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« Obama to Congress: 'Show Me Your Ideas' | Blog Home Page | Bush: "Not My Nature" to Avoid Tough Decisions »

Strategy Memo: Skin in the game

Good morning, Washington. Obama really seemed to be making this town his home this weekend, touring the Lincoln Memorial with his family and stopping by Ben's Chili Bowl. He also told ABC's Stephanopoulos that he hopes to bridge the two Washingtons, the "company town" tied to the levers of government and those who he said struggled each day to get by.

Meanwhile, an Obama stand-in was sworn in as president yesterday.

Today, Obama meets with Mexico President Felipe Calderon. Pres. Bush will hold a press conference at 9:15 am, likely his final one in office. Both 43 and 44 will "tag team" Congress to request the final $350 billion in TARP funds. Team Obama plans to would "sell the plan by laying out a series of changes in how the program is run," AP reports.

On "This Week," Obama said that for a long-term economic fix, all Americans will have to sacrifice. "Everybody is going to have to give. Everybody is going to have to have some skin in the game," Obama said.

He also said he won't close Gitmo in the first 100 days, and wouldn't likely seek to prosecute abuses in the Bush administration. "My instinct is for us to focus on how do we make sure that moving forward we are doing the right thing. That doesn't mean that if somebody has blatantly broken the law, that they are above the law. But my orientation's going to be to move forward."

Chuck Todd noted on NBC this morning that today was supposed to be the day a stimulus bill landed on Capitol Hill. Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, has news that the death tax will live on, with lawmakers seeking to freeze it at current levels rather than letting it expire.

David Broder had harsh words for the president-elect this weekend, focusing on his reversal on the Burris matter and some of the brushback pitches fellow Democrats have thrown. The venerable reporter writes: "Obama justifiably figured that Burris was not worth a knockdown fight when he has so many bigger battles ahead of him. But the lesson that other politicians have drawn is that Obama may not always be able to count on his congressional allies and they may not be able to count on him. That is not the way he wanted to begin."

Chicago Tribune: "Some clashes could be the inevitable stumbles of a new relationship. Others may reflect contending visions of how to do business, involving basic differences between the Obama viewpoint and what the president-elect refers to as the Washington 'way.'"

Yes, Lincoln seems to be a focus for the president-elect, but the New York Times reports today that it's FDR who Obama is modeling his first 100 days over. Obama "in particular had seized on the notion of Roosevelt having a "conversation with the American public" to try to prepare it for a difficult time. He has, aides said, even looked at the words Roosevelt used and the tone he struck."

Jake Tapper posts a rough translation of the interview Barack and Michelle Obama did in 1996, before he was even a state senator. It was a conversation about their marriage, but he also discusses his potential interest in politics. "My priority is to return social values to public debate, because we are all one big family, transcending racial or class differences. We have obligations and responsibilities towards one another." He says, "perhaps that's where the private and public spheres meet, when it comes to couples, relationships, families or tribes. What's important is empathy, an understanding of shared responsibilities, the ability to put yourself in other people's shoes.

John McCain will be honored at a pre-inaugural dinner, as will Biden and Colin Powell.

Fox had some interesting nuggets from an interview from both Presidents Bush. The current president talked abut pressure from his own party to soften on Iraq. "I didn't -- I didn't compromise that principle for the sake of trying to, you know, bail out my political party, for example."

No coverage of the Golden Globes here, but the New York Times looks at how Hollywood is clamoring to be part of the inauguration. Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and Sharon Stone are among the celebs who coughed up $50,000 to the inaugural committee, earning them four tickets.

VP-elect Joe Biden's overseas trip continued this weekend with a "surprise visit" to Afghanistan, specifically a Taliban stronghold. According to a statement from NATO, Biden will end his trip with a visit to Iraq. His son, Beau, is currently deployed there.

Politico has some insight on Hillary Clinton's preparations for her confirmation hearing tomorrow. She's "intent on downplaying old disagreements with Barack Obama and parrying questions about her husband's overseas entanglements, aides say." An aide: This is the re-emergence of the non-political Hillary. The most discomfort is where she and Obama disagree -- the 'you're naive' stuff. She can't show up the president, she can't appear like she's trying to formulate her own foreign policy."

Sen. Dick Durbin said Sunday that Roland Burris could finally be seated this week. Senate Democrats spent a half hour considering the matter on Sunday, leaving Obama economic adviser Larry Summers "cooling his heels" in the halls.

Howard Kurtz writes that the White House press corps lacks diversity. On Saturday, Adam Nagourney wrote about the RNC chairmanship race and the potential choice by party members of a black leader. "There certainly is an advantage of a credible message of inclusion if you have a minority as chairman," said Florida GOP chair Jim Greer, who endorsed Michael Steele last week.

Cleveland Plain Dealer reports on the retirement of Sen. George Voinovich, and lists some potential candidates for the 2010 open-seat race. Democratic speculation includes Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and Rep. Tim Ryan. On the Republican side, former Reps. Rob Portman and John Kasich, as well as Auditor Mary Taylor. Taylor is currently the only Republican statewide officeholder; Democrats won both the governor's office and the other U.S. Senate seat in 2006. This fall, Democrats also took control of the state House of Representatives.

In case there was any doubt, Joe Scarborough does not want to be Florida's next Senator. "I'll let Chris Matthews be the only MSNBC person focused on the Senate," he said.

Meanwhile, Caroline Kennedy finally had her interview with Gov. David Paterson for the Senate appointment. "Insiders expected Paterson would likely ask why she thinks she's right for the job, about her poorly-received rollout and whether she is prepared to run statewide in 2010 and then again in 2012."

Interesting tidbit: the National Conference on State Legislatures can't find many state officials who've been impeached.