IN THE NEWS: Obama presser touches on Boston, Syria, Benghazi … Mass. Senate race favors Markey … Former lobbyist tapped for FCC chair … U.S. has more gas, oil than we ever thought ... Sen. Flake compares self to pond scum … GOP advertising on mommy blogs
The New Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy on Jobs
President Obama walked into the White House press room on the 100th day of his second term and said, in effect, “Have at me.” If there was an overall message he wanted to communicate it was hard to discern.
Topics ranged from Syria to Benghazi to Boston to Guantanamo to Obamacare. There was an “I told you so” moment on the sequester, a vigorous case for his health care law, optimism on immigration and a budget deal, and a bit of flash as Obama reaffirmed his 2008 campaign promise to close Guantanamo. He even came back to the podium to express pride in Jason Collins.
Yet anyone hoping Obama would expend some "juice" or capital talking about how to improve the jobs picture was out of luck. A few days before the April jobs numbers come out, with young people struggling to start their work lives and long-term unemployment killing hopes and dreams daily, the strategy employed by the president—and the press—seemed to be don’t ask, don’t tell.
OBAMA BACKS FBI, DHS HANDLING OF TSARNAEV IN 2011. During a news conference Tuesday, President Obama addressed the federal government’s handling of the 2011 investigation of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but acknowledged that intelligence officials will review agency procedures for potential areas of improvement. “Based on what I’ve seen so far, the F.B.I. performed its duties, the Department of Homeland Security did what it was supposed to be doing,” the president said. “But this is hard stuff.” Read more
- Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., whom Obama called at his presser, took to Twitter on Tuesday, unleashing a string of tweets excoriating the president on Benghazi and Boston.
PRESIDENT: MORE TIME, INFORMATION NEEDED ON SYRIA CHEMICAL-WEAPON USE. Obama said that he needs additional time and information before he can determine whether the Syrian government has violated the “red line” he established when it comes to chemical weapons. “What we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria,” the president said. “But we don’t know how they were used, when they were used, who used them; we don’t have chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened.” The president noted that acting without confirmation could undermine the United States’s international position. Read more
- National Journal’s Ron Fournier writes there’s trouble when a president starts defending his own relevancy.
MASSACHUSETTS SENATE SPECIAL-ELECTION PRIMARY HELD TODAY. Voters in Massachusetts head to the polls today in the primary phase of the special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry. On the Democratic side, Rep. Ed Markey has led Rep. Stephen Lynch throughout the race and is expected to win the nomination, The Washington Post reports. In the Republican primary, former U.S. attorney Mike Sullivan faces former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez and state Rep. Daniel Winslow. While Gomez and Sullivan are expected to lead the balloting, the projected turnout could render the results “unpredictable.” Read more
- A Republican source tells NBC News to not be surprised if the national party puts “some money” behind the general election.
OBAMA TO TAP FORMER LOBBYIST FOR FCC CHAIR. President Obama is expected to name venture capitalist and telecommunications industry operative Tom Wheeler to chair the Federal Communications Commission, The Wall Street Journal reports. According to sources, the president could tap Wheeler as early as Wednesday, and current FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn will serve as interim chair. Read more
HOUSE MAJORITY PAC HITS SANFORD OVER AFFAIR IN TV AD. A new television spot from House Majority PAC targets former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican running in the special election for state’s 1st Congressional District, for the extramarital affair that led to his resignation in 2009. A female narrator says, “I used to be for Mark Sanford, but not anymore. He skipped town to be with his mistress on Father’s Day. Sanford even asked his wife for permission to have the affair, and wasted his taxpayer dollars on himself.… I was mortified, angry, embarrassed, betrayed.” Sanford’s opponent, Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, alluded to the affair during a Monday evening debate. Read more
- National Journal’s Ben Terris spent some time with House Majority PAC and writes that Democrats have learned to love the super PAC
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’LL FOLLOW UP ON CLAIM THAT BENGHAZI WITNESSES WERE SILENCED. President Obama addressed claims that administration officials are preventing employees from testifying before Congress on the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya. “I’m not familiar with this notion that anybody has been blocked from testifying, so what I will do is find out what exactly you’ve referred to,” Obama said in response to a question from Fox News’ Ed Henry. Attorney Victoria Toensing made the claims with Fox News on Monday. She said she has been retained by an individual who was barred from testifying on Benghazi. Toensing said she has been denied the requisite security clearance to discuss the matter with her client. Read more
- “I'm not talking generally, I'm talking specifically about Benghazi—that people have been threatened,” Toensing told Fox News. “And not just the State Department. People have been threatened at the CIA.”
GOV. CUOMO TO PUBLISH MEMOIR. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y.—a rumored presidential candidate for 2016—has inked a book deal with HarperCollins for a memoir to be published in 2014, The New York Times reports. The company had previously planned to publish an authorized biography of Cuomo penned by New York Post columnist Fredric Dicker, but abandoned that project after the relationship between Cuomo and Dicker deteriorated. It is unclear whether HarperCollins will proceed with Dicker’s book, which was slated for publication in 2013 but is no longer listed among this year’s releases. Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Shnayerson is also at work on a biography of Cuomo. Read more
- @nickconfessore: Cuomo's DC superlawyer re-floats previously-floated imaginary memoir to screw suddenly-uncooperative semi-biographer?
‘GLITCHES AND BUMPS’ WON’T DOOM OBAMACARE. President Obama acknowledged reality when he said Tuesday that the rollout of the health reform law next year is going to be interrupted by “glitches and bumps.” But if the past is any indication, an initial spate of difficulties or bad headlines won't alone spell failure, National Journal’s Margot Sanger-Katz writes. Read more
THE U.S. HAS MUCH, MUCH MORE GAS AND OIL THAN WE THOUGHT. The United States has double the amount of oil and three times the amount of natural gas than previously thought, stored deep under the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana, according to new data the Obama administration released Tuesday, National Journal’s Amy Harder reports.Read more
THREE STORIES THAT WILL MAKE YOU MAD AS HELL. From three stories in Tuesday’s newspapers: A president’s capitulation on campaign-cash reform; a governor’s shady gifts; and a congressman’s sordid fall, followed by his waltz through Washington’s gilded revolving door. It’s getting so you can’t scan the news without questioning whether the foundation of a representative democracy—trust in our leaders—is irreversibly shaken, National Journal’s Ron Fournier writes. It doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots among the stories: The nation’s political institutions are broken, its leadership failed, and the public is fed up. Read more
FED ANNOUNCEMENT ON ECONOMY. Following their meetings this week, the Federal Reserve will offer its assessment of the U.S. economy Wednesday afternoon. The central bank will likely not alter course on its current stimulus plan of low interest rates and bond-buying. Read more
"Maybe I should just pack up and go home.... Golly."—President Obama, commenting “sarcastically” on legislative troubles in his second term (The Hill)
‘THE LEAST SPECTATOR-FRIENDLY SPORTING EVENT ON EARTH.’ “To follow the Iditarod requires not only a bush plane, but a bush plane equipped with skis, capable of landing on frozen rivers and lakes,” writes Brian Phillips for Grantland. For the roughly two weeks of the great Alaskan dogsled race, which dates back to 1973, Phillips bounced alongside in a plane he learned to fly—“cockpit was exactly the size of a coffin.” Under a “chemical blue” sky, Phillips watched the teams of 16 sled dogs cover the roughly 1,000-mile route across the “sheer felt immensity” of the landscape. The article is embedded with a host of well-placed videos, audio, interactive maps, and interactive diagrams that highlight the race. Read more
PLAY OF THE DAY
FIXING THE SEQUESTER. The passage of a bill to end the furloughs of air-traffic controllers was a key point for ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel on Monday night. The host referenced the lucky fact that the bill was passed at the moment when members of Congress needed to get on planes, then came up with a sardonic title for the bill. On Comedy Central, The Daily Show spent its entire first segment on the bill, highlighting the self-congratulatory words of one senator, and the lack of attention paid to Transportation Department on the sequester’s effects. Watch it here
ARIZONA SENATOR BLAMES GUN VOTE FOR FALLING APPROVAL NUMBERS. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., took to Facebook Monday night and wrote that his recent “no” vote on the failed Manchin-Toomey background check measure was likely the reason for some recent bad polling numbers that showed him at a dismal 32 percent approval, The Hill reports. “Nothing like waking up to a poll saying you're the nation's least popular senator," wrote Flake, who added that in light of Congress’s generally bad ratings, “that probably puts me somewhere just below pond scum.” While noting the leftward-bent of the polling firm, Public Policy Polling, Flake nonetheless said he attributed the poor numbers to his vote against the “popular” amendment. Read more
WHY REPUBLICANS ARE ADVERTISING ON ‘MOMMY BLOGS.’ USA Today reports that House Republicans have taken the unusual step of advertising on so-called ‘mommy blogs,’ in an effort to connect with a demographic that has not been kind to them in recent elections. “The banner ads will be featured on over 100 websites popular among women and geo-targeted to be viewed by residents in 20 Democratic-held congressional districts targeted by the GOP for 2014, the newspaper writes. The $20,000 ad buy on sites like Ikeafans.com and MarthaStewart.com will call on Democrats to vote with House Republicans next week on a bill that would allow private employers to pay overtime wages in paid time off. Read more