Morning Examiner: A pyromaniac in a field of straw men 

ampaigner in Chief: Candidate Barack Obama was supposed to give his first campaign speech today in Chicago at this re-election headquarters. Instead, President Obama gave the speech a day early in what was supposed to be a serious address to the nation on our national debt. The Atlantic‘s Clive Crook was unimpressed: “There was no sign of anything worth calling a plan to curb borrowing faster than in the budget. He offered no more than a list of headings under which $4 trillion of deficit reduction (including the $2 trillion already in his budget) might be found–domestic non-security spending, defense, health costs, and tax reform.” ABC News‘ Jake Tapper also noted that Obama embraced exactly the type of irresponsible rhetoric he said was part of the problem. Paul Ryan was also unimpressed, releasing the following statement: “When the President reached out to ask us to attend his speech, we were expecting an olive branch. Instead, his speech was excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate to address our fiscal crisis.” Ryan later quipped to Mark Levin: “He’s basically a pyromaniac in a field of straw men.”

Throwing the troops under the bus: For a President that just committed the country to a third war, Obama sure didn’t extend the requisite effort to keep our military looped in on his planned cuts to defense. Defense Secretary Robert Gates did not learn of Obama’s call for an additional $400 billion in security cuts until Tuesday. Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said of the cuts: “The secretary has been clear that further significant defense cuts cannot be accomplished without reducing force structure and military capability.” Asked by the AP if Gates was angered over the deficit-reduction proposal, Morrell said he would not characterize the defense secretary’s personal reaction — only his “professional” reaction to the plan.

The budget rebellion and Boehner: Another day, another devastating report on the deal House leadership cut with Obama on the 2011 budget. This time it is the CBO who is reporting that the deal only cuts $353 million, not $38 billion, in this years fiscal deficit. Conservative opposition to the deal is growing stronger but it still appears Boehner will have the votes to pass the bill today. While some Democratic leaders have said they will not vote for the measure, vote counters still expect  the Democratic caucus to produce about 70 votes for the deal. Boehner may need all 70. And according to The Hill‘s whip count, things may be even dicier in the Senate. With a majority of the American people backing the compromise, it is likely the spending bill will pass, but as National Review says in their editorial coming out against the deal, what this really amounts to is “strike one against the speakership of John Boehner.

2012 round up: Tim Pawlenty is leading the 2012 field in opposition to the budget deal: “The more we learn about the budget deal the worse it looks.” … Rick Santorum announced Wednesday he is forming a presidential exploratory committee. … According to Gallup, Americans trust “the governor in your state” on economic policy, followed in second by business leaders. Obama came in third.

Righty Playbook:

  • RedState‘s Erick Erickson’s take on Wednesday’s debt speech: Barack Obama Fully Embraces Death Panels.
  • has three recommendations for transportation policy: (1) increase capacity, (2) support market oriented thinking and (3) employ comprehensive pricing.
  • Volokh Conspiracy‘s Jonathan Adler notes that the official TSA response to that video of a 6 year-old being patted down claims that the security officer “followed the current standard operating procedures.”
  • The Heritage Foundation‘s Anthony Kim explains why the Democratic blockade of free trade is not over.

Lefty Playbook:

  • Paul Krugman tells liberals not to worry about the spending cuts Obama claimed to make in his speech Wednesday because they are mostly fake anyway.
  • The Senate’s show trial of Goldman Sachs is the lead story at The Huffington Post.
  • Think Progress hits Lindsey Graham for holding up all nominations until he gets a $50,000 pork project.
  • Chris Bowers explains the People’s Budget to Daily Kos readers.

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