4:15 p.m. ET: By this point you may well be exhausted by all the coverage of Obama this and Obama that, and you might be hungry for an update on old whatsisname, the guy he beat, John McCain.
Well, McCain has been busy the last couple of days, as he returns to the Senate with a renewed sense of purpose and some fresh acticities to occupy his time. One will be earmark reform, a longtime crusade for the Arizonan. He's teaming up with his old campaign finance reform partner, Russ Feingold, to launch a new earmark reform effort that would further boost transparency and make it easier for the senate to strip out earmarks by raising points of order against them. With Obama himself talking up budget reform yesterday, perhaps the former foes can team up on this.
McCain has also been a busy bee on the political front. He's launching a new political action committee, Country First, which he reportedly tells supporters will be a "grassroots organization" designed to boost the party and a new generation of leaders. Speaking of which, who is McCain backing in the fight to be chairman of the Republican National Committee? If McCain had won the White House, the job would be his to fill. Now he's on the sidelines watching. But at least he's not sitting still.
8 a.m. ET: For a man who got elected on a message of hope, Barack Obama sure can be gloomy sometimes. His prediction yesterday of a budget deficit approacting $1 trillion this year and similar red ink "for years to come" likely won't inspire any more millions to crowd onto the Mall on Inauguration Day, nor will his stirring call for budget reform motivate many shoppers to plunk down $130 for an official Obama basketball jersey.
But Obama's dire prognostication will serve a political purpose, by helping to take the ballooning deficit off the table as a subject of concern during the coming debate over the stimulus package. His message Tuesday was threefold: 1) There is going to be a huge deficit in the short-term regardless of what we do; 2) It's not going to be Obama's fault; and 3) The only way to fix it is to pass his plan. Left unsaid was how such massive yearly deficits might hamper the new president's ability to get anything else done. Real entitlement reform seems almost like a mathematical impossibility in the near future. And what about Obama's potentially costly health care reform effort? Will Dr. Gupta be able to keep that patient alive?
Speaking of gloom, Dianne Feinstein now seems to make her fellow Democrats uncomfortable on a daily basis. On Monday, she almost single-handedly drove a negative storyline about the selection of Leon Panetta for CIA director. (A storyline that continues today, even after the requisite groveling by Obama and Joe Biden.) And yesterday, the Californian helped to back Harry Reid into a corner by suggesting the Senate should seat Roland Burris.
That "Reid backed into a corner" theme is prevalent today, as it looks increasingly clear that Senate Democrats will need to resolve this issue quickly, both for legal reasons and because the circus is muddling their message at the start of the session.
Will the Minnesota and New York senate openings also be filled soon? Norm Coleman went to court Tuesday to contest the election result that seemed to hand victory to Al Franken. Coleman said the state should "take the time" to get the race right, which might be amusing to the election workers and others who have been counting ballots for more than two months.
In New York, Andrew Cuomo leads Caroline Kennedy in a poll of voter preferences, and his allies are said to be working to slow the momentum behind her campaign to win the Senate appointment. With all these competing pressures, how will David Paterson make his choice? Maybe he should ask Feinstein what she thinks.
January 7, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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