The Edge is National Journal's daily look at today in Washington -- and what's coming next. The email features analysis from NJ's top correspondents, the biggest stories of the day -- and always a few surprises. To subscribe, click here.
There’s No Sexy Way to Talk About Jobs
President Obama spent Thursday doing exactly what I and many others have repeatedly urged him to do: focus on the economy. So let me tear myself away from Benghazi, Boston, Cleveland, and Mark Sanford to discuss his trip to Texas and his two announcements on jobs.
The more traditional initiative is a competition to open three “manufacturing-innovation institutes” centered on metals, electronics, and digital technology. The other frees up previously inaccessible or unmanageable federal data. This had me scratching my head until Todd Park, Obama’s chief technology officer, explained that newly available data in areas like health, science, education, energy, and public safety would help people create new products, services, businesses, and jobs.
Sound far-fetched? Just think about the apps, navigation systems, and other spinoffs that have been spawned by federal weather and GPS data, and have added tens of billions of dollars to the economy. A data dump is not headline or cable bait, but it is big news all the same.
JUDICIARY COMMITTEE BEGINS CONSIDERING AMENDMENTS TO IMMIGRATION BILL. Consideration on more than 300 amendments to the comprehensive immigration bill began in the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, and the panel rejected an amendment to the measure that would have required the federal government to control the U.S.-Mexico border for six months prior to granting legal status to any undocumented persons, the Associated Press reports. USA Today has five issues that could disrupt the momentum of the bill, including same-sex immigration rights. Read more
BOSTON POLICE: WE WEREN’T WARNED BY FEDS ABOUT TSARNAEV. In testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said that his department was not notified that the FBI had received warnings from Russian authorities about Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Davis and Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Kurt Schwartz touted the impact of federal grants for law enforcement, while former Sen. Joseph Lieberman, ID-Conn., said that federal officials should have shared information with local law enforcement. “When you're dealing with homegrown radicals, the community around them is going to be your first line of defense,” Lieberman told the committee. Read more
- Lieberman’s testimony gave “a boost to a Republican line of attack against the Obama administration for failing to fully investigate and share information that might have prevented the bombings,” National Journal’s Stacy Kaper reports.
GOP FORCES GRIDLOCK OVER OBAMA’S EPA, LABOR PICKS. Senate Republicans are forcing partisan debates about the role of the executive branch and its commitment to transparency by blocking the confirmation of two of President Obama’s nominees to top positions within his administration, National Journal’s Amy Harder reports. There doesn’t yet seem to be any clear resolution to the stalemate, which is holding up the confirmations of Gina McCarthy as Environmental Protection Agency administrator and Thomas Perez as Labor secretary. Read more
- “You know why some of us are going to be in favor of reforming the rules of the Senate? It's because of abuses like this.” -- Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. (Politico)
BENGHAZI IS SOMEWHERE BETWEEN WATERGATE AND A NONISSUE. “Both parties are wrong about Benghazi,” National Journal’s Ron Fournier writes. “Existing evidence does not point to a far-reaching cover-up on the scale of Watergate, as Republicans want you to believe. But it is not, as the White House claims, nothing. The administration’s response to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on U.S. installations in eastern Libya was inaccurate, irresponsible, and shrouded by campaign-style spin. It belied President Obama’s oft-broken promise to run a transparent government. If nothing else, Benghazi is a blow to the credibility of the president and his potential successor, then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. This could be big.” Read more
NEW CIA SPY CHIEF ‘OUTED’ ON TWITTER BY REPORTER. The man selected this week to lead the clandestine service at the Central Intelligence Agency, who remains undercover, was “outed” on Twitter by John Dinges, a former assistant editor at The Washington Post. Dinges maintained that the new spy chief will be Francis “Frank” Archibald, 57. His account was “confirmed” by former Post and Salon reporter Jeff Stein. The Associated Press reported that the names of the new director of National Clandestine Service and the interim head are “widely known in intelligence, diplomatic, and journalistic circles.” Read more
HERITAGE FOUNDATION SCHOLAR UNDER FIRE OVER DISSERTATION, ONLINE WRITINGS. The Heritage Foundation faced additional scrutiny this week amid revelations that senior policy analyst Jason Richwine, who coauthored the think tank’s report on immigration reform, contended in his doctoral dissertation in 2009 that Hispanic immigrants are less intelligent that native-born white Americans, National Journal’s Elahe Izadi reports. “The average IQ of immigrants in the United States is substantially lower than that of the white native population, and the difference is likely to persist over several generations,” Richwine wrote in the abstract for his dissertation. The controversy underscores the ongoing debate over the politicization of think tanks on both the left and the right. Read more
- Richwine wrote two articles on Hispanics and crime in 2010 for a website founded by self-described “nationalist” Richard Spencer, Yahoo’s Chris Moody reports. Read more
THE QUIET CHARM OFFENSIVE OF OBAMA’S CHIEF OF STAFF. For an administration that has had a hard time creating and maintaining relationships on Capitol Hill, President Obama's new chief of staff, Denis McDonough, has emerged as a bridge builder early in the administration’s second term, National Journal’s Shane Goldmacher reports. This week, he had dinner with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. He huddled on Capitol Hill with a dozen Senate Republicans shortly before the recent congressional recess. And last month, he met with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the former GOP presidential candidate, who told Time magazine that the ensuing discussion “was the first time I have had a candid conversation or a substantial conversation with a member of the Obama administration since they came into power.” Read more
WHEN WEARING THE WRONG SHOES GETS YOU BOUNCED FROM THE CAPITOL. National Journal’s Ben Terris documents how the guards at the Speaker’s Lobby in the Capitol are the nation’s fashion police and how a pair of blue shoes got him booted from the place. Read more
KERRY TO PARTICIPATE IN GOOGLE+ HANGOUT. Secretary of State John Kerry will participate in a Google + Hangout with NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell on “The U.S. in the World: What's in It for Us?” at 1 p.m.
PRINCE HARRY CONTINUES D.C. VISIT. On Friday, Prince Harry of England is due to visit Arlington National Cemetery, where he’ll lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, then the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, before boarding a flight to Colorado. After Colorado, the 28-year-old royal will travel to parts of New Jersey hit by Hurricane Sandy, followed by a trip to Manhattan, ending his stateside stay with a Greenwich, Conn., polo fundraising event. Read more
“I ended up getting some lager I’d never heard of.” — Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on his secret meeting over drinks with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on April 10, the night President Obama’s budget was released.
WHAT DO YOU LEARN IN A COLLEGE CLASS ABOUT PORN? Ever since he gained national attention earlier this year regarding his class “Navigating Pornography,” Prof. Hugo Schwyzer of Pasadena City College, has been bombarded with a variation of that question almost daily. Turns out, academics have been studying porn for more than two decades. “Most of my students were born in the early-to-mid-1990s,” Schwyzer writes in The Atlantic. “They hit puberty under the influence of two conflicting social realities: the widespread availability of broadband and the Bush-era abstinence-only sex education policies. The latter deprived far too many of them of accurate, comprehensive, pleasure-based information about sex… the former became the primary and ubiquitous source of information about the birds and the bees.” Read more
PLAY OF THE DAY
NOTABLE POLITICAL WEIGHT LOSS. Alaska’s Cleveland Volcano erupted this week, and Craig Ferguson found the presidential humor in the eruption, making fun of the former president named for the volcano. A recent survey found Judith Sheindlin, star of the syndicated TV show Judge Judy, to be more trustworthy than all nine Supreme Court justices, prompting ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel to mull the real meaning of the word “supreme.” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has always been a popular figure on late-night TV, but this week he became a superstar because of his recent surgery. Wednesday evening, Conan O’Brien wondered how much time he’s saving by eating and David Letterman’s producers put together a comparison graphic. Watch it here
- @marcambinder: Also worse than Watergate: most of DC’s architecture at the time.
- @OKnox: I just never, ever tire of reading Great Corrections. http://t.co/lNhVMk6p2Q
- @TPM: PHOTO: Rick Perry greets Obama in Texas http://bit.ly/130I3zJ
- @pewresearch: Americans divided over whether legal immigration should be increased, kept the same, decreased http://pewrsr.ch/146qEbm
- @mckaycoppins: Benghazi Hearing Makes Front Pages Across The Country. http://t.co/08Cpsu8xEP
THE CASE OF THE BIZARRE CNN SPLIT-SCREEN. A gruesome court case in Arizona consumed all the cable networks this week, and CNN has been no different—the network sent both anchor Ashleigh Banfield and HLN’s Nancy Grace to Phoenix to document the case of Jodi Arias. But as The Atlantic Wire points out, while both women gave the appearance of being in two separate locations while on-air, it turns out both were standing in the same parking lot, about 6 parking spaces from each other. The Daily Show had a great deal of fun with this. Watch it here