* Good read from Paul Waldman: You can tell Obama is giving a major boost to liberalism by watching the embrace of progressivism underway among the Dems who would succeed him in 2016. I’d only add they are vying for the new majority coalition Obama is speaking to in his second term.

* Mitch McConnell derided Obama’s public push today to avert the sequester as a “campaign event.” As David Firestone notes, apparently Republicans think the emergency responders who attended the event (the sort who would lose their jobs) are little more than campaign props.

* Also in the above link, John Boehner responded to Obama’s sequester event this way: “To keep these first responders on the job, what other spending is the president willing to cut?

Hmm. If Boehner wants to avert the sequester only with spending cuts, maybe he should … #NameTheCuts

* As Jonathan Bernstein notes, the politics of the sequester are going to get a lot trickier once national parks start eliminating their hours, as the history of the GOP drubbing in the 1990s government shutdown fight reminds us.

* Jonathan Capehart digs deep into new polling showing that the culture is really shifting on gay marriage, even on the question of whether it should be a Constitutional right. Let’s see that Prop 8 brief!

* Good question from Michael Hirsh: Why aren’t more commentators defending Chuck Hagel for being, you know, right about Iraq and defense spending?

What has gone largely unnoted by the punditocracy is that, over the past decade or so, the former Republican senator from Nebraska has distinguished himself with subtle, well-thought-out, and accurate analyses of some of America’s greatest strategic challenges of the 21st century — especially the response to 9/11 — while many of his harshest critics got these issues quite wrong.

Perhaps trying to figure out who got it right on the substance of these issues would somehow not constitute being objective, or something.

* Uh oh: Mitch McConnell may soon be facing a well funded Tea Party challenger. That should do wonders for the possibility of an end to the scorched-earth GOP opposition to everything Obama does, shouldn’t it?

* Matthew Cooper on today’s White House press corps “access” contretemps: The real issue is not limited access to presidential golf games; it’s the prosecution of whistleblowers, making investigative reporters the real victims here.

* As Timothy Noah points out, the Simpson Bowles plan can’t even lay claim to being realistic about deficit reduction; it prioritizes lowering tax rates, too, because…well, just because.

* Also: Derek Thompson has some nice charts illustrating that Simpson-Bowles basically represents the death of the idea that the deficit should be tackled with roughly equivalent concessions by both sides.

* And like Steve Benen, I’m mystified by the idea, floated by GOP-aligned pundits, that it’s somehow unaccommodating of Obama not to uncritically accede to the entirely un-accommodating demand that Republicans be given everything they want.

What else?