ThinkFast: February 4, 2009


President Obama said last night that he had “screwed up” with his nominees who withdrew over tax issues yesterday. “I’ve got to own up to my mistake, which is that ultimately it’s important for this administration to send a message that there aren’t two sets of rules,” said Obama. Andrew Sullivan notes that “it has taken Obama two weeks to say something that George W. Bush couldn’t manage to say in eight years.”

Last night, Karl Rove delivered a speech at Loyola Marymount University in California. “One man loudly denounced Rove as a ‘traitor’ before he was escorted out. A woman held up a pair of handcuffs and said she would like to see Rove wearing them.”

President Obama’s chief economic adviser Larry Summers said Obama “has been prepared to walk a long mile for bipartisan support” for the stimulus package, but that he won’t compromise on weakening the bill’s impact. Summers said Obama wanted to keep his tax cuts, including those conservatives have criticized, and said that if Republicans don’t support the bill, “it defines those who aren’t prepared to support major action to help the economy.”

The Senate pushed the cost of the economic recovery package above $900 billion yesterday with amendments that added “billions for medical research and tax breaks for car buyers.” At the same time, the Senate rejected an amendment “that would have added $25 billion in public works projects to the recovery bill, including highway construction, public transportation and water and sewer projects.”

Elizabeth Edwards will publish her second memoir in May, called “Resilience.” The book will discuss the re-emergence of her cancer in 2007, as well as Edwards’ “remarkable grace and courage…when the very private matter of her husband’s infidelity became public fodder,” according to the publisher’s catalog description.

Former senator Chuck Hagel has signed on to be a “distinguished professor in the practice of national governance” at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, teaching students about “bipartisan governance.”

Officials have described Obama’s approach to South Asia “as a refusal to be rushed, using words such as ‘rigor’ and ‘restraint.'” “We know we’re going to get [criticism] for taking our time,” said a senior official. Stability is becoming “a higher priority than democracy in Afghanistan.”

Despite reports yesterday that Citigroup was “exploring the possibility of backing out” of a $400 million sponsorship deal with the Mets, the bailed-out financial firm now says that it is sticking with it. “In conversations this morning, Citi reinforced that they will honor our legally binding agreement,” read a statement by the Mets yesterday. Citigroup has received $45 billion of taxpayer money through federal bailout.

Yesterday, Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee “unveiled a set of principles that will guide their efforts to craft legislation aimed at slowing global warming.” The document was “short on details but set a goal of creating a cap-and-trade system designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ‘to levels guided by science to avoid dangerous climate change.'”

And finally: After raising the ire of Michelle Obama, Ty Inc. — the company that created Beanie Babies — has decided to retire its controversial dolls Sweet Sasha and Marvelous Malia. A statement on the company’s site read: “In deference to the wishes of the First Family, Ty Inc. has officially retired the Ty Girlz names Marvelous Malia and Sweet Sasha. We have renamed the dolls Marvelous Mariah and Sweet Sydney.” The dolls, which went for $9.99 when they were on the market, are now going for as much as $152 on eBay.

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