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!
Jun 19, 2013
The Second-Term SlumpBy John Dickerson, Slate Magazine
Barack Obama's poll numbers are sliding. Around Christmastime, his average approval rating, according to RealClearPolitics, was nearly 54 percent, 12 points higher than his average disapproval rating of 42 percent. Now his numbers have flipped. His average approval rating at 46.6 percent is roughly 2 points lower than his disapproval rating at 48.3 percent. If these numbers hold, President Obama is never going to get re-elected.Read more
Jun 18, 2013
Obama and Putin at Odds on Syria, but Want TalksBy Jackie Calmes, The New York Times
After a two-hour meeting on Monday that left both leaders looking tense and discomfited, President Obama and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir V. Putin, disagreed about how to respond to rising bloodshed in Syria and called only for negotiations between the government and rebels that are given little chance of successRead more
Obama Defends Authorization of Surveillance ProgramsBy Peter Baker, The New York Times
President Obama defended his authorization of recently revealed domestic and international surveillance programs in comments broadcast Monday night but rejected the suggestion that his policies were basically a warmed-over version of those of the last White House.Read more
Snowden: I Am Not A SpyWith Eamon Javers, CNBC Watch more
Behind the Slide in Obama's Poll NumbersBy Gloria Borger, CNN
Since President Obama seems to be a reflective soul, he must be reflecting on the irony of his latest predicament: as the man who came into office promising to change everything and who instead seems to have let much of what he promised to fix only get worse.Read more
In Libya, Chaos is Taking a Toll on Freedom of Press, SpeechBy Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers
Shortly after Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was toppled in 2011, a 31-year-old activist had a tattoo put on his arm with the date marking the start of the uprising and rebranded himself a journalist.Read more
The Bill Clinton ParadoxBy John F. Harris and Maggie Haberman, Politico
Listen to Bill Clinton’s speeches this spring and you would have heard him talk at a father-of-the-year event about the satisfactions of parenting — “the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”Read more
Is Scott Walker the GOP's Sleeper Presidential Candidate?By Beth Reinhard, National Journal
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker polls near the bottom of would-be presidential contenders. Unlike potential rivals, you won't find him on the cover of Time magazine or slow-jamming the news with comedian Jimmy Fallon.
But he's a conservative Republican who won election in a blue state, survived a brutal recall campaign, and now posts approval ratings over 50 percent. A budget-slashing chief executive and son of a Baptist minister who straddles the fiscal and social conservative camps. A proven fundraiser who has put his thumb in the eye of President Obama and Big Labor.Read more
SPECIAL REPORT-For Top U.S. Lawyers, Case in Guam is Rare PrizeBy Joan Biskupic, Reuters
Steven Levin lives alone on a boat docked off the coast of the Pacific island of Guam, about as far away from the U.S. mainland as an American resident can get. He has no wife or kids, no job, no phone or Internet service.Read more
Jun 17, 2013
Supreme Court Strikes Down Arizona Law Requiring Proof of Citizenship to VoteBy Pete Williams and Erin McClam, NBC News
The Supreme Court on Monday struck down an Arizona law that requires people to submit proof of citizenship when they register to vote.
The vote was 7-2, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the court. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, two members of the court’s conservative wing, dissented.Read more
Lines Blur in U.S.-Europe Debate on AusterityBy Jackie Calmes, The New York Times
As President Obama begins an annual meeting with the leaders of some of the world’s richest nations on Monday in Northern Ireland, the economic-policy gulf that has divided them since the global crash in 2008 has narrowed significantly — just not exactly in ways that the White House would have liked.Read more
Contentious Issues Await Obama at G-8 SummitBy Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics
President Obama will wade into some of the most challenging international debates of his second term when he meets with other world leaders Monday and Tuesday in Northern Ireland at the annual G-8 summit of industrialized nations.
From ramping down a long war in Afghanistan to ramping up military involvement in war-torn Syria; from trying to thwart Iran’s expanding nuclear capabilities to navigating unrest in the Middle East; from defending America’s clandestine electronic data-gathering to advocating for transparent international tax laws, Obama will find himself on and off the hot seat with close friends such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and with prickly peers such as Russian President Vladimir Putin.Read more
U.S. Seems Eager for Nuclear Talks With Iran’s New LeaderBy David E. Sanger, The New York Times
President Obama’s top foreign policy aides said Sunday that they planned to press Iran’s newly elected president to resume the negotiations over his country’s nuclear program that derailed in the spring.Read more
Social Conservatives Still Control the GOPBy Molly Ball, The Atlantic
Ever since Republicans got clobbered in the last election, some have suggested they dial back some of their hard stances in the culture war. The College Republicans, for example, commissioned a study that concluded that young voters see the party as fusty and old-fashioned, and urged it to get with the times on issues such as gay marriage. America may not be keen on free love and abortion on demand, but neither are voters clamoring for a party that wants to restrict access to contraception and keep women out of the work force.Read more
Obama, Syria and the Aspin DoctrineBy Doyle McManus. Los Angeles Times
As President Obama contemplates his many bad options in Syria, he may want to consider the Aspin Doctrine, an argument for intervention abroad made by President Clinton's first secretary of Defense, Les Aspin.
In 1993, the Clinton administration was wrestling with a seemingly insoluble conflict in Bosnia, where Serbian-backed troops were besieging cities and slaughtering civilians.Read more
Jun 14, 2013
U.S. Is Said to Plan to Send Weapons to Syrian RebelsBy Mark Mazzetti, Michael R. Gordon and Mark Landler, The New York Times
The Obama administration, concluding that the troops of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria have used chemical weapons against rebel forces in his country’s civil war, has decided to begin supplying the rebels for the first time with small arms and ammunition, according to American officials.Read more
U.S. to Provide Syrian Rebels Military SupportBy Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics
The United States is confident the brutal regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people multiple times “in the last year,” contributing to President Obama’s latest decision to dispatch direct military support to the rebels while continuing to pursue a negotiated political settlement in consultation with allies, the United Nations and Congress, the White House announced Thursday evening.Read more
GOP Border Security Plan Rejected in SenateBy Alan Gomez, USA Today
The battle over border security started on the Senate floor Thursday with a defeat for Republicans looking to ensure that the southwest border with Mexico is locked down before any of the nation's 11 million unauthorized immigrants can gain legal status.Read more
Strange Bedfellows: Why Marco Rubio and Rand Paul Need Each OtherBy Beth Reinhard, National Journal
Rand Paul and Marco Rubio may go head-to-head in a fierce competition for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. But a funny thing is happening on the way to the White House: The would-be rivals have found themselves in a light bromance, each needing to bask in the other's glow for their own political purposes.Read more
Confidence in Congress drops to historic lowBy Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post
Lawmakers looking to become more popular with Americans should consider working at a bank. Or for a newspaper.
Americans’ confidence in the House and Senate has dropped so low that it now ranks as the least popular societal institution in U.S. history, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday.Read more