That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.


Hillary Clinton got an early birthday celebration with a celebrity filled fund-raiser at the Brentwood home of Rob and Michele Reiner on Sunday night, with Rob Reiner singing a rendition of “Happy Birthday, Mrs. President!” Her visit was the capper to a whirlwind weekend of fund-raising in Southern California. Barack Obama and John Edwards also raised money, drawing enthusiastic crowds and dismissing notions that Clinton is the inevitable nominee. They also did their best to distinguish themselves from Clinton. Here’s my roundup. Obama, by the way, attended a Malibu fund-raiser just hours before fires started to rage and sealed off much of the city to traffic.

In Defense of Imus: Former Sen. Bob Kerrey welcomes the news that Don Imus will return to the airwaves. He writes in the new York Daily News, “Rather than being a Republican ideologue like Rush Limbaugh or a left-wing ideologue like most of the Air America hosts, he is independent-minded and very well-informed. That knowledge makes him a formidable force in the complicated process of voter decision-making.In short, Imus adds a lot to the American political debate. He made a nontrivial, nonfatal mistake — one for which he apologized. He and his listenership should not be indefinitely ostracized as a result.”

He adds, “But there’s another reason national politicians would be making a mistake if they boycott Imus. If they keep away from the show all the way through next year, it could do real political damage, if not in votes lost, at least in courage points.

Democratic candidates already made a similar mistake when, goaded by groups like MoveOn.org to dissociate themselves from Fox News, they pulled the plug on a party debate to be aired on the network in September. They had a chance to reach millions of people — but they blinked, and they blew it.”

“Lions” Like a Lamb: Tom Cruise stopped short of any kind of strident political rhetoric at a screening of “Lions for Lambs” on Thursday, reports Variety’s Dade Hayes. The upcoming movie, directed by Robert Redford and starring Cruise, Redford and Meryl Streep, is aimed at the government’s policies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Writes Hayes, “Cruise didn’t exactly morph into Tim Robbins, preferring to stay largely above the fray and offering measured comments that the film was trying to “open up serious questions for the audience” and that the script was “timely.” It was clear that he hadn’t decided exactly what positions to stake out and was using the event as a rehearsal for his views, which will certainly face scrutiny in the next two weeks.”

In Case You Missed: Bill Maher confronts a protester who interrupted the live telecast of his Friday night “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

Campaign Stop: Stephen Colbert made the requisite campaign stop on “Meet the Press,” telling Tim Russert that his administration would be “Nixonian.”