In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Here's something we haven't seen in a while -- a White House statement praising Roe v. Wade:

Statement of President Obama on the 36th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women's health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman's right to choose.

While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services.

On this anniversary, we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere.

Assuming that Al Franken is finally declared the winner of the Minnesota Senate race after the current litigation, exactly which committees could he end up serving on?

Harry Reid's office last night released the "final" list of Democratic committee assignments. They couldn't have been truly final, though, because there are currently three Dem vacancies: Minnesota, Colorado and New York. And so several committees had some "To Be Announced" slots still open:

• Special Committee on Aging - 3

• Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry - 2

• Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs - 1

• Environment and Public Works - 1

• Foreign Relations - 1

• Health, Education, Labor and Pensions - 1

• Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs - 1

• Indian Affairs - 1

It would appear that all three incoming Senators could end up being put on the Aging Committee. After that there will be eight slots to go around.

Reid's office told TPMDC that no decisions have yet been made on specific committees for either Franken, Senator-designate Michael Bennet from Colorado, or Senator TBD (D-NY).

Franken spokesperson Jess McIntosh told TPMDC that she wasn't there for Franken's conversation with Harry Reid yesterday about committee assignments, and wasn't aware of the specific details. Said McIntosh: "Given his wide range of interests, I'm sure he'll be thrilled with whatever the selection is."

Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, just told reporters that Barack Obama's nominee for deputy defense secretary, Bill Lynn, may need a waiver from the administration's one-day-old executive order curbing lobbyist involvement in government.

Lynn's confirmation vote is on hold, Levin said, "unless and until this is resolved ... until there's a decision on a waiver." As Mother Jones points out, the Obama team certainly knew when they nominated Lynn that he was a longtime lobbyist for a major defense contractor, Raytheon. When you couple that with the following language from the executive order ...

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Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chairman of the Senate environment committee, just confirmed to TPMDC that Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) is the culprit behind the slowdown in confirming to of Barack Obama's senior environmental policy nominees, Lisa Jackson and Nancy Sutley. (The Journal outs Barrasso here.)

"We'll break it," Boxer said of the Republican logjam. "Once we go public with it, it should go away."

But will it go away without satisfying Barrasso's call for a way to ensure Browner can answer to Congress as well as the president who appointed her?

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While we're on the subject of climate change today ... Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) just announced that Al Gore will be testifying before his panel next Wednesday on the need for carbon emissions regulation.

"America must act decisively in order for the nations of the world to reach agreement on a climate change treaty at the December 2009 meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark. The timeline is short for us to respond to the threat of climate change, and this hearing will examine what America must do to lead the world in crafting a truly global solution," Kerry said in a statement on the hearing.

In the race for the RNC chair, it's becoming difficult to figure out which candidate is the most problematic in terms of party outreach to minority voters and adjusting to the political realities or our times.

The Politico reports that South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson has publicly traced his political coming of age to the civil rights movement -- that is, opposition to 1960's busing policies. "Government reached into my life and grabbed me and shook me at the age of 15," Dawson told a University of South Carolina audience in 2003.

The star of this particular show has been Chip Saltsman, who sent out a CD to committee members containing a song called "Barack the Magic Negro." But some more attention is also being paid to Dawson, who has faced scrutiny for his membership in an all-white country club -- which he only resigned shortly before starting his current campaign. And now there's this, too.

Now that Caroline Kennedy is out of the running to be appointed for the senate seat vacated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it's worth asking a few questions. First, is more just eye-rolling: How could the appointment of four vacant senate seats become such a mess. First, there was the Blagojevich scandal to replace President Obama's seat followed by the mini-scandal over whether to seat Roland Burris. In Delaware, the appointment of Joe Biden's long time top aide was an obvious attempt to keep the seat warm for his son, Beau. And in New York, it's become an unholy mess. Only Bill Ritter in Colorado seemed to have come through this thing unscathed with his appointment of Michael Bennet.

My guess is that if Caroline had remained Greta Garbo, she might have gotten the job. Traditionally, Senate appointments were given to clean, respectable types who got the job in part by not showing any political aspiration to keep it and seemed to take the seat only with reluctance and out of duty. Thus you wound up with Nicholas Brady in New Jersey. Had Kennedy not said anything, I think there's a decent chance she could have gotten the seat. Instead, her mini-candidacy became a nectar for swarms of political consultants, Bloomberg allies, and others who wanted a piece of the action. I don't mean to suggest that she's a victim in all of this. She chose this odd path and has now suffered the biggest defeat of a Kennedy since Kathleen Kennedy Townsend lost her bid to be Maryland's governor. She allowed the handlers in and they made a mess of it. Sometimes, silence is golden.

It seems like ancient history now, but there was a time when Democrats were focused on Pentagon procurement, not just the scandal of $600 toilet seats and blunderbuss calls to cut the defense budget but a serious debate about the weapons systems we really need and how to avoid paying too much for them. Sen. Gary Hart was a leading advocate of this new thinking on defense and so was James Fallows whose book, National Defense, was the Bible of the movement.

My starting home in journalism, The Washington Monthly, long ran articles on topics of why the Air Force placed too small a priority on the small, but effective A-10 Warthog aircraft which is great at busting enemy tanks and was in love with vastly overpriced stealth bombers. Can President Barack Obama put an end to a procurement system that's only gotten worse over the years?

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Norm Coleman has signed on as a consultant with the Republican Jewish Coalition, a surprising development from somebody who has insisted he won his election and will be seated when the Minnesota legal battles are over:

RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "We are thrilled and honored to have Norm Coleman join us at the RJC at this critical time. We look forward to having the benefit of his experience and wise counsel to help the RJC plot its future course. We are confident that in a few months Senator Coleman will return to his seat in the Senate, but until that time, we are eager for him to travel across the country on our behalf and to be an important voice within the organization."


During his visit to Capitol Hill yesterday, Coleman continued to project optimism even as he was busy cleaning out his desk. "We have got a good shot at this and so I proceed with that in mind," said Coleman. "But logistically you have to move out of the office."

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