In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) has now all but officially announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate. Over the holiday weekend, the retired Rear Admiral--who's been dancing around the question for weeks now--continued a listening tour of every county in Pennsylvania.

At a stop in Northampton County yesterday, he spoke of his candidacy as a fait accompli. "This isn't something I wanted to do four months ago, but it has to be done," Sestak told Lehigh Valley Live. "Someone has to be in this race that's credible."

In late May, TPMDC broke the news that Sestak had been raising money from supporters for an intended Senate primary run against freshly minted Democrat Arlen Specter. Sestak has been critical of Specter since Specter switched parties earlier this spring, calling him an unreliable Democrat and questioning his fitness to serve another term.

Palin Attacks "Main Stream Media" Not Understanding Her Resignation Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) released a statement yesterday to comment further on her decision to resign -- and again, she attacks the media for going after her. "The response in the main stream media has been most predictable, ironic, and as always, detached from the lives of ordinary Americans who are sick of the 'politics of personal destruction,'" Palin writes. "How sad that Washington and the media will never understand; it's about country. And though it's honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will depart from the White House tonight at 8:15 p.m. ET, leaving for Obama's overseas trip this week starting with Moscow, Russia.

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Obama Recognizes Fourth Of July -- And Goes After His Naysayers In this weekend's Presidential YouTube Address, President Obama paid tribute to the Independence Day Holiday, and the spirit of those who built America. Furthermore, he tied this into his own agenda on energy, health care and other issues, and against his critics who say he's doing too much:

"These naysayers have short memories," said Obama. "They forget that we, as a people, did not get here by standing pat in a time of change. We did not get here by doing what was easy. That is not how a cluster of 13 colonies became the United States of America. We are not a people who fear the future. We are a people who make it. And on this July 4th, we need to summon that spirit once more."

McCain Stands With Iranians In GOP's Independence Day Address In this week's Republican Address we have President Obama's rival in last year's general election, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who also paid tribute to the founding ideals of the United States. For his part, McCain took the opportunity to stand with the dissidents of Iran

"They do not ask us to arm them or come to their assistance with anything other than public declarations of solidarity, and public denunciations of the tyrants who oppress them. We have a moral obligation to do so," said McCain. "There are those among us who warn that a strong and unequivocal declaration of moral support for Iranians would be used by the cruel regime in power there to convince their subject people that the United States is behind the civil unrest they have attempted to hide from the world. But the regime will make that claim no matter what we say or do."

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The Senate Judiciary Committee has posted documents to its website relating to Judge Sonia Sotomayor's tenure on the board of a group called LatinoJustice PRLDEF (formerly the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund).

The release comes on a holiday Friday after the committee's ranking member, Sen Jeff Sessions (R-AL) called the group "extreme" and demanded the White House release them.

Yesterday, White House Counsel Greg Craig sent a letter to Sessions, calling his demands out of line. "You have now individually sought from a third party, LatinoJustice PRLDEF...documents that were not written, edited, reviewed, or approved by Judge Sotomayor," Craig wrote.

The documents you are now seeking are not relevant to her nomination, just as similar documents not written, edited, or approved by past nominees have not been viewed as relevant to the Committee's consideration of those nominees.

Anti-Sotomayor groups are no doubt poring over the memos, looking for controversial details, and, though the White House is quick to point out that Sotomayor isn't responsible for them, their timing and defensiveness indicates they may be concerned that some of the papers will be politically embarrassing.

Sotomayor's supporters and the White House have compared LatinoJustice PRLDEF to the NAACP Legal Fund and similar groups. For his part, Sessions once called the NAACP "un-American."

Here's Bill Kristol's analysis of Sarah Palin's resignation:

Kristol: A Contrarian Take

If Palin wants to run in 2012, why not do exactly what she announced today? It's an enormous gamble - but it could be a shrewd one.

After all, she's freeing herself from the duties of the governorship. Now she can do her book, give speeches, travel the country and the world, campaign for others, meet people, get more educated on the issues - and without being criticized for neglecting her duties in Alaska. I suppose she'll take a hit for leaving the governorship early - but how much of one? She's probably accomplished most of what she was going to get done as governor, and is leaving a sympatico lieutenant governor in charge.

And haven't conservatives been lamenting the lack of a national leader? Well, now she'll try to be that. She may not succeed. Everything rests on her talents, and on her performance. She'll be under intense and hostile scrutiny, and she'll have to perform well.

All in all, it's going to be a high-wire act. The odds are against her pulling it off. But I wouldn't bet against it.

The Alaska Democratic Party has released this statement on Sarah Palin's resignation:

"Alaskans are dismayed yet not surprised that Governor Palin is abandoning her obligations to our great state. Sarah Palin's decision to step down as governor is a shock to Alaskans, coming at a time when leadership is needed secure a gas pipeline and address rising unemployment. Palin's lack of commitment to her sworn obligation to serve her term to the best of her ability is a betrayal to all Alaskans," said Patti Higgins, Chair of the Alaska Democratic Party.

The Alaska Republican Partry released this statement on Gov. Sarah Palin's (R-AK) resignation:

Alaska Republicans Grateful For Palin's Leadership, Excited For Soon To Be Governor Parnell.

Republicans across Alaska and the nation were surprised to learn today our Governor, Sarah Palin will be stepping down and not seeking re-election.

The party shares mixed feelings as we lose a valued public servant who raised Alaskan issues and concerns in the national consciousness in a way no Alaska leader had previously been able. While sadden to see Gov. Palin leave we are excited to see a conservative of Lt. Gov. Parnell's character enter the Governor's office.

Gov. Palin's decision not to run for re-election means there will be a vigorous race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2010. Alaska has an impressive cadre of conservative candidates we are confident will vie for the office of governor and the party stands ready to fully support which ever conservative candidate our members choose to represent them in the general election.

The Alaska Republican Party has not been informed whether Gov. Palin plans another run for national office and as such cannot comment on that possibility. The party does feel, however, there needs to be a strong challenge to President Obama's attack on Alaskan values waged by his administration since taking office six months ago. If that challenge comes from Gov. Palin the party ready to support her as all Alaskans should.

Sen. Mike Johann's communications director Ann Marie Hauser has released an official statement about today's mini-kerfuffle outside of a Nebraska health care roundtable. "Sen. Johanns has been a public servant for 25 years and he has no problem with people protesting. He came to UNMC today to hold several productive discussions with concerned Nebraskans and members of the health care community, including the SEIU and Jane Kleeb. UNMC's security personnel took it upon themselves to enforce university policy of no protesting on their property. It's a shame Jane's politcial agenda takes priority over participating in a constructive discussion on an issue of such importance to Nebraskans."

Kleeb notes that her work in politics and health care advocacy long predates her introduction to her husband, Scott Kleeb, who ran against Johanns in the Nebraska Senate race in 2008, and that her work in Nebraska--including the event today--is not about political retribution in any way.

Notwithstanding the political disagreement, though, there's still the unanswered question of who, if anybody, called security on the activists.

TPMDC's update on the biggest legislative initiatives on the Hill:

  • Health Care: The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will in all likelihood advance their health care reform bill--public option and all--after Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) drops her opposition.

  • Nominations: In a holiday-Friday news dump, the Senate Judiciary Committee has released hundreds-more pages of documents dating back to Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor's tenure on the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund