CNN's GUT CHECK | for May 28, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BACK AT THE SHORE: Obama, Christie tour of Jersey shore… "Down the shore, everything's all right," President Barack Obama declared Tuesday on his return to New Jersey's devastated coast seven months after Superstorm Sandy caused billions of dollars in damage there. – Tom Cohen
PUTTING POLITICS ASIDE: “This has been a community effort, everybody working together. From the minute the storm hit, we were working with the local mayors all up and down the Jersey shore and in Bergen County, everybody came together,” Christie said at the event. “Republicans, Democrats, Independents, we all came together because New Jersey is more important and our citizens' lives are more important than any kind of politics at all.”
INVESTIGATING HOLDER: The House Judiciary Committee is looking into whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied under oath earlier this month when he said he wasn't involved in the "potential prosecution of the press," two Republican committee sources confirmed Tuesday. – Dana Bash, Deirdre Walsh and Carol Cratty
MARKET WATCH: Dow adds 106 points to close at a record high on positive economic news. NASDAQ gains 0.9%, S&P rises 0.6%.
Which country – India or Pakistan – tested nuclear weapons first?
DAN (@DanMericaCNN) & MARK (@PrestonCNN)
What caught our eye today in politics
In the span of a few hours today, our colleagues at CNN Money posted three stories that show an American economy that is coming back from the brink.
Home prices post strongest gains in 7 years: Prices on the S&P/Case-Shiller national index rose 10.2% in the first quarter, according to the latest report. That marked the fourth consecutive quarter of year-over-year gains, says David Blitzer, head of S&P's index division. – Lee Christie
Consumer confidence at 5-year high: The Consumer Confidence Index, which gauges how consumers feel about the economy each month, rose to 76.2 in May - its highest reading since February 2008, according to research firm The Conference Board. It's up significantly from last month's reading of 69, and is also higher than the 72.5 predicted by economists surveyed by Briefing.com. – Melanie Hicken
Rally pushes Dow to new record: What financial crisis? U.S. stocks surged Tuesday as investors digested stellar economic data that appeared to put the housing and financial crises far in the rearview mirror. – Maureen Farrell
Now to be fair, things are not back where they once were. Unemployment is still over 7%, home prices are still noticeably down since their peak in 2006 and consumer confidence is up from the lows of the Great Recession.
But the trend is positive. And that is good political news for President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.
During Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012, the president frequently heralded what he did during his first term for the economy, before saying that the country was “not there yet.”
“We're not there yet,” said an Obama ad released on May 7, 2012. “It's still too hard for too many. But we're coming back. Because America's greatness comes from a strong middle class. Because you don't quit.”
The question for congressional Republicans, who will look to take the Senate back and hold the House in 2014, is how do you acknowledge a recovery at the same time trying to take control of Congress.
See House Speaker John Boehner’s statement after the April 2013 unemployment numbers, where the economy added 165,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 7.5%.
“There’s some good news in today’s report,” Boehner said in a written release.
“The president’s policies still aren’t providing the robust economic growth and job creation the American people desperately need,” the statement continued. “To get things moving, we need to seize opportunities the president has been ignoring, and focus on growing our economy rather than growing more government.”
Expect Republicans to use this sort of “we are happy but” response to economic questions in 2014.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: High court poised for a month of high-stakes rulings
Four weeks. Four major legal rulings. What the Supreme Court decides by the end of June could fundamentally change lives and legacies on a range of politically explosive issues. The justices will meet in at least five public sessions to release opinions in its remaining 30 cases, among them some the most strongly-contested legal and social issues they have confronted in decades. – Bill Mears
Leading Drudge: Get My Groove Back
President Barack Obama is looking to get his groove back — at the beach.
Leading HuffPo: Uh Oh
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is tied with Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) in a hypothetical 2014 Senate race, according to a poll conducted for a Democratic super PAC. – Mollie Reilly
Leading Politico: Who would Hillary hire?
Back in 2008, Hillary Clinton committed so many management sins it was hard to keep track of them all — yet none was worse than failing to establish a coherent, functional chain of command. – Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush
Leading The New York Times: Obama Plans 3 Nominations for Key Court
The nomination of the judges to a key federal court all at once is certain to unleash fierce Republican opposition and could rekindle a broader partisan struggle over Senate rules. – Michael Shear
The political bites of the day
- The Jersey shore is back, says Obama -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IN A NEW JERSEY SPEECH: “I saw what thousands of Americans saw over Memorial Day weekend, you are stronger than the storm. After all you've dealt with, after all you've been through the Jersey shore is back and it's open for business and they want all Americans to know that they are ready to welcome you here.”
- 2 U.S. officials shot in Caracas nightclub -
STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN PATRICK VENTRELL AT TODAY’S DEPARTMENT PRESS PRIEFING: “We can confirm two members of the U.S. embassy in Caracas were injured during an incident early this morning. Medical staff inform us that their injuries do not appear to be life threatening. Embassy security and health personnel are at the hospital and have been in touch with the two individuals and their families, but we have no further details to provide at this time about the incident.”
- White House monitoring violence in Iraq -
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT A WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE: “We have an important and ongoing relationship with the government of Iraq and the Iraqi people. We engage with the government on issues all the time. And it’s something that we continue to monitor and continue to provide advice on both with Iraq and with countries in the region. This is a matter that I know, from having worked with him on it, the vice president remains concerned about and focused on.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
On this day in 1998, deep in Ras Koh Hills, Pakistan successfully conducted its first nuclear test.
The test, however, was not the first for the region.
Two weeks earlier, on May 11th and 13th, India successfully tested two nuclear weapons in Operation Shakti. Pakistan's test is considered to be a direct response to India's test.
Although there was international fury after the successful test, Pakistan became the world's seventh nuclear power – a status of great pride for the county's government.
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"The nomination of the judges to a key federal court all at once is certain to unleash fierce Republican opposition and could rekindle a broader partisan struggle over Senate rules."
Indeed. The law says there need to be 11 justices on that court. The GOP/Teatrolls are trying to reduce it by law to 8 justices because that's how many there are and it currently leans heavily to the right. Of course, they are then turning around and claiming that Obama, by trying to appoint the 3 other justices as required by law, is the one who is trying to "pack the court." Will the MSM report on this blatant nonsense/hypocrisy/projection from the GOP/Teatrolls as the nonsense/hypocrisy/projection that it is OR will they give McConnell & Co. more cover, carry their water and pretend that their claims of Obama wanting to "pack the court" are somehow legitimate?
I thought it, and should have said it earlier. Glad to see New Jersey coming back. I know they are excited, and we
are too – for them.
More to do, but a good beginning.
With the economic news quite good for the past several years and getting steadily better, and with the "Obama is going to wreck America" lie implacably exposed as such, the Republican Party is bound to be frustrated as can be. That most likely explains their constant whining and complaining about made-up issues, like Benghazi and court-packing and vigor in the pursuit of leakers even in the press. But the refusal to pass an immigration bill, and the refusal to enact reasonable gun controls, and the refusal to enact the infrastructure bank speaks volumes about the Republicans and will not be lost among the pettiness and the nit picking that has come to define them.