CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 25, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
THE OTHER PLOT: Boston bombing suspects planned Times Square blasts, NYC mayor says… The surviving suspect in the Boston bombings has told investigators that he and his brother planned to bomb Times Square, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday. The two came up with the plan spontaneously after the Boston bombing, as they talked in a car they hijacked. – Ben Brumfield and Josh Levs
RED LINE? U.S.: Intelligence points to small-scale use of sarin in Syria… The United States has evidence that the chemical weapon sarin has been used in Syria on a small scale. In a letter sent to lawmakers, the White House said that intelligence analysts have concluded “with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin.” – Michael Pearson
TOMORROW: Secretary of State John Kerry will deliver a classified briefing on Syria Friday to House members, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said today.
FAMILY BUSINESS: Will Jeb run? Barbara says no… While former President George W. Bush says he wants his brother Jeb to run for president in 2016, their always-blunt mother said Thursday she feels differently. “He's by far the best qualified man, but no. I really don't,” she said when asked if her son, the former Florida governor, will make a White House bid. “I think it's a great country. There are a lot of great families, and it's not just four families or whatever. There are other people out there that are very qualified and we've had enough Bushes,” she said. – Ashley Killough
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end higher, led by tech shares. Dow adds 25 points. NASDAQ gains 0.6%, S&P rises 0.4%.
What cosmetic change to the White House did Harry Truman inaugurate on this day in 1947?
With his presidential library officially dedicated today, President George W. Bush temporarily stepped back into the limelight and sat down for an interview with CNN’s John King. The discussion was wide-ranging, touching upon Bush’s legacy, his retirement and the new library.
Bush told King he is a “content man” about his time in office and noted he has purposely decided to stay out of the spotlight since leaving office in January 2009. Today, the four surviving U.S. president’s traveled to Dallas to attend the dedication of Bush’s library – a ceremony devoid of partisanship but full of good will. In a few hours, a fireworks display will cap off the day’s festivities and Bush will once again step out of the spotlight – ceding it to the next generation of Bushes – or perhaps his brother, if the former Florida governor decides to run for the White House. As King highlights in the first sentence of his story, Bush 43 has plenty of things to occupy his time.
George W. Bush is a proud new grandfather and fascinated by his unlikely new hobby: painting.
But some things haven't changed a bit: the trademark smirk when he is amused, a squinty glare when he doesn't appreciate the question - and a quick turn to humor when the conversation turns to “legacy,” including the scars of Iraq or the cloud of Katrina.
“History will ultimately judge the decisions that were made for Iraq and I'm just not going to be around to see the final verdict,” the two-term president told CNN in a wide-ranging interview. “In other words, I'll be dead.”
The 43rd president said he has learned lessons from his predecessors about how to make a mark after leaving the White House.
“You learn that life doesn't end after you're president," Bush said. "In other words, you're going a hundred miles an hour and, and, in my case, we woke up in Crawford and now it's going zero. And so the challenge is how to live life to its fullest.
“In my case, I've chosen to do so outside the limelight. On the other hand, I am confident that when this chapter of our life is finished, that we'll both be able to say that we've advanced the cause of peace and freedom and - and the human - and helped improve the human condition.”
Laura Bush said her husband rarely itches to add his voice to the daily political debate. The former president said he knows the library dedication will re-stir the debate about his presidency, and he conceded the library is in part an effort by him and supporters to influence history's verdict.
But he predicted visitors would find it “more objective” than they might have imagined and he showed little interest in revisiting flash points like Iraq, Hurricane Katrina or the 2008 financial crisis. Or the scorn with which many look back at the Bush presidency.
“You know, I'm really not that concerned about why people did what during my presidency." Bush said. “I'm more concerned about being an effective person for the rest of my life.
“I know this, that Laura and I gave the presidency eight years of our life. We gave it our all. Made the best judgment calls I could. I didn't compromise my principles. And I'm a content man. And I am excited about what we're going to do here.”
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Most former presidents look better through history's eyes
The saying goes: "Time heals all wounds." And for most former U.S. presidents, that appears to be true. After leaving the constant scrutiny of the White House, a president's legacy begins to take shape as professors, biographers and presidential historians start to take long, reflective looks at the president's time in office. And that prism generally makes them look better. – Dan Merica
Leading Drudge: The Way We Were
The five living U.S. presidents appeared together at the dedication ceremony for the George W. Bush Presidential Center. Bush and President Barack Obama, along with former Presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, were introduced to the gathering, along with their wives.
Leading HuffPo: 'Criminal': McCain Rips Into 'Scandalous' Senate Fixation
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) tore into his colleagues on Thursday for their recent focus on delays to air travel caused by sequestration, saying it's shameful that the issue has gained such traction when military cuts have not. “I'm terribly uncomfortable with the delays of FAA, I think it's a terrible thing ... But when we're looking at a virtual threat to our national security, we've got our priorities upside down,” he said at a Christian Science Monitor event. “I am hell-bent, if we are going to take care of some airline passengers, why don't we take care of our national security?” – Elise Foley
Leading Politico: 70+ votes for immigration reform?
The two lead negotiators in the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” said on Thursday that they believe their immigration reform bill will not just have a filibuster proof majority in the Senate — but majority support from both parties. “I think it is doable,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. – Carrie Budoff Brown
Leading The New York Times: Despair Drives Guantánamo Detainees to Revolt
With any decision about closing down the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, put on the back burner, inmates there have lost hope that they will ever be released. – Charlie Savage
The political bites of the day
- Bush’s view on public service -
FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH AT THE OPENING OF HIS PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY: “In democracy, the purpose of public office is not to fulfill personal ambition. Elected officials must serve a cause greater than themselves. The political winds blow left and right, polls rise and fall, supporters come and go, but in the end leaders are defined by the convictions they hold. And my deepest conviction, the guiding principle of the administration, is that the United States of America must strive to expand the reach of freedom.”
- Former presidents – and Obama – honor one of their own -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AT THE OPENING OF GEORGE W. BUSH’S PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY: “To know the man is to like the man because he is comfortable in his own skin. He knows who he is. He doesn't put on any pretenses. He takes his job seriously but not himself too seriously. He is a good man.”
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: “I like President Bush, we do a lot of speeches together and I like it when we have disagreements. He is disarmingly direct. … We are here to celebrate a country we all love, a service we all rendered. And debate and difference is an important part of every free society.”
FATHER AND FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: “A great pleasure to be here, to honor our son, our oldest son. This is very special for Barbara and me and thank you all for coming and to all those who made this museum possible. We thank you especially and we're glad to be here. God bless America and thank you very much.”
FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: “In January of 2005, there was a peace treaty between north and south Sudan that ended a war that had been going on for 20 years. George W. Bush is responsible for that.”
- Boehner cautions against outsourcing to United Nation is Syria statement -
REPUBLICAN HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER IN A WRITTEN PRESS RELEASE: “I have and will continue to support the President’s articulated red line of confirmation of the use of chemical weapons or the transfer of such weapons to terrorist groups. At the same time, I am deeply concerned with reports that further confirmation of use may be outsourced to the United Nations. If Assad sees any equivocation on the red line, it will embolden his regime.”
- Graham: 'Ultimate blame' for Boston attacks on administration -
REPUBLICAN SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM OF SOUTH CAROLINA IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “Bin Laden may be dead, Anderson, and I’m glad he is, but radical Islam is not. And in our own backyard, the threat is growing. And I think, quite frankly, the administration is oversold with the demise of bin Laden and knockoff jihadist is probably not the right term to use. I think it's quite frankly minimizing the threat we face. Between Benghazi and Boston, to me, we're going backwards, not forward in terms of national security.”
- Collins paints dire picture of how FAA furloughs will affect travel -
REPUBLICAN SEN. SUSAN COLLINS OF MAINE IN A SPEECH ON THE SENATE FLOOR: “This is only the beginning and soon we will be approaching the peak travel season. Some airports may experience delays of up to three hours during peak travel times. And we know that these delays cause a ripple throughout the entire system. And what is going to happen, Mr. President, is that air travelers are going to decide to cancel trips, to not bother to go on brief vacations because they don’t want to spend three hours sitting on the tarmac waiting for their flights to take off.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
Although he was admittedly more of a poker player than a bowler, on this day in 1947, President Harry Truman opened the first White House bowling alley.
Since then, the bowling alley has been a vagabond in the White House complex. The first alley was in the basement of the White House – under the North Portico. When President Dwight D. Eisenhower occupied the White House, the room was used as a printing room while the bowling alley was moved to the Old Executive Office Building.
President Richard Nixon, arguably the most avid presidential bowler, returned the bowling alley to the basement of the White House, although in a different location.
Today, the room that Truman inaugurated as the original White House bowling alley is the present-day Situation Room.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
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Congrats to Peter Ubertaccio (@ProfessorU) and Tom Orton (@TheOriginalTomO) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check trivia question.
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