In the face of declining poll numbers and stalled health care negotiations, The White House has had a remarkably good 48 hours:

--The unemployment rate has dipped to 9.4%, despite a loss of over 200,000 jobs

--Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, has been killed by an American missile strike

--Sonia Sotomayor eased her way onto the nation's highest court

--The Senate approved more money for the cash-for-clunkers program

And these developments arrive on the heels of two American hostages returning home safely from North Korea. Not unreasonably, however, all of this will be little comfort if health care reform fails.

--Isaac Chotiner