4:45: President Obama hosts cast and crew members of the television show 1600 Penn for a screening at the White House
Must-read from Michael Grunwald:
I pledged awhile back, after a certain media mogul trashed President Obama for failing to solve global warming, that I would not spend all my time ridiculing the Obama-bashing disillusionment addicts of the left. (Pretty good week for that mogul, huh?) I mostly kept my word for 18 months, until their whiny response to the fiscal cliff deal inspired me to launch a Twitter tirade about Ivory Soap liberals, Choose Your Own Adventure liberals, Heighten The Contradictions liberals, and progressive utopianism in general. Now that I’m back from vacation, I thought I’d try to explain in more than 140 characters what I meant….
Norman Ornstein (The New Republic): One of the most stunning outcomes of the 2012 elections was the Democrats’ two-seat gain in the Senate. With 23 seats at risk to only ten for Republicans, Democrats were hoping simply to hold their own or keep their losses to a minimum. A gain of a single seat was almost wildly optimistic; picking up two seemingly unrealistic.
But just as important as the overall gain was the nature of the new class of Democrats sworn in to the Senate last week. With the addition of Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, Tim Kaine and Chris Murphy, and the possibility of Barney Frank joining them for a few key months and being followed by Ed Markey, the Senate has seen an infusion of liberal talent. Thanks to an impressive class of 2006…. and the class of 2008, the Senate has a core of assertive, brainy liberals greater than we have seen in decades…..
Politico: The Presidential Inauguration Committee on Wednesday named the Inaugural poet, who will appear at President Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony on Inauguration Day. Richard Blanco will be the country’s youngest Inaugural poet and also the first Hispanic and first member of the LGBT community to serve in the position, according to a statement from the committee:
“I’m honored that Richard Blanco will join me and Vice President Biden at our second Inaugural,” Obama said in the statement. “His contributions to the fields of poetry and the arts have already paved a path forward for future generations of writers. Richard’s writing will be wonderfully fitting for an Inaugural that will celebrate the strength of the American people and our nation’s great diversity.”
Charles Pierce: …… If you remember all the way back to 2008, you will recall that the president took some altogether justified heat for picking noted multimillionaire faith-based grifter Rick Warren to give the invocation. Now, I don’t think there even should be an invocation to any Deity as part of the ceremony by which we install the leader of one-third of our secular government … but if we are going to Pause For Prayer, we should do a lot better than Warren …. And, thanks be to Whoever, the president has managed to do so.
…. In too many other places, people choose to remember the [Civil Rights] Movement as a triumph for the American nation and not a victory for basic human rights that had to be wrenched out of the nation itself. And the struggle is ongoing. There is a substantial portion of the American people who will not accept the legitimacy of a black president 50 years after the March On Washington. It took Myrlie Evers-Williams 31 years to get simple justice for her husband’s murder. It will be nice to hear a prayer from someone with so very few illusions.
CNN: The Obama administration is considering the possibility of removing all U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission officially finishes at the end of 2014, White House officials said Tuesday.
The comments by Ben Rhodes, the White House’s deputy national security adviser, come as the Pentagon and White House mull over the number of troops that could be left in Afghanistan after 2014 to fight insurgents and train Afghan security forces.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and President Obama are scheduled to meet on Friday in Washington.
Washington Post: Groups within the Obama administration are pushing to keep no more than a few thousand troops in Afghanistan after 2014, U.S. officials said …. As the debate over the size and scope of the post-2014 coalition mission nears its end, some in the administration are pressing for a force that could be as small as 2,500, arguing that a light touch would be the most constructive way to cap the costly, unpopular war.