ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Where do you get enough lipstick to cover this particular frenzy?
No one — up to and very much including John McCain — quite knows what to make of Sarah Palin. No one better encapsulates the contradictions and absurdities of this era in American politics than the woman who was virtually unknown on the national stage 15 months ago.
The re-entry to Palin into the public dialogue has reconfirmed the Palin Principle that dates back to the campaign: If you like her, she can do no wrong; if you don’t like her, she can do no right. (And there’s the corollary: People in the former camp can, over time, move to the latter camp, but it’s the other direction that’s proven rare.)
Palin’s reemergence means she’s taking on adversaries who are somewhat more formidable than Levi Johnston. And the only people happier about that than Palin’s strongest allies are her fiercest enemies.
Back in the game: Palin tells ABC’s Barbara Walters on “Good Morning America” Tuesday that she’d give President Obama a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10.
“There are a lot of decisions being made that I — and probably the majority of Americans — are not impressed with right now,” said Palin, R-Alaska. “I think our economy is not being put on the right track, because we’re strayed too far from, fundamentally, from free enterprise principles that built our country.” (Fundamentally!)
“And I question, too, some of the dithering, and, hesitation, with some of our national security questions that have got to be answered for our country,” Palin said. (Dithering!)
Barbara Walters: “Do you ever want to be president of the United States?”
Palin: “That certainly isn’t on my radar screen right now. … My ambition if you will, my desire, is to help our country in whatever role that may be and I cannot predict what that will be, what doors would be open in the year 2012.” (But Willow and Piper want mommy to be president.)
Responding to Steve Schmidt’s contention that her candidacy could be “catastrophic” for the GOP in 2012: “Sounds like Steve Schmidt. I guess I really, really disappointed him, and he’s the one who was in charge of that, that vetting, is what I was told. So, you know, that, everyone is entitled to their opinion, though.”
On death panels, and President Obama saying they’re a myth: “He is not lying, in that those two words will not be found in any of those thousands of pages of different variations of the health care bill. No, death panel isn’t there. But he’s incorrect, and he is disingenuous.”
On the Newsweek cover: “I think it is so cheesy.”
On the book: “Vengeance isn’t mine. Vindication is not a goal of mine. … People need to just read it and judge for themselves.”
On Levi Johnston — she had to go there? “I don’t know if we call him Levi — I hear he goes by the name Ricky Hollywood now, so, if that’s the case, we don’t want to mess up this gig he’s got going,” she told Oprah. “Kind of this aspiring, aspiring porn — the things that he’s doing.”
Responds Johnston, to Playgirl (of course): “You could tell by her laugh she was full of it,” he said.
(Back to Palin: “He doesn’t have anything on me,” she told Barbara Walters, on “GMA.”)
Sen. John McCain, to Politico’s Manu Raju: “I’m just moving on, and I’ve got too many other things to worry about except to say that I’m proud of my campaign.” McCain said he read the book, calling it “great” and saying he hopes “she sells lots of them.”
She will. Barbara Walters’ take, on “GMA”: “Very confident, very appealing — whether you agree with her or not. And when she says, ‘Bullcrap,’ I went, ‘whaaaat?’ ”
Reviewing Palin on “Oprah”: “It was a surprisingly unsmooth performance for a politician-celebrity who insists that the McCain campaign stifled her spirit and smothered her natural talent for communication,” The New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley writes. “The title of Ms. Palin’s book is ‘Going Rogue,’ but her appearance on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ mostly showed a politician-celebrity going for broke.”
“The 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate debuted a new persona — Sarah Palin: Victim,” Joseph Curl writes in the Washington Times. Reviewing the book: “Her critique of the campaign’s strategy is about as sophisticated as her discussion of policy, and just as circumscribed by her own experience,” Ana Marie Cox writes in reviewing “Going Rogue” for The Washington Post.
Palintology, and the art of the takedown: “The Institute for the Study of Sarah Palin should look into how she was chosen by John McCain as his vice presidential running mate — and why McCain, given absolute proof of abominable judgment and the sort of sorry political opportunism he built a career decrying, has not repaired to a monastery and taken a vow of absolute silence because almost anything he has to say post-Palin has to be judged by his choice of her,” Richard Cohen writes in his Washington Post column. “The Palin Movement is fueled by high-octane bile, and it is worth watching and studying for these reasons alone.”
The Boston Globe editorial: ” ‘Going Rogue’ has the audacity to disguise its attempt to launder Palin’s image as an exercise in truth-telling. People who are disgusted with Washington, who yearn for an authentic outsider, should take their business elsewhere.”
But who’s excited? “One thing is certain: The current crop of GOP leadership, both within and without Congress, makes Benadryl seem like a stimulant. Love her or hate her, that chemistry changes this week with the addition of what’s-her-name,” Andrew Malcolm blogs for the Los Angeles Times.
For the next chapter: “What Palin writes or says isn’t going to hurt her with those who so ardently love her. We’ve had populists before, but they were usually well-educated, experienced elites pretending. Palin will be the first genuine article,” Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson writes. “And a bestselling author, to boot.”
Hints of 2012? In her book, Palin “suggests … that her resignation has left her in a strong position to run for president by touting comments to CNN by a well-known Republican strategist who thinks Palin’s move was ‘brilliant,’ ” ABC’s Teddy Davis reports.
Palin isn’t the only one who awards number scores: There’s a new ABC News/Washington Post poll out Tuesday — showing strength for the president, but skepticism, again, over health care reform:
“President Obama is showing durability against significant economic and policy challenges, maintaining majority approval for his job performance in the face of broad unemployment, a controversial health plan and continued doubts about his work on the war in Afghanistan,” ABC’s Gary Langer writes. “Obama … has a 56 percent job approval rating overall, better than on any individual issue tested in this ABC News/Washington Post poll save one – 60 percent for his handling of international affairs.”
On priority one: “Negatives abound: Fifty-four percent of insured Americans think it’ll increase their own costs; among all, 56 percent think it’ll raise overall costs, six in 10 think it could shut down many private insurers and 61 percent oppose covering abortions in federally supported plans. For all that, sweetened by other, more popular elements, the plan’s holding essentially at an even split, 48 percent in favor, 49 percent opposed.”
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, on “GMA”: “Health care is a tough slog — the public split right down the middle.”
Enough of a mixed bag to leave everyone holding a present or two they don’t want: “The new poll provides ammunition for both advocates and opponents of reform. For opponents, a clear area of public concern centers on cost — 52 percent say an altered system would probably make their own care more expensive, and 56 percent see the overall cost of health care in the country going up as a result,” Dan Balz and Jon Cohen write in their Washington Post analysis.
“As in previous polls, a majority supports a government-sponsored heath insurance plan to compete with private insurers, although the percentage supporting the general idea has slipped slightly over the past month to 53 percent. Support for the scheme jumps to 72 percent when the public plan is limited to those who lack access to coverage through an employer or the Medicare or Medicaid systems.”
In terms of actual legislation, waiting (still) on the Congressional Budget Office’s final score of a Senate bill that most senators still haven’t technically seen.
Stephanopoulos says the numbers should be coming today: “Sources who’ve seen what CBO has produced so far are encouraged, saying the CBO will give Democrats and the White House enough reassurance on cost control, the deficit and coverage to get this bill to the floor. We’ll see.”
Why Doug Elmendorf, of the Congressional Budget Office, is (again) the most powerful man in Washington: “A thumbs-up from Mr. Elmendorf could speed the process along, helping Mr. Obama fulfill his hope of signing a bill into law this year. A thumbs-down on any of the critical questions — how much the bill costs, how many people it covers, whether it reins in the runaway growth of health spending — could leave the White House and Democrats scrambling,” Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes in The New York Times.
First, a test vote this week, on the motion to proceed: “This week could offer a test of Mr. Reid’s ability to hold together Democrats and independents in the 60-vote majority needed to shut off any filibuster,” Greg Hitt writes in The Wall Street Journal.
“A number of centrist Democrats in the Senate are turning what normally is a simple procedural vote into a cliffhanger,” The Hill’s Jeffrey Young reports.
On the pay-for front: “Congressional Democrats’ intensifying efforts to pay for their healthcare overhaul and provide more relief for consumers are threatening to unravel a White House deal with the pharmaceutical industry and turn one of Washington’s most powerful lobbies against the legislation,” the Los Angeles Times’ Noam N. Levey and Tom Hamburger report. “Senior administration officials, including White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, are warning members of Congress not to antagonize the deep-pocketed industry at a time when a major victory appears to be within reach, according to Democratic aides.”
New from Republicans Tuesday: The National Republican Senatorial Committee is launchi ng the Health Care Task Force Website — a clearinghouse for news targeting Democrats who are being squeezed by health care.
The president spends the day in Beijing, with a trip to the Forbidden City and a State Dinner Reception, per ABC’s Sunlen Miller.
McClatchy’s Margaret Talev: “Chinese President Hu Jintao said the U.S. must shun protectionist trade policies toward China while President Barack Obama called on China to embrace ‘universal’ human rights and reopen talks with Tibet, in a joint appearance Tuesday that underscored the tensions between the two nations.”
ABC’s Jake Tapper: “If Mr. Obama hoped that his week-long four-country visit to Asia, his first as president, would yield concrete accomplishments that might silence critics skeptical that he deserves that prize, he might be disappointed. Though White House aides insist the president’s trip was mainly to reassert a US presence in Asian diplomacy, and that his itinerary set no expectations for major feats, the president has heard disappointing news in the past few days.”
The oft-ubiquitous president, seemingly nowhere? “As he dives into the heart of his trip to China, U.S. President Barack Obama is finding it hard to bring his trademark charisma to bear,” The Wall Street Journal’s Ian Johnson and Jonathan Weisman report. “Mr. Obama is slated to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday, after which the two will make statements to be broadcast live on Chinese television. But that is likely to be the only chance he has to address the Chinese people directly. … The net effect is that the trip, which isn’t expected to yield major substantive agreements, isn’t likely to give Mr. Obama much of a symbolic victory either.”
Nothing to build on the message out of the town hall? “The muted address to about 500 university students here left Mr. Obama with just two days in Beijing to either deliver a more forceful message or establish a new, markedly softer approach to China’s suppression of political dissent,” the Washington Times’ Matthew Mosk reports.
(Check out the conversations between ABC’s Jake Tapper and some students in the audience for the president’s town hall — plus “government official” who steps in. “You can talk but don’t stop to interview,” the official tells Tapper.)
On Gitmo — a key schism, and maybe some daylight in a governor’s race: “Gov. David A. Paterson on Monday criticized the Obama administration’s decision to try five men linked to the Sept. 11 attacks in a civilian court in Manhattan,” The New York Times’ Danny Hakim reports.
“This is not a decision that I would have made,” said Paterson, D-N.Y. “We still have been unable to rebuild that site, and having those terrorists tried so close to the attack is going to be an encumbrance on all New Yorkers.”
This could get fun: “It’s a little inconsistent with what he told me last week,” Attorney General Eric Holder told the New York Daily News’ Michael Saul and Oren Yaniv.
From the annals of stimulus spin: Recovery.gov, and the magically appearing jobs.
ABC’s Jonathan Karl and Z. Byron Wolf, on jobs created and stimulus money spent in non-existent congressional districts across the country: “Here’s a stimulus success story: In Arizona’s 15th congressional district, 30 jobs have been saved or created with just $761,420 in federal stimulus spending. At least that’s what the Web site set up by the Obama administration to track the $787 billion stimulus says. There’s one problem, though: There is no 15th congressional district in Arizona; the state has only eight districts.”
“We report what the recipients submit to us,” said Ed Pound, Communications Director for the Recovery Board that’s tracking stimulus spending.
Plus: “The Obama administration, under fire for inflating job growth from the $787 billion stimulus plan, slashed over 60,000 jobs from its most recent report on the program because the reporting outlets had submitted ‘unrealistic data,’ according to a document obtained by ABC News,” ABC’s Matthew Jaffe reports.
Coming Tuesday: AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka outlines plans for a new stimulus, at a panel discussion in Washington: “Doing nothing is not an option. If we don’t act, everything will be worse — including our federal budget deficit,” he plans to say, per an aide. “Where there’s obstruction, we’ll expose it and push through it. And where there’s leadership, we’ll do everything we can to help it succeed.” Details HERE.
Judge wars, back on the Hill: “Republicans who decried Democrats’ filibusters of President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees are debating whether they should use the same tactic against one of President Obama’s nominees, a candidate who they say has an antipathy toward Christianity and pro-life legislation,” the Washington Times’ Kara Rowland reports.
“Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, [Monday] told reporters that he plans on filibustering David Hamilton, President Obama’s nominee to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals,” Time’s Jay Newton-Small reports. “Sessions’ announcement marks an about face for the Alabama senator. Sessions, a nominee to the federal bench under Reagan who was blocked by a committee vote, has for his 13 years in the Senate said he would never filibuster a judicial nominee.”
“Now I know the price for a tenured economist.” — White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, responding to a Washington Post report suggesting that the US Chamber of Commerce would pay $50,000 to a “respected economist” who would report that the health care bill would kill jobs.
“It depends on what you do once you take your clothes off.” — Tank Jones, Levi Johnston’s manager, taking issue with Sarah Palin’s description of Johnston’s “Playgirl” appearance as “porn.”
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