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Flotsam and Jetsam

You wonder how White House spokespeople keep a straight face: “A USA TODAY review of Obama hires shows that 21 have registered as federal lobbyists, although most have not done so within the past two years. They include White House aide Cecilia Muñoz, who lobbied last year for the National Council of La Raza, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who lobbied in 2007 for a national teachers union. White House spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Obama is following through on his commitment to operate under strict ethical standards.”

Marc Ambinder  argued that the Republicans should have supported the stimulus, and ever-so helpfully supplies the Democratic spin: “Obama has done everything reasonable, and more, to move toward non-P-partisanship.  The overwhelming impression he’s leaving for voters is one of reasonableness and accommodation.” Actually, he didn’t address any of the Republican concerns, although he was pleasant enough in some meetings. And those comparative popularity numbers (Obama’s 70% [actually it is in the mid-60s but Ambinder rounds up generously] vs. Congress’ 20%) would mean something — if the Republicans were each running against Barack Obama. But they will be running against Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats whose collective favorability rating is, well, 20% or so. But maybe if the bill hadn’t been so dreadful Ambinder’s analysis might have been compelling.

On to the Senate now where Mitch McConnell’s press office makes the point: for all that bipartisan talk out of the White House, Nancy Pelosi stiffed the Republicans and wound up with zero support.

Sen. Bob Corker isn’t buying the stimulus bill. “A total waste of money,” he calls it.

George Will argues that although the new President is entitled to a measure of deference, “congressional Democrats have turned the 647-page stimulus legislation into an excuse for something that never needs an excuse — an exercise in wretched excess. They have forfeited some of the president’s claim to deference.” To be clear, the White House has been content to hide behind Nancy Pelosi’s skirts so they have, properly speaking, forfeited their own claim to deference.

Of all the things to take umbrage at, the Washington Post goes after the President on his snow closing criticism: “But something, well, rankled, just a bit when this newcomer thumped his chest about ‘flinty Chicago toughness’ and proclaimed that ‘when it comes to the weather, folks in Washington don’t seem to be able to handle things.’ In fact, Tuesday’s ice produced a particularly slippery day yesterday. Mr. Obama can make pronouncements from inside his well-shoveled bubble, but we can report that it was pretty treacherous out there in the real world. School administrators who opted for closure made the right call — this time. To the Obamas, we say: Welcome to Washington, and, hey, you have it easy. At least one parent has the flexibility to work from home.” On this one he’s right, although I’m sure the local schools could do without the President micro-managing their cold weather policies.

Why do Democrats insist on dressing down in the White House?

George Mitchell has Jimmy Carter’s hearty endorsement. Swell. And you can’t miss the icy condescension directed toward Hillary Clinton: “I think she’ll comply with the policies established by the president.” Hey, if Carter hates her that might be another reason to have faith in Clinton. (But realistically it has more to do with years of grudge-holding by Carter for real and imagined slights by Bill.)

John McCormack observes: “Of 11 Democrats who voted against the stimulus, most are considered vulnerable next cycle.” So when the MSM calls this a “party line vote,” that’s not quite right. It was the “no” vote that attracted the other side of the aisle– and specifically those worried that the bill is a dud and the that President’s popularity won’t help them in 2010.

Jonathan Martin (the lone Politico reporter who covers Republicans as more than a mere distraction  in the Age of Obama) hits the nail on the head: “A day after Barack Obama spent over an hour on House Republican turf, he couldn’t pry loose a single vote among the GOP for the centerpiece of his economic recovery plan Wednesday. For all Obama’s efforts to wield the personal and political power of the presidency, the vote signaled that despite their weakened political state and the popularity of the new president Republicans won’t be won over by charm alone.”

Okay, this is amusing. Rush Limbaugh writes: “Fifty-three percent of American voters voted for Barack Obama; 46% voted for John McCain, and 1% voted for wackos. Give that 1% to President Obama. Let’s say the vote was 54% to 46%. As a way to bring the country together and at the same time determine the most effective way to deal with recessions, under the Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009: 54% of the $900 billion — $486 billion — will be spent on infrastructure and pork as defined by Mr. Obama and the Democrats; 46% — $414 billion — will be directed toward tax cuts, as determined by me.” Aside from the merits (why not have both tax cuts and pork if Democrats insist on the latter?), it does highlight how unwilling the President has been to reach out to Republicans. Which was Limbaugh’s point, of course.

Martin Feldstein who actually favors a stimulus plan thinks the current one isn’t the right one: “The problem with the current stimulus plan is not that it is too big but that it delivers too little extra employment and income for such a large fiscal deficit. It is worth taking the time to get it right.”

The evidence against Blago doesn’t seem all that compelling — or complete. But that doesn’t slow down David Broder, who is infuriated by his Washington Post colleagues who question just how guilty Blago is. But Broder doesn’t need evidence because someone told him at a dinner two years ago that Blago was “the worst ever.” Well that seals it, I guess.

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