Friday, June 26, 2009

Chuck Todd presents Politics with a Michael Jackson Theme


*** Don't Stop Til You Get Enough: As anyone who has turned on a television set in the past 12-15 hours has noticed, Michael Jackson's passing will overshadow any political news today -- and perhaps throughout the weekend. Of course, that's probably welcome news to South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, as well as to a Republican Party that was going to have to endure more "What's wrong with the GOP?" stories. Also, the Jackson news, plus the fact that it's the Friday before Congress leaves for its July 4 break, makes it a ripe opportunity for a bad news dump. So what/who will it be? Still, politics doesn't stop.

President Obama meets in the White House with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at 10:30 am ET, and the two hold a joint press conference an hour later. Obviously, much of the coverage of today's bilateral will focus on some of the tension between the two world leaders, particularly over fiscal policy (Merkel has questioned the U.S. spending, while the Obama administration has wondered why Germany isn't doing more to counteract the global recession). But do note that this is the THIRD personal meeting between the two since Obama became president. The biggest news that Merkel and Obama could make would be on the issue of Iran.

*** Pick Your Title -- Human Nature, PYT, The Lady In My Life, The Way You Make Me Feel, She's Out Of My Life, The Girl Is Mine: Mark Sanford tries to return to some normalcy today, when he holds a cabinet meeting at 12:30 pm. But the calls for him to resign are getting louder now that he's admitted to visiting his Argentine girlfriend while on a taxpayer-funded trip. "While the purpose of this trip was an entirely professional and appropriate business development trip, I made a mistake while I was there in meeting with the woman who I was unfaithful to my wife with," Sanford said in a statement yesterday. "That has raised some very legitimate concerns and questions, and as such I am going to reimburse the state for the full cost of the Argentina leg of this trip." That's not satisfying some South Carolina Republicans, however.

"I think he's gone, it's over," said state Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler Jr., per the New York Times. "Leaving aside his personal life, when you use taxpayer dollars, that's what Republicans are all about - spending tax dollars wisely. This was not spending tax dollars wisely." [It is not the SEX. It is the Money.]

The next three weeks are huge for Sanford. If there's a drip-drip of more allegations, then he probably can't hang on. But he's got two things going for him now: 1) Michael Jackson's death, and 2) the July 4th holiday. Both could be disruptions that keep him out of the public eye a tad.

*** Thriller (on Capitol Hill): Perhaps the biggest drama in politics today will be in the House of Representatives, where Democrats are trying to bring to the floor -- and then pass -- the energy/climate change/cap-and-trade legislation. Per NBC's Mike Viqueira, Democrats last night didn't think they had the votes to pass the bill. And if they don't have the votes, they aren't going to bring it to the floor. Viq adds that the legislation is up in the air as of this morning. Right now, House Democrats plan to move forward with the bill first thing today. But it's not in the bag. Speaker Pelosi was seen stalking the floor yesterday during votes to button-hole wavering Democrats. Of course, today's drama sparks this question: If the energy bill is THIS heavy of a lift in the Democratic-controlled House, then how the heck is the White House gong to get this bill out of the Senate?
First Read with NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd, every weekday on MSNBC-TV at 9 a.m. ET.
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