The GOP, the Daschle Tax Failure, and the Widening Partisan Divide

China's PM not threatened by a shoe, Michael Phelps did inhale, and porn on the Super Bowl in Tucson.

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Our daily look at stories and topics that are lighting up the Internets:

The GOP

With the RNC electing a new chairman on Friday, lots of talk in the blogosphere today about the change in the future of the Grand Ol' Party. The RNC chairman, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, is an African-American who many within the GOP are hoping will rebrand the face of the party. "At this point it's fair to say that while Mr. Steele may look the part, he's playing old, outdated tapes," writes our very own Bonnie Erbe. "And a much more futuristic view is needed if Republicans hope to reclaim the mantle of majority party." Writing on an incident that occurred during Steele's race for a Maryland Senate seat, Ira Forman thinks the GOP should have done better, asserting that Steele is "no profile in courage" and lacks the moral compass we expect (or should expect) from our political leaders. Andrew Sullivan, meanwhile, sees the selection of Steele as a "suicidal spiral" within the GOP, referring to the grand old hopes currently being directed toward Sarah Palin. Newt Gingrich, it appears, is among the many hoping for a successful bid by Palin for the presidency in 2012.

The Widening Partisan Divide

Two subjects dominated talk about the increasing ideological split on Capitol Hill: taxes and the stimulus. First up, taxes—specifically, the latest failure of an Obama cabinet pick to correctly pay income taxes. Our very own John Farrell writes on the subject, arguing that the money the IRS could reclaim from elites on Capitol Hill, in Hollywood, and on Wall Street—if the IRS audited those at the top like it's audited Obama's cabinet appointees—could be funneled into the stimulus. His recommendation: "Freedom Audits" of the rich and famous, because it's either that or "the next best option, a guillotine in Farragut Square." Conservative blogger Josh Painter takes the tax failures of Tom Daschle and Tim Geithner as an opportunity to list other "unpatriotic" Democrats who have slipped up on their taxes. Transitioning nicely to talk of the stimulus, he concludes: "These Democrats have a patriotism deficit. That dovetails nicely with the federal deficit, which President Obama's nearly trillion dollar, pork-laden stimulus bill would drive up." Moving on to how the stimulus has exaggerated the partisan divide, one liberal blogger argues that none of the Democrats' post-partisanship efforts matter, so long as the damn stimulus gets passed: "When it comes to the economic stimulus, President Obama has been more about post partisan unity than actual solutions. That has to change. NOW." Many conservative bloggers echoed this Bloomberg piece, asserting that any tax cuts in the stimulus package dwindle in comparison to the big tax hike conservatives foresee. David Freddoso breaks down the future of the stimulus from the eyes of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as it moves to the Senate. Peter Feaver sees partisan reactions to the stimulus as signs of danger in Obama's future: "If Obama-Reid-Pelosi continue on the path they are going, they will find themselves out on a limb ... they may find that partisan outcomes in DC lead to fragile public support for fraught policies."

The World Beyond

Bloggers talked about international news in bits and pieces today, with most of the chatter dominated as it has been by news in the Middle East. Here's an assortment of the views bloggers are giving of the world beyond our borders. First up: another day, another shoe thrown. This time the target of the thrown shoe was Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. Let's just say, based on his shoe-aiming, today's thrower is no Iraqi journalist. Looking at the broader picture, Stephen Walt sees an ever-more-complicated world facing Obama, with many crises looming on the horizon, and ponders Obama's overall grand strategy. "Grand strategy," he writes, "is about identifying the critical forces that are shaping the current international environment, and then deciding how our resources can be used to make the United States more secure and more prosperous." Who's Obama tapped to be in charge of this, he wonders, and who in the international community are we going to rely on to help out? The AFP report that Obama has already begun discreet high-level talks with Iran and Syria, while generals are attempting to reverse Obama's 16-month pledge to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq. This blogger can't help but chuckle at the latest news about Libyan Muammar Qadhafi: "After decades of proclaiming himself leader of the African continent, he was elected year-long Chairman of the African Union today in Addis Ababa." Others turned their focus to the Western Hemisphere, arguing that it's time to kill the Monroe Doctrine. The U.S. has done a lot of harm to its image in Latin America and the region itself, they argue, and "only the funeral of this 19th-century canon will enable the United States to birth a healthy policy."