TPM News

At a DNC fundraiser last night, President Obama had an interesting exchange with a Democratic organizer about health care reform, wherein he appeared to suggest that Congress could drop the ball and fail to pass a bill--and that voters should judge them harshly if they do.

"[I]t may be that -- you know, if Congress decides -- if Congress decides we're not going to do it, even after all the facts are laid out, all the options are clear, then the American people can make a judgment as to whether this Congress has done the right thing for them or not," Obama said.

Curious, because in the same appearance, Obama came closer than he's yet come to laying out a process and a timeline for getting the bill done (I'll give you a hint, not for several weeks).

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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called out Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) this morning over his rare blanket hold on all of President Obama's nominees in the Senate. Reports from this morning's press gaggle are coming in, and they show a White House that is flabbergasted by Shelby today.

From DailyCaller White House reporter Jon Ward's Twitter feed from inside the gaggle:

"Gibbs on Shelby holds: "I fear there won't [b]e a greater example of silliness throughout the entire year of 2010."

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Organizers of the National Tea Party Convention, who have been at pains to present their confab as a gathering of patriotic and mainstream Americans, may not have been pleased by the speech given by their opening-night speaker.

Former congressman Tom Tancredo declared that President Obama was elected because "we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country."

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Illinois state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate this year, has called upon Scott Lee Cohen, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, to withdraw from the race.

Cohen has faced controversy since he narrowly won a six-way primary on Tuesday, over allegations involving past domestic violence, steroid use and being behind on child support payments. Cohen has admitted to steroid use.

"These revelations are deeply disturbing and there is no place in society let alone public office for this type of behavior," Giannoulias said in a statement.

A nice get from MSNBC.com: a huge batch of internal e-mails released in response to an Alaska open records request show that Todd Palin played a big role in his wife's administration, often corresponding directly with the governor's staff on matters ranging from appointments to contract negotiations.

Todd Palin was known as the "shadow governor" and was a key figure in the Troopergate scandal that dogged Sarah Palin during the 2008 campaign. In recent months, there's evidence that he is still his wife's most important protector: he personally drew up the now-famous "banned list" barring unfriendly media from a Palin book event in Wasilla.

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Scott Lee Cohen, the embattled Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Illinois, appeared for an interview Thursday on Chicago Tonight, seeking to answer questions about allegations of domestic violence, drug abuse and other damaging issues.

Cohen has faced significant controversy -- including a call from Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn to potentially quit the race -- since he narrowly won a six-way Democratic primary on Tuesday. In 2005, he was arrested for allegedly threatening his girlfriend at the time by putting a knife to her throat and throwing her against a wall. The case was dropped after the woman, who had previously been arrested for prostitution and later pleaded guilty, failed to show up to court. In addition, his wife said in his divorce case that he abused steroids and attempted to sexually assault her. Cohen has admitted to past steroid use.

"You know, all this happened at a rough time in my life, and you know, I understand it looks bad," said Cohen, who was accompanied in the interview by his ex-wife Debra York-Cohen. "And that's why I tried so hard to put it out, the day I announced I was running. I have answered every question that was asked me by the media, in a full, complete, and honest way. Again, I tried so hard to put this out the day I announced so it wouldn't come to this. Nobody wanted to listen."

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We already told you about the extraordinary "blanket hold" Sen. Richard Shelby has reportedly placed on all of President Obama's nominations to the Senate yesterday. Shelby's D.C. office hasn't returned our phone calls and emails looking for comment, yet, but digging around on the web a bit this morning, we found a nugget that could provide some insight into what's going on. According to Shelby, the Obama administration is biased against Alabama.

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Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) hasn't been what some might call a "model Democrat" this Congress. Behind every vote she casts and word she utters in public is a simple--and for her terrifying--political reality. Up for reelection in an extremely unfriendly electoral climate, and deeply unpopular among her constituents, Lincoln has been guarding her right flank for a year, putting her at odds with the bulk of her colleagues on issue after issue, and requiring considerable arm-twisting (and concessions) from leadership to win her support for major initiatives, including health care reform back in December.

But in just the past few weeks, Lincoln's MO has changed. When health care reform was the issue driving national politics, and Democrats were in "must do" mode, Lincoln laid low. Almost comically so--dodging reporters via privileged exits, and through the Capitol's labyrinthine hallways. Now, with Washington preparing for what could be a watershed mid-term election in November, Lincoln has found her voice...and it's an increasingly conservative one!

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