TPM News

Vice President Cheney's daughter Liz Cheney was on Fox News Sunday and went after President Obama's Nobel acceptance speech.

She said Obama "repeatedly" travels abroad and said that it is "nothing short of shameful" he can "accuse Americans of having tortured people."

She added that he is "casting aspersions and I would say slandering men and women in the CIA."

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Opening up Medicare isn't the only issue Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) seems to have flip-flopped on lately. In 1995, he joined Tom Harkin (D-IA)--one of the most ardent supporters of reform in the Senate--in a call to end the modern filibuster. Today, Lieberman is threatening just such a filibuster on a major health care reform bill, which could easily kill the initiative altogether.

It's amid this episode that Harkin is revisiting his call to end the filibuster.

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Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) today becomes the latest Congressional retirement in a seat that could be a prime pick up for the Republicans next year.

Gordon, 60, announced in a statement he will not seek reelection next year after serving more than 25 years in Congress.

He is chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee.

In more metrics showing it will be a prime target in the 2010 Congressional midterms, the district went 62-37 for Sen. John McCain in last year's presidential race. It was a more Republican district in 2008 than it had been in 2004 and 2000.

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A national survey from Public Policy Polling (D), asking respondents about their favorite and least favorite recent presidents, finds an interesting result: Bill Clinton outranks Barack Obama, thanks to a lead among Democrats.

The overall national top-line result has Ronald Reagan in first place with a 41% plurality, followed by Bill at 27%, and Obama with 22%. Among Democrats, Clinton has 46% to Obama's 36%.

So does the fact that Bill is held in higher esteem by Dems reflect any kind of buyer's remorse of Obama? Or is it instead simple nostalgia for the past over the troubles of the present, or some combination?

"I think Democrats associate the Clinton years with prosperity and it's natural they would look back on that favorably compared to the continued difficult times of Obama's first year in office," PPP communications director Tom Jensen told us in an e-mail. "If Obama's policies do end up getting things turned around I'm sure he will go up in this kind of polling. But I don't think it reflects unhappiness with him so much as the fact that Clinton obviously was able to accomplish more in eight years than Obama has been able to in one."

The drumbeat started early in the process - no matter what the final health care bill looks like when it reaches President Obama's desk, it will do more for Americans than ever before.

The Democratic refrain - popping up in Obama's speeches, the interest group message machine and in talks with top Congressional leaders - is especially a signal to those complaining the current legislation isn't good enough.

It's also an important prism through which to view the developments as lawmakers (such as Sens. Olympia Snowe, Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman) say they will or won't support parts of the deal.

Leadership and the White House want a bill, and the message machine will be cranking up into high gear to push the historic nature of the legislation's basics.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, for example, falls back on the explanation every time he's asked about individual concessions Democrats are making during the negotiating process.

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Senate Democrats could be facing yet another obstacle this week in their efforts to pass health care -- in this case a purely physical obstacle in the form of Tea Partiers staging a "die-in" at the Capitol offices.

Tea Party organizer Mark Meckler writes on his site: "The intention is to go inside the Senate offices and hallways, and play out the role of patients waiting for treatment in government controlled medical facilities. As the day goes on some of us will pretend to die from our untreated illnesses and collapse on the floor. Many of us plan to stay there until they force us to leave."

The "die-in," set to take place tomorrow, could be yet another example of Tea Party groups appropriating protest tactics formerly associated with the activist left. The tactic has formerly been used by anti-war groups, or by groups demanding more government action on AIDS. In this case, it's being done by a group demanding less government action on health care.

"We know it's a sacrifice to do this right before Christmas," Meckler writes. "But throughout history American Patriots have made far greater sacrifices than this to protect our liberty. Now the burden (and the honor) falls on us."

In an interview with 60 Minutes that aired last night, President Obama took a populist tone.

"I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street," he said.

"The people on Wall Street still don't get it," he went on, criticizing bank executives for taking multi-million-dollar bonuses after precipitating the worst recession in decades.


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If Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is trying to hide the fact that he's seriously considering a primary run against Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D), he's not doing a great job of it. Halter's name has been bandied about as a potential challenger for Lincoln for several weeks now. Just last week, as Greg Sargent reported, Halter discussed a bid with progressive bloggers and union leaders in DC. Halter himself has kept quiet about the race on the record. But, lately it appears Lincoln supporters aren't prepared to wait for him to announce his intentions. They're already on the attack.

The battle so far suggests a nasty primary that could split labor and divide the progressives from the state and national Democratic political establishment.

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Here's a snapshot of the electorate, at the moment when a small handful of Democrats have teamed up to tank the public option. A new Research 2000 poll, commissioned by Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee finds that the overwhelming majority of likely voters believe Democrats who vote against the public option should face primaries from their left.

When asked: "If a Democratic member of Congress votes against a public health insurance option, would you want a more progressive candidate to run against them in a Democratic primary?" 84 percent of respondents said "yes," 11 percent said "no," and 5 percent said they weren't sure.

Those are fairly striking numbers, particularly given last night's news that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is standing in the way of public option alternatives. Lieberman, along with Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) joined forces several weeks ago, insisting they'd filibuster a health care reform bill if it included a public option. That threat laid the groundwork for a new compromise, but Lieberman's saying even that's a no-go.

The overall survey, which will be released later today, polled 802 from December 11 through the 13th--it's margin of error is 3.5%. For the above question, which went to Democrats only question, 256 were polled, yielding a 6.1% margin of error.