Washington Extra – The relative merits of Obama, Stewart, Palin and baseball

October 28, 2010

jonIt is unclear to me if appearing on “The Daily Show” will have done much for President Barack Obama’s ratings. But it doesn’t seem to have helped Jon Stewart’s much. Nielsen data just in shows last night’s episode attracted 2.8 million viewers (minus TiVo data), compared to the show’s average of roughly 3.6 million an episode. Not sure if it says much about the president, except that people probably watch the Daily Show for Jon Stewart, not for his guests. Or maybe they were just watching the World Series.

That said, I suspect Sarah Palin would draw higher ratings if she ever graced Stewart’s studio. Instead, the former vice presidential candidate will be on air on Entertainment Tonight this evening. Asked bluntly if she planned to run for president, Palin said she would take a look at the lay of the land, to see if there was anyone else with the “common sense, conservative, pro-Constitution passion” she believes in.

If so, they would get her wholehearted support. If not: “if there’s nobody else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should do this.” As our blogger Toby Zakaria observed, it may come down to a definition of “nobody”, because there is of course likely to be a healthy Republican field, many of whom may indeed share that passion.

Finally, an interesting poll from long-time Democratic pollster Doug Schoen via US News and World Report. The highlights: more voters think George W. Bush was a better president than Obama than the other way around. And a majority think the president does not deserve a second term.

Ironically, of course, he might still get one. Half of the voters surveyed wanted a third party in American politics, and, even now, in the depth of his midterm blues, Obama might still win a three-way race. In a contest between Obama, Republican Mitt Romney and Palin, for example, Obama would sneak through with 40 percent of voters, ahead of Romney with 32 percent and Palin with 17.

Here are our top stories from Washington today…

US election ads turn personal — and brutal

It’s nasty out there, with U.S. political candidates and outside groups flooding the airwaves with brutal and increasingly personal attacks calling their opponents cheats, liars and kooks — or worse.

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

Republican win could revive U.S. trade deals

Three long-delayed trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia could jump to the top of the U.S. congressional agenda if Republicans win control of the House of Representatives next week.

For more on this story by Doug Palmer, read here.

‘Bringing home bacon’ may not work this election

The Obama administration is sending more than $3 billion in infrastructure grants to U.S. states this month and announced most of the awards just days before the mid-terms. But the bipartisan tradition of “bringing home the bacon” to boost incumbents’ popularity may not have the same impact as voters profess antipathy toward government spending.

For more of this story by Lisa Lambert and John Crawley, read here.

Tea Party groundswell signals challenges to Fed

Tea Party members have lambasted the Fed for its unprecedented and aggressive steps to bolster the economy in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial crisis, saying the moves have exposed a lack of accountability and raise the risk of damaging inflation down the road. Efforts to submit the Fed’s monetary policy decisions to congressional review or to give Congress say in appointing officials at regional Fed banks could gain fresh momentum if Republicans win big.

For more of this story by Mark Felsenthal, read here.

BP, Halliburton ignored Macondo cement flaws-panel

BP and Halliburton, the contractor who cemented the blown-out Macondo well, ignored cement design flaws weeks before the disaster that sparked the worst U.S. offshore oil spill, a White House panel said. Both Halliburton and BP were aware of flaws in the cement slurry, similar to the one used to seal the well, as early as March 8. Shares in Halliburton fell sharply after the report’s release.

For more of this story by Chris Baltimore, read here.

Regulators, watchdogs second guess ratings reform

Banks and regulators are urging Congress to scale back a ban on the use of widely criticized credit raters to assess the risk of securities and investments on bank’s books, at least until a better alternative is developed. In a rare moment of agreement over the new U.S. financial reform law, some consumer advocates say banks have a point.

For more of this analysis story by Dave Clarke, read here.

Republicans may revamp US energy policy

After raising a ruckus on the campaign trail about the “Cap and Tax” energy policies of the Obama Administration, Republicans will want to move away from renewable energy and boost traditional energy sources if they win big next week. But they won’t be able to push too hard.

For some scenarios on how a Republican win could affect energy policy read here.

Obama to push trade, currency issues in India visit

The stakes on trade are high for President Obama’s trip to India in November as the United States and India need each other to meet ambitious export targets amid a sluggish U.S. economic recovery, yawning trade deficits with China and fears of global imbalances sparking a standoff. On the issue of global economic imbalances that have raised fears of currency wars, India and the United States often differ.

For more of this analysis by Matthias Williams and Doug Palmer, read here.

U.S. jobless claims fall to three-month low

New claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week to a three-month low but the underlying trend still points to labor market stagnation. The data, however, will likely carry little weight at the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, where further monetary stimulus for the sluggish economy is expected.

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

US Senate leader Reid faces possible historic loss

Harry Reid, a key ally to President Barack Obama, is in danger in Tuesday’s election of becoming the first U.S. Senate majority leader in 58 years to be booted out of office by home-state voters. A Reid defeat — to a favorite of the anti-establishment Tea Party movement — would be a repudiation of President Obama, who made several trips to Nevada to try to bail out his fellow Democrat.

For more of this story by Thomas Ferraro, read here.

Britain urges U.S. to take down extremist websites

Britain has called on the United States to take down websites used by extremists and urged more concerted action to thwart militant threats before resorting to war. Britain’s security minister, in remarks delivered in Washington, voiced concern about permitting websites used by extremists such as the preacher Anwar al Awlaqi to recruit anti-Western forces. “The websites in which feature his terrorist message would categorically not be allowed in the UK,” she said. “If they were hosted in the UK they would be taken down.”

For more of this story by Jim Wolf, read here.

What we are blogging…

Schwarzenegger sours on politics; eyes memoirs, movies?

Memoirs, maybe movies, but no political office. That’s what the immediate future holds for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who’s leaving office in January. “Politics destroys everybody,” he said in an “ABC World News” interview on Wednesday.

For JoAnne Allen’s full post, read here.

Palin for President? Someone’s gotta do it

Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who has been stirring the pot this year with her backing for Tea Party candidates for the midterm elections, has been hard to pin down on whether she plans to run for president in 2012. Until now. If no one else wants to do it, Sarah Palin says she would step in.

For Tabassum Zakaria’s full post, read here.

From elsewhere…

Nepal firm takes high speed Internet to Mt Everest

A private telecom firm took high speed Internet facilities to the top of the world on Thursday when it launched Nepal’s first 3G services at the base camp of Mount Everest.

The installation could help the tens of thousands of mountain climbers and trekkers who visit the Mount Everest region every year.

For more of this story, read here.

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

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Jim Young (Obama with Stewart on the Daily Show)

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