Weekend in politics: ‘Cliff’ talks, Rice, Russia, and more

Joel Roberts
December 14, 2012

The good news on Friday morning is that President Obama and House Speaker Boehner met for 50 minutes at the White House last night in an effort to jump-start their stalled negotiations on the fast-approaching "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending cuts.

The bad news is their discussions, though characterized by both sides as "frank," reportedly failed to yield any signs of progress. As Yahoo! News White House correspondent Olivier Knox points out, a "frank" discussion is diplomatic-speak for "an argument."

Boehner plans to return to his home state of Ohio for the weekend and no further talks with the president are scheduled at this point.

In non-fiscal cliff news, President Obama will sign into law a Russian trade and human rights bill Friday morning that opens new export opportunities for U.S. firms. A section of the bill that would punish Russian officials who commit alleged human rights violations has angered Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Later, President Obama meets privately with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, a day after she withdrew her name from consideration to be the next secretary of state in the face of angry opposition from Republicans.

Also Friday, first lady Michelle Obama, continuing a tradition started by Bess Truman, will pay a holiday visit to Children's National Medical Center in Washington, meeting with children and thanking staff for their work.

And then there is this: Friday marks 40 years since Apollo 17 completed the final moon landing.

And also this: Saturday marks the first anniversary of the U.S. officially ending its Iraq mission, nearly nine years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.