ThinkFast: July 16, 2009

George W. Bush embraces Karl Rove

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In the Wall Street Journal today, Karl Rove “continues to argue that only Republicans can get us out of the economic mess that they created.” Offering advice to Obama, Rove suggests more tax cuts: “House Republicans offered an alternative recovery package of immediate tax cuts and safety-net measures that cost half as much as Mr. Obama’s stimulus program.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took center stage on Wednesday, delivering what the State Department billed as a major foreign policy address. The Obama administration, Clinton said, “is attempting to build a ‘multi-partner world’ in which governments and private groups work collectively on common global problems and in which the United States does not shun dialogue with its adversaries.”

Politico notes that, after American International Group paid out $165 million in bonuses to top executives in March, Congress exploded in a political orgy of outrage. “But when the news broke late last week about a second, $235 million round of AIG bonuses, the halls of Congress resounded largely with, well, silence.”

Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), a leader of the conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats, told CNN yesterday that “he and other group members may vote to block House Democrats’ health care bill from passing a key committee if they don’t get some of the changes they want.” “We remain opposed to the current bill, and we continue to meet several times a day to decide how we’re going to proceed,” said Ross.

In a speech today at a U.S. Steel Corp. plant near Pittsburgh, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk is expected to say that “the Obama administration is ‘going to bat for American industrial workers’ through greater protection of labor rights and more aggressive monitoring of overseas trade practices.”

Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s responses yesterday in Senate testimony were “music to [the] ears” of business lawyers. “In business, the predictability of law may be the most necessary,” Sotomayor said. “Business lawyers said the comments signaled an appreciation of the practical needs of companies.”

Prisoners at Bagram prison — the largest U.S. detention facility in Afghanistan — “have refused to leave their cells for at least the past two weeks to protest their indefinite imprisonment.” Information of the prison-wide protest “came to light when the International Committee of the Red Cross informed the families of several detainees that scheduled video teleconferences and family visits were being canceled.”

President Obama’s political operation, Organizing for America, began running ads yesterday “targeting fellow Democrats and centrist Republicans urging them to support the president’s call for health care reform this year.” The 30-second TV commercial, which will run in eight states and on national cable television, “does not mention the senators by name, but it does ask viewers to call Capitol Hill.”

And finally: During his questioning of Sotomayor yesterday, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) quizzed her about her interest in the classic TV show Perry Mason. “It amazes me that you wanted to become a prosecutor based on the show, because in ‘Perry Mason’ the prosecutor on that show lost every week,” Franken said. Except one case, Sotomayor responded. Lightening the mood, Franken used his final question to ask which episode that was. Sotomayor confessed she had no idea. “Didn’t the White House prepare you?” Franken asked.