While most of the talk on the Sunday talk shows focused on Congress' bipartisan budget deal, Secretary of State John Kerry perhaps had the day's most telling quote when he compared North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un to Saddam Hussein. Appearing on ABC's This Week, Kerry said the news of Jong-Un's uncle's fate shows "how ruthless and reckless [Jong-Un] is," and recalls practices favored by the former Iraqi leader. Apparently Jong-Un has been busy this year. "It tells us a significant amount about the instability, internally, of the regime, with the numbers of executions," Kerry said. "This is not the first execution. There have been a significant number of executions taking place over the last months which we're aware of." What little intelligence the U.S. has on North Korea reminds Kerry of another major enemy of the state. "You saw the pictures of his uncle being arrested in front of everybody at this meeting. I mean it really reminded me of a video that we saw of Saddam Hussein doing the same thing, having people plucked out of an audience and people sitting there sweating and nobody daring to move or do anything," Kerry said. "To have a nuclear weapon, potentially, in the hands of somebody like Kim Jong Un just becomes even more unacceptable." Kerry also responded to Robert Levinson's reported CIA ties, while not confirming or denying anything. “There hasn't been progress in the sense that we don't have him back. But to suggest that we have abandoned him or anybody has abandoned him is simply incorrect and not helpful,” Kerry said. “I have personally raised the issue not only at the highest level that I have been involved with, but also through other intermediaries."
Rep. Paul Ryan isn't mad at John Boehner after the Speaker of the House “just kind of got his Irish up” this week. If anything, Ryan is just as upset. “He was frustrated that these groups came out in opposition to our budget agreement before we reached a budget agreement. I was frustrated, too,” said the Wisconsin Republican during a joint interview with Sen. Patty Murray, who co-authored the budget agreement with Ryan, on NBC's Meet the Press. Ryan thinks the criticism, however warranted, was misguided, especially coming from close allies. “But I think these are very important elements of our conservative family. I would prefer to keep those conversations within the family.”
But the real worry for the budget deal is in the Senate, where even the Democrats are worried about its chance of passing. Majority Whip Dick Durbin said Republican support will be necessary to pass the bill in the Democratically-controlled Senate. "The struggle is still on in the United States Senate. We'll need about eight Republicans to come our way," the Illinois Senator said on CBS's Face the Nation. "I feel we'll have a good, strong showing from the Democratic side. But we need bipartisan support to pass it." The biggest challenge, Durbin said, will be awmakers facing mid-term election fights against Tea Party candidates, while other have much longer ambitions. "A handful of members of the Senate are vying for the Presidency in years to come and thinking about this vote in that context," Durbin said. "And others are frankly afraid of this new force, the Tea Party force, the Heritage Foundation force that is threatening 7 out of 12 Republican Senators running for re-election."
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich thinks the budget deal is a work of some "brilliant politics" that will help the Republican party rebound in the wake of the shutdown "It’s clear that it didn’t work and, in that sense, they learned a lesson. I think this is mediocre policy and brilliant politics," Gingrich said on ABC's This Week, about the bipartisan budget deal. The deal does not push Republican economic policy forward, Gingrich says, but it does allow the party to focus on slagging Obamacare, something they failed to do during the shutdown. "It doesn’t get them what they want on policy terms, but it strips away the danger that people will notice anything but Obamacare. And the longer the country watches Obamacare, the more likely the Democrats are to lose the Senate." Like Ryan, Gingrich also excused Boehner's outburst at Tea Party groups who attacked the deal before it was ever released. "Later in my career, I blew up exactly like he did, and I think sometimes it’s healthy," he said. "He had worked very hard to get to this point. They were very battered by the shutdown and I think he just thought: 'Why not."
This article was originally published at http://www.thewire.com/politics/2013/12/kim-jong-un-executing-his-uncle-reminded-john-kerry-saddam/356167/