Discuss as:

First thoughts: Minimize and move on

The White House shows it’s more nimble in dealing with distractions… Facing reality, the Senate declares it won’t take up comprehensive energy/climate legislation… Charlie Rangel’s three options… Norm Coleman eyes RNC chair post… Another day, another bad headline for Colorado Republicans… First Read’s Top 10 favorite House races… Previewing AR-2… And Rubio gets the Chamber’s endorsement.


*** Minimize and move on: The past 30 days have thrown more distractions at the Obama White House and the Democratic Party -- Gen. McChrystal’s firing, the furor over Robert Gibbs’ factual remark that the House is in play, the Shirley Sherrod story, and now Charlie Rangel’s new ethics woes. But what we’ve begun to notice is that Team Obama has become MUCH better at dealing with these distractions. They haven't figured out how to prevent distractions. (What White House can?). But they are getting better at minimizing the damage and then moving on. In fact, despite all the week’s distractions, the White House racked up some important wins. Signing the financial legislation into law. Seeing the unemployment benefits finally pass Congress. And getting Elena Kagan one step closer to become the nation’s next Supreme Court justice. Yes, the White House still can’t stay on message, but they’re showing they’re more nimble in dealing with distractions. Will they ever get to focus two straight weeks on the economy? It hasn't happened yet.

*** Bowing to reality: The one thing the White House won’t end up achieving this Congress, however, is comprehensive energy/climate reform. The New York Times: “Bowing to political reality, Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and majority leader, said the Senate would not take up legislation intended to reduce carbon emissions blamed as a cause of climate change, but would instead pursue a more limited measure focused on responding to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and tightening energy efficiency standards.” We’ve said this before, but Scott Brown’s victory in January didn’t stop health care. But the two extra months on health care -- and extra tough votes the Democrats had to take on it -- effectively killed any chance of getting a big energy/climate bill.

*** Rangel’s three options: Speaking of Rangel’s new ethics woes, he has a decision to make, the Washington Post reports. “He can resign, accept the charges and try to stay on, or defend himself. Pressure could build from Democratic members for him to resign rather than endure a public trial that would be humiliating for him and his party so soon before the November midterm elections.” The Post adds that a judge-like House Ethics Committee panel will read the charges against Rangel on Thursday, and that a full trial would begin around the week of Sept. 13. We can tell you what option Democrats prefer, and it's not the one where he defends himself… The fact is, by voting to have a public trial, the House Democrats are signaling to Rangel that they want him to resign. But he's been stubborn about this from the beginning (the attempts to get him to give up the gavel were excruciating).

*** Hey Norm! We still have more than three months until Election Day. But in a sign of how much of a lame duck Michael Steele has become, the race for the cycle’s next RNC chairman is already underway. Politico’s Martin broke the news yesterday that former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman (R) -- whom Al Franken defeated in one of the longest electoral overtimes in memory -- is considering a bid for RNC chair. “Coleman is planning to attend the RNC’s summer meeting next month in Kansas City… [And] senior Republicans say the former senator’s appearance at the committee’s gathering will also allow him to meet the party members who will pick the next chairman and signal to them that he’s interested in the job.” In a way, it seems that Coleman is already auditioning for the job via the American Action Network group he’s heading, which is airing TV ads against Patty Murray in Washington state and Charlie Crist in Florida. Success in helping the GOP in just one of those races could be enough for Coleman.

*** Coleman as RNC chair is a mixed bag: But Coleman is a mixed bag. On the one hand, the story of an ex-Democrat who left the party because it "left him" is a good selling point. That said, Coleman has the legacy of losing elections to Al Franken and Jesse Ventura -- not exactly the record of an electoral juggernaut. And his lone statewide victory was handed to him following the death of Paul Wellstone. Still, Coleman is someone who is viewed within GOP circles as a team player and who is through with his own political ambition. The only other wrinkle? Will folks like Haley Barbour, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich be nervous that Tim Pawlenty is somehow getting an upper hand for 2012 with Coleman's ascension?

*** Tancredo back in the spotlight: Another day, another bad headline for Republicans out in Colorado. Here’s the Denver Post: “Former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo demanded today that the two GOP gubernatorial candidates [Scott McInnis and Dan Maes] drop out of the race. If they don’t, he said he will run for governor as an American Constitution Candidate, a move likely to split the Republican Party in November’s general election. ‘There’s nothing left to split. The reality is that with the two candidates we have, we will lose the general election,’ Tancredo said in an interview.” Tancredo said he wants the men to commit to exiting the race AFTER the Aug. 10 primary, so “a Republican vacancy committee could appoint a replacement. Tancredo said he doesn’t care if the substitute is not himself.”

*** 75 House races to watch: AR-2: And here’s another House seat we’re watching, AR-2, which is being vacated by seven-term Rep. Vic Snyder (D). The Dem nominee for this open seat is state Sen. Joyce Elliot, who won her run-off with 54% (and if she wins in November, she would be the state’s first black member of Congress). The GOP nominee is former prosecutor/U.S. attorney/Bush White House official/RNC oppo-researcher Tim Griffin, who won his primary with 62%. McCain won 54% of this district in ’08, and Bush won 51% in ’04. Both Cook and Rothenberg rate it “Lean Republican.”

*** More midterm news: In Florida’s Senate race, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is backing Marco Rubio…

Countdown to OK primary: 4 days
Countdown to KS and MO primaries: 11 days
Countdown to CO and CT primaries: 18 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 102 days

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