoon by Lisa Benson / Washington Post Writers Group

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