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Barack Obama Politics

An excellent State of the Union

Peter Baker summarized my strongest impression, the most striking moment, from last night succinctly in his lede:

By now, President Obama can hardly be under any illusions about the depth of the partisan divide as he seeks to reboot his presidency. Yet he still seemed surprised on Wednesday night when he could not get Republicans to applaud tax cuts.

My impression was that Obama was bold, confident – even cocky. His tone was more conversational than usual – as he treated Congress more as a partner than an audience. Republicans meanwhile demonstrated that they were emboldened and felt vindicated in their obstinacy by last week’s result in Massachusetts. Extrapolating from last night, they seem content to continue to obstruct as much as they can and to take no responsibility for their actions as they try to pass off all the blame for governance onto Obama and the Democrats. They didn’t applaud when Obama talked about taxing the big banks to make up the difference in TARP. They didn’t applaud when Obama talked about fiscal responsibility. They didn’t applaud when he mentioned the tax cuts he had instituted for 95% of Americans (over their objections.) It still remains an open question though as to how much responsibility the public will place on Republicans for obstruction – and how much credit they will give Obama for “fighting the good fight” as well as reaching out to his opponents.

But last night seemed to strike exactly the right tone to me, and to inaugurate the more political season coming.

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Barack Obama Politics The Opinionsphere

The Caricature of Rahm Emanuel

I thought it was pretty amusing that Zeke Emanuel didn’t seem ready to play along with Ezra Klein’s last farcical questions about his brother, Rahm:

What is your brother Rahm’s favorite food?

Good question. I don’t know, actually.

I’ve heard it’s the still-beating hearts of his enemies.

Oh, my brother is a lovely person. He doesn’t do any of that.

Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that Ezekial is still smarting from the ongoing campaign to paint him as a “Dr. Death” who wants to euthanize those who aren’t productive enough. (This despite the fact that he has been on record as opposing euthanasia since at least a decade ago.)

Of course, this Times piece over the weekend by Peter Baker and Jeff Zeleny profiling Rahm Emanuel has a much lighter take on the most powerful chief of staff in memory:

The caricature of Mr. Emanuel as a profanity-spewing operative has given way to a more nuanced view: as a profanity-spewing operative with a keen understanding of how to employ power…

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Barack Obama Financial Crisis Politics The Opinionsphere

Obama’s Long Game

Peter Baker quotes Robert Gibbs, Obama’s press secretary, in his description of Obama’s take on the state of politics and the stimulus bill:

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, decried what he called a “myopic viewpoint in Washington,” disconnected from the troubles of the country.

“It’s illuminating because it may not necessarily be where cable television is on all of this,” Mr. Gibbs said. “But you know, we’re sort of used to that. We lost on cable television virtually every day last year. So you know, there’s a conventional wisdom to what’s going on in America via Washington and there’s the reality of what’s happening in America.” [my emphasis]

John Dickerson of Slate makes a similar case:

Remember back in the Democratic primary, when the consensus was that Obama was too soft, too deliberative, and too nice to win the election? These current gripes remind me of those days. It takes time to govern.

Overall, this reinforces my post of last week about why I am (still) confident about Obama in which I wrote that:

This seems to have been Obama’s strategy – to allow his campaign to take hits and play defense, sticking to an overall strategy that would gain him a final decisive victory rather than exhausting his staff fighting every daily flair-up.

Obama is once again playing the “long game” on this stimulus fight. I wonder how many times Obama will be able to do this – lose the daily fight while winning the broader point – before the media figures out his game. Clearly some of the more astute observers have.

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Barack Obama The Web and Technology

A Question About “E-Mail to the Chief”

Peter Baker reporting in The New York Times:

To minimize the risk, the government technology gurus have made it impossible to forward e-mail messages from the president or to send him attachments, people informed about the precautions say.

I can see how to set up a system to prevent the sending of attachments. But how do you make an email impossible to forward? Wouldn’t that require protocols existing within all email clients allowing this? I’m not an expert on this – so please educate me if this isn’t the technical issue I think it is.