* Must read from John Harwood on how Obama’s second term problems — gridlock, scandal-palooza — actually pale in comparison to those of his predecessors, and why that bodes better for his prospects than all the media obits suggest.
* An important marker: Dem Rep. Xavier Becerra, a member of the bipartisan House “gang of seven” negotiating on immigration reform, confirms flatly that their emerging proposal does contain a path to citizenship, which could (conceivably) give something for lawmakers to begin coalescing around in the House. This is key:
Becerra did not say when the Gang would introduce its bill. But he argued that it could put Republican leaders on the spot if it is formally offered: support a pathway to citizenship or sink immigration reform.
* Joan Walsh makes it plain: All those GOP efforts to target white voters won’t be easy to pull off without overt efforts to stoke white grievance.
* Molly Redden punctures the emerging claim that rules reform would do away with minority rights in the Senate completely. By the way, since when is more majority rule in the Upper Chamber a bad thing?
* Jonathan Bernstein rightly notes that Dems hitting the nuke button really could end up doing away with the filibuster entirely, which could be problematic, and puts his finger on the alternative:
What’s needed, eventually, is one of two things: either the minority party stops abusing tradition by requiring 60 votes for everything or it finds some way to codify a procedure in which filibusters are available but rarely used.
And the latter, it turns out, is very hard to do. And so, as I noted earlier, what Dems really want is for Republicans to stop the relentless obstructionism, so they don’t have to change the rules.
* The latest on the collapsing IRS scandal: Dem Rep. Elijah Cummings floats new evidence that IRS audit author Russell George withheld the fact that he found no evidence of political motivation in targeting of conservatives.
With another hearing set for next week, we’ll find out if Republicans will allow Dems to question George again under oath.
* National Journal has the latest guesswork on the Hill on who might replace Janet Napolitano.
* Ron Brownstein hangs out in swing territory and finds Republicans continue to risk alienating growing voter groups, though Dems still could find that their supporters are lackluster compared with the seething GOP base might harm them in 2014.
* HuffPo reports from inside the Obama administration’s relentless efforts to communicate Obamacare’s benefits to young voters, who are emerging as critical to the law’s long term success.