White House Cheat Sheet: Rumblings on the Left?
President Obama has enjoyed a honeymoon of epic proportions with the liberal base of the Democratic Party but that relationship is showing early signs of strain following his acknowledgment over the weekend that hundreds of millions more may need to be spent to bailout the financial community.
In an interview with the New York Times, Obama floated the idea that another $750 billion -- in addition to the $700 billion already allocated -- might be necessary to stabilize the faltering banks across the country.
That brought an almost immediate response from the liberal left, with a select group set to launch a series of online chats this week aimed at cutting off any more spending by Congress until every dollar is accounted for. Florida freshman Rep. Alan Grayson will kick off the chats later today.
Jane Hamsher, the founder of Firedoglake, the site on which the chats will be hosted, described the effort as "clearing the ground for what needs to be done" -- playing the bad cop to Obama's good cop.
"The legislation for [the economic] stimulus was written because [Maine Republican Sen. Susan] Collins and [Nebraska Democratic Sen. Ben] Nelson needed to be appeased," added Hamsher. "This frees Obama up."
A series of online chats does not make for a serious crack in Obama's solid base support. In fact, in the most recent Washington Post/ABC News survey, 90 percent of Democrats and 87 percent of liberals expressed approval for the job the president is doing -- well above Obama's overall score of 68 percent.
But, it does suggest that liberal left is increasingly willing to raise questions about the actions of the Democratic-controlled Congress and Obama himself.
The left -- particularly online -- came of age during the presidency of George W. Bush, defining itself and its mission in opposition to the Republican president. Now, it is faced with finding a place in a political world where Democrats control all the levers of power in Washington.
What's clear is that liberals will not simply lay down for Obama. They are clearly willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but only so much divergence from their core principles will be accepted. It's a fascinating storyline to watch over the coming weeks and months.
Obama on Education: Tackling yet another massive domestic policy concern, President Obama will deliver remarks on reforming the education system today at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's legislative conference in Washington, D.C. Asked about such an ambitious agenda, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs suggested the aggressiveness was part of Obama's pledge to make major change in the way the nation's capital works. "We can either decide, as Washington typically has, to kick the can down the road and hope that either the problem goes away or that somebody else will come and solve it, or we can address the challenges that ... face our country and undermine our long-term economic growth," said Gibbs.
Tuesday Must Reads: Tuesday is the new Friday. Or not.
1. Warren Buffett, "Squawk Box," and the peril of economic cliff metaphors.
2. Christianity on the retreat in America. (USA Today charts it.)
3. The Supreme Court rules that the Voting Rights Act doesn't apply to legislative districts with a minority population under 50 percent. HUGE implications for 2010 Census and subsequent redistricting battles.
4. The "Draft Sarah" movement begins in, of all places, Connecticut.
5. The New Yorker on Neko Case -- a Mrs. Fix favorite -- and her new album. (Buy it!)
2012 Like It's Tomorrow: Over the weekend, the influential Club For Growth held its winter conference in Palm Beach, Fla. -- a gathering that featured keynote speeches by two leading contenders for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. The Club sees fit to close these conferences to the press (BOOOO!) so you are limited to the group's blog for an official account of the proceedings. But, the unofficial reports (always more delicious) weren't kind to Romney. Ken Silverstein, writing on Harper's blog, quoted an attendee of the meeting who said Romney was defensive and ill-at-ease when asked about the health care plan passed in Massachusetts on his watch. "Mitt's efforts to be all things to all people continue to cause him problems," wrote the source. But, according to a Fix source in the room, that report was a bit overstated. "The Harpers' blurb was exaggerated," said the source. "[Romney] did receive a couple of tough questions about his Massachusetts health care mandate, but he handled them well." These early skirmishes never penetrate to the average voter but that doesn't mean they don't matter. How each candidate performs in early dog and pony shows builds (or destroys) buzz -- a critical asset over the next two years.
California Dreamin': New polling in the California governor's race confirms what we've long known: if Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) runs, she starts out as the clear favorite. A new Field poll showed Feinstein leading the Democratic primary field with 38 percent of the vote, more than double the support for either state Attorney General Jerry Brown (16 percent) or Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (16 percent) and triple the number who back San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (10 percent). In a sign of how meaningless statewide office (outside of governor or Senate) is in California, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi (D) takes just four percent. Without Feinstein in the race -- and smart operatives continue to believe she will ultimately not run -- it is much more wide open with Brown in the lead at 26 percent followed by Villaraigosa (22 percent) and Newsom (16 percent). It would seem that no one knows the Republican candidates, with a majority of voters (54 percent) calling themselves undecided.
Replacing Woodhouse: Filling the shoes of Brad Woodhouse, who left his position at the head of Americans United for Change, a liberal interest group, to take over as communications director of the Democratic National Committee, is a herculean task. Woodhouse is a mile-a-minute talker with a knack for media coverage; witness his "praise the Lord, pass the potato salad" subject line in a recent email to reporters (Who else would even think to do that?). But, Tom McMahon, the former executive director at the Democratic National Committee and a principal in New Partners, is willing to take on the burden -- signing up to serve as the acting head of AUFC while the search for a new leader goes on. "I'm honored to take on the challenge of shepherding what has become one of the most important progressive advocacy groups in the country," said McMahon of the move. Make no mistake: There is a HUGE behind the scenes scrap going on among a variety of liberal interest groups for control of AUFC -- the most proven outside interest group currently operating on the left.
Twitter Time: Our pledge drive toward 10,000 Twitter followers continues. We are nearing 8,000! Say you were there at the beginning...show up your friends! Sign up for "TheFix" and "TheHyperFix" today. Heck, someone won a free t-shirt yesterday.
Say What?: "I am not a public speaker...I am a private schemer." -- White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, a graduate of the Boise public schools, during a speech at the Frank Church Banquet in Idaho over the weekend.
March 10, 2009; 5:41 AM ET
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