From NBC's Mark Murray
In an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, President Obama strongly defended his Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor. But he also said that she could have "restated" her controversial sentence from 2001, in which she suggested that a Latina woman could reach a better conclusion than a white male.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: This is the quote, "I would hope that a wise Latino woman, with the richens of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." It-- it's your judgment-- perhaps, having talked to the judge, that-- as we say, that's one of those she'd rather have back if she had it to redo?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I'm sure she would have restated it. But if you look in the entire sweep of the essay that she wrote, what's clear is that she was simply saying that her life experiences will give her information about the struggles and hardships that people are going through -- that will make her a good judge.
And, you know, she was pointing out, in that same essay, that it was nine white males who passed down Brown vs. Board of Education, which is probably responsible for me sitting here. So that's hardly the kind of statement that would indicate that she subscribes to identity politics.
In fact, what she really subscribes to is the exact opposite -- which is the sense that all of us have life experiences and struggles. And part of the job of a justice on the Supreme Court, or any judge, is to be able to stand in somebody else's shoes, to be able to, you know, understand that-- the nature of the case, and how it has an impact on people's ordinary day to day lives.
And so her, as a Latino woman part of her job is gonna be to listen to the farmer in Iowa. And, you know, if he's upset about a farm regulation. And be able to understand how hard it is to farm. And what that means. And to be able to incorporate that into her decision making.
It means that she has an understanding of what a corporate CEO might be thinking. And she had those experience as well. Having worked as a corporate litigator. That breadth of experience, that knowledge of how the world works, is part of what we want for a justice who's gonna be effective. And I think that when she's appearing before the Senate committee, in her confirmation process, I think all this nonsense that is being spewed out will be revealed for what it is.
From NBC's Pete Williams
An analysis of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's most recent appeals court decisions shows that nearly every time, she voted AGAINST people who were claiming illegal discrimination, according to a lawyer who appears frequently before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The analysis, done by DC lawyer Tom Goldstein for his legal website SCOTUSblog, looked at her court's 50 most recent cases involving the issue of race. He found that the three-judge panels on which she participated upheld claims of discrimination only three times. In 45 other cases, the discrimination claims were rejected. Each time, the judges -- including her -- were unanimous. And the three panels that upheld discrimination claims included at least one Republican-appointed judge.
Two other cases were decided on technical procedural grounds.
"It seems to me that these numbers decisively disprove the claim that she decides cases with any sort of racial bias," Goldstein says.
From NBC's Chuck Todd
Just now at the press briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that Judge Sonia Sotomayor used a "poor" choice of words in 2001, when she suggested a Latina would reach a better conclusion than a white male.
Asked how he knew she would say she chose her words poorly, Gibbs simply said that he's talked to people who have talked to her. He would not elaborate.
But clearly, we should expect Sotomayor to -- at some point -- say this herself, perhaps to members of the Senate next week and later at her confirmation hearing.
From NBC's Mark Murray
While conservative writers like Charles Krauthammer and Peggy Noonan are urging Republicans to refrain from personally attacking Sonia Sotomayor, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is continuing to criticize the Supreme Court nominee on the issues of race and gender.
According to Time.com, Gingrich has penned a fundraising email for the group Renewing American Leadership, in which he calls for Sotomayor to withdraw her nomination.
"Can you imagine if the President of the United States nominated a judge to the U.S. Supreme Court who said this: 'My experience as a white man will make me a better judge than a Latina woman would be,'" he asks in the email. "Or could you imagine if that same judge ruled from the bench to deny 18 African-American firefighters a promotion just because of their skin color?"
"That judge would be called a bigot -- and in my judgment, rightly so! Would there be any doubt that he would be FORCED to WITHDRAW his nomination for the Supreme Court?"
Gingrich continues, "Judge Sonia Sotomayor has proven, by her own admission, that she is such a judge. Knowing this, President Obama should withdraw her nomination to the Supreme Court. Consider what Judge Sotomayor said about how her being a Latina woman will affect her decisions as a judge: 'I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.'"
"You read that right -- Judge Sotomayor said that her experience as a person of a particular sex and ethnic background will make her a better judge than a person of another sex and a different ethnic background! When did that view become acceptable?"
Below is the entire email from Gingrich...
From the Desk of Newt Gingrich
"I have a dream: that my four little children will one day live
in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their
skin, but by the content of their character."
- Dr. Martin Luther King
Can you imagine if the President of the United States nominated a judge to the U.S. Supreme Court who said this:
"My experience as a white man will make me a better judge than a Latina woman would be."
Or could you imagine if that same judge ruled from the bench to deny 18 African-American firefighters a promotion just because of their skin color?
That judge would be called a bigot -- and in my judgment, rightly so! Would there be any doubt that he would be FORCED to WITHDRAW his nomination for the Supreme Court?
There are only two options for how we govern ourselves - by laws, or by the will of those in power. The rule of law represents objective, dispassionate knowable standards that are applied and enforced equally to all citizens regardless of their background.
The will of those in power represents subjective, fleeting standards that are never fully known by any and are applied purely to satisfy the wishes of a small, concentrated group in power.
True justice is blind. It does not consider one's religion, wealth, race or in this case sex, family origin and ethnicity. To do so would be unjust.
To put someone on our nation's highest court who believes these traits should be considered in cases before the court, would be wrong.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor has proven, by her own admission, that she is such a judge. Knowing this, President Obama should withdraw her nomination to the Supreme Court.
Consider what Judge Sotomayor said about how her being a Latina woman will affect her decisions as a judge:
"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
You read that right -- Judge Sotomayor said that her experience as a person of a particular sex and ethnic background will make her a better judge than a person of another sex and a different ethnic background!
When did that view become acceptable?
If Civil War, suffrage, and Civil Rights are to mean anything, we cannot accept that conclusion. It is simply un-American. There is no room on the bench of the United States Supreme Court for this worldview.
The checks and balances between the three branches of government are designed to prevent any small faction of society from exerting undue influence over the rest of us. If President Obama will not withdraw his nomination, then the Senate has a duty to ensure that judges with who hold these beliefs are not confirmed to serve on the Supreme Court.
SEND BLAST FAXES TO EVERY U.S.
SENATOR, DEMANDING THEY REJECT
JUDICIAL ACTIVISTS LIKE SONIA SOTOMAYOR!
The United States is a nation of immigrants from many backgrounds and their contributions have made our country great but that was made possible because our nation was built upon a solid foundation of law and order. The rule of law should be non-negotiable. It cannot be subordinated to ethnic or racial biases. To do so would be to make our Constitution arbitrary and meaningless undermining the very foundations of our society.
The rule of law is a crucial safeguard for the preservation of freedom.
As our civic and public leaders from many backgrounds have proven, America should continue to stand as a land of equality of opportunity, NOT equality of outcomes. Cases brought before the U.S. Supreme Court should be judged on the merits of the arguments rigorously tested against the United States Constitution. They should NOT be judged based on the racial and ethnic preferences of the judges making the decision!
Unfortunately, that's exactly what we'll get if Sonia Sotomayor is confirmed to the Supreme Court -- a judge who will interpret the law based on her ethnic background, rather than based on the LAW. In fact, she has gone even further to say, "Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences... our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging."
These are actual quotes from Judge Sotomayor, spoken at a symposium sponsored by the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal in October 2001. And as if that wasn't enough to prove her ethnic-based (and gender-based) bias on the bench, that's not all she said:
"I further accept that our experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions... enough people of color in enough cases, will make a difference in the process of judging."
Remember, this is the same woman who, when speaking at Duke Law School, made it clear that she believes it is a judge's role to "legislate from the bench": responding to a question on the pros and cons of different types of judicial clerkships, she stated that the court "is where policy is made!" She tried to correct her slip, by joking that "I know this is on tape and I should never say that, because we don't 'make law,' I know, I know." But, she already made herself clear: She believes JUDGES MAKE LAW!
She is wrong. Lawmakers make law NOT judges.
Words mean things and her words give her away. No amount of explaining or spin can change what she truly believes and if she is confirmed she will bring those beliefs to the Supreme Court.
And that wasn't just one little "slip" -- in a 1996 article she co-wrote for the Suffolk University Law Review, she said, "Our society would be strait-jacketed were not the courts, with the able assistance of the lawyers, constantly overhauling the law and adapting it to the realities of ever-changing social, industrial and political conditions."
It gets worse: According the American Bar Association, Sotomayor is a member of La Raza ("the Race"). The National Council of La Raza was the group that was willing to compromise our national security by promoting driver's licenses for illegal aliens, amnesty programs, and no immigration law enforcement by local and state police.
The U.S. Supreme Court is no place for these kinds of judicial philosophies -- we need to STOP this nomination from going any further before it is too late!
SEND BLAST FAXES TO EVERY U.S.
SENATOR, DEMANDING THEY REJECT
JUDICIAL ACTIVISTS LIKE SONIA SOTOMAYOR!
Of course, no one believes that any judge can be 100% impartial and unbiased in every situation. Judges are human beings, and will occasionally allow their personal biases to cloud their attempts at impartiality.
But this is VERY different -- this judge is making it CLEAR that she thinks she SHOULD be biased and partial, based on her ethnicity and gender!
As noted this week in The Hill, "these statements raise concerns about whether Sotomayor, who was raised under modest circumstances in the Bronx, would serve as a neutral arbiter in a case pitting a wealthy white male against a less wealthy man or woman of color."
To understand the judicial temperament Judge Sotomayer would bring to the Supreme Court, just look at one of her most controversial decisions -- Ricci v. DeStefano. Sotomayor approved of the city of New Haven's racial quota system and its decision to deny 18 firefighters their earned promotions -- based on their skin color. This even provoked her own colleague, Judge Jose Cabranes (a fellow Clinton appointee) to object to the issued opinion that contained "no reference whatsoever to the constitutional issues at the core of this case!"
When judges make decisions based not on the application of law but on their personal biases about an issue at hand, the independence and authority of the judiciary is compromised.
Concerns about Sotomayor's activist view of the law grew so great that, despite the fact that President George H.W. Bush appointed her to the district court in 1991, 29 United States Senators voted against her nomination to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998.
THIS time... she shouldn't even get a vote, and should be withdrawn from consideration. It's just not right -- every American should expect that their sons and daughters from every background can rise by applying the work ethic under equal protection under the law.
Your background should NEVER impact the application of law under the U.S. Constitution. It should not be a consideration by the judge or an expected consideration by the judged. Decisions made by the highest court in the land should be made on the basis of what is right and wrong -- not who is right and who is wrong!
When politicians, judges, or law enforcement officials choose to exercise their own judgment in lieu of what the citizens have decided in a Representative Republic, the very idea of self-government is eroded.
We must not be blinded by the allure of "good intentions". We cannot defend our liberties by ignoring the system that allows for the protection of those liberties in the first place. The rule of law is the means by which a free people protect their liberty in a society of equals.
Barack Obama has made a poor choice by sending Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the U.S. Senate. If he does not correct his mistake, American who care about justice, must take action -- let the Senate know that you OPPOSE this nomination. And we've got a GREAT way to do that!
We've set up a website where you can send "blast faxes" to EVERY SINGLE MEMBER OF THE SENATE, telling them to REJECT Sotomayor's nomination as the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice! For less that what it would cost you to gather every fax number and send all those faxes yourself, you can send SCORES of faxes, ALL AT ONCE to Capitol Hill -- to make SURE they hear your voice!
BUT... we have to act QUICKLY! Sotomayor's nomination will be debated very soon in the Senate Judiciary Committee! SEND YOUR FAXES NOW!
SEND BLAST FAXES TO EVERY U.S.
SENATOR, DEMANDING THEY REJECT
JUDICIAL ACTIVISTS LIKE SONIA SOTOMAYOR!
Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House
Renewing American Leadership
P.S. The Obama White House is already attacking me for pointing out the obvious: that Judge Sonia Sotomayor is unfit to serve on the Supreme Court. When he was specifically asked at the daily briefing to respond to my statements, spokesman Robert Gibbs gave a very ominous warning to anyone who dares to challenge this nomination:
"I think it is probably important for anyone involved in this debate to be exceedingly careful with the way in which they've decided to describe different aspects of this impending confirmation."
Well, I am not going to back down and neither should you. I see the damage that this nomination could do to our Constitution... and our country. We MUST stop Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court -- or any OTHER nomination that threatens the Republic. Justice demands it!
SEND BLAST FAXES TO EVERY U.S.
SENATOR, DEMANDING THEY REJECT
JUDICIAL ACTIVISTS LIKE SONIA SOTOMAYOR!
We need YOUR help to take this fight to Capitol Hill. Please consider supporting Renewing American Leadership with a generous donation today. $25, $50, or $100 will dramatically help us stand strong for the Rule of Law in America!
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From NBC's Alicia Jennings
At his daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor will go up to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for meetings with Sens. Harry Reid (D), Pat Leahy (D), and Jeff Sessions (R). He also said the White House hopes she will meet with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R), but are working through scheduling issues.
"We are hopeful other visits can be scheduled for that Tuesday and throughout the week," Gibbs said.
Her questionnaire will go up to the Senate "at some point next week."
From NBC's Pete Williams
When Sonia Sotomayor was in her final year at Yale law school, she pulled a gutsy move by filing a complaint against a law firm that was interviewing her for a job. She forfeited any chance of working at that firm, but ended up getting an apology.
After a Yale student-faculty hearing determined that one of the firm's lawyers asked her discriminatory questions, the firm said his actions were "insensitive and regrettable."
All of this arose after a dinner in October 1978 at which the lawyer met with Sotomayor and other Yale students. The tribunal concluded that he asked her, "Do law firms do a disservice by hiring minority students who the firms know do not have the necessary credentials and will then fire in three to four years?"
It also found that he asked if Sotomayor would have been admitted to the law school if she were not Puerto Rican, and whether she was "culturally deprived."
The day after the dinner, Sotomayor challenged the lawyer at her formal job interview. According to news accounts at the time, he said he didn't mean any harm and invited her to the firm's headquarters for another interview. Instead, she filed a formal complaint.
The issue galvanized the Yale campus. The student-faculty tribunal refused to accept the firm's first letter of apology, deeming it insufficient. The second letter was accepted, and the firm was allowed to continue recruiting at Yale.
The firm was then known as Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge. It recently merged and is now Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman.
The incident was the subject of a report on Dec. 16, 1978 in the Washington Post and was brought back to light today by the Los Angeles Times.
From NBC's Savannah Guthrie
Another conservative -- joining Charles Krauthammer and Peggy Noonan -- appears to be calling for an end to the incendiary rhetoric on race and intellect surrounding Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. This morning, Wendy Long, counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network and a former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, posted an item on National Review Online urging that the debate focus on her judicial philosophy.
"Somehow, this important debate is turning into an argument about race and identity politics," Long wrote. "Many of us in the conservative movement believe that Judge Sotomayor is intelligent, and that, at least on paper, she has professional qualifications that are certainly sufficient for occupying a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court."
Nevertheless, Long continues to believe Sotomayor's judicial philosophy is "very troubling" and that her comments in 2001, in which Sotomayor stated that a Latina woman may reach a wiser judicial decision than a white male, are fair ground for debate. Long also cites Sotomayor's 2005 comment that appellate courts "make policy" as cause for alarm.
Of course, Long herself was one of the early voices raising the race issue. On the day of the Sotomayor announcement, Long told NBC's Pete Williams, "Imagine if a white man said, 'I think a white man would make a better decision than a Latina or a black woman.' We would justifiably be completely outraged. And I think the outrage should be completely the same when it's coming from her side."
From NBC's Mark Murray
There's another national poll with favorable numbers for Sonia Sotomayor.
By a 54%-24% margin, American voters approve of President Obama's Sotomayor pick, according to Quinnipiac University's survey; 22% say they're undecided.
Democratic voters approve of her, 81%-3%; independent voters approve of her, 50%-26%; and Republicans approve of her, 26%-46%.
Also, women approve of her, 59%-18%, while men approve of her, 48%-31%.
From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro
*** Conservative vs. conservative: After Rush, Newt, and Tancredo called Sonia Sotomayor a racist, a bigot, and an "angry woman," Charles Krauthammer today fires off this warning to his fellow conservatives: stop the personal attacks. "What should a principled conservative do? Use the upcoming hearings not to deny her the seat, but to illuminate her views. No magazine gossip from anonymous court clerks. No 'temperament' insinuations. Nothing ad hominem. The argument should be elevated, respectful and entirely about judicial philosophy." In today's Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan offers similar advice. Republicans, she says, should act like grown-ups. The Krauthammer/Noonan message to Republicans is this: fight Sotomayor respectfully and then confirm her. Of course, that advice is easier said than done. Just asking, but did Rush really hurt himself among Republicans and conservatives this week? John Cornyn -- nobody's liberal Republican in the Senate -- seemed to very coherently send a message to the unelected conservatives when he also chimed in and said the tone wasn't helpful. Could this week actually help the GOP if it means it gets the elected establishment to unite against the unelected leaders? Or will this week divide the party even further? It may be in Rush's court now.
*** A successful rollout so far: Given this conservative divide over Sotomayor, could this week have gone any better for the Obama White House? Yesterday, we couldn't find a single elected Republican serving in Washington issuing any press release on Sotomayor. (Sure, Pat Roberts went on the record against her, but he's not the household name that should fire up the troops.) Instead, all of their focus was on debating the Obama stimulus package. (That stimulus debate is one the White House wants, and yet we'd argue they were better off that it was overshadowed by Sotomayor. The reason: The economic numbers don't look good, and the White House doesn't easily have anything to point to -- yet -- when it comes to the stimulus package and whether it's definitely helped soften the economic blows many are still feeling. But we digress...) The Sotomayor pick has just devastated the Republicans, split them worse than anything so far the Obama White House has done.
*** Obama's day: At 10:55 am ET from the White House, Obama delivers remarks on cyber security and announces the creation of a "cyber czar" to protect the nation's computer networks. Then, at 2:30 pm, he attends a hurricane preparedness meeting at FEMA. But this relatively slow Friday appears to be the quiet before the storm that's brewing for this summer. Indeed, consider all that will be happening in the coming weeks. Obama's Cairo speech and Europe trip. The Sotomayor confirmation hearings. The battle over health care. The fight over the energy bill. And those are just the things we already know about…
*** Two questions on health care: Speaking of health care, Obama told his supporters over the phone yesterday that it's now or never on the issue. "If we don't get it done this year, we're not going to get it done," he said. That is a HUGE drop of the gauntlet. There are two big policy debates about health care right now: Will the reform offer a public insurance option? And how will you pay for it? On the first question, liberal MoveOn is airing radio ads targeting Sens. Kent Conrad, Maria Cantwell, Bill Nelson, Tom Carper, Olympia Snowe, and Ron Wyden that urges them to support a public option. And on the second question, the Wall Street Journal's editorial page issues this reminder at Democrats who may be thinking about taxing employer-based health care benefits to finance reform: "Last year liberals mauled John McCain for daring to touch the employer-based exclusion to finance more coverage for the individually uninsured. He was proposing 'a multitrillion-dollar tax hike -- the largest middle-class tax hike in history,' said Barack Obama, whose TV ads were brutal." Meanwhile, don't miss the leak of Sen. Ted Kennedy's health-care reform outline (apparently based a lot on the Massachusetts model, mandate everyone to have it etc.). Senate watchers will want to know, are Kennedy and Senate Finance Cmte Chair Max Baucus working together yet or not?
*** Gitmo politics: Here's another issue that the Obama White House will have to be working on this summer: what to do about those Gitmo detainees. The Washington Post reports that European leaders are saying that if the U.S. won't take Gitmo prisoners, then they won't either. "Rising opposition in the U.S. Congress to allowing Guantanamo prisoners on American soil has not gone over well in Europe. Officials from countries that previously indicated they were willing to accept inmates now say it may be politically impossible for them to do so if the United States does not reciprocate… Interior ministers from the 27-member European Union are pressing the Obama administration to agree to a joint declaration that would commit the United States to accept some prisoners, something Congress has been highly reluctant to do." Isn't this the argument some Republicans have been making on GITMO -- that no amount of kind words in Europe will help change their minds?
*** Bush speaks: The former president did an impromptu Q&A last night after a speech in Michigan, and he spoke about the interrogation debate. Despite some speculation to the contrary, Bush ended up, sort of, siding with Cheney. Then again, he couches things to a point that it seems as if he's defending his policy AT THAT MOMENT IN TIME, and then leaves himself some wiggle room for how he changed the policy later. "I made the decision within the law to keep the American people safe," the 43rd president told a large crowd in Benton Harbor, according to WSBT TV. "The information we gained saved lives. And, as for Saddam Hussein--the world is better without that man in power." But Bush also made clear, "Nothing I'm saying is meant to criticize my successor. I wish him all the best." Meanwhile, Bush and Bill Clinton today appear together in Canada.
*** Elsewhere today: Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaks at the National Press Club; HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan speaks to the National Association of Homebuilders; First Lady Michelle Obama visits an elementary school in DC; and Howard Dean announces the publication of his new book on health-care reform, "Howard Dean's Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform."
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We know this sounds cynical, but we're sure leads like this make the White House smile. The Washington Post: "The White House scrambled yesterday to assuage worries from liberal groups about Judge Sonia Sotomayor's scant record on abortion rights, delivering strong but vague assurances that the Supreme Court nominee agrees with President Obama's belief in constitutional protections for a woman's right to the procedure. Facing concerns about the issue from supporters rather than detractors, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama did not ask Sotomayor specifically about abortion rights during their interview. But Gibbs indicated that the White House is nonetheless sure she agrees with the constitutional underpinnings of Roe v. Wade."
"'In their discussions, they talked about the theory of constitutional interpretation, generally, including her views on unenumerated rights in the Constitution and the theory of settled law,' Gibbs said. 'He left very comfortable with her interpretation of the Constitution being similar to that of his.'"
CBN's David Brody translates: "[Gibbs] pretty much said that the President and Sotomayor see eye to eye on judicial philosophy and how they view the Constitution. Umm, 'nuff said right? If you're a liberal, you have to be feeling more confident after that answer. If you're a pro-life conservative, you're more worried."
"Sotomayor on Wednesday began her outreach to the Senate, speaking by phone with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and that panel's ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)," Roll Call says. "White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs noted that Sotomayor would do much of the preconfirmation Senate outreach herself. Gibbs also said the White House would not establish a 'war room' for the nomination, saying, 'I think to have a war room denotes that we think there's some coming war, and we don't believe that.'"
In his latest National Journal column, Charlie Cook writes, "Watching conservatives work themselves into a lather on cable TV over Sonia Sotomayor is amusing. Supreme Court nominees are almost always confirmed, particularly if the president's party has a decisive majority in the Senate. Plus, Sotomayor is a liberal who would replace a liberal, David Souter. This seems to make little difference to the noisemakers. Although Sotomayor might well end up somewhat more liberal than Souter on certain issues, we are talking about gradations, not any significant shift in the Court's balance. All of this is a ritualistic Kabuki dance, a rehearsal for the no-holds-barred brawl we can expect if one of the four conservatives on the Court retires while Barack Obama is president."
The AP on the risks for both sides when framing the debate about Sonia Sotomayor: "Discussions about Sotomayor and her ethnicity, gender and tax bracket carry risks for supporters and detractors. Inartful criticism by Republicans risks offending voters they'd like to win. Democrats, likewise, need to be cautious about how they conduct the debate in a nation uncomfortable talking about matters of race and gender."
Charles Krauthammer and Peggy Noonan aren't the only conservatives urging Republicans to stop the personal attacks on Sotomayor. Writes Michael Gerson: "Some traps should be avoided completely -- and there is a case for avoiding this one. The Constitution gives the president a decisive role in the nomination process. He deserves broad deference to his judicial choices. Sotomayor's story is inspiring; she is experienced and qualified. She has demonstrated a capacity to fairly apply the law -- for example, in upholding the rights of abortion protesters. And, for goodness' sake, she ended the baseball strike in 1995. Barring unforeseen ethical revelations, opposition to Sotomayor seems both politically risky and ultimately futile. Yet Republicans must still enter the trap -- with open eyes and no expectation of gain -- not to defeat a nominee but to maintain a principle."
But some are still trying to push the idea that Sotomayor has temperament issues. "Lawyers who have argued cases before Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor call her 'nasty,' 'angry' and a 'terror on the bench,' according to the current Almanac of the Federal Judiciary -- a kind of Zagat's guide to federal judges." More: "Judge Sotomayor's demeanor on the bench will be one of the issues the Senate Judiciary Committee tackles when she appears for her confirmation hearing. A lack of a good temperament has been used as a line of attack against nominees in the past - most notably conservative Judge Robert H. Bork, whose nomination to the Supreme Court was defeated. But several lawyers and legal scholars on a call organized by the White House said the criticism is misplaced and that Judge Sotomayor's legal acumen is overwhelming. "
"Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the second-ranking Senate Republican and a member of the Judiciary Committee, predicts that the Senate will not hold a final vote on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor until early September," The Hill reports. "The prediction is a shot across the bow to President Obama and Senate Democrats who hoped to confirm Sotomayor before the August recess, which is to begin the second week of that month."
RealClearPolitics Mike Memoli reports that the White House won't have a traditional "sherpa" for Sotomayor. "But the decision by the White House not to call on an such a 'gray beard' has added yet another ripple to President Obama's historic nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor. It has tasked Stephanie Cutter, who spearheaded Democratic opposition to President Bush's nominees, with a lead role in the effort. But the traditional sherpa duties have now been divided among other White House aides, including Ron Klain, chief of staff to the Vice President and a former Judiciary Committee aide. The administration is also having Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) serve as the chief escort for the 'courtesy calls' Sotomayor will soon hold with other members of the Senate."
Mitt Romney talked about Sotomayor yesterday in DC, per NBC's Abby Livingston. "I think some of the things that [Sotomayor] has said in the past are troubling, but I think she deserves a full and fair and thorough hearing before a final decision is made. I think our process should be a civil one. And we should show respect to her and this process by carrying out that kind of an evaluation. And we'll see what proceeds as time goes on."
"President Barack Obama will announce on Friday the creation of a 'cyber czar' position, stepping up his administration's efforts to better protect the nation's computer networks," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The cybersecurity chief will report to both the National Security Council and the National Economic Council, a compromise resulting from a fierce White House turf battle over the responsibilities and powers of the new office." More: "Mr. Obama won't announce on Friday the person who will fill the new job. That isn't expected for at least a few more days."
It's now or never on health care, Obama said yesterday, per the AP. "President Barack Obama warned Thursday that if Congress doesn't deliver health care legislation by the end of the year the opportunity will be lost, a plea to political supporters to pressure lawmakers to act. 'If we don't get it done this year, we're not going to get it done,' Obama told supporters by phone as he flew home on Air Force One from a West Coast fundraising trip."
The Boston Globe front-pages, "Obama tells Israel to halt expansion." The paper adds, "But hours before the two men met, the Israeli government flatly rejected the demand. Spokesman Mark Regev said that "normal life in those communities must be allowed to continue," including some construction. The exchange has set the stage for one of Obama's toughest foreign policy challenges. As he prepares to fly to the Middle East next week to give a speech on his policy toward the region and US-Muslim relations, it seemed clear yesterday that his administration is willing to risk prickly relations with one of the closest US allies -- and possible anger from some Jewish voters -- to try to create a Palestinian state."
The AP called it Obama "deepening his involvement in the quest for a difficult peace." Asking for concessions from both sides: "Obama pushed Palestinians for progress, too, including a direct call for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to reduce anti-Israeli sentiment in schools and mosques." The AP gets Abbas' reaction: "Abbas told The Associated Press after the session with Obama that no meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were on the horizon. Abbas said he is meeting his commitments under the road map and that Israel should do the same."
With the president today attending a hurricane preparedness meeting at FEMA, the group SmarterSafer.org is urging Obama to make mitigation the centerpiece of federal efforts managing hurricane and disaster preparedness. "For decades, federal policies have incentivized construction in hurricane-prone, environmentally sensitive areas," the group says in a press release. "It's time to update these policies to emphasize smart mitigation measures that protect the environment, put Americans to work and make current coastal residents safer."
CONGRESS: Kennedy vs. Baucus?
Are we starting to see a split among Senate Dems on health care? We're guessing Max Baucus wasn't too happy to see this story in today's Washington Post -- namely that Ted Kennedy is circulating the outlines of his own plan. Will Kennedy and Baucus merge efforts?
Meanwhile, "Senate Democrats have set forth an ambitious plan to begin marking up healthcare reform legislation by mid-June. A copy of a schedule for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee obtained by The Hill has the panel starting its markup of the healthcare reform bill on June 16. Six days are scheduled for the markup, which the committee hopes to complete on June 25."
CONNECTICUT: Chris Dodd is hitting the airwaves, Chris Cillizza reports. "Embattled Sen. Chris Dodd is on television with the first ad of his 2010 reelection race, a commercial featuring President Obama touting the work the Connecticut Democrat did to pass a measure placing strictures on credit card companies. An image of Obama signing the bill at the White House is shown (with Dodd standing in the background) as the president says: "I want to give a special shout-out to Chris Dodd who has been a relentless fighter to get this done." The ad seeks to remind Connecticut Democrats of two things: Dodd is one of them (hence the heavy featuring of the popular president) and that he gets things done for the state. Such early advertising by Dodd is a recognition that his image in the state has taken a number of serious hits and he is in a very tough fight for reelection next November."
KENTUCKY: "Kentucky Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo (D) leads his main primary rival by double digits in an early poll conducted by the Democrat's Senate campaign," The Hill's Wilson reports. "Mongiardo, who came within a whisker of pulling off a stunning upset over Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) in 2004, leads Attorney General Jack Conway (D) by a 43 percent to 28 percent margin. Twenty-nine percent of registered Democrats remain undecided."
VIRGINIA: Ralph Nader returns! Per the Washington Post, "Former presidential candidate Ralph Nader went public Thursday with an allegation that Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe offered his campaign money to stay off the ballot in key states during the 2004 elections -- a disclosure timed to raise questions about McAuliffe's fitness for public office."
Also: "Responding to a mailer sent out by McAuliffe's campaign, Moran campaign manager Andrew Roos said in a statement that 'the last place we would go for a public service lesson is a Wall Street insider.' 'For decades, Mr. McAuliffe traded access for money, ensuring that big companies -- not people -- were in control, all the while pocketing millions through his proximity to power,' Roos said. 'Brian Moran will take no lectures on ethics from the booking agent of the Lincoln Bedroom and the architect of the Business Leadership Forum.'"
And the Washington Post profiles Creigh Deeds.
With Father's Day around the corner, MSNBC's Carlos Watson, writing at The Stimulist.com, breaks down what he sees as the top 10 most powerful political daughters -- five with the most promise and five with the most influence.
5. Jenna Bush
4. Robin Carnahan
3. Liz Cheney
2. Meghan McCain
1. Sasha and Malia Obama
5. Maria Shriver
4. Indira Gandhi
3. Kathleen Sebelius
2. Nancy Kassebaum
1. Nancy Pelosi
From NBC's Carl Sears
An extremely valuable letter by Abraham Lincoln dated November 14, 1863 -- missing from public records for maybe 100 years -- has been donated today by a private collector to the National Archives.
The brief note on Executive Mansion letterhead in the President's handwriting signed "A.Lincoln" was sent to Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase. It was written five days before Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, providing insight into the president's regard for a personal friend and his interest in West Coast politics even in the midst of the Civil War.
National Archivists discovered the Lincoln letter being sold online in 2006. It originally had been torn or fallen from an 1880 bound volume of government correspondence to the Treasury Department. There is no evidence that the letter was ever stolen, and how it went missing remains a mystery.
When contacted by Archivists, the letter's owner, Lawrence Cutler, a private collector in Tempe, Arizona decided to donate it during the bicentennial of Lincoln's birthday. Cutler would not disclose what he paid for the letter at auction three years ago, but said a similar Lincoln letter sold for $78,000.
Lincoln's note concerns the misfortunes of Robert Stevens, the son-in-law of Lincoln's old friend, Oregon Sen. Edward Baker. Baker, a fellow Republican, died in battle in 1861. That year, Lincoln had appointed Stevens to a patronage job as head of the U.S. Mint in San Francisco. However, in April, 1863 Treasury Secretary Chase fired Stevens based on an investigative report listing six charges against Stevens:
1) the hiring of bad men
2) partiality as to the wages of clerks and laborers
3) encouragement of insubordination and contempt for authority
4) "Sponges and Barnacles" on the payroll
5) purchase of inferior supplies at exorbitant rates
6) being arrogant and discourteous to his managers.
Stevens protested his firing, finally resorting to writing to President Lincoln. While Lincoln was not willing to override Chase's decision, he did feel that Stevens deserved to see the charges againt him, and that prompted the President to write this newly returned letter:
Hon. Sec. of Treasury
My Dear Sir,
Mr. Stevens, late Superintendent of the Mint at San Francisco, asks to have a copy, or be permitted to examine, and take extracts, of the evidence upon which he was removed. Please oblige him in one way or the other.
Yours truly, A.Lincoln
From NBC's Mark Murray and Harry Enten
Gallup appears to be the first polling outfit to survey Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, and it finds -- so far -- that her numbers compare favorably to the successful Roberts and Alito nominations.
According to the poll, 47% rate Sotomayor as an "excellent" or "good" pick, versus 33% who say she's "fair" or "poor."
By comparison, in November 2005, 43% rated Samuel Alito excellent or good, and 39% said he was fair or poor. For John Roberts, in July 2005, 51% said he was excellent/good, versus 34% who said he fair/poor.
As for Harriet Miers, who withdrew her nomination, Gallup had her at 44% excellent/good, and 41% fair/poor.
One other thing worth noting in the poll: Females have a much more positive opinion of Sotomayor than males do: 54% of females rate her excellent/good, versus 42% of males who said that.
From NBC's Mark Murray
During last year's presidential campaign, Barack Obama's decision not to visit the military medical facility at Landstuhl in Germany became a point of controversy, with the McCain campaign and Republicans arguing that Obama didn't want to visit the troops there. Indeed, the McCain camp aired a TV ad saying that Obama "made time to go to the gym, but canceled a visit with wounded troops."
At the time, the Obama campaign responded that, because his European travel was a campaign trip, the Pentagon wouldn't permit him to visit the facility -- although the Pentagon said he could have visited the troops while in his capacity as a U.S. senator, but without his campaign military advisers. The campaign also pointed out that Obama visited troops while in Kuwait and Iraq.
Well, per the White House, President Obama is going to visit Landstuhl on June 5 when he goes abroad next week.
Here's the press release:
The President will visit wounded warriors and their families at Landstuhl Regional Medical Facility in Germany on June 5, 2009. Landstuhl supports our service men and women stationed in Europe, and serves a leading and vital role in the care and recovery of personnel medically evacuated from Afghanistan, Iraq, and other forward-deployed posts within the U.S. European Command, Central Command and Africa Command areas of responsibility.
From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
Three of President Obama's top fundraisers are getting plum jobs as United States ambassadors.
Among the 12 ambassadors named last night by the White House, three -- Charles Rivkin, Louis Susman and John Roos -- were so-called "bundlers" for candidate Obama.
Rivkin (named ambassador to France) and Roos (named ambassador to Japan) both raised $500,000 or more for Obama, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Susman (named ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) raised between $100,000 and $200,000 for Obama's campaign.
Top campaign fundraisers have long gotten these plum posts in past administrations -- Democratic and Republican alike. And then-President-elect Obama, in a Jan. 9 press conference, said, "There probably will be some" ambassadors chosen who were top donors. "It would be disingenuous for me to suggest that there are not going to be some excellent public servants but who haven't come through the ranks of the civil service," Obama added.
Several administration officials, including Valerie Jarrett, Greg Craig, Eric Holder and Tina Tchen, for example, were also Obama bundlers.
From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro
*** Much ado about nothing? Is it bad news for the Obama White House that abortion-rights groups are suddenly worried about Sonia Sotomayor's record (or lack thereof) on abortion? Or it is it actually good news, given that it could deflect a lot of the conservative criticism against her nomination? Here's the front-page headline in today's New York Times: "On Sotomayor, Some Abortion Rights Backers Are Uneasy." The L.A. Times has a similar headline: "Abortion Rights Groups Concerned About Sotomayor's Stance." Honestly, this news is a gift for Team Obama. Let's get this straight: So the president didn't impose a litmus test on abortion? Is that a problem? Also, would a constitutional scholar like Obama not be able to discern someone's opinion on the ultimate contentious issue before the court? Of course, there's always the potential that a Supreme Court pick, once on the court, could end up voting in unpredictable ways (see David Souter, the man Sotomayor would replace). But also do realize that this stated unease could actually be a potential straw-man argument to help pro-choice groups raise money. After all, interest groups on both the left and right use Supreme Court fights as a fundraising tool. And abortion-rights groups may have found a peg, even if it's much ado about nothing.
*** How not to help your Latino and female outreach: After Senate Republicans took a measured wait-and-see approach to Sonia Sotomayor's nomination after it was announced, we're guessing that these same folks aren't enjoying seeing Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, and Tom Tancredo leading the charge against her. In the past couple of days, these three men -- in one form or another -- called Sotomayor a racist, and Limbaugh added yesterday that she's an "angry woman." Just sayin', but these statements probably aren't what the doctor ordered as the GOP tries to improve its performance with Hispanic and female voters. There's no doubt that some of Sotomayor's opinions (like the one regarding the New Haven firefighters) and past speeches (on the "wise Latina woman") are controversial and warrant scrutiny during the confirmation hearings. But with all signs pointing to the fact that she will be confirmed, is this kind of talk helpful to the GOP?
*** From Hollywood to the Middle East: Last night in Los Angeles, Obama raised some $3 to $4 million for the DNC. In attendance, per the L.A. Times, were some of the biggest names in Hollywood: Seth Rogin, Marisa Tomei, Kiefer Sutherland, Jamie Foxx, Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, and Tyler Perry. At 10:35 am ET, Obama leaves the West Coast, arriving back at the White House at 3:15 pm. Forty-five minutes later, he meets in the Oval Office (closed press) with Palestinian President Abbas. And then, at 4:45 pm, he holds an expanded meeting (pool spray) with the Palestinian leader.
*** California's woes: Speaking of Obama's stop in Los Angeles yesterday, the White House has found itself on the defensive over whether his California visit showed enough compassion for the state's fiscal woes. In fact, the state's financial problems are so bad that Treasury Secretary Geithner was asked at a recent congressional hearing whether he thought he could use the same money set aside to bail out the banks and car companies to bail out California. The White House knows there are no easy answers for California, and they fear that if they go out of their way to bail out -- or even show extra compassion for the nation's largest state -- 49 other states will be looking for their attention.
*** Sestak to challenge Specter? One other person who was in attendance at last night's fundraiser with Obama was brand-new Democrat Arlen Specter. Yet on the very same day, fellow Pennsylvania Democrat Joe Sestak said on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" that he's intending to primary Specter, "pending a final family decision" that could come in the "not too distant future." A new Quinnipiac poll shows Specter ahead of Sestak, 50%-21%. The poll also shows Specter leading Pat Toomey (R) in a general election match-up by nine points (46%-37%), which is down from Specter's 20-point lead (53%-33%) earlier this month.
Video: Rep. Joe Sestak joins "The Ed Show" to discuss whether he will run against Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., in the Pennsylvania primary.
*** Jersey boys: As we and others have observed, the Republican Party is undergoing an important debate that might not be resolved anytime soon: Does it aim for the political middle, or does it remain planted firmly on the right? Is being a moderate a virtue, or a curse? And what is more desirable, winning races or ideological purity? This GOP fight is occurring across the country -- in Florida, where Charlie Crist squares off against Marco Rubio; in Texas, where Kay Bailey Hutchison is running against Rick Perry; and in New Jersey, where the moderate Chris Christie faces off in a gubernatorial primary against the more conservative Steve Lonegan this coming Tuesday. Recent polls show Christie with a comfortable lead. But the Cook Political Report's Jennifer Duffy says Lonegan still has a shot. "Lonegan is praying for rain," she said. "The lower the turnout, the better he does. I still think it's hard. But to his credit, he has made this more of a race than it ought to be." The question for many observers: After Tuesday's outcome, will Republicans find themselves in a stronger position to challenge the very vulnerable Jon Corzine? Or a weaker one? Then again, a recent Quinnipiac poll showed Corzine trailing both Christie and Lonegan. For what it's worth, Mitt Romney this morning endorsed Christie.
Countdown to NJ GOP primary: 5 days
Countdown to VA Dem primary: 12 days
Countdown to Election Day 2009: 159 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 523 days
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The New York Times front-pages that "some abortion rights advocates are quietly expressing unease that Judge Sotomayor may not be a reliable vote to uphold Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 abortion rights decision. In a letter, Nancy Keenan, president of Naral Pro-Choice America, urged supporters to press senators to demand that Judge Sotomayor reveal her views on privacy rights before any confirmation vote."
Video: TODAY's Matt Lauer talks to David Gregory, moderator of "Meet the Press," about the confirmation process lying ahead for President Obama's first Supreme Court pick, Sonia Sotomayor, and what her views may be on abortion rights.
"Because Judge Sotomayor is the choice of a president who supports abortion rights at a time when Democrats hold a substantial majority in the Senate, both sides in the debate have tended to assume she could be counted on to preserve the Roe decision… Presidents have miscalculated in their assumptions about the abortion views of Supreme Court nominees before. When the first President Bush nominated David H. Souter in 1990 to fill the seat that Judge Sotomayor would assume if confirmed, Mr. Souter was known as a 'stealth nominee' with no paper trail on abortion."
The Washington Post also chimes in: "Several interest groups called on the Senate to try to discern Sotomayor's views on a woman's right to have an abortion vs. the government's right to restrict the procedure. 'I don't know what her position is on the core constitutional protections of Roe v. Wade,' said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, adding: 'I will be nervous if the Senate doesn't get answers to the question.'"
Meanwhile, Sotomayor makes the cover of the latest issue of Time magazine, with the headline: "Latina Justice: Will Sonia Sotomayor Change the Court?"
Legendary New York prosecutor Robert Morgenthau jumps to Sotomayor's defense in a New York Daily News op-ed, which the White House is circulating. The headline: "Those labeling Sonia Sotomayor a radical don't know her at all." He writes, "I have known Judge Sotomayor for decades, and I know how absurd these charges are. I doubt that anyone will be fooled by them, but let me state for the record my views on her nomination." More from Morgenthau: "Assistant District Attorney Sotomayor was no 'liberal.' Rather, she was a tough and effective prosecutor. Young prosecutors are sometimes picked on by judges and defense attorneys, but no one successfully pushed this ADA around. Within a short time she had come to the attention of trial division executives as someone who was a step ahead of her colleagues, one of the brightest, an immediate standout who was marked for rapid advancement."
The New York Times retraces the selection process Obama used to pick Sotomayor. "From the beginning, Mr. Obama had been focused on Judge Sotomayor… Over the course of the last four weeks, Mr. Obama nursed doubts about Judge Sotomayor and entertained alternatives, aides said. He called around, asking allies about her reputation for brusqueness. At times, he grew increasingly enamored of other candidates, particularly Judge Diane P. Wood, whom he knew from Chicago. But by the time Judge Sotomayor left the White House last Thursday after what Mr. Obama told aides was a 'dense discussion' of constitutional law, he was pretty much sold."
The Washington Post looks at Sotomayor's 1997 confirmation hearing. "She survived the hearing with a combination of assured self-defense and well-placed ingratiation, although she also avoided one line of questioning by saying she could not recall the case."
"When Sotomayor visits Capitol Hill on June 1, she will be escorted by Sen. Chuck Schumer, her designated shepherd -- a role he'll play throughout the confirmation process."
"White House officials have assembled a squad of distinguished legal experts to rebut charges that Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's Supreme Court pick, is an intellectual lightweight who puts her political views ahead of the law," The Hill writes.
President Obama meets today with Palestinian Authority's Abbas. "The two leaders will talk one-on-one in the Oval Office before being joined by aides," the AP says. "After, the president will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then with senior advisers in the Oval Office."
"Top Palestinian officials traveling with President Mahmoud Abbas said he was working to repackage a 2002 Saudi Arabian plan that called for exchange of Arab land occupied by Israel in the 1967 war for normalized relations with Arab countries," the AP adds. "Obama's meeting with Abbas is the third of four key sessions the administration had planned as the president tries to reinvigorate the push for Middle East peace, an accord that has eluded American leaders, the Israelis and their Arab neighbors for more than a half-century."
Obama's National Security Adviser James Jones downplayed the North Korean threat in a speech yesterday. He said it WASN'T an "imminent threat." "Nothing that the North Koreans did surprised us," Jones said, per The Hill. "We knew that they were going to do this, they said so, so no reason not to believe them."
Secretary Clinton welcomed back to the U.S. Roxana Saberi, the journalist held in Iran.
The AP covers Obama's fundraiser in Los Angeles last night, where the president "defended his Supreme Court pick and painted an upbeat vision of the economy… 'It's safe to say we have stepped back from the brink, that there is some calm that didn't exist before,' Obama told donors and celebrities at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. He said the stimulus bill that Congress passed three months ago is starting to improve the economy.
Politico points out that Obama compared himself to FDR during his remarks. "I would put these first four months up against any prior administration since FDR," Obama said. "We didn't ask for the challenges that we face, but we don't shrink from them either."
He was also greeted by gay-rights protestors, who urged that he abolish the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. "During the protest, the crowd chanted, 'Out of the court, into the streets, we are ready to fight, we won't be beat,'" The Los Angeles Times writes. "It was a reference to Tuesday's state Supreme Court decision to uphold Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage."
MSNBC anchor Carlos Watson, writing on TheStimulist.com, argues though that the Prop. 8 decision actually "will hasten national acceptance of gay marriage… Progressive Californians, embarrassed by falling behind states like Iowa and Maine, will no doubt challenge [Tuesday's] decision at the ballot box in 2010. And next year no one -- from Ellen Degeneres to the least-known supporter of gay marriage -- will take victory for granted."
Obama named several plum ambassadorships yesterday. "For the plum London appointment, Obama turned to Louis Susman, a retired vice chairman of Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking," the AP writes. "A former Salomon Brothers employee, he won a commission appointment from President Ronald Reagan and was a director for the St. Louis Cardinals for more than a decade. He also has raised hundreds of millions in campaign donations for Democrats."
The Boston Globe writes, "As the House Energy and Commerce Committee prepared to pass a landmark climate change bill earlier this month, committee leaders received a glowing letter from an unexpected source: the chairman of Dow Chemical Co., one of the firms that would be forced to limit the amount of pollutants it emits and pay new fees for the privilege of polluting."
The paper adds that "such accolades are increasingly common from business leaders to Democratic congressional leaders, who are ushering in a new era of regulations on the environment, healthcare, and finance. Confronted by Democratic majorities, a Democratic president, and a voting public furious over Wall Street lapses, the business community, which once adamantly opposed almost all forms of government regulation and mandates, has opted to join rather than fight." (Also, check out the centerpiece photo. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was in Boston "to announce new tax credits aimed at creating jobs in low-income areas.")
The NRCC is running a TV ad hitting Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil for blocking an investigation into Speaker Nancy Pelosi's back-and-forth with the CIA.
Reuters looks at health care's chance at passage: "The Congress has started work on a broad overhaul of the healthcare system in a rare spirit of optimism, but brewing battles over its cost, scope and structure could still scuttle hopes for a solution."
"Government prosecutors suggested in federal court Wednesday that they have evidence ex-Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) took bribes in exchange for legislative activity, but said they did not charge him with that crime because his actions were protected by constitutional Speech or Debate privilege," Roll Call writes. "Prosecutors disclosed the information during debate over what Jefferson's defense team is allowed to raise during his criminal trial, which was rescheduled Wednesday and is now set to begin in Northern Virginia on June 9."