Every day we ask influential politicos to send us their top three bullet points that are driving the day's conversation inside and outside Washington.
Good day. A busy one in the Middle East and North Africa, as pro-democracy forces in Yemen and Bahrain rally again, and as opposition forces in Iran see many in the country’s Parliament suggest leaders of anti-regime forces they should be put to death. It is a testing time across the volatile region, and for the Obama administration as well as it tries to calibrate its foreign policy to fast-shifting terrain. Here at home, we are in the early rounds of the annual budget debate. President Obama laid out his case at a White House news conference. No evidence of boldness in the White House approach so far. It is taking tentative and fairly timid first steps, knowing the true tests come later once the House Republicans lay down their budget marker. The president could have shaken up this process by putting an entitlement reform plan on the table, and many are suggesting his failure to do so is an abdication of leadership. You make your own call on that, but it most definitely is this: a political calculation to wade slowly – and not alone – into that thicket. John and Erick spend some of their space on the early budget and spending lines. Mr. Avlon, for example, in his No. 2 offers his thumbs down on the leadership question. Erick’s third is catchy – and a reflection of how the House GOP will cast the Obama spending blueprint. Enjoy your day. – John King
Senior Political Columnist for TheDailyBeast.com John Avlon:
– President's Press Conference – A one-hour long back and forth with reporters showed the president trying to establish further control on the post-budget news cycle – still no sign of the new White House Press Secretary.
– Door Open to Entitlement Reform – Despite the absence of any entitlement reform in his budget, the president seemed to indicate that he was open to entitlement reform, but waiting to work with Republicans on it, rather than proposing it himself. He's taking the long-game approach but it’s also an absence of leadership.
– GOP Civil War Over Social Issues – The surprise CPAC star Mitch Daniels is calling for a 'truce' on social issues, but Mike Huckabee just said abortion trumps all other issues. And we haven't even talked about gays yet...
RedState.Com Editor Erick-Woods Erickson:
– House Republicans should take down the rule House leaders have imposed to govern votes on the continuing resolution.
– Hopefully the Obama administration will be more unified in it's handling of Iran than Egypt.
– Republicans have a good way to describe the White House budget: "debt on arrival."