Weekly Political Highlights: ‘Watergate’ to Hagel's Senate problem

Last week was news heavy, but Washington doesn’t seem to be much different from the Carnival Cruise ship. Photo: The misnamed Carnival Triumph docks Thursday night AP

WASHINGTON, February 16, 2013 — Whew! What a week Washington had. The big event was the emotional State of the Union and ended with the downer that Congress has given itself a ten-day holiday, leaving America in the lurch as it headed out of town.

Here’s the weekly political wrap-up for Sunday, February 10 through Saturday, February 16:

Sunday, February 10 – Sen. Graham Says He Will Block Hagel and Brennan Votes

Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham went on “Face the Nation” to proclaim that this week he will block any chance of a Senate vote on President Obama’s nominees for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, and CIA Director, John Brennan, until he gets the information he wants from the President about Benghazi, Libya. And he was true to his word as he and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) prevented a vote from taking place.

Once again playing to the Tea Party and hoping that his latest obstructionist move will keep the state’s Tea Party from “primarying” him, Graham has moved himself into a very far Right corner. Many are doing a Graham Watch to see what other unproductive positions he will twist himself into, all the while praying to avoid being mowed down the Tea Party express.

Tuesday, February 12 — President Obama’s State of the Union Overshadowed by Marco Rubio’s Lunge for Water

Sen. Rubio’s infamous water break AP

President Obama gave one of his best State of the Union speeches, asking Congress to raise the minimum wage to $9 from $7.25, to get immigration reform done, to stop stumbling from financial crisis to crisis, and to pass gun control legislation. He introduced the families of gun violence in the gallery, including parents of the Newtown massacre.

But it was a pedestrian GOP rebuttal by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), filled with the usual Republican platitudes and talking points, that stole the show when in desperation to relieve his cottonmouth, he lunged for a water bottle, never taking his eyes off the camera, as he took a quick gulp.

The historic event was captured live and played over and over, ad nauseum, the rest of the week, causing laugher on the Left and outrage on the Right.

Is this the end of the fledgling and possible presidential career of the young, personable senator that the refurbished GOP had pinned its hopes to? Probably not, especially since Rubio was savvy enough to give TV interviews the next day while sipping from a water bottle. Don’t count him out just yet.

Wednesday, February 13 — Republicans Go Into Attack Mode After the State of the Union

The wind machine was on full blast as the Republican leadership took to the floor of the Senate and before television cameras to deride President Obama’s speech, in particular his request for the minimum wage to be raised.

While a CNN poll found that 77% of viewers had positive feelings about the speech and 71% said his policies would move the country in the right direction, the Republicans were having none of it. The Republican Speaker of the House said it was “pathetic,” and that pretty much summed up the GOP sentiment.

Rep. Boehner is not happy with Obama’s speech AP

Anyone watching the State of the Union, could tell from the body language and permanent scowl on Boehner’s face that he was one very unhappy camper, listening to President Obama, so his reaction is not unexpected.

However, the country is in no mood for any further No to anything that the President wants. The GOP will pay a heavy price in 2016 if it continues down this path.

Thursday, February 14 — The Cruise from Hell Docks: Passengers scrambled off the Carnival Triumph cruise as fast their legs could carry them when it finally docked in Mobile, Ala. The more than 3,000 passengers and 1,000 crewmembers finally escaped the literally stinking ship after nearly a week adrift in the Gulf. One of the many homemade banners hanging from the side of the ship proclaimed: “The ship’s afloat, so is the sewage.”

Already there is talk of Congressional hearings. How could Congress possibly pass up such a great political moment to act like they are doing something for a change? This is right up their alley.

Friday, February 15 — Congress Takes a 10-day Vacation Rather Than Work on the Sequester

The House and the Senate adjourned, off for a 10-day holiday while the nation once again is faced with a financial crisis that will slam us on March 1 unless Congress acts to stop the sequester. The Democrats in both the House and Senate unveiled legislation that would replace the 10-year sequester at least for the rest of 2013. Republicans were not interested and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) basically nixed it as a “gimmicky tax hike designed to fail.”

Instead of staying to do the work of the people, Congress is off on jaunts around the world, back home fundraising or kicking back on some warm beach. To heck with the rest of us as the $85 billion automatic spending cuts kick in at the end of the month. Those cuts will hit not just the Defense Department but the average taxpayers as well. And you can expect the stock market to take a big hit. But Congress can’t be bothered. Again.

Is this anyway to run a railroad…er, government?

Stay tuned for next week’s Perils of Pauline, aka the American taxpayer, as we once again get tied to the tracks by Congress. Each week Ad Lib will do a wrap-up of the high and lowlights of our political life.

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe


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