President Obama played golf today with Tiger Woods, “once the sport’s dominant player before his career was sidetracked by scandal,” the AP reports.
In the mail: Lincoln’s Tragic Pragmatism: Lincoln, Douglas, and Moral Conflict by John Burt.
The New York Times says the book is “a work that every serious student of Lincoln will have to read, although its sheer bulk alone — more than 800 pages — as well as the density of its prose may deter all but the most intrepid Lincolnophiles.”
A draft of a White House immigration proposal obtained by USA Today would allow illegal immigrants to become legal permanent residents
within eight years.
“The bill is being developed as members in both chambers of Congress are
drafting their own immigration bills. In the House, a bipartisan group
of representatives has been negotiating an immigration proposal for
years and are writing their own bill. Last month, four Republican
senators joined with four Democratic senators to announce their
agreement on the general outlines of an immigration plan.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that many Republicans and some Democrats have cautioned Obama “to keep his
distance from the process for fear of driving away potential GOP
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) called the proposal “half-baked” and predicted it was dead on arrival on Capitol Hill.
Sen. John McCain told NBC News that Chuck Hagel will likely be confirmed next week as Defense secretary.
“After Senate Republicans voted to sustain a filibuster and block the former Nebraska senator’s nomination from advancing toward confirmation, McCain acknowledged that Hagel will likely win confirmation once the chamber returns from its recess.”
“Bucking a trend in which states have been seeking to restrict abortion, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is putting the finishing touches on legislation that would guarantee women in New York the right to late-term abortions when their health is in danger or the fetus is not viable,” the New York Times reports.
Cuomo’s proposal “would also clarify that licensed health care practitioners, and not only physicians, can perform abortions. It would remove abortion from the state’s penal law and regulate it through the state’s public health law.”
An unprecedented leak of Pope Benedict XVI’s personal correspondence shows “tales of rivalry and betrayal, and allegations of corruption and systemic dysfunction that infused the inner workings of the Holy See and the eight-year papacy of Benedict XVI,” the Washington Post reports.
“The next pope may bring with him an invigorating connection to the Southern Hemisphere, a media magnetism or better leadership skills than the shy and cerebral Benedict. But whoever he may be, the 266th pope will inherit a gerontocracy obsessed with turf and Italian politics, uninterested in basic management practices and hostile to reforms.”
The Week: Can the Vatican survive in the digital age?
“It strikes me as unlikely – I’ll take a Paul Ryan position, it’s it’s not on my current list.”
— Newt Gingrich, interviewed on ABC News, on whether he’ll run for president again.
Illinois state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D) is expected to drop out of the 2nd congressional district special Democratic primary and back former state Rep. Robin Kelly (D) in the contest to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The move shakes up
the Democratic field just nine days before the Feb. 26 primary election.
Capitol Fax: “The reasons are many, including Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to point his massive super PAC right at Hutchinson while backing rival Robin Kelly.”
Bloomberg has attacked Hutchinson for her support for the National Rifle Association.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) “is laying the groundwork for a likely presidential run — and using his state as a testing ground for policies that play well with national conservatives,” Politico reports.
“He’s passed a sweeping school voucher plan, rejected the Medicaid expansion in Obamacare and proposed scrapping the state income tax.”
“But political observers who’ve watched Jindal up close for years say it’s become increasingly fuzzy where his governing ends and his presidential ambitions begin — whether the 41-year-old policy wonk’s plans are aimed at Louisiana’s problems or future GOP voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.”
The Cloakroom: Maybe President Obama should use reverse psychology to get his agenda past Republicans.
North Carolina state Rep. Rayne Brown (R) is defending her proposed legislation which define women’s nipples as indecent, WRAL-TV reports.
Said Brown: “We’ve had the most fun with this bill for about the past week and a half, and that’s OK. You need to laugh sometimes. But there are communities across this state, there’s local governments across this state, and also local law enforcement for whom this issue is really not a laughing matter.”
The bill was prompted by annual topless protest and women’s rally in Asheville, NC.
“Turmoil deepened among leading Republicans over efforts to ward off controversial candidates in the next election, as Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad blasted a new candidate-steering plan by Karl Rove and warned him to stay out of state and congressional races,” the AP reports.
Said Branstad: “I basically told Karl Rove that what he was doing is counter-productive and he needs to stay out of it.”
“In the aftermath of last fall’s disappointing election outcome for the GOP, party leaders have been focusing on fielding more candidates with broad appeal – and fewer unpredictable ones – but have split bitterly over how to do it, worsening party tensions.”
Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) told Politicker NJ that he is interested in running for U.S. Senate.
Said Holt: “There’s no point in being coy. I’ve made no secret in previous years that I would consider the Senate at the right time. But an expression of interest should not be taken as a campaign announcement.”
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) have also indicated they’re looking at possible bids.
Byron York: “Members of the Senate have left Washington for the President’s Day break, scheduled to return February 25. That means Republicans who voted to filibuster the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Defense Secretary have ten days to search for new evidence against him and lobby colleagues to keep up the opposition.”
“With 41 votes needed to uphold a filibuster — exactly the number Republicans mustered against Hagel on Thursday — the GOP has no votes to lose. And the most critical of those votes appears to belong to Sen. John McCain.”
In just two months, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) “has made his presence felt in an institution where new arrivals are usually not heard from for months, if not years,” the New York Times reports.
“Besides suggesting that Mr. Hagel might have received compensation from foreign enemies, he has tangled with the mayor of Chicago, challenged the Senate’s third-ranking Democrat on national television, voted against virtually everything before him — including the confirmation of John Kerry as secretary of state — and raised the hackles of colleagues from both parties.”
Roll Call: “If a lobbying campaign is war, then opposition research is the equivalent of elite special forces. K Street deploys all sorts of quiet, behind-the-scenes tactics and troops to influence legislation and policy. The most clandestine and high-risk is the use of political-style operatives to dig up dirt on foes.”
The Cloakroom: Why Americans hate Congress.