CNN's GUT CHECK | for June 6, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BEHIND THE CURTAIN IN OBAMA’S CABINET… ‘Team of Mascots’ by Vanity Fair’s Todd S. Purdum: “Four years ago, Barack Obama said he wanted a Lincoln-esque “team of rivals” in his Cabinet. Thanks to his own temperament, the modern White House, and the 24-hour news cycle, what the president has created is something that doesn’t look Lincoln-esque at all.”
The gist of Purdum’s piece: President Obama is an introvert who, with only a few exceptions, has surrounded himself with loyalists. “They range from the very competent (Janet Napolitano at Homeland Security) to the perennially controversial (Eric Holder at Justice) to the underwhelmingly anonymous (could anyone but a union leader pick Labor Secretary Hilda Solis out of a lineup?). In the main, Obama relates to his Cabinet the way he relates to the rest of the world. ‘He’s a total introvert,’ the former adviser told me. ‘He doesn’t need people.’”
The first president to ride a train did so on this day in history. Who was that president?
It’s a lot easier to be a former president than a sitting one.
Take a look at Bill Clinton. Even though the Democrat he stumped for lost in Wisconsin, Clinton is being heralded for putting effort where Barack Obama didn’t. (Clinton stumped for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, while President Obama only Tweeted. Once. On the night before the election).
Clinton was not blamed for Barrett’s loss in Wisconsin’s recall election. On the contrary, Clinton was praised for helping the Democrats raise money in a contest Republicans dominated financially.
Obama’s inaction on the other hand drew the ire of some fellow Democrats such as CNN contributor Paul Begala, for not doing enough, saying last night on AC360 that President Obama “should have been out there.”
Begala, a veteran of the Clinton White House, explained while he thought “it was a mistake,” for Obama not to campaign for Barrett, he admitted he didn’t think it would have affected the outcome. “I don't think it would have made the difference, OK? Let me be clear about that. But it's kind of like Thanksgiving at your in-laws. OK, if you go, it doesn't guarantee it is going to be fun, but if you don't go, there is hell to pay. And that's the situation the president is in.”
Meanwhile, Begala’s former boss got even more positive attention for picking the winning horse in the member vs. member House Democratic primary in New Jersey’s 9th District. Adding to the media interest in the story, the former president endorsed the opposite candidate of the sitting president. And, in case you missed it, Clinton’s horse beat Obama’s. LINK
Remember the famous Reagan campaign question, “are you better off than you were four years ago?” Bill Clinton’s answer according to the polls is a resounding “yes.”
Since President Obama entered office, Bill Clinton’s favorability has jumped more than 10%, from 51% in 2008, to over 60% in both Gallup and CNN polling by 2010, and rising even higher in 2012 according to CNN polling.
All of which makes it an interesting time to sit down with the youngest former president since Teddy Roosevelt. And Wolf Blitzer gets to do just that tomorrow on CNN’s Situation Room (4 p.m. ET). Email us your questions and we will add them to Wolf’s prep packet: email@example.com.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Wisconsin now tougher for Obama, but still uphill climb for Romney
Republicans scored a decisive victory Tuesday in the bitter Wisconsin recall election as Gov. Scott Walker beat back Democratic challenger Tom Barrett and his organized labor allies to keep his seat in Madison. But will it matter in November? – Peter Hamby
Leading Drudge: 'He Doesn't Need People'
Four years ago, Barack Obama said he wanted a Lincoln-esque “team of rivals” in his Cabinet. Thanks to his own temperament, the modern White House, and the 24-hour news cycle, what the president has created is something that doesn’t look Lincoln-esque at all. – Todd S. Purdum
Leading HuffPo: Georgia Drug Testing Policy Not Catching Jobless Druggies So Far
Georgia businesses have complained recently that they have had trouble finding workers who can pass drug tests. But since February, when the Georgia Department of Labor started encouraging businesses to report job applicants with dirty urine, not a single one has done so. – Arthur Delaney
Leading Politico: The recall's biggest losers
Vince Lombardi, the man who taught Cheeseheads to think with clarity about the severe consequences of victory and defeat, once offered this gem about life: “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.” Scott Walker last night showed Wisconsin and the country a bunch of pretty good losers in his recall election triumph. – Jim Vandehei
Leading New York Times: Wisconsin Vote Underscores Challenges for Democrats
The campaign to oust Gov. Scott Walker was heavily aided by President Obama’s party, his campaign team and his labor allies, so what does the loss mean for the presidential contest? – Michael Shear
The political bites of the day
- Carney calls McCain’s leaking charge ‘grossly irresponsible’ -
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY SPEAKS TO REPORTERS ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE: “This administration takes all appropriate and necessary steps to prevent leaks of classified information or sensitive information that could risk ongoing counterterrorism or intelligence operations. Any suggestion that this administration has authorized intentional leaks of classified information for political gain is grossly irresponsible.”
- Fresh off election win, Walker advises Romney on Wisconsin -
WISCONSIN GOV. SCOTT WALKER IN AN INTERVIEW ON MSNBC: “I think it will be competitive in Wisconsin and the key for Romney to win is he's got to lay out a clear platform, something similar to what our friend Paul Ryan has done down the road. If he does that and he can make a compelling case to take the risks necessary to get our country back on track he can win.”
- Biden compliment, attacks Paul Ryan in one statement -
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN IN A CAMPAIGN SPEECH IN WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA: “The problem here isn't so much our friends, Republican friends in Congress refuse to do. It’s what they propose to do. Their blueprint for the economy, which virtually every member of congress voted for, Republican member – called what you've called it now the Ryan budget. He’s a fine guy. He’s a bright, handsome guy from the state of Wisconsin and he's a fine guy. But I think his ideas are not nearly as fine as he is a man.”
- After loss, union president pivots to symbolic victory -
AFL-CIO UNION PRESIDNET RICHARD TRUMKA IN A PRESS CONFERENCE FOLLOWING THE WISCONISN RECALL ELECTION: “Let me ask you this ... would you like to lose the majority of your party? They lost control of the Senate; he doesn't have control of Senate anymore. Every committee chairman is going to be a Democrat, not a Republican now. His polls are at the lowest they've been in years. He spent $50 million and hasn't gotten past the 50% point.”
- Intelligence community leaders call leaks ‘alarming’ and ‘unacceptable’ -
LEADERS OF HOUSE AND SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEES, DIANNE FEINSTEIN, SAXBY CHAMBLISS, MIKE ROGERS AND C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER IN A JOINT STATEMENT ABOUT LEAKS: “In recent weeks, we have become increasingly concerned at the continued leaks regarding sensitive intelligence programs and activities, including specific details of sources and methods. The accelerating pace of such disclosures, the sensitivity of the matters in question, and the harm caused to our national security interests is alarming and unacceptable.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
President Andrew Jackson was the first president to ride a train when he traveled from Washington to Baltimore on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
Originally, most trains in the United States – including trains on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad – were pulled by horse drawn carriages. But when a public competition occurred between a horse drawn train and a steam powered train, the steam power won out and trains began to be converted. The train that Jackson rode was a steam train.
Following Jackson’s trip and with increases in technology, train travel became hugely popular in the mid 1800s. By 1840, the United States had around 3,000 miles of railroad lines, a number that far surpassed the whole of Europe.
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Congratulations to Jon Ralston (@RalstonFlash) for correctly answering Gut Check Trivia today. Ralston will receive some CNN swag for correctly tweeting that Andrew Jackson – “Old Hickory” – was the first president to ride a train. Ralston is definitely one of Gut Check’s favorite follows on Twitter.
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