TPM News

Two telling indicators suggest that, despite a true 60 vote majority, the public option may nonetheless face an uphill climb in the Senate. On Friday, during a tele-townhall, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told an audience of constituents that he thinks a "triggered" public option is a "pretty doggone good idea"--not as good as a robust public option, but better than the private co-op proposal that for a time was regarded as a likely compromise between Democrats, who support a public option, and Republicans, who do not support health care reform.

Today, citing anonymous Democratic sources, the New York Times reports that Reid will likely not include a public option in a final legislative proposal when he merges the Finance and HELP committee bills.

Officially, Reid says it's too early to have decided what will and will not be included in the package he introduces on the Senate floor--the public option will get more than one vote in the Finance Committee this week, and only if it fails (as is expected) will Reid have to decide whether to incorporate it from the HELP bill, or to drop it.

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Clark Hoyt, The New York Times' public editor, criticized the newspaper over the weekend for taking too long to recognize the importance of the video sting that caught ACORN workers telling a right-wing activists posing as a pimp and prostitute how to deceive the government.

"It was an intriguing story: employees of a controversial outfit, long criticized by Republicans as corrupt, appearing to engage in outrageous, if not illegal, behavior," Hoyt wrote. The Times, however, "stood still."

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Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, the early frontrunner in the special election for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, is set to roll out support from prominent women political activists this week.

Coakley has scheduled a press conference for this Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET, accompanied by: EMILY's List president Ellen Malcolm, state Senate President Therese Murray, Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus executive director Sheila Capone-Wulsin, and female elected officials from across Massachusetts.

The other candidates in the December 8 Democratic primary are Rep. Mike Capuano, businessman Steve Pagliuca, and community activist Alan Khazei. Coakley is the only woman in the race.

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) shredded President Obama over the reports that the White House asked Gov. David Paterson to drop out of the 2010 gubernatorial race, telling the New York Daily News the move is "not presidential."

"The whole thing to me was not presidential," Rangel said. "It wasn't good for the President, and it wasn't good for the governor."

The Daily News suspects that Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and one of the most powerful people in Congress, was upset at being left out of the loop.

"I wouldn't want to be anywhere near it then or now," Rangel said. "And anyone who has been involved in this has to be embarrassed. Period."

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) appeared late last week on Neil Cavuto's show on the Fox Business Channel, to voice her objection to the political culture of economic bailouts -- and to demonstrate her ability with street slang.

"Again, I hope the United States will not be the leader for government control of not only just the national institutions, but of non-financial institutions as well," said Bachmann. "We won't be the leader anymore in the world if we dis free-market capitalism."

"Dis capitalism," Cavuto responded. "I like the way you phrase that."

A Facebook poll -- apparently advocating assassination -- has cropped up, with the question, "Should Obama be killed?"

Pam Spaulding points out the poll on her blog. The answer choices are Yes, No, If he cuts my health care, and Maybe.

These polls are part of an application run by an outside party, not Facebook itself.

An ancillary poll has also popped up: "Should the person who created the 'Should Obama be Killed Poll' be arrested?"

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Frederick Kagan, the neoconservative think-tanker best known as the architect of the surge in Iraq, continues to have access to Gen. Stanley McChrystal as an adviser after serving as part of a team producing the recent assessment of the Afghan war, a spokesman for the general tells us.

It had been reported that Kagan and his wife, military historian Kimberly Kagan, were part of the group that advised McChrystal on the high-profile assessment that warns of "mission failure" if more troops are not sent. But it wasn't previously known that Kagan's work with McChrystal extended beyond the review.

It's striking that Kagan, who writes for the Weekly Standard, guest blogs at National Review, and advised the Bush Administration on Iraq, is now advising President Obama's top commander in Afghanistan.

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Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, the insurgent conservative candidate in the Republican primary for Senate in 2010, is finding his voice as an anti-establishment candidate.

Rubio spoke to a local Republican audience in Panama City, and talked about his uphill fight against moderate Gov. Charlie Crist, who has the support of the GOP establishment. "If you are unhappy with the Republican establishment, then let's get a new establishment," he said.

Rubio also discussed why he's running, saying that the only good reason to run for office is "something wrong in the world that you want to fix or something right in the world that you want to protect."

Of course, Rubio's chance to "get a new establishment" is still pretty low -- a Quinnipiac poll from last month gave Crist a lead of 55%-26%. But for now, Rubio's language reflects an awareness of the situation -- and the sort of things that die-hard party activists like to hear.

Speaking about health care reform at the Congressional Black Caucus gala Saturday night, President Obama relayed an anecdote from the G-20 Summit, in which an anonymous world leader said he was dumbfounded over the health care debate -- especially the comparisons to Hitler.

"One of the leaders, I won't mention who it was, he comes up to me and ... he says, 'Barack, explain to me this health care debate.' He says, 'We don't understand it. You're trying to make sure everyone has health care and they're putting a Hitler moustache on you. That doesn't make sense to me, explain that to me,'" Obama said. "He didn't understand."

Signs of Obama sporting a Hitler moustache, mostly from supporters of fringe figure Lyndon LaRouche, have popped up at town halls and anti-reform rallies. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) famously took one such LaRouchie to task, asking her what planet she was from.

When we last checked in on the Birther lawsuit Attorney Orly Taitz is pursuing in federal court, Taitz's client, Army Capt. Connie Rhodes, was denouncing Taitz and threatening her with a bar complaint. And the judge had given Taitz until October 2 to explain why he shouldn't fine her $10,000 for repeated frivolous filings.

Now, in a new motion filed Saturday in U.S. district court in Georgia, Taitz "respectfully" requests that she be allowed to withdraw as Rhodes' counsel. (Rhodes, who has deployed to Iraq, already requested that Taitz no longer represent her.)

But here's the twist: Taitz says her motive for seeking to withdraw as counsel is to be able to divulge "privileged attorney-client communications" and to "offer evidence and call witnesses whose testimony will be adverse to her (former) client's most recently stated position in this case."

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