May, 2014

This Week on the Podcast

Michael Shear of the New York Times gave us an inside look at the life of a White House correspondent:

Jonathan Alter, executive producer of Alpha House, joined us for a fascinating discussion of how politics has influenced our cultural life:

Thanks to our friends at and the Cook Political Report for sponsoring the podcast this week.

Subscribe via iTunes or RSS to get episodes automatically downloaded.

Clinton Was More Hawkish Than Obama

“In her final weeks as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton wrote a private memo to President Obama warning that relations with Russia had hit a low point and the heralded ‘reset’ in relations was over, according to people who saw the document,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Mrs. Clinton, if she runs for president, likely will lean heavily on her experience as the nation’s top diplomat. Her memo, written in January 2013, illustrates two striking features of her four years in the post: She was often more hawkish than the White House she served, and at some key moments was ineffectual at swinging policy her way.”

Cuomo Launches War on Third Party

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) “is responding to a rebellion from the state’s progressive third party by attempting to push other Democrats away from the Working Families Party,” BuzzFeed reports.

“Cuomo’s move is an escalation that raises the stakes on both sides of the ideologically charged battle, one that has brought to the fore the New York governor’s growing rift with the state’s left. Cuomo political aide and longtime enforcer Joe Percoco has, the sources said, made the request, which is aimed at threatening the party’s ability to get the 50,000 votes for governor in November’s election required for a permanent slot on the statewide ballot.”

Meanwhile, Harry Enten looks at how polling in three-way races is very unpredictable.

GOP Candidates Retreat on Obamacare

“Republican candidates have begun to retreat in recent weeks from their all-out assault on the Affordable Care Act in favor of a more piecemeal approach, suggesting they would preserve some aspects of the law while jettisoning others,” the Washington Post reports.

“The changing tactics signal that the health-care law — while still unpopular with voters overall — may no longer be the lone rallying cry for Republicans seeking to defeat Democrats in this year’s midterm elections.”

Wonk Wire: Have those dire predictions about Obamacare materialized?

Carney Leaving the White House

President Obama “made a surprise appearance in the White House Briefing Room Friday to announce the departure of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney after more than three years in the post,” Time reports.

“Obama announced the selection of Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest as his choice to be the next press secretary, effective next month.”

In case you missed it, Michael Shear of the New York Times talked to us about life as a white house correspondent.

Boehner ‘Not Qualified’ to Debate Climate Change

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued a familiar response to a question on climate change, the Huffington Post reports, noting “I’m not qualified to debate the science over climate change.”

Jonathan Chait: “It’s a strange form of reasoning. Very few of us are scientists, which is exactly why we tend to defer to scientific judgment. It might make sense to question expert consensus in a field where you are an expert, but if you know very little about it, you probably want to just go along with what the experts think. Scientists do, in fact, have a nearly unanimous view of anthropogenic global warming. Scientists likewise believe that chugging Liquid Drano is bad for your health, which is why, precisely because of my lack of scientific training, I hold off on the Drano Cocktails.”

Wonk Wire: More Rubio skepticism on climate change.

Duckworth Says Shinseki Should Step Aside

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a former Veterans Affairs official who lost both of her legs while serving in combat during the Iraq war, told the Washington Post that her former boss Eric Shinseki should resign.

Said Duckworth: “Our first priority should be the veterans and at this point whether Secretary Shinseki will stay or go is too much of a distraction. I think he has to go. He certainly loves veterans, but it’s time for new leadership, it’s time to get someone in who will put veterans first. We’ve moved away from veterans being the primacy of the conversation. It’s now a political discussion and that’s not where it should be when it comes to our nation’s heroes.”

Reid Attacks Send GOP Donors Into Hiding

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) “relentless attacks on the billionaire Koch brothers are having an unforeseen impact: spurring other wealthy Republican donors to give more money to groups that keep their supporters’ names secret,” the Washington Post reports.

“Several prominent pro-Republican advocacy groups say they are benefiting from a burst of cash as some donors — fearful of harsh public attacks such as those aimed at the Kochs — turn away from political committees that are required by federal law to reveal their contributors.”