Steve Benen: …. as it turns out, Bush’s approval rating the summer before his re-election bid isn’t much different than President Obama’s current approval rating. Bush had a few months to see his support grow; Obama has a year.
And why did Bush’s support grow from the mid-40s to the low-50s? Chait argued, persuasively, that voters starting seeing the president “within the context of a partisan choice,” and decided they liked him more after taking a look at the wealthy Massachusetts challenger with an awkward personality and who was often accused of flip-flopping.
…. If Republicans were a popular party with a popular agenda, this would be a very different story. Likewise, if Obama were a poor campaigner facing a charismatic GOP frontrunner, I’d a different set of expectations. But I’ve seen a lot of Obama political obituaries, and at this point, none of them have proven persuasive to me.
AP: Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, a hopeful sign that the job market might be picking up.
The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications dropped 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 397,000, the lowest level in five weeks. It’s only the third time since April that applications have fallen below 400,000.
Economists were encouraged by the drop, though they cautioned that the trend would have to persist to signal real improvement.
3:30 PM: First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes Caroline Kennedy and representatives of other first families and members of the White House Historical Association for a reception in honor of the organization’s 50th Anniversary.
NYT: Obama Tries to Speed Response to Shortages in Vital Medicines
President Obama will issue an executive order on Monday that the administration hopes will help resolve a growing number of critical shortages of vital medicines used to treat life-threatening illnesses, among them several forms of cancer and bacterial infections.
The order offers drug manufacturers and wholesalers both a helping hand and a gloved fist in efforts to prevent or resolve shortages that have worsened greatly in recent years, endangering thousands of lives.
It instructs the F.D.A. to do three things: broaden reporting of potential shortages of certain prescription drugs; speed reviews of applications to begin or alter production of these drugs; and provide more information to the Justice Department about possible instances of collusion or price gouging.
Greg Sargent: ‘GOP tightening election laws across the country’
My pick for read of the morning is this very well reported Los Angeles Times piece detailing what is now an undeniable national trend: Republican legislatures and governors are making it harder for people to vote in multiple states across the country.
When you see these examples piled up in one place, as the L.A. Times has done, you get a clear sense of the national scope and potential impact of all these state-by-state initiatives.
As one expert puts it, the presidential race could hang in the balance: “These laws will have an effect on the margin on who votes. And in a state like Florida, a small difference matters. It could easily decide the outcome.”
USA Today: A Republican lawmaker who has criticized the Department of Energy’s $529 million loan guarantee to an electric car company that is manufacturing vehicles overseas has championed U.S.-backed loans to a company headquartered in his home district that does business around the globe.
Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., has called for the House Energy and Commerce’s oversight subcommittee to investigate the DOE decision to award the loan to Fisker Automotive, which is manufacturing its first line of vehicles in Finland.
…. Murphy, however, has backed financing for the Westinghouse Electric, which owns facilities in countries including Sweden, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Spain, Germany and the Ukraine and is headquartered in Murphy’s district. In May, Murphy introduced legislation that would provide loan guarantees up to $450 million to Westinghouse for the construction of two new nuclear power plants in the United States.
…. Murphy has received more than $40,000 in contributions from Westinghouse employees and the company’s political action committee, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Murphy did not respond to a request for comment…..
Steve Benen: …. So, what happens now? The Cain campaign is either lying about the candidate’s alleged misconduct or it’s not. And with the two accusers restricted by their settlement agreements from speaking, it’s possible Cain and his team feel like they can weather the storm without new details emerging. We’ll see.
But the larger political storm is just starting to brew. Cain’s reaction to direct questions yesterday – after being asked four times about the allegations, he sighed, glared at a reporter, stayed silent, and refused to respond – signaled to reporters everywhere that the Republican candidate has a real problem on his hands.
As for efforts to blame the “liberal” media, this may have some salience in GOP circles, but it’s not much of a strategy. For one thing, Politico hardly leans to the left. For another, the article was co-authored by a reporter who used to work for National Review. (Part of me wonders if it was members of the Republican establishment who leaked this, just to make Cain go away.)
What’s less clear is whether rank-and-file Republican voters will care. There’s reason to believe they won’t – the GOP has a track record of looking the other way when sexual misconduct allegations affect their own (Vitter, Clarence Thomas, et al).
I went over to the dark side last night to see the reaction to the Cain story – I (literally) laughed out loud when the Teabaggers claimed it was the Obama administration that leaked the story to GOPolitico.
These people just aren’t very bright. I’d imagine there’s nothing the Obama administration would love more than for Cain to win the GOP nomination – because the President wouldn’t have to break in to a sweat to win four more years.
Karl Rove, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney ….. methinks we have our suspects.
PS The single funniest comment on the dark side last night: that the allegations against Cain were “racist” and were probably invented by the “Kenyan’s” thugs. Seriously.