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Congress: At a crossroads?

"A day after President Obama called on them to renew efforts to pass his ambitious agenda, congressional Democrats remained in disarray Thursday about how to move forward, with at least some pointing at the White House as the cause of the legislative standstill gripping Capitol Hill," the Washington Post says.

The Wall Street Journal: "Ben Bernanke won the backing of the Senate for a second four-year term as chairman of the Federal Reserve by a comfortable margin Thursday. Even with that storm behind him, Mr. Bernanke faces formidable political and economic challenges made tougher by the bruising confirmation fight."

"Weeks of criticism from Congress -- and moments during which his confirmation prospects seemed uncertain -- have weakened Mr. Bernanke's political standing. That may make it harder for him to defend the Fed as Congress prepares to intensify its oversight of monetary policy and curb the Fed's authority over the banking system. In an interview, Mr. Bernanke's predecessor, Alan Greenspan, called his own occasionally tense relations with Congress "tranquil" by comparison." 

Is Scott Brown the new maverick of the Senate? We'll see. "Senator-elect Scott Brown, hailed as a savior for the Republican Party, pledged yesterday that he would not always vote the party line, saying he would chart his own course in Washington. In a wide-ranging 30-minute interview with the Globe, Brown said he told GOP Senate leaders last week: 'With all due respect, I really don't know a lot of you people, and you don't know me. But maybe that's good, because I'm going to vote how I want to vote.'"
But is it all starting to get to his head? "They were cool," Brown said of Republican leadership after explaining that he'd vote how he wants. "They said ... 'You could probably do whatever you want right about now, Scott, so that's OK.' So they were very respectful, and they understand. They understand all eyes are on me."

Brown was on Leno last night and reiterated his hoops challenge to Obama.

By the way, Joe Kennedy says he regrets not running for his father's Senate seat. It "wasn't the greatest decision I ever made in my life," he told the Boston Globe. "Kennedy smiled when a reporter asked him whether he regretted not running. 'The thought had crossed my mind,' he said."
And how about this: "When Kennedy was asked yesterday if he was surprised by Brown's margin of victory, he responded: 'To be honest with you, I was surprised that the margin was as small as it was. If you walked around Massachusetts that last weekend, you could just feel it everywhere you went. I think everybody knew in their bones in the end.'"