Monday Morning Catch-up: News You May Have Missed
Policy + Politics

Monday Morning Catch-up: News You May Have Missed

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Top Story: Election 2012
Republican dissatisfaction with the field of potential Presidential nominees was not dramatically altered by last week’s GOP debate in New Hampshire, and that has fed the possibility of at least one new entrant: Texas Governor Rick Perry.

The Texas economy has weathered the recession better than any other major state, and Paul Gigot of The Wall Street Journal said on Meet the Press that nearly 40 percent of all new post-financial-crisis jobs have been created there.

Besides those economic bragging rights, Perry’s views are appealing to Republican social conservatives. As if to underscore that, on Aug. 6 in a Houston stadium he is hosting an event that has as its centerpiece “a day of prayer and fasting on behalf of our troubled nation.” 

Republican political strategist Matthew Dowd said on This Week with Christiane Amanapour: “I live in Austin. I've known Rick Perry for 25 years. I knew Rick Perry when both of us were Democrats…[and] while it may be true that there's not an appetite for a lot of social conservative issue, I think he best touches those issues quickly. He has got the best anti-Washington rhetoric. He was Tea Party before Tea Party was cool. And he ran a race in Texas against a very popular incumbent Republican senator and beat her badly with an anti-Washington [stance]. I think he is best positioned to run against Washington and run against the problems up here more than anybody else.”

Former Bush press secretary Dana Perino said on Fox Sunday with Chris Wallace that if Perry is going to get into the Presidential race, he has to do so soon.

“…You do need to have an organization. You need to have an ability to do some good fund-raising [and have people in place] to help you through those first primary states,” she said. “They've got a little bit of time, not a ton of time. I would say he will probably announce by the end of July if he's going to get in or not.”

On This Week, Jacob Weisberg, editor of Slate, said of Representative Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota: “She had a good performance [in the debate]. I mean, in a way, she's a like a Sarah Palin who makes sense when she speaks. You know, she doesn't think everything revolves around her. She doesn't think reality is like an elitist plot against her. And to be frank, she doesn't lie reflexively the way Sarah Palin does. So if there's room for one of them in the race, it certainly looks like it would be Bachmann now on the far right rather than Palin.”

But historian Doris Kearns Goodwin cautioned on Meet the Press: “We forget how early it is. This time in '07, McCain was in the wilderness.  His campaign was imploding.  So we've got a lot way to go.”

As the Republicans appear to be struggling to find a candidate who can attract various constituencies and be a formidable opponent to Barack Obama, there may be a backlash building against efforts by the Republican-controlled Congress to put reduction of the deficit above all.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, the incoming head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, is a Democrat but he seemed to be speaking for many of his fellow municipal chief executives when he said on Meet the Press: “…It feels like these people [in Washington] are on another planet.  I mean, the fact is America's out of work, too many people haven't been able to get back into the workplace…. The debate right now among the Republicans is so out of touch with everyday people who live on Main Street.”

On Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer pressed the unemployment issue with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

“Do Republicans have any plans to do anything on the unemployment front or are you just going to let things take their course?” Schieffer asked.

“I think what we’re doing is encouraging the President to quit doing what he’s doing,” said a somewhat flustered McConnell. “Quit overspending. And we’re hoping with the debt ceiling discussions, we can begin to address deficit and debt. And second, they need to quit over-regulating the American economy.”

Afghanistan and Libya
America’s military presence in Afghanistan and its commitment to the NATO campaign against the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi is becoming a domestic issue.

On Meet the Press, LA Mayor Villaraigosa  said: “In America's cities, we're saying that America needs to focus at home again.”

And it’s also becoming an issue that is internally dividing the political parties. Republicans in the House of Representative are questioning whether in the case of Libya, the President is exceeding the authority granted to him under the War Powers Act, which restricts the ability of the Commander-in-Chief to engage the country in a military action without the consent of Congress. And Amanapour said on This Week that practically all the GOP Presidential candidates debating in New Hampshire “were talking about pulling back from all their overseas commitments.”

But on Meet the Press, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina contended that the War Powers Act is unconstitutional and said: “The president's done a lousy job of communicating and managing our involvement in Libya, but I will be no part of an effort to defund Libya or to try to cut off our efforts to bring Gaddafi down.  If we fail against Gaddafi, that's the end of NATO.  Egypt's going to be overrun and the "Mad Dog of the Mideast"--what Ronald Reagan called Gaddafi--if he survives this, you're going to have double the price of oil…because he will take the whole region and put it into chaos.”

GOP Senator John McCain of Arizona went even further that his ally Graham, suggesting on This Week that Republicans were putting politics over national security.

“I was…concerned about what the candidates in New Hampshire the other night said. This is isolationism. There's always been an isolationist strain in the Republican Party, the Pat Buchanan wing of our party,” McCain said. “But now it seems to have moved more center stage”

Later on This Week, conservative columnist George Will blasted back against the McCain-Graham position. “The United States is engaged in hostilities in Iraq, Afghanistan, the tribal region of Pakistan, Yemen, and Libya. That's five wars. How many do these people want? With regard to Libya, did Libya attack us? No. Was it about to attack us? No. Were we obliged by a treaty to get engaged in a civil war in a tribal society? No. Were Americans endangered? No. Find me a reason for this.”

“Well, the reason is the humanitarian reason,” Amanapour suggested.

“To say that people are isolationists, akin to those who didn't want to resist Hitler and the empire of Japan, because they don't want to prolong the folly of the involvement in Libya is preposterous,” Will responded. “When Ronald Reagan, much quoted, saint of the Republican Party, made a mistake, as he did in Lebanon, he quickly liquidated it. …We were engaged in World War II for 1,346 days. We had reached that point in Afghanistan on June 14, 2005, six years ago. …And to say that this is somehow disproportionate is not isolationism.”

On Face the Nation, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said that the situation in Afghanistan was now stable enough that the U.S. can make a major withdrawal of troops. Later moderator Bob Schieffer asked House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan, about that statement.

“Well, Bob, I don’t know what he’s looking at,” Rogers said. “I must have missed that particular brief. We are in a very, very precarious place in Afghanistan right now.”