It's been a fun week for Sen. Vitter (R-LA), the Christian-right champion whose career became bogged down in the D.C. Madam prostitution scandal in 2007. Here's what happened:
â¢ It was briefly floated that former state Elections Commissioner Suzanne Terrell (R), who narrowly lost the 2002 Senate race to Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu, was considering a GOP primary challenge after Vitter had delayed the confirmation of the new head of FEMA.
â¢ Just as quickly as she'd put her name out, Terrell put out a statement endorsing Vitter -- just as previous potential primary challengers like Tony Perkins or John Cooksey have done before her.
â¢ Porn star Stormy Daniels formed an exploratory committee to run against Vitter. Daniels has said in the past that people are looking for honesty and integrity in their leaders -- meaning that her campaign would likely be a platform to remind voters about Vitter's indiscretions and hypocrisy.
A Republican source told me that they're feeling fine about Vitter. "We're confident he's gonna be fine, we're confident that he's gonna win," the source said. "He still enjoys high approval ratings, he spends a lot of time in the state talking about what's important to his constituents."
The Republican National Committee has put out this new Web ad, borrowing from the Democrats' infamous "Daisy" attack ad against Barry Goldwater in 1964 -- and likening the danger of Guantanamo detainees being brought on to U.S. soil to the 1960s threat of nuclear war with the Soviet Union:
Interestingly, this Web ad uses audio of the nuclear explosion from the Daisy ad, but the RNC wasn't daring enough to incorporate the full visual of a mushroom cloud. The ad also uses audio of Lyndon Johnson saying "These are the stakes!" but cuts off the full statement: "These are the stakes! To make a world in which all of God's children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die." That kind of aspiration for a world of love isn't exactly a GOP slogan these days.
The message of original Daisy spot, by the way, was that Goldwater would recklessly get us all killed. So it would logically follow that the message of this ad, of course, is that Obama will recklessly get us all killed.
It may be further evidence of the Republican Party's current doldrums that a top party spokesman, who will appear on Meet The Press this Sunday to debate a high-ranking Democrat, is none other than Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich will be facing off against Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), to discuss national security issues and the controversy surrounding Nancy Pelosi's claims against the CIA.
Consider the fact that Durbin is a top-ranking elected Democrat -- while Gingrich resigned as Speaker of the House a little over ten years ago.
WaPo: White House To Steer G.M. Into BankruptcyThe Washington Postreports that the Obama Administration is preparing to send General Motors into a planned bankruptcy as the end of next week, with the intention to give the company nearly $30 billion more in aid to help them restructure.
Obama's Day Ahead
President Obama will sign the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act, at 9 a.m. ET in the Rose Garden. At 10 a.m. ET, he will deliver the commencement at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. At 3 p.m. ET, he will return to the Rose Garden to sign the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act--also known as the Waxman-Markey bill--was reported out of the Energy and Commerce Committee last night. The vote was split almost perfectly down party lines, with 33 in favor and 24 opposed.
Now Democratic leaders faces a dilemma. Normally they would move the bill on to the floor of the House and it would receive an up or down vote (subject to various stall tactics, and so forth). But yesterday, The Hillreported that Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN)--House Agriculture chairman--is threatening to whip all of the Democrats on his panel into voting no on passage unless that committee is given equal jurisdiction over the legislation and is allowed to mark it up on its own. If he gets his way, the legislation could lose yet more of its teeth. If he doesn't (and if he's able to make good on his threat) then it may not pass at all.
TPMDC's daily update on the biggest legislative initiatives on the Hill:
Climate Change: The marathon mark up of the Waxman-Markey climate change bill continued today, with at least one moment of levity as a speed reader, hired by Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats to motor through Republican delay tactics, was called before the panel to read part of an amendment. Incidentally, if you want to track changes to the bill amendment by amendment, you can do so here. The committee's work may be done as soon as tonight.
Defense Spending: The Senate invoked cloture on the supplemental war-spending bill, now bereft of funds for closing down the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It's unclear why cloture had to be filed--the final tally was 94-1, the lone dissent being a protest vote by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI)--but I guess if the GOP didn't insist on cloture, government might get things done quickly, and that would be dispositive of the whole philosophy of conservatism
When the California government decided to address his state's budget crisis by slashing pay for home health care workers, and cutting three-quarters of a billion dollars in Medi-Cal healthcare programs for the poor, the White House was furious. So was the SEIU. This is a recession, they reasoned, and those are poor and working class people. Citing the terms of the American Recovery and Reinvestment act, the Obama administration threatened to withhold $6.8 billion in federal stimulus funds unless the California legislature revoked the wage cut.
Obama "went straight for the most direct way to leverage California from the federal government," writes a source with knowledge of deliberations, "it was a big play, no question."
Earlier today, we reported that Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have taken an extraordinary measure to combat nefarious Republican stall tactics. Faced with the possibility that the GOP minority might require the committee's clerks to read aloud the 900-page Waxman-Markey climate change bill, or many of its 400-plus proposed amendments, the committee's chairman, Henry Waxman (D-CA), hired a speed reader. A quick tongued, acting-clerk, if you will.
His services may ultimately not be necessary, but earlier today, to break the tension between battling factions, the committee's ranking member Joe Barton (R-TX) asked the "speed reader clerk" to read part of one measly little amendment. Watch:
That amendment ultimately went down in flames. The overall bill may have gained a little bit of steam today. But presumably a bunch of Capitol Hill clerks are now worried about job security.
A reader of ours who recently bought a new pistol (Yep -- liberals purchase handguns, too!) sent us this interesting flier from the National Rifle Association, which was included in the box:
(Click image to enlarge.)
Here at TPM, we wondered exactly what the NRA meant by "Prepare For The Storm." Was this some kind of dog whistle -- a hidden extremist message, such as we might see from a white supremacist group like Storm Front?
Mark Potok, director of the South Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, informed me that thankfully it's not a Neo-Nazi reference -- but it is batty.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has released this statement on President Obama's speech today:
"The President today reiterated the belief we both share that closing Guantanamo will make America more secure. I share his concern that we must ensure our national security needs and our Constitutional values continue to coexist, and that the rule of law must supersede politics. Senate Democrats look forward to reviewing the details of the Administration's plan when it is released, and to working with the President to keep Americans safe and bring to justice those who seek to do us harm.
"While others may spend all their time defending the mistakes of the past, I am encouraged that our President is focused squarely on the future."