CNN's GUT CHECK | for January 9, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: ANOTHER (FEMALE) CABINET DEPARTURE: LABOR SECRETARY HILDA SOLIS RESIGNS… U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has submitted her resignation, CNN has learned. She said in a letter to colleagues that she discussed the matter with her family over the holidays in California has "decided to begin a new future." … AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR.
LEW NOMINATED: OBAMA TO PICK JACK LEW AS TREASURY SECRETARY… President Barack Obama will nominate his White House chief of staff, Jacob "Jack" Lew, to be the next treasury secretary, a source with knowledge of the nomination tells CNN. The nomination is expected to be announced this week. Lew, 57, has been the leading candidate for months and would be the second treasury secretary during the Obama administration. Lew has overseen budget talks in times of surplus and deficits as a former budget director for Obama and Bill Clinton. It's not clear when the Senate will begin confirmation hearings. In 2009, the Senate took nearly a month to confirm Tim Geithner to the same post. This could be just as contentious, coming right after a bruising fight over the fiscal cliff. – Jennifer Liberto and Gloria Borger
CONTENTIOUS SIGNALS: Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, in a statement to CNN, is already signaling his opposition to Lew’s nomination: “Jack Lew must never be secretary of treasury. His testimony before the Senate Budget Committee less than two years ago was so outrageous and false that it alone disqualifies… (him).”
SOCIAL WATCH: “LLOOPTY” LEW SIGNATURE GOING VIRAL: If Jack Lew is confirmed as Treasury Secretary, this signature could appear on your money. A special h/t to New York Magazine and CNN contributor Ryan Lizza who have been following Lew’s John Hancock closely. Andre Echols answered our plea for adjectives calling it the “Lloopty Lew” and Carol Marchant (@skeezixk9) won our fan favorite by comparing it quite astutely to the icing on a Hostess cupcake.
President Richard Nixon, who would have turned 100 today, appeared in a cameo on what 1968 television show?
What caught our eye today in politics
The coming legislative battle between the pro-gun rights groups and advocates for stricter gun laws is what caught our eye today as Vice President Joe Biden hosts meetings with both sides of the issue at the White House.
Passing new laws is never easy and those favoring stricter gun regulations face an uphill battle even as raw emotions linger following the senseless murders of 20 children and seven adults in Newtown, Connecticut.
Look no further than recent history, particularly, the amount of work it took for gun control advocates in the House and Senate to pass the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in the early 1990s.
The Brady Bill, which was named in honor of Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady, who was paralyzed in a failed assassination attempt on the president, was first introduced in Congress in 1987. From 1987 to 1994 – the year the bill passed – the Brady Bill expired in three different Congresses, all of which had Democratic majorities in both houses.
One of the biggest concessions by gun control advocates during this time was in 1992, when Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kansas, and Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio, agreed to change the waiting period from seven days to five “working days.”
Two years later, with President Bill Clinton in the White House, the Brady Bill passed Congress.
If you consider it took seven years and four different Congresses – all of which were controlled by Democrats – to pass the Brady Bill, what are the prospects for compromise in a divided and deeply partisan Congress?
Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, says gun control supporters should be confident, even though the politics are tough. Particularly, Glaze’s confidence stems from his belief there is room for compromise between gun control advocates and gun manufacturers and retailers.
“The NRA is in a different place than manufacturers,” he said. “Manufacturers care about the bottom line. They don’t want an assault rifle ban or a ban on high capacity magazines. In fact, almost all of the industry would probably tell you they could live with it, in fact I think they would be delighted, if you had a universal background check,” as opposed to a ban on certain types of weapons and magazines.
Why? Well, Glaze said that the “gun industry is sort of on the ropes” in terms of a stable business model and most gun retailers rely on ancillary gun sales – bullets, vests, binoculars – to sustain their business.
“The assault weapon ban and high capacity magazine ban, while in fact not being the biggest problem in this field, is actually the politically hardest to accomplish,” Glaze said. “For many members of industry, which is a significant base for the NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, it is a serious threat to their bottom line and possibly even an existential threat.”
With so much emphasis on the National Rifle Association meeting with Biden’s task force on Thursday, we wonder how much lobbying and money retailers and companies that sell accessories associated with guns will dedicate to this legislative fight.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Biden: Obama exploring executive orders to combat gun violence
President Barack Obama is exploring executive orders to help stop mass shootings in America, Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday. “The president is going to act. Executive orders, executive action, can be taken,” Biden told reporters before meetings with groups representing survivors of mass shootings. “We haven't decided what this is yet, but we're compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and all the rest of the Cabinet members.” Legislative action also is needed, Biden said. – Josh Levs
Leading CNNMoney: Wal-Mart to attend gun meeting at White House
After initially declining an invitation to attend, Wal-Mart announced Wednesday that it will participate in a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden's gun violence task force. The nation's largest retailer, which had sent representatives to meet with the vice president's staff earlier this week, originally said that executives couldn't attend Biden's meeting on Thursday because they were obligated to be at monthly sales meetings at the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Leading Drudge: White House Threatens 'Executive Orders' On Guns (with photo of Hitler and Stalin)
Vice President Joe Biden revealed that President Barack Obama might use an executive order to deal with guns. “The president is going to act,” said Biden, giving some comments to the press before a meeting with victims of gun violence. “There are executive orders, there's executive action that can be taken. We haven't decided what that is yet. But we're compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and the rest of the Cabinet members as well as legislative action that we believe is required.” – Daniel Harper for The Weekly Standard
Leading HuffPo: Targeted
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is facing the first attack ads of his 2014 reelection campaign, from a conservative group accusing him of selling out Republican principles by working with the Obama administration on a "fiscal cliff" deal. ForAmerica, which bills itself as "an online army of over three million people," is placing online ads in Kentucky and nationally on FoxNews.com, the Daily Caller and the Drudge Report. The ads have a photograph of McConnell between Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama and read, "Mitch McConnell: Whose Side Are You On?" – Amanda Terkel
Leading Politico: Obama picks Lew to replace Geithner
White House chief of staff Jack Lew spent most of the bitter fiscal cliff debate out of the public eye. That ends now. President Barack Obama will nominate White House chief of staff Jack Lew for treasury secretary as soon as Thursday, according to a person briefed on the matter. In doing so, Obama is throwing Lew straight into the middle of an increasingly nasty budget war, the likes of which Washington hasn’t seen since the mid-1990s. – Joseph J. Schatz and Kelsey Snell
Leading The New York Times: In Step on ‘Light Footprint,’ Nominees Reflect a Shift
With the selection of a new national security team deeply suspicious of the wisdom of American military interventions around the world, President Obama appears to have ended, at least for the moment, many of the internal administration debates that played out in the Situation Room over the past four years. He has sided, without quite saying so, with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s view — argued, for the most part, in the confines of the White House — that caution, covert action and a modest American military footprint around the world fit the geopolitical moment. The question is whether that approach will fit the coming challenges of stopping Iran’s nuclear program and the potential collapse of Syria. – David E. Sanger
The political bites of the day
– Biden highlights NRA meeting –
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN IN STATEMENTS TO THE PRESS BEFORE HIS GUN CONTROL MEETING: “You should know that tomorrow I've also invited the Gun Owners and NRA to come and make their case as well before us. I want it clear to the American public that on behalf of the president we are reaching out to all parties on whichever side of this debate you fall.”
- Hillary, back to being coy, brushes off “retirement” word ... –
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON RESPONDS TO A QUESTION ABOUT WHETHER SHE WILL RETIRE AFTER SHE LEAVES THE STATE DEPARTMENT: “Well, I don't know if that's the word I would use but certainly stepping off the very fast track for a little while.”
– In state of the state address, Malloy laments ‘dark road’ after Newtown –
GOV. DAN MALLOY OF CONNECTICUT IN HIS STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS: “We have all walked a very long and very dark road together. What befell Newtown is not something that we thought possible in any Connecticut beautiful small town or cities. And yet, in the midst of one of the worst days in our history, we also saw the best of our state. … As a state and as a community, we will continue to do everything we can for the families of Newtown. But we also must ask ourselves: What is our responsibility? To those we've lost, to one another, to the children, and to future generations? During this legislative session, we're going to begin to answer those questions together. Let us do everything in our power to ensure that Connecticut never again suffers such a loss; that we take real steps to make our kids and our communities safer.”
– Soldiers should carry assault weapons, not civilians, says McChrystal –
Former Gen. Stanley McChrystal in an interview on MSNBC: “I spent a career carrying typically either an M16 or an M4 Carbine. An M4 Carbine fires a .223 caliber round which is 5.56 mm at about 3,000 feet per second. When it hits a human body, the effects are devastating. It’s designed for that. That’s what our soldiers ought to carry. I personally don’t think there’s any need for that kind of weaponry on the streets and particularly around the schools in America.”
Gut Check DVR: Gen. McChrystal will appear on Anderson Cooper at 8 p.m. ET tonight.
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
jennifer bendery (@jbendery)
Among gun safety groups mtg w/ Biden today: Arizona for Gun Safety, Brady Campaign, CT Against Gun Violence, Wisc Anti Violence Effort
McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins)
Man, that's a lot of dudes and not very many women in Obama's Oval Office: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/us/politics/under-obama-a-skew-toward-male-appointees.html?hp&_r=2& …
Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell)
someone get that binder from mitt, obama can't find qualified women.
Eric Boehlert (@EricBoehlert)
also curious why @NYT omitted any mention of the two women Obama has appointed to Supreme Court; http://nyti.ms/UWnHae
BREAKING: @officialBBWAA elects no one to @BaseballHall for first time since 1996. #HOF
Chris Donovan (@chrisdonovannbc)
FACT CHECK: Roger #Clemens in Daily News in ’03 re NYC: “I became a Hall of Famer here.” #NOT #OOPS [He got only 37.6% of votes today]
Robert Yoon (@yoonCNN)
Richard Nixon born 100 years ago today. Can you spot him in his 1919 1st grade class photo? pic.twitter.com/4D2nIIqo
Rebecca Berg (@rebeccagberg)
Happening tonight: Afghanistan Pres. Karzai will visit the Senate, meet with Sens. McConnell, Kaine, Casey and Fischer.
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
President Richard Nixon wasn’t known as a comedic guy. His lasting legacy, the Watergate scandal, largely turned the California Republican into a dark figure – definitely not someone you would see on a 1960s comedy show.
But that is exactly what happened in September of 1968, just a few short weeks before Nixon would be on the ballot as the Republican presidential nominee. On the series premiere of “Laugh-In,” a sketch comedy show on NBC, Nixon delivered the show’s trademark line: “Sock it to me.”
Nixon was convinced to do the show by Paul Keyes, a conservative comedy writer whom Nixon had paid for years to write material for campaign speeches. Even though many of Nixon’s aides advised against the cameo, the presidential candidate’s relationship with Keyes sealed the deal.
He would do anything to get elected," George Schlatter, the shows creator, told NPR in 2010. "Paul Keyes convinced him that it was good for his image to appear in the midst of this kind of avalanche, this tsunami of youth and vitality."
According to Schlatter, it took Nixon six takes to deliver the four seconds of dialogue.
Nixon said that “appearing on Laugh-In is what got him elected – and I believe that,” Schlatter told NPR. “And I've had to live with that.”
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congrats to Abby Livingston (@RollCallAbby) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question. Clearly, Miss Livingston knows her television history as well as her politics.
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