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You wouldn't think this would take a lot of explaining, but apparently if you're Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), it does.



I suppose Republicans worry that there's a slippery slope between "they're taking our nunchucks!" and "they're taking our guns!" Or something.

A little more on yesterday's Las Vegas Sun report on Ensign's intent to run for re-election in 2012. This part of the story caught our eye:

When asked Monday whether he had any thoughts about stepping down, Ensign said his supporters are sending one message: "They say, 'Don't.' "

... [Ensign said] his support is coming from his fellow senators as well as those "on both sides" of Senate leadership.

Ensign said his supporters are telling him, "Keep your head up. This thing will pass."


We were curious about this alleged support from Senate leadership, so we asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) whether he's urged Ensign to keep his Senate seat.

"These are the kinds of personal decisions that Senator Ensign will have to make," said Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley.



The State newspaper of South Carolina has used a public records request to obtain emails sent to and from Governor Mark Sanford's office during the hectic few days last month when he had gone missing. It's not surprising that the emails underline the utter confusion that beset the governor's hapless aides as they tried to ward off inquiries about their boss's whereabouts, without themselves having any idea where he was.

But they also show something even funnier: an effort by the right-wing media to curry favor with Sanford's office by dismissing the story as a storm in a teacup created by the liberal media. It's fair to say that, as news judgments go, it would be hard to find one that turned out worse than this -- given the subsequent revelations about Sanford's Argentinian liaison and his abandonment of his post.

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New Jersey Governor John Corzine has some catching up to do if he's going to win re-election. A new Quinnipiac poll finds that his Republican challenger Christopher Chritie has opened up a significant lead.

According to the poll, 53 percent of likely voters favor Christie while only 41 say they would vote for Corzine. That's a slightly wider margin than Christie enjoyed a month ago, the last time Quinnipiac asked this question.

Not much more to say beyond the headline. On hand to field questions will be Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House leaders, along with the chairmen of the relevant committees of jurisdiction: Charlie Rangel of Ways and Means; Henry Waxman of Energy and Commerce; and George Miller of Education and Labor.

Congressional Quarterly is reporting that two Republican congressmen, Eric Cantor of Virginia and Mike Pence of Indiana, could be looking to make a presidential run.

One of our favorite Cantor memories was when he missed one of President Obama's prime time press conferences on the economy. Where was the House minority whip? At a Britney Spears concert.

But Cantor's apparently fueling speculation by scheduling listening tours and raising money. He's added $637,000 to his PAC -- called Every Republican Is Crucial (or ERIC).

Just goes to show: In the new Republican Party, no one's too obscure or too weird to be considered presidential material.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor affirmed her belief in the right to privacy during hearings on Tuesday, when Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) questioned her views on Griswold v. Connecticut.

"There is a right to privacy," she said. "The Court has found it in various places in the Constitution and has recognized rights under those various provisions of the Constitution."

Griswold is the landmark Supreme Court case decided in 1965 in which the Court ruled that the right to privacy exists and is constitutionally protected. Citing the opinions in that case, Sotomayor said the right to privacy is "founded in the Fourth Amendment's rights" and is "also found in the Fourteenth Amendment."

She said "that is the precedent of the court, so it is settled law," which seems to be her theme in the hearings so far. Kohl also questioned her on Bush v. Gore, Roe v. Wade, and Kelo v. City of New London, among others, and each time Sotomayor has answered that the court's precedent is "settled law."

In the second day of confirmation hearings, Judge Sonia Sotomayor addressed the controversy surrounding her now-infamous "wise Latina" remarks.

"Never have any words I have spoken or written gotten so much attention...The words I spoke have created a misunderstanding," she said during opening questions from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Leahy, who has praised Sotomayor's qualifications as "outstanding," gave the judge an opportunity for clarification on the main Republican line of attack. "I was trying to inspire [young Latinos] to believe their life experiences would enrich the legal system," she said.

Watch the video:



The original comment that has drawn so much conservative ire was repeated in almost exact form during multiple speeches over Sotomayor's career: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion."

Republicans and conservative talking heads have seized on Sotomayor's past comments as their main talking point for opposition, Newt Gingrich even going so far as to call her a racist (which he later walked back).

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), another member of the commitee, said in his opening statements on Monday that Sotomayor's statements were troubling to him. Under questioning from Sessions on Tuesday morning, she also acknowledged that while life experiences influence judges, "personal biases" must not affect the outcome of cases.

Despite admitting to having an affair and having his parents pay off his mistress, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) yesterday said he plans to stay in office -- and run for re-election in 2012.

Ensign told the Las Vegas Sun he's been getting emails and phone calls from supporters urging him to stay put. Those supporters, he said, include senators on both sides of Senate leadership.

"I fully plan on running for reelection," Ensign said. "I'm going to work to earn their respect back."

He quoted his supporters as saying, "Keep your head up. This thing will pass."

Under increasing pressure from the White House, and to meet their self-imposed deadlines, leaders in both the House and the Senate recommitted yesterday to meeting their goal of passing separate health care bills before the looming August recess.

At an event anticipating today's release of House reform legislation, Speaker Nancy Pelosi reaffirmed, "We will be on schedule to do as we have planned to vote for this legislation before we leave for the August recess."

Later in the day, after a long meeting with President Obama, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid echoed the same sentiment. "We are going to do health care before we leave," Reid said.

Because of the peculiarities of the Senate, Reid will have a harder time matching word to deed than will Pelosi, despite the fact that the Senate isn't scheduled to adjourn until a week after the House does. For its part, the White House suggested yesterday for the first time that it would consider asking either or both houses of Congress to delay their recesses if they haven't prepared legislation for a conference committee by the time they're set to depart.

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