CNN's GUT CHECK | for February 28, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION URGES HIGH COURT TO OVERTURN GAY MARRIAGE BAN IN CALIFORNIA… The Obama administration has formally expressed its support of same sex marriage in California, saying in a legal brief Thursday that gay and lesbian couples there have the same "equal protection" rights to wed, and that voters in the state were wrong to ban it, according to an administration official. An appeal in the so-called Proposition 8 case will be formally filed later Thursday with the Supreme Court, which will hear the issue next month. – Bill Mears
SENATE PASSES VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT: Struggling again with an issue important to women and minority groups, House Republicans on Thursday failed to pass their version of a new Violence Against Women Act and then split over a Senate version that won approval with unanimous Democratic support. The measure now goes to President Barack Obama, who said in a statement that it was "an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear.” – Tom Cohen
POPE NO MORE: The papacy of Benedict XVI is over, ending a pontificate in retirement rather than death for the first time in nearly 600 years. The Throne of St. Peter is vacant. The Catholic Church has no pope.
What percentage of the U.S. television viewing audience watched the M*A*S*H finale on this day in 1983?
What caught our eye today in politics
With only one day to go before $85 billion in widely disliked spending cuts start to take effect, lawmakers spent Thursday engaged in heated arguments over how best to end the latest self-imposed fiscal crisis.
They met expectations and accomplished nothing - other than positioning themselves for the next round in Washington’s endless budget wars. (Get ready for a March 27 government shutdown showdown.)
As expected, the sharply divided Senate took up competing Democratic and Republican alternative plans. And as expected, neither proposal won the 60-vote supermajority needed to clear the 100-member chamber.
Majority Leader Harry Reid’s proposal to hike taxes on millionaires while cutting defense more got 51 votes; Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposal to pass the buck and force Obama to pick a new set of cuts got 38.
"As usual, Republicans have put the demands of special interests over the needs of middle-class Americans," complained Reid, a veteran Nevada Democrat.
“Instead of changing as they promised, Washington Democrats are just turning back to the same old campaign-first strategy they've employed for years,” replied McConnell, a five-term Kentucky Republican.
Congressional leaders will huddle with President Obama at the White House on Friday, but nobody expects that last-minute meeting to amount to much more than a glorified photo op.
The spending cuts nobody wanted have arrived.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Bob Woodward says he was "threatened" by White House
Veteran journalist Bob Woodward says he was threatened by a senior Obama administration official following his reporting on the White House's handling of the forced federal spending cuts set to take effect on Friday. “They're not happy at all,” he said on CNN's “The Situation Room,” adding that an e-mail from a senior administration official – who he would not name – communicated a message which caused him great concern.
Leading Drudge: They Threatened Me Too!
Bob Woodward isn't the only person who's received threats for airing the Obama administration's dirty laundry. It seems anyone is a potential target of the White House these days - even former senior members of the Clinton administration. A day after Woodward's claim that a senior White House official had told him he would "regret" writing a column criticizing President Obama's stance on the sequester, Lanny Davis, a longtime close advisor to President Bill Clinton, told WMAL's Mornings on the Mall Thursday he had received similar threats for newspaper columns he had written about Obama in the Washington Times.
Leading HuffPo: 'Pitiful'
Former vice president and environmental advocate Al Gore blasted the choice of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to give the Republican response to the State of the Union address as "dangerous" and "pitiful." Speaking at a town hall-style Q&A session set to be broadcast on SiriusXM radio Thursday, Gore took the Republican Party to task for having Rubio, who has stated his disbelief in man-made climate change many times in the past, respond to President Barack Obama's address. – Will Wrigley
Leading Politico: President Obama and John Boehner: Why they don't get along
Barack Obama and John Boehner have repeatedly, emphatically and publicly claimed they like each other on a guy-to-guy level — never mind that neither can abide sitting across from the other at a negotiating table. Less than two years ago, it seemed plausible that odd-couple diplomacy could prevail, as a Republican House speaker with deep blue-collar roots and a professorial president embarked on what they hoped would be the most ambitious taxation and spending deal in the nation’s history. – Glenn Thrush and John Bresnahan
Leading The New York Times: In Victory for Obama, House Backs Domestic Violence Law
The House voted on Thursday to pass the Senate’s bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, in a big victory for President Obama and Democrats in Congress. – Ashley Parker
GUT CHECK MARKET WATCH: Dow ends higher for third straight month, up 1.4%. Nasdaq, S&P post fourth month of gains, adding 0.6% and 1.1%. – CNN Money
The political bites of the day
- Using Latin, Pelosi says Republicans are holding growth hostage -
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI AT A CAPITOL HILL NEWS CONFERENCE: “What is the root of the word sequester? Sequester, one of my colleagues is a Latin scholar, told me means really “to hold hostage” and that's exactly what this does. It holds hostage the future, the growth of our country for an ideological anti-government attitude.”
Gut Check Fact Check: The etymology of the word sequester, according to Merriam Webster, is the Latin word “sequestratus.” According to the 1879 publication of “A Latin Dictionary, the word “sequestratus” means 1.) separate, remove; 2.) place/surrender into hands of trustee.
- Boehner: We’ve done our work -
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER AT A CAPITOL HILL NEWS CONFERENCE: “We've done our work. They've not done theirs. The House shouldn't have to pass a third bill to replace the sequester before the Senate passes one.”
- Carney dismisses question on Woodward ‘threat,’ says email was ‘incredibly respectful’ -
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY RESPONDS TO A QUESTION FROM CNN’S JESSICA YELLIN AT THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING: “Jessica, don't you think it would be the responsible thing to ask that question in the context of the full email since we know what the full email said? Where Gene Sperling, in keeping with a demeanor I have been familiar with for more than 20 years, was incredibly respectful. Referred to Mr. Woodward as his friend and apologized for raising his voice. I think you cannot read those emails and come away with the impression that Gene was threatening anybody.”
Gut Check Full Service: Gene Sperling, a senior economic aide to President Barack Obama, in an email to journalist Bob Woodward, according to an email obtained by Politico… “I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. My bad. I do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall — but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here. But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim."
- Republicans press administration for more answers on ICE’s detainee release -
REPUBLICAN SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY AND REPUBLICAN REP. BOB GOODLATTE IN A LETTER TO HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY JANET NAPOLITANO: “While the Department released illegal alien detainees into the population on the basis of cost cutting, we find this decision particularly troubling because the Department has carried or will carry forward billions of dollars in fiscal years 2012 and 2013. Simply blaming budget reductions as a means to turn a blind eye toward the national security of the American people is a dangerous plan.”
Gut Check Full Service: ICE sources tells CNN’s Jim Acosta that the releases could continue… “It’s all based on the outcome of what the cut rate for sequester is. No plans for further significant releases as of right now, but that could change based on sequester.”
- Club for Growth targets Republicans they view as moderate -
CHRIS CHOCOLA, PRESIDENT OF THE CLUB FOR GROWTH, IN AN EMAIL TO SUPPORTERS: “Congressman Schock, your liberal record speaks for itself. You understandably would like to hide the reality that you are a pro-stimulus spending, pro-ObamaCare, pro-debt limit increase, pro-tax increase, pro-labor “Republican”, but all the evidence points to that very fact. Your actions as a member of Congress matter, and because of you and your votes, taxes and debt are higher, ObamaCare is funded, labor bosses receive their handouts and both your constituents and Americans have less economic freedom.”
Gut Check Full Service: Steven Shearer, Schock’s chief of staff, responds to the email… “Club for Growth’s endgame is for Congress to become even more strident and gridlocked. … Few people are going to agree with a Congressman who has cast over 3,000 votes. All conservative AND liberal national organizations rate Aaron Schock as a mainstream conservative—except the Club for Growth and Heritage Action. They are loud, but not an accurate reflection of Congressman Schock’s record.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
On this day in 1983, the final episode of the hit series M*A*S*H aired on CBS. An incredible 77 percent of the television viewing public watched the special two-and-a-half hour episode, according to Nielsen reports from 1983.
At the time, it was the largest share of people to watch a television event – an astonishing 105.94 million people, according to Nielsen.
Based on a novel by Richard Hooker, M*A*S*H depicted the life of Americans on the front lines of the Korean War and, in particular, the operations of the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. Even after the show ended, it was widely syndicated and is seen as one of the most iconic shows of the 1970s.
While M*A*S*H is still the most viewed television program, it is not the most watched event. According to Nielsen, the 2012 London Olympics is the most watched event ever on television – with 219.4 million Americans tuning in. In second, the 2008 Beijing games with 215 million Americans.
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