'Your papers, please' must never be heard in America
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
After making it past one "fiscal cliff" with more to come, it's an odd time for President Obama to be picking a fight with Congress over his choice to run the Pentagon.
You wouldn't be reading this newspaper if you didn't have a yen for news about politics and the craft of political news-gathering. So this is a timely book for any respectable news junkie's shelf. Thirty-four years ago, Brookings Institution scholar Stephen Hess conducted a study of 450 news reporters who covered various aspects of Washington's political scene from the White House to Congress, to the Supreme Court and the myriad agencies.
Incumbent presidents usually lay low during their opponents' nominating conventions, but not so with President Obama, who will wage an ambitious campaign next week to coincide with the Republican National Convention.
When President Obama gave the commencement address last week at the Air Force Academy, he congratulated the cadets for excelling at one of the most demanding schools in the country. But decades after Mr. Obama completed his own college course work, his academic performance is still a mystery.
When he ran for the presidency in 2008, Barack Obama sprinkled his campaign speeches with ambitious catchphrases such as "the fierce urgency of now" and "yes we can." Nowadays, he's been trotting out a stump speech with a far less lofty message for voters: You expected too much from me.
After stumbling in his first gift exchange with the Brits two years ago, President Obama by all accounts redeemed himself Tuesday when he presented Queen Elizabeth II with a handmade, leather album of rare memorabilia chronicling her parents' 1939 visit to the U.S.
Just three months after President Obama's plea for civility after the mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., it's back to business in Washington, where some lawmakers have returned to heated policy debates, verbal haymakers and accusing one another of wanting to kill Americans.
As Arlen Specter leaves the Senate after 30 years, the onetime corruption-busting Philadelphia prosecutor and architect of the "single-bullet theory" of the John F. Kennedy assassination says he wouldn't change a thing about his zig-zag-zig political path.
The president "has his hands full at the moment — why would he take on one more chore in dealing with Congress?" said Stephen Hess, a veteran staffer of the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations and presidential scholar at the Brookings Institution. "I guess partly because he really wants this guy."
"Usually, when you select someone from the other party, you do it in a symbolic sense and to attract a wide swath of support from both parties," Mr. Hess said. "But in this case, he cannot count on a lot of Republican votes. It's historically interesting. I have never seen anything like this, in fact."