CNN's GUT CHECK | for September 19, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
‘THIS ISN’T COMPLICATED’: The U.N. report confirming chemical weapons use in Syria on August 21 has “crucial details” that show the “regime of Bashar al-Assad is guilty of carrying out that attack, even though that was not the mandate (of) the U.N. report,” Secretary of State John Kerry said today. “This isn't complicated,” Kerry said.
‘WE WILL NOT REPEAL OR DEFUND OBAMACARE’: “In the United States Senate, we will not repeal or defund Obamacare. We will not,” said Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona on “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” “And to think we can is not rational.” McCain’s statement distances the senator from calls in the House of Representatives to pass a government spending bill that doesn’t include Obamacare.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF POPE: Pope Francis said religion has the right to express its opinions but not to "interfere spiritually" in the lives of gays and lesbians, expanding on explosive comments he made in July about not judging homosexuals. In a wide-ranging interview published today by America magazine, the pope also said that women must play a key role in church decisions and brushed off critics who say he should advocate more vocally against abortion and gay marriage.
HOLY ‘HOUSE OF CARDS’: If Catholic leaders fail to find a "new balance" between their spiritual and political missions, the pope warned, the church's moral foundation will "fall like a house of cards."
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end mixed, with the S&P touching a record intraday high. Dow drops 40 points. NASDAQ rises 0.2%.
Who shut down the original Pravda newspaper?
Washington gets a bad rap because of the hubris, hypocrisy and dysfunction highlighted in Mark Leibovich’s embarrassingly candid and direct tell all, ‘This Town.’
But the nation’s capital is much more than the elected members of the House and Senate or the presidency for that matter. It is about the men and women responsible for making government work. We learned the names of 12 of these people this week, under the most horrific of circumstances, gunned down at the Washington Navy Yard for simply being in the wrong place, at the wrong time as they sought to do what they did everyday: try to make the government work.
That’s why we were struck by this essay written by longtime Republican political operative John Feehery, who spent years on Capitol Hill working for some of the most powerful Republicans.
“Twelve people were gunned down at the Naval Yard, and I can pretty much guarantee that nobody from This Town had ever met them,” Feehery wrote delivering a hard slap across the face for those who take for granted the work horses who make Washington function, not the show horses who try to use it for their own personal advantage.
And as we head into the next political showdown over the debt limit, Obamacare and whether Democrats and Republicans will fail to reach an agreement on whether to keep the government running, Feehery aptly points out that it is the DC work horses, not elected show horses who will suffer if the government shuts down.
“Folks in this other town don’t get to decide whether the government shuts down or not, although if they are deemed non-essential personnel, they don’t work on those days that the government does shut down,” Feehery wrote. “Because so many of these folks in this other town live in the suburbs, and because many of the housing prices in those suburbs crashed so substantially, it would be pretty fair to say that they have a better understanding of what the rest of America has been going through than the denizens of This Town.”
The entire piece is worth reading, but it is this striking conclusion that really hits home for us:
“The folks in this other town, as exemplified by those who died on Monday, are not so different than people in the rest of the country. They live for their families and they are doing the best that they can to make it through every day. Some people like to rail against Washington and Washington bureaucrats, but those folks who live in this other town aren’t getting rich at the expense of the taxpayers. They are trying to do their jobs the best they can, and they provide an essential role in the running of our federal government.”
Take the time, read Feehery’s entire essay.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Reframing the gun control debate: Is mental health the next focus?
Three days after Aaron Alexis walked into the Washington Navy Yard and randomly shot and killed 12 people, a congressional push for tougher gun laws still seems unlikely to materialize like it did following the Newtown school massacre. But as more details emerge of the Alexis' troubled past, lawmakers appear to be reframing the debate over gun violence, this time with emphasis on better treatment for mental health. – Ashley Killough
Leading Drudge: Putin Looks To Top Stalin
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he could run for a fourth presidential term in 2018. If he does and wins, that would keep him in power for about a quarter century and make him the nation's longest-serving leader since Josef Stalin. – Lynn Berry
Leading HuffPo: Liberal Hero: Cruz May Have Just Bailed Out Washington
In one moment, with one statement, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) managed Wednesday to …persuade rank-and-file House Republicans that shutting down the government in an attempt to defund Obamacare was simply impossible…. By admitting that he had no ability in the Senate to back up the House effort to defund Obamacare, and saying so on the same day that House Republicans had announced they would support the Cruz-inspired strategy, Cruz has inadvertently done more than any other lawmaker to avert a government shutdown. "Cruz officially jumped the shark this week," said one GOP operative allied with House leadership, who, like others, requested anonymity to speak critically about fellow Republicans. – Ryan Grim and Sabrina Siddiqui
Leading The New York Times: Pressed From His Right, Speaker Yields on a Budget Showdown
After three years of cajoling, finessing and occasionally strong-arming his fitful conservative majority, Speaker John A. Boehner waved the white flag on Wednesday, surrendering to demands from his right flank that he tie money to keep the government open after Sept. 30 to stripping President Obama’s health care law of any financing. – Jonathan Weisman
Leading CNN Money: House bill would take 3.8 million off food stamps
House Republicans on Thursday will take up a controversial bill cutting 3.8 million people from food stamp rolls next year by making it tougher for some families to qualify. The bill would cut $40 billion from food stamps over the next decade, which would force about 14 million people from the program by 2023, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. – Jennifer Liberto
The political bites of the day
– Putin continues to try and use U.S. history against the U.S. –
RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN AT A SPEECH IN VALDAI, RUSSIA: “Good motives, good intentions led to these military interventions in Libya, but did it bring about democracy? The country has now been divided up into few territories and that is a fact, like tribes fighting against each other.”
– Republicans say they’re unified on defunding Obamacare… –
REPUBLICAN REP. JOHN FLEMING OF LOUISIANA IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “The Republican Party is, I think, unifying on this issue. It is the White House that is in disarray over the implementation of Obamacare.”
– … but that doesn’t appear to be the case –
KARL ROVE IN A WALL STREET JOURNAL OPINION PIECE: "The desire to strike at ObamaCare is praiseworthy. But any strategy to repeal, delay or replace the law must have a credible chance of succeeding or affecting broad public opinion positively. The defunding strategy doesn't. Going down that road would strengthen the president while alienating independents. It is an ill-conceived tactic, and Republicans should reject it."
A SENIOR GOP LEADERSHIP AIDE TO CNN ON REPUBLICAN SEN. TED CRUZ OF TEXAS SAYING THEY DON’T HAVE THE VOTES TO DEFUND: “It is disappointing to see that Wendy Davis has more balls than Ted Cruz.”
– Democrats pounce –
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID IN A SPEECH ON THE SENATE FLOOR: “It would be good political theater to watch them self-destruct – and that is what they are doing – if there were not so much at stake.”
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI AT A PRESS CONFERENCE ON CAPITOL HILL: “The votes are there, we will provide a huge number of votes for a clean lifting of the debt limit. It only takes some Republicans to do that. This is playing with fire. Legislative arsonists are at work.”
– No –
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY IN THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING: “On the matter of the debt ceiling the answer is no – we will not negotiate over Congress’ responsibility to pay the bills that Congress incurred.”
– We knew –
JIMMY FALLON ON HIS LATE NIGHT COMEDY SHOW: “Brazil’s president is apparently so mad over the NSA’s spying scandal that she canceled her trip to the White House next month. Yeah. Of course it didn't help when Brazil called to say they weren't coming to the White House, and they were like, “yeah, we heard.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Deanna Pogorelc (@DeannaJour231)
Cleveland Clinic the latest hospital to announce budget cuts in the thick of healthcare reform http://ow.ly/p1dBI #hospitals #hcr
Gut Check Flashback: Obama toured and effusively praised the hospital during the fight to pass Obamacare. And in a 2012 debate, he defended his healthcare law by mentioning Cleveland Clinic.
Matt Lehrich (@Lehrich44)
Putin envy (n.)–When one pretends, for political purposes, to want negotiations w a President who they said they'd never negotiate w again
Deirdre Walsh (@deirdrewalshcnn)
Boehner was 1st speaker to livestream opening day of house on Facebook, he meets w/Zuckerberg today – suggest he livestream that too
Ben Pershing (@benpershing)
Wow - Tom DeLay verdict overturned by Texas appellate court http://www.khou.com/news/texas-news/Tom-DeLay-verdict-overturned-by-Texas-appellate-court-224405491.html …
Victor Lipman (@VictorLipman1)
Financially unfortunate: "Colorado floods: Costly and often uninsured" http://cnnmon.ie/16hAypt #Flood #Insurance
Justin Green (@JGreenDC)
Four Pinocchios for Obama's claim that GOP efforts to tie spending cuts to debt ceiling increase are unprecedented http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2013/09/19/obamas-claim-that-non-budget-items-have-never-been-attached-to-the-debt-ceiling/?wprss=rss_fact-checker&clsrd
Brook Hougesen (@Brook_H)
This is a President who apparently will negotiate with Putin, Assad & Iran, but not with Congressional Republicans http://bit.ly/18cxakr
Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand)
Honored to introduce Caroline Kennedy this AM at Foreign Relations Cmttee hearing on nomination to be Ambassador to Japan. #offthesidelines
Steven Shepard (@HotlineSteve)
RT @PilotOnPolitics BRKNG: @KenCuccinelli 30-minute infomercial on air, limited run. http://bit.ly/16iHjqR
mike murphy (@murphymike)
Whoever directed this has a lot of experience. In radio… RT @PeterHambyCNN: 30-minute Ken Cuccinelli infomercial http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pkdb_1R3cUw …
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
For nearly 80 years, the newspaper Pravda was the mouthpiece and political newspaper of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. It was founded in 1912 and after the Russian Revolution, the newspaper became the leading paper in the USSR.
But just as Pravda rose to power with the Communist Party, it also collapsed as the party in Russia collapsed. On August 22, 1991, Russian President Boris Yeltsin shuttered the paper when he disbanded the Communist Party. Though the paper reopened in 1997, it has a considerably smaller circulation than it used to.
So why is the communist mouthpiece in the news?
Because Republican Sen. John McCain published an opinion piece titled "Russians Deserve Better Than Putin" on the Russian news website Pravda.ru. There was some confusion over which "Pravda" McCain wanted to get published in, but it appears this was not his choice.
Pravda.ru, the news outlet that actually published McCain’s piece, is an electronic news website founded in 1999. Even though the website also bears the name Pravda, it is not connected to Pravda newspaper.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Three days in a row.
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.