“The Vatican’s new secretary of state has said that priestly celibacy is not church dogma and therefore open to discussion, marking a significant change in approach towards one of the thorniest issues facing the Roman Catholic Church,” NBC News reports.
New York City’s Democratic power brokers moved “to prevent a combative sequel to the party’s primary for mayor, as union officials and political leaders rallied around the front-runner, Bill de Blasio, and urged the second-place finisher, William Thompson to end his quest for a runoff election,” the New York Times reports.
“On a day of back-room maneuvering and deal-making, Mr. Thompson’s own inner circle appeared divided over how, or even whether, to proceed.”
“Recent events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.”
— Russian President Vladimir Putin, writing in the New York Times.
Freedom Partners, “whose existence until now was unknown to almost everyone in politics, raised and spent $250 million in 2012 to shape political and policy debate nationwide,” Politico reports.
The group serves “as an outlet for the ideas and funds of the mysterious Koch brothers, cutting checks as large as $63 million to groups promoting conservative causes, according to an IRS document to be filed shortly. The 38-page IRS filing amounts to the Rosetta Stone of the vast web of conservative groups — some prominent, some obscure — that spend time, money and resources to influence public debate, especially over Obamacare.”
House GOP leaders decided “to delay until next week a contentious vote on keeping government funding going,” the Washington Post reports.
“Rank-and-file Republicans had not fully come aboard their leadership’s complicated plan to keep federal agencies operating at current austerity levels while forcing a Senate vote on whether to defund President Obama’s health-care initiative. Under that plan the Senate– with it’s 55-seat Democratic majority– would surely dismiss the Obamacare rider and keep the government running, a scenario that outside conservative groups have lambasted in the last 24 hours.”
Wonk Wire: Debt ceiling could be one month away.
Wonk Wire highlights a new study which shows the disparity in income between rich and poor has widened to record levels.
Ruby Cramer: “There was one question Anthony Weiner didn’t want to answer — maybe couldn’t answer — in his final moments as a contender for mayor of New York City, the only job he’s ever wanted: ‘What’s your plan for tomorrow?'”
“That’s what Shimon Prokupecz, a reporter for WNBC-TV, hollered at Weiner as he came bounding from Connolly’s Pub & Restaurant, the site of his emotional concession speech, across the sidewalk and into a car idling on 47th Street. But Prokupecz didn’t get his answer. Weiner jumped inside, rolled up the window, and flashed his middle finger instead before speeding away.”
“I’m worried that we have a game of rope-a-dope for a while, and the slaughter goes on.”
— Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, arguing that Russia’s diplomatic efforts on behalf of Syria are nothing more than a stall tactic.
Public Policy Polling: “We did a poll last weekend in Colorado Senate District 3 and found that voters intended to recall Angela Giron by a 12 point margin, 54/42. In a district that Barack Obama won by almost 20 points I figured there was no way that could be right and made a rare decision not to release the poll. It turns out we should have had more faith in our numbers becaue she was indeed recalled by 12 points.”
Dan Balz: “It’s been said there are no do-overs in life. But President Obama may be getting the closest thing to it with his abrupt turn to diplomacy on Syria. Still, it is a path as fraught with problems and risks for the president as was his failing effort to win public and congressional support for targeted military action.”
“For now at least, the possible sequencing of what will unfold on Syria — diplomacy before military action — makes more sense than the zigs and zags of the past two weeks. The president can now pursue diplomatic efforts to force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to turn over control of his chemical weapons to an international body, and eventually to see them destroyed. Failing that, he could then go back to Congress with a stronger case to make that he has exhausted peaceful efforts and that only military action is the only course left to deter the Syrians from using those weapons again.”
Wonk Wire: Obama’s Syria speech wasn’t about Syria.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign “cancelled a planned $25,000-a-person fund-raiser that featured an alligator hunt. The campaign has not yet given a reason for the decision, but the event — and its quick demise — became a social media sensation and prompted media inquiries,” the Tampa Bay Times reports.
“Sleazy come, sleazy go.”
— New York Post, on both Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner losing their attempted comeback races after sex scandals.
First Read: “While it’s always prudent to not overstate the results of a special election — especially one in which Colorado voters weren’t allowed to vote by mail (as many of them usually do) and especially with control in the state Senate not changing hands — the political situation there is one to watch over the next year. Since 2004, no state has become more Democratic-leaning than Colorado: Obama won twice there; Democrats have won every U.S. Senate and gubernatorial contest; and Dems control the legislature. But the recall results will invigorate Colorado Republicans (as well as pro-gun groups and voters). The question is if a vulnerable Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) can win re-election in 2014, and if Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) can still cruise to victory next year. If the answer to these questions is “no,” then the Democrats’ streak in Colorado will come to an end. And that would be a big deal.”
Michael Scherer: “The problem of Syria may be showing the limit of [Obama’s] instinct. He wants to launch military strikes in retribution for the death of some innocent children and not others. He wants Congress to approve his action even though he may still act alone. He wants to maintain a war footing even as a new diplomatic solution appears on the horizon. They are all intellectually defensible positions. But it may just be that the people who tuned in Tuesday night, between the first and second hours of So You Think You Can Dance, were looking for a President to lead the country, not a man hoping to reason with it.”
John Harris: “Two weeks of zig-zag foreign policy by President Barack Obama — marching to war one moment, clinging desperately to diplomacy the next — culminated Tuesday night, appropriately enough, in a zig-zag address to the nation that did little to clarify what will come next in the Syria crisis but shined a glaring hot light on the debate in the president’s own mind.”
Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli told NBC Richmond that he was questioned by federal investigators about the gifts given to him by Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, but says he “was never the target of any investigation.”
Said Cuccinelli: “Yes, I was asked questions about Jonnie. But that was months and months ago.”
A new Rutgers-Eagleton poll in New Jersey finds Cory Booker (D) leading Steve Lonegan (R) in the special U.S. Senate election, 64% to 29%.
President Obama told Americans he would “pursue a newly energized diplomatic course to try to resolve the standoff with Syria, but he insisted that the U.S. must conduct military strikes, if needed, in response to the Assad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Ezra Klein: “The problem is that if the diplomatic path is going to work, Russia and Syria need to believe Obama’s threat to use force is credible. That means Obama needs to win enough public and congressional support that his threats remain credible. The result was an odd speech: One that had to make the case for war the administration was seeking on Sunday even as it pivoted towards the diplomatic solution the administration lucked into on Monday.”
Rod Dreher: “Was anybody’s mind changed by that speech? I can’t imagine it. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t convincing either. It’s about the best attempt one could imagine to sell an incoherent, bad policy.”
Andrew Sullivan: “I’m tired of the eye-rolling and the easy nit-picking of the president’s leadership on this over the last few weeks. The truth is: his threat of war galvanized the world and America, raised the profile of the issue of chemical weapons more powerfully than ever before, ensured that this atrocity would not be easily ignored and fostered a diplomatic initiative to resolve the issue without use of arms.”
“An epic national debate over gun rights in Colorado on Tuesday saw two Democratic state senators ousted for their support for stricter laws, a ‘ready, aim, fired’ message intended to stop other politicians for pushing for firearms restrictions,” the Denver Post reports.
State Senate President John Morse (D) and Sen. Angela Giron (D) will be replaced in office with Republican candidates who petitioned onto the recall ballot.
Joshua Spivak: “There’s no question that Gun Rights groups scored a big win here. I mentioned that this is a symbolic recall — the gun control law was not getting overturned and the Democrats would not lose control of the Senate. However, as a symbol, this is a big one. It may once again scare off legislators from moderate to conservative districts in the rest of the country from supporting gun control legislation. If the goal was to revisit 1994, then it is very possible that they succeeded.”