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!

Apr 23, 2013

  • Why Obama Couldn’t Turn 90 Percent Into 60 Votes

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    In the aftermath of the defeat of gun control legislation in the Senate, the Sunday New York Times offered two very different explanations for the bill’s demise. In a reported piece, the paper's congressional reporter argued that gun control never had a chance to become law in Congress. Despite the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, the structure of the Senate, its partisan makeup, and pressure from gun rights advocates made passage impossible. Then, in the opinion pages, columnist Maureen Dowd argued that it was President Obama's fault the gun bill didn't pass given that 90 percent of the public supported it.

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  • In Gun Bill Defeat, a President Who Hesitates to Twist Arms

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

    Senator Mark Begich, Democrat of Alaska, asked President Obama’s administration for a little favor last month. Send your new interior secretary this spring to discuss a long-simmering dispute over construction of a road through a wildlife refuge, Mr. Begich asked in a letter. The administration said yes.

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  • As Bush Library Opening Puts His Presidency Back in the Spotlight, His Approval Rating is Up

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    George W. Bush will return to the spotlight this week for the dedication of his presidential library, an event likely to trigger fresh public debate about his eight fateful years in office. But he reemerges with a better public image than when he left Washington more than four years ago.

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Apr 22, 2013

  • Badly wounded Boston Marathon bombing suspect responding to questions

    With Pete Williams, NBC News


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  • Manhunt for Boston Bombing Suspect Ended When He Meekly Lifted His Shirt

    By Marth Raddatz, ABC News

    The final violent hours of the Boston terror spree began when the Tsarnaev brothers realized they were being followed by a Watertown police officer and stopped their car to attack the officer with gun fire and to heave a pressure cooker bomb at him.

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  • Boston Bombing Suspect Called Mom Moments Before Deadly Shootout

    The mother of the Boston bombing suspects spoke to her eldest son minutes before a violent standoff with police in the streets of Watertown, Mass., she told ABC News.

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  • CIA, FBI, Military Interrogators Ready to Question Boston Bombing Suspect

    By Sari Horwitz, Jerry Markon and Jenna Johnson, Washington Post

    Federal prosecutors on Sunday were preparing to file charges against the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, even as he remained under heavy guard at a local hospital amid questions about whether authorities would be able to interrogate him.

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  • How Refugees Come Into the United States

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    The United States has a fairly generous policy in admitting foreigners to the country as refugees, harkening back to the 1950s when several laws were passed to provide for people who escaped communist regimes.

    In 1980, Congress expanded the immigration law beyond those fleeing communist countries to welcome anyone who had to leave their own country because they had been persecuted or feared being persecuted based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a social group. The law was intended to align with United Nations’ conventions on refugees, developed in 1951.

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  • Be Meaningful or Be Quiet

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    As the manhunt for the remaining Boston bombing suspect unfolded, partisans took to Twitter. Watching them scramble to come up with an easy political explanation for the events was like watching a 1950s switchboard operator. Too few guns? No, wait, soft on immigration. No, Islamic radicalism. These conclusions weren’t being drawn based on facts, but rather existing arguments and political agendas into which the skinniest fact or rumor could be fit. Sen. Chuck Grassley suggested at a Senate hearing on immigration that the incident meant we needed a thorough investigation of the loopholes in the immigration system. What evidence was there that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev had exploited loopholes at the time of Grassley’s claim? None.

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  • Rewinding History, Bush Museum Lets You Decide

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    More than four years after leaving office, former President George W. Bush has a question for America: So what would you have done?

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Apr 19, 2013

  • Obama Tells Boston, Nation: 'We Will Finish the race'

    By Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama vowed Thursday that Americans will move beyond the Boston Marathon bomb attack by bringing the perpetrators to justice -- and by refusing to live in fear.

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  • “A Pretty Shameful Day”

    By Todd S. Purdum, Vanity Fair

    Thomas Jefferson was in Paris during the Constitutional Convention. When he returned home, that diehard populist asked George Washington why the Framers had bothered to create the Senate when, surely, a House of Representatives would do. Washington famously replied, “Why did you pour that tea into your saucer?”

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  • New Bowles-Simpson Plan Takes Aim At Deficit

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    Erskine Bowles and Alan K. Simpson, the deficit-cutting duo who have been trying for three years to broker a budget deal, are back in Washington with a new message for the nation’s policymakers:

    You’ve done the easy stuff. You’ve done the stupid stuff. Now it’s time to get serious.

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  • Poll: Trust in government, Obama approval slip

    By Charles Babington and Jennifer Agiesta, Associated Press

    President Barack Obama's re-election glow is gone. Congress' reputation remains dismal. And only about one in five Americans say they trust the government to do what's right most of the time, an Associated Press-GfK poll finds.

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  • Washington's Trust Deficit

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    In this town, it should go without saying that the best policy isn’t always the best politics. But, sometimes we need a reminder of just why it is so very hard to get what many see as “common sense” solutions out of Congress. Getting in the way of “Grand Bargains” and gangs of bipartisan working groups is this cold hard reality: short term political gain is rewarded more than long-term strategic planning.

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  • Rubio Rising

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    If Marco Rubio helps pass comprehensive immigration reform, he will have accomplished more as a senator than Barack Obama did. Obama ran for president in 2008 claiming that he would bring people together and launch a new era of bipartisan cooperation, but as a senator he never actually did very much of that. If Rubio can help pull off this trick, he will have helped build a bipartisan deal on one of the most volatile and complex issues of our time.

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Apr 18, 2013

  • Gun-control overhaul is defeated in Senate

    By Ed O'Keefe and Philip Rucker, The Washington Post

    President Obama’s ambitious effort to overhaul the nation’s gun laws in response to December’s school massacre in Connecticut suffered a resounding defeat Wednesday, when every major proposal he championed fell apart on the Senate floor. It was a stunning collapse for gun-control advocates just four months after the deaths of 20 children and six adults in Newtown led the president and many others to believe that the political climate on guns had been altered in their favor.

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  • Obama Takes Senate to Task for Failed Gun Control Measure

    With Jeff Zeleny, ABC News

    President Obama accused members of Congress of having "a pretty shameful day in Washington," a reaction to the Senate's failure to pass a key gun control measure that would have expanded background checks.

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  • Senate Scuttles Gun Limits

    By Janet Hook and Kristina Peterson, The Wall Street Journal

    The biggest push in nearly two decades to restrict firearms in the U.S., touched off by the emotional response to December's mass shooting of schoolchildren, collapsed in the Senate on Wednesday, scuttling a major element of President Barack Obama's second-term agenda. The centerpiece of a Democrat-led gun-control effort—a plan to expand the system of background checks aimed at detecting buyers ineligible to own guns—failed in a 54-46 vote, six votes shy of the 60 needed to advance. Shortly afterward, the Senate blocked a proposal to ban the manufacture and sale of certain semiautomatic rifles often called assault weapons and ban high-capacity ammunition magazines. It drew 40 votes, with 60 senators opposed.

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  • FBI searches for man seen leaving bag at marathon

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    The FBI is eager to identify and speak with a man who was photographed by several different sources walking to the site of one of the bombs and leaving a bag behind, just before the blast. NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

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