CNN's GUT CHECK | for September 4, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
WHOSE RED LINE? OBAMA DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM RED LINE IN SYRIA… At a press conference in Sweden: “First of all, I didn't set a red line – the world set a red line.”
GUT CHECK FLASHBACK: Obama at the White House press conference in August 2012… “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is that we start to see a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized and that would change my calculus, and my equation.”
FIRST HURDLE CROSSED: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday approved a resolution authorizing a U.S. military response to chemical weapons use by Syria, sending the measure to the full chamber for debate next week. The vote was 10 to 7 – with two Democrats and five Republicans voting against the measure.
MONEY NOT A PROBLEM? Defense budget experts say a military strike in Syria is not likely to present a major burden for the federal budget, as long as it's limited and doesn't involve troops on the ground. “The immediate budget implications for this are quite small,” said Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. – Jeanne Sahadi
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end higher on strong economic and corporate news. Dow adds 97 points. NASDAQ gains 1%, S&P rises 0.8%.
Which president had a foreign born first lady?
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul were not always close – in fact McConnell backed Paul’s opponent in the 2010 GOP primary. As we all know, McConnell lost that battle. But in looking ahead to his own re-election, the Republican leader reached out to Paul and established what CNN’s John King describes as an “awkward alliance that is in part the product of painful lessons McConnell has learned in recent years as tea party backed insurgents have knocked off GOP establishment figures in primaries.”
King traveled to Kentucky to see McConnell and Paul together on the campaign trail and opened a window into what will be one of the most closely watched Senate races of 2014. King also notes that McConnell is the only congressional leader who has not taken a position on President Barack Obama’s call for military strikes against Syria. House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are all on the record backing the action. Paul and McConnell’s primary opponent are against the strikes – raising the suggestion that McConnell is being cautious as he looks ahead to his re-election.
King’s story, which just popped on CNNPolitics.com, is what caught our eye and worth your time to read.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: 'Secretary of Explaining Stuff' sells Obamacare
Former President Bill Clinton, who President Barack Obama once joked should be appointed “Secretary of Explaining Stuff,” was professorial, lengthy and detailed in a Wednesday speech dedicated to clarifying the controversial – and still misunderstood – Affordable Care Act. – Athena Jones and Dan Merica
Gut Check Flashback: Obama after Clinton’s 2012 speech at the Democratic National Convention… “After he spoke, somebody sent out a tweet that said ‘you should appoint him secretary of explaining stuff.’ I like that!”
Leading Drudge: 'I Didn't Set A Red Line'
President Barack Obama on Wednesday declared the world’s credibility “is on the line” when it comes to punishing Syrian President Bashar Assad for his regime’s purported use of chemical weapons. – Lesley Clark for McClatchy
Leading HuffPo: 'It Really Does Need To Be Stopped'
A former senior White House official who worked closely with Larry Summers is worried that his brusque manner would make him unable to govern the Federal Open Market Committee, and questions the wisdom of naming him chairman of the Federal Reserve, a role that may not play to his strengths. – Ryan Grim
Leading Politico: Libertarians, liberals unite against Syria strike
Barack Obama won over Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner on using force in Syria, but the fight’s not over. – Anna Palmer
Leading The New York Times: Obama Says ‘World Set a Red Line’ on Chemical Arms
Opening a three-day trip overseas, President Obama declared Wednesday that the confrontation with Syria over chemical weapons was not a personal test for him but for Congress, the United States and the world. – Peter Baker
Leading CNN Opinion: Obama's irony, McCain's agony
All presidential decisions are, in the end, difficult and complex. And under any circumstance, the decisions on issues of war (surgical strikes included) are agonizing. The decision to use force - the repercussions, the cost in blood and treasure, the geostrategic implications - is complicated and the implications obviously immense. But as the Syria story unfolds, there is an almost Shakespearean drama beneath the surface - one of political careers made and broken, of past positions held and almost abandoned. – Gloria Borger
The political bites of the day
- Are we talking about Benghazi or Syria? -
REPUBLICAN REP. JEFF DUNCAN OF SOUTH CAROLINA IN A HEARING ABOUT OBAMA’S PLANS FOR SYRIA: “The same administration that was seemingly so quick to involve the U.S. in Syria now, was reluctant to use the same resources at its disposal to rescue the four brave Americans fought for their lives in Benghazi. Mr. Kerry, you have never been one that has advocated anything other than caution when involving U.S. forces in past conflicts. …”
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: “Let me begin, congressman, by challenging your proposition that I've never done anything except advocate caution because I volunteered to fight for my country and that wasn't a cautious thing to do when I did it. Secondly...”
DUNCAN: “Mr. Secretary, with all due respect, my time is...”
KERRY: “I'm going to finish, congressman. I am going to finish. When I was in the United States Senate, I supported military action in any number of occasions including Grenada, Panama, I can run a list of them. And I am not going to sit here and be told by you that I don't have a sense of what judgment is with respect to this. We're talking about people being killed by gas and you want to go talk about Benghazi and Fast and Furious.”
- Levin worries about chemical weapons used against U.S. troops -
DEMOCRATIC SEN. CARL LEVIN OF MICHIGAN IN A STATEMENT TO REPORTERS ON CAPITOL HILL: “I believe that the action is needed for a number of reasons but one of them is that our troops would be more likely to face a threat of chemical weapons in the future if the use of chemical weapons on a broad scale which Assad has done is not responded to by us with a number of other countries.”
- Ted Cruz and Al Qaeda's Air Force -
REPUBLICAN SEN. TED CRUZ IN AN APPEARANCE ON THEBLAZE RADIO: “We certainly don’t have a dog in the fight. We should be focused on defending the United States of America. That’s why young men and women sign up to join the military, not to, as you know, serve as Al Qaeda’s air force.”
- French leaders support action in Syria -
JEAN-MAR AYRAUL, FRENCH PRIME MINISTER, IN A SPEECH TO PARLIAMENT: “Not to react would be to put peace and security of the entire region in danger, but beyond that our own security. I ask the question what credibility would our international commitments then have against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons. What message would we be sending to other regimes?”
- Weak Obama -
CONAN OBRIEN ON HIS LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW: “Syria’s leader Assad referred to president Obama as weak. Obama was so angry that he plans to ask Congress for permission to think of a good comeback.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Taegan Goddard (@politicalwire)
If you haven't seen the video of Anthony Weiner exploding at a voter, it's priceless. Watch here:
Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian)
"You're a bad example for the people." "That's your judgement?" "No, it's obvious." MT @MaeveReston: Anthony Weiner http://bit.ly/1ajzxpd
Karen Tumulty (@ktumulty)
Does @anthonyweiner realize that the act of running for office entails giving people the right to judge you? http://bit.ly/15YYvWk
Ashley Killough (@KilloughCNN)
Super Bowl champs to promote Obamacare http://on.cnn.com/15Dlr9s
Mike Memoli (@mikememoli)
House Fgn Affairs hearing not doing much to discourage notion that Syria resolution faces tough road in House
James E. Clyburn (@Clyburn)
Issues of war & peace require thoughtful consideration. I reserve judgment on Syria until a resolution and more details are forthcoming.
Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer)
Yesterday the NYT ran a story about splits among Rs over Syria. No story yet in the NYT about splits among Ds.
Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell)
Here is a cool map of New York, color-coded by the language of tweets http://ny.spatial.ly/
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
John Quincy Adams is the only president to ever win the office with a foreign born wife.
Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams, the president’s first lady, was born in London to an English mother, Catherine Johnson and American father, Joshua Johnson.
During Adam’s presidency, political opponents regularly criticized the president by calling his wife “British.”
The question of a foreign born first lady was also marginally raised during John Kerry’s presidential run in 2004. Teresa Heinz Kerry, his wife, was born and raised in Mozambique.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congrats to Peter Ubertaccio (@ProfessorU) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check trivia question.
Tips or comments? Our inbox awaits: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing email@example.com
WANT TO SIGN UP?
Do you have a friend who wants to sign up for GUT CHECK or our new CNNPolitics Breaking News Alerts? Click here, log on and scroll down.