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First Thoughts: Bad timing

Bad timing: Obama delivers economic speech hitting GOP just hours after tragic DC shooting… On gun violence and what do about it… Obama to GOP: Start focusing on the economy and the middle class… WSJ editorial page to Tea Party: Stop being kamikaze pilots… The best (and most) ambassadors money can buy?... Obama sits down for interview with Telemundo… And Daley drops his IL GOV bid.

*** Bad timing: When you’re in a rut, nothing seems to go right. That’s true in sports, in life and, yes, in American politics. And for the Obama White House, little seems to be going right, especially when it comes to timing. Last week, President Obama gave a speech to the nation on Syria about the need to use U.S. force there -- at the very same time as the United States appeared to reach a diplomatic breakthrough, which produced a disjointed message. Then on Friday, the president sat down for an interview with ABC that would air on Sunday. But that interview came BEFORE the U.S. struck that diplomatic framework with Russia on Saturday morning, so Obama was unable to discuss the specifics of that framework. And that brings us to yesterday’s presidential speech to mark the fifth anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ collapse: Taking place a few hours after tragic DC shootings that claimed 12 lives just miles from the White House, Obama remarked about the tragedy, talked about Syria, and then gave his economic speech, which included political broadsides at the GOP.


President Barack Obama speaks about the economy to mark the five-year anniversary of the U.S. financial crisis at the White House in Washington September 16, 2013.

*** A political speech on the economy that fell on deaf ears: Some, including MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, have criticized the president for delivering a political speech yesterday after the shooting deaths and the chaos in the city. (And it just wasn’t Obama: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor released a political statement on Benghazi yesterday.) But here’s our question to the White House: Who was listening to that economic speech yesterday -- beyond folks paying attention to grab anything the president said about the shootings? Anything you wanted to say about the economy, the budget stalemate in Washington, or the debt ceiling was going to be lost. So why not wait a day or two? The White House says they’re getting critiqued on style, but both National Journal’s Jill Lawrence and the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus argue that style does matter. 

*** On gun violence and what do about it: After yesterday’s shooting, the day-after political conversation turns to gun violence. And it was something that Chief Medical Officer Dr. Janis Orlowski, of the Washington Hospital Center, touched on eloquently during her press briefing yesterday. “There's something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work to try and eradicate… There's something wrong here when we have these multiple shootings, these multiple injuries, there's something wrong… I'd like you to put my trauma center out of business.” But that inevitably raises the question: How do you legislate that trauma center out of business? Yes, mass shootings are on the rise in the past year -- Aurora, Wisconsin, Newtown, and now DC. But in this case, the shooter legally purchased his shotgun in Virginia and then took the other weapons from the police. So what do you do?

*** Obama to GOP: Start focusing on the economy and the middle class: For those who missed Obama’s economic speech yesterday -- because it DID get lost in the tragic DC shootings – it lays out his game plan for the upcoming fiscal fights. “Republicans in Congress don’t seem to be focused on how to grow the economy and build the middle class. I say ‘at the moment’ because I’m still hoping that a light bulb goes off here,” he said. “So far, their budget ideas revolve primarily around even deeper cuts to education, even deeper cuts that would gut America's scientific research and development, even deeper cuts to America’s infrastructure investment -- our roads, our bridges, our schools, our energy grid.” Obama went on to say, “I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it can’t get 100 percent of what it wants. That’s never happened before. But that’s what’s happening right now. You have some Republicans in the House of Representatives who are promising to shut down the government at the end of this month if they can’t shut down the Affordable Care Act. And if that scheme doesn’t work, some have suggested they won’t pay the very bills that Congress has already run up… Those kinds of actions are the kinds of actions that we don’t need.”

*** WSJ editorial page to the Tea Party: Don’t be kamikazes -- because kamikaze missions don’t turn out that well for the pilots: Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal editorial page calls out the Republicans who are demanding to defund Obamacare in any legislation to keep the government open. “Kamikaze missions rarely turn out well, least of all for the pilots,” the Journal says. “The best option now is for the GOP to unite behind a budget strategy that can hold 218 votes, keeping the sequester pressure of discretionary spending cuts on Democrats to come to the table on entitlements.” But here is the problem for House Speaker John Boehner and the Republican establishment: When is the last time these Tea Party Republicans have listened to the WSJ editorial page -- the same page, by the way, that advocates for comprehensive immigration reform?

*** The best (and most) ambassadors money can buy? With President Obama holding a credentialing ceremony for ambassadors at 2:45 pm ET, it’s worth noting that President Obama has -- so far -- appointed more political appointees (many of whom are big-money donors) than his recent predecessors did, according to data from the American Foreign Service Association. Indeed, he might have the highest share of political appointees in at least the last 30 years, but the data on Reagan is not complete. But there is one important caveat here: The White House has yet to fill all of his ambassadorships, and that will likely bring down Obama’s political percentage. The White House also disputes that two of the appointees AFSA lists as political -- those serving in Cambodia and Paraguay.

Obama: 35.8%/64.2% political/career
W. Bush: 31.3%/68.7%
Clinton: 27.8%/72.2%
H.W.: 31.3%/68.7%
Carter: 26.7%/73.3%
Ford: 37-38.2%/60-61.9% (Note: There may be one person AFSA wasn’t sure how to classify for Ford)

*** Don’t forget about Hispanics: President Obama sits for an interview with Telemundo’s Jose Diaz Balart, and he will talk about immigration reform, which passed the Senate but is currently stalled in the House. The White House says the interview is embargoed until 6:30 pm ET. Obama won 71% of Hispanics in 2012, despite Republicans criticism that Obama didn’t deliver immigration reform as promised in his first term. The latest NBC/WSJ poll finds, like with most Americans, Hispanics view Obama less positively since winning reelection. In October 2012, 69% of Latinos said they viewed the president favorably. A year later, that number is down to 53%. His job approval with the group, however, has declined only slightly, from 66% in October to 60% now. There’s also a high margin of error when dealing with sub-groups, and our pollsters point out that Obama’s numbers with Hispanics, year-to-year, from 2010 to 2013 merged data, are remarkably stable. He had a 63%/24% fav/unfav in 2010 merged data, 63%/21% in 2012, and 63%/21% in 2013. His job approval was 60% with the group in 2010, 62% in 2012, and 63% in 2013.

*** Daley drops IL GOV bid: Here’s some breaking news from last night, per the Chicago Tribune: Former Obama White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley “abruptly ended his bid for the Democratic nomination for governor Monday, saying a lifetime in politics had not prepared him for the ‘enormity’ of his first run for office and the challenge of leading the state through difficult times. ‘One of the things I always thought in my career that I wanted to do, I thought I would be able to have that opportunity, I hoped, would be to run for office. And even though you're around it for a long time, you really don't get a sense of the enormity of it until you get into it,’ Daley told the Tribune.” This means that vulnerable Gov. Pat Quinn might not receive a primary challenge after all. Then again, the filing deadline is Dec. 2013. And Daley fired this shot at Quinn in his interview with the Tribune. “There's no doubt in my mind that Pat Quinn will not be the next governor of Illinois,” Daley said. “This governor is not that strong that somebody should fear running against him.” Is that Daley trying to recruit someone like Lisa Madigan back in the race?

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