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!

Mar 22, 2013

  • My Iraq War

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    My war began a decade ago on a bluff in Kuwait, on the far-western flank of the U.S. invasion force. Spread out on the desert floor below was the 3rd Infantry Division’s “heavy metal”—tanks and armored fighting vehicles—to spearhead the attack. At dusk on March 20, 2003, the artillery brigade opened up on the nearby Iraqi border posts. Muzzle flashes flickered across the dark desert landscape like lightning in a squall; the distant thunder of impact sounded the approach of an angry giant. The next morning, as we drove past a smoldering checkpoint, the soldier next to me, Maj. Joe Samek, gazed out the window of our Humvee at the losing end of “shock and awe.” “You know,” he said, “this is the first time I’ve been in a foreign country uninvited.”

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  • Veteran Iraq War Reporters Reflect 10 Years On

    By Ibrahim Balkhy, PBS Newshour

    For the journalists covering the Iraq war, the experience was in many ways unlike any other war. If you were part of the invasion -- which began this week 10 years ago -- it often meant being "embedded" with the American military for weeks, with your gas mask never more than an arm's length away.

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Mar 21, 2013

  • Palestinians Seek U.S. Statehood Turnabout From Obama

    By Julianna Goldman & Jonathan Ferziger, Bloomberg News

    President Barack Obama arrived in the West Bank today to see firsthand if Palestinian leaders still angry over his rejection of their United Nations statehood bid can be persuaded to renew peace talks with Israel.

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  • Will Not Have Government Shutdown

    A bill to fund the government through September 30 passed in the Senate, reports CNBC's John Harwood.

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  • Politicians and Gay Marriage: Profiles in Calculation

    By Alexander Burns, Maggie Haberman and John F. Harris, Politico

    When historians write the story of America’s cultural revolution on gay marriage, March of 2013 may well get its own chapter — the month when the political balance on this issue shifted unmistakably from risky to safe.

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  • Cybersecurity Firm Says It Is Under Attack

    By Eamon Javers, CNBC

    Mandiant, the cybersecurity firm that in February released a ground-breaking report detailing the suspected activities of a Chinese military hacking unit, told CNBC on Wednesday it is suffering the consequences of going public.

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Mar 20, 2013

  • Obama Arrives in Israel to Allay Doubts About U.S. Commitment

    By Julianna Goldman & Margaret Talev, Bloomberg News

    President Barack Obama stepped off Air Force One onto the tarmac in Tel Aviv and said that as the “winds of change” spread across the Middle East, the U.S. commitment to Israel is unwavering and the bond between the two countries is unbreakable.

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  • Obama Starts First Presidential Visit to Israel

    By Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama arrived in Tel Aviv on Wednesday for his first presidential visit to Israel, hoping to reassure the Israeli people of his commitment to their security and to tend his personal relationships with key leaders.

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  • Congress Makes Progress on Short-Term Fiscal Bills

    Susan Davis and Susan Page, USA Today

    Congress is on track to approve competing party-line budget blueprints as well as legislation to fund the government and prevent a shutdown March 27, but newfound fiscal momentum on Capitol Hill is a temporary reprieve from the budget battles that will renew this year.

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  • Seeking a Bigger Audience, Tea-Party Hero Embraces Immigration Reform

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Behold the junior senator and tea-party hero from Kentucky, best known for citing the U.S. Constitution, Spanish writer Miguel de Unamuno, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, and Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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  • Majority Supports Benefits for Same-Sex Couples: Reuters/Ipsos Poll

    By Joan Biskupic and Maurice Tamman, Reuters

    As the Supreme Court prepares to decide whether the federal government may deny benefits to same-sex married couples that it allows their heterosexual counterparts, Americans seem already to have made up their minds.

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  • Republican 'autopsy' reveals a divide in the party

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    It's never too early to start thinking about the next presidential race — especially if you're a political party that has managed to lose the popular vote in five of the last six elections, as the Republican Party has.

    Hence the remarkable report released Monday by the Republican National Committee, which warned that the GOP looks to many voters like a party of "stuffy old men" who are "driving around in circles on an ideological cul-de-sac."

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  • Iraq War’s 10th Anniversary Is Barely Noted in Washington

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    A decade after the night that American bombs first rained down on Baghdad, the president joked about wearing a green tie for a belated St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Congress noisily focused on whether spending cuts would force the cancellation of the White House Easter egg roll. Cable news debated whether a show about young women has too much sex in it.

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Mar 19, 2013

  • Will We Get a Deal?

    By John Harwood, CNBC

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  • Habeas GOP

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    If the first step to recovery is admitting you have problem, then can you speed the process by being really frank about it? The Republican National Committee is testing this theory. The RNC “autopsy” on the 2012 election is a bracing critique. Formally known as the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” its authors say that at the national level, Republicans turn off all but the most faithful. It sharpens its critique by quoting focus groups of former Republicans who described the party as “scary,” “narrow minded,” “out of touch,” and as the party of “stuffy, old men.” If they admit it all now, and fast, they’ll be on the road to recovery in time for 2016.

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  • Treasury: Monitoring Situation in Cyprus Closely

    With Eamon Javers, CNBC

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  • Obama Speechwriter Shapes Policy With His Pen

    By Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    One of Ben Rhodes’ first tasks when he followed Barack Obama to the White House in 2009 was to help craft the presidential speech, delivered in Cairo, that urged a restart of Mideast peace talks, called America’s alliance with Israel “unbreakable” and described Palestinian statelessness as “intolerable.”

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  • Commerce Chief Rebecca Blank to Lead University of Wisconsin at Madison

    By Jim Tankersley, The Washington Post

    The acting commerce secretary, Rebecca Blank, will leave her post in July to become chancellor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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Mar 18, 2013

  • Have political parties lost their purpose?

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    The Democrats and Republicans may be worlds apart on most things, but at their headquarters just two blocks away from each other on Capitol Hill, each is confronting the same question: Have political parties lost their purpose?

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  • Young Republicans Seek Bigger Role, Different Message For 2016

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Young Republicans still stung by Mitt Romney's defeat in November are looking for a White House candidate with a message they can run with. For some, that means going back to basics - and leaving divisive social issues behind.

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