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!

Jan 27, 2012

  • With Campaign Season Here, Obama Shows Some Swagger

    By Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey, Los Angeles Times

    He's confronting Republicans in the House chamber and on a sunny tarmac in front of the cameras. He's singing Al Green and busting out corny jokes. He's trying out his Spanish and taking off the necktie. It looks like the sometimes-aloof, overly cerebral President Obama has gotten some of his mojo back.
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Jan 26, 2012

  • President Takes His Economic Message on the Road

    By Helene Cooper, New York Times

    Fresh from a State of the Union address he used to make his case for re-election, President Obama took to the road on Wednesday to build support for his economic message of fairness, calling for Congress to eliminate tax deductions for companies that move jobs overseas.
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  • Why Are There So Many Presidential Debates?

    By Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    In the lore of the U.S. political system, debates are among the most hallowed of rituals. From Lincoln-Douglas on, they have been the moments when voters are supposed to have an opportunity to get to know their candidates, contrast their ideas, evaluate their mettle. But this campaign season, it might be fair to ask: Are Americans getting too much of a good thing?
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  • Can Sanctions Alone Get Iran To Negotiate?

    By Tom Gjelten, NPR

    In an effort to bring Iran to the negotiating table over its nuclear program through economic pain, both the U.S. and the European Union have imposed sanctions that should make it harder for Iran to sell its oil. But the global oil business is unpredictable, and sanctions are no guarantee.

    Listen to Story on NPR

  • Obama Team Sees Romney Damaging Self with Independents for Fall Campaign

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    President Obama’s political advisers have long been preparing for a general-election contest against Republican Mitt Romney. What they have seen of the former Massachusetts governor in the past 30 days makes them think he will enter a fall campaign, if he survives a turbulent nomination battle, significantly weakened by self-inflicted wounds and a major strategic mistake.
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  • Obama Returns to Familiar Theme in Case for 2nd Term

    By Jackie Calmes, New York Times

    President Obama’s election-year State of the Union address on Tuesday echoed a theme that has run through his career: Government and citizens are responsible together for the common good, even as they celebrate individualism and free markets.
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  • Navy SEALs Rescue 2 Held Captive in Somalia

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    American commandos dropped into Somalia on Tuesday night to rescue two aid workers who were held hostage, including an American, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.
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  • Obama’s Message Put to Test Where Voters Struggle

    By Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News

    President Barack Obama is testing his populist message on a trip through five electoral battleground states where he is trying to persuade voters to stick with him even as their economic prospects remain clouded. From the rescue of the U.S. auto industry to the housing crisis, Iowa, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Michigan showcase the challenges on Obama’s path to re-election.
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    President Obama speaks in Chandler, AZ (CNN)

  • In Run-Up to Somalia Raid, Secrecy and Business As Usual

    By Yochi J. Dreazen, National Journal

    President Obama's business-as-usual demeanor as he delivered the State of the Union address on Tuesday evening masked a secret known only to him and a few others in the House chamber. Thousands of miles away, a strike team led by the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 were completing a successful operation to free two Western aid workers, an American and a Dane, held by Somali kidnappers since October.
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Jan 25, 2012

  • In Address, Obama Makes Pitch for Economic Fairness

    By Helene Cooper, New York Times

    President Obama pledged on Tuesday night to use government power to balance the scale between America’s rich and the rest of the public, trying to present an election-year choice between continued leadership toward an economy “built to last” and what he called irresponsible policies of the past that caused an economic collapse.
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  • Analysis: Obama Speech Puts Him in Campaign Arena

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    President Barack Obama, having watched his Republican adversaries pound him for weeks, got his turn Tuesday, using his State of the Union speech to land the first major counterpunch of the still-forming 2012 election. It came before a prime-time audience of millions that the GOP candidates can only envy, even if their fiery debates are turning heads.
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  • Hostage Rescued in Somalia Raid

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    Navy SEALs parachuted into one of the world's most dangerous places.

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    Watch Video on ABC News

  • State of Hope—Or an Illusion?

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    The American economy is better off today than it was three years ago. It could be much better off than it is. Indicators suggest that growth may be finally ready to take off from its post-recession bumps along the runway—but then again, that’s how the indicators looked this time last year.
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  • McCain: GOP Debates are 'Damaging' to Nominee

    By Susan Davis, USA TODAY

    Former presidential nominee John McCain is part of a growing chorus of leading Republican voices who worry the exhaustive lineup of GOP primary debates will be harmful to the eventual nominee.
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  • Obama Stresses Fairness in Building Durable Recovery

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    President Obama, accused by his Republican opponents of making a rocky economy worse, used his third State of the Union address to argue to tens of millions of prospective voters that he is the leader with the passion for fairness, and the policy vision, to deliver an "America built to last." The president wrapped that phrase around his efforts to revive an economy still deeply shaken by a housing bubble, corporate excesses pegged to complex financial bets and borrowed money, and rules seemingly rigged against the little guy.
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  • SOTU: Obama on the Economy

    WIth David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    The President spoke about the state of the American economy Tuesday night in his third State of the Union address.

    Watch Video on Wall Street Journal

  • Supreme Court Rorschach Test on Voting Rights

    By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY

    As state legislatures have increasingly used sophisticated computers to draw voting maps configured to their political interests, districts have taken on odder shapes and prompted cracks about Rorschach ink blots. Friday’s Supreme Court decision in the Texas voting rights case offered its own kind of Rorschach test.
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  • Obama Makes Populist Pitch

    By Laura Meckler and Carol E. Lee, Wall Street Journal

    President Barack Obama offered Americans a populist economic vision in his State of the Union address Tuesday, seeking to draw a contrast with his eventual Republican rival and demonstrating the widening policy gulf between the two political parties.
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  • Gingrich Wants to Hear his Debate Fans Roar

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, coming off one of his most subdued debate performances of the campaign, signaled on Tuesday he may skip future debates unless his supporters are given full license to clap, cheer and roar. Gingrich complained that NBC News moderator Brian Williams had told the crowd to be silent before Monday's debate in Tampa in an effort to stifle free speech and prevent the audience from turning on the media.
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  • State of the Union? More Like State of the Campaign

    By John Harwood, New York Times

    Republicans have good reason to believe that President Obama’s goals in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night were more partisan than presidential. Mr. Obama has shifted into full-bore campaigning. He expects little from Congress this year beyond the extension of existing payroll tax cuts. His highest-profile initiatives are designed to enhance his re-election prospects.
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    President Obama delivers his State of the Union Address to Congress (CNN)