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 02, 2012

  • Charlie Wilson's War; Obama's Peace

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    Embedded deep within President Obama's appearance in Afghanistan on the one-year anniversary of the special forces raid that killed 9/11 architect Osama bin Laden was a post-Cold War commander-in-chief's declaration he wouldn't repeat the mistakes of his Cold War predecessors. Obama didn't say it in so many words, but his 11-minute address to the nation from Bagram Air Base was a promise to wage Charlie Wilson's war under the guise of Obama's peace.

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  • Reality Check

    By Todd S. Purdum, Vanity Fair

    Set aside, for the moment, the tendentious charge of The New York Times’s public editor, Arthur Brisbane, that the newspaper’s principal political task between now and Election Day should be to aggressively investigate “Who is the real Barack Obama?” The premise assumes not only that there is just one real Obama but also that he and the Times may somehow have conspired to obscure him.

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  • In Kabul, Obama Highlights Foreign Policy Record

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    President Barack Obama answered political taunts with presidential muscle Tuesday, addressing the nation from Kabul as Republicans said he's overdoing the celebration of Osama bin Laden's death one year ago. The president's secret flight to Afghanistan — where he signed off on details for withdrawing U.S. troops from the decade-long war there — was the type of campaign counterpunch that may play out many times in his re-election battle against Republican Mitt Romney.

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    President Obama's address to the American people from Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan (CNN)

  • Setting the Record Straight on Rubio's Am Ex

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Even if Florida Sen. Marco Rubio isn't getting vetted by the Mitt Romney campaign (yet) as a potential running mate, he is enduring an unusual amount of grilling. On Monday, he acknowledged in an interview with Fox News (around 16:20) that it was "a mistake'' when he was a state lawmaker to use an American Express card paid for by the Republican Party of Florida to pick up thousands of dollars in personal expenses.

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  • Obama is Both Commander, Campaigner in Chief Ahead of bin Laden Anniversary

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    Rarely has a president blended the role of commander in chief with that of campaigner in chief quite as vividly as President Obama has done in the days surrounding the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death.

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May 01, 2012

  • Obama Defends Spotlighting Death of bin Laden

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    President Obama's latest campaign ad, released to supporters on Monday, runs more than halfway through its seven-minute account of the president's first-term accomplishments before Osama bin Laden gets a walk-on. The president appears in footage shot a year ago telling the world that the most hated terrorist on the planet had been discovered in Pakistan and killed by U.S. forces.
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    Osama bin Laden (CNN, File Photo)

  • 'Forward' Starts in Reverse; Obama Campaign Anchors 2012 Message to Economic Deluge of 2008

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    The first 38 seconds of President Obama's new 7-minute campaign video are devoted to the economic deluge he inherited. Team Obama doesn't blame President Bush's administration for this bitter economic bequest by name, but the inference is inescapable.

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  • Fewer Americans Form Households After Recession, Hampering Economic Recovery

    By Michael A. Fletcher, Washington Post

    It had been a long road, but when Sabrina Torres received her master’s degree in 2010, she was sure it would eventually pay off in a good job that would allow her to afford an apartment. She is still waiting. The American University graduate’s financial struggles have prevented her from living on her own, making her part of a dramatic slowdown in household formation that is both a consequence of the economic downturn and a continued obstacle to overcoming it.

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  • Bin Laden Raid Emerges as Campaign Issue

    By Christi Parsons, Michael A. Memoli and Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times

    In a first term marked by clear partisan divisions, President Obama's decision to order a high-risk special forces operation targeting Osama bin Laden stands out as an unquestioned nonpartisan success.

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  • Your Money, Your Vote

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    CNBC's John Harwood discusses the run-up to the 2012 Election.

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  • Obama Slams Romney for Changing Tune on bin Laden

    With Sam Youngman, Reuters

    President Barack Obama on Monday reminded Americans that his likely Republican opponent in the November election had been lukewarm about targeting Osama bin Laden, seeking to gain political advantage from the killing of the al Qaeda leader.

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Apr 30, 2012

  • Reaping Bin Laden’s Whirlwind

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    After hunting down and killing Osama bin Laden, U.S. commandos still had to deal with the essential duality of the man. For 20 precious minutes Navy SEAL Team Six scoured bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan’s military garrison city of Abbottabad, collecting what has been described as a library’s worth of intelligence on the inner workings of al-Qaida. That effort recognized bin Laden the arch-terrorist, who built the organization into a globe-spanning conglomerate with far-flung franchises and affiliates. Later they buried him at sea to ensure his final resting place did not become a point of pilgrimage for true believers—a nod to bin Laden the symbolic leader of a revolutionary movement.

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  • PROMISES, PROMISES: Romney Pledges Raise Questions

    By Charlese Babington, Associated Press

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is making campaign promises that could produce an economic miracle -- or a more predictable list of broken vows. Romney says he wants to put the nation on a path to a balanced budget while also cutting an array of taxes, building up the Navy and Air Force and adding 100,000 active-duty military personnel. He says he would slash domestic spending and reduce tax loopholes but has offered few details.

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  • Ad Wars in Arizona Special Election

    By Naftali Bendavid, Wall Street Journal

    Both parties are beginning to pour money into the Arizona district vacated by Gabrielle Giffords in advance of a special election on June 12, as a former Giffords aide faces a candidate who narrowly lost to Ms. Giffords two years ago.

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  • Chinese Dissident Escapes Arrest

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    A blind human rights activist may be under the protection of U.S. diplomats.

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  • Hardly a Close Ally, Clinton Teams With Obama to Raise Cash and Votes

    By Peter Baker, New York Times

    Four years ago, Barack Obama wrested control of the Democratic Party after portraying Bill Clinton as a symbol of small-ball ambition and outdated politics. Now, as president, Mr. Obama is turning to his Democratic predecessor for help as Republicans breathe down his neck.

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  • Hispanic Leaders Divided on President Obama

    With John Dickerson, CBS

    Because Hispanics, the fastest-growing segment of the US population, will play a big role in November's presidential election, leaders from the Hispanic community reinforced the notion that they are not a monolithic voting bloc.

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Apr 27, 2012

  • A Choice, Not an Echo

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    Arguably, no presidential campaign in the past 30 years has dawned with voters as singularly focused on a single issue as they are this year. In the aftermath of a debilitating financial crisis and amid a feeble and halting recovery from recession, polls show that voters want economic growth and more jobs. President Obama and Mitt Romney are offering dramatically different paths to those ends—in philosophy and in the fine print of policy; in the targets of their campaign-trail attacks; and even in what they’re not saying about the nation’s most pressing economic problems.

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  • Can You Be Honest With Me?

    by John Dickerson, Slate

    Expecting presidential candidates to be candid with voters is such a quaint idea you'd expect to find it on Pinterest. There it is, next to the adorable confectionery and wedding dog photos. Well, I like quaint, and if you also like a Dr. Seuss saying stenciled on an ambiguous decorative item, then join me on my search for candor in the 2012 presidential campaign. I need your help.

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  • Twitter becomes a key real-time tool for campaigns

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    The bully pulpit has a new kind of altar call: “Tweet them. We’ve got a hashtag. Here’s the hashtag for you to tweet them: #dontdoublemyrate.” President Obama repeated that Twitter hashtag twice more during a Tuesday speech opposing an increase in student loan interest rates. For good measure, he even had his Chapel Hill, N.C., audience chant it back to him.

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