3:30 p.m. ET: In Washington, bad news is traditionally dumped on Friday afternoons, particularly during the holiday season when everyone has better things than politics to think about. So, given that already this week the auto bailout stalled, the Rod Blagojevich scandal oozed into sight and the Yankees got the best free agent on the market, what worse events await us this afternoon? A tornado? The Apocalypse?
Actually, the news isn't all bad. At least, not for supporters of the auto bailout. After holding so firm for so long, the White House blinked almost immediately this morning, allowing that it might just be willing to tap into the existing $700 billion bailout pot to throw the car companies a lifeline. This could just end up being a perfect play for Senate Republicans, who get credit with their base for holding firm against a bailout without having to suffer the potential consequences that could emerge if one or more of the Big Three actually did fail on their watch.
As for Blagojevich, he's still governor as of this writing -- though Friday night does seem like the perfect time to quit, doesn't it? He may not have a choice in the matter before too long, as the state attorney general wants the Illinois supreme court to boot him from office, and Blagojevich's chief of staff has already resigned today. No substantive update from the Obama team today on anything Blago-related. Does Rahm Emanuel feel any pressure to speak up, especially since Drudge appears to be obsessed with him today? If Rahm does want to speak but can't decide when, he should remember what day it is.
8 a.m. ET: The 110th Congress came to an ignominious end late last night, as auto bailout talks collapsed in the Senate and both parties did what they've done for much of the past two years -- blame each other.
Harry Reid said Republicans are "are more interested in settling scores than solving problems." Mitch McConnell called the original deal crafted by Democrats and the White House "simply unacceptable" to his party. Bob Corker, an unexpectedly important player in the process, blamed the United Auto Workers for being unwilling to agree to a specific date for pay cuts. The union blamed Corker, and around and around it went.
Now, world stock markets are down, the dollar is falling, and the way forward is uncertain. Democrats and the Big Three still hope the Bush administration will relent and carve out some money for automakers from the existing financial/housing bailout fund, but GM is also reportedly considering whether to file for bankruptcy.
On a blissfully lighter note, John McCain was back on David Letterman last night joking about the man who brings everyone together -- Rod Blagojevich. (A side note: McCain voted against proceeding on the auto bailout yesterday. Does he now wish he'd done the same on the first bailout?)
On the Blagojevich front, there's more potential trouble for Senate Candidate 5 this morning, as it turns out allies of Jesse Jackson Jr. had a fundraiser for the governor just this past Saturday. Barack Obama is hoping to avoid any such trouble for himself, vowing to disclose soon all contact between his staff and Blagojevich (how much of that contact is on tape?).
And there's more semi-serious analysis this morning of whether Blagojevich is legitimately "wacko." McCain, for his part, suggested the governor is "a rare combination of both" stupid and nuts. And Pat Quinn, the man who would take over for the governor, wants the state Legislature to impeach him immediately.
December 12, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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