POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/25

Bush Aides Illegally Promoted GOP Candidates

Federal investigators says that that officials in President George W. Bush’s White House “improperly conducted political briefings on government property, and encouraged employees to get involved in campaigns, meaning that taxpayers footed the bill for political activity,” USA Today reports.

Politico: “A 118-page report issued Monday by the little-known Office of Special Counsel cites numerous violations of the Hatch Act by staffers in the White House Office of Political Affairs. The report concludes that federal taxpayers footed the bill for improper activities that were intended to advance Republican political candidates.”

Profiles in Practical

Esquire has a lengthy profile of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “Bloomberg is the ultimate independent, the calm modern technocrat rooted in metrics and cleansed of ideology, come to drain the swamps of government with his amazing modern business-management techniques … unless he’s actually just an old-fashioned autocrat looking down on us from above and tinkering with our lives like a science experiment, stripping our noisy polis of all its native poetry. Unless the messiness we want to get rid of is actually our soul. We’ve never tried someone like him before — someone with his beneficence and his highly evolved notions for the rest of us and more money than most countries. Able to spend hundreds of millions out of his own pocket on a mere city office. In other words, who defines practical?”

“Bloomberg loves this — loves moving through the world taking in data and being decisive. This is a fundamental fact about him. And he loves being the man too, his style always superconfident but low-key, unruffled, almost deadpan — direct is the word people use most, often followed by sardonic, likable qualities that acquire a slightly more aggressive edge when you have $18 billion in the bank.”

In the words of Newark Mayor Cory Booker: “He’s the Obi-Wan Kenobi to all of us young Jedi knights.”

Despite Biden’s Plea, Obama Already Skipped Jury Duty

As Vice President Biden was called for jury duty, he said he hoped that President Obama would serve in Chicago if he was called.

However, the Los Angeles Times notes Obama “was called to serve on a Cook County jury last year, but he declined the obligation because, coincidentally, it fell two days before his first State of the Union address.”

If a Bush Speechwriter Wrote Obama’s Address

Former Bush speechwriter David Frum offers his own draft of the State of the Union address for President Obama.

One interesting (and telling) nugget: “We can see the future of a better economy already emerging. Over the past twelve months, we have created more than one million net new jobs in the private sector — while government employment has shrunk by more than 250,000. Corporate profitability has reached record highs, meaning that companies can afford to hire as demand revives… If this is ‘socialism,’ what would capitalism look like?”

 

Pawlenty Popular in D.C.

Tim Pawlenty’s new book, Courage to Stand, hasn’t exactly been flying off the shelves — it sold fewer than 5,000 copies in its first week, despite national publicity — but it nonetheless tops the Washington Post’s bestseller list.

Interestingly, as MinnPost points out, the book “didn’t crack the latest New York Times list, or either of the Twin Cities papers’ lists.”

 

Which State Produces the Most U.S. Senators?

Smart Politics review of biographical information “finds that more Senators were born in the state of Ohio than any other over the last 100 years. A total of 43 of the nation’s 879 Senators who have been elected or appointed since popular vote elections were introduced were born in the Buckeye State.”

“New York has produced the second largest number of U.S. Senators with 37, including nine current members of the nation’s upper legislative chamber. Missouri (35), Illinois (32), Massachusetts (31), Kentucky (30), Iowa (28), North Carolina and Pennsylvania (27), and Indiana and Alabama (23) round out the Top 10.”

Court Knocks Rahm Off Ballot

An appeals court ruled that Rahm Emanuel should not appear on the Feb. 22 Chicago mayoral ballot, the Chicago Tribune reports.

“Two of the three judges on the panel said Emanuel does not meet the residency requirement. The judges reversed an earlier decision by the Chicago Board of Elections that determined Emanuel was eligible.”

Next step: Emanuel is certain to appeal his case to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Romney Celebrates Reagan Legacy

Mitt Romney takes to USA Today to pay tribute to Ronald Reagan, noting his “legacy is very much alive. Only amiable dunces cannot see that.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Obviously, somebody gets out there early you become a target very early. I think that’s why some of the potential candidates have not officially entered the race.”

— Sen. John Thune (R-SD), in an interview with KELO-TV, adding he’ll decide on whether to run for president in the “not-too-distant future.

The Fifty Most Powerful Staffers

Roll Call highlights the 50 most powerful staffers on Capitol Hill.

“These top staffers are selected based on four criteria: Mastery, Influence, Spin and Access. Mastery is awarded to the Hill’s policy and procedural experts; Influence is given to the individuals who drive the agenda, cut the deals, craft legislation and sway Members; Spin is given to Congress’ best communicators who help set the tone and frame the debate; Access is awarded to those staffers who are in the room when decisions are made.”

A Rising Star, Until the FBI Started Asking Questions

Jason Zengerle has a great piece on the rise and fall of a political hopeful, from political wunderkind to convicted criminal, and all the twists and turns in between.

“In 2006, Jeff Smith was one of the brightest hopes for Missouri liberals — a dedicated, tireless, unafraid young politician. He was even the star of an award-winning documentary, pulling at heartstrings across the nation as he tackled the problems of the inner city. Then, a mysterious man planted a car bomb in a St. Louis parking garage, killing a mild-mannered attorney. Thus began a chain of events that, eventually, brought an end to Jeff Smith’s promising career.”

Rumsfeld Reflects on His Reflections

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld talks to the AP about his forthcoming memoir.

“When Rumsfeld began thinking about his book, Known and Unknown, he imagined a more typical Washington release: a quick, impressionistic story based on whatever he recalled. Instead, he and a team of six aides worked four years on what became a 700-page narrative, with an additional 100-plus pages of end notes. Dozens of books were consulted and thousands of documents reviewed, from White House memos to letters Rumsfeld’s parents wrote to each other during World War II. Rumsfeld’s sister Joan and former Secretary of State George Shultz were among the friends, family members and colleagues who came to Washington for conversations.”

New Secretary of State Needs to Moonlight

“Conservatives often complain about highly paid government jobs, but in Colorado, the recently elected Republican secretary of state says his job doesn’t pay enough,” according to Politics Daily.

The Denver Post reports Scott Gessler (R) says his $68,500-a-year salary isn’t enough.

“That’s why Gessler, a Republican, said he is going to be moonlighting as a lawyer for his old law firm — a firm known for representing clients on elections and campaign law issues, the very areas Gessler is now charged with policing as secretary of state.”

Independents Return to Obama

Alexander Burns notes independent voters are behind the recent jump in President Obama’s approval rate.

“That unpredictable, cranky group of voters who helped carry the president into office two years ago before turning against him in dramatic fashion, may be turning back in Obama’s direction even more quickly. A series of national polls released over the last week shows Obama’s approval rating on the upswing among voters who don’t affiliate with either political party.”

More Troops Lost to Suicide

For the second year in a row, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, CQ Weekly reports.

Biden Reports for Jury Duty

Vice President Joe Biden, along with 100 other Delawareans, reported for jury duty this morning, the Wilmington News Journal reports.

Said Biden: “I don’t consider myself different than any other person. This is important … It is an honor to be a part of the system. I hope the president serves in Chicago if he is called.”

Bachmann Encouraged by Iowa Visit

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) “says the reactions she received in her Friday meetings with Iowa Republican leaders and conservative activists in the leadoff presidential caucus state have encouraged her to explore running for president,” theDes Moines Register reports.

However, she “said she is not feeling pressed to decide quickly whether to run for president, although some operatives have been contacted about potential staff work for her in Iowa.”

Economists Forecast Upswing

USA Today survey finds nine of 10 economists say they’re more optimistic about the economic recovery than they were three months ago. They now expect the economy to grow at an annual rate of 3.2% to 3.4% each quarter this year.

They also see the unemployment rate cut to about 9% by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Ben Smith notes that just 19 days after taking power, House Republicans give themselves credit for the brighter economic news.

Graham Wishes He Had Stayed Out of Politics

In an interview with Christianity Today, the Rev. Billy Graham said he has just a few regrets over his long life, including this surprising one:

“I also would have steered clear of politics. I’m grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to. But looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn’t do that now.”

Rubio Undecided About Tea Party Caucus

The congressional Tea Party caucus meets this week for the first time, but the Miami Herald notes “one of the movement’s biggest stars doesn’t plan to be there.”

“The meeting — at least for now — is not on Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) schedule, said spokesman Alex Burgos, who pointed out that the freshman senator had yet to make up his mind about joining any caucus.”

Did Obama Dye His Hair?

Gawker and the Daily Mail show pictures which suggest President Obama dyed his hair before last week’s state dinner with Chinese President Hu Jintao — “wiping out all the the distinguished grey.”

Reinventing the White House

Must read piece from John Heilemann: “For Obama, retooling on this scale does not come naturally or happily. Among the hallmarks of his political career has been constancy: a tight and basically static cadre of close advisers and a stubborn resistance to calls for midcourse corrections. Yet in a series of interviews in early January with senior White House officials and many of Obama’s closest confidants outside the building, a picture emerged of a president engaged in a searching, clear-eyed, and sometimes painful process of self-scrutiny, and now determined to implement a plan to fix what has ailed his enterprise — and himself.”

Late last year, Obama “did something out of character: He let the outside in. Scheduling the appointments himself, sometimes on the sly, he invited a passel of Washington wise men to meet with him in the Oval Office with no staff present … former Clinton chiefs of staff John Podesta and Leon Panetta; former Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein; former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle and centrist jack-of-all-trades David Gergen; and, of course, Bill Clinton … Longtime Clinton consigliere Vernon Jordan… Matthew Dowd, who served as chief strategist for the 2004 Bush-Cheney reelection campaign.”

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