* Beth Reinhard punctures the Marco Rubio balloon:
Time magazine rendered a decision last week, declaring Rubio “The Republican Savior” in a cover story that capped off a geyser of overwhelmingly positive media coverage. But as the man seemingly charged with saving the Republican Party from itself, Rubio has offered startling little in terms of outlining bold policy ideas or crafting a modern version of conservatism. His talent, instead, seems to lie in sales, in an ability to pull hoary tropes such as “American Exceptionalism” off the shelf and make them sound new.
* Very smart point from Ed Kilgore: When Rubio floated his Barney-Frank-did-it theory of the financial crisis, he was paying homage to the founding myth of the Tea Party. The GOP’s savior!
* James Carville and Stan Greenberg marvel at the degree to which the Rubio speech could have been written by Mitt Romney, and how determined Republicans are not to learn anything from the election.
* Elizabeth Warren’s sharp questioning on the Senate Banking Committee appears to have made some Wall Streeters very, very angry, which seems like it’s kind of supposed to be the point.
* Howard Dean makes the case to Sam Stein that we should let the sequester happen:
“I’m in favor of the sequester. It is tough on things that I care about a lot, but the fact of the matter is, you are not going to get another chance to cut the defense budget in the way that it needs to be cut.”
* I’m a bit surprised this hasn’t drawn more scrutiny from the press, but as Jed Lewison notes, the GOP vow to produce a budget that wipes out the deficit in 10 years with no new revenues really is nothing more than policy gibberish.
* Meteor Blades has a good discussion of the emerging bipartisan deal Senators are discussing on expanding background checks, as well as some of the policy conundrums associated with background checks and tracing guns.
* Also: Expert Adam Winkler explains why Obama background check proposal falls short of what’s needed, even though a real universal background check is thoroughly Constitutional — another sign of just how skewed to the right the debate has become.
* An expert testifies that gun homicides shot up in Missouri in the three years after the state repealed its background check law.
* Brett LoGiurato: No, the sequester replacement Republicans passed in the last Congress doesn’t count, because it was, you know, the last Congress, not to mention that it gave Republicans everything they wanted, and gave Dems exactly nothing.
* Like John Nichols, I found it a bit irksome when Harry Reid said it was a “shame” that Republicans were filibustering Chuck Hagel. We had a chance to do something about this problem only a few weeks ago. By the way, this isn’t just on Reid. Dems in general fell short here.
* A crucial point from Steve Benen about the Hagel filibuster: Try to imagine the widespread media outcry that would have ensued if Dems had attempted something similar in, say, 2005, when the war was used to stifle any and all criticism of Bush.
* Adam Serwer has been doing nice work trying to pin down rampant questions about Obama’s targeted killing program, the latest being whether the president believes he has the legal authority to kill an American citizen/terror suspect on American soil.
* And a fun take from Dana Milbank on Lindsey Graham’s crusade against Chuck Hagel and Benghazi (which happened while Hagel was a professor), and how it’s helping Graham ward off a challenge from the Tea Party (which appears to be helping dictate the GOP’s response to the question of who should be our defense secretary).