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!

Nov 13, 2012

  • Petraeus scandal widens: Gen. Allen implicated in affair

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News
    An investigation into the top commander in Afghanistan's possible relationship has been revealed.

    Watch more
  • David Petraeus and America’s warrior monks

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    On Veterans Day weekend, Washington was all atwitter over the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus for an illicit affair. A retired general who in the past decade was thrown into the breach of two failing wars and stared down murderous insurgencies was ultimately felled by the one adversary he could not outsmart -- temptation.

    Read more
  • Through Post-Election Fog, a Fiscal Cliff Looms

    With David Wessel and Janet Hook, Wall Street Journal

    WSJ reporters look ahead to the immediate challenges for Barack Obama's second term, including the approaching fiscal cliff and the likely way Congress will solve it.

    Watch more
  • Libyans, diplomats: CIA’s Benghazi station a secret – and quickly repaired

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    Just more than a mile from the group of villas that served as the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was another set of U.S.-leased villas – an annex where the CIA had set up shop, and from where would-be rescuers set out on the night of Sept. 11 in response to the attack at the consulate.

    Read more

Nov 12, 2012

  • Jill Kelley, Friend of David Petraeus, Received Harassing Emails That Launched FBI Probe

    By Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    The Florida woman who received harassing emails from Paula Broadwell, spurring an FBI probe that ultimately uncovered the Gen. David Petraeus' extramarital affair with his biographer and led to his resignation as director of the CIA, has been identified as Jill Kelley, a local concerned citizen who volunteers to help the military.

    Watch the report
  • Washington Surprised By News Of Petraeus Affair

    By Tom Gjelten, NPR

    Officials in Washington are still trying to make sense of the sudden resignation last week of CIA Director David Petraeus. More details are emerging about the extramarital affair that brought Petraeus down. It came to light following an FBI investigation, which was not focused originally on the CIA director but soon led to him.

    Listen to the report
  • In Debt Talks, Obama Is Ready to Go Beyond Beltway

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    President Obama, emboldened by his decisive re-election and lessons learned over four years in office, is looking to the renewal of budget talks with Republicans this week as a second chance to take command of the nation’s policy debates and finally fulfill his promise to end gridlock in Washington, associates say.

    Read more
  • On edge of brutal ‘fiscal cliff,’ some see an opportunity to end debt paralysis

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    Two years ago this month, the leaders of a presidential commission rolled out a startling plan to dig the nation out of debt. After decades of profligacy, they said, Washington must tell people to work longer, pay higher taxes and expect less in retirement.

    Read more
  • McManus: Wielding wedge issues

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Once upon a time in American politics, there were things called "wedge issues," and they generally terrified Democrats. They were mostly social and cultural issues: abortion, feminism, gay rights, illegal immigration and race. Conservatives wielded them to divide working-class Democrats. Wedge issues helped elect Ronald Reagan to the presidency and dozens of other Republicans to Congress.

    Read more

Nov 09, 2012

  • Hispanic exit polls suggest seismic shift in Florida

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Exit polls showing the powerful Cuban-American community in Florida favored President Obama – which would make him the first Democratic nominee in decades to penetrate that Republican Party stronghold -- suggest a seismic political shift in the nation’s largest swing state.

    Read more
  • The long-term economic to-do list

    By David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    The items marked "urgent" on the president's economic to-do list are overwhelming. The temptation must be to start at the top and work down: Avert the fiscal cliff, fill pending cabinet vacancies, reach out to China's new leaders, cajole Europe into avoiding economic suicide.

    Read more
  • To the cliff, and beyond

    By Greg Ip, Economist

    A DAY after receiving a thumbs-up from voters, Barack Obama got a thumbs-down from the stockmarket, which fell 2%, its biggest fall in a year. Blame the threat of higher taxes on dividends and capital gains and tougher treatment of banks and fossil fuels, but blame also the sad fact that the election failed to resolve the biggest question hanging over the economy: how to deal with the deficit.

    Read more
  • Analysis: Obama may now seek to make deeper mark on high court

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    President Barack Obama's election victory on Tuesday may give him the  opportunity to deepen his liberal imprint on the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Read more

Nov 08, 2012

  • Back to work, Obama is greeted by looming crisis

    By Jackie Calmes and Peter Baker, The New York Times

    Newly re-elected, President Obama moved quickly on Wednesday to open negotiations with Congressional Republican leaders over the main unfinished business of his term — a major deficit-reduction deal to avert a looming fiscal crisis — as he began preparing for a second term that will include significant cabinet changes.

    Read more
  • After Obama’s reelection, overtures from Republicans on debt negotiations

    By Lori Montgomery and Zachary A. Goldfarb, The Washington Post

    Less than 24 hours after the election, President Obama and congressional leaders moved with alacrity Wednesday to show flexibility in solving the nation’s biggest economic problems and recast Washington’s often divisive politics.

    Read more
  • GOP asks "why?" and "where do we go from here?"

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Having lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, Republicans plunged Wednesday into an intense period of self-examination, blame-setting and testy debate over whether their party needs serious change or just some minor tweaks.

    Read more
  • Three small steps to a modest jobs deal

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    For the last several years in Washington, lawmakers acted like winning the next election was more important than getting the country back to full employment. Tuesday’s election should mercifully end that. Growth remains substandard. Both parties own a solid piece of the federal government. It’s now in both Democrats’ and Republicans’ political and policy interests to juice up job growth.

    Read more
  • Analysis: U.S. battle over ballots averted, but not forever

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    They sued early and often.
    Voting-rights advocates, along with the U.S. Department of Justice and some political party officials, tackled potential electoral problems early this election year. Judges blocked stringent voter ID laws, lifted registration restrictions and rejected limits on early voting.

    Read more

Nov 07, 2012

  • Question for the victor: How far do you push?

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    For President Obama, now comes a second chance. An electorate that considers the country to be on the wrong track nonetheless agreed to renew his contract in hopes that the next four years will be better than the last.

    Read more
  • How Obama won four more years

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    In the end, it wasn't close. Barack Obama won re-election handily over Mitt Romney with 303 electoral votes (so far), well more than the 270 electoral votes needed. Of the nine battleground states that were up for grabs, Obama won seven of them, losing only North Carolina (Florida remains to be called). But while Obama won those states, he didn't crush it; he won instead, a string of precise narrow victories. He didn’t win because his leadership during Hurricane Sandy blew all those swing votes his way (though it may have helped). The president won because he ran a permanent campaign, keeping his offices open in the battleground states from his 2008 campaign, tending his coalition assiduously, and because he relentlessly defined his opponent. His was the better campaign. The Democratic candidate of “hope and change” beat the big business Republican in the trenches, in one state after another.

    Read more