Dec 15, 2011

Karl Rove: Enough With the GOP Debates!

Today: U.S. Lowers Battle Flag in Iraq , One in Two Americans Are Poor , Putin Rips on Protesters, McCain
The Daily Beast Cheat Sheet: Afternoon

December 15, 2011
FATIGUE

Even Republican masterminds are getting debate fatigue. Political operative Karl Rove took a swipe at this year's nonstop forums in The Wall Street Journal today, writing that while they've given the GOP candidates more airtime to make a case, they've also "nearly crippled campaigns, chewing into the precious time each candidate has to organize, raise money, set themes, roll out policy and campaign." Plus, he says, the media gets too much power to control the narrative, furnishing an endless supply of confrontations and soundbites: "For good or ill, this year's record-breaking mass of debates has made the contest the most unpredictable, rapidly shifting, and often downright inexplicable primary race I've ever witnessed." Well put.

SYMBOLIC

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta attended a ceremony in Baghdad that marked the official end of the war in Iraq. All troops will pull out by Dec. 31. "Let me be clear, Iraq will be tested in the days ahead—by terrorism, by those who would seek to divide" Panetta warned, as the symbolic battle flag of the U.S. was lowered Thursday. But he hailed the service of the armed services and the Iraqi people—nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives in the war that began nearly nine years ago. But Panetta said "your sacrifice has helped the Iraqi people begin a new chapter in history, free from tyranny."

SHOCKING

Is this what decline looks like? According to new supplemental data from the Census Bureau, nearly half of Americans—a shocking record number—have fallen under the poverty line or are classified as "low income" and barely scraping by. Many in the middle class have dropped to the low-income threshold, meaning they make less than $45,000 for a family of four, because of pay cuts or spouses losing jobs. They number 97.3 million, and together with the 49.1 million in poverty, they represent about 48 percent of the U.S. population, or 146.4 million. That's up by 4 million from 2009 numbers.

FEISTY

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is already in the hot seat after tens of thousands of protesters accused him of election fraud, while rivals are trying to derail his plan of returning to the presidency next year. He might have helped their cause by giving an incendiary interview Thursday during a call-in show on Russian TV. Putin lashed out at the protesters for being "agents of the West." He also called John McCain "mad" after the senator tweeted recently: "The Arab Spring is coming to a neighborhood near you." Putin said McCain's experience as a prisoner of war drove him mad. "Anyone [in his place] would go nuts."

LET'S TALK

We are headed for another potential government shutdown as stopgap funding expires at midnight Friday. But there are signs that progress is being made as GOP and Democratic leaders opened Thursday's Senate session with news that they're in talks to hash out a compromise. House Republicans have unveiled a $1-trillion spending bill and threatened to power it through the chamber, aiming to force the Democrat-led Senate to: one, wrap up Congress' work for the year so they can take a holiday break; two, drop the so-called "millionaires tax" in the spending bill; three, give ground on how to fund the separate payroll tax holiday and unemployment insurance benefits, which both expire by the end of the year and are set to be the next big partisan battles. If the short-term spending bill passes the vote Thursday, it would mostly likely ensure all three victories for the Republicans.


NEW FLAVOR?
Huntsman Surges in N.H. Poll
Now in third place, behind Romney, Gingrich.
NEWS OF THE WORLD
Piers Morgan to Testify Next Week
CNN host formerly edited tabs.
Special Privileges
Zynga's IPO Doesn't Play Fair
Tech company plans to go public Friday.
WONDER YEARS
Facebook Launches 'Timeline'
New interface goes live.
SHOCK JOCK
Howard Stern Hired by NBC
As America's Got Talent judge.
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