From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg
*** Senate gets the baton: After Saturday night's historic, contentious, and very narrow health-care vote in the House of Representatives, the action now moves to the Senate, where things won't get any easier. On Sunday, President Obama made a rare statement from the White House Rose Garden. "Now it falls on the United States Senate to take the baton and bring this effort to the finish line on behalf of the American people," he said. Unfortunately for Obama and the Democrats, the Senate will never be mistaken for Usain Bolt. Why? While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could afford losing 39 Democratic votes on Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can't lose a single one to bring it to the floor. What's more, conservative Senate Dems -- not to mention Joe Lieberman (I-D) -- have major objections to the "opt out" public option in Reid's bill. "If the public option plan is in there, as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote," Lieberman said yesterday on FOX.
Video: Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., President of the American Medical Association Dr. James Rohack and the Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart debate whether the House health reform bill will pass in the Senate.
*** Give Pelosi her due: Speaker Pelosi deserves her due on Saturday's vote. She had said she'd get this out of the House as soon as she had the votes. By going when she did, with another Dem in her pocket (the new seat in NY-23) and keeping the House in session over the weekend, she got it done. And she even quelled a potential uprising among the most pro-choice members of her caucus. It was an impressive performance; she had her share of backseat drivers in all parts of official Washington, and she pulled it off. By the way, the NEXT health care vote in the House should be easier to get, given that what comes out of conference (the "opt out" or the trigger) will likely be a tad easier for moderates to support. That said, the abortion issue could still end up a problem at some point in this process. But the way she navigated the bill over the weekend should re-shape the C.W. on her a tad. As the L.A. Times notes, she's a lot more pragmatic than her opponents want to paint her. And now you know why she was able to become leader of her caucus and why she's Speaker until either the voters decide -- or she decide she doesn't want the job anymore.
*** Republicans aren't the only ones eating their own: As mentioned, 39 House Democrats -- most of them from conservative-leaning congressional districts -- voted against the bill, while just one Republican -- Cao of Louisiana -- voted for it. Well, liberal MoveOn has announced it will launch a $500,000 ad blitz, which will start in the middle of the week, targeting Dems who voted against it, such as Mike Ross (AR), Jason Altmire (PA), Glenn Nye (VA), Rick Boucher (VA), Larry Kissell (NC), and Health Shuler (NC). Meanwhile, MoveOn says it will hold "thank you" events on Thursday and Friday for some 60 Dems who voted yes, and AFSCME and liberal Health Care for America Now (HCAN) are also running TV ads thanking many of these folks.
*** Drawing more battle lines: Indeed, this "thank you" list is a good place to start our 2010 focus to see how the Obama agenda is playing -- not in the 39 districts of the Democrats who voted no. A First Read analysis of the Saturday's vote finds that about 60 of the Democrats who voted for health care are either in vulnerable or potentially vulnerable districts, including 18 who represent districts that went for McCain. Another 10 are in districts where Obama got less than 55%; six are from districts where Obama got more than 55%, but the member got less than 55%; 14 are in districts which Obama won by less than 55%, but they won by more than 55%; and at least another 12 are in districts where both they and Obama got more than 55%, but either have been competitive in the past or could be competitive. We'll release the full list later today.
*** Backlash against Muslims? The trickiest issue for the military and the president to deal with this week regarding the Ft. Hood shootings may be the growing concern over backlash against Muslim Americans. The more we learn about the shooter, the more the military is concerned about this backlash issue. With every detail about his religion that becomes public, it's likely that much harder for other practicing Muslims in the military to walk around their bases. Army Gen. George Casey warned on "Meet the Press" that this kind of scrutiny could hurt the military's diversity. "Our diversity -- not only in our Army but in our country -- is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a tragedy, I think that's worse." And if this incident gets classified as a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, something Lieberman raised over the weekend, then the backlash could get even worse.
*** Barack and Bibi: The biggest event on President Obama's schedule today is a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at 7:00 pm ET. The Israelis usually love to get their American presidential photo-ops, but Netanyahu won't get one unless the White House releases an official photograph. Why? There is no pool spray or media moment between the two at all. Part of the reason is that the White House only agreed to meet Netanyahu in the last 48 hours, despite Netanyahu's pleas for a meeting for weeks. The Israeli leader is in U.S. for a speech here in DC. The fact this meeting was so difficult to put together only underscores the perception that the two men just don't see eye-to-eye when it comes to their world views; the two are distant, there's no other way to describe their relationship. The Middle East peace process appears stalled (that should be a topic tonight), and then the news that Iran is reneging on its deal over nukes will also be something that dominates.
*** Time to walk away? On Sunday, the New York Times' Tom Friedman issued some advice for Obama when it comes to the Middle East: walk away from the negotiating table until Israel and the Palestinian Authority realize they really want peace. "Right now we want it more than the parties. They all have other priorities today. And by constantly injecting ourselves we've become their Novocain. We relieve all the political pain from the Arab and Israeli decision-makers by creating the impression in the minds of their publics that something serious is happening… Indeed, it's time for us to dust off James Baker's line: 'When you're serious, give us a call: 202-456-1414. Ask for Barack. Otherwise, stay out of our lives. We have our own country to fix.'"
*** 2012 watch: By the way, look who was in Iowa this weekend: Tim Pawlenty and Mike Huckabee. "Pawlenty's speech at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines [was] the first high- profile event of the early audition season in the state that holds the nation's first presidential caucus," Bloomberg News writes. And check out this quote from T-Paw: "Minnesota and Iowa have a lot in common. We're a state that if you drive across the Minnesota border into northern Iowa, you can't tell that you're in a different state in a lot of ways." This is Pawlenty's launching pad, pure and simple. Even if the other major candidates attempt to downplay the Hawkeye State, Pawlenty won't (and can't) in 2012. And here was Huckabee, courtesy of the Des Moines Register: "2008 Iowa Republican caucuses winner Mike Huckabee spent his Sunday in Davenport, Cedar Rapids and West Des Moines, signing copies of his new book, 'A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories That Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit.' But many of the 300 people who turned out for his book-signing in West Des Moines weren't focused on a holiday that's seven weeks away. Their minds were on 2012."
*** Remembering the day the wall came tumbling down: Finally, today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Don't miss Tom Brokaw's reporting on the anniversary on "Meet" yesterday.
Countdown to MA Special Primary: 29 days
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Countdown to Election Day 2010: 358 days