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Obama agenda: Sticking by Hagel

The AP: “By delaying a confirmation vote on Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary, Senate Republicans have forced Leon Panetta to remain on the job he is eager to give up. But they've also given the White House an opportunity to cast the GOP as obstructing President Barack Obama’s assembly of a second-term national security team.”

USA Today: "Senate blocks Hagel nomination - for now."

Josh Gerstein: “The whole episode seems unnecessary, raising the question of why Hagel was selected in the first place instead of well-respected Defense Department veterans Michele Flournoy or Ashton Carter. Many Democrats would have gladly backed those choices and scratched their heads at the Hagel pick, particularly given the controversy it was certain to stir up. But Hagel has fans in the highest places, starting in the Oval Office. The president feels personally invested in the nomination of Hagel. The Nebraska Republican is one of the few politicians he’s truly friendly with, and Obama plans to see the fight through, barring some major unforeseen development. Democrats close to the White House say the typically cool-headed Obama has expressed flashes of real anger at what he sees as a politically motivated GOP fishing expedition that already netted his first choice for secretary of state — U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice.

“Obama — ticked off by Rice’s treatment and still emboldened by his convincing victory over Mitt Romney — courted confrontation when he tapped Hagel. But he underestimated the level of vitriol generated by the appointment of the crusty Hagel — and White House aides were genuinely stunned by the nominee’s dazed and meandering confirmation hearing — which they chalked up to his long sabbatical from public life and overpreparation for the session.”

“President Barack Obama was wrapping up his post-State of the Union tour by talking about how government can build ‘ladders of opportunity’ into the middle class,” AP writes. “During remarks Friday at Hyde Park Academy in Chicago, his hometown, Obama was to discuss proposals to raise the federal minimum wage and pair businesses with recession-battered communities to help them rebuild and provide job training. He also was to talk about creating jobs for young people from poor families, and encouraging fatherhood and low-income couples to marry. It remained to be seen whether the proposals have enough support to get through Congress.”

Obama met James Carter at his Georgia event yesterday. The grandson of former President Jimmy Carter is responsible for the “47 percent” video. “Upon being introduced and told of James Carter's role in the 47 percent video, Obama jumped forward to embrace him. ‘Thank you, thank you so much,’ Obama told James Carter, his cousin said,” Politico writes. 

“President Barack Obama is trying to change the face of a federal judiciary that has a long tradition of white men passing judgment on parties from all walks of life — if he can get his nominees past the Senate,” AP writes. “Republicans have used the powers accorded the Senate minority party to slow Obama’s influence on the federal bench. But recent changes to Senate rules suggest the process may begin to move faster, at least at the lower, U.S. District Court level.”

National Journal’s Ron Brownstein argues that Obama’s State of the Union was targeted at the millennial generation. “Obama addressed them repeatedly: by insisting that entitlement spending on the old must face some limits to prevent it from crowding out investment in the young; by framing climate change as a generational challenge; by pledging to provide young people with more training and to confront rising college costs; and by closing with a paean to citizenship that reflected their civic impulses.”

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