Morning Must Reads -- Brown still truckin' 

Boston Herald -- Brown, Coakley will cross paths at event

Democratic chieftains have stopped scrambling for Senate Candidate Martha Coakley and now seem to be managing expectations: trashing her candidacy on background to reporters and even lamenting the low-energy speech President Obama delivered for Coakley Sunday night.

The state of the race right now seems to be Brown in the lead just outside the margin of error. Democrats assume that members of their party will show up stronger than the polls are showing, but a consistent under-sampling of 5 points seems unlikely. As remarkable as it sounds, Brown seems to have the edge going into the home stretch, something reporters and casual observers on the ground confirm.

As Examiner colleague Susan Ferrechio observed, while there was considerable excitement over the president’s visit to Boston on Coakley’s behalf, the bigger crowd and the energy was out at Mechanics Hall in Worcester with Scott Brown.

Writer Hillary Chabot tells us that Brown and Coakley will have their first meeting since their debate last week, when Coakley’s implosion really started picking up speed, today at a Martin Luther King breakfast. After that, Brown is back in his truck.

“Brown will meet up with Bruins fans today outside the TD Garden, then he’ll head to North Andover and Littleton. He’ll cap off the race at Luciano’s restaurant in his hometown of Wrentham for a final rally before voters head to the polls.

Brown was bolstered by former Gov. Paul Cellucci yesterday as he toured Wachusett Mountain ski area.

‘We need to send a message to Washington that we are not going to have business as usual,’ hollered Brown as he stood on a picnic table surrounded by supporters.”


New York Times -- Hoping It Won’t Be Needed, Democrats Ponder a Backup Plan on Health Care Bill


Democrats have hinted that if Scott Brown pulls off the biggest political upset in recent memory, they will still pass the health care plan currently lingering in fake-conference limbo. Letting the bill die would be a crippling blow to the Obamagenda and would mean that the 11th Congress was for naught.

Now Democrats are coalescing around the idea of passing the Senate plan straight through the House to avoid trouble in the Senate.

Both other options in the event of a Brown win – a rush vote before Brown can be seated and attempting passage of the new plan on a 51-vote parliamentary trick are too risky to use: both could fail and the political costs would be enormous.

While Union members might not like losing their $60 billion health insurance tax exemption and anti-abortion members of the House might not like Sen. Ben Nelson’s compromise on elective-abortion subsidies, and no one likes the sweet deals Nelson and a few others got for their votes or the big paydays for insurance companies and drugmakers, Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be empowered with her caucus by a Brown win, arguing that it would be the shoddy Senate bill or nothing.

Writer David Herszenhorn explains:

“A House Democratic aide said the House view of the Senate bill had not changed. ‘We are working toward a compromise bill,’ the aide said.

The Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, appearing on ‘Fox News Sunday,’ warned that health care would be a political weapon under any circumstances.

‘I think the politics are toxic for the Democrats either way,’ Mr. McConnell said.”


Washington Post -- Security fears mount in lawless post-earthquake Haiti

One advantage that the U.S. had in dealing with the 2007 tsunami was that there was little official international presence in the region. Our troops, relief workers, and political leaders could charge in and provide immediate assistance.

Haiti, meanwhile, is the Times Square of international aid and NGOs, with every neighborhood already a pet project for sub UN sub-agency or French aid agency before the earthquake. With a dysfunctional government and a horrible local infrastructure before the quake, U.S. aid has been kept out by aid-group turf battles and literal turf battles between local street mobs.

Writers Manuel Roig-Franzia, Mary Beth Sheridan, and Michael Ruane explain that Haitians are calling for their old friends, the United States Marines, to come bring order so aid can start flowing. (“a typical sign read: ‘Welcome the U.S. Marine. We need some help. Dead bodies inside.’”) But today, 10,000 American troops will still be floating off shore because no one is in charge of the city of Port-Au-Prince and even getting flights to land at the airport requires diplomatic jostling with the U.N. and others.

“Still, some progress is being made. The U.S. 18th Airborne set up a headquarters at the airport, and the 82nd Airborne was establishing small posts around the city to protect food and water drops. The 82nd Airborne had 500 troops here as of Sunday night, and 750 more were expected Monday.”


Wall Street Journal -- Explosions Rock Kabul

Writers Yaroslov Trofimov, Alan Cullison, and Habib Zahori report on the most brazen attacks on the city of Kabul since the American invasion of 2001.

A team of 20 Taliban fighters and jihadi suicide bombers launched a coordinated attack on the capital city’s Justice building and other symbols of the West – a shopping plaza, movie theater, etc.

The attacks coincided with the swearing-in of embattled president Hamid Karzai’s new cabinet, installed after much bickering with the Afghan parliament.

“Militants seized the Aryana cinema, exchanging gunfire with Afghan and international security for hours as U.S. military helicopters hovered overhead. Other explosions, some carried out by suicide bombers and others by car bombs, were heard near the ministry of defense, the ministry of justice and the central bank – all of them located in a heavily guarded zone of Kabul that's lined with blast barriers and protected by military checkpoints.

An hour and a half after the attacks began, and as the firing began to subside, another blast occurred near the ministry of education, setting the nearby Gul Bahar shopping center on fire. According to witnesses, it was carried out by a car bomb hidden in a military ambulance vehicle.”


Los Angeles Times -- Obama speaks from pulpit, noting progress and difficulty in America

In his Martin Luther King Day sermon at a Washington church Sunday, President Obama sounded like a man who needed a refuge from persecution.

Obama lamented how his efforts to remake Washington had been thwarted by a system that resists change and by special interests.

Writer Mark Silva has details:

“‘Folks ask me sometimes why I look so calm,’ Obama said, his voice rising.

‘I have a confession to make here. There are times where I am not so calm. . . . There are times when the words that are spoken about me hurt. There are times when the barbs sting. . . . During those times it is faith that brings me calm.’”


--My column on political technology in the Massachusetts Senate race is here.

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About The Author

Chris Stirewalt


Washington Examiner Political Editor Chris Stirewalt, who coordinates political coverage for the newspaper and in addition to writing a twice-weekly column and
regular blog posts.

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