Never have believed you can catch up on lost sleep the same can be said probably about lost blogs; but briefly, here goes
Xmas—Anywhere but Washington
Rarely has a Congress been as happy to get out of town as the Members of the first session of the 113th just concluded. At the same time, never will a group of legislators be as unhappy to come back to D.C. next week considering what they are facing. The budget was easy compared to the appropriations bills that their staff, which had no vacation, has assembled; an omnibus spending bill that “appears” to reflect the will of the budget just approved by the Congress. Good luck.
Who Will Be the Speaker Boehner for the Second Session?
Having presided over the House of Representatives in the least popular and probably what will be the least productive Congress in history, Speaker Boehner suddenly emerged as a fighting tiger against the right wing of his own party during the pre-Christmas days. It was a startling development to watch and suggests that perhaps Republicans might return to Washington ready to legislate in the second session of the 113th. The possibility of a return to comity in Washington in January is a New Year’s resolution that many Americans wish will happen; the problems of the nation certainly could use some serious attention.
Lest one be overly optimistic, however, much will depend on some of the internal polling being done by the Republicans now to see whether America is ready for a Tea Party revolution in 2014 or not. This will also be reflected in the candidates that are now finally lining up for the off-year elections next November. Once again much will depend on the extent of Tea Party challengers that Republican incumbents will face in the spring. For the Tea Partyers, money will not be the determining factor.
ObamaCare Moves to Hawaii
Unfortunately for the President ObamaCare is able to travel to Hawaii as well. For the President, the last three months must have constituted one of the ugliest stretches for any president only in his fifth year in office. One wonders how often Obama looked at the calendar and began to count the days until he could escape from Washington.
If ObamaCare continues to work and the it gets to the spring without any future implosions, even a frontal attack from the Republicans will not derail the Affordable Health Care Act’s implementation. Meanwhile, all the President needs to do is keep the economy growing, make sure debt ceiling decisions are enacted in a timely fashion, move the immigration debate ahead, deliver a zinger of a State of the Union Speech, and satisfy the country that he is as concerned about protecting civil liberties as he is about the national security. Not sure how much time this left for golf, basketball, swimming, sailing, and surfing in Hawaii but at least the traveling White House press corps has a had quiet holiday—so far.
Looking for Signals?
In a meeting of the World Policy Conference in Monaco in mid-December, Prince Turki al-Faisel the former Saudi intelligence chief gave a major a major address concerning the Saudi views on events in Iran, Syria, and the peace process, which will be discussed on another occasion. On the sidelines of the conference there were handshakes and meeting between with Israeli Knesset member Meir Sheetrit and former Israeli Ambassador to Washington Itamar Rabinovich. Among other matters which were released was the fact that the Saudi Prince was invited to Jerusalem to address the Knesset, although he declined as the time was not appropriate for it.
*** I promise to try not to neglect to get my flu shot next year.