Tales from the Trail

And today’s word from Washington is … stalemate

BRITAINCongress has it. Gaddafi wants it. And President Obama is trying to figure out how best to avoid it. What is it?  The answer: stalemate (noun \ˈstāl-ˌmāt\) … that unsatisfying state of affairs in which there can be no action or progress.

Admiral Mike Mullen, the four-star U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman, conceded the possibility of a stalemate in Libya way back on March 20, a day after U.S. forces and their allies started raining high explosives on Muammar Gaddafi’s military infrastructure and ground forces.

The acknowledgment raised worries that a stalemate would allow Gaddafi’s government to live to fight another day — in perpetuity – while delivering an embarrassing defeat to the U.S. and its allies.

The stalemate hobgoblin has haunted the U.S. debate on Libya ever since. The possibility is now increasingly palpable on the ground in Libya, where rag-tag rebel forces are demonstrating their inability to cope with pro-Gaddafi fighters, even as RTR2KFCB_Comp-150x150aircraft can be heard screaming overhead in prelude to the heavy thump of ordnance in the distance.

Obama and his advisers are said to be in a fierce debate about whether to arm the Libyan rebels in hopes of ejecting Gaddafi and avoiding a stalemate.

Pawlenty calls Tea Party push for more cuts “good news”

USA/House Republican leaders may be concerned about turmoil among newly elected Tea Party colleagues who want bigger spending cuts. But potential Republican White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty sees only good news.

As the Conservative Political Action Conference prepares to hear from 2012 White House Wannabes, the former Minnesota governor tells NBC’s Today show that conservatives of every stripe should be proud.

“The good news is, and this is I think the story for CPAC and for conservatives more broadly, reducing government spending and dealing with the deficit and the debt is now mainstream,” he says.

With prison looming, DeLay looks to Citizens United and the Supremes

USA-POLITICS/DELAYTom DeLay stands eyeball-to-eyeball with the prospect of years in prison. But he figures he still has friends in high places. Like the U.S. Supreme Court, maybe.

That would be the majority of justices who authored the 2010 campaign finance ruling known as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which has been decried by Democrats and reformers as a danger to U.S. electoral integrity.

DeLay, whose hard-driving style as a congressional powerbroker earned him the nickname “The Hammer,” was sentenced this week to three years in prison on money laundering and conspiracy charges. A Texas jury said he helped funnel money illegally to Republican candidates in the state in 2002.

Arizona sheriff sees others like Loughner

RTXWCIT_Comp1-150x150Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik sounds worried about the possibility of other attacks on elected officials like Gabrielle Giffords.

Not that he’s got evidence of another shooter or anything. But Dupnik says there are thousands of people like Jared Lee Loughner, the shooting suspect described as a mentally disturbed loner.

“These people are very susceptible to emotions like anger and paranoia and so forth, and I think that the tone of rhetoric that has occurred in this country over the past couple of years affects troubled personalities,” he tells NBC’s Today show.

Christine O’Donnell is not going away

Christine O’Donnell may have lost her Senate race. But she’s not exiting the spotlight. In fact, she’s sounding a bit like Sarah Palin.RTXU581_Comp-150x150

The Tea Party darling of Delaware cheerfully tells NBC’s Today show that she’s pursuing a book deal. She likes being involved in documentaries. And she’s going to fight tooth and nail against whatever Democrats try to pull during the upcoming lameduck session in Congress (how isn’t quite clear).

“We created a platform and we’ve been able to get a lot of issues out there. And I’d like to continue to do that at least for the short term.”

Some voters may be losing their taste for Tea Party – poll

USA-ELECTIONS/TEAPARTY

Is your tea getting cold? A new poll suggests the Tea Party movement may be losing some of its steam in the run-up to Election Day.

The ABC/Washington Post survey found that only 18 percent of registered voters now say they are more likely to vote for a Tea Party affiliated candidate. That’s down from 30 percent in July. Those less likely to vote for a Tea Party candidate remains at 28 percent.

Overall, 47 percent of the 1,002 Americans polled Sept. 30-Oct. 3 oppose the Tea Party, vs. 40 percent who support it. The split was even among likely voters, according to results that have a 3.5 percentage point margin of error. 

Backlash over WikiLeaks release of Afghan war documents

There may be more shoes to drop from WikiLeaks if it releases another 15,000 documents on the Afghanistan war that the whistleblower website is reviewing. It is already seeing some backlash after releasing 75,000-plus documents on the Internet.

The Times of London reported Wednesday that the leaked documents expose informers helping U.S. forces and have put hundreds of Afghan lives at risk.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange responded in an interview from London with NBC’s “Today” show. “We are checking to see whether this is in fact credible. It is probably unlikely. We have taken care to in fact hold back 15,000 for review that should it have this type of material in it. If there are those names in there and they are at risk, this would be because of a misclassification by the U.S. military.”

Obama says Washington vitriol is still a solvable problem

President Barack Obama thinks Washington’s political climate of vitriolic partisanship could start to wane over the next few years. Republicans just have to calm down, and Democrats have to stop playing the same silly political games as their opponents.

“A party that’s out of power, often times in those first few years of being out of power and reacting very negatively, their base ends up being very agitated. And it may take the next election or the next presidential election before things settle down,” the president told NBC’s Today show.

One problem is the media, and not just the mainstream media with its 24/7 news cycle but the cable-TV and radio talk shows, the Internet and the blogosphere — “all of which tend to try to feed the most extreme sides of any issue instead of trying to narrow differences and solve problems.”

Clinton says Haiti’s development prospects can still be good

Former President Bill Clinton, who is helping to coordinate global relief for Haiti with former President George W. Bush, CLIMATE/COPENHAGEN-BILLCLINTONsays the quake-stricken country could bounce back much more quickly than people might think.

Clinton told NBC’s Today show that Haiti had made it onto the path to modernization when the earthquake struck on Tuesday. But he denied claims that the devastation may have set the impoverished country’s development back by half a century.

“Because they started from a low base, we can reconstitute where they are quicker than everyone thinks. I just do not agree that they’ve been set back 50 years,” he said. “If we go back to work, we’ll be all right.”