TPM News

President Obama sought out the advice of a very interesting person in the wake of the shellacking of the 2010 elections: Matthew Dowd, the former chief strategist for George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign.

As New York magazine reports, Obama met privately in the Oval Office with various people in November and December:

Some of the names have been reported: former Clinton chiefs of staff John Podesta and Leon Panetta; former Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein; former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle and centrist jack-of-all-trades David Gergen; and, of course, Bill Clinton. But others have not. Longtime Clinton consigliere Vernon Jordan is one. And another, more surprising, is Matthew Dowd, who served as chief strategist for the 2004 Bush-Cheney reelection campaign. (Dowd declined to confirm the meeting, but the White House did.)


Just add this to the very interesting arc of Dowd's career. He started as a Democratic strategist in Texas, and then became a top Bush adviser. And then after heading up a campaign that attacked John Kerry as weak on defense, he later broke with Bush and supported Kerry's positions in favor of Iraq withdrawal. And now he has advised Obama on how to turn things around post-shellacking.

Two people who were on their way this weekend to visit Pfc. Bradley Manning, the man accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and other information to Wikileaks, say they were detained at the military base where Manning is being held, apparently, they say, without reason.

David House, a hacker from Boston who says he has been visiting Manning since September, and Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake, went to the Quantico Marine Corps base in Virginia Sunday afternoon. They were hoping to visit Manning, as well as deliver a petition to the base calling for better treatment for Manning.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) declined an offer to deliver the Republican rebuttal to the State of The Union address, according to a top Christie aide.

William Palatucci told the New Jersey Star-Ledger that Congressional Republicans had contacted the governor to see if he'd be interested in countering Obama's speech on Tuesday. Yet Palatucci said that Christie felt it would be inappropriate to address federal issues when his state has its own pressing problems.

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This week, a group of Democratic filibuster reformers will face the first big test of their effort to invoke the "Constitutional Option" -- a process by which members can change the Senate rules by a majority vote. The theory underlying their efforts is that the previous Senate's rules aren't really valid until the new Senate has intentionally adopted them.

That's leading to confusion over whether they're truly on the path to invoking the Constitutional Option -- and that, in turn, means Vice President Joe Biden might have to weigh in and settle the dispute.

Here's the issue under contention.

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Defense lawyers for five former Blackwater contractors who allegedly shot into a crowd during an incident in Baghdad's Al Nisur Square in 2007 want the press and the public excluded from oral arguments next month, Politico reports. The former contractors with the controversial firm are fighting to uphold a judge's dismissal of the case against them related to the attack, which left 14 Iraqis dead. The judge ruled the case should be thrown out because of missteps by prosecutors.

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In Republicans' telling, they are responsible for a looming economic recovery from a recession caused by Democrats.

Close to the opposite is true, but you'd never guess that by listening to the GOP.

Citing a Dow Jones story reporting that U.S. companies plan to increase hiring, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's press shop fired off a morning roundup including this sub headline: "THERE ARE THE JOBS: Republicans Prevent Massive Tax Increase, Economy Begins to Improve."

The Dow Jones story does not credit Republicans for the recovery.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who has been eyeing a run for president -- or might just be appearing to do so in order to stay in the limelight -- paid a high profile visit over the weekend to the key caucus state of Iowa.

As MinnPost reports:

"With pride in my heart, I am proud to announce," and she paused and the crowd murmured and she paused some more and then finally..."that it's good to be home!"


Bachmann was born in Iowa, and her family moved to MInnesota when she was young. So is her return to the state a sign that she's running for president?

"I know it is shocking that when a girl goes to Iowa that that speculation might come along," Bachmann also added. "But I'm here to be a part of that conversation for 2012. I certainly am a part of the conversation -- there's been no decision about a candidacy but I certainly want to be a part of that conversation, most definitely."

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FreedomWorks, the arm of the tea party movement led by former Rep. Dick Armey (R), is launching a new national negative campaign ad today. The target is not a progressive politician, moderate Republican or President Obama -- the usual suspects when it comes to tea party commercials -- or even an elected official at all.

"In a world of 'too big to fail,' we the people cannot afford Jeffrey Immelt running G.E.," the ad's narrator says. "Tell Jeffrey Immelt it's time for him to go."

Among Immelt's crimes? Taking bailout money, speaking positively about cap-and-trade, employing Keith Olbermann (He's "allowed verbal attacks on patriotic Americans," the ad says) -- and of course, working in the Obama administration.

Last week, Immelt was appointed by Obama to head the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, an economic growth advisory panel. It was a move that most saw as Obama attempting to rekindle his relationship with the corporate world.

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