Just published: Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner.
New York Times: “This is certainly the most complete book we are likely to see about the F.B.I.’s intelligence-gathering operations, from Emma Goldman to Osama bin Laden… Illegal wiretaps and burglaries were the F.B.I.’s key weapons almost from the beginning. Time and again, going back to the 1930s, this or that court would rule such procedures illegal. Time and again, J. Edgar Hoover, the bureau’s director from 1924 until his death in 1972, simply ignored the law. A string of presidents, from Roosevelt to Richard M. Nixon, knew exactly what the bureau was doing and refused to stop it.”
“For the first time in a generation, Republicans are preparing for the possibility that their presidential nomination could be decided at their national convention rather than on the campaign trail, a prospect that would upend one of the rituals of modern politics,” the New York Times reports.
“The race remains Mitt Romney’s to lose, and if he continues to accumulate delegates at a steady clip… he can still amass the 1,144 necessary to secure the nomination before the last primary, in Utah on June 26. But as he struggles to win the hearts of conservative voters and hold off a challenge from Rick Santorum, party leaders, activists and the campaigns are for the first time taking seriously the possibility that neither he nor anyone else will get to that total.”
The Washington Post notes President Obama trails Republican front-runner Mitt Romney “in finding donors willing to give $2,000 or more — a surprising development for a sitting president, and one that could signal more worrisome financial problems heading into the general election. At this point in the last election cycle, Obama had received such large donations from more than 23,000 supporters, nearly double the 11,000 who have given him that much this time. President George W. Bush had more than four times the number of big donations at this point in his reelection.”
“Republicans and Democrats alike thought that Obama would have a big financial advantage over Republicans this fall given his record-breaking 2008 fundraising and his status as the sitting president. But the trend of slackening big-donor support is the latest in a series of indications that the 2012 money battle is going to be much tighter than once imagined.”
“A contested convention isn’t necessarily all bad.”
— Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, in an interview on This Week, on a deadlocked Republican convention.
Brad Phillips: “By accepting Maher’s donation, top Obama officials are now forced to spend valuable time parsing the differences between the appropriate and inappropriate uses of misogynistic language, having to explain to voters why calling Sarah Palin a ‘c*nt’ is different than calling Sandra Fluke a ‘slut.’ As a result, the Obama Administration – and more broadly, the Democratic Party – is ceding the moral high ground it temporarily claimed after Limbaugh made his incendiary comments.”
“Top Obama officials are trying to dismiss Mahers’ comments as somehow different than Limbaugh’s. And I agree with their assertion that comedians should have more license to push the rhetorical envelope than others in public life. But the standards of politics, not stand-up comedy, started to apply the moment the President’s SuperPAC accepted Maher’s high-profile, seven-figure gift.”
“It’s gone way too long and gotten way, way too personal.”
— Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), in an interview on Meet the Press, describing the Republican presidential primary as “the nastiest I’ve ever seen.”
Must-read piece in the Washington Post:
“Last summer’s effort at a “grand bargain” on the debt, described by White House officials as the most consequential of Obama’s presidency, illuminated pitfalls in the road he had taken and directed him down a partisan path now defining the reelection campaign.”
Commentary: “Wonder how the left was able to mobilize so quickly on the Rush Limbaugh boycott? According to the architect behind it, Media Matters online strategy director Angelo Carusone, the project was actually created in 2009, but stayed inactive until the Sandra Fluke controversy boiled over.”
Patch: “Two men who kissed one another were kicked out of presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s rally Friday evening… Santorum was 15 minutes into his speech when the two men shouted and got the attention of the crowd. They exchanged a kiss, prompting guards to eject them and the crowd to chant ‘U-S-A’ while they were leaving the gym.”
Rick Santorum “is now claiming the race for the GOP nomination is closer than you might think,” Fox News reports.
Said Santorum: “We’ve got some new delegate math that we’re going to be putting out that shows this race is a lot different than what the consensus is. We’re looking at the rules, we’re looking at how things are stacking up, and we’re in much better shape in these caucuses and some of these apportioned states or winner take all states which in fact are not winner take all states.”
He then inexplicably claimed he’s won every Midwestern state, even though he lost both Ohio and Michigan.
Wall Street Journal: “Mitt Romney’s long-gone dog’s last ride has dominated headlines this month. From the New Yorker cover depicting Rick Santorum riding on Mr. Romney’s car roof in a doghouse to Washington Post columnist Chris Cilizza’s stab at dog-crate deconstruction, Seamus the Irish Setter’s ride on the Romney’s station wagon roof is the story that wouldn’t die, even though the dog itself did decades ago.”
Boston Globe: “Political crusaders have long sought to lift up the downtrodden, comfort the afflicted, and empower the defenseless. Scott Crider, the founder of Dogs Against Romney, says he fits squarely into this grand tradition. His mission: Make sure every American voter knows that once, 29 years ago, Mitt Romney drove for 12 hours to Canada with the family’s Irish setter, Seamus, in a crate on the roof.”
“Missouri Republicans jammed caucus sites across the state on Saturday morning, with at least one site in St. Charles County shut down, injecting some uncertainty into the process,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
“A caucus in the gymnasium at Francis Howell North High School in St. Peters was shut down after about a half hour of boisterous disputes, some of it over a caucus rule barring videotaping and other recording. Supporters of presidential candidate Ron Paul repeatedly yelled objections to decisions made by caucus organizers.”
New York Times: “Turnout was low when Rick Santorum took this county (and the state) in a traditional primary election on Feb. 7. It was one of three states he won that day, giving his campaign a significant lift. But because of the unusual party and state circumstances, the vote awarded no delegates, many of whom would be chosen at caucuses on Saturday.”
Though he holds a double-digit lead, Rick Santorum’s disorganization may cost him a chance at delegates in his home state.
The Daily: “The problem for Santorum springs from the fact that potential delegates in Pennsylvania run on a primary ballot uncommitted to any presidential candidate — meaning voters won’t know who they’ll support at the convention this summer… Romney, Ron Paul and even Newt Gingrich got some of their supporters on the ballot as delegate candidates. But Santorum’s campaign officials, who have struggled with ballot organization issues across the country, privately concede that they just didn’t have the time, nor resources, to organize their own supporters to run as delegates when the paperwork was due earlier this year.”
Wisconsin state Sen. Pam Galloway (R), who faces a recall election this summer, plans to resign from the Senate shortly, leaving an even split between Republicans and Democrats, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.
The recall election against Galloway would still move forward even though she would no longer occupy the seat.