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!

Jan 22, 2013

  • Obama’s Political Speech

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    In 2009, Barack Obama’s inauguration was a civil rights turning point. In his 2013 inaugural address, he sang the song of America's civil rights progress. He talked about how the growing support for the rights of women, African-Americans, and gays affirmed the essential promise in the Declaration of Independence. At a time when Washington seems so tiny you could fit it into your pocket, he asked everyone to look up from their Twitter feed to see how much had changed around them.

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  • Obama Speech Reveals a Different Leader

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    President Obama has never lacked for confidence, but rarely has that attribute been on display as clearly as on Monday in an inaugural address that underscored the distance he has traveled after four contentious years in office.

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  • Obama Offers Liberal Vision: ‘We Must Act’

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    Barack Hussein Obama ceremonially opened his second term on Monday with an assertive Inaugural Address that offered a robust articulation of modern liberalism in America, arguing that “preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”

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  • Political Tensions Set Aside for Bipartisan Luncheon

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Partisan rancor presides over Washington, but for a few fleeting hours on Inauguration Day, bipartisan comity takes over as official Washington breaks bread — literally, as Vice President Biden would say — for the inaugural luncheon held for more than a century.

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  • One for the History Books

    By Todd S. Purdum, Vanity Fair

    It wasn’t quite the same as four years ago.

    Then, I was so intimidated by the giant crowds that I walked all the way from Georgetown to my seat at the West Front of the Capitol. Today, I drove to Union Station, three blocks away, and found a spot in the parking garage, which can be tough to do on an ordinary weekday.

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  • VP Biden on Relationship with Pres. Obama: "We're Totally Simpatico."

    With Gloria Borger, CNN

    CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger sat down for an exclusive interview with Vice President Joe Biden at the White House. In his first network interview since the election, Vice President Biden spoke with Borger about the administration’s key agenda items in the second term, his relationship with the president and his role going forward.

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Jan 18, 2013

  • Obama’s First Term: A Romantic Oral History

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    Four years ago, on the eve of Barack Obama’s inauguration, this magazine devoted nearly an entire issue to a photo essay, “Obama’s People.” The photographs, 52 of them, depicted a team arriving on a wave of hope despite inheriting an economy in trouble, a collapsing auto industry, two wars and a continuing terrorist threat.

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  • Four More Years

    By Todd S. Purdum, Vanity Fair

    At a president’s second inauguration, there is “less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first,” as Abraham Lincoln so famously put it 148 years ago. Lincoln’s own speech on that Saturday, March 4, 1865, went on to become the nonpareil of second inaugurals, its stirring conclusion—“with malice toward none, with charity for all”—carved in stone and echoing through the ages.

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  • Earl Smith is the Man Behind a Military Patch that President Obama Prizes

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    That February morning in 2008 found Barack Obama decidedly out of sorts. He was locked in one battle with Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination that showed no signs of ending — and another with a vicious cold that felt the same way.

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  • 113th Congress: One of the Most Inexperienced in History

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Unproductive and unpopular are two words most often used to describe the previous Congress, but a new description can be used for the new session: inexperienced.

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  • The Education of Steven Chu

    By Coral Davenport, National Journal

    The imminent departure of Energy Secretary Steven Chu highlights the political struggle President Obama has faced in trying to enact even a portion of the sweeping clean-energy and climate change agenda he envisioned when he ran for the White House in 2008.

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  • Movement of Missiles by North Korea Worries U.S.

    By David E. Sanger and Thomas Shanker, The New York Times

    The discovery by American intelligence agencies that North Korea is moving mobile missile launchers around the country, some carrying a new generation of powerful rocket, has spurred new assessments of the intentions of the country’s young new leader, Kim Jong-un, who has talked about economic change but appears to be accelerating the country’s ability to attack American allies or forces in Asia, and ultimately to strike across the Pacific.

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Jan 17, 2013

  • Obama is Flexing His Leverage on Debt, Immigration

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    President Barack Obama is assembling an ambitious second-term agenda, pushing aggressively where he thinks he has political leverage but moving more cautiously on issues where he has less control.

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  • Obama to ‘Put Everything I’ve Got’ Into Gun Control

    By Peter Baker and Michael D. Shear, The New York Times

    Four days before taking the oath of office, President Obama on Wednesday staked the beginning of his second term on an uphill quest to pass the broadest gun control legislation in a generation.

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  • Obama Relying on Public for Gun Control Push

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    “An executive power grab.”

    That was the Republican National Committee’s reaction to President Obama’s gun violence proposals Wednesday, while the National Rifle Association dismissed the president himself in a statement that exalted Congress as the ultimate power player on guns.

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  • Don't Call It 'Gun Control'

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Language in politics can be a powerful thing, shaping perceptions and framing the terms of debate. When President Obama and Vice President Biden announced the administration's new gun proposals Wednesday, they didn't use the words "gun control" a single time. Instead, they spoke over and over about "gun violence," "reducing gun violence," and "gun-violence legislation."

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  • As manufacturing bounces back from recession, unions are left behind

    By Jim Tankersley, The Washington Post

    Last July was a good month for factory workers in Anderson, Ind., where a Honda parts supplier announced plans to build a new plant and create up to 325 jobs. But it was a grim month in the Cleveland suburbs, where an industrial plastics firm told the state of Ohio it was closing a plant and laying off 150 people.

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  • U.S. Sees Hazy Threat From Mali Militants

    By Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times

    As Islamic militants methodically carved out a base in the desert of northern Mali over the past year, officials in Washington, Paris and African capitals struggling with military plans to drive the Islamists out of the country agreed on one principle: African troops, not European or American soldiers, would fight the battle of Mali.

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Jan 16, 2013

  • In Gun Debate, Even Language Can Be Loaded

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    When the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence wanted to promote more restrictions on firearms after the Connecticut school shootings in December, it turned to a firm to help publicize its position. The firm’s name? Point Blank Public Affairs.

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  • Spotty Records Weaken Background Checks

    By Laura Meckler and Jack Nicas

    Polls show that expanding background checks to cover all gun sales, not just those by licensed dealers, is one of the most popular measures being considered by the White House to curb gun violence.

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