President Barack Obama greets William Jawando, Deputy Associate Director of Public Engagement, his wife Michele and their four-month-old daughter Alia in the Oval Office, March 9, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Ezra Klein: Here’s what just happened in Wisconsin: the rules of the state’s Senate require a quorum for any measures that spend money. That’s how the absence of the Senate’s Democrats could stymie Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget law — it spent money, and thus it needed a quorum.
But in a surprise move earlier today, Wisconsin’s Senate Republicans rewrote the bill and left out all the parts that spent money. Then they quickly convened and passed the new law, which included the provisions stripping most public-employee unions of their collective bargaining rights but excluding everything in the law that spent money.
What happens next? Expect the protests over the next few days to be ferocious. But unless a judge rules the move illegal — and I don’t know how to judge the likelihood of that — Walker’s proposed law will go forward. The question is whether Walker and the Republicans who voted for it will do the same.
Polls in Wisconsin clearly showed that Republicans had failed to persuade the public of their cause. Walker’s numbers dropped, while Democrats and unions found themselves suddenly flush with volunteers, money, and favorable media coverage. And they plan to take advantage of it: Eight Wisconsin Republicans have served for long enough to be vulnerable to a recall election next year, and Democrats have already begun gathering signatures. Now their efforts will accelerate. “We now put our total focus on recalling the eligible Republican senators who voted for this heinous bill,” said Mike Tate, chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party. “And we also begin counting the days remaining before Scott Walker is himself eligible for recall.”
NY Mag: …..Newt Gingrich didn’t just get divorced three times, he also cheated on both of his first two wives. And furthermore, he left both of them when they were sick. As Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall recaps today:
Let’s remember, Newt famously dumped wife #1 for wife #2 while wife #1 was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery. As in literally went to the hospital to present her with divorce papers while she was recovering from surgery for uterine cancer.
He eventually dumped wife #2 for wife #3 shortly after wife #2 was diagnosed with MS back in 1999. And he was having the affair on wife #2 with wife #3 while he was turning the country upside down trying to drive Bill Clinton from office over his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
….Gingrich, naturally, is trying to frame his misdeeds in the best light possible under the circumstances. In a recent interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody, he discussed the issue in religious terms that the voters he hopes to win over may understand:
“I found that I felt compelled to seek God’s forgiveness. Not God’s understanding, but God’s forgiveness. I do believe in a forgiving God. And I think most people, deep down in their hearts hope there’s a forgiving God.”
If God can forgive him, then surely Iowa caucusgoers can, too. And besides, Gingrich has a pretty good explanation for why he did it:
“There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”
Sometimes you just feel so passionate about America that you need to go have some extramarital affairs. We’ve all been there.
CBS (March 2): New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says he is confident he could win the 2012 presidential election if he wanted to – but that he doesn’t feel in his heart that he is ready for the task.
“I have people calling me and saying to me, ‘Let me explain to you how you could win.’ And I’m like, ‘You’re barking up the wrong tree. I already know I could win,'” he said. “That’s not the issue. The issue is not me sitting here and saying, ‘Geez, it might be too hard. I don’t think I can win.’ I see the opportunity both at the primary level and at the general election level. I see the opportunity.”
NJ.com (Today): Gov. Chris Christie’s poll numbers have taken a hit since his budget address two weeks ago, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll….
Voters are split on whether they have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Christie, with 46 percent viewing him favorably and 44 percent unfavorably. That’s down significantly from December…
….President Obama fares better than Christie among Garden State voters, with 57 percent viewing him favorably to 36 percent unfavorably.
South Town Star (March 6): President Barack Obama has appeared to tip his hand on Illinois’ bill to end the death penalty, which Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to act upon within the week.
During a recent encounter with Quinn at the White House last week, the president praised the bill as well as Illinois’ legalization of civil unions, said state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), a lead legislative backer of the death penalty bill and Obama’s successor in the Illinois Senate…
Obama has publicly stated his support for the death penalty in heinous cases but as a state lawmaker voted against expanding it for crimes arising from gang activity. Obama was a driving force behind a 2003 capital punishment reform bill that required interrogations be videotaped in capital cases.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wait in the Green Room of the White House with Sylvia Mendez and Bill Russell as recipients of the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom are introduced in the East Room, Feb. 15, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Paul Krugman (NYT): Politico suggests that Republicans are in a bit of a bind: they want to cut Medicare — in fact, they’ve always wanted to cut Medicare — but they “funneled millions into TV ads last year accusing Democrats from Pennsylvania to Missouri of “gutting Medicare” and “hurting seniors” — charges that compelled older voters to swing en masse toward the GOP”.
I have to say that this was the great scam of the 2010 election. The fact that the party of this
managed to pose as defenders of Medicare was truly awesome, a testament to voters’ (and the news media’s) short memories.
Bloomberg: Americans reject Republican efforts to curb bargaining rights of unions whose power they say is dwarfed by corporations, a Bloomberg National Poll finds.
As battles rage between state workers and Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio, 63 percent don’t think states should be able to break their promises to retirees…
The poll shows that political challenges to government workers are failing to draw broad support from a public more concerned about unemployment than government deficits…
…Sixty-three percent of those surveyed – including a majority of Democrats and independents – say corporations wield more political clout than unions. Public employees, meanwhile, are viewed favorably by a large majority: 72 percent, compared with 17 percent who have an unfavorable view.
…Sixty-four percent of respondents, including a plurality of Republicans, say public employees should have the right to bargain collectively for their wages. Sixty-three percent, including 55 percent of Republicans, say states without enough money to pay for all the pension benefits they have promised to current retirees shouldn’t be able to break those obligations.