4:45 p.m. ET: So what's next for Roland Burris? Will he come up with yet another accounting of his dealings with Rod Blagojevich before he was appointed to the Senate? Will he resign? If he does, will there be a special election? If he doesn't, will he dare to run for the seat in 2010?
It may be, as Roger Simon suggests, that Burris is just upset "that the media no longer are in love with him." That could explain why the senator has been increasingly chippy as he tries to explain his way out of this mess. Regardless of what Burris plans to do, It's clear now what Jan Schakowsky thinks -- she put out a statement today saying, "Whether or not Senator Burris resigns, the best way to put credibility back into the process is through a special election." Dick Durbin, a key figure in whatever happens next, will say only that Burris' conflicting statements "raise questions." The amazing part, of course, is that Blagojevich is gone from office but is somehow still causing trouble after-the-fact.
8 a.m. ET: President Obama signed the economic stimulus bill into law yesterday, and now he can take his victory lap, enjoying a well-earned breather for a few days as he watches the measure take effect. Right?
Wrong. Actually, shepherding into law one of the biggest pieces of legislation in U.S. history may turn out to be among the easiest things Obama has to do in his first 100 days as president. On Tuesday alone, within hours of Obama's signing the stimulus bill:
• GM and Chrysler announced that they want billions more in federal aid, and that they plan to shed 50,000 jobs worldwide and shutter more than a dozen plants.
• The Dow fell nearly 300 points, while "the sharpness of the global slowdown has alarmed economists, who see no obvious engine for recovery."
• The polar ice caps melted completely, flooding every coastal city and creating apocalyptic super-storms. Okay, that didn't happen. But would you have been surprised?
Obama can at least take a few minutes to savor the stimulus win. As Andrew Malcolm smartly points out, the Denver signing ceremony was a victory of staging: Obama was in front of a simple backdrop, without the usual coterie of "Washington insiders" behind him. He was 1,700 miles away from Washington during a congressional recess, so there were no Republican naysayers nearby to rain on his parade in the press. And his administration released the Afghanistan news, without fanfare, right around the same time as the signing, guaranteeing the troop increase would not be the lead story anywhere.
Here's another subject that the president would probably prefer not to have on the front page anymore: Roland Burris. Obama's successor in the Senate had only a couple of quiet weeks in the chamber before bursting back into the news. Now he's in trouble for providing conflicting accounts (several of them) about conversations he had with good old Rod Blagojevich's brother. The Senate Ethics Committee has opened a preliminary inquiry into Burris, which doesn't necessarily mean much substantively but will likely increase pressure on the senator to either quit or at least declare that he won't run for the seat in 2010. In a roundabout way, Harry Reid seems likely to get exactly what he wanted -- a different candidate next year.
Things look even messier out in California, where GOP lawmakers in the state Legislature appear intent on doing their best impression of their fellow Republicans in Congress. The minority in the state Senate is holding firm against an emergency budget plan, just as Republicans in Washington stayed almost completely united against the stimulus bill. But the consequences are sharper in California, where the state is set to lay off thousands of workers if the Legislature doesn't approve a plan. Under the proposal, the state would increase taxes and cut spending, just as the national stimulus package is cutting taxes and increasing spending. Won't they just cancel each other out? Questions like that explain why Obama's job is only going to get harder.
February 18, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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