Obama Shifts Strategy?
President Obama invited a dozen Republican senators to dinner last night. Rather than hosting them at the White House, where the president clearly has the upper hand, they met in neutral territory -- at the Jefferson Hotel. And Obama personally picked up the tab.
Next week, he will travel down Pennsylvania Avenue and attend the weekly luncheon with the entire Republican Senate caucus. That is something Obama has not done since May of 2010. In addition, President Obama has been making phone calls to key Republican leaders, such as Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee.
The dinner is being widely hailed here in Washington for a variety of reasons. Many in the media noted that the president's new "charm offensive" is a dramatic shift in strategy and stands in stark contrast to his recent campaign-style rallies, where he aggressively attacked congressional opponents as if the election were not over.
Perhaps President Obama is considering his legacy. Sure he got Obamacare. But with the Middle East in flames and the economy on the ropes, he has reason to be concerned. A lot of pundits think last night's dinner is a sign that a "big deal" on entitlements and revenues can still be made between this president and congressional Republicans.
According to the Washington Post President Obama still wants to get another $600 billion in tax increases, and may be willing to consider reforms to major entitlement programs in exchange for more revenue. I'm skeptical, and I certainly do not believe that higher taxes will help the economy. But if the president is making a genuine attempt to focus on governing, that would be a welcome change.
Public Approves Sequester Cuts
The "dreaded" sequester crisis has been as big a fizzle as the massive snow storm that was supposed to hit Washington, D.C., yesterday. The public did not buy the hysterical claims about the sequester cuts.
In fact, a new ABC poll asked whether or not Americans favored a 5% across-the-board cut in federal spending. Sixty-one percent said yes, while just 33% said no. The same poll also found that the public overwhelmingly rejected (34%-to-60%) big cuts to defense spending. Perhaps that is why the president is reaching out to congressional conservatives.
Senator Rand Paul's Filibuster
While some Republican senators dined with President Obama last night, another GOP meeting was taking place on the Senate floor, led by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). Senator Paul continues to raise his profile, perhaps with 2016's presidential competition in mind.
Yesterday he made waves by conducting a filibuster of John Brennan's nomination to head the CIA. But Brennan was just the excuse. Senator Paul chose the tactic because he was upset that the Obama Administration appeared to be open to using drones to kill U.S. citizens inside the United States who were determined to be Al Qaeda linked terrorists.
This was not one of those wimpy filibusters that senators normally use in which there are merely repeated votes to end debate. This was an old fashioned talk-a-thon, similar to what Jimmy Stewart did in the classic movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
Senator Paul actually spoke for 13 hours. Periodically he would yield the floor to friendly senators including Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and a few others who he could trust to yield back to him. Eventually, however, Paul had to end his efforts because "nature called" and he could not stay on the Senate floor indefinitely.
Just a week ago, Senator Rand Paul disappointed me and many conservatives when he voted to confirm Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. As a Reagan conservative I still have doubts about Senator Rand Paul's brand of libertarianism.
But conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer said on Fox yesterday that Paul's effort may be the moment he becomes a national force. I agree. His filibuster last night has hit a nerve with many.
Honoring A Jihadi Sympathizer
Tomorrow Secretary of State John Kerry and First Lady Michelle Obama will honor ten women from around the world with the International Women of Courage Award. The award was established during the Bush Administration to recognize women who have demonstrated courage and leadership on behalf of "women's rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk."
Among this year's honorees is Samira Ibrahim of Egypt. Ibrahim was among the protestors in Tahrir Square who was subjected to the Egyptian military's "virginity tests." But she also happens to be an anti-Semitic jihadist sympathizer.
For example, last year as mobs were attacking our embassy in Cairo and our consulate in Benghazi, Ibrahim tweeted, "Today is the anniversary of 9/11. May every year come with America burning."
Ibrahim was overjoyed when a bus bombing last year in Bulgaria killed Israeli tourists. After hearing the news, she wrote, "An explosion on a bus carrying Israelis in Burgas airport in Bulgaria on the Black Sea. Today is a very sweet day with a lot of very sweet news."
Last August, she tweeted one of her favorite Hitler quotes, "I have discovered with the passage of days, that no act contrary to morality, no crime against society, takes place, except with the Jews having a hand in it. Hitler."
Kudos to Samuel Tadros of the Hudson Institute and our friends at The Weekly Standard for exposing Samira Ibrahim's disgusting anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism.
Instead of giving her an award, she should be put back on a plane and sent back to Egypt.