Good morning, fellow political junkies.
It's not just any morning. It's what may be government-shutdown eve, since it is looking more likely that the federal government will experience its first partial closure in 17 years come 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
Given that, little of the political coverage and analysis this morning is what most people would call uplifting. Here are some of the more interesting items and themes we've come across so far:
- The government shutdown fight pits against each other two veterans of Washington's partisan wars: Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate majority leader, and Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH). Politico provides a kind of tale of the tape in companion pieces that suggest Reid has the advantage because his Democrats are unified in a way Boehner can only envy.
- NPR's own Steve Inskeep, Morning Edition co-host, is scheduled to interview President Obama Monday. The president will no doubt use the time to hammer on his message that he won't allow House Republicans to advance their agenda by taking the nation's economy hostage. Check back here later for coverage of the interview. It will be featured on All Things Considered this evening and on Morning Edition Tuesday, as well.
- With a partial shutdown of the federal government scheduled to occur at midnight, the Washington Post provides one of the best interactive explainers of how various agencies will be affected. Meanwhile, if you prefer an old-fashioned government report on a shutdown's likely effects, this Congressional Research Service report is for you.
- James Fallows over at The Atlantic makes a compelling argument against descriptions of current budget and debt ceiling crises as manifestations of old-fashioned Washington gridlock. What's happening now is something entirely different, a case of some "absolutist" GOP House members for who compromise is anathema.
- And not only won't they compromise with Democrats, they barely compromise with fellow Republicans. The actions of GOP hardliners are raising the concerns of those in the party's mainstream that the mess is hurting the party politically and the nation generally, reports Bloomberg News's Heidi Przbyla and Julie Hirshfeld Davis.
- Whether you agree or disagree with Vanity Fair contributing editor Kurt Eichenwald's declawing of several conservative criticisms of Obamacare, his piece is well worth reading. It's a reminder of just how over-the-top some of the attacks on the health law have been (death panels, anyone?) and how those charges have overshadowed some of the more legitimate criticisms of the law.
- North Carolina will join Texas on Monday as an early target of a U.S. Justice Department voting rights lawsuit, as the Charlotte Observer's Steve Harrison and Anne Blythe report. In August, the Tarheel State's Republican governor signed a new voter ID law which, among other changes, restricts early voting and bans the use of student IDs for election purposes. It was high college-student turnout, of course, that helped President Obama win North Carolina in 2008.
- Could Hillary Clinton's White House hopes, assuming she still has them, be dashed by another freshman Democratic senator, this time Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts? There's apparently a growing number of progressives who would like to see just that, writes The New York Times's Jonathan Martin.
- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) got virtually all the attention last week for his marathon anti-Obamacare talk. But Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) gets a little of the spotlight from the National Review online's Eliana Johnson who writes that he's a "gentler, more politic" version of former Sen. Jim De Mint who now presides over the Heritage Foundation and was and remains a thorn in the paw of the Republican establishment.
What have you come across that you'd like to point people to? Feel free to share it in our comments section.