TPM News

A new national survey from Public Policy Polling (D) has the firm asking a question: "Is extremism becoming mainstream in 21st century American politics?"

The poll finds that numerous fringe views are either accepted outright or are open questions among significant portions of the party bases opposed to the politicians who are targeted by them.

The poll found that only 59% of voters believe that President Obama was born in the United States, with 23% saying he was not, and 18% undecided. Among Republicans only, a 42% Birther plurality say he was not born here, 37% say he was, and 22% are undecided.

As for the left, check out this question: "Do you think President Bush intentionally allowed the 9/11 attacks to take place because he wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East?" The top-line response is 14% yes, 78% no, and 8% undecided. But among Democrats, it's a somewhat larger Truther contingent, at 25%-63%-12%.

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The Senate Finance Committee continues to tussle over the question of whether to delay a panel vote on health care reform legislation by two weeks. But whatever happens, White House budget directer Peter Orszag says health care reform will be done in about six weeks.

"The goal would be, yes, over the next six weeks or so, maybe sooner," Orszag told Bloomberg.

That would leave plenty of time for the Congressional Budget Office to analyze the final bill--a hybrid of the Finance bill and the HELP committee's bill--before it goes to the floor of the Senate for a full debate. Of course, Republicans will do what they can to slow the process down.

Speaking for the first time to the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama attempted to distance himself from the policies of his predecessor and pushed for more international cooperation.

"Democracy cannot be imposed on any nation from the outside," Obama said, in a significant turnaround from the policies of President George W. Bush. "I admit that American has often been too selective in its promotion of democracy."

Each nation must find its own path, rooted in its own culture, Obama said, but lauded democracy as "essential." "Governments of the people and by the people are more likely to act in the broader interests of their own people, rather than the narrow interest of those in power," he said.

He also called for more cooperation across borders. "When our destiny is shared, power is not a zero-sum game ... The time has come for the walls to come down," he said.

He outlined four "pillars" on which countries must work together: nuclear non-proliferation, the pursuit of peace, environmental preservation and a strong global economy.

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Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) has announced to National Review that he will be personally leading a "truth squad" to the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, where he will make it clear to international leaders not to believe that the United States will pass legislation to deal with the issue.

"Now, I want to make sure that those attending the Copenhagen conference know what is really happening in the United States Senate," said Inhofe. "Some people, like Senator Barbara Boxer, will tell the conference, with Waxman-Markey having passed in the House, that they can anticipate that some kind of bill will pass EPW."

It's nice to see how seriously foreign policy is taken these days -- when a member of the political minority will send his own delegation to an international conference, in order to undermine the government and tell other countries that they can't work with the United States.

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Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele issued the following statement regarding President Obama's address to the United Nations General Assembly this morning. Here's the full text:

Last week President Obama backed off his pledge to protect America and our allies in Eastern Europe with a strong missile defense shield. This week, we are seeing the President back off his March pledge of providing the resources necessary for our men and women in Afghanistan. The president has already lost credibility with his commitment to our allies, so why should we believe his words today before the United Nations?

Last night, I reported that there could be a significant delay in the progress of health care reform legislation--that the committee could have to wait for weeks to get a complete CBO score before holding a final vote, or that, if the committee approves the legislation without a score, the full Senate will have to wait two weeks before taking up final health care legislation on the floor.

Right now in the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), is arguing in favor of an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY), that would require the committee to wait until the final CBO score is completed before voting on it.

"I don't know what's happening that this has to be put on a fast track," she said.

Chairman Max Baucus doesn't support the proposal, and neither do most Democrats, but it's quite telling that Snowe does.

Late update: The Bunning amendment failed (Snowe's support notwithstanding), but the committee passed an alternative amendment that requires a preliminary CBO analysis be completed before a final vote. And that could still cause a few days' delay.

Speaking today to the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama used the word "torture" for the first time when addressing an international body.

On my first day in office, I prohibited - without exception or equivocation - the use of torture by the United States of America. I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed, and we are doing the hard work of forging a framework to combat extremism within the rule of law. Every nation must know: America will live its values, and we will lead by example.

The White House released President Obama's prepared remarks for his address to the United Nations General Assembly. Here is the full text:

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentleman: it is my honor to address you for the first time as the forty-fourth President of the United States. I come before you humbled by the responsibility that the American people have placed upon me; mindful of the enormous challenges of our moment in history; and determined to act boldly and collectively on behalf of justice and prosperity at home and abroad.

I have been in office for just nine months, though some days it seems a lot longer. I am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world. These expectations are not about me. Rather, they are rooted - I believe - in a discontent with a status quo that has allowed us to be increasingly defined by our differences, and outpaced by our problems. But they are also rooted in hope - the hope that real change is possible, and the hope that America will be a leader in bringing about such change.

I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust. Part of this was due to misperceptions and misinformation about my country. Part of this was due to opposition to specific policies, and a belief that on certain critical issues, America has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others. This has fed an almost reflexive anti-Americanism, which too often has served as an excuse for our collective inaction.

Like all of you, my responsibility is to act in the interest of my nation and my people, and I will never apologize for defending those interests. But it is my deeply held belief that in the year 2009 - more than at any point in human history - the interests of nations and peoples are shared.

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A new Rasmussen poll in Missouri finds that the 2010 Senate race is a real toss-up, with GOP Rep. Roy Blunt and Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan tied at 46% each.

Four-term Republican Sen. Kit Bond is retiring, opening up this perennial swing state for a top-tier Senate race in 2010. John McCain carried the state by about 0.1% in 2008, and the Democrats won the state's other Senate seat by a three-point margin back in 2006.