(CNN) – It's early, and State of the Union is bringing you the best of the headlines to go with your morning coffee.
On our radar: Leadership deals with House Democrats, earmarks, cutting the deficit, and will Rep. Heath Shuler announce he's running for minority leader on the show?
Check out what we're reading this morning and watch the show today with guest host Joe Johns at 9am/12pm ET.
And don't forget to watch our special, "Bush: Two Years Later" tonight at 8pm/11pm ET
REP. HEATH SHULER (D-NC)
After Party’s Rout, a Blue Dog Won’t Back Down
Gerrymandering, Republicans say, was the reason behind the defensive stand by North Carolina’s House Democrats, who were able to bear the national Republican tidal wave and keep seven of their eight seats and the majority among the state’s delegation. (In the other chamber, Senator Richard M. Burr, a Republican, easily won re-election.) When the new district lines are drawn, said Larry Ford, chairman of the Republican Party in Rutherford County, “Heath Shuler is toast.”
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC)
Clyburn urges colleagues to back Pelosi's plan to create his No. 3 spot
"I respectfully solicit your support for the resolution of this matter that has been promulgated by Nancy Pelosi. It adds an elected Leadership position and maintains a Leadership structure that honors the diversity and fosters the unity of our Caucus," Clyburn stated in the letter.
That may help Pelosi avoid a revolt from black lawmakers anxious to make sure that Clyburn, the highest-ranking African American in Congress, isn't booted from the leadership or demoted in rank. Moreover, the deal does little to alleviate the frustrations of a scattered but sizable set of junior Democrats who believe Pelosi and her senior allies exercise too much control over caucus structures, including campaign, policy and committee-assignment apparatuses. Those lawmakers are working to rewrite internal rules to take power away from the septuagenarians who run the party.
GOP senators are planning an internal vote this week on a moratorium proposed by DeMint that would ban Republicans from passing earmarks – lawmakers' fiercely guarded practice of steering federal money to pet projects in their home states. At least eight current senators are publicly supporting DeMint's moratorium, as well as five incoming Republican senators: Rand Paul (Ky.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.).
If lawmakers don't act by Nov. 30, upwards of 2 million people could be without federal emergency benefits by the end of the year, according to figures from the National Employment Law Project (NELP).
Over the next few days, White House officials said they will begin to gauge whether they can forge an alliance with any top Republicans, many of whom are scheduled to attend a bipartisan meeting at the White House on Thursday. Although Obama could benefit from a high-profile compromise – perhaps on extending the Bush-era tax cuts or on other tax initiatives set to expire before the end of the year – officials are also prepared to point out any Republican intransigence. "Very clearly, the Republicans have been given greater authority, and with that authority comes responsibility," said White House senior adviser David Axelrod. "People are looking for progress, not gridlock." Another senior official acknowledged that the trust level between the two sides heading into Thursday's meeting is relatively low, saying the White House is "hopeful but not naive" about striking a deal.
In seeking to repair the U.S. image abroad during his first year in office, Obama often used himself as a parable of America's ability to learn from its mistakes. But Obama is now pushing policies to strengthen American security and accelerate the U.S. economic recovery, unfolding more slowly than in many other nations, that have met resistance overseas.
Can any single person fully meet the demands of the 21st-century presidency? Obama has looked to many models of leadership, including FDR and Abraham Lincoln, two transformative presidents who governed during times of upheaval. But what’s lost in those historical comparisons is that both men ran slim bureaucracies rooted in relative simplicity. Neither had secretaries of education, transportation, health and human services, veterans’ affairs, energy, or homeland security, nor czars for pollution or drug abuse, nor televisions in the West Wing constantly tuned to yammering pundits. They had bigger issues to grapple with, but far less managing to do. “Lincoln had time to think,” says Allan Lichtman, a professor of history at American University. “That kind of downtime just doesn’t exist anymore.”
"If these guys don't deliver on their promises, then I expect by 2012 a third party could emerge," she said. "For Republicans . . . it's their last shot. They better perform."
IN OTHER NEWS…
In an interview with The Washington Post, Karzai said that he wanted American troops off the roads and out of Afghan homes and that the long-term presence of so many foreign soldiers would only worsen the war. His comments placed him at odds with U.S. commander Gen. David H. Petraeus, who has made capture-and-kill missions a central component of his counterinsurgency strategy, and who claims the 30,000 new troops have made substantial progress in beating back the insurgency. "The time has come to reduce military operations," Karzai said. "The time has come to reduce the presence of, you know, boots in Afghanistan . . . to reduce the intrusiveness into the daily Afghan life."
The general said: "In conventional war, defeat and victory is very clear cut and is symbolised by troops marching into another nation's capital. First of all you have to ask: do we need to defeat it [Islamist militancy] in the sense of a clear cut victory? I would argue that it is unnecessary and would never be achieved. "But can we contain it to the point that our lives and our children's lives are led securely? I think we can."
Even as it announces the "transition" process, which will not immediately include troop withdrawals, NATO will also state its intention to keep combat troops in Afghanistan until 2014, a date originally set by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The seemingly contradictory messages, in communiques and agreements to be released at NATO's upcoming summit in Lisbon, are intended to reassure U.S. and European audiences that the process of ending the war has begun.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has agreed to push his cabinet to freeze most construction on settlements in the West Bank for 90 days to break an impasse in peace negotiations with the Palestinians, an official briefed on talks between the United States and Israel said Saturday evening.
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