Post Politics Hour: GM, Gay Marriage, The Obamas' NYC Date, More

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Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer and Federal Eye Blogger
Tuesday, June 2, 2009; 11:00 AM

Federal Eye blogger Ed O'Keefe took your questions about who is up and who is down in the world of politics and the latest news out of Washington.

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Tuckahoe, NY : So Dick Cheney is now to the left of Obama on the issue of gay marriage. Is this a sign, and do political insiders believe, that ten years from now this is going to cease to be a national issue, but a minor one limited to a few red states?

Ed O'Keefe: Remember that Cheney has a gay daughter, so the issue is much different and more personal for him than those opposed to same sex marriages or who have similar views. Anecdotally, from personal experience, I can tell you that same sex marriage ceremonies or weddings are a wonderful thing to attend and you should if ever given the opportunity. They will certainly impact your thinking on the issue.

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Alexandria, Va.: Ed: Should we consider the waste of tax payer dollars while we fawn over how cute it was for the President and his wife to celebrate a date night in NYC? I find it totally inappropriate for many reasons, not the least of which is less than 48 hours later he nationalized an auto manufacturer that has and will cost many people their jobs. Apparently the Post doesn't consider it important as I saw nothing in today's paper even though the question was asked of the President's press secretary yesterday. Naturally he refused to provide the cost. Your thoughts?

Ed O'Keefe: The Post's Reliable Source did an item (online) about the president's menu choices while our 44 blog posted an AP report on the trip.

Remember that Obama said in a statement to the media that he had promised his wife "during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished." Hard to argue with that justification, especially when the White House said the first couple could not travel via private transportation to the city.

Remember also that others would quickly remind you of the number of vacation days President Bush spent at his Texas ranch during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and other serious events.

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Tampa, Fla.: Keep in mind that with gay marriage comes gay divorce, gay custody fights, gay property settlement fights, gay attorneys fee fights, and gay versions of all those things that make heterosexual divorce a bitter and vicious adversarial experience.

On the other hand, those who disapprove of gays could wish this on them. Just talk to anyone who's been through it.

Ed O'Keefe: One person's opinion...

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Washington, D.C.: I am deeply disappointed that while the Commander-in-Chief issued a statement expressing his shock at the murder of a man who performed over 60,000 abortions, he did not find the time in his busy schedule to issue a statement expressing his shock at the cold-blooded murder of one of the young soldiers under his command by an anti-government, anti-military domestic terrorist. Disappointed, but not surprised.

Ed O'Keefe: Good point.

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Rockville: I was first aware of the grumps when President Eisenhower was faulted for playing golf. Then Lyndon for driving too fast. Some reporters and people will do anything to fault a person they do not like. But it is not to their credit. If we can afford a government and a President, we should pay what it takes to do it right.

Ed O'Keefe: Good point Rockville.

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Tiller assassination: Why haven't the media begun using the term "assassination" with regard to the Tiller killing? Unlike the military guy killed in Arkansas, Tiller wasn't murdered in a random, drive-by fashion. He was tracked to his place of worship and assassinated.

Are the media wary of using the term "assassination"?

Ed O'Keefe: I've seen several media reports that use the term "assassination."

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Dunn Loring, VA: Why does the Post have numerous articles about the killing of an abortion provider but gives much less coverage to the murder of a US soilder by a Muslim "extremist" in Arkansas?

Ed O'Keefe: The Arkansas incident got mention here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/01/AR2009060103655.html

Not sure why it didn't get more column space.

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Saint Paul, Minn.: I think the McHugh choice is brilliant. Doers it seem like the Obama administration has plucked more Senators, Governors and house members than any other administration or am I just imagining it?

washingtonpost.com: McHugh to Be Army Secretary

Ed O'Keefe: About the same. The real "genius" is that he's a Republican from a district that would have been chopped up in redistricting next year. Now NY lawmakers can divvy up the district between four nearby Democratic districts.

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Assassination?: The definition of assassination suggests the use of the term, especially, for a "politically prominent person." Tiller was probably more politically prominent than the serviceman.

Sometimes we use the term "assassination-style" for a murder that is particularly premeditated and sudden. I think both would qualify on that ground.

Ed O'Keefe: good point.

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Hartford, Conn.: I assume conservative pundits critiquing the Obamas' trip to NYC are aware that Obama has had more threats on his life (and presumably that of his family too) than any other presidential nominee and president in history? I'm sure that he and his wife would love to take Amtrak; unfortunately, given the crazies out there, this can't happen. Also, it doesn't seem like Mayor Bloomberg or NYC in general was unhappy with the Obamas paying a visit.

Ed O'Keefe: All very good points.

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Dunn Loring, Va.: Although The Post has had several stories about Sotomayor quoting her friends and even had a chat with the head of an organization of which she was a board member, when can we expect a story about her involvement with La Raza, which supports the return of the western US to Mexico?

Ed O'Keefe: There'll be plenty of time between now and confirmation.

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To Tampa, who wrote, "with gay marriage comes gay divorce, gay custody fights, gay property settlement fights, gay attorneys fee fights...": As recent independent Texas gubernatorial candidate (and rocker) Kinky Friedman has sagely observed, "I support gay marriage. I believe they have a right to be as miserable as the rest of us."

Ed O'Keefe: Ah yes, a Kinky Friedman reference always guarantees you a chat shoutout.

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Leesburg, Va.: Is anyone taking to task all of the people (like Boehner) who were tripping over themselves at the opportunity to politically grandstand over the release of a report (conducted under GW Bush) about the threat of "Right-Wing Extremists" in light of the murder of Dr.Tiller (among other incidents).

Do Boehner et al. owe Sec. Napolitano an apology now? Has anyone brought this up?

Note: This isn't one of those "fake questions that really trying to make a political point," I'm really wondering if there have been any articles or op-eds or anything about this. Thanks!

Ed O'Keefe: I haven't seen any so far Leesburg, but you're right -- this is the type of person the DHS report was warning about.

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Prescott, Ariz.: The last President spent millions and millions of dollars flying around the county holding rallies (in front of crowds that 50 percent of us didn't qualify for ideologically), to convince us to gamble our Social Security money in the stock market. I think the next guy can fly to New York for the weekend.

Ed O'Keefe: Another worthy opinion...

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Hamilton, NY: Any thoughts on the NY 23rd? (the fightin 23rd!) I live in it and just read that it may be phased out - seems fair to me, since it's jerrymandered beyond belief (I live 4 hrs from the north country). When are we going to be downsized?

Ed O'Keefe: It will be gerrymandered, for sure. You're surrounded by districts represented by Democrats (Massa, Acuri, Murphy and Tonko) and the district already accounts for a quarter of New York State's landmass... it's ripe for redistricting. (No -- I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of congressional district, just NY=based ones, since I'm an Albany native.

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Salinas, Calif.: Hi Ed. Considering Dick Cheney and gay marriage, might this be a related issue regarding Pres. Obama's desire to appoint a Justice to the Supreme Court with "empathy" as part of the package? Conservatives may read empathy as code for bleeding-heart liberalism, liberals (and moderates) may read empathy as an understanding (or compassion in the extreme) for issues that don't affect you personally. What's your take?

Ed O'Keefe: I think the president's definition of "empathy" is more like your second description, yes.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm appalled the Bush U.S. attorneys are still in office. Could we pass a bill forcing them to resign? Liked your video of conventions.

Ed O'Keefe: Thanks! Often in the case of positions including U.S. attorney, the political appointee on the job is asked to stay on a bit longer until replacements are named and confirmed. Just the way it is.

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Ed O'Keefe: Folks that's it for today, thanks for your queries. Don't forget to check out my blog, The Federal Eye, about all the goings-on across the federal bureaucracy. Until next time!

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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