George Packer: “I hope Obama surprises us. I hope he throws out the kind of boilerplate that made last year’s convention speech one of the weaker ones in Charlotte. I hope that Obama the writer finds some vivid prose for the occasion; that Obama the thinker treats us like his intellectual equals, as he did in Philadelphia and Oslo; and that Obama the man allows himself the risk of deep feeling, as he did in Tucson and Newtown. Most of all, I hope Obama the politician is willing to say things that some people might not want to hear.”
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The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that 49% of Americans hold a negative view of the Republican Party while 26% have a positive view. By comparison, the Democratic Party has a net positive rating, with 44% holding a favorable view of the party and 38% holding an unfavorable one.
First Read: “By the way, most of the recent negative movement for the GOP is among core Republicans. The GOP was already viewed very negatively by Democrats and indies; it couldn’t really get much worse with those two groups. So this latest shift for the GOP is due to the fact that a growing number of core Republicans were not happy with how the party handled the fiscal cliff.”
Susan Davis: “Unproductive and unpopular are two words most often used to describe the previous Congress, but a new description can be used for the new session: inexperienced.”
“Nearly two in five lawmakers in the U.S. House, 39%, have served for less than three years, according to data compiled by the non-partisan Cook Political Report. It’s the least experienced House since at least 1995, when an election wave swept the Republicans into power.”
With Republicans roundly criticized for being tone deaf to concerns of minority voters, John Avlon notes “it might surprise you to hear that Republicans are by far the more diverse party when it comes to statewide elected officials such as senators and governors. On this front, they leave Democrats in the dust. And that’s why the GOP actually has a greater depth of diversity on their potential presidential bench looking to 2016 and beyond.”
Byron York: “The purpose of the House Republican retreat, now going on in Williamsburg, Va., is to help GOP lawmakers come to terms with just how weak they are. Even though the party controls the House, the talk in some quarters at Williamsburg is of adopting a ‘minority mentality’ to oppose President Obama’s initiatives the way Republicans did when they were in an even weaker position in 2009. By doing so, the thinking goes, the GOP might be able to rebuild itself after last November’s devastating losses.”
“The problem is, if Republicans are asked what they can reasonably expect to accomplish in the next six months, after a variety of fights with the president, they don’t have an answer. What would constitute an achievable victory? They don’t really know.”
The Cloakroom: GOP retreat gets off to a rocky start.
“This is about tone. It’s about messaging and it’s about showing people what we’re for instead of what we’re against.”
— Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), quoted by the Washington Post, describing his message to House Republicans at their retreat.
A new New York Times/CBS News poll finds 51% of Americans approve of the way President Obama is doing is job with 41% disapproving.
“Mr. Obama’s job approval rating is similar to that of George W. Bush at the start of his second term, but much lower than the ratings of the previous two presidents who served eight years. (President Bill Clinton’s approval rate was 60 percent in January 1997 and Ronald Reagan’s was 62 percent in January 1985.) More than 8 in 10 Democrats approve of his job performance, 8 in 10 Republicans disapprove and independents are evenly divided.”
President Obama’s re-election campaign apparatus will relaunch this weekend as a tax-exempt group to support his second term legislative priorities, Politico reports.
The new organization will be separate from the DNC and will be headed by campaign manager Jim Messina.
Los Angeles Times: “If it is able to sustain the passion that propelled Obama twice into
the White House, the pro-Obama group may outstrip the role played by
traditional interest groups, from organized labor to the environmental
movement, and could form an independent power base outside the White
House and the Democratic Party.”
A new Fairleigh Dickinson University poll finds that 63% of registered voters buy into at least one political conspiracy theory.
The nationwide survey asked Americans to evaluate four different political conspiracy theories: 56% of Democrats and 75% of Republicans say that at least one is likely true. This includes 36% who think that President Obama is hiding information about his background and early life, 25% who think that the government knew about 9/11 in advance, and 19% who think the 2012 Presidential election was stolen.”
Most interesting finding: “Generally, the more people know about current events, the less likely they are to believe in conspiracy theories – but not among Republicans, where more knowledge leads to greater belief in political conspiracies.”
The Cloakroom: A session on wooing minorities is being held in a room named after Virginia slaveholders.
Josh Green points out that in 1979, Dick Gephardt, “who would later become House Democratic leader and twice run for president, devised a simple fix that met the absurd requirement of a two-step process. With help from the House parliamentarian, he established the Gephardt Rule, which decreed that when Congress adopted a budget resolution (the first step) it was automatically ‘deemed to have passed’ a commensurate increase in the debt limit (the second step). Presto. Problem solved.”
“The Gephardt Rule held for a decade and a half, during which there were no fights over raising the debt ceiling. But when Republicans took control of the House in 1995, they killed it… Gingrich thought the second vote was a good pressure tactic to limit
spending. Yet the threat of debt default didn’t work because nobody took
it seriously. What’s different now is that many Republicans seem
willing to follow through. Even Gingrich is worried.”
A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds 52% of Americans approve of President Obama’s overall job performance.
They also mostly agree with his agenda:
“Fifty-six percent believe that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be stricter, compared with a combined 42% who want them less strict or kept the same… Also, for the first time in the poll, a majority of Americans — 52% — favor allowing illegal immigrants who hold jobs to apply for legal status in this country.”
“And in the latest fiscal fight in Washington, more respondents say they would blame congressional Republicans (45%) than Obama and congressional Democrats (33%) if the nation’s debt limit isn’t raised and the country is unable to meet its obligations.”
Just out: Dangerous Convictions: What’s Really Wrong with the U.S. Congress by Tom Allen.
The former Democratic congressman says that Members of Congress “don’t just disagree, they think the other side makes no sense.”
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) told the Wall Street Journal that Republicans “are discussing whether to support a short-term increase in the nation’s borrowing authority, possibly linking the debt ceiling to future talks aimed at reaching a major deficit deal.”
“Ryan said no decisions have been made about how to approach the debt and spending negotiations, but that leaders hope House Republicans will reach consensus on a strategy by the end of the week.”
The Hill: “With the GOP divided and coming off a losing election and a frustrating
lame-duck session of Congress, party leaders have moved to scale back
expectations for members on what they can achieve in the face of a
popular Democratic president and larger Democratic majority in the
Fox News will soon announce that Karl Rove has signed a multi-year deal to remain an on-air analyst through the 2016 election, Politico reports.
“The contract assures the ratings-leader cable news network that it will retain one of its most popular commentators, and someone whose views continually make news, especially in the heat of a campaign.”
GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway told House Republicans at their retreat that they need to stop talking about rape, Politico reports.
“Conway dispensed the stern advice as part of a polling presentation she made alongside fellow GOP pollsters David Winston — an adviser to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) — and Dave Sackett. The comment was described by several sources in the room.”
When President Obama quoted Ronald Reagan on gun control yesterday, it wasn’t the first time. In fact, Ryan Teague Beckwith notes it’s one of his favorite rhetorical tricks. Obama has quoted Reagan on everything from the debt ceiling to infrastructure spending to the campaign trail.
Idaho Rep. Ron Mendive (R) “drew audible gasps” when he asked representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union if their pro-abortion rights stance also means that they support prostitution, the AP reports.
Mendive said that since the ACLU supports a woman’s right to choose abortion, shouldn’t the organization also support prostitution, arguing that prostitution also is “a woman’s choice.”
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