POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 12/18

An Unlikely Friendship

On C-SPAN this morning, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) described his close friendship with President Obama, despite being one of the most conservative members of Congress.

Said Coburn: “I try to write him about every week or two. Write him a note, encourage him. No one has a tougher job than he does… We came into the Senate together, and I just have a lot of admiration for him. I’m 180 degrees from him on policy on most issues. But I think he’s a wonderful man.”

Coburn notes his relationship with Obama is “by far” much closer than he has with former President George W. Bush.

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Pass the Bill

Paul Krugman: “A message to progressives: By all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy. Declare that you’re disappointed in and/or disgusted with President Obama. Demand a change in Senate rules that, combined with the Republican strategy of total obstructionism, are in the process of making America ungovernable. But meanwhile, pass the health care bill.”

“With all its flaws, the Senate health bill would be the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare, greatly improving the lives of millions. Getting this bill would be much, much better than watching health care reform fail.”

Did Perry Promise Not to Run?

Some interesting behind-the-scenes from the Republican gubernatorial race in Texas: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s (R-TX) campaign manager accused Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) of breaking a promise not to run for re-election, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Said Terry Sullivan: “He ran around scared for his political hide four years ago. They went around and told people to talk her into not running, that next time would be her time. He broke his word.”

Barbour May Have a Huckabee Problem

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), considered to be a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012, may have a bigger problem with granting pardons than Mike Huckabee (R), his potential rival who has been taking a beating for weeks on the issue.

Slate notes Barbour “has simultaneously ignored increasing evidence that there may be a disturbingly high number of innocent people in prison in Mississippi and handed out pardons to the convicted murderers who just happen to do work on his house.”

Top Political Stories of the Decade

Marc Cooper of the USC Annenberg School makes his picks:

1. The unconventional election process of 2000
2. The attack on the Twin Towers, September 11, 2001
3. The invasion of Afghanistan, 2001
4. The invasion of Iraq, 2003
5. The introduction of torture techniques as official American policy
6. The unprecedented expansion of executive power
7. Hurricane Katrina
8. The election of Barack Obama
9. The global financial crisis of 2008-2009
10. The media revolution

What do you think? Nominate your own stories in the comments.

Trafficant Gears Up

At a news conference yesterday, it sure sounded like ex-convict and former Rep. Jim Traficant (D) — who called himself “a bitter man” — is running for Congress again. He also says he’s got a book and movie deal in the works.

The video of the event does not disappoint.

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Quote of the Day

“We’re not here to husband our poll numbers like a trophy on a shelf.”

— White House adviser David Axelrod, quoted by The Nation, when asked about President Obama’s falling approval rate.

Specter Deadlocked with Toomey

A new Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania finds Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and challenger Pat Toomey (R) are tied, 44% to 44%, in next year’s U.S. Senate race.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “Specter has the state’s Democratic registration advantage on his side, while Toomey can take heart in the numbers that show problems for Specter in measures in addition to the horse race. For example, voters say 50% to 38% he does not deserve reelection.”

In the Democratic primary, Specter holds a commanding 53% to 30% lead over Rep. Joe Sestak (D).

Franken Objects to Lieberman

C-SPAN cameras caught an odd but revealing moment on the floor of the U.S. Senate this afternoon: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) objected to Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-CT) request for an extra minute to finish his speech.

Read more…

Rubio Pulls Within Single Digits

A new Zogby poll in Florida shows Gov. Charlie Crist (R) with a 9-point lead over Republican primary rival Marco Rubio (R), 45% to 36%.

Rasmussen poll earlier this week showed the race tied.

DeMint Plans to Force Christmas Eve Vote

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) said he “is prepared to use every procedural tool to delay a vote on the Democratic health care legislation,” The Hill reports.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) “is planning to schedule votes around the clock over the next week to meet a deadline of passing the bill by Christmas. Without the cooperation of Republicans, the marathon schedule would end with a vote on Christmas Eve.”

Politico notes that if the Senate “has any hope of passing the health care bill before Chiristmas, lawmakers will need to cast votes in the dead of night and early in the morning next week.. The Senate would essentially stay in session 24 hours a day next week to burn the clock on procedural rules that require a 30-hour break between votes.”

Quote of the Day

“Take it from someone who knows: these chances don’t come around every day. Allowing this effort to fall short now would be a colossal blunder — both politically for our party and, far more important, for the physical, fiscal, and economic health of our country.”

— Bill Clinton, in a statement backing the current health care reform bill.

Revisiting Clinton vs. Starr

Politico looks at The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr by Ken Gormley and calls it “the first definitive history of the Clinton scandal” but notes “neither man can be completely happy about his portrayal in its pages.”

The book “asserts that Clinton had yet another extramarital affair, with Susan McDougal of Whitewater fame. Also in the book, Monica Lewinsky tells author Ken Gormley that she believes the president lied under oath when he described their encounters.”

“At the same time, Gormley offers a harsh portrait of Starr as a man out of his depth and who lost all sense of proportion. His interviews offer new ammunition to critics who contend the Lewinsky investigation was marred at its outset by improper questioning of Lewinsky in January 1998 by Starr’s lieutenants, who continued to grill her even after she asked for a lawyer.”

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