Essential Reads

Essential Reads is your one-stop source for the top stories of the day as reported by your favorite Washington Week panelists. It's a simple way to save time and stay informed about the news you need to know. Check it out every day!

May 14, 2012

  • After Divisive Primary, Shifting to the Center

    By John Harwood, New York Times

    Presidential nominees have several options for repositioning after ideologically charged primary campaigns: strategic silence, new proposals, a different tone on the brighter general election stage. And sometimes they can do nothing and watch their rivals do the shifting.

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  • Romney Seeks Evangelical Votes; Opposes Gay Marriage

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sought on Saturday to calm fears that his Mormon faith would be an obstacle to evangelical Christian voters, stressing shared conservative values while acknowledging religious differences.

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    Mitt Romney deliveres the commencement address at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. over the weekend (CNN)

  • Robert Caro revives Kennedy-Johnson feud

    By Jonathan Martin and John F. Harris, Politico

    To be a Democrat in Washington in the mid-1960s was to be confronted daily with the burning question: Which side are you on? There was the side with the power, President Lyndon B. Johnson and his team in the White House. And there was the side with the glamour, Robert F. Kennedy and his team of loyalists— mourning the death of John F. Kennedy, appalled by a man they regarded as a crude pretender in the Oval Office, dreaming of the day when the Kennedy reign would be restored.

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May 11, 2012

  • An Idea Whose Time Has Come

    By Todd S. Purdum, Vanity Fair

    It doesn’t really matter whether the substance of what Joe Biden said last Sunday about gay marriage was so very different from what his boss, Barack Obama, had said about the subject in the past (and there’s good evidence that it was not). What matters is the way that Biden said he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage, which made what Obama had said before—that his own views were “evolving”—look too cute by half.

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  • Obama Campaign Pushes the Issue of Gay Marriage

    By Mark Landler and Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

    Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. apologized to President Obama for hastening him into an endorsement of same-sex marriage, several people briefed on the exchange said Thursday, even as the White House sought to capitalize in the campaign on Mr. Obama’s long-awaited expression of support.

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  • What Kind of Kid Was Mitt Romney?

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    One of the many tensions in evaluating presidential candidates is that we don't want to disqualify them based on the stupidity of their youth. George W. Bush's blanket denial that "when I was young and irresponsible I was young and irresponsible" seems like a good rule. On the other hand, we want to know who these candidates are who seek to lead us (especially when they spend so much time offering us synthetic versions of themselves).

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  • Same-Sex Marriage Support Shows Pace of Social Change Accelerating

    By Peter Baker, New York Times

    When Bill Clinton was president, he waited until almost 1 in the morning in 1996 to sign a bill defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. He did not like it, but was unwilling to veto it 45 days before an election. Sixteen years later, President Obama endorsed same-sex marriage, a journey reflecting not just his own personal “evolution,” but also the dizzying pace of social change in an age of technology.

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  • Asked About Gay Rights, Boehner Sticks to Economy

    By Janet Hook, Wall Street Journal

    One day after President Barack Obama roiled the political world by declaring his support for gay marriage, House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) Thursday seemed determined to keep his distance from the subject. Pressed on the gay marriage issue at his weekly press conference, Mr. Boehner repeatedly tried to steer the discussion back to the economy.

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    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio (CNN)

  • Michele Bachmann’s New Swiss Political World

    By Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    Today we learned that Michele Bachmann has applied for and been granted Swiss citizenship. That’s a surprising development, given her general view of European-style welfare states.

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  • Dems' Elections Chief: Gay Marriage Will Have Little Impact

    By Susan Davis, USA TODAY

    The House Democrats' top campaign strategist said President Obama's declaration that gay Americans should be able to marry will have little ripple effect on races this November.

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May 10, 2012

  • Obama Evolves on Gay Marriage

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama's announcement Wednesday that he was done "evolving" and now supports same-sex marriage was, in retrospect, inevitable. Vice President Joe Biden made it so Sunday, when he remarked almost casually that he had grown "comfortable" with gay marriage. Biden's comfort level made Obama the nation's least comfortable politician, tied up in a knot of convoluted positions that he had hoped voters on both sides would overlook.

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  • Obama’s Gay Marriage Turnabout Forced Public by Biden

    By Margaret Talev and Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News

    At a fundraiser with gay activists in New York last June, the day before state legislators passed a same-sex marriage law, President Barack Obama considered the choice they were making. He concluded he’d almost certainly have voted “yes” too. Conversations with staff, family, friends and supporters also moved him in that direction.

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  • Foiled Bomb Plot Highlights Growing CIA-Saudi Arabian Ties

    By Yochi J. Dreazen, National Journal

    The U.S. intelligence community has won plaudits for helping derail a series of recent terror plots, including this week’s disclosure of an al-Qaida affiliate’s attempt to use a sophisticated underwear bomb to destroy a Western jetliner. But the U.S. has a quiet ally who has been instrumental in stopping both the new plot and an earlier militant attempt to destroy U.S. cargo planes by secretly shipping explosives in conventional mail packages: Saudi Arabia, a country once derided as a financial supporter of Islamic militants around the globe.

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  • Obama’s Gay-Marriage Stance Brings Uncertain Political Fallout

    By Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    President Obama hoped that announcing his change of heart in favor of same-sex marriage would put the issue to rest as a topic in his bid for re-election. The immediate result, however, was that both sides seized upon it as an opportunity to energize their bases.

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    President Barack Obama (CNN, File Photo)

  • Putin to Skip Group of 8 Session, Delaying Postelection Meeting With Obama

    By Helene Cooper and Ellen Barry, New York Times

    Russia’s newly inaugurated president, Vladimir V. Putin, will not attend a summit meeting of world leaders in Maryland next week, the White House said on Wednesday, postponing until June the much-anticipated first meeting of President Obama and Mr. Putin as the leaders of their respective countries.

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  • The Audacity of Evolution

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Joe Biden has such power over evolution he might make an amoeba get up and walk. Three days ago the vice president announced on Meet the Press that he supported same-sex couples getting married. Wednesday, President Obama announced that after a many-year evolution on the issue, he believed the same thing. The first African-American president became the first ever to announce his support for same-sex marriage. This is a landmark civil rights moment that happened awfully fast.

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May 09, 2012

  • Is Al Qaeda Bomb Builder Masterminding Plot?

    With Pierre Thomas, ABC News

    Pierre Thomas reports on chances of a new terror threat.

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    Watch Video on ABC News
  • Will Toxic GOP Governors Infect Romney?

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott didn't endorse Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney until last month, after rival Rick Santorum dropped out. It was a tardy and lackluster show of support. "Mitt Romney will be our party's nominee, and it is critical that all Republicans coalesce," Scott said in a written statement, as if forced to acknowledge the inevitable, like it or not. The two former corporate executives, who could probably spend all day swapping success stories, have never campaigned together.

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  • Insider Who Thwarted Underwear Bomb Plot was Supposed to Carry it Out

    By Pete Williams and Robert Windrem, NBC News

    An insider who worked with the United States and an allied security service to thwart an al-Qaida bomb plot hatched in Yemen was the man picked to carry out the suicide attack on a U.S.-bound airliner, U.S. and Yemeni officials tell NBC News.

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  • Sen. Richard Lugar Defeated in Indiana's GOP Primary

    By Susan Davis, USA TODAY

    Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana lost his re-election bid in the state's Republican primary Tuesday, ending the 36-year career of a GOP elder statesman and handing the Tea Party movement its biggest upset victory so far in the 2012 elections. Lugar was ousted by state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, whose campaign against Lugar was backed by conservative groups including the Tea Party Express, the anti-tax Club for Growth, the National Rifle Association and the Tea Party-aligned Freedom Works, and by former Republican Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

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    Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., speaks in Indianapolis after his primary defeat (CNN)