In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Michael Steele seems to be reaching into the mothballs for an attack line against Barack Obama -- he's dredging up Obama's gaffe from the Spring of 2008 about people in small towns being "bitter" at their economic fortunes.

The Washington Times reports that Steele has sent an RNC mailer attacking Obama for saying in Europe that U.S. foreign policy had shown "an absence of wisdom," then linking this back to how Obama "indicated disdain for small town and working Americans who 'cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them.'"

The problem here, as Greg Sargent points out, is that the "bitter" comments were almost exactly a year ago. Furthermore, I should also add that although Obama lost the Pennsylvania primary -- which probably would have happened even without the gaffe -- six months later he not only won the presidential election, but took Pennsylvania by a 55%-44% landslide against John McCain.

To put it simply: This dog don't hunt.

Okay, I realize President Obama isn't out front every day reminding Americans that he's pro-choice. And it's perfectly plausible that anti-abortion activists have ratcheted up their efforts now that Obama has overturned the Mexico City Policy and the ban on federal funding for stem cell research. And in a way, increased activism is the only way forward for a movement whose political allies control neither Congress nor the White House. But c'mon. Is this really fair?

Obama Giving Economic Speech Today, While Administration Warns Of More Immediate Bad Times President Obama will be giving a speech on at the economy at Georgetown University, at 11:35 a.m. ET. Obama will discuss the steps his administration has taken to fix the economic crisis. At the same time, the administration are hedging their rhetorical bets and bracing the country for less than stellar news. Appearing on NBC's The Today Show, economic adviser Christina Romer said that there are "small little signs that maybe some parts of the economy are stabilizing," but also that there will likely be "several more months of job losses."

Report: Obama To Tap Fannie Mae's Herbert Allison To Administer TARP The Washington Post reports that the Treasury Department plans to tap Fannie Mae CEO Herbert Allison to run the financial recovery program. Note that Allison became head of Fannie Mae after the government took it over this past September, and would be replacing the current Bush-appointed TARP head Neel Kashkari.

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The Coleman campaign released this statement after the election court ruled that Al Franken won the election, making it clear that they're appealing:


Statement from Ben Ginsberg, legal spokesman for the Coleman for Senate campaign:

"More than 4,400 Minnesotans remain wrongly disenfranchised by this court's order. The court's ruling tonight is consistent with how they've ruled throughout this case but inconsistent with the Minnesota tradition of enfranchising voters. This order ignores the reality of what happened in the counties and cities on Election Day in terms of counting the votes. By its own terms, the court has included votes it has found to be 'illegal' in the contest to remain included in the final counts from Election Day, and equal protection and due process concerns have been ignored. For these reasons, we must appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court so that no voter is left behind."

Meanwhile, the DSCC put out this statement that Franken should be allowed to get to work:


U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released the following statement:

"The people of Minnesota have many reasons to be proud tonight, not the least of which is knowing they have one of the best election systems in the entire country. A thorough election contest upheld the result of a meticulous recount. Al Franken won the election, Al Franken won the recount, Al Franken won the contest, and now Al Franken should be allowed to get to work for the people of Minnesota."

At a press conference just now, outside his home in Minneapolis, Al Franken again declared victory in his campaign for the U.S. Senate, after the election contest court ruled that he was the winner of this race. (Special thanks to our good friends at The Uptake for carrying the live stream.)

"I am, of course, incredibly gratified by today's ruling and grateful to the judges," said the apparent Senator-elect, "to our legal team and most of all to Minnesota's civil servants, elected officials and citizen volunteers who have taken so much time, and taken so much effort over the last several weeks and months to make sure that the votes were accurately counted."

And one point he stressed repeatedly, was that he should finally be allowed to get to work in Washington. "It has been more than five months since Election Day, and more than three months since the winner of this election was supposed to be sworn in to go to work for the people of Minnesota. This long delay in the seating of Minnesota's second U.S. Senator has come at a time when our state badly needs help from Washington."

Franken also quoted his old friend Paul Wellstone -- the man whose death in a 2002 plane crash so clearly affected Al and inspired him to become truly serious about politics, to the point of spending years of his life running for his late friend's political office. After discussing all the problems the country faces, and the reasons he got into the race and why his supporters fought so hard, Franken said: "It's like what Paul Wellstone always said: Politics isn't about winning, it's about improving people's lives."

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As you've probably heard, the Minnesota election court has just handed down their very much-awaited ruling: That Al Franken was the rightful winner of the most votes in the 2008 Senate election, and he is entitled to receive the certificate of election.

To make a long story short, the court -- who, by the way, are a rare tri-partisan selection of judges -- rejects pretty much every single argument that Team Coleman put forward, and either accepts all of Team Franken's arguments as is or in a somewhat modified form.

So where do we go from here?

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Here's a good question as the seven-judge Minnesota Supreme Court gears up for an expected appeal from Norm Coleman, who is nearly certain to lose the election trial: Just how many justices will be left to hear it?

As it is, it already seems like two justices are solid bets to recuse themselves: Chief Justice Eric Magnuson and Associate Justice Barry Anderson, who served on the special state canvassing board, and previously recused themselves in state Supreme Court proceedings in this case, when the court addressed questions such as rejected absentee ballots and when a certificate of election could be granted.

But now we know that Justice Christopher Dietzen has donated money to Norm Coleman -- the checks were written over five years ago, before Dietzen first became a judge -- should he recuse himself? He's already participated in the other litigation listed above, and in all fairness he didn't seem to be biased.

And this one isn't quite so solid, but some people might wonder whether Associate Justice Alan Page should recuse himself, because he appointed the three-member trial court. (That job originally would have gone to the Chief Justice -- but he'd recused himself, leaving it to Page as the most senior associate justice.)

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We haven't had much to say about the now-resolved pirate hostage situation off the coast of Somalia. It's not really our bailiwick. But much of the rest of the media has been All Pirates All The Time for the last several days, and since the stand-off was resolved by the Navy at a time when the administration is trying to overhaul the U.S. military, the spending cut meme was destined to rear its ugly head:

At a time when the president is trying to trim the Pentagon budget, the political consequences for Obama could have been dire. Instead, he's presiding over a triumphant rescue.
Needless to say, none of the administration's proposed changes involves reducing the ranks of the Navy SEALs, whom we have to thank for staging the rescue.

A new Gallup poll finds a surprising attitude among the American people regarding taxes, as we head towards April 15: Amazingly high satisfaction.

The question asked is: "Do you consider the amount of federal income tax you have to pay as too high, about right, or too low?" The numbers: About right 48%, too high 46%, and too low 3%.

This is the second-highest "about right" number since Gallup began asking this question over 50 years ago, beat out only by 50% in 2003, after successive rounds of Bush tax cuts. And since the early 1960s, this question has almost always shown a significant gap between "too high" on top and "about right" on the bottom.

Last week, we reported that Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) had experienced an epiphany about the stimulative effects of government spending...when that spending is on weapons.

Over the weekend, Paul Krugman took a shot at Congressional Republicans who fit the Chambliss profile--i.e. the subset of Republicans who voted against the stimulus but are now coming forward to claim that a (fictional) reduction in defense spending will cost jobs.

Since only three of Capitol Hill's 219 Republicans--Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Susan Collins (R-ME)--voted for the stimulus bill, it's possible that many scores of them will ultimately fall afoul of this contradiction.

Until then, though, we've poked around a bit, and come up with the names of a few Republicans that have already fallen in to The Chambliss Hypocrisy.

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