Editor's note: Gloria Borger is a senior political analyst for CNN, appearing regularly on CNN's "The Situation Room," "Campbell Brown," "AC360°" and "State of the Union With John King" as well as other programs during special event coverage.
(CNN) - In my next life, I'd like to be an opposition party leader. What fun to go to work every day knowing you will always be right, largely because your ideas will remain untested.
So you propose theories to your heart's content, with vague plans and proposals guaranteed to make any voter smile. If we were in charge, you sing, the people would have tax cuts! More money in their pockets! And no deficits! But more jobs!
And, oh, what about the great pleasure of taking on the poor guy who won? On any particular day, the president is either a socialist (health care), a captive of environmental greenies (climate change) or a dithering commander in chief who disagrees with his generals and can't make up his mind (Afghanistan). Name-calling. Can't beat that for a job.
All the while, you - the "serious" opposition - continue to intone to the public "we want to work with him, of course."
Of course, you don't.
(CNN) - Tom DeLay's dancing days have come to an end.
While miraculously escaping another round of elimination on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" Tuesday night, the former Republican House majority leader voluntarily withdrew from the widely-watched competition on recommendations from his doctor and the show's producers.
The man once known as "The Hammer" on Capitol Hill said he was just too injured to continue, developing stress fractures in both his feet that made it very difficult to endure the rigors of the competition.
Delay originally remained defiant in the face of such pain, declaring last week, "nothing's going to stop me from doing this dance." But this week's round of competition proved too taxing on the 62 year-old, evidenced by a wince-inducing performance Monday of the samba to War's "Why can't we be friends."
In the end, the man who gave in to few fights in Washington had to call it quits on the ABC hit series.
"If you can't practice, you make a fool of yourself out here," DeLay said. "I don't want to do that to [my dancing partner] Cheryl."
Carried out on wheelbarrow on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" Tuesday night, DeLay appeared slightly embarrassed over the development: "A boy from Texas breaking his feet dancing...," he said to laughter.
Still though, DeLay remained confident his skills could have carried him forward.
"Can you shake your booty like I can?" Delay asked a skeptical Kimmel.
Asked if he his performance will inspire other indicted politicians to dance, Delay - who was charged with criminal violations of state campaign finance laws but never convicted - said "hey, it keeps you out of jail."
"But God for bid if you end up in jail, it's not a good thing for the inmates to see on reruns," Kimmel replied.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A day after meeting with congressional leaders from both parties, President Obama sat down Wednesday afternoon with his national security team, the third of five meetings on U.S. strategy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Rising violence and the resurgence of Taliban and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan have put the Obama administration on defense as the war enters its ninth year.
The war has claimed the lives of 865 Americans and 570 allied troops, and U.S. public support for the conflict has slipped sharply in the past two years. There are 68,000 troops in the country now.
The White House has been working with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, who is expected to call for 40,000 more troops to carry out a counterinsurgency strategy.
It's a proposal that top Republicans and some moderate-to-conservative Democrats who attended the meeting agree with. Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Missouri, said Obama should approve the proposal.
"I really think that the president's going to have to listen to Gen. McChrystal. He's his man. He's his pick," Skelton said. "This is a matter of national security."
Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Michigan, said Wednesday that whatever the president decides, he must lead "boldly in a mission that needs to be successful, outline his case to the American people and then align all of our resources ... to execute the strategy that he selects."
Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada is just another example of what's wrong with Congress.
Ensign tells CNN he didn't break Senate ethics rules when he helped get a lobbying job for the husband of his mistress. Ensign claims he was very careful and merely "recommended" this man for a job like he's recommended a lot of other people.
But the New York Times recently reported that the senator played an active role in getting the lobbying position for Doug Hampton — whose wife he was sleeping with. And — that Hampton went on to lobby Ensign on behalf of his clients — which he's not supposed to do. Ethics rules bar him from lobbying his old boss for a year after leaving his job on Capitol Hill.
But this slime ball senator insists he did nothing wrong here. Senator, it's ALL wrong. When asked if he has any plans to resign, Ensign says: "I am focused on doing my work."
Now the Senate Ethics Committee (which is an oxymoron) has started a preliminary investigation… which, if history is any judge, is meaningless. They won't do anything - they never do when judging one of their own. The whole thing is a joke and shows the impunity with which these arrogant elected scumbags operate.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - Conservative Senate Republicans added another firecracker to the politically explosive health debate Wednesday, introducing a resolution requiring all bills to be made public at least 72 hours before being brought to a vote.
The White House, meanwhile, continued to woo Republican moderates with the help of several current and former GOP officeholders who recently broke with their party's leadership and endorsed the Democratic-led reform effort.
The latest posturing took place as Capitol Hill braced for a long-awaited non-partisan analysis of the tax and spending provisions in a key congressional committee's health care legislation.
The Republican resolution - which would require cost estimates for each bill from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office - is designed to prevent what party leaders fear will be Democratic attempts to eventually ram redrafted legislation through Congress with little or no debate.
WASHINGTON (CNN)– Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey - whose looming primary challenge helped drive former GOP Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania into the Democratic Party - raised over $1.5 million this past quarter, his campaign announced Wednesday.
Toomey has brought in over $3.1 million from over 20,000 contributors since announcing his candidacy in April, according to his campaign.
Specter's edge over Toomey in a hypothetical general election matchup appears to have evaporated: polls released last week show the two in a dead heat.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama puts on his fundraiser-in-chief hat again later this month.
The president is scheduled to headline a top-dollar dinner for the Democratic National Committee at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York on Tuesday, October 20, according to a Democratic source.
Obama is also the main attraction at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee-Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee joint fundraiser in Miami on October 26, according a a Democratic leadership staff source.
The president also heads back onto the campaign trail later this month. Jon Corzine's re-election campaign says the Obama will team up with the New Jersey governor later this month. The president joined Corzine at a campaign rally this summer, and on Wednesday Vice President Biden teamed up with Corzine in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will be the keynote speaker at an Iowa Republican Party fundraiser on November 7, kicking off the party's primary season battle for the governor's mansion in that state, and stirring speculation he is planning a presidential run in 2012.
In July, the Iowa Republican Party told CNN they had been courting former Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin to headline the annual dinner. Around that time, the party also extended an invitation to Pawlenty, Republican Party chair Matt Strawn told CNN Wednesday.
"We've got an open invitation to Sarah Palin whenever she wants to come to Iowa," Republican Party Executive Director Jeff Boeyink told CNN Wednesday. But, he added, "we are thrilled to get Tim Pawlenty to headline our event."
Tickets to the annual "Leadership for Iowa" event being held on the Iowa State Fairgrounds are being sold for $25. The party expects between 500 and 1,000 attendees.
The Minnesota DFL accused Pawlenty Wednesday of neglecting his state duties in favor of his political ambition.
"Spending most of his time on the road these days, Governor Pawlenty's more-of-the-same mentality and personal ambitions have made him little more than a suave hit man pandering to right-wing extremists," DFL Chair Brian Melendez said in a statement Wednesay.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama spoke with his Iraqi counterpart on Monday and Tuesday, addressing upcoming elections and the security situation in the battered Mideast nation, the White House said.
The White House said Obama spoke with Talabani by phone on Monday and stopped by Talabani's meeting on Tuesday with National Security Adviser General Jim Jones.
Obama passed along his appreciation for Talabani's efforts in promoting national unity, fostering leadership, and working to adopt an election law, the White House said.
Obama underscored the U.S. commitment in helping Iraq "promote security, political progress, and economic development." They spoke about an upcoming conference Oct. 20 and 21 - the U.S.-Iraq Business and Investment Conference in Washington, the White House said.
Talabani's office said the White House meeting on Tuesday included discussions on U.S. troop withdrawal plans, the January legislative elections and the promotion of American investment in Iraq, particularly in the oil, gas and mineral industries.