- Obama military downsizing leaves U.S. too weak to counter global threats, panel finds
- Sen. Tom Coburn vows to slow down budget-busting bills ahead of recess
- Obama fantasizes about more executive power, signs new order on federal contractors
- Clintons call Klein, Halper, Kessler ‘a Hat Trick of despicable actors’: report
- Boehner accuses Obama of ‘legacy of lawlessness’
- Pro-marijuana group claims responsibility for Brooklyn Bridge flag swap
- Young adults shun Obamacare mostly due to cost: survey
- Stabbing attack on transgender girl, 15, was ‘bias motivated,’ police say
- LGBT adults still lean overwhelmingly toward Democratic Party
- Lawmakers rattled by Syria genocide horrors, call on Obama to act
Obama’s Iran disclosure gives him lift
Question of the Day
For months, the image of President Obama as weak had gained currency, as his drive toward health care reform looked increasingly troubled and his attempts to gain concessions from foreign allies and competitors appeared to be going nowhere.
But Mr. Obama’s disclosure Friday that Iran had a secret nuclear facility and that he had known about it since taking office introduced a new way of looking at many of his decisions since January.
“You have to go back and look at the nine months and all the moves he’s made since then, and that he knew Iran was lying to him, and he still went ahead with it,” said Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, a Washington advocacy group devoted to eliminating nuclear weapons from the world.
“He played Iran perfectly, to isolate Iran, unite all the other countries around him, with an open hand to Iran, and then he springs the trap.”
Not only did the president look strong, he looked cunning.
Now, a question for the White House is whether it can capitalize on this moment and direct this sense of momentum toward its domestic agenda, namely health care reform.
The president’s top advisers, after returning to Washington from the Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh, acknowledged that Mr. Obama had cut a compelling figure during a week of maneuvering to hem in Iran’s nuclear program.
“The president played a strong and effective leadership role this week on the world stage, and I think Americans appreciate that,” said David Axelrod, one of the president’s closest advisers.
But he would not say whether he thought there might be a ricochet effect on to health care.
The most recent polling continues to show high degrees of skepticism among the public, while the Senate Finance Committee has struggled to pass a version of reform that many are looking to as the model for a bipartisan bill.
Faiz Shakir, director of research at the Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington think tank, said the president’s good week may help him domestically “if it translates into higher poll numbers.”
“But I’m skeptical,” he said. “The domestic stuff is much more about Congress right now.”
On Capitol Hill, liberal Democrats continued to insist that a government-run “public option” will be part of a final bill, despite the fact that most observers do not think the bill has a chance of passing with such a component. The absence of the public option, however, might imperil support from voting blocs on the left.
That is just one of the conundrums that still face health care reform.
Tony Fratto, a deputy assistant to the president in the George W. Bush administration, said he has “seen nothing that will make it easier for [Mr. Obama] to pass health care or a climate bill.”
“In fact, I’d say he lost a week,” Mr. Fratto said. “While he was talking to U.N.-types and holding a sleepy G-20, Republicans were out talking about health care.”
Of course, all of Mr. Obama’s problems on foreign policy are far from solved. The Iran issue, all by itself, remains an enormous challenge, with one government official describing the current moment as comparable to the first inning of a nine-inning baseball game.
The administration must now wait to see how Iran conducts itself at talks scheduled to begin Oct. 1, and then react accordingly.
Then there is Afghanistan, where the president appears to be considering rejecting a request from his newly installed commander on the ground, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, for more troops.
And though Mr. Obama held talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in New York, bringing the two sides together for the first time in almost a year, his obvious impatience with the two sides at the meeting was evidence of the current state of peace talks.
The Palestinians remain divided between Fatah and Hamas, and the Israelis remain unwilling to agree to a full freeze on the expansion of settlements for a year. However, after The Washington Times reported last week that the Israelis have proposed a freeze on new settlements for six to nine months, Mr. Obama told the Palestinians that this was “enough to get started” with peace talks, which are currently stalled.
The biggest impact of the Iran secret-site announcement may be that in the future, when critics level the boom on the president for a decision they don’t like, they might hesitate for fear that, like the past week, he might have an ace up his sleeve.
About the Author
- GOP sees little outreach in health care debate
- Obama nears decision on Afghan strategy
- Obama: 'No faith justifies' Fort Hood attack
- Democrats torn on Afghanistan, women's rights
- Obama: No religious faith justifies Fort Hood shootings
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Both parties recognize the Democrats' scam
- Inside the Ring: Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Report: 40% of weapons sent to Afghanistan are unaccounted for
- Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- CIA admits improperly hacking Senate computers in search of Bush-era information
- Islamic militants seize Benghazi as U.S. evacuates Libya
- 'Big Bang' star Mayim Bialik helps send bulletproof vests to IDF
- 3 African leaders cancel trip to U.S. over Ebola outbreak; Obama still plans summit
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world