Ex-AK Gov. Sarah Palin (R) “said in an interview last week” that she would not likely run for WH ‘12 “if voters indicate they’d prefer a more traditional candidate.”
Palin: “It isn’t my call - it is the people of America whether they would be ready for someone a bit unconventional, out of the box. You know — being used to taking on the establishment. Taking on both side of the aisle. Or if they want someone a little more conventional maybe more electable — and that’s who they would support.”
Palin added that she wouldn’t “close the door to the idea” but now was focused on next month’s midterm elections. Palin “made her remarks last week during a visit to Newsmax’s headquarters” in FL.
During the interview, Palin also “used some provocative language to describe what may happen if Iran obtains nuclear weapons.”
Palin: “We have to realize that at the end of the day that a nuclear weapon in that country’s hands is not just Israel’s problem or America’s problem it is the world’s problem. It could lead to Armageddon. It would lead to that World War III that could decimate so much of this planet” (Martin, Politico, 10/11).
Wading Into Wild, Wild West Virginia
Palin “weighed in on one of the most competitive races in the country” on 10/11, throwing her support behind ‘84/‘06 nominee/‘88 GOV candidate/industrialist John Raese (R) in the WV SEN contest.
Palin: “The last thing Washington, DC needs is another rubber-stamp vote for President Obama and the liberal agenda. John Raese has the courage and independence to stand up to the Washington politics of Reid and Pelosi.”
In her Facebook post. Palin wrote that after “another great week of travel across our country” she is seeing a growing “commonsense grassroots movement” taking root — one that she is helping to seed. In addition to Raese, Palin endorsed eight GOP House candidates from MI, VA, AZ, GA, MI and UT (Falcone, “The Note,” 10/11).
Welcome to the age of volatility.
In politics and economics — the driving forces in Washington — 2012 dawns with more instability and chaos than any year I can remember.
Politically, the coming election could shift control of all three levers of power. President Obama could lose. So could House Republicans. So could Senate Democrats. Instead of repudiating one party, as they did in 2006, 2008, and 2010, voters could rewire this power grid — shocking the survivors and newly empowered.
Economically, prospects for job growth have improved, but the specter of a European financial meltdown, signs of contraction in Asia and South America, and higher domestic gasoline prices all threaten the anemic recovery. These are known risks. Each will intensify if Iran makes good on threats to close the Strait of Hormuz (through which 20 percent of all globally traded crude flows).
Congress, then, must confront what it least desires in an election year: instability and volatility. Throw in public anger (Congress’s approval rating averaged 10 percent in the last 10 national polls) and you get vulnerability. Instability, volatility, and vulnerability make politicians nervous, edgy, fearful, and mean. Yes, I know. Congress is like that most of the time. But this year could set new lows for jumpy, ill-mannered partisan ferocity.
In this toxic atmosphere, five matters hang over the second session of the 112th Congress. How they are dealt with, it seems to me, will decide the fate of the majority parties and could contribute mightily to the outcome of the presidential election.
1. The Boehner-Cantor feud. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the fate of the House GOP majority rides on this being resolved. I don’t mean totally resolved, I mean resolved to the point where Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., convey unity of purpose that not only passes public scrutiny but creates momentum among House Republicans. I downplayed this feud for a year, knowing that leadership rivalries are common but rarely corrosive. This one isn’t corrosive — yet. But it is a distraction up and down the leadership ladder, among the rank and file, and with GOP-leaning outside groups. Boehner and Cantor don’t need to love or even like each other. But they need to function publicly as a team. That means standing together when the news is good and bad. Boehner doesn’t demand this and Cantor doesn’t volunteer it. This is the duel within the duel. Someone has to change. If not, the cracks will widen and sides will be taken. And Democrats, who have been poking this festering sore for 12 months, will delightedly exploit the breach.
2. The Keystone XL pipeline. Since losing the first round of the payroll-tax cut extension debate to Obama in December, Republicans have said almost nothing about the coming clash over how to offset the costs of that tax cut, the Medicare “doc fix,” and extending unemployment benefits. Instead, Republicans have focused all their attention on forcing Obama to green-light the Keystone XL pipeline. That suggests Republicans will deal on the spending cuts, and if they can, “win” on the pipeline. The White House is playing footsie with all manner of Keystone procedural delays, trying to smoke out spending-cut concessions from the GOP. The outcome will set all power parameters for the remainder of the year.
3. Europe’s debt crisis. If a 17-nation economic zone collapses and the world’s largest and most powerful economy does nothing, do we live in a global economy? That question merges economics and metaphysics, but it’s still valid — if a bit cumbersome. Greece is likely to default in March when 14.5 billion euros in debt comes due. Italy sold 4.5 billion euros in bonds on Friday, a positive sign. But its debt-to-gross domestic product ratio is 120 percent, surpassed only by Greece. Italy is not out of the woods. Investors are living on hope — which isn’t a strategy in war or finance. If panic sets in, the European economy could go from weak to comatose in months. Would America do anything? Would anyone in Congress suggest using taxpayer money to give the International Monetary Fund more cash to prop up the European Central Bank? This is not an idle question. Is anyone even thinking of an answer?
4. Summer gas prices. Government and private-sector analysts predict gas prices will reach an average of $3.95 per gallon in May. In major urban areas, prices could easily exceed $4.50 and possibly reach $5. That will fuel no end of congressional outrage. But will it change policy or just harden the partisan divide over energy exploration versus environmental protection? In the heat of a reelection campaign, Obama might have to deal. What kind of bargain would Republicans drive?
5. Congressional Republican support for the GOP nominee. This isn’t 1996 and (virtual nominee) Mitt Romney isn’t former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan. Republicans then watched President Clinton sign welfare reform with glee. They knew they were killing Dole’s campaign by taking a huge issue off the table. They did it to save themselves because they knew Dole couldn’t win. Romney can and will run stronger than Dole. Does he become the de facto legislative strategist on Capitol Hill? How will the “Massachusetts moderate” tame or even deal with the Hill tea partiers who may view him with skepticism and, possibly, derision? If the former governor starts gearing up on the Keystone issue, you’ll have a partial answer — and some insight into issue No. 4.
What We're Following See More »
The Supreme Court announced "that it would consider a challenge to President Trump’s latest effort to limit travel from countries said to pose a threat to the nation’s security." The case concerns Trump's most recent attempt to make good on a campaign promise "tainted by religious animus" and only questionably justified by national security concerns. The decision to take the case, called Trump v. Hawaii, comes almost exactly a year after Trump issued the first travel ban. The ban under consideration affects Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea.
Trump wants to move the two grants, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas grant and the Drug Free Communities Act, to the Justice and Health and Human Services departments, respectively. This would result in a $300 million plus reduction in funding, about 95 percent of the cost of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. "'I’m baffled at the idea of cutting the office or reducing it significantly and taking away its programs in the middle of an epidemic,'" said Regina LaBelle, who served as ONDCP chief of staff during the Obama administration. This is the second time the Trump Administration has proposed gutting the agency.
A new report assembled by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has identified more than 500 potential conflicts of interest in President Trump's first year. First, the report notes, Trump spent 122 days at his properties during his first year. He has been accompanied by 70 federal officials and 30 members of Congress. "Second, far from this signaled access to power being an empty promise, those who patronize President Trump’s businesses have, in fact, gained access to the president and his inner circle." Lastly, about 40 special interest groups and 11 foreign governments have held events at Trump properties.