The Edge is National Journal's daily look at today in Washington -- and what's coming next. The email features analysis from NJ's top correspondents, the biggest stories of the day -- and always a few surprises. To subscribe, click here.
Window for New Gun Laws Is Still Open
“Think about it,” President Obama said this week in Colorado. “How often do 90 percent of Americans agree on anything?” The reference to universal background checks for prospective gun buyers was meant as a joke, and people laughed. But believe it: After Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, and Newtown, Obama has never been more serious about anything in his presidency.
New polls this week from Quinnipiac University and Morning Joe-Marist show that support for tighter gun laws remains high, weakening the argument that the window for action after Newtown has closed. A remarkably consistent nine in 10 people continue to support expanded background checks, and nearly six in 10 back bans on both assault weapons and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
Several Republican senators are vowing to use what Obama calls “obscure procedural stunts” to block votes in the Senate on gun measures. His efforts to shame them probably will fail. Perhaps the American public, which has made its views on background checks crystal clear, will have better luck.
WHAT AILS AMERICAN POLITICS: ONE CONGRESSMAN, RAND PAUL, AND THE GOP. National Journal’s Ron Fournier interviews Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., who was assailed by conservatives over a recent trip he took on Air Force One with President Obama. Writes Fournier: “This one House member's tale is sadly emblematic of what ails Washington today: hyper-partisanship in politics and new media; powerful and unaccountable interest groups; vast amounts of undocumented money; and a Congress corrupted by the system.” Read more
NORTH KOREA POSITIONS MISSILE ON ITS EASTERN COAST. As tensions continue to mount on the Korean peninsula, the North has moved a long-range missile to its east coast, The New York Times reports. South Korea’s military, which disclosed the movement, said the missile’s range would not allow it to reach the United States. “The moment of explosion is approaching fast,” North Korea’s army warned in a statement. Read more
- The hacking collective Anonymous hacked into North Korea’s Twitter and Flickr accounts Thursday, placing links to hacked sites. But National Journal’s Brian Fung reports the real coup would have Anonymous penetrating North Korea’s domestic Internet, not the common services the regime uses to talk to Westerners. Read more
JAMES CARVILLE IS READY FOR HILLARY. James Carville, the strategist who became famous as an adviser to former President Clinton, is joining forces with the recently launched Ready for Hillary PAC, The Washington Post reports. Carville is expected to begin recruiting supporters to the PAC with an e-mail appeal today. “He is the first of several heavy hitters who will be rolled out by Ready for Hillary PAC,” a source tells The Post. Carville says he is not taking on any formal role with the group. Read more
- Clinton has signed a just-announced book deal with Simon & Schuster to write about her time at the State Department, which will touch on the Arab Spring and the killing of Osama bin Laden. (AP)
OBAMA AT FUNDRAISER: ‘WE CAN’T HAVE PERPETUAL CAMPAIGNS.’ After four years in office, Obama may have finally lost his notorious sense of irony. While fundraising for Democratic House efforts in San Francisco on Wednesday, 19 months out from the 2014 midterms, he declared, “We can't have perpetual campaigns,” Reuters reports. Obama also touted his administration’s environmental record during the fundraising swing. Read more
- At another $32,4000-a-head, 30-guest fundraising brunch in California Thursday, Obama said “It's going to be tougher to get better gun legislation to reduce gun violence through the Senate and the House that so many of us I think want to see.”
IN A SHOCKER, STEPHEN COLBERT ENDORSES SISTER. Comedian Stephen Colbert endorsed his sister, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, for Congress on his show on Wednesday night. “I'm going to shock some people right now and endorse my sister, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, for Congress,” he said on the Colbert Report. “Yes, yes, yes, she's a Democrat. But she's a businesswoman, a job creator, who when raising three children on $14,000 a year, went back to school, built a 20-year career in international trade, and is now leading Mark Sanford in two consecutive polls.” Read more and see the video here
GINGRICH POOH-POOHS UNITY-TICKET STORY. Newt Gingrich is downplaying the significance of a February Bloomberg Businessweek story that recounts a unity ticket he almost formed with Rick Santorum to overtake Mitt Romney in the 2012 Republican primaries. “There was a serious effort to find an alternative to Romney, but I think it was very unlikely — I don't know of any occasion where you get independent candidates who've been competing to then turn around and say, 'Let's be unified,’ ” he says. The magazine reported that the ticket failed to come together because both men demanded to be at the top of it, but Gingrich says such demands were “a joke.” Read more
FIVE CONTROVERSIAL MEASURES FROM GOP LEGISLATURES. On the surface, the GOP's control of a majority of state legislatures is a success story for Republicans. Such control certainly paid off when it came to redistricting after the 2010 midterms, allowing the party to protect its House majority. But as Republican-dominated state legislatures pass controversial legislation, there's a risk for the party nationally. Already, national Democrats have dinged the GOP for cracking down on abortion and illegal immigration, citing legislation that passed through Republican-controlled state legislatures. National Journal’s Michael Catalini rounds up several recent examples and why they matter. Read more
LEGENDARY FILM CRITIC ROGER EBERT DIES. Roger Ebert, the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic who was part of a famed duo that made the phrase “thumbs-up” and "thumbs-down" famous, has died, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. Ebert, who in recent years suffered through debilitating health maladies, announced on his blog yesterday that his cancer had returned and that he would largely stop writing for the Sun-Times -- only to write “selected reviews.” Read more
HILLARY CLINTON’S ANTICIPATED SPEECH. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will give an address before the Women in the World summit in New York on Friday. Other speakers include Oprah Winfrey and actress Angelina Jolie. Read more
“The frustration for governors or executives who go into the Senate is suddenly you're 94th in seniority and you're in a basement office with no windows and nobody's exactly waiting for you to make the final decision about anything.” – Sen.Tim Kaine, D-Va., on adjusting to life on the Hill (Charlottesville Daily Progress).
WHILE PEOPLE WRITE OFF FACEBOOK, IT MIGHT BE CHANGING ADVERTISING FOREVER. “Ever since Facebook’s ballyhooed, bungled I.P.O., its share price has languished, with Wall Street asking when the social-media giant is going to grow up and make money,” Kurt Eichenwald writes in May’s Vanity Fair. But after months spent reviewing Facebook’s confidential financial data, interviewing ad clients and the press-shy top brass—including CEO Mark Zuckerberg—Eichenwald thinks everyone has it wrong. Despite pre-tax profits of $494 million last year against $1.4 billion in 2011, the company tripled its research and development spending to $1.4 billion between 2011 and 2012, which “hold[s] the promise of future growth,” he writes. “The Facebook of old—well, of a year ago—is almost irrelevant to the company that exists today, which not only is set to change the world of social networking, but could herald the biggest transformation in American advertising since the advent of television,” he writes. Read more
PLAY OF THE DAY
REMEMBER GEORGE W. BUSH? If Wednesday night is any indication, late-night hosts miss the former two-term president. As the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum is set to open, Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Jimmy Fallon all took an opportunity to get in some jokes about it. Leno and Fallon tied Obama’s relationship to Bush, while Letterman rehashed some jokes about Bush’s intelligence. Meanwhile, with the situation in North Korea escalating, Letterman got chesty with Kim, calling the dictator a “dope.” Watch it here
Connecticut lawmakers, who passed robust gun-control measures early Thursday, including wider background checks, limits on high-capacity magazines, and bans on 100 types of firearms. Connecticut was home to the Newtown school shooting massacre. Read more
Federal lawmakers, who apparently will not get gun legislation to the floor next week and continue to squabble over an increasingly watery bill. Read more
- @luke_johnson: Massachusetts McDonalds cashiers job requires BA, 2 years experience http://on.freep.com/12lbI8p
- @daveweigel: Gingrich on gay marriage acceptance: "I'm actually intrigued, as a historian, about how long this cycle will last." #asahistorian
- @chriswilsondc: Is there a word for a person whose knowledge of any subject suspiciously corresponds to the first Google search result?
- @HowardMortman: Which GOPer has spoken most on House floor in 113th Cong: Ted Poe? Nope. Louis Gohmert?Try again. It's @CongressmanGT
- @dylanlscott: "The algae might also cause fish to change sexes." I love Cleveland, but this might keep me away: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/neighborhoods