Washington Post -- McCain calls Steele's remarks on Afghan war ‘wildly inaccurate'

A good rule of thumb for any chairman of the Republican National Committee: When Rep. Ron Paul is your only notable public defender, you’ve got problems.

Paul congratulated Steele for expressing (in what he thought was a private strategy session for candidates) hopelessness about the Obama nation-building strategy in Afghanistan.

But the Republican Party that tolerated so much falderal and failure from Steele over the past 18 months is finally turning on its chairman.

(My column on the real problem with Steele’s remarks is here.)

With John McCain and his deputy, Sen. Lindsey Graham, stopping just short of openly calling for Steele’s ouster, the chairman’s days may be numbered.

Writer Felicia Sonmez reports:

“Since video of the remarks surfaced Friday, many within the party have stepped up their criticism of Steele. Several, including Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol, former deputy assistant secretary of state Liz Cheney, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and former South Carolina Republican Party chairman Katon Dawson have called on him to resign.

Steele has tried to clarify his comments, saying in a statement that "for the sake of the security of the free world, our country must give our troops the support necessary to win this war."


The Hill -- Democrats told to press Social Security fears over recess

Writer Molly Hooper demonstrates one of the problems with the current Democratic campaign strategy of scaring voters about the possibility of a return to Republican majority.

If you’re in charge, you end up sounding pretty silly talking about a theoretical rule on abstract subjects when you’re in charge and there are plenty of real problems to confront.

House Minority Leader John Boehner talked about the possibility of curtailing Social Security payments for the wealthy in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The paper put the issue in the context of Afghan war funding and Democrats are now trying to raise the idea that Republicans want to cut off checks to pay for the war.

Very thin stuff, especially coming from a party that just voted to partly fund a new health care entitlement by cutting $500 billion out of Medicare.

But Democrats are facing a wipeout election and are apparently already grasping at anything that floats by.

“Boehner later denied saying that in an interview with The Hill but Democrats, including fellow Buckeye State lawmakers, called Boehner ‘un-American’ and ‘outrageous and callous.’

The effort appears to be an election-year grasp at stoking the flames of fear that seniors will lose government benefits or that the age of Social Security recipients will be raised to 70.

Pelosi appears to have previewed the recess talking point on the matter: ‘In the Congress, Republicans want to privatize Social Security. We are opposed to that.’”


New York Times -- Teachers’ Union Shuns Obama Aides at Convention

Government employee unions are the most powerful part of the Democratic coalition. They have money and members with time to organize. The two education unions – the larger National Education Association (skewed toward administrators, bus drivers and other non-classroom employees) and the American Federation of Teachers (teacher-centric and part of the AFL-CIO) – are at the heart of any Democratic political plan. The two spent as much as $75 million of their dues money getting Democrats elected in 2008 and use their positions of respect in communities to push candidates.

The Obama administration has flooded cash to the unions in an unprecedented fashion. After all the stimulus and aid packages already shipped out, the president is risking his already limited credibility on the deficit by seeking $23 billion in teacher pay deficit spending.

But team Obama has embraced some conservative ideas about education – boosting charter schools and encouraging districts to “race to the top” for cash prizes by holding teachers accountable. Even $23 billion in free money cannot hide such apostasy from public unions. They are, after all, designed to protect teachers from accountability and competition.

Writer Sam Dillon went to the education unions’ conventions and found no one from the administration was invited to speak and that sentiment against the political home team was running very strong.

“Here in New Orleans, many state and local teachers’ union leaders have expressed ambivalent views on the Obama administration.

‘We have to recognize that with Obama we have a voice in the decision-making, they listen to us,’ said Earl Wiman, president of the Tennessee Education Association. But he added, ‘Mostly what we’ve seen out of this administration is a top-down, put-your-thumb-on-somebody kind of philosophy, and it’s aroused more frustration around federal education policy than I’ve ever seen.’”


New York Times -- Once-Dominant Party in Mexico Seems Resurgent

The resurgence of the old kleptocratic, socialist regime in Mexico should be a good indication of where the country is heading.

The PRI, which ruled the country for three generations, had been pushed aside in recent years by a reformist coalition led by Vicente Fox and now cartel-busting Felipe Calderon. The strong showing by PRI in Sunday’s elections tells us that the Mexican electorate is weary of reform and ready to let the drug lords have their piece of the action if it will restore peace.

And like the Taliban in Afghanistan, the cartels can wait it out.

Writers Marc Lacey and Elisabeth Malkin report from exico City:

“Political analysts said state races typically hinge on local issues and personalities, which makes them only a partial predictor of the national mood. But the P.R.I.’s strong showing across the country, a decade after losing the presidency and being relegated to dinosaur status, was still viewed as a sign that it was the party to beat two years before the 2012 election to replace Mr. Calderón.”


Politico -- Labor, business push Manchin to appoint self

It will be the middle of the week before we hear what West Virginia’s governor means to do about Robert Byrd’s vacant Senate seat.

But Gov. Joe Manchin is pretty clearly keeping his options open. While all signs point to a special session on July 19 to change the law to allow for an election this fall (which Manchin would likely enter and win), the governor is looking to create a groundswell for self-appointment in case that doesn’t work out.

Self appointment is politically toxic, but with enough personal popularity, cover and confusion, Manchin must hope he can pull it off.

Two of his strongest political allies are leading the charge for a self-appointment. This is about as surprising as Joe Biden endorsing barrack Obama for a second term but it does tell us that the game is afoot in Charleston.

Writer Shira Toeplitz, though, treats the “draft Joe” movement as some sort of spontaneous eruption.

“{Union president Larry] Matheney said the executive board of the West Virginia AFL-CIO passed a resolution last Tuesday asking Manchin to appoint himself ‘as soon as possible.’ But he said the union has kept the resolution quiet until now out of respect for Byrd, and plans to go to the governor’s office Tuesday morning to deliver the resolution in person and try to change the governors’ mind about appointing himself.

‘We did in fact pass a resolution from our executive board asking Gov. Manchin to appoint himself as soon as possible following the burial of our dear Senator Byrd,’ Matheney said. ‘We at least believe that it would be in West Virginia’s best interest to fill that vacancy as soon as possible with someone of Gov. Manchin’s character and we do believe he would carry on the ideals of Senator Byrd.’”


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