In it, but not of it. TPM DC

With all the news about President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, it's easy to forget that Obama nominated a different judge to a different court before well before Sonia Sotomayor became a household name.

Obama nominated David Hamilton to serve on the Seventh Circuit court of appeals back in March, and, thanks to a number of Republican delays, he has only today been reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line 12-7 vote.

Now Hamilton will be exposed to a bright new world of procedural measures meant to obstruct his confirmation. Back in April, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said he would filibuster Hamilton once the committee advanced the nomination. "I had to come to the floor to speak so that the American people, who are very concerned about this nomination, will know that I and my Republican colleagues on the Judiciary Committee are taking interest and are not just going to let this nomination sail through," Inhofe said on the Senate floor. "In fact I will filibuster David Hamilton."

That's the same James Inhofe who once called judicial filibusters 'unconstitutional.'

(Incidentally, Hamilton is the brother-in-law of Dawn Johnsen--another Obama nominee who's struggling to get confirmed by the Senate.)

The first post-primary poll is now out in the New Jersey gubernatorial race, giving Republican former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie a healthy lead over Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. The numbers from Rasmussen: Christie 51%, Corzine 38%, outside of the ±4.5% margin of error.

Christie won the Republican primary on Tuesday night, and this poll was then immediately conducted yesterday. Three weeks ago, Christie led Corzine by a 47%-38% margin. Corzine's approval rating in the latest poll is only 42%, against 57% disapproval, while Christie's favorables and unfavorables stand at 60%-40%.

However, there is a frequent pattern in New Jersey elections that must be noted -- a sizable number of voters don't affirmatively like the Democrats, but in the final weeks of a campaign will break heavily in that direction as a vote against the conservatism of the Republican candidate.

The pollster's analysis -- and I should note that Scott Rasmussen is a New Jerseyan, like myself -- acknowledges this important caveat: "New Jersey polls often show Republican candidates doing well in the spring with Democrats gaining ground in the fall. Corzine is expected to heavily outspend Christie which could add to that trend."

Marco Rubio, the former Florida state House Speaker who is waging an up-hill conservative challenge in the Republican primary for Senate against Gov. Charlie Crist, is now lining up some right-wing support to oppose Crist.

Rubio announced yesterday that Dennis Baxley, the former state Speaker Pro Tempore and outgoing head of the state Christian Coalition, will be backing his candidacy -- a decent pickup in Rubio's mission to solidify support on the religious right. The big question here is whether Rubio will be able to mobilize conservative activists against Crist -- who starts out with an enormous lead in the polls -- in light of the moderate governor's support for the stimulus and his other breaks from Republican orthodoxy.

Also, the Jacksonville Observer points out, Baxley previously supported Crist's opponent in the 2006 open-seat gubernatorial primary, and Crist won that nomination in a landslide. But Baxley is undeterred. "Gov. Crist is very popular," he said. "But that's what you get when you're on both sides of every issue. But as a party, we need to show that we can advance people with real leadership skills."

A new coalition of business leaders--Business Leaders for a Fair Economy--will press Congress in the coming weeks to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

As part of their launch, the group has placed an ad in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, and Politico, and it's chairman Roger Smith (who's also the President and CEO of American Income Life Insurance Company and National Income Life Insurance Company) has sent a letter to members of the Senate asking them to support EFCA.

It's important to counter the myths and misunderstandings that unions are bad for business. Quite the contrary - allowing workers to freely join unions can improve morale, productivity, and retention rates, and our bottom line. Further, enabling workers to make their own choice on how to form a union helps remove unnecessary conflict from the workplace so labor and management can focus on advancing the business....

In this tough economy, Business Leaders for a Fair Economy believes that passage of the Employee Free Choice Act is more pressing than ever. We urge you and your colleagues to put our country on a path toward lasting economic and financial recovery by enacting this vital measure.

Roll Call reports that we may now be entering a truly crucial phase in the seemingly never-ending saga of the 2008 Minnesota Senate election -- indeed, it might actually be ending fairly soon, if Norm Coleman doesn't have the heart to keep going.

On the one hand, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the NRSC chairman who has said the race could take "years" to resolve, says the party would continue to keep on supporting Norm -- and would fight any effort to seat Franken even if the Minnesota Supreme Court orders his certification. "I personally think it'd be a mistake to seat anybody while the appeals are pending," said Cornyn.

However, Roll Call says: "Sources close to Coleman say the former Senator would likely give up his legal battle and accept defeat if the Minnesota Supreme Court decides in Franken's favor. That's because Coleman anticipates that Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) would ultimately sign Franken's certification papers." The issue here is that Coleman might not have the energy to keep fighting this in federal court -- as it is, he's already put his political reputation on the line with the state court battle.

A ruling from the state Supremes is expected to happen some time in the next few weeks, and is universally expected to be a strong decision in favor of Al Franken.

Obama To Muslim World: "Cycle Of Suspicion And Discord Must End" In his big speech earlier today in Cairo, Egypt, President Obama reached out to Muslims the world over in an appeal for peace, religious tolerance and understanding, and an overall new beginning for international relations. "So long as our relationship is defined by our differences," Obama said, "we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end."

Obama's Day In Egypt President Obama arrived in Cairo, Egypt, at 2:10 a.m. ET (9:10 a.m. local time), and participated in a welcome ceremony at the Quba palace at 2:40 a.m. ET. At 3 a.m. ET, he held a bilateral meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and at 4:50 a.m. ET he and Sec. of State Clinton toured the Sultan Hassan Mosque. At 6:10 a.m. ET, he gave his big speech. At 8:45 a.m. ET, he toured the Pyramids and the Sphinx. At 11 a.m. ET, he will depart from Cairo International Airport, en route to Dresden, Germany.

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Video and full text below.

I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt's advancement. Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I am grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum.

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Add Harold Koh to the list of Obama nominees whom Republicans have decided to slow walk to confirmation. At least one senator is, anonymously, holding Koh's nomination, according to a Senate source.

Koh, who if confirmed will serve as legal adviser to the State Department, was reported out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about three weeks ago, but has languished ever since--a fact which, I'd imagine, makes him thrilled that he resigned as Dean of Yale's Law School in order to serve in government.

Recall that before the committee vote, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) also placed a hold on Koh's nomination. That delay only lasted a week.

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During his appearance today on the Neil Cavuto show, potential presidential candidate Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) gave a dire warning about the mass nationalization of the economy under President Obama:

"But beyond just the money and the politics, just as a matter of philosophy and our country," said Pawlenty, "the nationalization of the auto industry, the likely partial or full nationalization of the health care industry, the energy industry -- this is gonna be a very different country 12 or 24 months from now."

He then added: "This is not the United States of America that we know and love and remember. This looks more like some sort of, you know, republic from South America circa 1970s."

Richard Kirsch, the national campaign director for Health Care for America Now, read Obama's letter to Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Max Baucus (D-MT), and liked what he saw.

We are thrilled to see President Obama's strong, unambiguous commitment to reform that includes the choice of keeping private health insurance or joining a new public health insurance option. The choice of a new public health insurance plan is the only way to control costs, guarantee coverage, ensure quality and transparency, and set a benchmark by which patients will know whether their private health insurance is truly giving them what they're paying for.

Taking issue with the Senate Finance Committee suggestion that a public insurance option can be instituted down the line by placing a trigger mechanism in the bill, HCAN says, "some Members of Congress have discussed the possibility of creating a public health insurance plan "trigger," suggesting the public health insurance option can wait. It cannot."

Obama didn't address that particular question in his letter, but he did reiterate his commitment to the public option. "I strongly believe that Americans should have the choice of a public health insurance option operating alongside private plans. This will give them a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep insurance companies honest."

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE)--often a key holdout on progressive aspects of Obama's agenda--has wavered on the question of a public insurance option. He originally called it a deal breaker, and sought to recruit centrist members of Congress to oppose the plan alongside him, but now says, without getting specific, that he's keeping an open mind.