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!

May 17, 2013

  • President On The Defensive

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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  • Who is IRS Acting Commissioner Daniel Werfel?

    By Ed O’Keefe and Josh Hicks, Washington Post

    President Obama tapped Daniel Werfel on Thursday to serve as the new acting administrator of the scandal-plagued Internal Revenue Service, succeeding Steven T. Miller, who resigned under pressure Wednesday.

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  • Seib & Wessel: President Obama’s Awful Week

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

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  • Obama's No-Magic Metaphor: Useful for Syria Too

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    Presidential history is dazzling in those moments when it time-travels in unexpected ways. Take Syria … and “magic.”

    President Obama, standing in a spitting rain Thursday in the Rose Garden with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, lamented to reporters that the escalating civil war in Syria remains a giant headache for every leader who wants to see it end.

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  • Obama Responds to Criticism With 'Fix It' Strategy

    By Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey, Los Angeles Times

    At a news conference in a rainy Rose Garden on Thursday, President Obama and the Turkish prime minister had weighty matters to discuss — the bloody civil war in Syria, a disastrous Syrian refugee crisis and Turkey's strained relationship with Israel. But before they got too far into that, Obama had something else to say.

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  • What Would Dick Cheney Do?

    By John F. Harris and James Hohmann, Politico

    It took him a day or two to get started, but President Barack Obama this week signaled that he is going to follow the conventional Washington playbook for trying to tamp down scandal.

    He has furrowed his brow, sacked an agency head, pledged transparency and cooperation with official inquiries and piously declared that no one is more troubled than him about any wrongdoing.

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  • Boston Suspect's Handwritten Confession

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

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May 16, 2013

  • I Was Promised a Cover-Up

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    I was told there was going to be a cover-up. After reading the 100 pages of emails related to the Benghazi media talking points, I’m hard-pressed to find evidence for the most damning accusations against the president and his staff. If they were involved, they were once again leading from behind.

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  • IRS Commissioner Resigns in Wake of Tax Scandal

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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  • An Onset of Woes Raises Questions on Obama Vision

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    Thwarted on Capitol Hill, stymied in the Middle East and now beset by scandal, President Obama has reached a point just six months after a heady re-election where the second term he had hoped for has collided with the second term he actually has.

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  • You Want Angry? I'll Show You Angry, Obama Says on IRS Scandal

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Under pressure to show who's boss, President Obama called a press conference late Wednesday to say he was “angry” that the IRS singled out conservative groups for extra vetting and to announce that the agency’s acting commissioner had been forced out.

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  • Obama Struggles to Get Beyond a Scandal Trifecta

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    The most corrosive political scandals are the ones that feed a pre­existing story line — which is why the White House could have difficulty putting the current ones behind it any time soon.

    In the view of President Obama’s adversaries, recent revelations add evidence to arguments that they have been making about the president all along: that he would do or say whatever it took to get reelected; that his is a philosophy of rampant, invasive big government; that he has not acted within the constraints of the Constitution; that he regards those who oppose him with contempt.

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  • Congressional Press to Justice Dept.: Explain Subpoena

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    A coalition of journalists who represent the 7,000 accredited members of the congressional press corps sent a letter Wednesday to Deputy Attorney General James Cole to express "deep concern" over the Justice Department obtaining phone records from a press gallery phone line in the U.S. Capitol.

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  • House Readies to Vote On Yet Another Bill to Repeal Health-Care Law

    By Ed O’Keefe and David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post

    Doing the same thing over and over again — and expecting a different result — is supposed to be the definition of insanity.

    On Thursday, it is the only thing on the calendar for the House of Representatives.

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  • Fed's Easy Money: Too Much of a Good Thing

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

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May 15, 2013

  • Obama's Dangerous New Narrative

    By John F. Harris and Alexander Burns, Politico

    No contemporary American politician has benefited more from the power of good storytelling than Barack Obama. He vaulted from obscurity to the presidency on the power of narrative — invoking his biography and personal values to make a larger point about how he would lead the nation.

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  • Obama’s Second Term Clouded By Controversies

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    After answering questions Monday morning about two of the controversies that have undermined his administration, President Obama flew off to New York to raise money for the Democratic Party. There, before partisan donors, he reflected on his second term and said he will continue to reach out to Republicans. “I sure want to do some governing,” he explained.

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  • Justifiable Cause

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    It must get confusing in the IT department at the Associated Press: Are you talking about the hackers who hacked our Twitter account or the Justice Department hackers who hacked our phones? Monday, the Associated Press reported that the Justice Department had secretly obtained two months of records of phone conversations by its reporters. Meanwhile, the Washington Post revealed that the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups was more widespread than first reported. Someone at the IRS also leaked information about conservative groups to ProPublica. The Environmental Protection Agency may also have made it easier for environmental groups to file Freedom of Information Act requests than conservative organizations.

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  • Energized by Washington Scandals, the Tea Party Is on a Roll

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    The tea party is back.

    Just months after President Obama's reelection deflated conservative activists, a slew of rapidly unfolding scandals involving government malfeasance is giving the movement new life.

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  • Analysis: Once a Beacon, Obama Under Fire Over Civil Liberties

    By Joan Biskupic and David Ingram, Reuters

    He may have been the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. He may have written a book extolling constitutional values in a democracy. And he may have run for president on a civil liberties banner, pledging to reverse the legacy of George W. Bush.

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