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The Rundown

4:45 p.m. ET: Did you think a whole day might go by without some new Michael Steele story? Fear not, because the RNC chairman seems to have enough controversial comments in him to fill weeks worth of blogs and newspapers.

This morning, we learned in Roll Call that Steele has redecorated his office at RNC headquarters (apparently it was "way too male") and has supposedly had a Bowflex machine put in (even though there some are lovely gyms a short distance away).

Now we have, courtesy of the Huffington Post, a lengthy account of an appearance Steele did on William Bennett's talk radio show back on March 6th. Really, you should just read the whole story or listen to the whole show. But if you don't have time, just know that Steele: 1) said Republican Senators who voted for the stimulus should face primary challenges; 2) said "you better get ready, strap it on" because the "political Armageddon" is coming; 3) compared Rahm Emanuel to H.R. Haldeman; 4) referred to someone named "Roberto Mussolini"; 4) said the world is actually cooling, not warming, and added, "Greenland, which is now covered in ice, it was once called Greenland for a reason, right?"

8 a.m. ET: Like an aging rocker who misses the road, President Obama is getting the old campaign band back together for another big show, this one designed not to win the White House but to pass a paradigm-shifting, $3.6 trillion budget. That's the news this morning, with the Democratic National Committee ready to use its 13-million address email list to to mobilize supporters and flood Capitol Hill with phone calls. On the surface, this seems perfectly normal: The president is firing up his base to help get a legislative priority passed. But at whom is this campaign really aimed?

Remember, the annual budget votes in the House and Senate are almost invariably party-line affairs. It will be a surprise if more than a couple Republicans back the measure. (For comparison, last year's budget vote drew two Republican supporters in the Senate and zero in the House.) The White House can't possibly expect many in the GOP to back Obama's budget plan, so it seems that the real purpose of this campaign-style effort -- beyond stirring up grassroots enthusiasm -- is to bring worried, moderate Democrats on board. Blue Dog Democrats in the House are already saying they plan to try to scale down the spending in Obama's request, and some in the president's own party have expressed qualms about his plans on limiting tax deductions for charitable donations and for a carbon-trading system.

Those are the lawmakers who are most likely to be the target of incessant phone calls and emails from Obama campaign supporters urging them to get on board. So what we'll see in the coming weeks is a Democratic president using the Democratic National Committee to urge (pressure?) Democratic lawmakers to vote "aye." Should be an interesting dynamic to watch.

Republicans, meanwhile, will be dealing with their own internal divisions. The House GOP has pledged to formulate an alternative budget, one that will force the party to make a set of tough choices similar to those Democrats will have to make. Republicans' key goal is to stop the media from writing "party of no" stories. As Eric Cantor pointed out in his appearance on "Meet the Press," the GOP had an alternative stimulus plan but it got almost no coverage. Republicans will have to do better in the budget fight or risk the continued perception that they're just being critical, not constructive.

Also interesting to watch on Sunday -- Dick Cheney's lengthy interview on CNN. He reiterated his view that Scooter Libby had been "left hanging in the wind" and deserved a pardon, and he agreed with the statement that Obama "has made Americans less safe." Cheney also asserted that America did "accomplish what we set out to do" in Iraq, and that the Bush administration is not to blame for the "difficult" economic circumstances that Obama inherited. Sounds like Cheney made enough news to warrant writing not just one story but several.

What do Cheney and his successor, Vice President Biden, have in common? A taste for off-color language uttered in semi-public venues. Everyone remembers that back in 2004, Cheney said "f--- yourself" to Patrick Leahy on the Senate floor, as Democrats were in the midst of accusing the VP of influencing the awarding of lucrative government contracts to Halliburton. Now Biden -- always so cautious with his words -- has had his own incident of adult language, though in a much friendlier context. At an event Friday at Union Station to promote Amtrak funding, an old congressional friend of Biden greeted him as "Mr. Vice President" and Biden, always humble, responded, "Gimme a f---ing break."

Now you can get Political Browser updates on Twitter. Just head over to postbrowser and click "follow."

By Ben Pershing  |  March 16, 2009; 4:54 PM ET
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OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):


Will the national press corps start doing some serious reporting on this...

...or at least ask Robert Gibbs about Sy Hersh's contention that U.S. government "black ops" against American citizens are still ongoing?

Is such authority still vested in the VP's office? If not, when was such authority rescinded, and by whom?

That is a question that needs answering.


And John King: How could you NOT ask Cheney about this?

A true sin of omission that cannot be dismissed as inadvertent.

Was there a "deal" struck?

What would Wolf Blitzer have done?

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 16, 2009 11:01 AM

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