Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Immigration and more

A victory for the administration, but another pyrrhic one?

USA-IMMIGRATION/ARIZONAA judge in Phoenix blocked key parts of Arizona’s immigration law just hours before it was to take effect today, supporting a legal challenge from the Justice Department. The decision is likely to boost Obama’s standing among Hispanics, who have been disenchanted by his failure to keep his promises on immigration reform. But just like the president’s victories on healthcare and financial reform, this looks like another triumph which may take some selling to the American public. Not only will Obama’s Republican and Tea Party foes be further energized, but opinion polls show Arizona’s law was supported by most Americans.

Elsewhere, New Jerseyites in the newsroom were disappointed today that Obama only ordered half a Super Sub at Tastee’s famous sandwich shop in Edison. “When I was 20, I could order a 12-inch,” the president said. “I’m turning 49 next week, which means just a half.”

But I am reassured by my colleagues this is not another arugula moment, when Obama was called elitist for complaining about the price of the salad green at upmarket store Whole Foods to an audience of Iowa farmers. Nor does this match John Kerry’s ridiculed attempt to order Swiss cheese with his Philly cheesesteak in 2003.

Obama, let’s not forget, took Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Arlington institution Ray’s Hell Burger in June, and he did at least take his sub today “with everything” because he heard that “is the way to go.” Given his wife’s public campaign against obesity, maybe this was one compromise the president was right to make.  

Here are our top stories from today:

Key parts of Arizona anti-immigration law blocked

A judge blocked key parts of Arizona’s tough new immigration law hours before it was to take effect, handing a victory to the Obama administration as it tries to take control over the issue.

Washington Extra – Economy hits Obama’s poll numbers

It’s still “the economy, stupid.”

Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign slogan, famously pinned up on the wall of their Little Rock headquarters by James Carville, never seemed more appropriate than it does today.

Our first Reuters/IPSOS national poll dramatically illustrates how the parlous state of the economy is undermining confidence in President Barack Obama and his Democratic colleagues ahead of November’s mid-term elections. OBAMA/

Americans clearly identified the economy and jobs as the main problems facing the country today. Even more overwhelmingly, they said that Obama was not focusing on the issue enough.

Washington Extra

The Obama administration admitted today that the economy was facing “strong headwinds” and that government finances were on an unsustainable path. Not a great backdrop as we head into November’s elections, as the White House is only too well aware.

OBAMA-ECONOMY/JOBSBut at least the president is trying to set a good example himself. Yesterday we heard how the Obama family was putting its vacations to work for the good of the economy, visiting the Florida Gulf Coast where tourism has been savaged by the oil spill. Now we learn that the First Daughters are getting lessons in managing their money wisely. Not only do Malia and Sasha have their own savings accounts, but they are nearly ready to start earning money babysitting. While those are valuable lessons for a 12 and nine-year-old girl, I am not sure how the $10 an hour they might earn would cover the costs of their driver and armed guard.

Otherwise, today’s highlights include an analysis of the resurgent fortunes of Sarah Palin and her increasingly influential role in the run up to the November mid-terms. And take a look too at our examination of what might be in store when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unveils a stripped down energy bill next week.

Washington Extra

It was two years in the making, runs to 2,300 pages, took three Republicans to pass it, and 11 pens to sign it into law. President Barack Obama put the seal on a drastic overhaul of the rules governing Wall Street and the banking industry today, using a separate pen for each letter of his name. FINANCIAL-REGULATION/OBAMA

Behind him, Joe Biden chatted throughout the signing ceremony, often with his back to the camera, so we just have to assume the vice president thinks this particular legislative victory is also a “big … deal”.

Influential business groups lined up with Republicans to criticize the new law for the 533 new regulations they say it imposes, while Obama’s one-time friend, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, was not even invited to the signing ceremony. No sign of a rapprochement in the relationship between the presidency and Big Finance, as Obama used the occasion to take another swipe at “unscrupulous” lenders and the “abuse and excess” that lay behind the financial crisis.