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!

Sep 17, 2014

  • The Final Days of the Unofficial Hillary Clinton Campaign

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Hillary Clinton opened her remarks at the 37th annual Harkin Steak Fry by talking about the imminent arrival of her daughter’s first child and her possible presidential campaign. It was hard to tell which was more pregnant.

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  • The Making of a Conservative Superstar

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Tom Cotton was born in 1977 in Dardanelle, Arkansas, population less than 4,000, where his family had lived for seven generations and his parents tended a cattle farm. His father also worked for the local health department, and his mother was a schoolteacher. From an early age, it was clear that Tom was an unusual boy.

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Sep 16, 2014

  • Kerry Enlists Saudi King in War of Ideas Against ISIS

    By Michael Crowley, TIME Magazine

    On the night of Sept. 11, John Kerry arrived at the royal palace here for a meeting with the King of Saudi Arabia. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz makes his home in this coastal city during the summer months, and the palace is a testament to his country’s vast oil wealth. Kerry entered through a vast atrium beneath a towering powder dome perhaps a hundred feet high.

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  • In Congress, path clearing for Obama plan to aid Syrian rebels fighting Islamic State

    By Ed O'Keefe and Anne Gearan, The Washington Post

    President Obama’s plan to train and equip Syrian rebels in the fight against Islamic State militants appeared headed for quick passage on Capitol Hill this week, but congressional leaders have signaled that they will postpone a full debate on the use of military force until after the midterm elections.

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  • U.S. to Commit Up to 3,000 Troops to Fight Ebola in Africa

    By Helene Cooper, Michael D. Shear and Denise Grady, The New York Times

    Under pressure to do more to confront the Ebola outbreak sweeping across West Africa, President Obama on Tuesday is to announce an expansion of military and medical resources to combat the spread of the deadly virus, administration officials said.

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  • Obamacare to Kick Out 115,000 Lacking Residency Proof

    By Alex Wayne, Bloomberg News

    About 115,000 people who signed up for Obamacare and may not be legal residents of the U.S. will lose their insurance coverage at the end of the month, the government said.

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  • Why Costco is going Republican — at least at home

    By Reid Wilson, The Washington Post

    On July 24, President Obama traveled to Medina, a small, wealthy enclave outside Seattle, to attend a fundraiser for a Democratic super PAC at the home of former Costco CEO Jim Sinegal, one of the Democratic Party’s most reliable donors.

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Sep 15, 2014

  • Obama, Congress, ISIL: Where Things Stand & What's Next

    By Alexis Simendinger & Caitlin Huey-Burns, Real Clear Politics

    As Congress heads into what it imagined would be a short two weeks of work during September, lawmakers are now trying to reckon with twin requests from President Obama for their support: He wants their backing for attacks on Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria, and for training and arming Syrian rebels to become “boots on the ground” against Sunni extremists inside Syria.

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  • Arab Nations Offer to Fight ISIS From Air

    By David E. Sanger, Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times

    The Obama administration said Sunday that “several” Arab nations had offered to join in airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but any sustained military campaign does not appear imminent, and is likely to require an even more significant commitment from other nations and fighting forces in the region.

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  • Mrs. Clinton goes to Iowa

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    Is the former Secretary of State planning a run for the 2016 presidential election? Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton made speeches in The Hawkeye State over the weekend to rally Democrats to vote in the upcoming November elections.

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  • Tom Harkin, Bill Clinton and the changing Democratic Party

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    Sen. Tom Harkin keeps two mementos on the wall of his office, reminders of where he came from. One is a picture of his mother’s birthplace in Slovenia, a house with a dirt floor, a house that her family shared with the animals. The other is the card his father received when he joined the Works Progress Administration during the New Deal.

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  • The first midterm election votes will be cast this week

    By Reid Wilson, The Washington Post

    In an era of early voting, no-fault absentee ballots and all-mail elections, Election Day is something of a misnomer. Candidates and their supporters now drive their voters to the polls for days, weeks, sometimes more than a month.

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Sep 12, 2014

  • 'All in' moment for a split-the-difference president

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    Rallying the nation to a war against the Islamic State terrorist group in primetime Wednesday night, President Barack Obama sought to project both resolve and reassurance. America will lead a broad coalition in degrading and ultimately destroying what amounts to a hybrid terrorist army, but will not “get dragged” into another prolonged war of regime change and nation building. That’s a nuanced message as far as war cries go, and Obama seemed dispassionate and at times almost conflicted in delivering it. “I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said Wednesday night. “It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL [another term for the Islamic State] wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground.”

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  • What a Trip to Iraq Reveals About Obama’s ISIS Plan

    By Michael Crowley, TIME Magazine

    The Republican Palace in central Baghdad was once Saddam Hussein’s preferred spot for meeting foreign leaders. The complex here, which served as the headquarters for the U.S. occupation, is vast and gaudily ornate. A huge outdoor fountain features a golden dragon that blasts high-pressure arcs of water through the air.

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  • Congressional leaders back Obama plan to arm rebels against Islamic State

    By Ed O'Keefe and Robert Costa, The Washington Post

    House Republican leaders moved quickly Thursday to broadly support President Obama’s plan for an open-ended campaign to combat the Islamic State — but the mechanics of how they will do so won’t be determined for several days.

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  • For US, finding right allies in Syria will be tough

    By Hannah Allam, McClatchy News

    In an effort to map out the ideological spectrum of Syria’s various rebel groups, Turkish and American officials used a color-coded scheme: green for trusted friends, red for clear-cut enemies and yellow for those in the middle.

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  • Return of the Security Mom?

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    Back in the 2002 and 2004 elections, we heard a lot about so-called "Security Moms." Once focused almost exclusively on domestic issues like education, crime, and the economy, the priorities of these "Soccer Moms" shifted in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Instead of pocketbook issues, they were focused on peace of mind. They wanted a president who could keep the country (and their kids) safe. Over ten years later, and in the wake of two gruesome beheadings, we are seeing the early signs of a resurgence of a security-focused voter, and it could have a real impact on the midterm elections.

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Sep 11, 2014

  • Martha Raddatz: 'We Are at War with ISIS'

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    ABC News' chief global affairs correspondent says defeating ISIS will take a very long time.

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  • A President in Prime-Time Command After 2 Years of Frustration

    By Michael Scherer, TIME

    The central message of Wednesday night’s prime-time reveal of a new U.S. war in the Middle East came a few minutes in. President Barack Obama squared to the camera, slowed his delivery and filled each syllable with all the gravity he had. “I know many Americans are concerned about these threats,” he said, pausing briefly between sentences. “Tonight, I want you to know that the United States of America is meeting them with strength and resolve.”

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  • New Military Campaign Extends a Legacy of War

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    In ordering a sustained military campaign against Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq, President Obama on Wednesday night effectively set a new course for the remainder of his presidency and may have ensured that he would pass his successor a volatile and incomplete war, much as his predecessor left one for him.

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