In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Former U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin -- the former Bush campaign opposition researcher whose appointment was at the center of the U.S. Attorney controversy of 2007 -- is not running for Senate after all.

Griffin had been eyeing a possible Senate bid in his native Arkansas, against Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln. But as the Arkansas News reports, Griffin is choosing instead to focus on other priorities: He has a growing family, he's making his way up in the Army Reserve, and he's advising a bunch of political campaigns.

So that's one lingering piece of muck from the Bush years that we can probably lay to rest -- at least for the immediate future.

If you read this site fairly regularly, you might be thinking that President Obama is having some issues with the Senate. And you'd be correct. Here's an abbreviated list of hurdles: Dawn Johnsen can't be confirmed to head the Office of Legal Counsel; health care reform may have to do without a public option--if it happens at all; and Obama's goal of shuttering the Guantanamo Bay detention center by early 2010 is suddenly imperiled by the common cousins of conservative demagoguery and Democratic sheepishness.

The examples are manifold. And the voices of opposition are united.

"No way I can vote for her," says a senator of Dawn Johnsen.

Seeking to protect health insurance companies, which would be hard pressed to compete with a government provider, one senator called the idea of a publicly run insurance option a "deal breaker."

And on Guantanamo, the voice of the opposition in the Senate can be summed up thusly: "I think they need to be kept elsewhere, wherever that is. I don't want to see them come on American soil."

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The White House has been pretty clear for weeks now that they want Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) to sail smoothly to re-election in 2010. But now, apparently, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is getting in on the act.

Word out of Washington, D.C., is that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the political wiseguys from the Obama administration plan on "visiting with" Pennsylvania Democrat Rep. Joe Sestak.

Their objective is clear: Get him off the stage and out of a primary race against incumbent (and now Democrat) Sen. Arlen Specter.
Sestak seems to have scaled back his attacks on Specter in the last week or two, and he suggested he approves of Specter's efforts to reach a compromise on the Employee Free Choice Act with the bill's sponsor Sen. Tom Harkin (R-IA). But he's also said he'd likely get into the race unless Specter came into line with the Democrats on a whole host of issues. Does this change his calculus?

It's strange to think that a guy who served as Speaker of the House for a mere four years, ending his stint more than a decade ago, has now been able to command such a loyal following in the DC media types that he is making regular national TV appearances and is often mentioned as a potential presidential candidate. But that's what Newt Gingrich -- whose name was last on a ballot in 1998, when he won re-election to his House seat from Georgia and then soon after resigned as both Speaker and a member of Congress -- has managed to pull off.

Just look at his Speaker Gingrich Web hub for his views on the issues -- its full heading is "The Office of Speaker Newt Gingrich," a decade after he left an office he held for four years. He's also become an expert adviser with House Minority Whip Eric Cantor's National Council for a New America, which is widely seen as a GOP rebranding effort.

Some recent Newt pronouncements include:

• Calling on the current Speaker Nancy Pelosi to resign, after she said the CIA lied to her about torture: "She's made America less secure by sending a signal to the men and women defending our country that they can't count on their leaders to defend them."

• Declaring that President Obama is endangering Israel: "There's almost an eagerness to take on the Israeli government to make a point with the Arab world."

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After Barack Obama wrapped up his big security and civil liberties speech last week, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) issued a strong statement of support for the President in which he drew a stark contrast between the new administration and the previous one.

But Feingold was either holding fire, or the words he'd just heard hadn't settled in immediately. Because by the end of the week, a reservation had emerged. In a gentle, but resolute, letter to Obama dated Friday, May 22, Feingold says a key aspect of Obama's outlined detention policy is likely unconstitutional.

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Obama: North Korea "Recklessly Challenging The International Community" President Obama released a statement at about 2 a.m. ET, on North Korea's claimed nuclear test. "By acting in blatant defiance of the United Nations Security Council, North Korea is directly and recklessly challenging the international community," Obama said. "North Korea's behavior increases tensions and undermines stability in Northeast Asia. Such provocations will only serve to deepen North Korea's isolation. It will not find international acceptance unless it abandons its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery."

Obama's Day Ahead: Memorial Day Observance President Obama is having breakfast with Gold Star Families this morning, at 9 a.m. ET in the State Dining Room. At 11 a.m. ET, he will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He will speak at 11:15 a.m. ET, from the Memorial Amphitheater.

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Mullen: Gitmo Needs To Be Closed Appearing on ABC's This Week, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen reaffirmed his belief that the prison at Guantanamo Bay should be closed. "The concern I've had about Guantanamo in these wars is it has been a symbol, and one which has been a recruiting symbol for those extremists and jihadists who would fight us. So and I think that centers -- you know, that's the heart of the concern for Guantanamo's continued existence, in which I spoke to a few years ago, the need to close it."

Obama's Day: Camp David President Obama has been spending the weekend at Camp David, and is scheduled to arrive back at the White House tonight at 10 p.m. ET. He does not have any public events scheduled. Vice President Biden is in Wilmington, Delaware, and also does not have any scheduled public events.

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Obama Thanks Troops In Memorial Day Weekend Address In this weekend's Presidential YouTube address, President Obama recognized the troops on Memorial Day weekend -- and said that the public hasn't always fully support them, but he will change that:

"That is why I will send our servicemen and women into harm's way only when it is necessary, and ensure that they have the training and equipment they need when they enter the theater of war," said Obama. "That is why we are building a 21st century Department of Veterans Affairs with the largest single-year funding increase in three decades. It's a commitment that will help us provide our veterans with the support and benefits they have earned, and expand quality health care to a half million more veterans."

GOP Address: Barrasso Support "Red, White And Blue Jobs" For Energy In this weekend's Republican YouTube, address Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) also thanked the troops on Memorial Day weekend -- and then proceeded to attack the Democrats on energy issues:

"Democrats have focused solely on what they call green jobs," said Barrasso. "Those are jobs from alternative energy. I support green jobs, but why discriminate? American energy means American jobs, which is why I support red, white, and blue jobs."

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Norm Coleman's appeal of his defeat in the Minnesota election trial has not yet been argued before the Minnesota Supreme Court, but the two campaigns are busy litigating yet another point: How much Coleman's campaign will have to reimburse the Franken camp for legal costs under the loser-pays provision of the election law.

As of now, and as determined by the court clerk, Coleman will owe Franken about $94,000 for trial-related fees. Team Franken had asked for $161,000, which was then reduced by the clerk after the Coleman camp objected that some of these costs either didn't qualify or weren't sufficiently itemized.

This hardly begins to cover the millions that have been spent on legal fees, but it's one more thing for Coleman to worry about.

In documents that were filed by the opposing camps over the past two and a half weeks, but only just made available online, the legal teams argued over how much Coleman should have to pay -- and when he should have to pay it. Pending a hearing, which Coleman has ten days to request, that latter question is still up in the air.

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Barack Obama will soon nominate a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter, and the question of the month is whether that confirmation process will be smooth, or rough, or somewhere in between. The answer may depend in large part on who Obama picks, but as a proxy, many have pointed to Democrats ability (or lack thereof) to get Dawn Johnsen confirmed as the head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

A better proxy, though, might be Obama's first federal court nominee. Obama tapped David Hamilton to fill a vacancy on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and, despite a moderate record on the bench, he's already running into some trouble.

Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans boycotted his first nomination hearing, and Sen. James Inhofe threatened to filibuster his confirmation, and now, after Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) became the panel's ranking member, Republicans are dragging their feet once again.

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