Chuck Hagel was confirmed as Defense Secretary on Tuesday after a strong opposition from Senate Republicans. Despite being a Republican himself, Hagel had to face a possible filibuster in the process of his confirmation, which came with a 58-41 vote, the smallest margin for a defense secretary since 1947.
52 Democrats, two independents and just four Republicans voted to confirm Hagel, with 41 Republicans opposing him. The Senate had voted earlier in the afternoon 71-27 to end the debate of the nomination. Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska was nominated by President Obama to the post. Obama released the following statement:
“I will be counting on Chuck’s judgment and counsel as we end the war in Afghanistan, bring our troops home, stay ready to meet the threats of our time and keep our military the finest fighting force in the world.”
Hagel will be sworn in tomorrow morning and face spending cuts as they are set to automatically kick in on March 1. In a statement, Hagel said, “I will work closely with Congress to ensure that we maintain the strongest military in the world and continue to protect this great nation.”
Republicans opposed the nomination in part because of Hagel’s opposition to the troop surge in Iraq. There were also concerns about comments Hagel had made that put into question is commitment to Israel and suggestions were made that he received money from North Korea.
In the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, leaders at all levels of government are putting politics aside to form the best disaster response possible for the regions effected by Sandy. President Obama, in what was just a week from election day, joined a conference call with utility executives to express the fact that turning power back on for the millions without it was a top priority Energy Secretary Stephen Chu and FEMA administrator Craig Fugate had also joined the call in an effort to find out what assistant FEMA could provide in assisting the companies in getting the power turned back on.
8 million homes across 18 states had lost power the AP reported.
The White House said, “The President also commended the dangerous and exhausting work being undertaken by the lineman and utility workers on the front lines in the field, repairing downed power lines and conducting other important tasks.”
The following day, President Obama flew to New Jersey to meet with Republican Governor Chris Christie and other state and local officials. Press Secretary Jay Carney told the media, “It is entirely appropriate for the president to visit New Jersey …and to view first hand the damage inflicted by Sandy. This is not a time for politics.”
Upon meeting with Governor Christie, he and President Obama toured damaged areas on the Jersey Shore and Long Beach Island in a helicopter. Following the tour, they spoke at a shelter, offering one another praise.
President Obama said, “I want to just let you know that your governor is working overtime to make sure that as soon as possible everybody can get back to normal. Christie returned praise adding, “I want to thank the president for coming here today. It’s really important to have the president of the United States acknowledge all the suffering that’s going on here in New Jersey and I appreciate it very much. We’re going to work together to make sure we get ourselves through this crisis and get everything back to normal. Thank you for coming, sir.”
While the public is divided on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll show’s that President Obama holds a significant lead on the issue over Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Only 30% of people polled have a favorable opinion of Governor Romney’s stance on health care, while 47% view it negatively. The 17% deficit also comes with 23% of those polled undecided.
The spit on the law in general came with 43% of Americans seeing it favorably while 42% view it unfavorably. That was a shift prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling as 52% viewed it negatively, to 36% who viewed it positively.
ABC News wrote:
“A challenge for Romney, in addition to his weaker support overall, is the fact that critics of the Supreme Court ruling don’t flock to him as an alternative. Among people who see the ruling unfavorably, Romney’s plans for the system get a tepid 45-36 percent positive rating. Among those who see the ruling favorably, by contrast, 86 percent also see Obama’s plans favorably.
Obama’s plans for the system are 12 points more popular than Romney’s among independents, the customary swing voters in national elections. But both men do poorly in this group – 38 percent positive for Obama, 26 percent for Romney. And Obama tips into majority negative territory among independents; 52 percent see his plans for health care unfavorably. Romney’s at 46 percent negative, again with more undecided.”
The Road We’ve Traveled, a new 17 minute short film about the first term of President Obama was unveiled to campaign volunteers to get them ready for the road ahead. The Obama re-election campaign produced the film, with Oscar-winning director Davis Guggenheim directing the short film. Narrated by Tom Hanks, it includes sit down interviews with President Obama’s closest advisors and other politicians. Those featured include, VP Joe Biden, David Axelrod, Elizabeth Warren and Rahm Emanuel.
The film touches on the killing of Osama bin Laden, the economic stimulus, the auto industry bailout, the wind-down of the Iraq war, the health care law, repealing don’t ask-don’t tell, the women’s equal pay act, among other accomplishments.
“It’s really effective to see everything summarized like that,” 27-year-old Alison Shurtleff told Politico. Shurtleff had volunteered for Obama in 2008. He added, “You kind of forget some of the stuff from the beginning, right after his election.”
Guggenheim won his Oscar for directing Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.
The film can be seen in its entirety below.
While early predictions either favored Brown or put Brown and Warren neck and neck, a few missteps by Brown and the rising tide of anti-financial sector sentiments have begun to swing the tide slightly in Warren’s favor. Recently, Brown invoked angry sentiments when he made unflattering quips about Warren’s physical appearance when questioned about his nude photo spread in Playgirl. If Brown continues such missteps, and if public opinion against big moneyed interests continue to rise, then Warren, who is seen among many as a stalwart defender of the middle-class consumer against big money, could easily ride that wave to a Democratic victory in 2012.
In fact, it appears that public opinion is beginning so slowly turn. The New York Times reported on October 10, 2011 that Warren is out fundraising Brown and far out fundraising her democratic primary candidates, two of who have withdrawn from the race, and that favorable opinions of her amongst likely voters are growing. Current polls have Warren and Brown tied in the Massachusetts senate race. Not a bad performance for someone who just entered the race a month ago.
The ostensible purpose of the operation was to track the weapons in order to combat the drug cartels, but many political rivals of the Administration see the operation as cynical ploy to push a domestic gun control agenda, and point to numerous instances of left wing commentary before the Fast and Furious story broke that claimed a connection between lax U.S. gun laws and gun violence in Mexico. Others on the opposite side of the spectrum claim that these operations were the work of “rogue” elements within the ATF and that the gun running operations originated under the auspices of the Bush Administration.
What is clear is that William Newell, the ATF special agent in charge of the Phoenix area where most of the straw purchases occurred, has admitted in sworn testimony that “the DHS, IRS, DEA, ATF, ICE and the Obama Justice Department were all involved” in the Fast and Furious operation. President Obama says he knew nothing about Fast and Furious, even though $10 million in stimulus funds were set aside for the operation in February of 2009 and he referred to “gun tracing” and “gun enforcement policies” in a joint press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon in April 2009.
The media’s reluctance to report on this story lends credence to the claim that the media is largely compliant and partisan, but as more facts come to light that illuminate trails leading high up into the Justice Department, the media can no longer ignore the story, and Operation Fast and Furious may become the singular issue of the 2012 Election.