Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Political Report: Week of January 15th, 2007

Obama set to throw his hat in the ring.
* Republicans will have to go on record about Bush troop surge.
* Edwards swipes at frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
* Bush willing to spend remaining political capital on troop surge.
* Libby perjury trial unlikely to contain many surprises.

1. Democratic Senator Barack Obama said Tuesday morning that he was filing a presidential exploratory committee, the first step towards committing to an all out run for the White House. In a video posted on his official website, Obama said "I certainly didn't expect to find myself in this position a year ago. I've been struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics. So I've spent some time thinking about how I could best advance the cause of change and progress that we so desperately need." He said he’ll announce his final decision on February 10th.

2. While it’s far from attempting to de-fund the war in Iraq, Democrats are preparing to introduce non-binding resolutions in both the House and Senate that will force Republican lawmakers to go on the record regarding President Bush’s decision to authorize a surge in troops. Republicans have used these types of resolutions in the past with great success, most notably the Iraq War Resolution in the Senate in 2002 which many Democratic Senators are still feeling the negative effects from. This new resolution should occur next week, just in time for the State of the Union address.

3. Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards traveled to Hillary Clinton’s home turf in New York City to address 1200 Riverside Church parishioners on Martin Luther King Day. In what was clearly a subtle slap at Clinton, Edwards said "Silence is betrayal, and I believe it is a betrayal not to speak out against the escalation of the war in Iraq,” after which the audience gave him a 60 second standing ovation. "We need to show we are serious about leaving, and the best way to do that is to start leaving," Edwards also said. The Edwards-Clinton battle is revving into high gear.

4. President Bush is clearly digging in his heels on what is setting up to be continued opposition to his decision to send more troops to Iraq. In an interview on “60 Minutes,” Bush said “I fully understand they could try to stop me but I’ve made my decision, and we’re going forward.” Although his base of support is low among lawmakers in his own Party and the public at large, unless Congress votes to de-fund the war, the surge, which is already underway, will continue. Bush will have another chance to sell his plan and gain support at the upcoming State of the Union speech.

5. Jury selection begins this week in the perjury and obstruction trial against former White House aide Lewis “Scooter" Libby. Libby is accused of lying to federal investigators regarding the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame. Vice President Dick Cheney is expected to be a witness for the defense, the first time that a sitting vice president would have testified in a criminal case. Don’t expect the prosecution to attempt to stray far from the specific charges against Libby and try to tie Cheney or any other high-profile administration figures directly to Libby’s actions.


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