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Tuesday Morning Political Mix

Yes, we know this is the Capitol Hill Peace Monument. But it seems a handy symbol for the partisan spending showdown in Washington.
J. Scott Applewhite

A brief and abstract chronicle of some of Tuesday's more interesting political stories, the kinds of stories that might get people who like politics talking around a water cooler, if people still did that sort of thing.

Conventional wisdom in Washington is that the Republican brand stands to take a politically painful hit with voters if there's a government shutdown since that's what happened in the 1990s. Some conservative Republicans beg to differ, writes Alexandra Jaffe in The Hill. Are these people whistling past the graveyard? Maybe.

Three House Republican leaders of the past told National Journal's Jill Lawrence that the House's current leaders have it far tougher than they did, though they gave varying reasons why. Former Speaker Dennis Hastert isn't as sanguine as the aforementioned conservatives interviewed by The Hill. If House Republicans achieve little that resembles governing, "we're going to lose our majority," he says. He should know; it happened to him in 2006.

In a New York magazine profile of Hillary Clinton by writer Joe Hagan, the former secretary of state comes off as working hard to portray herself as temporarily above the partisan fray as the jockeying for 2016 roils around her. The image the piece brings to mind is of a political swan, all grace above the water's surface but paddling furiously beneath it.

If Democrat Terry McAuliffe goes on to win the Virginia race for governor, it will be largely on the votes of women who according to a new poll now prefer him by 24 percentage points over Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the state's current lieutenant governor. (A poll in May found them tied for women.) Cuccinelli's conservative abortion views and the McAuliffe campaign's efforts to paint Cuccinelli as a three-star general in the so-called Republican war on women have apparently taken a heavy toll on the Republican.

With Obamacare set to start enrolling individuals next week, Politico's Jennifer Haberkorn and Carrie Budoff Brown remind us that the program falls significantly short of its creators' hopes when President Obama signed it into law in 2010. Large employers were given a year's delay before they must provide insurance, and dozens of states have refused to set up exchanges, for instance.

Former President George W. Bush defends President Obama from critics who accuse the present Oval Office occupant of spending too much time golfing. "I know the pressures of the job. To be able to get outside and play golf with some of your pals is important for the president. It does give you an outlet," the former president told a Golf Channel interviewer. Now, watch this drive.

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Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.
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