Emails Implicate Rove in Prosecutor Firings

“Political adviser Karl Rove and other high-ranking figures in the Bush White House played a greater role than previously understood in the firing of federal prosecutors almost three years ago, according to e-mails obtained by the Washington Post, in a scandal that led to mass Justice Department resignations and an ongoing criminal probe.”

Ambassadorships for Sale

“Under Barack Obama, the process of political payoff through ambassadorial appointments has matched and appears poised to exceed the already extremely abusive system that Karl Rove put in place under the Bush Administration,” reportsHarpers magazine. 

“In his first six months, Obama has forwarded 58 ambassadorial nominees to the Senate for confirmation. Retired career diplomat Dennis Jett reports in the Daily Beast that 32 of these nominees — 55% of the total — are political appointees.”

“Political appointees are not per se objectionable… But the Obama political appointees are of a different caliber. What distinguishes them is not a career in public service or finance, much less foreign relations or foreign area expertise, but rather something far grubbier: raising substantial sums of money for the Obama campaign.”

Quote of the Day

“The only way I could get elected governor is the way I got elected mayor — things have to be so bad… I got elected mayor, I believe, on the theory of — it can’t get worse. So if it gets to that point, maybe I’ll decide.”

— Rudy Giuliani (R), quoted by the New York Daily News, on running for governor of New York in 2010.

Counting the Votes for Sotomayor

The latest C-SPAN tally of the coming Senate vote on Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court shows 35 senators in favor — including 29 Democrats and 6 Republicans — with 23 senators opposed. 

There are still 42 senators who are uncommitted.

Obama Ratings Slide Across the Board

The latest Pew Research poll confirms what most other polls are showing: President Obama’s approval ratings have suffered major declines. 

“The president’s overall job approval number fell from 61% in mid-June to 54% currently. His approval ratings for handling the economy and the federal budget deficit have also fallen sharply, tumbling to 38% and 32%, respectively. Majorities now say they disapprove of the way the president is handling these two issues. The new poll also finds significant declines over the last few months in the percentage of Americans giving Obama high marks for dealing with health care, foreign policy and tax policy.”

As NBC/WSJ co-pollster Bill McInturff (R) told First Read: “The question I asked back in February was: When does political gravity take hold? The answer is in this survey. It is happening now.”

Not Ready for Syndication?

Though Sarah Palin has put out feelers to see if there is interest in her doing a national radio show, Cable & Broadcasting “says the country’s biggest radio conglomerate, Clear Channel, has already passed on her.”

“The main objection to Palin as radio talk-show host is that she would have to hold forth for three hours a day. While some of her recent remarks may indicate a talent for improvisation, anyone who’s listened to Rush Limbaugh or Thom Hartmann or Don Imus or Howard Stern or even Ryan Seacrest knows it’s the rare personality who can blab extemporaneously for 15 hours a week. And relying on callers to get you through won’t help, because as we’ve all experienced, callers-in are usually more embarrassing than compelling.”

Geithner Can’t Sell His Home

The Daily Show takes a hilarious look at how Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner can’t sell his house in New York.

Read more…

Marshall Considering Senate Bid in North Carolina

Here’s an interesting twist: North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall (D) is “pretty seriously leaning towards” running against Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) in 2010, campaign strategist Thomas Mills tell CQ Politics.

As the number of Democratic prospects continue to dwindle, Marshall is looking like a lead contender to take on Burr, whose shaky standing at home has Democratic party leaders drooling. 

She was the first woman to win statewide office in North Carolina and has been re-elected to her post three times. 

Schwarzenegger Approval Sinks to New Low

A new PPIC Poll in California shows Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) job approval rating dropped to a new low of 28%.

The last time a California governor’s approval rating was that low was in 2003 when then-Gov. Gray Davis faced a recall election and was in a budget standoff with the Legislature.

A record-low 14% of Californians believe the state is headed in the right direction.

Liberals Threaten to Strip Baucus of Chairmanship

“In an apparent warning to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), some liberal Democrats have suggested a secret-ballot vote every two years on whether or not to strip committee chairmen of their gavels,” The Hill reports.

Baucus “has frustrated many of his liberal colleagues by negotiating for weeks with Republicans over health care reform without producing a bill or even much detail about the policies he is considering.”

Said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA): “Every two years the caucus could have a secret ballot on whether a chairman should continue, yes or no. If the ‘no’s win, he’s out.”

Pawlenty Steps Out

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) addresses the RNC today in California and is reportedly set to argue that President Obama’s policies are taking the country in the wrong direction. 

An advisor to Pawlenty tells CBS News that Pawlenty will focus on three major topics: the federal budget, health care and foreign affairs. 

Given the tone of his expected remarks, it’s clear he’s trying to position himself as a presidential contender in 2012. 

Read more…

Americans Still Prefer a Democratic Congress

Though a couple polls yesterday showed Republicans taking an edge in the generic 2010 congressional ballot, the latest WSJ/NBC News poll shows Americans still prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress over a Republican-controlled one, 46% to 39%.

Is the Obama Brand Taking a Hit?

Greg Sargent looks at the internals of the latest WSJ/NBC News poll and sees several data points that suggest President Obama’s “brand” has taken a real hit in the last few months.

Key points: 

49% rate Obama positively on whether he’s “willing to work with people whose viewpoints are different from his own,” down from 62% in April — a drop of 13 points. 

48% rate Obama positively on whether he “can be trusted to keep his word,” down from 58% in April — a drop of 10 points.

Hutchison Backs Off Resignation Statement

Though she said she would resign her Senate seat in the fall to run for governor, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) now says she was misunderstood, the Houston Chronicle reports.

In a “bizarre series of interviews,” Hutchison later told reporters that what she really wanted was for Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) to get out of the race.

Said Hutchison: “Nobody expected (Perry) to run for 15 years, and I think there’s a chance that he wouldn’t run because he would see how divisive it is and that he’s trying to stay too long and that he can really help in many ways if he doesn’t run, in which case I could then be able to stay in the Senate all the way to the end.”

CQ Politics: “She’s quitting. She’s not quitting. She might be quitting. No, she wants the governor to be the quitter — and quit thinking about re-election.”

House Retirements Drop

“One of the biggest story lines of the 2008 elections was the large number of House Republican retirements and the multitude of competitive open-seat races that crippled the GOP’s efforts to regain territory lost in 2006,” Roll Call reports.

“Seven months into this Congress, however, there is not a single House Member in either party who is simply retiring from office next year. Stretching back 12 years, this is the first cycle with no retirement announcement as of Aug. 1 in the off year.”

For more, see CQ’s Members in Transition.

A Rural and Southern Party

In an interview on Hardball, former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) followed up on recent comments made by Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) about how the Republican party is losing its appeal. 

Said Davis: “Politics has been defined by culture over the last few cycles, and we’ve become a rural party and a Southern party. We’ve been losing inner suburbs and the like. A lot of this was the policies of the Bush administration.” 

Furthermore, as the GOP increased its focus on cultural issues, it also caused a widening education gap:

Davis added: “The high education areas Obama carried — 78 of the 100 counties with the highest education. McCain carried 88 of the 100 counties with the lowest education. As we move to cultural politics, that’s been the shift.”

Read more…

Obama Loses Ground With Public on Health Care

New York Times/CBS News Poll: “President Obama’s ability to shape the debate on health care appears to be eroding as opponents aggressively portray the effort as a government-takeover that could limit Americans’ ability to chose their doctor and course of treatment, according to the latest poll.”

“Obama continues to benefit from strong support for the basic goal of revamping the health care system, and he is seen as far more likely than Congressional Republicans to have the best ideas to accomplish that. But reflecting a problem that has afflicted attempts to bring major changes to health care for decades, Americans expressed considerable unease about what the result would mean for them on an individual basis.”

NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll: “Despite his public-relations blitz over the past two weeks to promote his plans to reform the nation’s health-care system — including holding two town halls on Wednesday — President Obama has lost ground on this issue with the American public.”

“Pluralities now say that the president’s health care plan is a bad idea, and that it will result in the quality of their care getting worse. What’s more, just four in 10 approve of his handling on the issue.”

Obama Approval on Health Care Similar to Clinton

The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds just 41% approve of President Obama’s handling of the health care reform effort, which is nearly identical to Bill Clinton’s scores from 1994, when he failed to get Congress to pass health-care reform.

Cut the Deficit, But Don’t Raise Taxes or Spend Less

This tease from the forthcoming New York Times/CBS News poll shows the difficulties lawmakers face when dealing with the nation’s problems.

“Most Americans continue to want the federal government to focus on reducing the budget deficit rather than spending money to stimulate the national economy… Yet at the same time, most oppose some proposed solution for decreasing it.”

“Fifty-six percent of respondents said that they were not willing to pay more in taxes in order to reduce the deficit, and nearly as many said they were not willing for the government to provide fewer services in areas such as health care, education and defense spending.”

Large Majority Wants Health Care Reform

A new Time magazine poll finds that 46% of Americans said it was “very important” that Congress pass major health reform in the next few months, and an additional 23% said it was “somewhat important.”  In contrast, just 28% find the immediate effort either not very or not at all important. 

In a separate question, more Americans said it would be better to pass “major reform” to health care (55%) rather than “minor adjustments” (43%).

Other key finding: President Obama has “significantly more credibility with the public than his Republican foes when it comes to tackling the problem. Asked who do they trust to develop new health care legislation, 47% of respondents said President Obama, compared to 32% who said Republicans in Congress.”

McDonnell Holds Wide Lead in Virginia

A new SurveyUSA poll in Virginia finds Bob McDonnell (R) leadings Creigh Deeds (D) by 15 points in the state’s gubernatorial race, 55% to 40%. 

Key findings: McDonnell carries independents 2:1, and is above 50% in all regions of the state.

Big caveat: Survey respondents voted 52% to 43% for McCain in last year’s election.

House Committee Reaches Health Deal

Democratic House leaders and four of the “Blue Dogs” on the House Energy and Commerce Committee reached a deal on a health care overhaul, Roll Call reports.

The panel “will be resuming a markup of the measure at 4 p.m with plans to vote on the bill by Friday, according to Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA).”

The Hill: “Delaying a vote until August was a key demand of the Blue Dogs, along with reducing the cost of the bill by $100 billion and allowing states to create health ‘co-ops’ that would compete with the government-run ‘public option’ and private insurers.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Candidates, National, Politics, Virginia

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