William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:28 P.M. ET:

SARAH OUT – Sarah Palin and Fox News have parted company.  No matter how it's portrayed, it's another sign that Sarah's influence is fading.  Otherwise, Fox would have fought to keep her.  It did not.  I think she made an important contribution, but the fact is that a new generation of conservative leaders is emerging, and she's not part of it.  She's a good woman who was severely damaged by an unprecedented press onslaught soon after her selection for the v.p. slot by John McCain in 2008, and she never recovered.  Part of that was her fault – she never seemed to master the details of issues – but part of it is the obsessive loathing of conservative women in much of the mainstream media.

BRITISH ECONOMY TANKING – Britain's economy contracted more than predicted at the end of 2012, and experts say the nation is perilously close to a triple-dip recession.  The British economy is 3.3% smaller than it was at its historic peak in 2008.  The country is also engaged in a serious national debate over its relationship to Europe and the European Union.  The situation doesn't bode well for Britain's conservative government.  If it is eventually replaced by Labour, we could write off Britain as a reliable country, at least for the immediate future.

AMERICAN AT RISK – When American hostages were held in Iran in 1979, Americans cared.  There were reports on the hostage crisis every day.  That was then, this is now.  Americans today seem to care more about what Beyonce was wearing at the inaugural than they do about the plight of their fellow citizens abroad.  If it were not for Congress, no one would even care about Benghazi, certainly not the press.  Today Pastor Saeed Abedini of Boise, Idaho, is being held in an Iranian prison and may be executed for participating in Christian evangelism in Iran.  His family complains bitterly that the State Department is doing little to secure his release.  Many members of Congress join in the complaints.  There has been no public comment from the president or the secretary of state.

MORE BUZZ ON HILLARY – Much talk today about Hillary Clinton's special glasses, which she wore during her Congressional testimony.  Apparently, they're associated with correction for double vision, a serious condition.  The glasses will increase speculation that the outgoing Cabinet officer has medical problems beyond what we've been told.  And all this speculation, out there in the rough, often brutal world of politics, will affect thinking about the 2016 presidential race which, believe me, is already underway.  Hillary and the president will appear on "60 Minutes" this weekend.  But I suspect that the one person Obama doesn't want succeeding him is Hillary Clinton. 

January 25,  2013