TPM News

Support for the health care overhaul slipped lower in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll released yesterday -- the same day a federal judge ruled that a key provision of the law was unconstitutional.

Forty-three percent of respondents said they supported the health care legislation, compared to 53% who said they were opposed. Support is down from a high of 48%, recorded in November 2009. Those results are in line with most other polls taken in the last few months.

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Michael Steele is down but he's not out. Shortly after informing the 168 voting members of the Republican National Committee that he'll be running for second term as RNC chair, Steele stopped off at Fox News to explain his decision.

Fox host Greta Van Susteren asked Steele why so many of his compatriots in the Republican party don't want him to run again -- even after the GOP's epic wins on Nov. 2. Steele explained that he's just a little too real for the establishment figures lining up to replace him at the head of the RNC. (Steele's opponents might point to the virtually unending series of gaffes and money scandals that have plagued his term at the RNC, but Steele didn't mention that.)

"My style is a little bit different than most conventional party chairmen," Steele explained. "My style is more grassroots oriented, I'm much more of a street guy."

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Richard Holbrooke, one of the most prominent U.S. diplomats of his generation, died Monday after a short, sudden illness.

Hospitalized Friday at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., Holbrooke underwent surgery for a ruptured aorta on Saturday and had a followup procedure on Sunday. His condition, as reported by the State Department, had been listed as critical.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Richard Holbrooke, 1941-2010]

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Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama's special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, died on December 13, 2010. A top U.S. diplomat for years, Holbrooke achieved public prominence after brokering a peace agreement that ended the conflict in the Balkans.

Here, Holbrooke receives the Robert C. Frasure award for Operational Diplomacy in Washington in 1997.

Ricardo Watson/Newscom

Holbrooke in 1999 addresses a National Press Club luncheon in Washington.

Chuck Kennedy/Newscom

Holbrooke and former President Bill Clinton in 2000 arrive at the United Nations.

Hayden Roger Celestin/Newscom

Holbrooke in 2000 hosts a tour of the USS John F. Kennedy in New York City.

Hayden Roger Celestin/Newscom

Holbrooke, in February 2009, meets with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul.

Zabi Tamanna/Xinhua/Photoshot/Newscom

Holbrooke, center, meets with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), left, and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), right, before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Afghanistan.

Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Newscom

Holbrooke in 1997 with fellow U.S. diplomat Robert Gelbard at a press conference held by Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic.

Russell Gordon/

Holbrooke, left, in May 2009, meets with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office.

Pete Souza - White House via CNP/Newscom

Holbrooke in 2008 with former President George H.W. Bush in Berlin, where Bush received the Henry A. Kissinger Prize.

Schroewig/Splash News/Newscom

Holbrooke in 2009 in Brussels, Belgium, before a meeting with European Union Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana.

Wiktor Dabkowski/UPPA/Photoshot/Newscom

Turns out the Steele is stronger than scandal. Embattled Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele will seek another two-year term, despite a first that was marked by gaffe after headline-grabbing gaffe. Politico has his official announcement, which you can read here.

A Steele reelection effort was all but a foregone conclusion until Sunday, when news of a private Steele conference call with the RNC's 168 voting members led to speculation that Steele might decide against running, leaving a wide-open field of prospective replacements.

The arguments against Steele running for reelection are many. Not only has Steele gone almost totally unmentioned by Republican leaders since his party's huge victories on Nov. 2, he's suffered a string of embarrassing leaks from inside the RNC that paint him as an ineffective manager and poor fundraiser.

Yet Steele, who laughs off most of these criticisms (and has for a while now) soldiers on.

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President Obama urged the House to take up the tax cut compromise on its way to approval in the Senate today, and said that the success of the controversial plan to extend all the Bush tax cuts as well as unemployment insurance is an example of bipartisan success.

"This proves that both parties can, in fact, work together to grow our economy and look out for the American people," Obama said.

Though voting was underway in the Senate when he spoke, more than 70 Senators had voted in favor of cloture on the tax cut amendment, meaning that the bill will move forward to (likely) final approval. Obama hailed the move, saying that what he called an imperfect compromise was the only way to complete one of the key outstanding legislative priorities of the lame duck session.

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Federal judge Henry E. Hudson's ownership of a stake worth between $15,000 and $50,000 in a GOP political consulting firm that worked against health care reform -- the very law against which he ruled today -- raises some ethics questions for some of the nation's top judicial ethics experts. It isn't that Hudson's decision would have necessarily been influenced by his ownership in the company, given his established track record as a judicial conservative. But his ownership stake does create, at the very least, a perception problem for Hudson that could affect the case.

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Henry E. Hudson, the federal judge in Virginia who just ruled health care reform unconstitutional, owns between $15,000 and $50,000 in a GOP political consulting firm that worked against health care reform. You don't say!

As the Huffington Post and others first noted last July, Hudson's annual financial disclosures show that he owns a sizable chunk of Campaign Solutions, Inc., a Republican consulting firm that worked this election cycle for John Boehner, Michele Bachmann, John McCain, and a whole host of other GOP candidates who've placed the purported unconstitutionality of health care reform at the center of their political platforms. Since 2003, according to the disclosures, Hudson has earned between $32,000 and $108,000 in dividends from his shares in the firm (federal rules only require judges to report ranges of income).

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