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White House

 

« Is Obama A Socialist? He Says No | Blog Home Page | Obama Invokes Faith During Stem Cell Announcement »

Strategy Memo: Political Science

Happy Monday, Washington. Today is science day at the White House, headlined by President Obama signing an executive order and presidential memorandum on stem cell research and "scientific integrity." He'll speak from the East Room on the topics this morning, and later meet with finalists from the Intel Science Talent Search. Meanwhile, Vice President Biden is heading overseas to meet with NATO in Belgium. "The purpose of his trip is to consult with allies on Afghanistan and Pakistan and to ensure that their views help inform the strategic review ordered by President Obama," the White House says.

The Senate will pick up today where it left off last week, as Senate Democrats searched for one more vote to pass the omnibus appropriations bill. In the meantime, Republican amendments to the bill will be considered, and a temporary continuing resolution Congress passed Friday will keep the federal government running through Wednesday.

U.S. Trade Representative nominee Ron Kirk will testify in front of the Senate Finance Committee today, a week after the committee announced that Kirk owed -- and had agreed to pay -- nearly $10,000 in back taxes.

Some of today's headlines after the jump.

**President Obama
*Obama will also "issue a presidential memorandum aimed at insulating scientific decisions across the federal government from political influence," according to the Post. One official said the memorandum will ensure that "people who are appointed to federal positions in science have strong credentials and that the vetting process for evaluating scientific information doesn't lead to any undermining of the scientific opinion," he said.

*But officials "said the president would leave it to Congress to determine whether the long-standing legislative ban on federal financing for human embryo experiments should also be overturned," New York Times adds.

*Chris Cillizza: "Expect a series of statements today from leading contenders for the 2012 presidential nomination echoing Gingrich's sentiment as opposition to stem cell research is a stone-cold winner among conservatives who view it as a slippery slope in the abortion argument." Newt Gingrich was one of them, telling the Fix that his move was an "ideological sideshow." "It is dangerous for the Obama administration to pick a wide series of fights," said Gingrich. "Each of these fights simply drains energy away and increases the coalition which decides it has a collective interest in stopping everything."

*Last night, Obama made an unscheduled appearance at the Kennedy Center tribute to Sen. Ted Kennedy, and led the audience in singing happy birthday. Caroline Kennedy also presented the Profile in Courage Award to her uncle in one of her first public appearances after the New York Senate "campaign."

*New York Times' Jeff Zeleny writes about the unique role being played in the White House by David Axelrod, and shares this anecdote about a "Wednesday Night Meeting" he organizes each week. "'It helps clarify my thinking to talk to people who I have faith in,' Mr. Axelrod said, reluctantly describing the weekly meetings he had hoped to keep under wraps so he would not suddenly be overrun by requests from people hoping to dispense advice." More from the piece: "He also helps decide which fights to pick and which ones to avoid, making him a leading voice in setting the political tone in Washington. The recent back-and-forth with Rush Limbaugh, for example, was explicitly authorized by Mr. Axelrod, who told aides that it was not a moment to sit quietly after Mr. Limbaugh said he hoped that Mr. Obama would 'fail.'"

*Is the tech-savvy Obama team behind the ball? Lynn Sweet notes that the White House web site "is having trouble keeping up with a minimal level of transparency. The White House staff page has only six names. The nominations and appointments page needs updating to include everyone in the Obama White House. Gary Locke, Obama¹s choice for commerce secretary, is not even listed as an appointee, nor is the confirmation of Hilda Solis as labor secretary noted."

*Atty. Gen. Eric Holder was in Selma this weekend to commemorate the anniversary of the voting rights marches there. In the New York Times, meanwhile, his president was distancing himself from the "nation of cowards" remark. "We've made enormous progress and we shouldn't lose sight of that," Obama said.

*Wall Street Journal reports that when he visits Europe next month, Obama "will press world leaders to boost emergency government spending to lift the global economy, risking a rift with European nations more concerned with revamping financial regulation."

*Bloomberg reports that Obama, "who during his 2008 campaign talked about Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, is governing more like LBJ." "Obama's record is comparable to what Johnson, another Democrat, achieved in 1965 with his 'Great Society' programs. That agenda, the most ambitious since Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, included the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, and a national beautification program. ... For the most part, Obama has been sticking to his campaign pledges, which included ending the war in Iraq, cutting taxes for the middle class, broadening health care and achieving energy independence. Events have prompted him to adopt the other, potentially competing agenda that involves the deepest government intervention in the economy in 76 years."

**Congress
*The Senate will try to complete work on the stalled $410 billion spending bill this week, but not before Democrats are forced to navigate a series of politically charged Republican amendments...including a tricky one that would require lawmakers to vote affirmatively for any future Congressional pay raises -- always a treacherous vote," the New York Times reports.

*The Hill: "Senate Democratic leaders, facing withering criticism over earmarks in the omnibus spending bill, are promising more reform, but perhaps to little to satisfy critics in their own party."

*A different view from the Washington Times, which reports that Democrats have been put in a position where they are selling earmarks as a good thing.

**Campaign Stuff
*L.A. Times writes that Obama has provided a "bright spot" for Republicans amid "tough times': "By stocking his Cabinet with some of the Democrats' top political prospects, Obama has created a number of opportunities for Republicans ahead of the 2010 midterm elections."

*VA Gov candidate Bob McDonnell (R) is profiled by the Times-Dispatch's Tyler Whitley: "McDonnell sometimes was a thorn in Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's side. In February 2006 McDonnell issued an opinion that said Kaine overstepped his constitutional authority when he issued an executive order that outlawed bias against gay people in state hiring, employment and promotion. Kaine ignored the opinion and criticized McDonnell, saying the attorney general was favoring discrimination."

*Rep. Neil Abercrombie announced Sunday that he's running for governor in the Aloha State. The Democrat "said he wanted to bring Obama's message of hope and change to the Islands." A few other Democrats are considering bids; Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona is already in the race to succeed fellow Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.

*A CQ analysis found 34 Congressional districts that voted for Obama at the same time it sat a Republican in Congress, while another 49 leaned McCain but also voted for Democrats in the House.

*Adam Smith asks: "It seems an insane question to raise 604 days before Florida elects its next U.S. senator: Is Kendrick Meek already on the verge of walking away with the Democratic nomination? Voters are paying no attention, the field of candidates isn't set, and there's a long, long way to go. And yet it's hard not to take note of how busy Meek has been, tangibly picking up ground."

*IL Sen: "If he decides to run, Burris could find himself in a contentious primary with William Daley, the brother of the Chicago mayor and co-chairman of President Barack Obama's transition team, and Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a close friend of the president."

**They Said It Couldn't Be Done: Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine will sign into law today a smoking ban for the entire state. This will likely be the signature legislation of his one term as governor.

--Mike Memoli and Kyle Trygstad