LIGHTNING ROUND: THE WORLD'S GREATEST DELIBERATIVE BODY.

  • Stimulus roundup: Another Republican senator proposes replacing the entire economic recovery package with a trillion-dollar tax cut, Matt Yglesias finds among the various atrocities of the Senate centrist wing praise for the stimulus' supposed benefits for education while the actual "compromise" slashes funding, Mike Tomasky calls the stimulus bill a "triumph" while Paul Krugman blames President Obama for the watered-down legislation, Arlen Specter pens a narcissistic op-ed in The Washington Post explaining why he is voting for the stimulus, Nate Silver wonders whether the center (as it were) held because of a four-letter word, a Post report suggests that oversight could suffer and waste flourish if too much money is injected into a dilapidated government acquisition system too quickly, Politico finds some tension between GOP lawmakers and their base -- the business community, and Ted Kennedy, out of commission since his Inauguration Day seizure, will be back in the Senate to vote for the stimulus.
  • Center-right nation watch: Both CNN and Gallup find that President Obama remains popular with the public, and that the stimulus still enjoys bare-majority support. Gallup also finds congressional Republicans to be supported by just 31 percent of the public (58 pecent disapprove) while their Democratic counterparts get a 48 percent approval.
  • The president spoke at a town hall meeting today in Elkhart, IN, which boasts the nation's fastest-rising unemployment rate. Unlike the phony town hall events used by the Bush administration, the Obama team did not resort to using pre-screened questions from audience members. Novel! The president is scheduled for a similar event in Fort Myers, FL, tomorrow and will be introduced by Republican Gov. Charlie Crist.
  • Also on the Obama public-relations front, McClatchy reports that the much-vaunted grass-roots machine of the campaign has been less responsive to calls of support for the president's economic recovery package, Robert Gibbs doesn't think much of cable news as a medium for channeling the administration's message, Politico looks at Obama's use of the one-on-one White House meeting as a means for successfully cultivating legislative allies, and the administration fills a blog outreach post.
  • Like Adam, I too am disappointed that the Obama administration has chosen to use the old "state secrets" dodge instead of releasing the details of Binyam Mohamed's interrogation, but the good news is that Eric Holder is willing to review all the invocations of state secrets privilege during the Bush administration.
  • Kathleen Sebelius is reportedly in top consideration for HHS secretary, although given the recent ugliness of getting big-ticket legislation through the Senate I'd much prefer the possibility of her taking a Senate seat in 2010 (not that the two are necessarily incompatible).
  • It seems as though new RNC Chair Michael Steele spent half the weekend fending off allegations that he used funds from his unsuccessful 2006 Senate run to pay for services at his sister's defunct company (which were never actually performed, natch), and the other engaging in feeble attempts at rabble rousing over stimulus spending for fish passage barriers -- whose actual use he couldn't be bothered to explain to his constituents -- without noting his own inconsistency on the issue. Also, Steele falls victim to the siren song of new technology being the savior of the GOP.
  • Weekend remainders: The expanding duties of White House counsel Greg Craig, The New York Times looks at Richard Holbrooke's new job, Jonathan Cohn reports that health-care reform remains a year-one priority for the administration, and Russ Feingold's attempts to pass a constitutional amendment mandating special elections for Senate vacancies remains a tough sell.

--Mori Dinauer

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