Morning Must Reads: Brave Face

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White House

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

–Afghan President Hamid Karzai is in Washington today for meetings with President Obama. Our colleague Tony Karon writes it will be a tense debate over when and how to strike a deal with the Taliban. Marc Ambinder describes the optics: “two parents who tolerate each other and cannot divorce, for the sake of the children, will put on a brave face at the White House.”

–Elena Kagan has the obligatory slew of pre-hearing meetings on the Hill today, including sit-downs with Senators Reid, McConnell, Sessions, Leahy and Durbin. Expect smiling photos and impressed-but-wait-and-see statements from Republicans.

–GOPers want a paper trail from her years serving in the Clinton White House.

–John Kerry and Joe Lieberman are expected to formally unveil their climate and energy legislation today, sans Lindsey Graham. Broadstrokes: It would set new emission standards, create some kind of framework to price carbon and return much of that revenue¬† through tax credits to consumers.

–With less than a week to go, two new polls show Arlen Specter neck-and-neck with his primary challenger Joe Sestak. Adam Nagourney writes up the state of the race on A1 of today’s Times:

Mr. Specter has been firmly identified as a Washington politician at a time when such an identification has proved toxic to other incumbents in competitive primaries. And he is viewed with suspicion by Democrats, given his political history. It is difficult enough to be an incumbent these days, but it is particularly tough to be an incumbent without a loyal party base.

–The GOP reportedly plans to select Tampa as the site for the 2012 Republican National Convention. The other two finalists, Phoenix and Salt Lake City, might have threatened to derail the storyline of a presidential nomination if Arizona’s immigration law remains a hot-button issue or if Mitt Romney were to win his party’s nod.

–When in doubt, punt. John McCain’s amendment to wind down government receivership of Fannie and Freddie was defeated yesterday in the Senate, but Chris Dodd’s measure to have the administration submit a plan for ending taxpayer support passed. Republicans still want the mortgage giants addressed in financial reform, but Democrats want to wrap things up quickly and would prefer to tackle the institutions later in a broad housing market bill.

–Bernie Sanders’ once-off Fed audit passed as well, but it’s not necessarily the victory the Ron Paul crowd may have imagined.

–And David Leonhardt writes the hurdles to dealing with debt are political, not logistical. Yup.

What did I miss?