ThinkFast: March 4, 2009


The fact that Rush Limbaugh has become the leader of the GOP means that Republicans missed the “unmistakable signal” of the 2008 election that “Americans wanted to turn the page on the politics of division and partisan pettiness,” writes Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. In another shot at Limbaugh’s GOP leadership, the DCCC released a website yesterday that “allows visitors to create an apology to Limbaugh” on behalf of Republicans who have crossed him.

“[K]ey party leaders are worried that the GOP has made a costly mistake” in electing Michael Steele as their party chairman. One month into the job, Politico explains that Steele is “[s]teadily becoming a dependable punch line” and “does not have a chief of staff, a political director, a finance director or a communications director.”

A new WSJ/NBC poll has found a sharp jump in the proportion of Americans (41 percent) who say the nation is “generally headed in the right direction” since President Obama’s inauguration. That number is “up dramatically” from 26 percent in mid-January. Those “who say the country is on the ‘wrong track’ is still higher at 44%, but given the economic conditions, pollsters expected it to be much higher.”

Yesterday, President Obama nominated John Berry to head the Office of Personnel Management. If Berry, who is the current director of the National Zoo, is approved by Congress, he will become the highest-ranking openly gay appointee ever. Berry has previously worked at both the Treasury and Interior departments.

Obama said yesterday that he will nominate Julius Genachowski as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Genachowski previously served as chief legal counsel to former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, served as a technology adviser on Obama’s campaign, attended law school with Obama. In part, he will be “charged with designing a plan to bring broadband Internet to rural and low-income areas within one year.”

In an effort to “quickly revive relations with Syria,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in Israel yesterday that the U.S. is “sending two senior officials to Damascus this weekend to explore how the two countries can move beyond years of bitterness over the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and Syria’s links to terrorist groups.”

“For the first time in a quarter-century, Sudan has a chance for peace throughout the entire country,” now that the International Criminal Court has issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. “The UN estimates some 300,000 people have died and millions been displaced in six years of conflict in the region.”

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) ending cost overruns in weapons systems would create “a powerful new Pentagon position” — director of independent cost assessments. The position would have “significant authority to obtain data from the contractor and to ensure costs are justified.”

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And finally: OMB Director Peter Orszag quoted country music star Toby Keith in congressional testimony yesterday. “None of this is going to be easy,” said Orszag before the House Budget Committee. “But as the country music singer Toby Keith once put it, ‘There ain’t no right way to do the wrong thing.'” Indeed, “the Princeton numbers-cruncher is a huge country fan and when he goes for runs that’s what’s in his iPod,” reports ABC.

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