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There might be one beneficiary of the flame war between Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA): Republican Pat Toomey.

Whomever wins the Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania next year will battle Toomey in the general election, and now, for the first time, Toomey shows a lead over both men. A Rasmussen telephone survey of likely voters, released today, shows 48 percent would vote Toomey, 36 Specter if the election were held today. Four percent opt for a third option, and 12 are not sure.

Specter's taken a beating in recent months for switching parties at a crucial political moment, and though he enjoys extremely wide name recognition, the attacks seem to be taking their toll. But the situation's no better for Sestak, who until recently was also beating Toomey. Toomey now has a 43-35 lead over Sestak, down from June, when Sestak enjoyed a six point lead over Toomey.

Report: Cheney Frustrated That Bush Went Soft, Didn't Follow His Advice The Washington Post reports that former Vice President Dick Cheney's upcoming memoirs will show a great sense of disappointment at former President George W. Bush -- that Bush didn't take his advice as much in the second term. "The implication was that Bush had gone soft on him, or rather Bush had hardened against Cheney's advice," said a participant at a recent gathering. "He'd showed an independence that Cheney didn't see coming. It was clear that Cheney's doctrine was cast-iron strength at all times -- never apologize, never explain -- and Bush moved toward the conciliatory."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive his routine daily briefings this morning. There are no scheduled public events.

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At Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill's Aug. 11 rally in Hillsboro, Mo.

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Thousands reportedly lined up for a town hall with Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) Aug. 10 in Clarkston, Ga.

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Outside Rep. Johnson's town hall.

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Security at the Johnson town hall.

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The crowd in Clarkston.

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In Clarkston.

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Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) held a town hall Aug. 10 in Chandler, Ariz.

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A reform opponent waves the American flag at Flake's town hall.

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Opponents and supporters of health care reform butt heads outside the town hall in Chandler.

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Rep. Flake brought the House bill, in white binders, with him to the town hall.

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Lining up at the mic.

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A packed town hall for Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) Aug. 10 in Monterey, Calif.

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Singing at Farr's town hall.

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A reform opponent brandishes a sign in Monterey.

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A man holds a poster of President Obama as Adolf Hitler at Farr's town hall in Monterey.

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An argument breaks out before an event with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) Aug. 11 in Alhambra, Calif.

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Thumbs down in Alhambra, Calif.

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A woman blocks the face of a man screaming at Schiff's meeting.

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"ObamaCare is Fishy" in Alhambra, Calif.

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Citizens were eager to ask questions to Schiff.

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Another argument in Alhambra.

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The "Hands Off My Health Care" bus parked outside Sen. Arlen Specter's (D-PA) event in Lebanon, Pa., Aug. 11. The bus is part of a tour paid for by Americans for Prosperity, an industry-backed anti-reform group.

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The AFP folks didn't get into the event, but protested outside.

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At Specter's meeting in Lebanon.

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A protester holds up a sign at Specter's event, one of the most heated of the week.

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A reform opponent gets up to yell at Specter.

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After speaking his piece, and almost getting into a fight, he is escorted out by police.

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A protester holds a sign outside a town hall with Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO).

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Protesters outside Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D-MO) town hall in Hillsboro, Mo.

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A health care reform advocate speaks at a town held held by Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) in Santa Cruz, Calif.

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A woman strums a ukelele at Rep. Farr's town hall.

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A reform opponent shouts out at Rep. G.K. Butterfield's (D-NC) health care forum in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

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A reform supporter gets passionate at Butterfield's town hall.

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An unhappy audience member in Rocky Mount.

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At a Wednesday morning reception in the East Room of the White House, President Obama honored Justice Sonia Sotomayor, his first appointee to the Supreme Court and the now the first Hispanic member of the Court. "No words can adequately express what I am feeling,'' Sotomayor told the crowd, which included friends, family, members of Congress, and a few of her new colleagues on the Court.

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President Obama called Sotomayor's confirmation to the Court "another step toward that more perfect union that we all seek.''

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Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and First Lady Michelle Obama enter the reception.

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Sen. Leahy and Michelle Obama in the audience.

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at Wednesday's reception.

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Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens speaks to White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett.

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Via Taegan Goddard, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) is currently sitting on a 13 point lead over Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) in the 2010 Pennsylvania Senate primary. A big lead, to be sure, but one that's dipping rather quickly. In June, Specter's lead was significantly greater. At the time, according to Rasmussen, Specter led Sestak 51-32--a 19 point margin.

Now, the spread is 47-34, meaning, among other things, that his support among Pennsylvania Democrats has dipped under 50 percent for the first time since he switched parties.

According to Rasmussen, "Among voters who favor the congressional health care plan, Specter leads 55% to 26%. However, among those who oppose the plan, Sestak leads 61% to 25%." It's unclear how this divide emerged, but since support for reform among Democrats in the state is around 70 percent, don't be surprised if you see both candidates try to stake out the reformer position on health care.

Check out this new Web ad from Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ), which attacks his Republican opponent Chris Christie for discussing a possible gubernatorial bid with none other than Karl Rove when Christie was a U.S. Attorney:



This is now just a Web ad -- but don't be surprised if Rove shows up in a TV ad some time in the future, with the same or similar scary music.

Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) acknowledged the impact of his recent scandals today in an interview with a local radio station. "I am dead politically," he told WVOC in Columbia. "I am not running for another office."

Earlier this summer, Sanford admitted to an affair with an Argentinian woman after he went missing for several days. More recently, he has come under fire after an AP investigation found that the governor has used state aircraft multiple times for personal and family trips.

Sanford also commented on last week's news that wife Jenny and their four children moved out of the governor's mansion. "That part's hard," he said. "That's probably the most bitter part of it. But there are consequences for any mess-up that we have in life, and that's one of them." The decision for Jenny and the four Sanford boys to move to Charleston apparently had to do with both the beginning of the school year and also because "they deserve to be out of the fishbowl they've been in."

"I fell in love with one woman I should not have fallen in love with," he continued. "We all get that. Everybody's been trying to move on."

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) continued the thoroughly debunked right wing euthanasia/death panel meme today, telling a town hall crowd, "You have every right to fear....a government run plan to decide when to pull the plug on Grandma."

He also said, "There are some people who think it is a terrible problem that Grandma is laying in a bed with tubes in her... and that the government should intervene. I think that's a family or religious thing that needs to be dealt with."

Grassley is the latest republican to jump on the euthanasia bandwagon. Today, Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele said Sarah Palin's "death panel" comment was "perfectly appropriate" given the "life-and-death decisions" the government would make under a health care reform bill.

With the specter of universal health care Nazism being raised--with the approval of members of the Republican party--by conservative activists across the country, it's worth remembering that Republicans tend to go positively bananas whenever they perceive liberals or Democrats to be even tiptoeing toward similar rhetoric.

So in that spirit it's only fair to point out that, of the 218 Republican members of the House and Senate, about four appear unwilling to silently assent to the shenanigans of the right fringe of their party.

Earlier today, I cited the peculiar cases of Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). As a sponsor of legislation that would have expanded Medicare's coverage of end-of-life counseling, Isakson described as "crazy" the Palinesque assertion that an end-of-life counseling session amounts to the convening of a death panel. And as a disgruntled official serving the state Palin recently abandoned as governor, Murkowski called the death panel notion 'offensive.'

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RNC Chairman Michael Steele just appeared on the Neil Cavuto show, where he endorsed Sarah Palin's accusation that President Obama will set up "death panels" to decide who is worthy or not of medical care.



"Well I think it's proper," said Steele, when Cavuto asked him about Palin's remarks, "because it's in the context of what people are seeing in some of the legislation that's floating around out there. When you're talking about panels that are gonna be imposed, that will be making life-and-death decisions, that will be making decisions about whether or not you get health care or don't receive health care, I think that's perfectly appropriate."

Now how you characterize it is a matter of interpretation," he then added, "but it doesn't change the fact that buried within a lot of this legislation is stuff that's fairly onerous."

As an example of another onerous provision, he said that the government will have access to people's financial information. For more information on this other right-wing talking point, check out Zack Roth's debunking of it.

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