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First thoughts: Good news, bad news

From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg
*** Sonia's good news, bad news: Here's the bad news for Sonia Sotomayor: Yesterday, with the Supreme Court's New Haven ruling, was her toughest day as a SCOTUS nominee since her "wise Latina" comment produced that political/media frenzy a few weeks ago. But here's the good news: If yesterday is as bad as it's going to get -- and most expected the Supreme Court to reverse Sotomayor and her 2nd Circuit panel in the New Haven case -- then she's still well on her way to winning confirmation. What's more, the court's 5-4 ruling (along the usual conservative/liberal split) gives her 2nd Circuit panel decision plenty of cover. Now, it's all about the confirmation hearing and how the Republicans go after her. But as we learned with John Roberts' and Samuel Alito's hearings, it's more than likely that she'll say absolutely nothing controversial during these hearings.

Video: Guest host Alison Stewart talks about the case with NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg.

*** So apparently there aren't enough political ads? But while the New Haven case was yesterday's main focus, the Supreme Court's other action Monday -- to hear additional oral arguments in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission on Sept. 9 -- could very well have a profound effect on American politics. According to experts, the court's decision to revisit the case could result in overturning the campaign-finance law that corporations, unions, and other special interests can't air political ads 30 days before a primary and 60 days before the general election. "This has the potential to be a blockbuster," Michael E. Toner, a former chairman of the FEC, told the Washington Post. He added that the issues have implications for "the whole architecture of the federal campaign financing system." Regarding this action and the New Haven case, talk about the legislating from the bench!

*** Iraq withdrawal: Although it's been overshadowed largely by other news (Michael Jackson, Bernie Madoff, Iran), today is the deadline for U.S. soldiers to withdraw from Iraqi cities. However, as NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reports, most of that withdrawal has been completed a day ahead of today's deadline. Yet the withdrawal also comes as we learned that four U.S. troops died from combat-related injuries. And it also comes with a new CNN poll showing that just 34% approve of the Iraq war, that 73% agree with the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the major Iraq cities, and that a majority believes the withdrawal will increase the violence in Iraq.

Video: President Obama declares military coup of Honduran president illegal; Ahmadinijad wins Iran vote recount; U.S. troops pull out of Iraq. NBC's Brian Williams reports. 
  
*** Gibbs' two pledges: Yesterday on MSNBC's Hardball, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made two pieces of news. One, regarding Gitmo, he said the Obama administration would absolutely go to Congress first to get approval of holding detainees indefinitely. Two, Gibbs pledged repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" by the time Obama runs for re-election.

*** Today's cable catnip: Riddle us this: How is Sarah Palin

going to be able to run for president when so many other Republicans, especially those who worked on the McCain campaign, are more than willing to criticize her? Todd Purdum has a piece in the latest issue of Vanity Fair, in which former McCain campaign aides unload on her -- again. "They can't quite believe that for two frantic months last fall, caught in a Bermuda Triangle of a campaign, they worked their tails off to try to elect as vice president of the United States someone who, by mid-October, they believed for certain was nowhere near ready for the job, and might never be," Purdum writes.

*** Honduras vs. Iran: Here's something you should expect to hear a lot of today: What's the difference between getting involved with the Honduras situation and not with Iran? Of course, there are a lot of differences -- including the entire Organization of American States condemning the coup in Honduras; there wasn't that level of international will on the Iranian situation. Also, we have diplomatic relations with Honduras and therefore have leverage with that country. With Iran, zero relations so little leverage? That said, speaking out against the coup in Honduras as forcefully as the Obama administration has will lead to some on the right to criticize him for not doing the same with Iran.

*** The never-ending recount -- by the numbers: Are we going to get a decision today from the Minnesota Supreme Court regarding the state's never-ending recount? It's the last day of the month, and we were led to believe the court would have a decision by then. (Remember that the court heard oral arguments on June 1.) With the race still unresolved, here's a look at it by the numbers:
-- $51.1 million has been raised between Coleman and Franken for the entire campaign
-- $50.3 million has been spent between the two candidates
-- $11 million (at least) has been spent on the recount
-- 2,424,946 votes were cast
-- 312 votes separate the candidates (Franken leads)
-- 239 days since Election Day 2008
-- 34 weeks since Election Day 2008
-- 7 months, 27 days since Election Day 2008
-- 4 seasons seen since Election Day 2008 election

*** Today's sked: At 2:00 pm ET, President Obama makes remarks highlighting innovative non-profit programs. Also today, GOP Sens. Mitch McConnell, John McCain, and John Ensign discuss their ideas for health-care reform in Houston, TX at the well-known M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Countdown to Election Day 2009: 126 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 490 days

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