WASHINGTON — Midway through Monday’s arguments at the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg appeared to be fading. She was looking down at her case material, her head resting in her hand, her face just a few inches above the desk. She looked up for a moment, but then sunk lower, and the only part of her visible to most of the audience in the Supreme Court chamber was the part north of the forehead.
WASHINGTON — It has the makings of a royal mess for “King Barack.” Monday morning’s Supreme Court argument about the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases went badly for the Obama administration — so much so that the real question before the justices seemed to be how severe the EPA’s loss would be. The administration’s solicitor general, Donald Verrilli, pleaded with the justices to recognize the “urgent problem” of climate change, because the “threat to future generations gets worse” with each passing year.
WASHINGTON — Arthur Brooks, head of the American Enterprise Institute, had the unorthodox idea to invite the Dalai Lama to exchange views on capitalism with a panel of scholars at the conservative think tank last week. The Tibetan spiritual leader gently suggested that there might be “more sense of universal responsibility and commitment,” even as he listened politely to the Americans’ praise for the morality of the free market.
WASHINGTON — The legal fight against National Security Agency surveillance is shaping up to be a titanic clash, with pugilistic litigants trading charges and countercharges of bad faith and misinformation.
WASHINGTON — For years, the White House has trotted out the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to show that Obamacare would cut health care costs and reduce deficits: “CBO Confirms Families Will Save Money Under Health Reform.” “CBO Update Shows Lower Costs for the New Health Care Law.” “CBO Confirms: The Health Care Law Reduces the Deficit.” Live by the sword, die by the sword, the Bible tells us. In Washington, it’s slightly different: Live by the CBO, die by the CBO.
WASHINGTON — President Obama spoke Tuesday about “the state of our union,” but the actions he discussed were largely his own. “I will act on my own to slash bureaucracy.” “I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built.” “I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands.” “I directed my administration to work with states, utilities and others.” “I’m going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders and philanthropists.”
WASHINGTON — Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Tuesday outlined his party’s priorities for 2014. They are, in ascending order of importance: — Obamacare. — Obamacare! Obamacare! — OBAMACARE! OBAMACARE! OBAMACARE! OBAMACARE! OBAMACARE!!!
Congress’s drag on the economy By Dana Milbank, It is tantalizing to wonder, as Ben Bernanke did Wednesday afternoon, how much better the economy would be today, and how many millions more would have jobs, if Congress hadn’t done so much over the past few years to drag down growth. Bernanke was giving his last news conference as Fed chairman, and it became a wistful valedictory. The news was good, overall: The economy is improving enough that the central bank is tapering its intervention. But again and again, Bernanke returned to musing about what might have been.
Is the Obama White House airbrushing history? It was a hallmark of the Stalin era: Fallen Soviet leaders vanished from official photographs. Nobody accuses President Obama of such subterfuge (well, nobody except for those who believe he forged his birth certificate), but a change in longtime practice in the White House has raised questions about the integrity of images Americans see of their president.
Near the end of his new book, “Days of Fire,” my friend and former colleague Peter Baker recounts a moment in the White House Situation Room in 2008 when President George W. Bush was uncharacteristically reflective.