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 Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman. (Julia Ewan - Julia Ewan -- The Washington Post)

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Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Congressional Reporter
Friday, May 16, 2008; 11:00 AM

Don't want to miss out on the latest in politics? Start each day with The Post Politics Hour. Join in each weekday morning at 11 a.m. as a member of The Washington Post's team of White House and congressional reporters answers questions about the latest in buzz in Washington and The Post's coverage of political news.

Washington Post congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman was online Friday, May 16 at 11 a.m. ET to discuss the latest news in politics.

The transcript follows.

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Archive: Post Politics Hour discussion transcripts

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Jonathan Weisman: Hello folks.

Zany things happening on Capitol Hill, Barack Obama got the coveted Pete Stark endorsement, and John McCain has found the end date for our adventure in Iraq.

Take it away!

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Arlington, Va.: "As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century," the president said. Did President Bush just lose his credibility for arguing his case here? Once you invoke the Nazi argument, you admit there is nothing left in your logic, and that you must rely on emotion. I don't see the connection he is trying to make. Perhaps if he was talking about Kosovo or Darfur, I might see a connection. This just seems like typical Republican smear tactics.

Jonathan Weisman: The response yesterday from the Democrats -- angry, uniform and sustained -- was very interesting. They know these things are coming; they like to think they are prepared. But I think they were genuinely taken aback that the president of the United States would use those words before the parliament of a different country.

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Ann Arbor, Mich.: I'm intrigued by the James Rubin article in today's Post about John McCain's willingness in the past to talk with Hamas and his recent attacks on Obama for taking the same position. Has the McCain camp "clarified" his original remarks to explain his apparent hypocrisy on this issue?

Jonathan Weisman: Yes, indeed. The McCain campaign this morning dismissed it as nonsense, saying he always had strict preconditions to any conversations with Hamas, the lead one being recognition of the right of Israel to exist in peace. We'll have to check the tape.

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San Jose, Calif.: Now that the California Supreme Court has ruled in favor of same sex couple marriages, it appears a constitutional amendment is going to be on the November ballot in California to overturn that decision. If that amendment passes, will that invalidate all of the marriages that take place before the constitution is amended?

washingtonpost.com: California Supreme Court Strikes Bans on Same-Sex Marriage (Post, May 16)

Jonathan Weisman: I assume so, as the Supreme Court of California was able to nullify all those weddings on the San Francisco City Hall steps.

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Alexandria, Va.: I read Nick Miroff's column about obsolete gas pumps, which says some gas pumps will not be able to handle $4 per gallon prices. I have a dumb question: Why are we still pricing gas using a tenth-of-a-cent unit? Why 3.999? No other retailer does that. You have 4 digits that you can use on the pump; get rid of the .9 cents. For example, price gas at 3.99 and display it on the pump 03.99; If you get rid of the .9 then you can go up to 39.99 on obsolete pumps.

washingtonpost.com: Old-Style Pumps Balk At $4-a-Gallon Gas, Too (Post, May 16)

Jonathan Weisman: Oy, such a question on a political chat? Aren't you fooled that the price is really cheaper because of the tenth of a penny?

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Boston: Jonathan, I have never expected intelligence or understanding from the current crop of Republicans, but do any of them understand the meaning of "appeasement"? It means to grant concessions, not to speak to someone. Also, it seems like President Bush already has granted Iran the greatest concession it ever could want: de facto control of Iraq!

Jonathan Weisman: Were you watching that shouting match on "Hardball with Chris Matthews"?

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Chicago: Good morning and thanks for chatting. Did you catch conservative radio talk show host Kevin James getting his lunch handed to him by Chris Matthews on "Hardball" last night? It was crystal clear that James had no clue why Neville Chamberlain was labeled an appeaser (because he handed Hitler a significant part of Czechoslovakia ,not because he talked to Hitler) and did not have the sense to admit that he did not know. The video is all over YouTube and is certainly amusing to watch.

washingtonpost.com: Video: Matthews vs. James (MSNBC)

Jonathan Weisman: Boy, that video is getting a lot of air time. But hey, who the heck is Kevin James anyway -- just some guy Chris Matthews could find to fill the air time?

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Woodbridge, Va.: This week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the U.S. should talk with Iran and should also be willing to provide incentives for Iran to cooperate with us. Does Bush think his own Defense secretary is a terrorist appeaser?

washingtonpost.com: Gates: U.S. Should Engage Iran With Incentives, Pressure (Post, May 15)

Jonathan Weisman: Only if he offers up Basra.

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New York: Obama's Likudnik critics on The Post's national political team have rationalized their orchestrated obsession with Jeremiah Wright as "it was on YouTube, so it's a story." Today, John McCain is on YouTube, a clip from less than two years ago calling for diplomatic relations with Hamas. Will The Post feast on this?

washingtonpost.com: Hypocrisy on Hamas: McCain Was for Talking Before He Was Against It (Post, May 16)

Jonathan Weisman: Given that you are the third questioner on the issue, I guess I just did.

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Helena, Mont.: Yesterday Paul Kane told us that if the FEC does not have a quorum, Congress still could make sure there is public financing for the general election by directing the Treasury to provide $85 million for McCain (and, I presume, for Obama if he opts into public financing). Would this meet the definition of an earmark? If so, would McCain accept it?

Jonathan Weisman: Now that's a stretch. An earmark is a special favor slipped into legislation by a lawmaker, usually for a constituent. That constituent is not supposed to be himself.

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Philadelphia: What was that speech McCain gave yesterday? A wish list? Where was the substance or the details? If Clinton of Obama had given that speech, those questions surely would have been asked.

washingtonpost.com: McCain Sees U.S. Troops Leaving Iraq by 2013 (Post, May 15)

Jonathan Weisman: I think the coverage of the speech was appropriately skeptical.

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New York: I hear McCain's top foreign lobbyist advisor Charlie Black (pretty sure he's the one who now conducts his lobbying business from McCain's campaign bus, right?) was on the tube knocking Obama for his willingness to talk to international bad actors. But isn't this the very same Charlie Black who worked on behalf of Ahmad Chalabi (who unless I'm mistaken our government still believes spied on us on behalf of Iran) and then got the contract for creating phony news in Iraq? Anybody ask him about that on that bus ride, do you think?

Jonathan Weisman: Oy, what's with all the McCain questions? Anyone wondering about those Miley Cyrus photos anymore?

Anyway, Charlie Black's lobbying business has gotten a lot of attention of late, and will continue to get it as long as he keeps it going.

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Washington: So let me get this straight: Democrats can criticize the president directly from a foreign country where we are about to topple a murderous dictator (McDermott), and that's okay, but a president cannot go to an ally of the U.S. and mentioned unidentified critics? The Democratic response reminds me of an old Southern saying: a stuck pig squeals.

Jonathan Weisman: Ah, thank goodness someone in chatting land is a Republican. But I must protest that Jim McDermott took a lot of heat for what he said and did in Baghdad. He was shunned by his fellow Democrats for, like, days (maybe weeks). No one has the squealing thing cornered, my friend.

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Cambridge, Mass.: Any word on how Bush's comments were received by Israelis?

Jonathan Weisman: Ya know, I was interested in that myself. I know there is a Hebrew blog run out of Israel by pro-Obama folks trying to calm down some of the crazier ideas in circulation about the guy. I have a feeling Israelis are split. They like to argue with each other.

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More McCain : The reason we're so hot with McCain questions today is because you are among the few on these chats that will answer them! Curious, that. Anyway: Why is John McCain trying so hard to paint himself green? It doesn't do him any good among the environmental ostriches in his own party, and it doesn't convince all the rest of us that he has a clue. Even if McCain's prescriptions seriously addressed global warming (which they don't), he still has that pesky voting record that's so "ungreen" it's laughable. In fact, when he shows up for eco-related votes (which, as the League for Conservation Voters noted, he didn't do at all during the group's last measuring period), he votes against environmentally far-sighted legislation about three-fourths of the time. Any insights into this seriously counterintuitive McCain strategy?

washingtonpost.com: Environmental Stances Are Balancing Act For McCain (Post, May 12)

Jonathan Weisman: That is an excellent question. It's not so much that he wants to win real environmentalists from the Democrats. He is trying to burnish his credentials as a new kind of Republican, to win suburban swing voters who consider themselves environmentally conscious but aren't Greenpeace members -- and to separate himself from congressional Republicans who are in the dumps and who wouldn't touch his policies on global warming and Arctic drilling with a 500-foot drill bit.

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Princeton, N.J.: Come Jon, we need a careful analysis of McCain's economic policies and their political implications. You're the man for this job. You know one plus one does not equal 17 (and a few other economic facts, too).

washingtonpost.com: McCain Offers Tax Policies He Once Opposed (Post, April 25)

Jonathan Weisman: Well, thank you. We will continue to scrutinize, but I can't pile on.

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Southwest Nebraska: Let's see if I understand this: Obama will talk to enemy leaders after preparation for such talks ... and McCain and Clinton will not talk to enemy leaders without preparation for such talks. Have I got that right?

Jonathan Weisman: I think you're on to something. But there is a difference between preparation and pre-conditions, and McCain says his preconditions would be tougher than Obama's preparations.

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Prescott, Ariz.: Hey didn't John McCain attack Mitt Romney for having an "end date" for Iraq? As McCain said, and now I say about McCain: "I was there my friends, I heard him say it." (Actually I wasn't there. I watched it on TV.) McCain flip-flopped yesterday both on setting withdrawal dates and talking with Hamas (i.e. a legitimately elected government). Is the real definition of "maverick" and/or "straight-talker" one who can change his positions constantly as long as he keep the BBQ sauce flowing to the 'Straight-Talk Express"?

Jonathan Weisman: When my colleague, Mike Shear, suggested McCain was setting an end-date, the McCain camp got quite upset about it. No, 2013 is merely when he thinks the war will be won, not a deadline. Still, your point is well taken. He has now put out a benchmark where there were none before.

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Minnesota: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. Republicans were nearly apoplectic in their fear-mongering about terrorism in the run-up to the 2006 elections, yet still got trounced. Any reason to think this strategy will work any better in 2008?

Jonathan Weisman: No. And I think they're beginning to realize that too. They just don't know what else to say. When the House Democrats refused to pass a warrantless surveillance bill to the White House's liking, the Republicans denounced them as weak on terror and endangering the nation. And lo and behold, there were no political consequences. That has been a bit of a revelation to the Democrats.

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Des Peres, Mo.: Okay, Jonathan: a straight political question. What would you say to Obama's naming Dick Gephardt as his vice president? A swing state dude; has good rapport with labor (i.e. white blue-collar workers); brings age and experience. Makes sense to me.

Jonathan Weisman: Perhaps, and David Plouffe, his campaign manager, is an old Gephardt hand. But Obama has Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill with him now. He feels good about the Show Me state, and frankly, I think he needs to shore up his foreign policy/military cred more than his domestic trade policy cred.

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Fairfax, Va.: As someone who cares about green issues and also thinks there's a place for expanding nuclear power, I'm definitely intrigued by McCain's outspokenness on the issue lately as well, as his record of pushing for more action. Are either of the Democrats going to do something that demonstrates that this is a priority for them, too, because just saying we're going to reduce emissions by 80 percent along with a long litany of other proposals doesn't make it clear to me they're willing to spend the necessary political capital on it to win passage!

Jonathan Weisman: Interesting point. I think Obama hasn't gotten around to really fleshing out his environmental policy, and with McCain tromping through the forests, he'd better get going. Illinois is actually a big nuclear state. And meeting his climate change goals without nuclear would be tough. That said, I have no idea.

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Obama and Appalachia: I've been reading a lot lately about Obama's "Appalachia Problem," and I wondered what your take on the whole thing is. I've seen hypotheses ranging from demographics (Appalachia is white, poor, uneducated and old -- a perfect storm of demographics that bode badly for Obama) to settlement patterns to history. It's an interesting question, because Obama's major problem obviously has not been with white voters in Wisconsin or Arizona or Kansas -- it has been a very distinct struggle with a very distinct demographic in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania (all states with Appalachian sections). Any thoughts?

Jonathan Weisman: I think he does have a demonstrable Appalachia problem. And on Tuesday, we'll probably see him get trounced in Kentucky. Some analyses show he does worst in states with a decent sized African American population but not big enough to make an electoral difference. In Lilly White states and in black states, he does great. But that doesn't explain West Virginia. (All that said, he's doing poorly in these states against Hillary Clinton; we'll see about John McCain.)

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Tampa, Fla.: A question and a point. First, does Bob Barr have any real chance of Nadering McCain? Second, was Reagan an appeaser when he visited and negotiated with the Evil Empire USSR? Are the 64 percent of Israelis who want their government to talk with Hezbollah appeasers?

Jonathan Weisman: Okay, all you appeasers. I get the point. With regard to Bob Barr, c'mon folks. The guy's entertaining but he has no base. Now, if Ron Paul was out there, sure, but Ralph Nader's following came from decades in the public limelight.

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Philadelphia: So, McCain thinks the war will be won by 2013, right? And he says that most of our troops will be out by then. So, just like Bush, McCain is leaving the total withdrawal of our troops from Iraq to the next president, right?

Jonathan Weisman: No. The next president's first term ends in January 2013.

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Kansas City, Mo.: John Edwards said on the "Today" show this morning that he was not interested in being vice president on the ticket with Obama. Do you think this is an actual Shermanesque no, or is he still on the short list?

Jonathan Weisman: No way. John Kerry was expecting big things from John Edwards, and he failed to deliver. Really, he wasn't much of anything on the vice presidential campaign trail. You don't often get second chances at this level of politics.

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Re-vetting?: Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic is reporting that McCain is being a maverick again -- he is re-vetting his entire staff to figure out how many have been lobbyists for shady clients. Is this the kind of leadership we can expect from him as president?

washingtonpost.com: McCain Campaign To Re-Vet Entire Staff (TheAtlantic.com, May 15)

Jonathan Weisman: I don't know. That seems like a fairly logical step -- a bit late in the process.

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Washington: There seems to be an increase in chatter about Jim Webb being in the veepstakes? Although intriguing, it seems like he could do or say something on the campaign trail that makes Joe Biden's foot-in-mouth disease look minor in comparison!

Jonathan Weisman: Yes, that is the knock on Webb, but I think he's got a real shot. His whole shtick as a fighting Democrat is to restore the party to its Jacksonian roots. He would have real appeal to the voters who are turning away from Obama, poor white working class and rural voters.

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San Diego: Jonathan, plenty of substantive questions for you this morning, but I miss the arugula references.

Jonathan Weisman: Me too, but they've been replaced by appeasement. I'll have a nice tossed salad with salmon and Kalamata olives when I'm done.

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La Vale, Md.: After the results in the last three off-year elections (three long-time GOP seats switched to the Democrats) isn't there a chance the Democrats really could win big this fall (like say win 50 more seats in the House and 10 in the Senate)? If the GOP can't hold onto Mississippi's 1st District, what seats can they really expect to hold onto?

Jonathan Weisman: Yes, Paul Kane and I wrote about this. The betting is now 15 to 25 House seats (after 33 pickups in 2006 and the specials) and four to seven in the Senate. That would be huge. But I for the life of me can't get to 60 in the Senate.

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Re: San Jose: San Jose wrote "if that amendment passes" ... I'd just like to weigh in by saying that recent polling shows that Californians overwhelmingly agree that it's time to allow gay folks to marry. This amendment will find a very different electorate than the anti-gay Proposition 22 that passed nearly a decade ago. Plus, with Obama bolstering the youth vote in California and elsewhere, I am not too concerned that a constitutional amendment barring gays from marrying will have even a slim chance of passing in California in 2009.

Jonathan Weisman: I also don't know the rules on constitutional amendments vs propositions in California. Anyone want to chime in?

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Congressional Query: As a Cuban-American I am almost always embarrassed by the Diaz-Balart brothers and Illeana and their antics in the House ... how likely are they to be swept away? (Full disclosure: Went to school with Joe Garcia, but I'm not in touch with him.)

Jonathan Weisman: Joe Garcia has a shot, and in a really big Democratic year, who knows? Florida will be strongly contested, but Obama has his work cut out for him there.

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McCain, Obama and Lobbyists: I was surprised to note that McCain's convention chair got tossed after Newsweek reported that he'd lobbied for the Burmese dictatorship. My question is this: If McCain fired every lobbyist (and former lobbyist) on his campaign staff, would he still have a campaign staff? How does his lobbyist-to-staffer ratio compare to Obama's?

Jonathan Weisman: Depends on their clients. The Burmese Junta is particularly egregious when 100,000 of their countrymen are dead and they're blocking aid deliveries.

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Arlington, Va.: I saw the article yesterday about the Bush administration loosening air laws around national parks to make it easier to drill for energy resources. Is it me, or has this administration just decided that Mother Earth is only here to be ravaged for oil? And this on the heels of his finally admitting that global warming actually exists?

washingtonpost.com: Clean-Air Rules Protecting Parks Set to Be Eased (Post, May 16)

Jonathan Weisman: Long live the Polar Bear! All administrations love to rush out lots of new regulations (or deregulations) in the last months of their presidencies. For you, the good news may be that they are reversible.

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New York: There are "real environmentalists" who are stridently pro-nuclear power, and McCain has a real chance to siphon these off. Well, provided he ultimately decides to run as who he is and not the clone of Bush he is pretending to be.

Jonathan Weisman: There ya go. Music to Mark Salter's ears.

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Princeton, N.J.: If Ted Stevens in Alaska is in trouble, 60 is possible. In 2006, did you think the Democrats could get a majority?

Jonathan Weisman: Okay, let's do the exercise. Give the Democrats Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado and New Hampshire. Alaska is very much in their favor. Al Franken has been strung up for failing to pay his unemployment taxes, so I'd bet on Coleman, but I'd give you Minnesota. I believe Susan Collins will win in Maine and Gordon Smith will win in Oregon, but for the sake of argument, I'll give you those. I'll even give you Liddy Dole's seat in North Carolina.

That's 60, assuming they don't kick Joe Lieberman out of the caucus, so it's possible, but I just don't believe everything can go you're way, and it's assuming the Democrats hold Mary Landrieu's seat in Louisiana, probably less likely than winning Maine, certainly less likely than winning North Carolina.

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New York: Jonathan, many right-wing blogs are now obsessed with criticizing Michelle Obama. Do they really want the wives to become an issue? (Somewhat rhetorical question.)

Jonathan Weisman: a Michelle vs Cindy smack down! The right is using Michelle Obama to underscore their contention that Obama is not like you or me. It's a piece of the puzzle. We'll see if it works.

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Re: 60: Hold Louisiana, win Virginia (52), Colorado (53), New Mexico (54), New Hampshire (55), Oregon (56), Minnesota (57), Maine (58), Alaska (59), and North Carolina (60). Badda bing! Do I think it's going to happen? Absolutely not! They probably won't top 54 or 55.

washingtonpost.com: The Fix's Friday Line: How Many Seats Will Dems Gain in the Senate? (washingtonpost.com, May 16)

Jonathan Weisman: See above answer, possible, but only remotely.

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Bethesda, Md.: Quick question about the Saudis increasing production: Even if they agreed to, the real problem is the lack of refineries to process the crude ... so an increase is crude output would have little effect on the gas supply. Is that your understanding, or do I have it wrong?

Jonathan Weisman: The problem is both lack of crude production and lack of refinery capacity. But the Saudis are building massive refineries, and it's just as easy (or almost as easy) to ship refined gasoline to the States as unrefined crude.

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Des Peres, Mo.: One follow up on Edwards as vice president: Even if he had done better, to trot out half of the same ticket twice suggests a lack of imagination and available candidates. I second your dismissal of the notion.

Jonathan Weisman: Thank you. And if Obama is supposed to be a change agent, why look backwards? (Frankly, that also applies to Gephardt.)

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Brookline, Mass.: It seems the goyim are throwing out a lot of "Jews don't like Obama" stories. I don't see it here or with my friends in Florida. Headed to Seattle for a bat mitzvah next week; think anyone there will have it in for Obama?

Jonathan Weisman: Being of the Jewish persuasion, I hear a lot of reservations among otherwise loyal Democrats about Obama. Frankly, I'm not sure it matters much. Obama has so much money, he's not counting on traditional Democratic donors. The Jewish population isn't going to swing the vote for McCain in, say, New York or Connecticut. Florida's really the only big issue.

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I miss the arugula references.: I guess I've had arugula in mixed green salads, but I just bought a bad of arugula for the first time last week and I like it. And my super-finicky country good ol' boy husband really liked it. So there -- to the bubbas of the world, arugula is good, we bubbas here in Virginia think so.

Jonathan Weisman: Have you tried a Belgian endive, with goat cheese and chives? Don't knock it!

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What went wrong?: Did you read the article by Michelle Cottle in The New Republic that quotes a whole gaggle of insiders on what went wrong in the campaign? What a laundry list!

washingtonpost.com: The exclusive story of Hillary's fall, as told by the high-level advisors, staffers, fundraisers, and on-the-ground organizers who lived it (The New Republic, May 16)

Jonathan Weisman: Dang, I'm gonna have to read that. We've been holding off on the same story until it's official.

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Not anybody's "sweetie": I have to express my outrage at Obama calling a female reporter "sweetie." I went to the same law school as Sen. Obama, although many years earlier. During my career, I was often the only female lawyer in a sea of men. On more than one occasion, I was called "sweetie, or "hon" or "the esteemed lady lawyer" or some such nonsense.

I knew that I was supposed to smile and pass it off as a joke, but there was never any doubt in my mind that these phrases translated as "you may have a JD degree from an Ivy League school, but you're just another broad to us." For Obama to call a reporter "sweetie" in a professional setting just infuriates me. So much for change! As far as I'm concerned, he's no different from those dinosaurs I encountered years ago.

washingtonpost.com: The Sleuth: Sen. Obama's 'Sweetie' Seems Unfazed (washingtonpost.com, May 15)

Jonathan Weisman: Yes, he was rather embarrassed by that. If McCain had said it, there would have been a bigger hew and cry. But hey, wherever the guy goes, the gals are swooning. Wassup with that?

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New York: Would McCain have the gumption to pick Lieberman as his vice president? I'd like to think we're past the "senators can't win" notion that would suggest two senators are worse than one.

Jonathan Weisman: Lieberman says he'd never take the assignment. Frankly, I think he's already done in his political career by traipsing around the country with him. Maybe secretary of defense.

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The US Homeland: Didn't Bush's grandpa, Sen. Prescott Bush, appease Hitler?

Jonathan Weisman: You know more Bush lore than me, Homey.

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Boston: Going back to your lede for this chat ... what was Boehner trying to do with the "zany" present vote. It seems like a lose-lose proposition. What am I missing?

Jonathan Weisman: They were sick of being used and abused, as he put it. But after all the exaltation from the anti-war groups, I think they may be regretting their very spur-of-the-moment decision.

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Alpharetta, Ga.: Jonathan, given what national polls showed with regards to Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani last year, how seriously should polls on the Obama-Clinton ticket be taken?

Jonathan Weisman: They can't be taken seriously at all. I still think the most relevant questions are how people are feeling about the state of the country. The Democrats are in the cat bird seat, and I don't think Obama will be making purely political decisions in the veepstakes.

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Arlington, Va.: For an administration that works so hard not to show weakness, isn't going to Saudi Arabia to beg for more oil absurdly desperate? The "addiction" analogy seems to fit better and better all the time. Time to start packing our bags for rehab.

Jonathan Weisman: It doesn't look pretty. That said, even the Democratic leadership is harassing him to make the Saudis cough up the black gold.

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A prediction: Approximately 12,000 articles will be written between now and November about how Jewish voters have a problem with Obama, and then they will go to the polls and overwhelmingly vote for him. Despite this, no articles will be written about how Jewish voters have a problem with McCain.

Jonathan Weisman: That's the dog bites man story.

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Princeton, N.J.: Re 60, we're not talking likely; we're talking possible. What about McConnell and Inhofe? Maybe not likely, but possible.

Jonathan Weisman: I'd maybe put McConnell in the wild card category, but Obama at the top of the ticket actually helps McConnell in Kentucky, just as it hurts Dole in North Carolina. And Inhofe? No way. That's Oklahoma. I'd put Cornyn on the list before Inhofe.

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Fairfax, Va.: Jonathan, I heard a Republican lawmaker on PBS say: "The Democrats say they support the troops, and then in the next breath, say they want the war to be over. They want to have their cake and eat it too." Does wanting the war to be over stand as some kind of kick at the troops? The troops want the war to be over. I wish I had gotten his name.

Jonathan Weisman: Fairfax, I'd ask the troops.

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Helena, Mont.: Now that Solomon's left The Post I don't know who the "money" guy is, but what do you think of Obama and Dean getting together on 50-state strategy? If Obama starts campaigning in all 50 states, doesn't that stretch McCain farther than he'd want to be stretched? It may also mean that we'd be able to judge Obama's coattails on down-ballot races.

Jonathan Weisman: Our new money guy is Matt Mosk, who's been doing a bang up job. That is the idea. The 50-state strategy has really left the Democratic National Committee with no money, but it has created a much bigger, better organization. With Obama's money, it just might work.

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Prescott, Ariz.: Wow, that stunt where the House Republicans voted "present" yesterday really backfired huh? Those special election smack-downs must have finally set off the alarms. Hey, weren't Republicans whining about Obama voting "present" in the Illinois Senate? I guess that talking point is off the table. Where do they go now? Is it really every (wo)man for themselves (and does this mean something just may get through Congress)?

Jonathan Weisman: Man, lots more questions in the queue, but this has to be the last. As I said, I'm not sure that worked out so well for them, but they felt they had to do something. They were being played for stooges. We shall see.

Take care everybody!

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washingtonpost.com: Upcoming Discussion: Post's Copeland on 'Poor Hillary' (washingtonpost.com, 1 p.m. today)

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