Friday, November 17, 2006
CNN Political Ticker AM
For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day on the CNN Political Ticker. All politics, all the time.
Compiled by Stephen Bach
CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
"She experienced her first smackdown," says Dana Milbank in the Washington Post.
The majority leader vote "exposed deep fissures within the Democratic Caucus," reports Roll Call, and "what went on in [Thursday]'s balloting could continue to reverberate within the party."
Also on the Political Radar:
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
BAD TIMING FOR BUSH'S VIETNAM TRIP? In private, some White House officials concede it is spectacularly poor timing. Just as Lyndon B. Johnson did in 1968, Mr. Bush has ousted his longtime defense secretary and nominated a realist with "fresh eyes" to replace him. Just like President Johnson in 1968, he is conducting a broad rethinking of strategy, and is hearing options he does not like. His aides argue that the analogies between these wars are mostly false. The comparisons will nonetheless be the unavoidable subtext of Mr. Bush's every move as he travels in Hanoi and then stops in the city that in his youth was known as Saigon, and that became the scene of an American military debacle. And he will have to convince his allies, ordinary Americans, and perhaps himself, that Iraq will end differently. New York Times: On to Vietnam, Bush Hears Echoes of 1968 in Iraq 2006
WAR ON TERROR COULD BE MOST EXPENSIVE WAR SINCE WWII: The Bush administration is preparing its largest spending request yet for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a proposal that could make the conflict the most expensive since World War II. The Pentagon is considering $127 billion to $160 billion in requests from the armed services for the 2007 fiscal year, which began last month, several lawmakers and congressional staff members said. That's on top of $70 billion already approved for 2007. Since 2001, Congress has approved $502 billion for the war on terror, roughly two-thirds for Iraq. The latest request, due to reach the incoming Democratic-controlled Congress next spring, would make the war on terror more expensive than the Vietnam War. USA Today: Military may ask $127B for wars
BAKER GROUP MET WITH SYRIAN OFFICIALS: Former Secretary of State James Baker, co-chairman of the panel reviewing American policy in Iraq, met with Syrian officials to urge their cooperation in quelling the violent insurgency, Syria's envoy to the U.S. said. Syrian Ambassador Imad Moustapha said in an interview that he met twice in Washington with the 10-member Iraq Study Group, the first time on Aug. 3. The group met in September in New York with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and Moustapha, he said. His account of the meetings, which Baker's spokesman said was "generally right," suggests the Iraq panel will recommend that President George W. Bush reverse current policy and engage in talks with the leadership in Damascus. In the New York session, Moustapha said, Baker cited his 1991 trip to ask then- President Hafez al-Assad to contribute forces to the Persian Gulf War, recounting how he had told Assad to look past the "troubled history" between the U.S. and Syria. Bloomberg: Baker Met Syrian Envoys to Urge Cooperation Against Iraq Unrest
PELOSI'S "SMACKDOWN": At 10:30 yesterday morning, Nancy Pelosi was chosen by acclamation to become speaker of the House. Ninety minutes later, she experienced her first smackdown. Pelosi had only herself to blame for this briefest of honeymoons. Just five days after the Democrats' election victory, she shattered party unity Sunday by urging House Democrats to reject her longtime deputy, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), in favor of antiwar firebrand Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Abscam), who proceeded to brand House ethics reforms "total crap." Yesterday, rank-and-file Democrats told Pelosi her endorsement was total crap: They overwhelmingly chose Hoyer to be majority leader. Washington Post: Crowning Majority Leader, Democrats Are All Smiles and Bile
DIVISIONS AT LEADER VOTE "COULD CONTINUE TO REVERBERATE": A contentious fight for House Majority Leader that exposed deep fissures within the Democratic Caucus, ended Thursday morning in a victory for current Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who decisively defeated Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), 149-86. The Maryland lawmaker's win by more than 60 votes also marked a resounding loss for Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who publicly endorsed Murtha in the contest and, according to Democratic lawmakers, had actively lobbied rank-and-file Members on his behalf. Numerous Democrats who backed Murtha asserted Thursday that their side suffered dozens of defections during the closed-door session of the Democratic Caucus in which Members voted by secret ballot. And what went on in today's balloting could continue to reverberate within the party, Members and aides said. Roll Call: Hoyer Defeats Murtha; Vote Could Reverberate
BOEHNER, BLUNT LOOK GOOD FOR MINORITY LEADER, WHIP: House Republicans appear set to elevate two of their top leaders in internal party elections, despite unrest within the rank and file and spirited campaigns from conservative challengers. Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., both appear to be carrying comfortable leads into Friday's closed-door elections. They are the second- and third-ranking Republicans behind Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., but they are poised to step up since Hastert has opted to leave GOP leadership ranks now that the party has lost control of the House. AP via Yahoo! News: GOP set to elevate leadership team
McCAIN SAYS GOP HAS "ABANDONED" PRINCIPLES: Senator John McCain said Thursday that Republicans had lost the midterm elections because "we abandoned our principles" on fiscal policy and government restraint, inviting a backlash from Americans over what they saw as widespread hypocrisy. Mr. McCain - in back-to-back speeches delivered on the day he formally created his presidential exploratory committee - portrayed the election result as deserved punishment of Republicans for their performance in office, rather than an affirmation of the Democratic Party. Speaking to two conservative audiences still reeling from the Republicans' losses of the House and Senate, he said Republicans could recover from the election but only if they took lessons from the results. New York Times: McCain Tells Conservatives G.O.P.'s Defeat Was Payback for Losing 'Our Principles'
O'CONNOR RECOUNTS SPECIFIC THREAT TO SCOTUS: As a Supreme Court justice, Sandra Day O'Connor exasperated critics by balancing on a reed-thin beam without planting her feet firmly on either side. But in retirement, she doesn't equivocate in defense of judicial independence. She has crossed the country warning that "spurious" attacks on the judiciary -- by politicians and other talking heads -- threaten judges' doing their jobs without fear or favor. When federal appellate Judge Danny Boggs said at a Friday legal conference at Las Colinas that physical assaults aimed at judges have come mainly from "the deranged," O'Connor underscored the safety concerns. "Every member of the Supreme Court received a wonderful package of home-baked cookies, and I don't know why, the staff decided to analyze them," she recounted. "Each one contained enough poison to kill the entire membership of the court." Fort-Worth Star-Telegram: Sitting ducks on the bench
BUSH APPOINTS CONTROVERSIAL DOCTOR FOR FAMILY PLANNING POST: The Bush administration has appointed a new chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services who worked at a Christian pregnancy-counseling organization that regards the distribution of contraceptives as "demeaning to women." Eric Keroack, medical director for A Woman's Concern, a nonprofit group based in Dorchester, Mass., will become deputy assistant secretary for population affairs in the next two weeks, department spokeswoman Christina Pearson said yesterday. Keroack, an obstetrician-gynecologist, will advise Secretary Mike Leavitt on matters such as reproductive health and adolescent pregnancy. Washington Post: Bush Choice for Family-Planning Post Criticized
FLORIDA OPENS "FULL-FLEDGED" FOLEY INVESTIGATION: Mourning the death of his father, former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley has returned to Palm Beach County to find himself the focus of a state criminal investigation. During a preliminary inquiry, Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators found enough evidence to justify a full-fledged investigation into whether Foley broke any laws during his Internet exchanges with former congressional pages, agency spokeswoman Heather Smith said. "Our focus is on incidents which may have occurred in Florida with regard to inappropriate communications between Mr. Foley and former House pages," Smith said, although she couldn't say specifically what triggered the shift. State criminal investigations usually entail interviews with suspects and witnesses, subpoenas, reviews of documents and examination of seized property, Smith said. Palm Beach Post: State plans probe as Foley grieves for his father
STEELE NEVER OFFERED RNC POST: The Republican National Committee this week said it never offered Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele "a specific role" at the committee after his unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate. Many conservatives were surprised this week when, after reports that some leading Republicans favored Mr. Steele to succeed Ken Mehlman as chairman of the RNC, the White House leaked word to news agencies that President Bush would back Florida Sen. Mel Martinez for the top post at the committee. The Washington Times reported Nov. 10 that Mr. Mehlman would not seek a second two-year term as RNC chairman in January and that Mr. Steele had been offered a Cabinet or top RNC post in recognition of his hard-fought Senate campaign that ended in defeat on Nov. 7. Washington Times: RNC denies offering chairmanship to Steele
GIULIANI BUILDING THE FINANCIAL GROUNDWORK: Though he has yet to declare that he will run, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani is building a national network of donors who would raise money for a White House candidacy, according to the finance chairman of his New York State exploratory committee. Mr. Giuliani met at a Midtown restaurant on Wednesday with a group of about 30 supporters from around the country who discussed how they would organize fund-raising for a presidential run, said Roy W. Bailey, the finance chairman of the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Exploratory Committee Inc. "Their commitment is to go out and help us build as strong a finance organization as we can build," Mr. Bailey, a founding partner of Mr. Giuliani's consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, said yesterday. "They'll do that in their respective geographical areas." New York Times: Giuliani Building Network of Donors, a Backer Says
TX-22 SEAT WARMER WANTS ANSWERS ABOUT DELETED FILES: Just when it seemed things could get no stranger regarding the House seat once held by Texas Republican Tom DeLay, his successor called for an investigation into missing computer records last night, and an aide accused her of "disrespect and unprofessionalism." Rep. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (R-Tex.), who is warming the 22nd District seat for only a few weeks, said that former DeLay employees apparently deleted the office's computer files shortly before they walked out, en masse, on Tuesday. The records dated from her assumption of the office Nov. 8 and did not involve matters related to the former majority leader, Sekula-Gibbs said in an interview in her unadorned office in the Cannon Building. Those who erased the records, she said in a statement, "have harmed the 22nd congressional district" and "brought shame to this office." She has asked for an investigation. Washington Post: DeLay Successor Seeks Inquiry Into Missing Computer Files
LAW & ORDER TO BASE EPISODE ON PIRRO: Jeanine Pirro may have just lost an election - but she has won TV immortality on NBC's "Law & Order." An upcoming episode of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" will be based on the embattled former Westchester DA and her philandering hubby, Al - but fictionalized, of course. The episode, titled "Albatross" - which The Post once used as a headline about Al Pirro - is currently filming in Manhattan and is scheduled to air next year. In the episode, a very Pirro-like politician has her eyes on becoming the first female mayor of New York. But her husband, who's described as "very charming with a checkered past," throws a monkey wrench into her hopes when he's suspected of murdering his wife's mentor, a respected judge. New York Post: SCREEN JEANINE
EDWARDS STAFFER DROPS NAME FOR A PS3: A staffer for John Edwards tried to buy a PlayStation 3 for the former senator's family at a Raleigh Wal-Mart on the same day Edwards was criticizing the giant retailer's treatment of its employees, the company said Thursday. Wal-Mart said in a release from its Arkansas corporate headquarters that an unnamed staff person for Edwards, a likely presidential candidate, contacted a Wal-Mart electronics manager in Raleigh on Wednesday. The staffer was seeking to obtain the popular Sony computer game for a member of Edwards' family, the release said. The PlayStation 3, which goes on sale nationally this morning, has prompted so much attention that people across the country have been camping out for days at stores to be among the first in line. "While the rest of America's working families are waiting patiently in line, Senator Edwards wants to cut to the front," Wal-Mart said in the release. Raleigh News & Observer: Wal-Mart digs at Edwards
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