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!

Jul 10, 2013

  • Live From the Oval Office: A Backdrop of History Fades From TV

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    At historic moments in the television age, past American presidents turned to the Oval Office as their stage.

    Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy interrupted prime-time shows to tell Americans from the Oval Office why they had ordered troops to desegregate schools. Bill Clinton broke into programming from behind the presidential desk three times in a month to explain military actions in Haiti and Iraq. Ronald Reagan, the telegenic former actor, set the record for evening addresses from the Oval Office desk: 29 over two terms.

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  • New Players, Snowden Change U.S.-China Dynamics

    By David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    More than a dozen U.S. officials meet with more than a dozen of Chinese counterparts Wednesday and Thursday in the fifth round of the Strategic & Economic Dialogue talks. So how is this round different from earlier ones? In at least three ways.

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  • Why Eliot Spitzer Could Derail Anthony Weiner's Comeback

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    As calls were mounting for Anthony Weiner to quit Congress in the wake of his sexting scandal, a prominent voice joined the fray: former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who had reinvented himself as a CNN talk show host after a prostitution scandal led to his resignation three years earlier.

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Jul 09, 2013

  • U.S. Considers Faster Pullout in Afghanistan

    By Mark Mazzetti and Ma, The New York Times

    Increasingly frustrated by his dealings with President Hamid Karzai, President Obama is giving serious consideration to speeding up the withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan and to a “zero option” that would leave no American troops there after next year, according to American and European officials.

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  • Obama Administration Rules Out Suspension of Aid to Egypt in Near Term

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    The White House on Monday ruled out an immediate suspension of American assistance to Egypt after the military seized power. It hoped to use its financial leverage to press for the prompt restoration of a democratic government and to head off further violence.

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  • NSA Leaks Focus New Attention On Government Contractors

    By Tom Gjelten, NPR

    By some estimates, half of the U.S. government's intelligence spending goes to private contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton. Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency leaker, says he took a job at Booz Allen because he saw it as the best place to gather the intelligence secrets he wanted to expose. Some members of Congress say the episode underscores the need for greater oversight of intelligence contractors and they are calling for hearings into the matter.

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  • Rick Perry’s Exit Marks the End of an Era — and a New Frontier for Texas Politics

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    Texas politics opened a new chapter Monday when Gov. Rick Perry (R), the longest-serving chief executive in state history, announced that he would not seek a fourth full term in 2014 amid widespread speculation that he might make another run for president in 2016.

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  • Democratic Oppo Group Rushing to Hillary Clinton's Defense

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    With Hillary Clinton already facing attacks from the right, a Democratic super PAC specializing in opposition research is expanding its mission to playing defense.

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  • Eliot Spitzer Looks for political redemption in New York City

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    Have New York City’s racy tabloids ever had it so good? Not one but two sex-scandal-tainted Democratic politicians will be testing the city’s capacity for forgiveness this election season, with former governor Eliot L. Spitzer on Monday launching his campaign for a new life in politics.

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  • Why Sex-Scarred Pols Keep Coming Back For More

    By John F. Harris and Alexander Burns, Politico

    Another week and there goes another fallen officeholder trying to claw his way back from tabloid purgatory — another chance for some people to marvel about the power of forgiveness and redemption, and other people to marvel about the power of egomania and pure chutzpah.

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Jul 08, 2013

  • 6 things Congress needs to do in July

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    If Congress plans to achieve anything significant this year, July will be a good test of whether that can happen.

    Significant debates await the House and Senate in the coming weeks over a new budget, a new farm bill, federally-subsidized student loans, several key Obama administration nominees and an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, which remains the year’s biggest political fight.

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  • ACA Delay May Hurt, Not Help, Dems in 2014

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    O-B-A-M-A-C-A-R-E, the president's signature first-term legislative achievement, may spell another round of political trouble for many Democrats, who have some new explaining to do, thanks to the White House.

    Whether employers are eagerly sidestepping a key provision for another year (as many learned they would after a concession Tuesday night from President Obama) or House Republicans persist in voting to repeal the whole law (which they’ve done nearly 40 times), it’s clear the Affordable Care Act continues to exist under a cloud more than two years after its enactment.

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  • Bush Says Congress Should Act on Immigration

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    Former President George W. Bush, who normally stays out of current political issues, waded briefly into the immigration debate in an interview broadcast on Sunday, urging Congress to pass legislation to overhaul the system.

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  • Taking sides: Inside the Egypt debate

    By John F. Harris and Elizabeth Titus, Politico

    Some harrumphing statements expressing “concern” about a military takeover in Egypt but otherwise staying vague about how the United States will respond to a “very fluid situation” — these bland words are as far as President Barack Obama has been willing to go about a crisis that caught him and most of Washington by surprise.

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  • Obama Offers Chris Christie Shelter From the Storm

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Heralding the $265 million reconstruction of a major road along the New Jersey shore, the only question Gov. Chris Christie faced about the recovery from Superstorm Sandy was about how he planned to spend the Fourth of July vacation.

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  • Exclusive: Supreme Court's Ginsburg vows to resist pressure to retire

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    At age 80, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, leader of the Supreme Court's liberal wing, says she is in excellent health, even lifting weights despite having cracked a pair of ribs again, and plans to stay several more years on the bench.

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Jul 03, 2013

  • Crucial Rule Is Delayed a Year for Obama’s Health Law

    By Jackie Calmes and Robert Pear, The New York Times

    In a significant setback for President Obama’s signature domestic initiative, the administration on Tuesday abruptly announced a one-year delay, until 2015, in his health care law’s mandate that larger employers provide coverage for their workers or pay penalties. The decision postpones the effective date beyond next year’s midterm elections.

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  • In Africa, First Ladies Find Common Ground

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    They described White House life as a bit of a hothouse, but Michelle Obama and Laura Bush, appearing together a world away from Washington, sounded light on their feet Tuesday during warm banter about deploying the power of first spouse.

    Paired at an event in Tanzania for Africa’s first ladies, the two women told their listeners to recognize the power they possess to tug public attention toward causes that need champions.

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  • Bush a Fond Presence in Africa for Work During and Since His Presidency

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    On a humid morning in Tanzania on Tuesday, two American presidents stood side by side in a ceremony where neither spoke. One was the son of a Kenyan whose election broke barriers for African-Americans. But it was the other one who might command as much, if not more, respect among many Africans today.

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  • Why Presidents Love Africa

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    On Tuesday, President Barack Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush met in Tanzania. Their wives were appearing together at a Bush Institute event and the two husbands attended a ceremony honoring the Americans who were killed in a 1998 embassy bombing. It was the first time two American presidents have met on foreign soil to commemorate a terrorist attack. The meeting on a distant battlefield in the war against terrorists was a reminder of the scope and continuity of the presidency. Osama Bin Laden had ordered the 1998 attack, Bush had sought him, and Obama gave the orders to kill him. Both men struggled to hunt al-Qaida and its offshoots across the globe and at home. The similarities between their domestic spy programs have lately inspired their critics to morph their pictures into one. In a recent interview, Bush took credit for launching the PRISM program that Obama continued, then approvingly quoted his successor. "I think there needs to be a balance, and as the president explained, there is a proper balance."

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