Democrats say they never saw it coming, but the breakdown of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul was abetted by their own mistakes.
It wasn't just a political fluke brought on by the surprise election of a Republican senator in true-blue Massachusetts.
Looking back, Obama and his congressional allies failed to appreciate the depth of frustration with Washington — people's desire for health care legislation that would respond to their anxieties, not the clamor of interest groups.
Former President Bill Clinton was criticized for dictating to lawmakers when his health care plan imploded in the 1990s. But Obama may have swung too far in the opposite direction, giving free rein to Capitol Hill's culture of insider dealmaking.
Bush administration lawyers who drafted legal theories that led to waterboarding and other harsh treatment of terrorism suspects showed poor judgment but won't face sanctions for professional misconduct, according to a published report.
A forthcoming government ethics report initially concluded the two key authors of the so-called torture memos, Jay Bybee and John Yoo, who were officials in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration, had violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted the memos that allowed the use of harsh interrogation tactics.
But a senior Justice Department official, David Margolis, later softened the department's finding to say the authors simply showed poor judgment, Newsweek reported.
The White House looked likely to reverse course on plans to bring the alleged plotters of the September 11 attacks to trial at a Manhattan courthouse, amid mounting and bipartisan opposition.
The Obama administration "was considering other options," an administration official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"Conversations have occurred within the administration to discuss contingency options should the possibility of a trial in lower Manhattan be foreclosed upon by Congress or locally."
The plan, controversial since its announcement, united a range of critics who opposed bringing high-profile alleged terrorists to a court steps from Ground Zero, citing emotional distress, security risks and the projected price tag.
The Obama administration's handling of a Nigerian student who allegedly attempted to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day exposed its "blind spot" when it comes to the war on terrorism, a Republican lawmaker said Saturday.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins kept up the GOP drumbeat of criticism following a report by The Associated Press a week ago that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was questioned for 50 minutes without being given a Miranda warning and that when he was later advised of his rights, refused to speak further with investigators. He was treated as a criminal defendant, not as an "enemy combatant," she said.
The ex-mistress of two-time presidential candidate John Edwards wants a "very private and personal" videotape back from a campaign aide who wrote a book about the politician, according to court documents.
Rielle Hunter was granted a temporary restraining order against former Edwards loyalist Andrew Young in a North Carolina court. It seeks the return of photos and videos, including one she says she made in 2006 while working for Edwards.
"In or about September 2006, using my video camera, I authored a personal video recording that depicted matters of a very private and personal nature," Hunter wrote in an affidavit filed Thursday. "In 2006, I was also having an intimate relationship with Edwards."
"The decision was made that the Video be destroyed" in December 2006, Hunter wrote. She said she pulled out the tape from the cassette and stored it in a box with personal belongings.
In his book, Young describes viewing a sex tape that showed Edwards and a woman he assumed was Hunter. Young says some videotapes were inside a "box of trash" that Hunter left behind at a home he rented for her. He says that the tape had been pulled out of its cassette casing, but that he was able to fix it.
President Barack Obama on Friday engaged in a rare face-to-face showdown with Republican critics and testily accused them of trying to block his policies while urging them to "join with me" in creating jobs.
The contentious 82-minute session showed the depth of the political divide that separates Democrats who control the U.S. Congress and Republicans who feel their ideas on the economy and healthcare are ignored.
That Obama agreed to not only address his opponents but take their questions live on cable television was a sign of how he is trying to dig out of his deepest political rut since taking office a year ago.
President Barack Obama's health care appeal failed to break the congressional gridlock Thursday, dimming hopes for millions of uninsured Americans. Democrats stared down a political nightmare — getting clobbered for voting last year for ambitious, politically risky bills, yet having nothing to show for it in November.
The grim reality opened a divide between the rank and file and congressional leaders, who insisted health care would get done, even though last week's special election in Massachusetts denied Democrats the 60-vote majority they need to deliver in the Senate. Many Democrats saw a problem with no clear solution.
"It's very possible that health care is just a stalemate and you can't solve it this year," said Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.
President Barack Obama told Americans the bipartisan deficit commission he will appoint won't just be "one of those Washington gimmicks." Left unspoken in that assurance was the fact that the commission won't have any teeth.
Obama confronted some tough realities in his State of the Union speech Wednesday night, chief among them that Americans are continuing to lose their health insurance as Congress struggles to pass an overhaul.
Yet some of his ideas for moving ahead skirted the complex political circumstances standing in his way.
A look at some of Obama's claims and how they compare with the facts:
President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he would seek the repeal of the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that permits gays to serve in uniform as long as they hide their sexual orientation.
Obama, smarting from a political setback in Massachusetts that saw Democrats lose a Senate seat, sought to make good on a campaign promise that gay rights activists wanted in his first year in office.
In his first State of the Union speech and in the midst of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama called for ending the Pentagon policy that began in the early 1990s.
"This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are," he said.
The Republican Party is seeking input and money from GOP voters — seemingly under the guise of the U.S. Census Bureau.
"Strengthening our Party for the 2010 elections is going to take a massive grass-roots effort all across America. That is why I have authorized a Census to be conducted of every Congressional District in the country," GOP Chairman Michael Steele says in a letter mailed nationwide.
The letter was sent in plain white envelopes marked "Do Not Destroy, Official Document." Labeled "2010 Congressional District Census," the letter uses a capital "C," the same as the Census Bureau. It also includes a "Census Tracking Code."