Monday, April 6, 2009

The Weekly Strike-4/6/-4/12

Good morning and welcome to the Weekly Strike, where we preview the upcoming week in politics. It will be a slightly quieter week, with Congress out of session until April 20th, and the President still overseas until tomorrow. But nonetheless, there is plenty to talk about.

THE WHITE HOUSE: Obama's journey today continues in Turkey, where he gave a major speech, as promised, in a Muslim nation. This morning, he spoke to the Turkish parliament to, in his words, "send a message to the Muslim world." He affirmed that the United States is not at war with Islam, and that America will be respectful of the Islamic faith even when we disagree. He noted the contributions of many Americans with Muslim backgrounds, including himself. Can you imagine him saying that during the campaign?

This speech may not generate that much news stateside, but it is critically important. The part of the War on Terror that was completely ignored for the past 8 years was changing the hearts and minds of the Muslim world. If any American leader can succeed in this realm, it's Obama. The combination of his background, his communication skills and his empathy will be critical to rebooting our attitude towards the Muslim world. The neo-con class, led by John Bolton/Newt Gingrich types, will never understand this as an important part of our global effort. It may seem "weak" or "naive," but we've spent decades doing the exact opposite, and the results have been perilous.

The President moves on to Istanbul this afternoon, and stays through tomorrow, when he returns to Washington. According to aides, Obama's schedule will be lighter this week while he recovers from the jet lag. I expect a possible signing ceremony for the public service bill and possible announcements on economic policy.

Vice President Biden will stay quite busy in the meantime. He will throw out the first pitch at today's Yankees vs. Orioles game in Baltimore. Dick Cheney got booed out of the stadium when he threw out the first pitch at a Nationals game two years ago, hopefully Biden will not suffer the same fate.

On Wednesday, the Vice President will greet troops coming back from overseas at Fort Bragg. He will be joined by his wife, Jill.

ELECTIONS: Another week, another House election, this time to fill Rahm Emanuel's seat in Illinois. The Democratic candidate, Mike Quigley, is heavily favored. If he loses in this heavily Democratic district, we might be in trouble. The election will take place tomorrow.

Also, they will start counting absentee ballots in New York's 20th Congressional District, where the race is basically tied between Democrat Scott Murphy and Republican Jim Tedisco. We won't know the result for another week or so, at least, because overseas military ballots are not due until April 13th. Once we know the results of these two elections, the whole number of members in the House will be 434. A special election to fill the seat of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will take place in July, after a May primary. Also, Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) is expected to resign when she is confirmed to a position in the state department, and a special election will be required for her seat as well.

None of this matters too much since the Democrats will have a large House majority no matter what happens in these races. I don't expect the races for Solis' or Tauscher's seats to be very competitive. The districts are both heavily Democratic.

That's it for today, join us tonight for The Daily Strike, and stay tuned for a post from The Big Picture.

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