Tales from the Trail

Let’s fight…

The overnight news of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s resignation sets up a global battle over who will succeed him in the IMF’s glass-and-steel headquarters in Washington. But, of course, that’s not the only fight in town.

The bipartisan group of budget negotiators now known as the Gang-of-Six-Minus-One is expected to meet today to try to salvage hopes of a budget compromise after a shouting match over Medicare sent Republican Senator Tom Coburn to the exit door.

Medicare is the third-rail political issue that recently had Republicans showing signs of retreating from House Budget Chief Paul Ryan’s Republican reform plan. Critics call it a blueprint for privatizing the federal government’s healthcare program for the elderly.

But all politics is local. And the national Medicare litmus test is likely to take place far from Washington.

A proxy war over Medicare-as-2012-campaign-issue is shaping up around next week’s special congressional election in one of New York’s most conservative districts, where the Ryan plan has given Democrats the chance for an upset.  Conservative groups are pouring tons of money into the contest and veteran Capitol Hill staffers are expected to parachute in soon to help get out the vote.

Valentine’s Day with the GOP

What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than by sending your special someone a pink e-card, covered in hearts, with a message from the president: “Hope you like this Valentine’s card, your grandchildren are paying for it.”

In the GOP version of My Funny Valentine and a way to raise some sweet cash, the Republican National Committee is poking some fun at the White House and its Democratic cohorts with GOPvalentine.com, and more than 30,000 of the snarky messages had been sent as of Friday morning.

The site boasts 18 card options, including “This card entitles you to one free hug  full-body pat-down” with a photo of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and “Don’t censure this Valentine” with a photo of Rep. Charles Rangel, who was censured by the House of Representatives for ethics violations.

Bush daughter backs gay marriage

Former President George W. Bush’s daughter Barbara is speaking out in support of same-sex marriage.

“I’m Barbara Bush and I’m a New Yorker for marriage equality. New York is about fairness and equality and , everyone should have the right to marry the person that they love. Join us,” she says in a brief video released by the advocacy group Human Rights Campaign.

In a break with her father, Ms. Bush, who lives in Manhattan, joins other prominent New Yorkers in calling on New York to legalize gay marriage, The New York Times reported Monday.

Media relations eclipse rhetoric as bare-knuckle politics

UK/

The campaign rhetoric couldn’t be harsher, what with the talk about who’s a whore and who’s a nut job and who cheated on who’s ex-wife. (Remember when ‘who’ was just the guy on first?)

But nowadays the real bare-knuckle politics appears to be between the candidates and the news media.

Take the Senate campaign in Alaska. Tea Party Republican Joe Miller won’t talk to the press about his past as a public official. And when a journalist wouldn’t stop asking about it over the weekend, Miller’s private security team intervened.

Political insider still “in” in New York governor’s race

carl1New York voters are plenty angry. But apparently they’re not so comfortable with “scary-angry” and that could be costing Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino some support, The New York Times reports.

According to a New York Times poll released on the eve of their Monday night debate, Democrat Andrew Cuomo has opened a big lead over Paladino, 59 percent to 24 percent.

Fifty-nine percent of voters said Paladino did not have the right temperament and personality to be a good governor.  Fifty-five percent said the real estate developer who’s never held public office did not have the right kind of experience.

GOP, conservatives seen dominating November turnout

USA-POLITICS/Bad news, Democrats.

The crowd most likely to vote on Nov. 2 is a lot more Republican and a lot more conservative than the one that gave Congress to the GOP in 1994.

So says a new Gallup survey that forecasts Republican and conservative majorities at polling stations for the congressional mid-term elections.

Fifty-seven percent of people who call themselves likely voters are Republican or lean Republican, while 54 percent are conservative, according to Gallup.

Mum’s the word on Clinton family wedding

hill_chelsea“My lips are sealed… I’m under strict orders not to talk about it,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revealed in an NBC interview.

The “it” she’s referring to is not a state secret. “It” is the upcoming wedding of Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of the secretary of state and former President Bill Clinton.

The publicity-shy Chelsea and fiance Marc Mezvinsky are getting married at the end of the month.  Plans for the wedding are a closely guarded secret. And mother is following orders — no details divulged here.

Eyes glaze over at the U.S. Supreme Court

Not all U.S. Supreme Court cases involve blockbuster rulings on contentious issues like abortion, capital punishment and religious disputes about church-state separation — and on Wednesday even one of the justices admitted that one of their latest decisions might cause eyes to glaze over.

USA/The issue was whether a federal court may dismiss a class-action lawsuit that is barred by state law of whether a federal rule of civil procedure prevailed allowing the case to go forward.

Justice Antonin Scalia, the author of the court’s main opinion in the case, recounted the factual background of the dispute.

Wasn’t Groundhog Day last week? Another blizzard slams East Coast

WEATHER-USA/It is starting to feel a lot like that (in)famous movie “Groundhog Day” with a powerful blizzard again pelting the East Coast  from Washington, D.C. up to New York with a foot or more of snow and pummeling winds.

The federal government in Washington is closed for the third straight day, the United Nation’s headquarters in Manhattan is also shuttered — in fact it may be easier to say what’s open, which is probably next to nothing except the random coffee shop and well of course Wall Street.

Already about 15,000 customers in the Baltimore/Washington area are without power and that number will likely jump with wind gusts reportedly hitting more than 40 miles per hour at Dulles International Airport and near whiteout conditions.

The First Draft: Will Giuliani try for the U.S. Senate?

He probably won’t run for New York governor but might for the U.S. Senate … or will he?
     
That’s the speculation swirling around Rudy Giuliani, the Republican former New York City mayor who walked tall after the Sept. 11 attacks and ran for U.S. president in 2008.
    
A spokeswoman says the 65-year-old former federal prosecutor has made no decisions.
    
But the New York Daily News, the New York Times  and the New York Post  all report that Giuliani has decided not to run for New York governor in 2010. USA-POLITICS
    
Analysts think he could defeat Democratic incumbent Governor David Paterson without much fuss. But overcoming a possible challenge from New York’s Democratic attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, could be have been difficult. Cuomo has not announced his candidacy.
    
The Daily News reports that Giuliani is strongly considering a Senate run against Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to fill out the remaining two years of Hillary Clinton’s term. Clinton, who lost in last year’s Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama, is now U.S. secretary of state.

The Daily News cites poll numbers showing Giuliani losing to Cuomo 53 percent to 43 percent in a race for governor,  but beating Gillibrand 54 percent to 40 percent for the Senate.

But the Senate speculation may not last long.

The New York Post quotes people close to Giuliani as saying a run for the Senate is unlikely.