Matt Bai’s long-awaited, 10,000-word opus on the rise and fall of last summer’s deficit grand-bargain is finally out and very much worth a read. Bai adds a lot of new detail affirming what we thought we knew—which is that Obama was ready to do a deal and Boehner wasn’t—but which got much hazier in recent weeks amid Team Boehner’s furious spin. Still, for my money, Bai puts too little emphasis on the much deeper problem looming over the whole exercise, which is that it didn’t actually matter whether Boehner was willing to strike a deal.
I'm not sure this is sign number one, but it definitely makes my top ten list. Over at National Review, Charlotte Hays sides with New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny in his now-notorious exchange with the former Pennsylvania senator: On the video of Rick Santorum’s lashing out at Times reporter Jeff Zeleny, Zeleny appears to be trying to do something we wish more reporters would do: ask the follow-up question. He wants to make sure he heard right: Did Santorum really say that Mitt Romney is the “worst Republican in the country” to go up against Obama?
Bloomberg has an absolutely terrific piece of reporting out today about how the big banks have mobilized to water down the Volcker Rule—the reform measure designed to prevent federally-backed banks from placing bets for their own bottom line. Here’s the gist: To make their case in Washington, banks and trade associations have been pressing a coordinated campaign to get regulators from five federal agencies to scale back the draft of the proprietary-trading rule issued in October, according to public and internal documents and interviews.
Last week I wrote about how Karl Rove’s Wall Street Journal rebuttal of the recent Obama campaign documentary was a masterpiece in projection. Of particular interest was this paragraph, in which Rove downplayed Obama’s biggest foreign policy achievement: As for the killing of Osama bin Laden, Mr. Obama did what virtually any commander in chief would have done in the same situation. Even President Bill Clinton says in the film "I hope that's the call I would have made" [emphasis added].
Over at The Washington Post, Jonathan Bernstein argues that the Jim Yong Kim nomination for World Bank president is (for liberals at least) a pleasant byproduct of having a Democratic president: It’s very difficult for me to imagine John McCain, had he won the presidency — or a President Mitt Romney, for that matter — reaching out beyond the usual bankers and recycled government officials to choose someone like Kim. But it’s not at all hard to picture Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden or Chris Dodd picking him. Presidents don’t make these types of picks on their own.
Lots of people can (and will) tell you about the views of Jim Yong Kim, the administration's nominee to be World Bank president, on fighting poverty and improving global health over the next few days. But the Wall Street Journal has unearthed what's sure to be the most compelling character testimonial you're going to find (fast forward till about two minutes in to get to the good stuff): A bit painful to watch, I know, but it convinced me the guy is going to be pretty terrific in this job. I love him already.
Our former colleague Jon Chait ran a sideline business these last few years calling Karl Rove on the various forms of projection he practiced when it came to criticizing Obama. But if Chait were still on this beat today, I’m sure he’d concede that he actually no idea how pathological this Rove-ian tick was back when he wrote all those blog items. Rove’s column in today’s Wall Street Journal, about the dishonesty of the recent Obama campaign documentary, is a true thing of beauty.
On Sunday, The Washington Post published a long, blow-by-blow of last summer’s negotiations between Barack Obama and John Boehner over a $4 trillion deficit deal. The take-away from the piece is that Obama had a chance at a deal involving $800 billion in tax increases and trillions in spending cuts (including cuts to sacred programs like Medicare and Social Security), but that he got cold feet and backed away.
A week ago, after Rick Santorum swept the GOP contests in Mississippi and Alabama, Mitt Romney faced a choice: He could shake up his campaign following the unexpected setback, or double down on the strategy he’d been deploying for weeks, which meant touting his large delegate-lead, portraying himself as inevitable, and exploiting his enormous financial advantage. Romney chose the latter, and the decision paid off in Illinois last night.
It’s very hard to watch “The Road We’ve Traveled,” 17-minute documentary the Obama campaign released Thursday night, and not be impressed by its underlying premise, which is that the president inherited a terrible set of crises, and that we’re in far better shape thanks to his efforts. The video succeeds in recreating the clammy terror of the financial crisis, and in calling up the sense of relief you felt when this obviously serious and composed young president spoke so fluently about how we’d get out of it.