Expect the White House to take a more hands-on approach to the unrest in Egypt… Dueling ad campaigns in the fight to define health care’s implementation… The immigration debate returns… Obama to deliver a statement at 11:50 am ET about his administration’s management agenda… The Year of Redemption continues with Eliot Spitzer’s run for NYC comptroller… Is Spitzer’s entry Weiner’s worst nightmare?... Perry to announce his political plans today in San Antonio… And Enzi vs. Liz Cheney?
*** Hands on a hard situation: As the news out of Egypt gets worse -- 42 were killed and 322 were injured after the Egyptian military fired on Muslim Brotherhood supporters -- one thing is certain: Expect the Obama administration will take a more hands-on approach to dealing with the political unrest there. This includes creating incentives for Egypt to get this right this time, getting Morsi released from his house arrest, having a more inclusive government, and propping up governing institutions. The White House realizes that if you can’t get a country like Egypt right, then it seems impossible to get stability in more problematic Middle East countries such as Syria. If there was a regret from the last round of Egyptian unrest, it was the decision to stay more hands off during the transition to democracy. As involved as the president was in helping escort Mubarak out of office, there was a hesitancy -- understandable to many -- of being very involved with the new government. After all, American involvement is a double-edged sword in these countries; no one can be successful in Egypt if they are seen as an American puppet. But at the same time, the Obama administration now realizes it needs to use its influence more than it did the last time. And make no mistake, the U.S. does have influence here; it’s just not clear how to use it. But it all starts with getting Morsi released.
Mohammed Saber / EPA
Members of the Muslim Brotherhood carry an injured supporter of ousted Egyptian President Morsi during clashes with Republican guards forces in Cairo, Egypt, 08 July 2013.
*** The fight to define health care’s implementation: After the Supreme Court upheld the health-care law and after Obama won re-election, the White House assumed -- as did most everyone else -- that it wouldn’t have to fight again over the law’s legitimacy. Well, so much for that assumption. As Republicans fight implementation of the law and as the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity is planning to air TV ads attacking the law,Obama’s Organizing for Action is up with its second TV advertisement touting its benefits. “My daughter Zoe had her first open-heart surgery when she was only 15 hours old,” a mother says to the camera in the ad. “Before Obamacare, insurance companies could put lifetime caps on your health insurance… Zoe was halfway to her cap before her first birthday… Thanks to Obamacare, we can now afford the health care that Zoe needs. And for her, that’s a lifesaver.” One of the challenges that Team Obama confronts in this implementation battle is that chaos and setbacks (like last week’s employer-mandate delay) always get more attention than improvement and success does (like what’s happening in California and with declining health-care costs). Also note how this OFA ad targets young mothers; ditto the Americans for Prosperity campaign which will air on shows like “Chopped” and “Law & Order: SVU.” This is the real battle for implementation: Convincing mothers -- and thus their grown children -- to get insurance. Both sides realize mothers are the most crucial group here to make or break the health-care law.
*** The immigration debate returns: Health care, of course, isn’t the only policy fight taking place in Washington. With Congress back this week after its July 4 recess, the immigration debate returns. On Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner huddles with his Republican conference to discuss how they proceed after the Senate passed its bipartisan immigration bill. And also on Wednesday, George W. Bush will deliver a speech on immigration from his presidential library in Dallas. (In an interview with ABC, the former president said immigration reform was important to pass.) This immigration fight right now is a battle over the heart and soul of the GOP. Is it a party that’s willing to compromise to solve a public-policy problem? Or is it simply opposed to reform because Obama is for it? What does Boehner do? And does Paul Ryan become the Marco Rubio in the House? As for the Obama White House’s role, the Washington Post says the president will get more involved. Obama “is devising a new, more public strategy that will include events in states with large Latino populations, advisers say — part of an aggressive effort to pressure House Republicans who remain skeptical of proposed changes. The White House intends to rally GOP constituencies friendly to the cause, as well, including business and evangelical groups.”
*** Manager-in-chief: The White House just added these two events to Obama’s public schedule today -- a 10:30 am ET meeting with his cabinet and an 11:50 am statement on the president’s management agenda. Per the White House, Obama will meet with his cabinet “to lay out his vision for smarter government during his second term. One of the president’s first priorities after taking office was to bring a government built for the 20th century into the 21st century… [T]he president will direct his cabinet and key members of his administration to build on the progress made over the first term, and challenge them to go even further.”
*** The Year of Redemption continues: Redemption has been a common theme in American politics. After all, every elected modern president going back to LBJ had once lost a political race. And even the most successful of politicians have experienced plenty of ups and downs. But what we’ve witnessed this year is something else. After Mark Sanford won a congressional contest in South Carolina and as Anthony Weiner is running neck and the neck in the polls for New York mayor, former disgraced New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is now running for New York City comptroller. “I’m hopeful there will be forgiveness, I am asking for it,” Spitzer told the New York Times. (What’s next, John Edwards running for attorney general in North Carolina?) Yet at time when the public’s view of politicians couldn’t be any worse, these runs for redemption only seem to demean political office. Yes, Americans have short memories. And, yes, having high name recognition is pure gold in campaigns. But disgraced politicians using political campaigns as therapy for past sins -- whether it’s prostitution or lewd tweets or an affair on the taxpayers’ dime -- is a disservice to those who haven’t done those things. Today is a bad day for every honest elected official in the country as their profession is dragged through the mud yet again. But it isn’t a bad day for the tabloid headline writers. Here’s the New York Post’s cover: “Here We Ho Again.”
*** Weiner’s worst nightmare? By the way, Spitzer’s entry into the race for New York comptroller is Weiner’s worst nightmare. Why? Because just as it seemed that the story about Weiner’s past has moved on, plenty of New York voters will be reminded about it with the Spitzer news. And as others have pointed out, Spitzer is running for a lesser office (from New York governor to comptroller), while Weiner is running for a promotion (from congressman to mayor of the nation’s most high-profile city). Per a campaign schedule, Spitzer will conduct several interviews and collect signatures to be ballot while stumping in Union Square at noon ET.
*** Perry to announce his political plans: Speaking of possible political redemption… As NBC’s Carrie Dann reported last week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is expected to announce his future political plans at an event today in San Antonio with some of his closest friends and confidantes. The smart money is on Perry saying that he WON’T run for re-election as governor next year. Per the Texas Tribune, heir apparent Greg Abbott, the state’s attorney general, has planned a meet-and-greet in Austin on July 18, and Abbot has amassed the largest campaign war chest in the state. Then again, Perry -- the longest-serving governor in Texas history -- has surprised folks before. In 2010, it was widely expected he’d step aside to make way for Kay Bailey Hutchison. But he ended up running and crushed KBH in the primary. So anything could happen…
*** The Lone Star battle continues: Meanwhile, Perry said on “Fox News Sunday” yesterday that the anti-abortion legislation -- which had been filibustered by state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-TX) -- would pass in the new special legislative session, as it’s expected to do. “This is going to pass,” he said. “I’m pretty good at counting votes.” (In that same interview, Perry declined to comment on his political future.) And tonight in Texas, anti-abortion groups are holding a rally at the state Capitol in support of the legislation.
*** Enzi vs. Cheney? Lastly, the New York Times’ Martin writes about what COULD be the biggest Republican primary of 2014: Mike Enzi vs. Liz Cheney -- if Cheney mounts a primary challenge against the incumbent senator. “Ms. Cheney, 46, is showing up everywhere in the state, from chicken dinners to cattle growers’ meetings, sometimes with her parents in tow. She has made it clear that she wants to run for the Senate seat now held by Michael B. Enzi, a soft-spoken Republican and onetime fly-fishing partner of her father. But Ms. Cheney’s move threatens to start a civil war within the state’s Republican establishment, despite the reverence many hold for her family. Mr. Enzi, 69, says he is not ready to retire, and many Republicans say he has done nothing to deserve being turned out. It would bring about ‘the destruction of the Republican Party of Wyoming if she decides to run and he runs, too,’ Alan K. Simpson, a former Republican senator from the state, said in an interview last week. ‘It’s a disaster — a divisive, ugly situation — and all it does is open the door for the Democrats for 20 years.’” If there was one unmistakable message in this piece: Wyoming Republicans were warning Liz -- be careful of picking a fight you might not win.
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First published July 8 2013, 6:10 AM