The Night Beat: Clapper to Get a Recess Appointment?

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Good evening.

1. Be aware: the White House has a strategy here for getting climate change legislation passed. It's called "getting to conference." That is, the Senate needs to pass a bill this year. And then the House and Senate will (in theory) put in some sort of carbon pricing mechanism when the two chambers reconcile their bills. It's just much easier to get bills passed without forcing the Senate to try to pass a bill it does not have the votes to pass.

Democrats hope that Obama's speech creates some room for them to run on clean energy platforms and castigate Republicans for siding with big oil against regulation.

Keith Olbermann, reflecting the sentiments of many Twitter followers, volunteered his opinion that the speech seems to have been "committeed to death."

A representative sampling from the 2,000 or so folks I follow:

@josephklewis: "What did I think of President @BarackObama's speech? I think he did a great job informing the concerned American people about the #oilspill."

@Choire: "Is Jon Favreau on vacation? Because that was a wild metaphor pile-up. Zombie Susan Sontag is ANGRY."

@Westwingreport: "@Ben_Ricci correctly points out that Obama's call for renewable energy could have been lifted from the '70s. U.S. has squandered decades"

@patrickruffini: "Libs hated amorphous war on terror metaphors. Now we need to wage war on globs of stuff in the sea. #fb"

Quietly, the Environmental Protection Agency releases its costs estimates for the Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill, which Kerry acknowledged today does not have 60 votes.  The impact on consumers will be "modest." The assessment does not include any reference to the legislation's benefits. ... The Republican mantra might well be encapsulated by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN): "We won't cap the well with cap and trade," he says. ...  Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), the minority leader, says President Obama should not exploit this crisis to impose a job-killing national energy tax on struggling families and small businesses. ... Drudge has a headline falsely claiming that Obama is calling for a carbon tax.

2. A stand-off between Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) may result in the White House's using a recess appointment to put DNI nominee James Clapper in office. Pelosi wants the White House to agree to expand the number of people briefed on highly sensitive intelligence issues; the Senate version of the same intelligence authorization bill does not include the expanded notifications. Feinstein has made it clear to the White House that she will not schedule hearings for Clapper until the intelligence authorization work is finished. Fellow Democrats in the House are frustrated; they don't want Pelosi to deprive members of a good national security vote in an election year. But Pelosi won't budge until the White House budges on notification. And the White House won't budge.

3. Gen. David Petraeus returns to the Hill tomorrow for his Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Afghanistan. After his brief fainting spell, he was given a thorough physical examination by a doctor and received friendly intimations from his superiors that he ought to take the rest of the day off. He did not, and spent the day working, in the Pentagon.  ... Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will be on the Hill tomorrow and Thursday for a budget hearing and then a START follow-up on treaty hearing. Afghanistan will likely creep into both of those discussions, given the wave of negativity and pessimism that has taken hold of the press corps and on the Hill. Gates will acknowledge the tough times but will urge everyone to take a breath and allow the full complement of surge forces (some of which aren't yet in the region) time to work. But Gates understands that the clock is ticking and that measurable progress needs to be shown by the end of the year.

4. Tomorrow, closing arguments begin in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the Proposition 8 trial in California. ... Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle impressed her Republican colleagues in Washington today, says Fox News, but she has a long record of very interesting and provocative statements, many of which are no longer considered to be in the mainstream of the party. ... Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg makes the cover of Sports Illustrated. ... There will be no carve-out for labor in the new campaign finance bill, unlike the carve-out created for the National Rifle Association, per the Hotline. ... Noted: Per Yahoo's John Cook, "NYT's Jim Risen just told me bloggers criticizing his Afghan minerals story are 'jerking off in their pajamas.'"

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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