There are two reasons why Republicans aren’t winning the political fight over President Obama’s executive action on immigration. One: The GOP remains divided in how to respond (beyond decrying the action Obama took on Thursday). Two: It ceded the political high ground when House Republicans refused to consider ANY immigration bill that dealt with border enforcement and the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. “I do think that the president moved beyond his authority,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), one of the co-authors of the Senate “Gang of Eight” bill, stated on “Meet the Press” yesterday. “Having said that, for my role in the Senate, I think we ought to put legislation on the president's desk. That ought to be the response.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), another “Gang of Eight” member added to CNN, “Shame on us as Republicans. Shame on us as Republicans for having a body that cannot generate a solution to an issue that it's national security, that's cultural and it's economic… I'm disappointed in my party.” As long as there are these kinds of quotes from Republicans, the GOP isn’t going to win this fight, even if the public doesn’t like the process Obama used here.
US-Iran talks headed for another extension
Not surprisingly, it appears that the United States’ nuclear talks with Iran are headed for another extension. Western diplomats tell NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, "Given progress made this weekend, talks headed to likely extension with experts and negotiating teams reconvening in December at a yet to be determined location." Our take: Talking is always better than not talking, but the sides aren’t close to an agreement yet. And don't forget the Obama administration knows it has to strike a deal that's good enough to keep Congress from overriding it. And that may be the reality here: The US delegation hasn't struck a deal that can pass muster with Congress.
2016 poll watch
A new 2016 Bloomberg poll of New Hampshire, conducted by Purple Strategies, finds what we pretty much know this far out: 1) the potential GOP field is very competitive, and 2) Hillary is crushing any Democratic opposition. On the GOP side when Romney is removed from the field, Rand Paul and Chris Christie are tied at 16%, followed by Jeb Bush at 14%, Ben Carson at 9%, Mike Huckabee at 8%, Paul Ryan at 7%, Ted Cruz at 5%, Bobby Jindal at 4%, and Rick Perry at 3%. (Question: Why weren’t Marco Rubio and Scott Walker included as possibilities?) On the Dem side, it’s Hillary Clinton at 62% among Democratic primary voters, Elizabeth Warren at 13%, Bernie Sanders at 6%, and Joe Biden at 5%. In hypothetical general-election matchups -- yes, we know Election Night 2016 is about two years away -- Clinton tops Jeb Bush by 8 points (47%-39%) and Rand Paul by seven (48%-41%). But Romney reduces Clinton’s lead to just one point, 46%-45%.
“That new car smell”
Speaking of 2016, President Obama didn’t do Hillary Clinton any favors with this quote over the weekend. "I think the American people, you know, they're going to want -- you know, that new car smell. You know, their own -- they want to drive something off the lot that doesn't have as much mileage as me," he told ABC, explaining why he doesn’t plan to play a big role in the 2016 campaign. Obama’s quote is accurate: After a president’s two terms in office, the public does look for “that new car smell.” But if you’re a Democrat or Hillary supporter, he could have used a better metaphor here. Indeed, here was the Republican National Committee jumping all over Obama's metaphor. "Obama and the Democrats may want to get a new message if they hope to elect Hillary to Obama’s third term," the RNC says.
Obama awards Presidential Medal of Freedom
At 2:15 pm ET, Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 19 artists, activists, and public servants, the AP reports. They include “actress Meryl Streep, Ethel Kennedy, widow of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder and Rep. John Dingell… Others being recognized at a White House ceremony Monday are composer Stephen Sondheim, NBC journalist Tom Brokaw and author Isabel Allende.” And: “Posthumous medals will go to six individuals, among them civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.” Congratulations to our colleague Tom Brokaw!
Friday news dump, Part 1
Last Friday was the quite the day for news dumps, especially coming the late afternoon the Friday before Thanksgiving. The first news dump: The GOP-led House Intelligence Committee’s admission that the two-year-long Benghazi scandal, well, has really never been much of a scandal. “Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria,” the AP wrote. “The report did not conclude that [Susan] Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people.” Bottom line: Many prominent Republicans owe Rice and the American public an apology. But I’m not sure we’re going to see it. “I think the [House Intelligence Committee] report is full of crap,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told CNN yesterday. That said, the real scandal here was always the Obama administration’s Libya policy, not what happened (or didn’t happen) in Benghazi. That's always been the case. And yet some critics have missed seeing this policy forest through their conspiratorial trees.
Friday news dump, Part 2
The other Friday news dump was maybe even more significant: The end of the combat mission in Afghanistan? Well, it isn’t happening this year. The New York Times with the scoop: “President Obama decided in recent weeks to authorize a more expansive mission for the military in Afghanistan in 2015 than originally planned, a move that ensures American troops will have a direct role in fighting in the war-ravaged country for at least another year.” More: “Mr. Obama’s order allows American forces to carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government, a broader mission than the president described to the public earlier this year, according to several administration, military and congressional officials with knowledge of the decision.” The Times cites two reasons for the increased military role: 1) the lesson of ISIS in Iraq, and 2) a much more cooperative government in new Afghan President Ghani.
RIP, Marion Barry
We thought the New Yorker’s David Remnick summed up the political life of former DC Mayor Marion Barry very well: “Give him this: Marion Barry was the most vivid local politician in the history of the District of Columbia. Like Earl and Huey Long, of Louisiana, he was a kaleidoscopically strange and contradictory political beast: a man of civil rights, a man of fallen character, a cunning operator, an arrogant hack, a builder, an underminer, a spokesman for the dispossessed, a bullsh!% artist.” And if politics is about the art of survival, Barry was one of the all-time pros. He was 78.
Click here to sign up for First Read emails. Text FIRST to 622639, to sign up for First Read alerts to your mobile phone. Check us out on Facebook and also on Twitter. Follow us @chucktodd, @mmurraypolitics, @carrienbcnews