TPM News

That non-aggression pact that Nevada senators Harry Reid and John Ensign have long maintained could be breaking down -- under the strain of the Republican's personal woes.

Ensign is pulling out all the stops to hold onto his job in the wake of admitting to an affair with the wife of a top aide. And that evidently means coming close to ditching the agreement that he and Reid, a Democrat, have long held to, wherein they avoid criticizing each other.

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Gen. David Petraeus appeared on CNN last night to discuss President Obama's new Afghanistan strategy -- announced in a speech Tuesday night -- and called it "realistic" and "reassuring." Watch the video below.

CNN's Anderson Cooper asked "what kind of message is sent to our enemy" by the 2011 drawdown date for U.S. troops in Afghanistan and what to say to those who believe the Taliban will simply wait the American presence out.

"If you go back to the words of the speech -- what that said is that's when you start to transition," Petraeus responded. "And I think that's a realistic goal to have out there, with 18 months more of quite substantial forces on the ground...that's when we begin to transition to Afghan security forces. It doesn't mean that's when we head for the door."

Watch the video after the jump.

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The Senate has been "debating" health care reform legislation for days now, but so far it's basically amounted to a series of boring speeches. Today, after breaking through the GOP's first obstructive hurdle, Democrats will hold votes on a handful of amendments, including two authored by Republicans.

One of those Republican amendments--authored by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)--is actually a motion to send the bill back to the Finance Committee, and strip it of billions in Medicare savings. If it passed, it would likely kill the bill. As such, it's expected to fail, but receive overwhelming support from the Republican side of the aisle. In fact, it's probably fair to use the vote on the McCain motion as a proxy for the GOP's role in the entire debate, so keep an eye on which Republicans vote against it.

But just because Democrats will make some headway today, it's not at all guaranteed that the Republicans will allow the legislative process to move smoothly from this point forward. Today's votes are being held on the basis of an agreement between parties that only applies to these amendments. Other senators could introduce their own, separate amendments today--Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) has said he may unveil his Stupak-like abortion amendment this afternoon--but that doesn't mean they'll be brought up for a vote in short order.

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A new Rasmussen poll has Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) trailing all four Republican candidates in her 2010 re-election fight.

State Sen. Kim Hendren leads Lincoln by 46%-39%; State Senate Minority Leader Gilbert Baker is ahead by 47%-41%; businessman Curtis Coleman is ahead by 44%-40%; and businessman Tom Cox leads Lincoln by 43%-40%.

The pollster's analysis says that the state's opposition to the health care bill -- particularly the intense opposition -- is a factor: "Against all four Republicans, she leads by wide margins among those who favor the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. The senator even leads by a wide margin among those who Somewhat Oppose the legislation. But among those who Strongly Oppose the health care plan, Lincoln trails every potential Republican challenger by more than 50 percentage points."

We're learning more details about the Washington Times layoffs that will fundamentally change the mission and daily makeup of the conservative newspaper.

The Washington Post has an interview with Publisher Jonathan Slevin today. He told the Post, "Having a print newspaper in Washington, D.C., is something that we did not at all consider giving up, unless it became absolutely necessary."

Echoing the company statement yesterday, Slevin said the paper would focus on its national political coverage, at the expense of sports and local stories. And in a sign that the newspaper will continue its commitment to news coverage from a conservative perspective, Slevin told the New York Times: "The new Washington Times will continue to report Washington-focused news that other journalistic enterprises often overlook."

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Bernanke To Testify Today On His Re-Nomination To The Fed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will testify today before the Senate Banking Committee, at a hearing on his re-nomination for another term at the central bank. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has placed a hold on the nomination, potentially delaying the process, arguing that Bernanke has not done enough for average Americans, and been too lenient with the big banks.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET, and the economic daily briefing at 10 a.m. ET. Obama will deliver remarks at 1:30 p.m. ET, at the opening session of the Jobs and Economic Growth Forum, and he will deliver remarks again at the 3:45 p.m. ET closing session. At 5 p.m. ET, the First Family will attend the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.

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Congress just found the one spotlight the Salahis would rather stay out of. The AP is reporting that the couple known for crashing the White House state dinner Nov. 24 has decided against accepting the House Homeland Security Committee's invitation to the hearings being held on the state dinner incident tomorrow.

They may not have a choice, however. FishbowlDC reported that Homeland Security Committee chair Rep. Bernie Thompson (D-MS) said he'd subpoena the Salahis should they decline his invitation to appear.

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November 24: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the Administration's first official state visit. The state dinner was intended to be a shining moment for the first couple and social secretary. But the aftermath has been dominated by discussion of the now-infamous "party crashers," Michaele and Tareq Salahi, who stole the headlines of the state dinner. You can find our earlier galleries on the state visit here and here.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Brian Mosteller, deputy director of Oval Office operations, peers in on a closed door bilateral meeting between President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Also pictured, from left, are personal secretary Katie Johnson, Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall, Huma Abedin, adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and U.S. Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama await the Indian first couple. The always-quotable vice president called Prime Minister Singh the "hottest ticket in town."

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Prior to the evening's state dinner, Secretary of State Clinton talks with the first couple.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

In the State Dining Room, President Obama greets CEOs from American and Indian companies. During their joint press conference, the leaders of the world's largest democracies discussed trading partnerships and innovation in environmental technology.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

The two leaders proceed together as the East Room ceremonies begin.

Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

First Lady Michelle Obama, seated next to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, applauds one of the evening's many performances.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Indian dancers perform.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

An aide to the first lady, wearing a radio on the back of her dress, watches as the first couple greets guests in the Blue Room of the White House. After the story of a couple that arrived uninvited broke, the White House faced a barrage of criticism for its apparently flawed security.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

The now-infamous "party crashers" greet President Obama at the Blue Room reception.

Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton

The president, according to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, is angry about the security breach at the state dinner. The "party crashers" were also captured with senior officials in the White House, like Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. If the typically serene president is upset, one can only guess at the reaction from the acerbic Emanuel.

Photo by Newscom

President Obama and Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall send off the state visitors. Although he did not include India in his recent Asia tour, Obama pledged to visit the country soon.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and key health care principals met with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Nancy-Ann DeParle, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and other officials to discuss, among other things, the GOP logjam preventing progress on a reform bill.

After the meeting, Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Max Baucus (D-MT) said there would likely be many votes tomorrow--the first of the debate.

Republicans, who have a long menu of obstructive options before them, have been blocking amendments for several days now, provoking the ire of Democratic leaders.