Tales from the Trail

White House responds to naked House Democrat’s satanic tale

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Eric Massa was a little-known freshmen House Democrat only a month ago. Now he’s a political media sensation and a darling of Talk Radio/TV commentators capable of provoking the White House on healthcare reform.

Why the metamorphosis? Massa abruptly resigned from Congress, revealed he had an angry run-in with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel while the two were naked in a congressional gym shower, and now claims he was pushed out of office by the White House to keep him from voting against healthcare reform.

Oh, and he’s come to the conclusion that Emanuel is a “son of the devil’s spawn.”

The bit about healthcare reform has Republicans hopping with joy, because it coincides with President Barack Obama’s final push for Congress to enact his proposed overhaul of the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system.

Massa has had a number of explanations about why he’s leaving Congress. He said last week that he would not seek U,Sre-election because of his health. Later, he said he would leave office this week to avoid an ethics probe into a sexual harassment allegation by a male staffer.

Gingrich once again at head of Republican pack

Once, a first-term Democratic president failed to deliver on healthcare reform and found his party USA-POLITICS/swept from office by a wave of voter anger that brought Republican Newt Gingrich to the forefront of American politics. Could this history lesson from the Clinton era be repeated?

Healthcare reform is stalled, voters are angry and Gingrich — who rose to prominence as House speaker after Republicans won Congress in 1994 — is again leading the pack, this time among  potential White House hopefuls for 2012.

The Washington-based political news outlet, Politico, says Gingrich’s political action committee is raising money far faster than those of 2008 campaign veterans including Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

A film classic ripe for a Washington-style update?

USA/It’s Oscar nomination day, which means some in snow-covered Washington DC — Hollywood for ugly people, if you believe the old saying — are daydreaming about what it would be like to make a blockbuster film. “Avatar” seems to have the inside track in this year’s Academy Award race, but isn’t there an old classic movie ripe for a Washington-style remake?

USA-POLITICS/BROWNHow about “Meet John Doe”? It’s a Frank Capra morality piece made in 1941, where a soda jerk can speak basic truth and a rail-riding hobo is played by Gary Cooper, the George Clooney of his day. Everybody’s scrounging for a job and a buck, they’re laying off the old pros at the local newspaper and a cigar-chomping oil magnate wants to get into politics. Barbara Stanwyck plays a hard-driving columnist who fakes a letter from a mythical “John Doe” who says he’s going to leap off the city hall roof on Christmas Eve to protest widespread corruption and the state of the world in general.

USA/But that’s all background. What makes it made-to-order for a 2010 remake is what happens when Gary Cooper a.k.a. “John Doe” speaks to a big gathering, reading remarks written by the columnist, who’s now in cahoots with the oil magnate: the crowd loves him so much they go out and form grassroots John Doe Clubs, just to be neighborly. No politicians allowed. They’re not partisan, they just want to make things a little better.

The First Draft: Talk shows help drive Palin’s popularity

If Sarah Palin were elected president of the United States, would conservative talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck wind up in her cabinet?

That’s a toughie. But Palin already tops the list of Republican Party favorites and that fact is due in part to her popularity with Limbaugh’s and Beck’s audiences, according to a Washington Post poll.
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Seventeen percent of Republicans, including 23 percent of Republican women, say they would vote for Palin if their party’s 2012 state primary election or caucus were held today.

She out-guns Mike Huckabee who got 10 percent of the vote, Mitt Romney at 9 percent and John McCain with only 7.

The First Draft: H-Day

CHINADrum roll please…

Will Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, a moderate from Maine, become the first Republican in Congress to back a healthcare reform bill?

Will one or more Democrats defect from President Barack Obama’s signature issue?

The suspense is almost too much to bear… USA-HEALTHCARE

The Senate Finance Committee meets at 10 a.m. to vote on its version of sweeping healthcare reform.

U.S. conservative talk radio: little fondness for Kennedy legacy

Ted Kennedy’s polarizing political legacy was on full display on Wednesday as some U.S. conservatives showed little restraint in their hostility for the veteran liberal senator who died late on Tuesday. 

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Conservative talk radio hosts blasted away at the policies of Kennedy, a towering figure in the Democratic Party and a standard bearer of liberal causes who died at age 77 after a lengthy battle with brain cancer.

Nationally syndicated talk show host Rush Limbaugh said the political left was “exploiting his death and his legacy” to advance President Barack Obama’s agenda for healthcare reform, which was also one of Kennedy’s signature issues.

The First Draft: the Supreme Court and the Spelling Bee

SPELLING BEE/KIDSWith Congress gone this week and President Barack Obama out of town for most of today, Washington turns to its two traditional inside-the-Beltway sporting events: handicapping a Supreme Court nominee’s chances of confirmation, and watching the nerve-wracking finals of the National Spelling Bee.

Sonia Sotomayor, picked by Obama on Tuesday, is already being praised in an ad by liberal groups and vilified as a racist by conservatives, including radio talk jock Rush Limbaugh, whom the White House has tried to style as the de facto head of the Republican Party. Obama himself stumped for his choice on a Western swing yesterday to Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

The president returns to Washington for a late afternoon meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The First Draft: Now he’s talking!

CHENEY/Dan Quayle played golf in Arizona. Al Gore taught journalism in New York. But Dick Cheney is breaking with the tradition that former vice presidents quietly leave Washington and the public eye when they exit the White House. Even Cheney’s ex-boss, George W. Bush, has refrained from criticizing the Obama administration, saying the new team deserves his silence. But Cheney was positively gabby on a Sunday talk show.

While many in official Washington were recovering from Saturday evening’s White House Correspondents Association dinner — where President Barack Obama got off some memorable one-liners and comedian Wanda Sykes took aim at radio talk jock Rush Limbaugh, among others — Cheney gave a lengthy interview to “Face the Nation” on CBS television. The replay of clips from that chat were still reverberating on Monday’s morning shows on CNN, NBC and ABC.

On waterboarding terror suspects, which critics say doesn’t work in getting useful information — aside from it being torture — Cheney disagreed. “Khalid Shaikh Mohammed … an evil, evil man that’s been in our custody since March of ’03 … did not cooperate fully in terms of interrogations until after waterboarding. Once we went through that process, he produced vast quantities of invaluable information about Al Qaeda.”

Who speaks for the Republican Party?

USAWASHINGTON – For Americans United for Change, the left-leaning political action group that worked to defeat President George W. Bush’s Social Security private accounts proposal, it’s conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh.

Americans United joined forces with the public employees union American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to finance a hard-hitting “No” ad linking the Republican party with Limbaugh, who said on his radio show that he wanted President Barack Obama to fail.

It’s part of a strategy by top Democratic strategists to associate Republicans, who opposed Obama’s economic stimulus plan, with those comments by Limbaugh.

Did Rush help Hillary in Indiana?

DALLAS – Has Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton improbably emerged as the favorite of the “Guns and God” crowd?

The U.S. media and blogosphere has been ablaze with speculation that conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh may have contributed to Clinton’s narrow victory in Tuesday’s Indiana primary over Barack Obama by urging Republicans to vote for the former Guns and God favorite?first lady.

The speculation is that the “Rush for Hillary” is seen as a way to extend the Democratic nomination battle and further damage the eventual winner.