In it, but not of it. TPM DC

RNC chairman Michael Steele guest-hosted on Bill Bennett's radio show today, and had an interesting take on President Obama's call for a Supreme Court Justice with a sense of "empathy," which has been criticized throughout the right:



"Crazy nonsense, empathetic," said Steele. "I'll give you empathy. Empathize right on your behind. Craziness."

Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of CENTCOM; Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

• CBS, Face The Nation: Former Vice President Dick Cheney.

• CNN, State Of The Union: Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of CENTCOM.

• Fox News Sunday: Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of CENTCOM; former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan; Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan.

A new Gallup analysis of party identification, compiled from their national polling over the last five months, paints an astonishing picture of how party ID spreads across every age group from 18 to 85 -- and a very tough demographic picture for the Republican Party:



Democrats outpace the GOP across every age group, but the gap varies from one cohort to another, with the greatest differences among the Baby Boomers and Generation Y. The GOP nearly achieves parity among Generation X (ages 30-44), people in their late 60s, and the 85-year old group.

The pollster's analysis goes through several theories, noting that younger voters often tend to be more liberal. But one interesting hypothesis is floated, noting the extent of these differences and where they occur: That these groups are heavily influenced by the eras when they came of political age, -- the Baby Boomers in the 60s, Generation X in the Reagan/Bush Sr. years, etc. And it should be noted that Generation Y came of age during the George W. Bush years, and have now entered the Obama period.

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA)--two time survivor of Hodgkins disease--is no stranger to cancer, cancer awareness, and cancer research funding. But he's using his hard earned credibility as a national spokesperson on the issue to fight the disease in a roundabout way.

He's touting--and raising money from--a website called specterforthecure.com, which he describes as "a bold new initiative to reform our government's medical research efforts, cut red tape and unstrangle the hope for accelerated cures."



But the money he's raising isn't funding research grants, or advocacy, or treatment for patients who can't afford it. It's funding the Senate re-election campaign of one Arlen Specter.

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Cheney Says GOP Shouldn't Moderate Itself, Stresses "Our Commitment To The Constitution" During an appearance on a right-wing talk radio show, former Vice President Dick Cheney said the Republican Party should not moderate itself. Cheney explained: "This is about fundamental beliefs and values and ideas ... what the role of government should be in our society, and our commitment to the Constitution and constitutional principles."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will be speaking at 11:30 a.m. ET from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, on the subjects of job creation and job training. At 3:15 p.m. ET, he will meet in the Oval Office with Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).

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Tom Ridge appeared on Hardball to discuss why he chose not to run for the Pennsylvania Senate seat currently held by party-switcher Arlen Specter, and at the end of the conversation there was a very strange exchange: Ridge, a former Republican governor and Bush cabinet member, not only wouldn't say that conservative former Rep. Pat Toomey can win -- but he wouldn't say he'd vote for him.



When Chris Matthews asked whether Toomey can win, Ridge paused and eventually had to say he didn't know. When asked who he would vote for, between Toomey the Republican or Specter the ex-Republican, Ridge replied: "Well, it's a wonderful country, this America -- it's called secret ballot."

Transcript after the jump.

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A new Rasmussen poll in Texas finds that Gov. Rick Perry -- the man who has suggested his state might secede from the United States -- is in a near-tie in his Republican primary against the popular U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison: Perry 42%, Hutchison 38%, with a ±4% margin of error.

You might think it's bad for the incumbent to be under 50% in his primary, but this could actually be a big improvement for Perry. There isn't another recent Rasmussen poll for direct comparison, but a survey from Public Policy Polling (D) back in February put Hutchison ahead 56%-31%.

Since then, Perry has been hitting the hustings in a big way and putting himself forward as the true conservative. And of course, Daily Kos/Research 2000 polling shows a majority of Texas Republicans approve of his secessionist teasing.

We should probably be rooting for Hutchison in this one. The Union cause is on the line!

As if the situation with Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) couldn't be a bigger mess, he is now disputing Harry Reid's contention that he'll be a solid procedural vote for the Democrats.

Yesterday, you'll recall, Reid said on MSNBC yesterday, "on procedural votes he'll be with us all the time."

Well, Fox News caught up with Specter today and asked him about that: "Specter merely smiled and repeated several times, 'I'm going to have to talk to Sen. Reid about that.'"

Reid told Fox in response: "I have talked since Monday night of last week on Specter. I'm not going to talk any more about it. I have explained and re-explained and the re-explaining is over with."

And Reid's spokesman Jim Manley said Reid was being "hopeful and optimistic" about Specter's vote, and reiterated what he told me yesterday about this: "Sen. Reid never takes any votes for granted."

Oh, brother.

(Via Think Progress.)

When it became clear that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was poised to become ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, we recalled this 2002 article by Sarah Wildman which addresses some of the controversies that kept Sessions from being confirmed in 1986 as a U.S. District Court judge in Alabama.

Wildman writes in particular that the testimonies of two witnesses--a Justice Department employee named J. Gerald Hebert, and a black Sessions subordinate named Thomas Figures--helped to doom Sessions, then a U.S. Attorney, at his Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings. According to Wildman, Hebert testified reluctantly "that in a conversation between the two men Sessions had labeled the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "un-American" and "Communist-inspired." And Figures--then an assistant U.S. Attorney--told the committee that "during a 1981 murder investigation involving the Ku Klux Klan, Sessions was heard by several colleagues commenting that he 'used to think they [the Klan] were OK' until he found out some of them were 'pot smokers.'"

Today we obtained a copy of the transcript of the Sessions hearings--over 500-pages worth--and it turns out there's quite a bit more. We're still going through it, of course, but the Figures testimony alone contains some damning details.

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A new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll finds Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in good overall shape to win re-election in 2010 -- though there just might be an opening for a Democratic primary challenger.

In a Democratic primary against the lesser-known Rep. Joe Sestak, Specter has 56% to Sestak's 11%, and Specter also leads current challenger Joe Torsella by 60%-5%. However, a separate question shows that only 37% of Dem primary voters say they would definitely vote for Specter, while 23% would consider someone else, 16% are definitely for someone else, and 24% are undecideds. This would indicate that some of Specter's support is soft, and a challenger could have a plausible (though definitely uphill) chance.

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