TPM News

Look for President Obama to poke House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) over his evolving tax cuts position this afternoon at his economic event in Virginia, and this week, and next week. You get the idea.

White House officials tell TPM that they think Boehner's comments about supporting an extension of the tax cuts for the middle class on Sunday give them the perfect window to hammer the man who wants to be the next Speaker of the House, just in time for the midterm elections.

"Every time Boehner opens his mouth, we're going to mention it," a White House official told TPM, requesting anonymity to be able to discuss political strategy.

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The Republican Party of Florida certainly knows how to make the best out of a bad situation. At its meeting this Saturday, leaders discussed a forensic audit that had just been completed after a string of scandals in which party leaders, including current GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio, were accused of improperly using tens of thousands of dollars of party money.

The RPOF has not released the audit to the public. The party did, however, claim to reporters Saturday that the review revealed that Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican-turned-independent running for Senate against Rubio, ran up "hundreds of dollars" in bad expenses.

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The New Republic editor-in-chief Martin Peretz has publicly apologized for having written that Muslims are not worthy of the protections of the First Amendment. At the same time, though, he is standing by his statement that Muslims do not value human life -- and adds that New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who had criticized him, would agree. Alas, Kristof does not agree.

Peretz wrote last week: "But, frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse."

Kristof then wrote over the weekend: "Thus a prominent American commentator, in a magazine long associated with tolerance, ponders whether Muslims should be afforded constitutional freedoms. Is it possible to imagine the same kind of casual slur tossed off about blacks or Jews? How do America's nearly seven million American Muslims feel when their faith is denounced as barbaric?"

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A would-be Koran-burner in Amarillo, Texas was foiled by a 23-year-old Texas skateboarder named Jacob Isom, who was among a group of people protesting a planned burning on Saturday. As Isom described it: "I snuck up behind him and took his Koran, he said something about burning the Koran, I said 'Dude you have no Koran,' and ran off."

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Dick Armey, chairman of the tea party-backing FreedomWorks, got behind Rep. John Boehner's (R-OH) take-what-you-can-get talk about extending the Bush tax cuts at a breakfast with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor this morning.

Asked if Boehner made "the right move" with his suggestion that he'd vote for extending just the Bush tax cuts affecting the middle class if that's all that could reasonably pass the Democratic-controlled Congress, Armey said:

"One of the first things in politics is to do what is doable. And you have right now a Democrat president, Democrat leadership in both the House and Senate that's so ideologically-defined...the class-warfare malarkey that these guys live by has become theological to them."

"It's quite possible that John Boehner basically realizes that you simply can't get the Democrats emotionally prepared to deal with the fact that comprehensive continuation of the tax structure as we know it today after 10 years [of Bush cuts] is just."

Congressional Republicans were thrown for a loop this weekend when House Minority Leader John Boehner confessed that, if forced, he'd vote for tax legislation that doesn't extend low tax rates for rich people. But if they're concerned that Boehner might throw in the towel, they're also are assuaged by the fact that growing numbers of Democrats have been joining their side, urging their own leadership to freeze all tax rates, even for the wealthy.

"So far, the only people stating new positions are Democrats opposing tax hikes," said Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, downplaying Boehner's remarks. If the top bracket tax cuts expire, he adds, "hundreds of thousands will pay higher taxes next year. Republicans and a growing chorus of Democrats oppose that outcome."

Over the next several days, Democrats and Republicans will stake out their final positions on the Bush tax cuts. After members return to Washington, the political and legislative strategies they adopt will determine both whether the wealthiest Americans continue to get a break, and the extent to which Democrats suffer a beating at the polls in November.

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Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) is digging in on his contention that President Obama is motivated by a "Kenyan, anti-colonial" ideology -- and citing a very interesting source for the argument, the right-wing author Dinesh D'Souza, who has written sympathetically of Islamic extremism against what he has described as America's decadent cultural liberalism.

As National Review's Robert Costa reported over the weekend:

Gingrich says that D'Souza has made a "stunning insight" into Obama's behavior -- the "most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama."

"What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?" Gingrich asks. "That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior."

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Leaders of the influential FreedomWorks group -- one the largest and most powerful tea party forces in the country -- publicly distanced themselves from the latest tea party political star, Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, at a breakfast with reporters this morning.

"We stay out of that race because we're not convinced O'Donnell can win," FreedomWorks president and CEO Matt Kibbe said at the Christian Science Monitor-sponsored event.

FreedomWorks chair Dick Armey shared the ambivalence toward O'Donnell, who's sparked a kind of GOP breakdown with her fast-rising candidacy against party stalwart Mike Castle, who most view as a shoo-in for Vice President Biden's old Senate seat should he win the nomination. Presented with polling data showing likely Democratic nominee Chris Coons beating O'Donnell in a general election, Armey was asked "if it's better for Republicans to lose with a tea party-backed candidate than to win with a mainstream Republican candidate."

"I'm going to give a quick answer," Armey said. "No."

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