By Chris Stirewalt, ,
Published December 23, 2015
Even if President Obama's India trip really did cost $200 million a day, it would probably be worth it to him to get out of Washington today.
Obama's last act before setting on his 10-day junket through Asia -- which rolls on to a visit to his boyhood home of Indonesia and trade talks in South Korea and Japan - will be to comment on new jobless numbers for the month of October.
The forecast for the numbers is not good, but, of course, there is little hope for truly good employment news for many months. If you listen to what the Federal Reserve said about why it will print another $600 billion to buy up more U.S. debt, the economic outlook is for near-term stagnation.
Having delivered his dour and sour analysis of the midterm elections and facing more economic bad news, Power Play would understand if the president needed to take a little break from America.
And with the electorate, his absence may make their hearts go fonder. Presidents get a boost in public opinion when they are overseas - Americans like our guy to look good.
But the primary concern right now for Obama's political future has to do with not the general electorate, but his party in Washington.
The first question hangs on what Nancy Pelosi decides to do. Pelosi, who was widely assumed to be leaving town following the thrashing her party took on Tuesday, is telling friendly news outlets that she's reaching out to other Democrats to gauge their interest in her staying on as their leader in the House.
The interest will likely be very high.
Remember that 22 of the 45 moderate members of the Blue Dog Coalition running for reelection lost, while the Progressive Caucus actually looks likely to have added to its 80+ members. The Republican wave actually concentrated the liberalism of the Democratic caucus since it was moderates from swing districts who were most likely to have lost.
Pelosi's message to her ideologically homogeneous caucus has particular appeal to liberals who never really much liked having to compromise with moderates in their own party anyway. She says that two years in the minority is the price Democrats had to pay for national health insurance and that she can lead them back to the majority in short order.
Another problem for Obama as he peruses the Punjab will be the growing resentment against his political operation inside the Democratic Party.
While the House may have tipped sharply to the left, the Democratic caucus in the Senate is even more moderate with the addition of Joe Manchin from West Virginia. And 23 of their 51 members will be up in 2012, many having to share ballot space with Obama in states where the president is direly unpopular.
Power Play is hearing a lot of complaints from Democrats about the Obama Democratic National Committee and his man in charge there, Tim Kaine. An aide to a Democratic senator said it would be "appropriate" for Kaine to step down after a defeat of the magnitude the party experienced this week.
Inside the White House, you have lots of movement and restlessness. We know that Robert Gibbs wants to be more than just a press secretary. We know that David Axelrod has to get the 2012 election going ASAP.
Sen. Evan Bayh's post-election op-ed ripping Obama for a lack of focus on the economy wasn't exactly a declaration of a 2012 primary challenge, but it was perhaps a warning shot.
Axelrod has to get busy or the 2012 season could start rough and end quickly for the president.
Thanks to today's Power Play Crew: Kimberly Schwandt, Bree Tracey, L.A. Holmes, Gretchen Gailey and Nikki Gjoni.
-------------------------------The Day in Quotes
"Well, there's a lot of tricks up our sleeves in terms of how we can dent this, kick it, slow it down to make sure it never happens. And trust me, I'm going to make sure this health care bill never ever, ever is implemented."
-- House Minority Leader John Boehner on "Special Report with Bret Baier" when asked about the virtue of pushing Obamacare repeal legislation despite an all but inevitable Senate filibuster and presidential veto.
"Everything is very positive in what they say, complimentary about how I've kept the caucus together, complimentary about the fact that we won in the first place [in 2006] and increased our numbers [in 2008] and that we have to come right back in that regard."
--House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the Huffington Post on the reaction to her inquiries about a possible run for House minority leader.
"This was an earthquake of an election. When you suffer this kind of loss, you've got to shake up your leadership."
-- Rep. Tim Matheson telling the Wall Street Journal that he opposes another term in the leadership for Nancy Pelosi.
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. Of course, if House Democrats are willing to sacrifice more of their members in 2012 for the glory of Nancy Pelosi, we are happy to oblige them."
-- Ken Spain, National Republican Campaign Committee communications director.
"When you are down around 41, every man is a king and every woman a queen. Lose even one, and you are toast. Now I've got wiggle room."
-- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to the Wall Street Journal.
"Short of suicide, I don't really know what I'd have to do to convince you people that I'm not running."
-- Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) when asked by reporters about a possible 2012 presidential bid.
"Politically speaking, your only choice is to get on offense and start moving boldly ahead to repeal, replace and defund Obamacare in 2011, or risk rejection by the voters in 2012."
-- Tea Party organizer and Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey in a letter to incoming House members obtained by the New York Times.
"We know what the bipartisan position is: to extend the current tax policy. In other words, don't raise taxes on anybody and get about it as soon as possible. Because if we don't act, everybody's taxes are going up in January."
-- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to FOX News colleague Jim Angle.
"He'd be open to having that discussion."
-- White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs opening the door to negotiations on the extension of the current tax rates for top earners, instead of the increase President Obama is seeking.
Contested Results RoundupRepublican Dino Rossi conceded defeat in his Senate race with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).
Gov. Pat Quinn (D-IL) called his 19,400-vote lead over Republican challenger Bill Brady "insurmountable" though Brady said he would wait until the 3.6 million votes were certified.
Minnesota Republican Tom Emmer, undone by a former Republican's third-party challenge, is now nearly 9,000 votes down in his gubernatorial contest with Democrat Mark Dayton.
With Republican House gains at 60 so far, there are 9 remaining undecided races, all in Democrat-held districts.
Opinion Mongers - Midterm Messages
On the Right
"On Wednesday President Obama gave a news conference to share his thoughts. Viewers would have found it disappointing if there had been any viewers. The president is speaking, in effect, to an empty room. From my notes five minutes in: "This wet blanket, this occupier of the least interesting corner of the faculty lounge, this joy-free zone, this inert gas." By the end I was certain he will never produce a successful stimulus because he is a human depression. Actually I thought the worst thing you can say about a president: that he won't even make a good former president.His detachment is so great, it is even from himself. As he spoke, he seemed to be narrating from a remove. It was like hearing the audiobook of Volume I of his presidential memoirs. ‘Obama was frustrated. He honestly didn't understand what the country was doing. It was as if they had compulsive hand-washing disorder. In '08 they washed off Bush. Now they're washing off Obama. There he is, swirling down the drain! It's all too dramatic, too polar. The morning after the election it occurred to him: maybe he should take strong action. Maybe he should fire America! They did well in 2008, but since then they've been slipping. They weren't giving him the followership he needed...'"
-- Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal
On the Left
"Speaker-to-be John Boehner put the GOP's populist posture front and center in a Wednesday press conference with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.
The Republicans would listen to the American people, Boehner pledged. And promised. And pledged yet again. All told, he repeated that phrase, or variants thereof, eight times...
Some cause for skepticism soon reared its head. Queried about his intentions regarding the new health care law, Boehner replied: "I believe that the health care bill . . . will kill jobs in America, ruin the best health care system in the world, and bankrupt our country. That means that we have to do everything we can to try to repeal this bill . . . ''
It hardly need be said that that is an ideological, and not an analytical, judgment. Certainly no credible analysis has arrived at a similarly apocalyptic conclusion. What's more, it would be hard for a careful listener to claim that deep-sixing the statute was the consensus message of the mid-terms; exit polls showed an all-but-even split: 48 percent want to repeal it, while 47 percent want to keep the law as it is or expand it."
-- Scot Lehigh writing in the Boston Globe
"Obamacare was clearly the overriding issue in the campaign because it stood for, it was the epitome of what Obama had tried to do, the liberal agenda. It was not as Obama pretended yesterday a response to a crisis. It was an idea that Democrats had for 50 years."
-- Charles Krauthammer on "Special Report with Bret Baier"
Politics on FOX Today
Alaska Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller will be on FOX & Friends in the 8 a.m. hour.
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) will be on "Happening Now with Jon Scott and Jenna Lee" in the 11 a.m. hour.
Former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff will be on "Happening Now with Jon Scott and Jenna Lee" in the noon hour.
Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) will be "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" in the 10 p.m. hour.
(All times Eastern - Guests as scheduled)