Obama's Offshore Drilling Strategy

What's behind Obama's decision to open U.S. waters to oil drilling—an about-face that's enraging environmentalists? In part, it's a concession to get conservative members of Congress to sign on to a climate-change bill, which would create a cap-and-trade system to limit carbon emissions. But that's only part of the strategy. The wider aim is to counteract growing public skepticism over global warming, fueled by critics who say that climate change isn't real, or that capping emissions will...

Tea Partiers: They're Just Like Us!

Gallup released it's latest research into the demographics of tea-party supporters this morning, and some of the results are a little surprising. For all the talk of tea partiers being older and whiter than the rest of the country, Gallup's findings show that the demographics of tea-party supporters largely align with the rest of the country on several socioeconomic categories. The 28 percent of Americans who identified themselves as tea-party supporters do tend to be whiter, but not...

Democrats Are Unusually Unified, But It's Not Helping Them

National Journal's resident political sage, Ron Brownstein, has an interesting column out today about the near-historic unity of the congressional Democratic caucus. As regular Gaggle readers know, I've criticized Democrats in the past for their apparent lack of party discipline. But Brownstein has looked at the numbers and makes the case that Democrats are exhibiting similar party coherence to Bush-era Republicans. Here's Brownstein: Today, Democrats face much the same...

Gordon Brown's Tough New Strategy Had Me April-Fooled (Almost)

When it comes to pranks, Brits are usually pretty good sports. Their newspapers are no exception, and for April Fools', they had some fun fibs. For starters, there's the Daily Express's story about the queen catching a cut-price flight on the budget British airline EasyJet. (Complete with a quite convincing photo of the queen boarding, while waving in her signature fashion.)But the story that almost had me was this one from The Guardian. For those of you who haven't paid...

Biden's Gaffe Becomes a Money Spinner

I have a story out today about the political left's gradual but warm embrace of Vice President Joe Biden. Upon his selection, liberals were pleased enough with Biden, but their attention was steadfastly trained on the top of the ticket. It was Obama, not his veep, who embodied a riveting vision of social change for the left. Any vice president who didn't distract from that mission would do—someone who could be the occasional attack dog, even better. But since taking office, Biden as slowly...

The Strategy Behind Obama's Drilling Announcement

Obama's offshore-drilling announcement this morning has left many environmentalists with their knickers in a knot. For them it's a betrayal by an administration from whom they'd expected more. A year ago it seemed perfectly reasonable to assume the Obama White House would aggressively pursue legislation that curbs America's greenhouse-gas emissions. Now, they're letting big oil companies drill for more fossil fuels. It's appears like a strategy designed to get more Republicans on board with...

New Poll Has Good News for Democrats

When it comes to midterm elections, voter enthusiasm is everything. Relative to presidential years, midterm turnout is depressed. Without the hype of a presidential battle, the only people you can really rely on to hit the polls are the party faithful; those folks who'll turn out rain or shine. If you give them a reason, that is.Now that health-care reform has passed, the Democratic rank and file have that reason. While conservatives have been riled up since Obama set foot in the Oval...

Senate Republican Tactics Make Them Look Like Losers

This afternoon the Senate passed the package of reconciliation fixes that was supposed to complete this round of health-care reform. Three Democrats defected: Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), and Ben Nelson (Neb.). But Reid didn't need their votes. He probably didn't even try that hard to get them. He had the magic 51 he needed to pass the bill.But unfortunately that's still not the end of this belabored process. Late last night Republicans challenged, on...

Obama Signs Health-Care Bill, Changes the Story of His Presidency

It's official. President Obama's health-care-reform bill is the law of this land. The signing was almost as arduous as the lawmaking: with Joe Biden, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi at his side, Obama used 20 different pens to sign the 11 letters of his name on the historic bill. But nothing could dampen the euphoric mood in the East Room today. The president beamed through raucous applause and chants of "Fired up, ready to go" and "Nancy, Nancy." I've rarely seen such a...

The Politics of Repealing Health-Care Reform

Last night, many Republicans privately think they were handed a gift: a bloody piece of prime rib to stoke unrest in their base. Between now and November, conservatives will grouse shrilly about the coming evil of reform. We'll hear how it will ruin the country, and bring forth the dreaded socialization of our hospitals and care providers. Medicare will be cut, the elderly uncared for. Premiums will skyrocket. But as far as Democrats are concerned, that's OK. Why? Because now that health care...

Obama Strikes Classy Tone on Most Important Night of His Presidency So Far

President Obama could have been smug. The bill that makes his most prized policy priority a reality, the culmination of more than a year's work, is making its way to his desk to be signed into law. At the same time he is steadily cutting a path into the history books as the man who presided over the most substantial expansion of social programs since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society initiatives of the 1960s. Had he failed, his political obituary would have been written 10,000 times over this...

Tea-Party Protests: Loud, Mad, and Dangerous (For Republicans)

I've just returned from the lawn outside the U.S. Capitol where so-called tea partiers are protesting health-care reform with chants such as "Kill the bill" and "We'll remember in November." It's hard to describe the gathering as anything other than a prototypical angry mob. The group is overwhelmingly white and skews older. And they're mad, some cruelly so. If you listen to Republicans, you'll hear that the health-reform bill outrages the overwhelming majority of...

Why the 'Louisiana Purchase' Isn't a Dirty Backroom Deal

Sweetheart deals and backroom brokering have become rallying points for opponents of health-care reform. Republicans have been bashing Democrats about these deals for weeks. Its been effective, bolstering notions of rotten, dysfunctional governance in the minds of voters. And there are few things voters respond more negatively to than process stories about how bills become laws. But, as Rep. Anthony Weiner indignantly pointed out on last week, that's just how legislating works in this...

Palin's TV Show: Another Reason She Won't Run in 2012

I've argued before that I don't think Sarah Palin really wants to be president, regardless of the desires of her most ardent supporters. She doesn't appear to enjoy the actual process of governing. When she resigned the governorship of Alaska, she didn't even stick out her term as most retiring governors, like Tim Pawlenty, do. She quit and left as soon as she could. As Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe explore in their biography, Sarah from Alaska, Palin is extremely...

Thoughts on Why Obama Postponed His Trip Down Under

News broke this morning that the president was postponing his trip to Australia and Indonesia until June. He'd already delayed the trip, moving his departure date back to Sunday. There are a couple of ways to read this. The first reaction may be that Obama is worried about health-care reform failing in the House and wants to be on hand to twist some arms if necessary. Ben Smith offers a counterpoint:The decision to cancel his trip may look like a sign of urgency, but it's also, in the...

CBO Score on Health Reform Is Out. Game On.

The Congressional Budget Office has long been a pivotal, though indirect, player in congressional politics, but it's hard to think of a time when a bill has hinged so precariously on its findings. This morning, reports are trickling out of Democratic offices, including Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's, that the CBO score (which will be officially released this afternoon) contains some pretty good news for health-reform proponents.The CBO will estimate that the bill the House will likely...

Obama on Fox: The Interrupt-a-thon

Since becoming president, Obama has done his fair share of interviews with the big TV news anchors, including sit-downs with Charlie Gibson, Brian Williams, and Katie Couric. It's part of my job to watch them and, let's be honest, they're usually a bit of a yawn. (No offense, Brian Williams, but you're way more entertaining on The Daily Show or Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me!, where I finally learned of your aptly titled music blog, BriTunes.) The questions are fairly...

Nuns Support Health-Care Reform, Defy Bishops

Hot on the heels of Kucinich's declaration of support for health-care reform, the Associated Press is reporting that Catholic nuns are urging Democratic lawmakers to support health-care reform. This is a major break with the church's bishops, who have strongly opposed the legislation on the grounds that some federal subsidies may end up funding abortions. Although the Senate bill does contain provisions that prohibit the use of federal funds for abortion—similar to the existing...

Kucinich Will Vote Yes

Yesterday, I wrote that if there was ever a time for the most idealistic Democrats on the Hill to become pragmatists, it was now. I was referring in particular to Ohio's Dennis Kucinich, a former presidential candidate and steadfast progressive who arguably sits further to the left than any of his peers. Today, Kucinich announced he would drop his opposition to the health-care-reform bill and vote yes when it goes to the floor, likely Friday or Saturday this week. With the future of...

Hey, Congress: Nobody Likes You

NBC and The Wall Street Journal are out with a new poll this evening, but the WSJ has already given us a sneak peek. And guess what? Voters don't like anyone right now. Nobody. Surprise! (Yeah, I'm not surprised either.) Congressional approval is down to just 17 percent, while 50 percent of respondents would like to throw everybody out—Republicans and Democrats alike—and start with a completely new Congress. Makes those heady days of 31 percent congressional approval seem...

Will Dennis Kucinich Be Pelosi's 216th Vote?

Dennis Kucinich is one of the odder characters in contemporary politics. Arguably the most committed progressive on the national scene, he generally operates on the edges of Capitol Hill's drama (the left edge, if you want to be precise). He's got a relatively small but fiercely loyal following, at the ready with applause and dollars each time he bucks his party or criticizes Democrats for being too moderate. He's not a fixture on cable TV, in the way that his conservative...

Health-Care Reform This Week: A Tour of the Sausage Factory

No matter how interesting you've found the health-care-reform debate over the last year, even if you've been endlessly fascinated by the intricacies of subsidies and actuarial values, brace yourself for a few days of procedural bamboozling. We're entering the most bureaucratic phase of the process so far. And when it comes to this bill, that's saying something ... Here's a basic rundown of what will likely happen. Today the House Budget Committee approved the use of the budget-reconciliation...

Health-Care Reform Stopped Being About Policy a Long Time Ago

Patrick Caddell and Doug Schoen, a former pollster and a pollster, respectively, have written an op-ed in today's Washington Post about arguing that Democrats need to change their approach on health-care reform. They say the public is so overwhelmingly opposed to the reform package that Democrats would be better off if they broke the piece up into small, less ambitious policy initiatives that could achieve bipartisan support. But that misses the point. This debate stopped being about...

Health Care Reform: Where It's At

After almost a year of discussions, speeches, grandstanding, and dissembling about health care from those who roam Pennsylvania Ave., you'd be forgiven for feeling like the debate would never end. But it's definitely in the final stretch right now. The bill has clear momentum. There's been many developments this week, but if, like most people, you stopped combing the papers for the latest tidbit on reform, here's what you need to know. 1. Abortion. The Associated Press...

Ever Wanted to Know What Happened to Obama's Peace Prize Money?

Well, wonder no more. The White House today announced that, as expected, the president would donate his $1.4 million prize to charity. Here's the list:List of Charities$250,000 to Fisher House: Fisher House is a national nonprofit organization that provides housing for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers.$200,000 to the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund: In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, President Obama asked former...

Hey Freshman Congressmen: Quit Whining and Do Something About It

After Eric Massa's claim on Glenn Beck two nights ago that he no longer had the energy for the allegedly arduous, time-consuming task of fundraising, Politico sent some reporters to suss out the truth behind his defeated grousing. What they discovered was irritating. Politico reports that many freshman members of Congress feel frustrated and weighed down by the pressure to raise money for their reelection bids. Here's what the dozen members involved in the article told Politico:They...

Immigration Reform Is Back on the Agenda: What's the Political Strategy?

This afternoon the president will meet with Sens. Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham to discuss immigration reform. The political strategy of attempting immigration reform this year is curious, especially after the epic health-care-reform drama of the past year. Why would Democrats want to pursue such a hot-button, culturally divisive issue this year? They're already looking like they'll have a pretty depressing performance in the polls this November. Surely they'd want to shy away...

Funny Guy Jon Stewart Makes Deadly Serious Points

Last night, Jon Stewart proved again that not only is he the funniest guy on TV, but he can also be TV's most compelling interviewer. His guest was Marc Thiessen, the former Bush speechwriter who seems to now make a living trying to scare the living daylights out of people about terrorism. He has a new book out that contends that in changing Bush-era policies on detainee treatment and torture, Obama is making the country less safe. Stewart, clearly passionate about the issue, shreds his...

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