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Political Notebook

For class photo this year, it’s ‘smart casual’

APEC leaders wore mostly dark-colored business suits or blazers as they posed for the photo at the summit yesterday in Japan. APEC leaders wore mostly dark-colored business suits or blazers as they posed for the photo at the summit yesterday in Japan. (Charles Dharapak/Associated Press)
November 14, 2010

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YOKOHAMA, Japan — For a summit that’s all adjective and no noun (formally, it’s the “Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’’ meeting, or APEC for short), the most colorful part of an often dry weekend of trade talk is always the class photo. By tradition, leaders have donned colorful local garb to pose with each other.

But not this year.

The Japanese hosts ruled that the dress code for the photo is “smart casual.’’ No reason was given, but the no-nonsense Japanese may have thought a no-frills pic makes more sense for a post-financial-crisis meeting.

The net result? The leaders wore mostly dark-colored business suits or blazers with an APEC pin and an open-necked shirt, except for Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia. She wore dark slacks and a dark jacket with large, white polka dots.

The so-called “silly shirt’’ tradition was started by Bill Clinton, who gave his guests bomber jackets at the first APEC summit on Blake Island off Washington state. That was in 1993, and in the years since, leaders have posed in everything from Indonesian batik shirts to embroidered Chinese silk jackets.

If Japan’s decision sticks, no one will be more disappointed than Obama. He’s hosting next year’s summit in Hawaii and had bragged about having leaders show up “decked out in flowered shirts and grass skirts.’’

— Associated Press

Obama suggests limiting earmarks, GOP wants ban
WASHINGTON — Confronting the nation’s mounting deficit, President Obama is urging Congress to limit spending on pet home-state projects, while Republicans are challenging him to support an outright ban.

In his weekly radio and online address yesterday, Obama said that with the economy still struggling to recover from the recession, the United States cannot afford unnecessary spending on so-called earmarks, items lawmakers slip into spending bills without a full examination or debate.

“When it comes to signaling our commitment to fiscal responsibility, addressing them would have an important impact,’’ Obama said from Asia, where he was wrapping up a 10-day trip.

Obama stopped short of calling for a full ban on earmarks, saying some of them “support worthy projects in our local communities.’’ While he said steps must be taken to limit wasteful spending, he offered no specific proposals for how to do so.

The top Republicans in the House, John Boehner of Ohio and Eric Cantor of Virginia, issued a joint statement welcoming Obama’s remarks on earmark reform. But they also raised the stakes, challenging Obama to immediately agree to veto any spending bills that include earmarks.

“Washington has failed to prioritize the way that taxpayer dollars are spent, and shutting down the earmark process is a good first step to begin righting the ship,’’ Boehner and Cantor said in the statement.

Boehner and Cantor said House Republicans, including all newly elected lawmakers, will vote next week on a measure that would ban earmarks when the new session of Congress starts in January.

In the Republicans’ weekly address, Representative Greg Walden of Oregon outlined the GOP’s top priorities: creating jobs, cutting spending, and reforming Congress.

— Associated Press

Emanuel formally enters race for Chicago mayor
CHICAGO — Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff to President Obama, formally announced his plans yesterday to replace Chicago’s mayor, Richard M. Daley, amid a narrowing field of candidates.

“Only the opportunity to help President Obama as his chief of staff could have pried me away from Chicago,’’ Emanuel, a former representative from Illinois, said during an appearance in a public school gymnasium. “And only the opportunity to lead this city could have pried me away from the president’s side.’’

Emanuel announced his candidacy for the Feb. 22 election a day before US Representative Danny Davis and Illinois state Senator James Meeks, minister of one of Chicago’s largest churches, are scheduled to say they will also run.

Others who have already announced or have said they will do so soon include City Clerk Miguel del Valle, former Chicago school board president Gery Chico, and former US Senator and New Zealand Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun.

— Bloomberg News

House Democratic leaders offer way to end infighting
WASHINGTON — Top House Democrats have settled on an arrangement to avoid a divisive fight for the No. 2 position in the party when it reverts to the minority.

In a statement released late Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would nominate Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina to be the No. 3 Democrat when the party holds an internal election Wednesday. Rank-and-file Democrats will vote on the proposal.

As the new minority party, Democrats would typically lose one of the three top leadership posts when they yield the speaker’s chair in January. Since Pelosi decided to run for Democratic leader despite the loss of more than 60 seats in the midterm elections, Clyburn was competing with Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat and majority leader, for minority whip, the slot beneath Pelosi.

Pelosi’s statement did not define the new No. 3 job — either by title or responsibilities — but made it clear that it would rate above the caucus chairmanship, which typically would be the No. 3 position for the party in the minority. A Clyburn ally said yesterday that the “solution would maintain the diversity of the caucus as well as the wishes of a majority of the caucus that he remain in the No. 3 leadership post.’’

— New York Times