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By Ed O'Keefe

Highlights of Tuesday's Post Politics Hour live chat with The Eye:

Politics Hour

St. Paul, Minn.: Hi Ed -- Thanks for taking questions today. Another publication had an article yesterday talking about how the dismal jobs picture could be Obama's "Katrina." What do you think about that notion? Even though I support the president, I tend to agree...the public isn't really paying attention to health care or Afghanistan. Unemployment is the big issue, and it doesn't look like the administration is getting that, at least not right now.

Ed O'Keefe: This is why you saw President Obama speak for 8 minutes after Monday's Cabinet meeting mostly about jobs -- not health care or the Afghanistan plans. It's pretty clear to folks at the White House that it's all about jobs right now, which is why you see an urgency to get the Afghanistan decision made and health care passed by the State of the Union.

As for calling it Obama's "Katrina," that's a bit strong, at least for now.


New York: President Obama now has had 10 judicial appointments confirmed (vs. about 28 in GWB's first year in office). Do you think there will be a bunch of confirmations in December? (I noticed the most recent two Christina Reiss and Abdul Kallon, were confirmed by unanimous consent).

Ed O'Keefe:
They may push a few through before the Christmas break, but it depends on the status of health care. Just about everything else the Senate has to do will wait until health care is resolved.


Arlington, Va.:
You did nice work following the firing of the Americorps IG when it happened. Now, thanks to Sen. Grassley, we know that the IG was pursuing not just a fraud case against a prominent Obama supporter but also a sex scandal involving a sixteen-year-old girl. We also know that Michelle Rhee was questioned.

Will there be any repercussions?

Will the Post ever let this story see print? D.C. Wire: Report: Rhee spoke to feds on Johnson's behalf

Ed O'Keefe: My colleague Bill Turque wrote about this late last week and over the weekend. He covers the D.C. school system, so Rhee's mention in the report caught his attention.

I've so far passed on reporting on the new GOP investigation, because it makes explicit reference to some of my reporting. Better to stay out of it, at least for now.

Belfast, Maine: By Senate rules, does it still take 60 votes to stop a filibuster if several senators abstain?

Ed O'Keefe: Once again checking with the great Paul Kane, who says it takes three-fifths of those senators who are duly sworn in.

"So it didn't matter for cloture while Kennedy and Byrd were sick, it still took 60 votes," Kane said. "However, after the election, there were the extended vacancies of the Illinois and Minnesota seats, as well as a few-days-to-a-week-or-so vacancies for NY, DE, Colo.

"When there are only 99 senators sworn in, it still takes 60 votes. (Do the math; rounding error causes you to go up to 60.)

"When there are just 98 senators sworn in, it drops to 59 senators. There was 1 -- maybe 2 -- key cloture votes in January when the magic number was 59."


Washington, DC: I'm a federal worker (but not for the census) and we're all hearing that the KY census worker, who was suffering from cancer, tried to stage his own suicide as a murder in order to allow his son to collect both from his insurance policy and from the government ($10,000 payment from death in the line of duty). Sorry to disappoint the conspiracy crowd.

Ed O'Keefe: Yes -- there were two poorly sourced AP reports that suggested this earlier this month.

This report is waiting until he has it solidly confirmed with named sources, or from the authorities at their press conference later today.

Read Tuesday's full Post Politics Hour chat

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By Ed O'Keefe  | November 24, 2009; 1:00 PM ET
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