CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 11, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BELLIGERENT: Obama says North Korea needs 'to try lower temperatures’… After a meeting with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, President Barack Obama said the two agreed that “now is time for North Korea to end the kind of belligerent approach that they've been taking and to try lower temperatures.” “Nobody wants to see a conflict on Korean peninsula,” Obama told reporters. “It’s important for North Korea to observe basic rules and norms that are set forth including a wide variety of UN resolutions that have passed.”
GUNS TO GET A VOTE: Senate overcomes filibuster, clearing the way for debate on gun bill… The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to overcome a Republican-led filibuster against tougher gun laws, clearing the way for a major congressional debate on a package of proposals sought by President Barack Obama in the aftermath of the Connecticut school massacre. Because of the bipartisan deal between Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, Senate Democrats proposing the legislation received support from enough Republicans to pass the cloture motion, 68-31, that sets up debate expected to last for two weeks. – Tom Cohen
RAP AND POLITICS MEET: White House knocks down line from a Jay-Z rap… The rapper focuses his latest rap on his U.S. government-approved trip to Cuba with wife Beyoncé last week. In the rap, Jay-Z suggested their clearance came from the White House, when it actually came from the Treasury Department. “I turned Havana into Atlanta… Boy from the ‘hood, I got White House clearance,” the rap said. “I guess nothing rhymes with Treasury,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at the daily briefing. “I am absolutely saying that the White House and the president on down had nothing to do with anybody's personal, anybody's travel to Cuba.”
MARKET WATCH: Dow sets record high for third straight day. S&P 500 hits all-time mark for second day in a row.
Why did President Harry S. Truman relieve General Douglas MacArthur of his duties on this day in history?
What caught our eye today in politics
Very rarely do we get the honor of remembering true heroism in this column.
Today isn’t one of those days; today we remember Capt. Emil Kapaun, a Roman Catholic chaplain who died 60 years ago while a North Korean prisoner of war.
Born and raised in Kansas, Kapaun joined a Benedictine monastery in Missouri and was ordained in 1940. In his second stint with the Army, Kapaun was ordered to Korea as war on the peninsula began to heat up.
“Supporting the soldiers of the 8th Infantry Regiment, Kapaun found himself in the heavily contested Pusan perimeter,” CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy writes about Kapaun. “Army documents supporting his nomination for the medal say he would bike from position to position so he could minister to soldiers, hearing confessions, performing last rites or administering Holy Communion.”
When his unit was forced to move in November of 1950, Kapaun elected to stay behind and minister to the wounded – knowing full well that the decision put him in danger of enemy capture.
“That is exactly what happened,” writes Shaughnessy. “North Korean and Chinese troops marched Kapaun and the other captured troops nearly 100 miles north in the bitter winter weather. When Chinese soldiers tried to kill wounded POWs who were slowing the march, Kapaun risked his own life to stop them, and then persuaded unwounded POWs to help the wounded, according to his nephew.”
When other POWs were starving, Kapaun would break out of the camp and steal food for those who needed. The other POWs would call him "The Good Thief."
The North Koreans opted to move him to a hospital, possibly because of his influence of the soldiers. Kapaun died at that hospital on May 23, 1951, – his body buried in a mass grave.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama awarded Kapaun the highest medal of award for valor in the U.S. military – the Medal of Honor.
“I can't imagine a better example for all of us whether in uniform or not in uniform, a better example to follow,” Obama said at a White House ceremony in Kapaun’s honor. “Father Kapaun's life, I think, is a testimony to his human spirit, the power of faith, and reminds us of the good that we can do each and every day regardless of the most difficult of circumstances.”
Father Kapaun’s remarkable heroism is what caught our eye today.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Jindal to visit New Hampshire, stoking 2016 speculation
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will headline a GOP fundraiser next month in New Hampshire, a move that will fuel speculation he is seriously eyeing a bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Jindal will raise money for the campaign arm of state Senate Republicans at an event in Manchester with ticket prices running from $100 to $5,000, CNN has learned. – Mark Preston
Leading Drudge: 'Obama Said Chill, Gonna Get Me Impeached'
President Barack Obama told Jay-Z he was worried the rapper's controversial trip to Cuba would cost him the White House ... this according to Jay-Z. Hova just released a new rap, in which he addresses all of the drama surrounding his trip to Cuba last week with his wife Beyonce. – From TMZ
Leading HuffPo: 'Blindsided': Rove-Backed Group Dealt Major Blow
The powerful fundraising team that American Crossroads deployed in 2012 to pull in more than $300 million has lost ace fundraiser Haley Barbour, according to three GOP operatives close to the super PAC. – Peter H. Stone
Leading Politico: John Boehner on hot seat as Senate acts
The Senate has caught bipartisan fever. Long mired in bitter gridlock, two groups of Democratic and Republican lawmakers have hashed out once-unthinkable bipartisan solutions on gun control and rewriting the nation’s immigration laws. But the rush to bipartisanship could grind to an abrupt halt in the House. – Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer
Leading The New York Times: Perils for Swing-State Democrats on Gun Control
The families of the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting victims who have converged on Capitol Hill this week made a point of visiting Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a freshman Democrat known for the “North Dakota nice” of her home state, but on the main issue that brought them here — limiting the capacity of gun magazines and universal background checks — she curtly rejected their pleas for support. – Jonathan Weisman
The political bites of the day
– In gun debate, Biden says people ahead of legislators –
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN IN AN INTERVIEW WITH MSNBC: “This is one of the cases where the public is so far ahead of the elected officials – I mean so far ahead. You saw it in immigration, you saw it in marriage issues, you’re seeing it now. The public has moved to a different place.”
– Not for show –
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING: “It is certainly not for show in the president's mind. The president believes that both dinners and all of his engagements with Republicans have been constructive and useful. He is very much of the mind that exploring the possibility of finding common ground is in the interests of the American people and the American economy and it is in the interests of trying to find bipartisan solutions to a whole range of issues not just our budget and fiscal challenges but immigration reform, reducing gun violence.”
– Cornyn on guns: The president is wrong, we all care –
REPUBLICAN SEN. JOHN CORNYN OF TEXAS IN A SPEECH ON THE SENATE FLOOR: “The president has told some of these victims’ families that this side of the aisle doesn’t really care about their loss. That’s not true. That’s false. The president is wrong. All of us care about these families and all of us should care about violence in our communities. And we should try to work together to find ways to address this, not in a symbolic sort of way but in a real way that offers a solution and maybe just a little bit of progress on this issue that would allow these families to say ‘no my loved one did not die in vain. Something good came out of this.’”
– Some Newtown clergy disapprove of compromise on guns –
RABBI SHAUL PRAVER OF THE CONGREGATION ADATH ISRAEL IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “Who are they compromising with? Ninety percent of the country, 92 percent really, want the universal background checks. That is it, straight up, no exceptions. That is what the people want. If there are so many people saying, ‘We want you to do this’ and it is not being done, then we are not being represented.”
REV. MATTHEW CREBBIN OF THE NEWTOWN CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “It is hard for me to believe that we need a piece of legislation on compromise when 92 percent of the American public supports universal background checks. I do think that many of our representatives are late adapters to the issues and don’t recognize that changes that are happening under their feet.”
– Bargaining Granny: Liberal Dems hit Obama for budget –
DEMOCRATIC REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY OF ILLINOIS IN A NEWS CONFERENCE: “We should not be negotiating with those who want to take Social Security benefits hostage because Granny is simply not a bargaining chip.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Based on what Jay Z rapped, boy am I glad I'm not Jay Carney today. I bet potus spoke to Jay Z and did not tell Jay C.—
Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) April 11, 2013
BLITZER:By the way, I think the new song is pretty good, the new rap by Jay-Z.—
Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDCNN) April 11, 2013
With newly sworn-in Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL), there are now 102 women in Congress– the most ever.—
Patricia Murphy (@1PatriciaMurphy) April 11, 2013
Admin official says newly-elected Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) personally asked Biden to come to the Cap and swear her into office.—
jennifer bendery (@jbendery) April 11, 2013
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
What do you get when you mix a wartime president who wants to assert his control and a heroic general with little regard for anyone’s views on war other than his?
A delicate situation.
On this day in 1951, President Harry S. Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur as head of the United Nations forces during the Korean War. The reason, although complex, boils down to a disagreement between MacArthur and Truman over war policy.
After a MacArthur told a reporter that a Truman policy was “an enormous handicap” to his war efforts, the Truman White House required all war officials to clear statements to the press through the State Department. As the war began to turn and MacArthur was told that a ceasefire was likely, the general took it into his own hands and send a communiqué to the Chinese that offered a ceasefire.
When Truman heard about it, he went through the roof. “I was ready to kick him into the North China Sea... I was never so put out in my life,” Truman would later say according Truman by David McCullough.
Before relieving MacArthur, Truman consulted history, particularly how Presidents Abraham Lincoln and James Polk handled renegade generals during their administrations.
After a number of meetings with advisers and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Truman noted in his diary on April 9 that, “it is of unanimous opinion of all that MacArthur be relieved.”
The order went out on April 11. “I deeply regret that it becomes my duty as President and Commander-in-Chief of the United States military forces to replace you. … You will turn over your commands, effective at once, to Lt. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway.”
In a much later interview with Time Magazine, Truman said, “I fired him because he wouldn't respect the authority of the President.”
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