POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/2

Tax Problems Delay Kirk’s Hearing

For weeks, the CQ Cabinet Tracker has shown no progress on Ron Kirk’s nomination to become United States Trade Representative. A hearing was scheduled for Thursday, but Reuters now reports it’s been postponed until next week.

Well it turns out, according to the AP, that Kirk has a tax problem and owes approximately $10,000 in back taxes.

L-Word Loses its Pop

The New York Times notes “that ‘socialist’ has supplanted ‘liberal’ as the go-to slur among much of a conservative world confronting a one-two-three punch of bank bailouts, budget blowouts and stimulus bills. Right-leaning bloggers and talk radio hosts are wearing out the brickbat. Senate and House Republicans have been tripping over their podiums to invoke it. The S-bomb has become as surefire a red-meat line at conservative gatherings as ‘Clinton’ was in the 1990s and ‘Pelosi’ is today.”

Quote of the Day

“Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh’s whole thing is entertainment. Yes, it is incendiary. Yes, it is ugly.”

— RNC Chairman Michael Steele, quoted by CNN, taking issue with the notion that Limbaugh is “the de facto leader of the Republican party.”

Portraying Bush as a Failure

Ron Brownstein notes that “literally from the first moments of his presidency, Obama has repudiated Bush in unusually pointed terms. The process started in Obama’s inaugural address… The White House took its indictment to a new level in the budget blueprint it released last Thursday. In a relentless 11 pages, the first chapter offers a withering point-by-point critique of Bush’s economic record and governing performance.”

The strategic reason, Brownstein argues, may come from a 1997 book called The Politics Presidents Make and a 2008 follow-up called Presidential Leadership in Political Time, in which the author “noted that the presidents who most successfully constructed lasting electoral majorities all followed presidents widely viewed as failures.”

White House adviser David Axelrod seemingly confirmed this point in an interview: “This is the canvass on which we have to paint, and I think it’s important to set that baseline.”

Kudlow Considering Dodd Challenge

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary: “Here at CPAC a well placed source with knowledge of the Republican Senate Committee plans tells me that Larry Kudlow is ‘considering’ a Senate run against embattled Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd. Dodd’s approval ratings have been plummeting in light of the Friend of Angelo scandal and the ongoing effort to stonewall local and national media… Also on the horizon is former Congressman Rob Simmons. So stay tuned: we might just have the most entertaining and most educational senate race in a long time.”

Republicans Concede Budget Too Hard to Block

Democrats “are expected to begin moving the budget through Congress this month with hopes of winning approval by early April. Congressional Republicans say it’s unlikely that they would be able to block the budget because they don’t have enough votes,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

The reason: “Congress follows special rules for approving the annual budget that make it hard for the minority party to block it. Senate rules requiring 60 votes to end debate are suspended. That requirement had made three Republican senators’ support for the stimulus bill crucial, even though Democrats enjoy large majorities in the House and Senate.”

Nonetheless, CQ Politics notes congressional Democrats “certainly won’t follow the president’s proposal exactly.”

Toomey Considers Challenge to Specter

GrassrootsPA has learned that former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA) just announced this morning that a possible primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) is “now back on the table” due to Specter’s support of President Obama’s economic stimulus package.

In January, Toomey announced he would not challenge Specter in a GOP primary.

Line Forms for Burris Seat

With Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) fending off calls for his resignation, the New York Times notes that “more than half a dozen names were quickly gaining steam as possible candidates in a Senate race in 2010, if not sooner…”

“Still, for all the jockeying, rarely has a political race been so packed with peculiar uncertainties that would complicate any campaign, any fund-raising effort, any hope of a strategy at all. The muddle of moving circumstances and political turmoil that has overwhelmed this state since Mr. Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges in December is now reaching into the elections ahead as well.”

Meanwhile, Burris, who refuses to rule out running for the seat himself, has set up acampaign website.

Republicans Go Back to the Future?

With health care reform as President Obama’s main agenda item this week, Greg Sargent digs up a 1993 William Kristol memo that argues Republicans could make significant electoral gains by derailing President Clinton’s own health care reform effort. It will be interesting to see if Kristol’s points are reflected in GOP talking points this week.

Earlier, we noted Republicans are closely following Newt Gingrich’s playbook from the early 1990s.

Who is on Pelosi’s Bad Side?

Apparently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi learned from her father, Baltimore Mayor Tommy D’Alesandro, to diligently keep track of people she has had helped in some way — with an added twist.

Politico: “Those around Pelosi say she has always kept her own favor file. But, like her father, she has also maintained a ‘disfavor file’ in her head — a roster of those whom she believes have screwed up, betrayed her, challenged her or merely annoyed her… The list, Pelosi allies say, is real — even as they warn that overstating her vindictiveness feeds into the right-wing caricatures of Pelosi and perpetuates ethnic and gender stereotypes.”

Obama Messaging on Key

First Read: “We shouldn’t let last week go without acknowledging how well the Obama White House dominated the messaging of each and every day last week, and also stayed on its chosen message. No outside event disrupted the administration’s day-to-day goals last week — the fiscal responsibility summit on Monday, the address to Congress on Tuesday, the budget on Thursday, and the Iraq pullout announcement on Friday. It was an impressive feat for those who admire the ability of any political shop to walk and chew gum at the same time. The White House, though, is not trying to be nearly as dominant with its message events this week, given that one issue will dominate more than any other: health care.”

Obama Web Team Has Difficult Transition

“The team that ran the most technologically advanced presidential campaign in modern history is finding it difficult to adapt that model to government,” the Washington Post reports.

“WhiteHouse.gov, envisioned as the primary vehicle for President Obama to communicate with the online masses, has been overwhelmed by challenges that staffers did not foresee and technological problems they have yet to solve. Obama, for example, would like to send out mass e-mail updates on presidential initiatives, but the White House does not have the technology in place to do so. The same goes for text messaging, another campaign staple.”

On a related note, Garance Franke-Ruta reports the White House is now releasing Obama’s weekly address to Vimeo as well as YouTube.

Race Played Factor in Seating Burris

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), “who advised Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) last week to step down from the Senate, acknowledged today that racial considerations were at play in the decision by majority Democrats to seat Burris,” the Chicago Tribune reports.

“Durbin, a fellow Democrat and Illinois’ senior senator, noted that Rep. Bobby Rush, a Chicago Democrat, appeared at Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s announcement of his appointment of Burris and used racially charged language to defend the appointment.”

Vitter Regains Footing After Scandal

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) “survived a potentially career-wrecking scandal midway through his freshman term, since establishing himself as one of the most outspoken conservative voices in the Senate’s diminished Republican ranks,” CQ Politicsreports.

“In an interview, Vitter made clear that he is running for re-election and said he intends to spend the next two years focusing on energy policy, a key economic issue in his oil- and gas-producing state.”

Gates Says Obama More Analytical

According to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, President Obama “is more analytical than his predecessor,” CNN reports.

“Gates, the only Cabinet holdover from the Bush administration, initially paused when asked what the difference is between working with President Obama and President Bush.”

Said Gates: “President Obama is somewhat more analytical, and he makes sure he hears from everybody in the room on an issue. And if they don’t speak up, he calls on them. President Bush was interested in hearing different points of view but didn’t go out of his way to make sure everybody spoke if they hadn’t spoken up before.”

Read the complete transcript.

Looking Back at Last Week

It was a busy week for President Obama — an address to Congress, releasing his budget proposal, the announcement of troop withdrawals in Iraq — and it sparked an equally busy bout of discussions on the Sunday talk shows. 

CQ Politics rounds up the most notable commentary.

Huntsman Charts New Course for GOP

“Largely under the radar of the national media and even out of sight of many in his own party,” Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) “is emerging as an articulate, unapologetic and unlikely spokesman for a new brand of Republicanism, one that seems out of vogue at a time when many in the GOP attribute their fall from power to a deviation from right-wing orthodoxy.”

In an interview with Politico, Huntsman said he “thinks the party’s challenge is more profound, owing less to its excessive spending practices during the Bush era than to sweeping demographic and political changes that threaten to consign Republicans to a long-term minority status and confine their appeal to narrow sections of the country.”

“The party needs to be more intellectually rigorous, and to compete for the votes of the young, the elites and minorities… To do so, the GOP needs to tack toward the middle on environment, gay rights and immigration.”

Quote of the Day

“I was pretty clear that I would have liked to have been Secretary of HHS but it is the president’s choice and he decided to go in a different direction.”

— Howard Dean, quoted by the Huffington Post.

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2 Comments on “POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/2”

  1. Carl Says:

    Just dropping by.Btw, you website have great content!

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    • fvmoore Says:

      Thanks! Blog site only has part of what I email to my DEMLIST daily. I send an email with a list of postings to blog, plus links to Virginia and national political political articles and op-ed pieces from the Wash. Post, NY Times, Virginian Pilot, Huffington, etc. and an occasional piece from the Onion to satisfy my quirky sense of humor. 🙂


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