The biggest news of the day is the confirmation by the South China Morning Post that Edward Snowden went after the NSA job with the express purpose of accessing and leaking US security secrets. He has gone from “whistleblower”—which he never was—to pretty much of a spy and traitor.
Now he’s holed up in Russia, where it’s quite certain that the FSB is pumping him dry, at least as dry as Chinese intelligence did. And his whirlwind tour of quasi-democracies and outright dictatorships puts paid to the idea that he’s a starry-eyed defender of democratic ideals.
Greg Mitchell: A lot of outrage, and not-so-gentle mockery, this morning over a classic Politico piece by editor Jim VandeHei and chief reporter Mike Allen complaining about President Obama manipulating the press….
So John Cook, editor of Gawker, just performed a public service by posting on Twitter every question Allen chose to ask President Bush when he did get full access back in 2008. You may remember 2008 – the economy was about to collapse and we were still in a full shooting war in Iraq …. these below catch the spirit. Keep in mind that Allen wrote today that Obama avoids Politico reporters in part because they “ask tough, unpredictable questions.”
Q: Now, Mr. President, you and the First Lady appeared on American Idol’s charity show, “Idol Gives Back.” And I wonder who do you think is going to win? Syesha, David Cook, or David Archuleta?
Greg Sargent: Despite birth control controversy, Obama suffers no erosion among Catholics
Since the birth control controversy broke, it has been an article of faith among even some neutral commentators that the battle would cause Obama to lose crucial support among Catholic swing voters.
But Gallup has performed a new analysis of its tracking data that should complicate this assertion: It finds that Obama has suffered no meaningful downturn in recent days among that consistuency, even among church-going Catholics.
White House: On Monday, January 30, the President will join a special Google+ Hangout from the West Wing. He’ll be answering several of the most popular questions that have been submitted through YouTube, and some of the people who submitted questions will even be invited to join the President in the Hangout and take part in the live conversation.
Do you have a question for President Obama? Here’s how you can participate:
Starting today through January 28th, you can visit the White House YouTube channel to submit your questions and vote on your favorites.
Tomorrow, watch the State of the Union live at 9:00 p.m. EST on YouTube.com/whitehouse or on WhiteHouse.gov/sotu
Paul Krugman: How goes the state of the union? Well, the state of the economy remains terrible. Three years after President Obama’s inauguration and two and a half years since the official end of the recession, unemployment remains painfully high.
But there are reasons to think that we’re finally on the (slow) road to better times. And we wouldn’t be on that road if Mr. Obama had given in to Republican demands that he slash spending, or the Federal Reserve had given in to Republican demands that it tighten money.
Why am I letting a bit of optimism break through the clouds? Recent economic data have been a bit better, but we’ve already had several false dawns on that front. More important, there’s evidence that the two great problems at the root of our slump — the housing bust and excessive private debt — are finally easing.
….if this year’s election brings the wrong ideology to power, America’s nascent recovery might well be snuffed out.
INGRAHAM: You’ve also noted that there are signs of improvement on the horizon in the economy. How do you answer the president’s argument that the economy is getting better in a general election campaign if you yourself are saying it’s getting better?
ROMNEY: Well, of course it’s getting better. The economy always gets better after a recession, there is always a recovery. […]
INGRAHAM: Isn’t it a hard argument to make if you’re saying, like, OK, he inherited this recession, he took a bunch of steps to try to turn the economy around, and now, we’re seeing more jobs, but vote against him anyway? Isn’t that a hard argument to make? Is that a stark enough contrast?
ROMNEY: Have you got a better one, Laura? It just happens to be the truth.
John Heilemann (NY Mag): ….. If Gingrich wins Florida, the Republican Establishment is going to have a meltdown that makes Three Mile Island look like a marshmallow roast. Why? Because the Establishment will be staring down the barrel of two utterly unpalatable choices. On the one hand, Gingrich’s national favorable-unfavorable ratings of 26.5 and 58.6 percent, respectively make him not just unelectable against Obama but also mean that he would likely be a ten-ton millstone around the necks of down-ballot Republican candidates across the country. And on the other, Romney will have shown in two successive contests—one in a bellwether Republican state, the other in a key swing state—an inability to beat his deeply unpopular rival. If this scenario unfolds, the sound of GOP grandees whispering calls for a white knight, be it Indiana governor Mitch Daniels (who, conveniently, is delivering the Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night) or Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan or even Jeb Bush, will be deafening.
Fareed Zakaria (CNN): …. President Obama entered the Oval Office with the United States deeply unpopular around the world, with vast commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, with difficult relations with many countries and a large part of the world feeling that it had been ignored by an America obsessed by the “War on Terror.”
Obama was determined to pare down America’s commitments and its military footprint and to regain goodwill and trust abroad. For the most part, he has done so….
If the war against al Qaeda is the most visible and dramatic success story, the most significant long-term success might be in Asia, where Obama has pivoted …. He did so carefully and skillfully so that Asia countries saw it as a response to their requests rather than an unilateral assertion of American power….
All in all, it’s a pretty strong record. Which is why you actually don’t hear Republicans talking much about foreign policy on the campaign trail.
Greg Sargent: Romney to bombard Gingrich with scorched earth attacks: The big news this morning is that the Romney campaign — stung by Newt Gingrich’s big South Carolina win — is prepared to unleash a white-hot series of assaults on the (again) surging challenger. One of these, apparently, will be a continued demand that Gingrich release the ethics probe that got him bounced from Congress — even though the probe has already been released.