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White House Cheat Sheet: Obama's Best Friend in the Senate?



Obama signs a series of executive orders yesterday. Photo by Charles Dharapak/AP

President Obama's executive order that ensures Guantanamo Bay prison will be shuttered within the year brought praise from many within the Democratic party who viewed the move as long overdue.

It also drew plaudits from a (somewhat) unlikely source: Arizona Sen. John McCain, Obama's rival for the presidency.

In a joint statement released by McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the duo called the order "an important step in the right direction" and added: "We look forward to working with the President and his administration on these issues."

The surprise was not in McCain's support for the closure of Gitmo -- he has been an outspoken voice on that subject -- but in the Arizona senator's decision to come out so publicly in support of Obama on day two of the new Administration.

The move suggests that McCain views himself as a bridge between the Democratic president and Republicans in Congress and a major player in the expected fights over passage of Obama's agenda.

"When there is agreement between the two, President Obama will have no greater ally," said John Weaver, a longtime political adviser to McCain. "The John McCain of today is the John McCain who could have made the [presidential] race closer. The country is in a mood to get things accomplished and problems solved and John has clearly embraced that spirit."

Obama seems thrilled at the prospect of McCain as an ally, lavishly praising him during a dinner on Monday thrown in honor of the Arizona senator. "Each of us has the responsibility to usher in a new season of cooperation," Obama said of his one-time foe.

McCain is the best known Republican in the country (aside from, perhaps, George W. Bush) and, as such, carries real weight in the national discussion. If he decides that his role is as a facilitator of major parts of Obama's agenda, it is a huge edge for the new president.

Sked Stuff: This afternoon President Obama tapes his weekly radio address -- his first since assuming the presidency on Tuesday (or was it Wednesday?). Since being elected last November, Obama has transformed these traditionally news-less addresses; not only are the addresses put on YouTube but the president also has made news several times in them. The goal is simple: the Obama team believes they can avoid the filter of the mainstream media and speak directly to the American public utilizing new technology. The strategy worked during the campaign but can it be replicated now that Obama is in the White House? (See the full schedule.)

News Nugget: Hildebrand-Tewes, the Democratic consulting firm that formed the backbone of Obama's field organization during his primary victory, is no more. Steve Hildebrand and Paul Tewes are going their separate ways; Hildebrand has already begun consulting on his own -- signing up as a client Rep. Kendrick Meek, who is running for the open Florida Senate seat. Tewes told The Fix he has made no decisions about his own future but made sure to note that the parting was on good terms: "I respect and admire Steve. He is one of the best. We had a great, great run." Cara Morris Stern, Ben Jones and Dave Hamrick -- the other partners in the firm -- are planning to go into business together but haven't decided what form that new venture will take.

Minnesota. Senate. 2008. (Still): While most people have moved on from the 2008 election, Minnesota is still trapped in the past. In advance of the official contest, which is expected to start Monday, Sen. Norm Coleman took to the Interweb to proclaim "I will win this election" despite his current 225-vote deficit to entertainer Al Franken (D). Meanwhile, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair John Cornyn (Texas) reiterated his pledge to filibuster any attempt to seat Franken before the election contest has run its course. Like everything in politics, this one is going to come down to the lawyers -- two in particular: Democrat Marc Elias and Republican Ben Ginsberg (who has some experience in recounts).

The Blackberry Stays: Our long national nightmare is over. Obama is keeping his blackberry. The news was confirmed at yesterday's press briefing by press secretary Robert Gibbs who said that Obama would use the devilishly addictive device (just ask Mrs. Fix) to "stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends." Research in Motion executives could be heard to let out a whoop of joy at the announcement. (We are kidding. Sort of.)

2012 Like It's Tomorrow: Think campaign politics is on hiatus? Um, no. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee sent out an email to his list late Thursday headlined "Help Overturn Roe v. Wade." The best way to do that, of course, is to send money to Huckabee's political action committee. Huckabee wasn't alone in highlighting the 36th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney praised those taking part in the "March for Life" in Washington; "I am honored to count myself as their friend and ally," Romney said. Iowa GOP caucus-goers, are you listening?

Say What?: "This decision was hers alone." -- New York Gov. David Paterson's office releases a statement on Caroline Kennedy's withdrawal from consideration for the Senate appointment -- a mere 24 hours after the news broke.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 23, 2009; 6:05 AM ET
Categories:  Cheat Sheet Share This:  E-Mail | Technorati | Del.icio.us | Digg | Stumble Previous: Wag the Blog Redux: The Geithner Dilemma
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Comments

"except, perhaps, George W. Bush"

Perhaps?

Posted by: Jindal2012 | January 24, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Where McCain and Obama agree with each other, it makes sense for them to cooperate to make sure that the agenda is implemented in a bipartisan way. I've also heard McCain criticize Obama in a number of areas since his inauguration, so Obama will clearly have to work for the votes of McCain and other Republicans. I think that this kind of selective bipartisan collaboration is good for the country.

Posted by: baigge | January 23, 2009 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.

Posted by: newbeeboy | January 23, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are his other GOP allies :)

Posted by: sgtpepper23 | January 23, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

"As those who want to march and send their money to Huckaby and Romney, please carry signs to stop the genecide and crimes against children both here and abroad. Maybe we should keep the "womans right to choose" until you can assure us that every life will be valued, otherwise you are playing God on choosing who should live and who should die."

I disagree with this. No one can actively support every cause. I don't think anyone should be setting some kind of hierarchy of issues of importance. I'm pro-choice, but if people want to rally against abortion, that's fine. We don't have a basis for expecting them to support other causes as well.

Posted by: DDAWD | January 23, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Yes McCain, the useful idiot, I mean friend. I liked his joke about how Sarah's wardrobe was pretty cheap compared to the BHO cornation party.

Posted by: leapin | January 23, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

On closing Gitmo: Who needs it. We imprisoned Timothy Mc V. What about that young guy who was arrested while serving with the teleban, pointing and shooting at our troops? wasn't he tried in our courts and given 20 years? He's probably out by now. What about Noriego who worked with Nixon in the war with Iran. He is supposed to be in jail in Miami. Didn't that big drug sale that supported the war kill a whole bunch of our youth and put another whole bunch in jail? What about the rest of the oppressive governments we established for American capitalist? Haiti, the philipians, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Africa. How many more? I do honor the right to life. we need to feed the children and care for the sick. As those who want to march and send their money to Huckaby and Romney, please carry signs to stop the genecide and crimes against children both here and abroad. Maybe we should keep the "womans right to choose" until you can assure us that every life will be valued, otherwise you are playing God on choosing who should live and who should die. If you are out there marching without caring for all life, maybe you better ask God what your purpose is.

Posted by: sm98yth | January 23, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who wants to know just how pervasive the NSA has become, google Poindexter's Total Information Awareness project and study up on what those stated objectives were before that program was shuffled to the bottom of the deck.

It was never "ended" as we were led to believe, I believe it's wholly-illegal process morphed into the NSA's spying program.

TIA was reaching for a virtual ear and eye on everyone, not just suspected terrorists, as Bush claimed the NSA wiretaps was limited to.

Go study what the TIA objectives were, and you will get an idea of just how far it has actually gone.

Poindexter's plan was never shelved, it turned covert and became the NSA program, and it is quite likely the scope of TIA was actually realized, which went well beyond what Bush and Cheney claim to have limited their program to.

I suspect TIA was fully implemented, and that they were not just listening to our enemies, they were also listening in on their political opponents, and everyday citizens, like you and me.

Especially some of the more vitriolic Patriot/Bloggers among us.

Posted by: JEP7 | January 23, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

"the Arizona senator's decision to come out so publicly in support of Obama on day two of the new Administration."

John McCain has completely redeemed himself in my mind with this overt act of bi=partisanship.

I have struggled tyhroughout throughout this historic campaign to keep a good attitude towards him, especially after he hired The Bullet and picked Palin, all seemingly for no purpose but to shore up a sinking ship with the worst flotation devices available. I was ready to de-maverick McCain, permanently, at least in my own mind.

But The Real Maverick is back, the one who knows how important it is to make our government work together, not against itself.

Funny thing, though, he picked Palin AND his pernicious staff just to salvage what little support he had from the wingnut base, so his support for Obama so early in the transition will no doubt set that gaggle a cackling, like Rush, so many of them would rather see our country fail than succeed under an Obama administration.
They gratuitously kissed Bush's behind up and down Wall Street, K-Street and Easy street, and they called those of us who posited questions or voiced disagreement traitors and anti-patriots. In their weak-kneed response to 9-11, they handed Bush something of a dictatorship, and in spite of that support, he failed us all miserably.

And now, without even a hint of that patriotic conscience they claimed to own, they openly hope for Obama to fail.

HYPOCRITES! ...certainly they can no longer call themselves patriots.

Posted by: JEP7 | January 23, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

To GoonyGoomy

I'll tell you why you hate him so:
He's got what you ain't got
Power, smarts, and lots of dough
(and women think he's hot)
He bright, he's cool, and he can spell
He's bright as your are dim
He really rings your ding-dong bell
'Cause you can't be like him.

Posted by: ncahill1 | January 23, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

SCRIBES:

ASK OBAMA/GIBBS WHETHER WHOLESALE NSA SPYING ON JOURNALISTS IS PART OF A BROADER MULTI-AGENCY PROGRAM OF 'EXTRAJUDICIAL' SPYING, TARGETING AND PUNISHMENT...

DONE BY PERVASIVE SURVEILLANCE;

COMMUNITY 'GANG STALKING' BY CITIZEN VIGILANTES AFFILIATED WITH GOVERNMENT-FUNDED COMMUNITY WATCH AND VOLUNTEER ANTI-TERRORISM PROGRAMS;

AND PHYSICAL ABUSE VIA 'DIRECTED ENERGY (RADIATION) WEAPONRY.

SEE THE ARTICLE' GESTAPO USA' AT:

http://My.NowPublic.com/scrivener


Posted by: scrivener50 | January 23, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I love when conservatives deride the "liberal name calling" of the last 8 years and bemoan President Obama taking the country in the wrong direction, i.e. "coddling terrorists" and "killing unborn babies." This from a group that supported a President who murdered hundreds of thousands of born and unborn babies (but since they were Iraqis they don't count) and cheered when Sarah Palin belittled non Republicans as non Americans. Bottom line, Bush style conservatism, which was fully supported by the Republican party for 8 years, is as dead as Lehman Brothers. Conservatives need to rethink their strategy, if not their policies, and the first thing they might consider drop kicking is their inclination to demonize and fear monger. That is so 2004.

Posted by: DBCarren | January 23, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I love when conservatives deride the "liberal name calling" of the last 8 years and bemoan President Obama taking the country in the wrong direction, i.e. "coddling terrorists" and "killing unborn babies." This from a group that supported a President who murdered hundreds of thousands of born and unborn babies (but since they were Iraqis they don't count) and cheered when Sarah Palin belittled non Republicans as non Americans. Bottom line, Bush style conservatism, which was fully supported by the Republican party for 8 years, is as dead as Lehman Brothers. Conservatives need to rethink their strategy, if not their policies, and the first thing they might consider drop kicking is their inclination to demonize and fear monger. That is so 2004.

Posted by: DBCarren | January 23, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Obama's best friend in the senate -the just ONE republican needed in order to get things passed!

This could actually give McCain a lot of influence (compared to other republicans) and maybe win him some respect back after his choice of Palin.

Posted by: Andydk | January 23, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

So, why is this a story? The only STORY that I see, is that John McCain is, once again, beloved in the MEDIA. That didn't take long. What I want to know, is WHO are these MORONS, standing behind the IDIOT? Isn't it wonderfull, that with all that's going on in this country, right now, the Great COMMUNITY ORGANIZER thought it necessary, to put the NEEDS OF THE TERRORISTS at the Top of the List. No more mean, old, PRISON CAMP for our Muslim Guests. And NO MORE HARSH INTERROGATIONS for these guys who want to KILL US ALL. No, no. After all; there's never a good time, for bad manners. Now that our GREAT LEADER has SAVED the TERRORISTS from any discomfort, how much you wanna bet, his next EXECUTIVE ORDER will be 'The Freedom Of Choice Act', which will make it EASIER to KILL unborn BABIES? What a great guy.

Posted by: GoomyGommy | January 23, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

His best friend in the Senate remains Dick Durbin. Let us not get carried away with appearances.

His best R friend is Dick Lugar. But I do believe Prez can count on cordial relations with the Senate for quite some time and that McC and Graham are two very important players in that dynamic.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 23, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

heck, everyone is President Obama's best friend right now.

did you see the Oval Office picture with Rahm. That desk is pretty bare.

I hope he doesn't order an $87,000 rug.
((sly grins ))

or a 6,000 gold leaf shower curtain (in mimsa the new color) ......shades of Tyco CEO.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | January 23, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

What else should Huckabee do but raise money and awareness for huge issues? How do you equate the anniversary of gov't-approved infanticide with 2012 elections?

Posted by: FairMark | January 23, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I'm betting McCain, if he follows through with his pledge of cooperating with the new administration, becomes a Lieberman-style figure within the GOP. He'll be cast aside and again seriously consider jumping ship.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | January 23, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

"McCain's lovefest with Obama is what we republicans suspected along, that he is much more of a democrat than republican."
Posted by: vbhoomes | January 23, 2009 8:13 AM

I agree, I always thought McCain was a donkey in an elephant suit. Or in his terms to "Mavericky".
However, I think McCain is well suited for the role of bridge from party to party. It is great to see Senator McCain continuing to serve the country well.

Posted by: jnoel002 | January 23, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

McCain's lovefest with Obama is what we republicans suspected along, that he is much more of a democrat than republican. This conservative was glad to see McCain lose because he was only pretending to be a Republican in an effort to win WH. Frankly Old man, aren't you long overdue to retire to a nursing home. We conservatives want no part of this nonsense about bipartisanship because we believe he is taken the country down the wrong path. What we do promise unlike our liberals friends, is to keep it civil and respectful. We have to much respect for the office to let it denigrate into name calling like the dems did the last 8 years.

Posted by: vbhoomes | January 23, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Why does every newspaper in the country that I have looked at in the past 2 days refuse to refer to the new president as President Obama. I have seen numerous articles referring to the new President as just Obama.
Is this a conspriacy?

Posted by: whittom | January 23, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

McCain's lovefest with Obama is what we republicans suspected along, that he is much more of a democrat than republican. This conservative was glad to see McCain lose because he was only pretending to be a Republican in an effort to win WH. Frankly Old man, aren't you long overdue to retire to a nursing home. We conservatives want no part of this nonsense about bipartisanship because we believe he is taken the country down the wrong path. What we do promise unlike our liberals friends, is to keep it civil and respectful. We have to much respect for the office to let it denigrate into name calling like the dems did the last 8 years.

Posted by: vbhoomes | January 23, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

If Obama's goal is to be post-partisan, he's going to need Republicans who are willing to collaborate. McCain is perfect for that role. His "maverick" image (as well as his positions on various issues) has piqued many Republican lawmakers. Thus, he has nothing to lose, and gains the opportunity to rebuild his image as the anti-partisan who can reach across the aisle for the good of the country. This is a stark contrast to Senators Cornyn and Specter, who seem to be looking for ways to oppose the new administration.

Posted by: -pamela | January 23, 2009 7:42 AM | Report abuse

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