Washington Extra – Swallows and Democrats

October 25, 2010

In the words of Aristotle: “one swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.”

Nevertheless, Democrats might not be feeling quite so down in the dumps today, as evidence comes in that in early voting (allowed at election offices and satellite locations in 32 states) the Democrats are off to a stronger-than-expected start. It is impossible to tell how people actually voted, but Democrats do appear to be showing up in greater numbers in some key states than some had feared. But things are still not going as well for them as in 2008.

The “enthusiasm gap” is expected to be one of the Democrats’ biggest handicaps in the midterms, this early evidence, and rallies next weekend by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, notwithstanding.

If you want to understand the disillusionment about President Barack Obama among his former supporters, our World Affairs Columnist Bernd Debusmann reminds us today of the soaring rhetoric he employed back when he won the Democratic nomination in June 2008.florida_rally

“If…we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I’m absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs for the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last best hope on earth.”

Bernd takes a look at how Obama is doing against his own stratospheric expectations. And concludes, again, with Obama’s own words. “In a big messy democracy, everything takes time.”

Finally, and talking of taking time, the effort to get Haiti back on its feet after January’s devastating earthquake is still in its early stages. No one should underestimate the scale of the problems faced, problems which have been dramatically underlined by last week’s cholera outbreak which has killed more than 250 people. My recent trip also really underlined to me the importance of getting the private sector back on its feet, and of slowing the steady hemorrhaging of middle-class Haitians who flee their country every year for jobs and opportunity in the United States and Canada. My special report is here.

Here are our top stories from Washington today…

Can Obama bridge partisan divide?

President Obama faces the role of political bridge-builder when an expected surge of new Republicans comes to Washington. “I think what you’ll have is gridlock for a while then I think you’ll have some hard-won compromise,” said Republican strategist John Feehery. “The number one thing that is going to happen is the Obama agenda is going to stop in its tracks.”

For more of this analysis by Steve Holland, read here.

The “Great Game” bubbles under Obama’s India trip

President Obama’s trip to India in November will be about how New Delhi deals with the elephant in the room – the Pakistan-Afghanistan conundrum. After nine years of war, there are signs the United States and President Hamid Karzai are reaching out to talk to the Taliban, and New Delhi wants to ensure any eventual settlement protects India from the risk of militant groups on its doorstep.

For more of this analysis by Alistair Scrutton and Patricia Zengerle, read here.

U.S. Democrats off to good start in early voting

More Democrats than Republicans cast early ballots in a handful of key states, but more Republicans voted early than in 2008 when President Obama led a Democratic sweep. “The early voting numbers are favorable for Democrats, but here’s the caution — they are not as favorable as in 2008,” said Michael McDonald, a George Mason University professor who tracks early voting statistics around the country.

For more of this story by John Whitesides, read here.

State races to redraw lines of power in Washington

As Democrats struggle to keep their majorities in Congress, the next decade of party control may be determined by scores of state legislative races also on the ballot. At stake is the redrawing of electoral districts for the House of Representatives in Washington — an adjustment of boundaries that tends to favor the party in charge of each state legislature.

For more of this story, read here.

Foreclosure mess may hurt housing market, FDIC says

The foreclosure mess won’t be cleaned up quickly and could hurt the housing market, which is already a weak link in the economic recovery, regulators said.

For more of this story by Dave Clarke and Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, read here.

U.S. Treasury too rosy on bailout cost – TARP cop

The Obama administration’s latest estimate of taxpayer costs of the Wall Street bailout is too rosy and could ultimately damage public trust in government, the top bailout cop said..

For more of this story by Donna Smith, read here.

U.S. existing home sales rise, supply edges down

Sales of previously owned homes rose a greater-than-expected 10 percent in September but remained at depressed levels that point to a painful and protracted recovery for the housing market. The data did little to weaken the case for further monetary easing from the Federal Reserve, with sales far below the 5 million-unit pace usually associated with a healthy market.

For more of this story by Lucia Mutikani, read here.

Q+A-Can the US healthcare overhaul be repealed?

Republicans have vowed to repeal and replace the healthcare overhaul — or at least eliminate many of its provisions — if they achieve big victories mid-term elections. National polls show voters evenly divided on the law dubbed “Obamacare” by its opponents.

For questions and answers about the law’s future, by Patricia Zengerle, read here.

Could Republicans gut parts of Wall St reform law?

Republicans want to roll back Wall Street reforms enacted in July, but tinkering around the edges may be all they can manage. Analysts see little to no chance of a full dismantling of the law meant to prevent a repeat of the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

For questions and answers about potential tweaks to the law, by Kevin Drawbaugh, read here.

US approves world’s biggest solar power project

The Interior Department has approved a permit for the world’s biggest solar power project, which will provide electricity to up to 750,000 homes.

For more of this story, read here.

What we are blogging…

Rhode Island Democrat says Obama can “shove it” for non-endorsement

Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio had some unwelcoming words for President Obama, who was scheduled to visit the state. Caprio says he learned from a reporter last night that Obama did not plan to endorse his candidacy against independent Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican senator who endorsed Obama over John McCain in 2008.

For Tabassum Zakaria’s full post, click here.

From elsewhere…

Michael Jackson top-earning dead celebrity – Forbes

Michael Jackson’s sudden death sparked an outpouring of grief around the world, but fans also opened their wallets to make him this year’s top-earning dead celebrity with $275 million, Forbes said. Elvis Presley came in second, earning $60 million from admissions to his former home, Graceland, which is now a museum and tourist attraction in Memphis, Tennessee, a Cirque de Soleil show and more than 200 licensing and merchandise deals.

For more of this story, read here.

Russian spy Chapman talks of love in first interview

Glamorous Russian spy Anna Chapman has told a popular men’s magazine she likes hopeless romantics, in her first interview since she was deported from the United States in July. The redhead said her favorite category of men are “those who need love to be the biggest and most wonderful feeling in their life,” she told Russia’s Maxim, which went on sale last week.

For more of this story, read here.

For more stories from our Washington correspondents visit www.reuters.com and stay informed.

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (Obama greets supporters at a campaign rally in Las Vegas)

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