POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 11/30

What Does “Exit Strategy” Mean For 2012?

According to Tom Ricks, a strong proponent of counterinsurgency doctrine and author of Fiasco and The Gamble, it could be the difference between one and two terms for President Obama.

“If Obama uses the phrase ‘exit strategy,’ or dwells on the subject, then you’ll know you’re probably looking at a one-term president. In other words, file under ‘Jimmy Carter,’ not ‘Abe Lincoln.'”

 

Chelsea Clinton Engaged

ABC News reports that Chelsea Clinton is set to marry boyfriend Marc Mezvinsky.

Although certainly overshadowed by the Clinton family, it’s worth noting that Mezvinsky comes from a political family in his own right — both his parents served in Congress.

 

Political Bestsellers

The New York Times updates its political book bestseller list. Here are the top five:

1. Going Rogue by Sarah Palin
2. Arguing With Idiots by Glenn Beck
3. Too Big To Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin
4. True Compass by Edward M. Kennedy
5. The Audacity To Win by David Plouffe

 

Click here to find out more!

Five Gifts for Political Junkies

If you have any political junkies on your holiday shopping list, here are some choices for good gifts:

1. Politics in America or the Almanac of American Politics: No political junkie should be without a copy of one of these invaluable political reference guides.

2. Kindle: Amazon’s wireless book reader is now a part of my daily routine like newspapers once were. You can now even subscribe to a Kindle version of Political Wire.

3. The Audacity to Win by David Plouffe: This might be the best political book released all year.

4. Roku: Hands down the best gadget available for under $100, it allows you to stream over 50,000 movies directly to your television. Perfect for when you want to see Mr. Smith Goes to Washington or The Candidate on that cold, winter night.

5. Loaded Questions: A political party board game.

 

House Expenses Go Online

For the first time, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to release theirquarterly expenditures online later today.

 

Economy Becomes Bigger Problem for Democrats

A new Democracy Corps survey “reveals a more pessimistic electorate than we have seen since the early months of 2009, with feelings on the economy turning more negative after months of slight but steady improvement.”

Important finding: “The country is not ready to listen to a narrative about how Democrats have brought the economy ‘back from the brink’ and averted an even worse disaster, as articulated by the president in his joint session address to Congress earlier this year. That leaves a lot of receptivity to Republican messages that focus on wasted spending and exploding deficits.”

 

What Does Obama Believe?

John Heilemann: “Yet the emerging doubts about Obama among even his most ardent and sensible fans are deeper and more nuanced than that. After 300-plus days in office, the president remains, for many of his supporters, a worryingly indistinct figure. One whose pragmatic sensibility is crystal clear but bedrock convictions are still blurry. And whose White House has proved less than fully adept at the marriage of politics and policy, preferring all too often to fall back on their boss’s charm and dazzle to advance the ball upfield.”

Said one leading House Democrat: “I have no idea what they believe. I know that their governing strategy seems to be, ‘Don’t worry, the big guy will make it all right in the end.'”

 

Quote of the Day

“All of you all over the country — please remember that Senate seats are not about a particular state. They’re about our country. Every vote I take is not about South Carolina. It’s about the United States of America.”

— Sen. James DeMint (R-SC), quoted by The State.

 

Capital in the Capitol

Roll Call analysis of financial disclosures filed by members of the House shows 125 lawmakers with assets of $1 million or more but 34 Members who report assets valued at or less than zero.

The 10 richest members, whose collective fortunes — at least $557.06 million — account for more than half of the House’s combined worth.

For more, see the interactive chart listing the assets and liabilities of all Members of the House.

 

The Dangerous Dozen for 2010

Stu Rothenberg picks the most vulnerable House seats in next year’s midterm elections: LA-2 (R-Cao), DE-AL (R-open), LA-3 (D-open), VA-5 (D-Perriello), MD-1 (D-Kratovil), KS-3 (D-open), OH-1 (D-Driehaus), OH-15 (D-Kilroy), FL-8 (D-Grayson), NM-2 (D-Teague), NH-2 (D-open), NY-23 (D-Owens).

 

Senate Starts Health Care Debate

Today, as the full Senate begins deliberations over the health care bill introduced last week, a new Gallup Poll finds that Americans “currently tilt against Congress’ passing health care legislation, with 49% saying they would advise their member to vote against a bill (or they lean that way) and 44% saying they would advocate a vote in favor of the bill (or lean toward advising a yes vote).”

Nonetheless, Jonathan Cohn notes “the ultimate resolution of that process wouldn’t seem to be in much doubt. Republicans will do whatever they can to drag out the debate. But unless political circumstances change drastically, they probably will not succeed in stopping reform altogether. Instead, the Senate will vote for a bill, work out its differences with the House, and send legislation to the White House for the president to sign.”

“But the debate that unfolds over the next few weeks will be full of drama–and not just the manufactured kind. While it’s hard to imagine opponents of reform stopping a bill from passing., it’s not at all hard to imagine the opponents of reform drastically altering the bill before it goes forward.”

 

Selling the Afghanistan War

A good question from David Corn: “Can a president declare a war must be won but not proclaim he’ll wage that war for as many years as is necessary to succeed? That is the contradiction that President Obama will be obligated to explain on Tuesday night when he addresses the nation from West Point to explain his apparent decision to send some 30,000 additional U.S. soldiers to the cauldron of Afghanistan.”

 

Republicans United, To A Point

A new Washington Post poll finds Republicans and GOP-leaning independents are “overwhelmingly negative” about President Obama and the Democratic Party more broadly, “with nearly all dissatisfied with the administration’s policies and almost half saying they are ‘angry’ about them. About three-quarters have a more basic complaint, saying Obama does not stand for ‘traditional American values.’ More than eight in 10 say there is no chance they would support his reelection.”

However, the survey “also reveals deep dissatisfaction among GOP voters with the party’s leadership as well as ideological and generational differences that may prove big obstacles to the party’s plans for reclaiming power.”

 

Man Wanted for Murders Let Free by Huckabee

Maybe this is why Mike Huckabee is “less than likely” to run for president in 2012: The Seattle Times reports that a man wanted for four police murders in Washington state was granted clemency by then-Arkansas Gov. Huckabee nine years ago and released from prison.

Said the Arkansas prosecutor who objected at the time: “This is the day I’ve been dreading for a long time.”

 

A Final Meeting on Afghanistan

Marc Ambinder: “President Obama convened a last-minute meeting of his national security team tonight to discuss the language that his administration will use to describe its new strategy for Afghanistan. Two administration sources confirmed that the meeting, which began at 5:00 pm, included cabinet officials like Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The officials would not describe the meeting and said that no other news organizations were being given any background briefing. That suggests that the meeting was akin to a pre-game rally session by the commander-in-chief: he wants to get everyone from Gates to Gen. Stanley McChrystal to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the same page before the president’s Tuesday speech.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports Obama will “lay out a specific timetable for how he sees the American war in Afghanistan ultimately ending” in his speech.

 

Political Clash Expected Over Rising National Debt

McClatchy Newspapers notes that a vote to raise the ceiling on the national debt — which now exceeds $12 trillion — “will come just as Congress tries to put the finishing touches on a trillion-dollar plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system and President Barack Obama considers a possible escalation in the war in Afghanistan that could cost another trillion dollars over the next 10 years.”

“A bipartisan group of more than a dozen senators is threatening to vote against an increase in the debt limit unless Congress passes a new deficit-fighting plan.”

 

Study Confirms Health Care Bill Will Cut Costs

A new analysis by MIT economist Jonathan Gruber claims that the Senate health-reform bill will “make health insurance much more affordable for individuals facing purchase in the non-group market.”

The report, which is surely good news for Democrats, states that the Senate’s version of the bill will significantly curb health care costs for both individuals and families.

Gruber finds “that the single individual would save over $2500 at low incomes (175% of poverty), and would save $200 even at higher incomes (425% of poverty or higher). For families, the savings are much larger, ranging from nearly $7500 for low income families (at 175% of poverty) to $500 for higher incomes (425% of poverty or higher).”

 

Will Endorsements Shake Up Senate Race?

In a move that could shake up a fairly sleepy race, former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis endorsed Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) for the senatorial seat left open by the death of Ted Kennedy, CQ Politics reports. In the last week, Capuano has also been endorsed by Nancy Pelosi and Diane Patrick, Gov. Deval Patrick’s wife.

With just over a week to go until the Democratic primary, all polls have shown Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) with double-digit leads over Capuano, who polls second, and political newcomers Alan Khazei (D) and Stephen Pagliuca (D).

Interestingly, the Boston Globe endorsed Khazei this morning.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports on Coakley’s reluctance to invoke Kennedy during her campaign and the potential downsides to that decision.

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