The Rob Ford defense has been imported to America. The Cheney family feud has been exported beyond the Thanksgiving table. And everywhere we look, somebody's going nuclear. Light your candles and dig in for stuffing knowing that these are some of the stories your ABC News political team will be tracking in the week ahead:
There's no deadline quite like the self-imposed variety. The Obama administration has deflected all manner of criticism about a broken Website by assuring the public that all would be operational by Nov. 30 – next Saturday. That means a busy Thanksgiving week for the team of fix-it folks who've been finding new problems with the Website even while taking care of the ones that popped up early in the flawed rollout. Blowing past this deadline without a functioning portal would open up Democratic floodgates, and could make pressure to change enrollment-enforcement dates too much to withstand. This comes after the administration moved a different deadline that's almost a year away; 2015 plans won't be available on the Obamacare marketplace until next Nov. 15 – after the midterm congressional elections.
This is looking like the critical weekend in reaching an agreement to temporarily freeze Iran's nuclear program. Negotiators in Geneva could still be joined again by Secretary of State John Kerry, with President Obama prepared to ease some sanctions to bring Tehran to the negotiating table. But comments by Iran's supreme leader, where he called Israel "the rabid dog of the region," are serving only to stoke skepticism over Iran's intentions and trustworthiness. Israeli officials are pushing back hard against any potential deal, and lawmakers in Congress (including many in the president's own party) are only willing to give the administration so much bargaining room before coming in with new, stricter sanctions.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid finally did what Senate leaders have been threatening for decades: He pressed the "nuclear" trigger, changing Senate filibuster rules. Now, take shelter from the fallout. The rules change means little in the short term beyond clearing the way for some of President Obama's long-stalled judicial appointments to work their way through the Senate calendar. But if you thought the Senate was broken before… Republicans are likely to use the rules change as an excuse for more slow-walking and obstructionist tactics. Already, the annual Defense authorization bill has been shelved until after the two-week Thanksgiving Senate break. By attacking a symptom of dysfunction, and not getting at a root cause, the end result could be worse for smooth Washington operations.
Don't look now, but there may be a thaw in congressional relations long enough to get something done on budget matters. Not a melt – we'd be talking about a small deal, if anything. But buzz is growing that the House-Senate committee appointed to find a path out of last month's mess could hatch a small-ish plan that would take care of the automatic "sequester" budget cuts, if nothing else. If there's hope for avoiding perpetual clashes for even a small window of time, it would start here, with a Dec. 13 target date for action that's designed to show momentum before more serious deadlines in January and February.
|PARDON (NOT) ME|
Wednesday brings the annual tradition of the White House turkey pardon, which means a lifetime of leisure and bliss to a lucky bird or two. But as for that lifetime – it turns out that all eight turkeys pardoned by President Obama in his first term are now dead, according to US News & World Report. That includes Cobbler and Gobbler, last year's pardon recipients, both of whom passed away after being sent to a Virginia estate. Blame breeding more than any Obama curse, since it turns out turkeys bred for human consumption rarely live beyond the age of 2. Amid the awkward photo ops, though, remember that the two Minnesota-born birds receiving reprieves this year are unlikely to enjoy future Thanksgivings...
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