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White House

 

« Obama's Direct Appeal To Iran | Blog Home Page | Three Years Is a Lifetime »

Strategy Memo: Late Night, Early Morning

Good Friday morning.

After a late arrival from the West Coast last night, Obama starts his day a bit later than usual with his daily morning meetings. This afternoon, he'll meet with the National Conference of State Legislatures to discuss the stimulus plan. Later, he'll talk infrastructure with Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ed Rendell, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who are all slated to appear Sunday on "Meet the Press." Obama will later address the National Newspaper Publishers Association, who is awarding him the Newsmaker of the Year award.

The White House had said Obama will head to Camp David this weekend, though it was not on the public schedule for today. If he follows through on that plan, it means snubbing the Gridiron Dinner, which is held this weekend. VP Biden is filling in at the annual affair.

Another Friday, another quiet day on Capitol Hill. Neither the House or Senate are in session today.

**President Obama
*Timothy Geithner sat down with CNN to try and address questions about his handling of the AIG matter. Geithner, on calls for him to resign: "If this was not challenging, it wouldn't be consequential. And I feel this deep sense of personal responsibility and obligation and, really, opportunity to work with this president, this Congress, to try to make this economy stronger, to make sure our financial system never goes through this again. People are going to disagree with some of the choices we make, but we have to act."

*New York Times, on the bonuses: "Interviews with senior Federal Reserve and Treasury officials, as well as members of Congress, leave little doubt that the bonus program was a disaster hiding in plain sight. Mr. Geithner is not the only one who appears not to have understood the populist fury the bonuses would set off."

*Chris Cillizza: "The weekend will be telling as to how the administration -- and the Republican opposition -- plan to move forward on Geithner. Who does the White House put out on shows like 'Meet the Press,' 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos,' 'Face the Nation' and 'State of the Union' to make the case for the administration's economic plan and, by proxy, Geithner? And, do more prominent Republicans jump on the "resign" bandwagon or hold their fire?"

*Politico's VandeHei and Allen on Obama's communication struggles: "The discipline and strategic focus of the campaign have yet to move into the White House. The story of the day often catches the president flat-footed or on the defensive -- and regularly undercut by fellow Democrats. To Obama's dismay, he is learning that successful presidential communications is only in part -- often a fairly small part -- about personal eloquence. It requires harnessing his words to a consistent strategy of public education."

*NY Times says that Obama "held his own" on the "Tonight Show." "For Mr. Obama, the appearance on 'The Tonight Show' is something of a gamble. The president himself acknowledged earlier Thursday at a town-hall-style meeting in Los Angeles that he was getting some flack from critics who said he should be spending his time fixing the economy and not going on late-night television. ... Obama walked a tightrope between projecting good humor and projecting a presidential air."

*AP has more on the Iran video we noted late last night. "The video also was as much an attempt to reach out directly to the Iranian people as it was a gesture toward the country's leadership. While Obama has advocated direct diplomacy with Tehran, he also has said there are multiple elements within Iran with whom the United States could have a dialogue."

*The Hill says that Obama is taking the lead from Reagan on the budget. "Like the Gipper, Obama is using arcane budget rules to push for massive, transformational changes in American life. ... Like Reagan, Obama has pressed for an ambitious budget that seeks seminal shifts in spending, the tax code and the size of deficits. What's more, he's doing this while trying to pull the country out of the worst recession since the one Reagan faced."

*The big news, though, is that Michelle Obama is planting a garden.

**Congress
*The House passed a bill taxing bonuses paid by AIG and similarly bailed-out companies at a 90 percent rate.

*The two top-ranking Republicans -- Leader John Boehner and Whip Eric Cantor -- voted oppositely. "Cantor voted for it, telling POLITICO: 'You take money from the government, this is what happens.' In all, 85 Republicans voted for the bill, including Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt -- Cantor's predecessor as whip -- and Florida Rep. Adam Putnam -- the Republicans" former No. 3 man in the House."

*The Blame Game: "Democrats, rocked by public outrage over bonuses, on Thursday began blaming each other over who was responsible for the mess. The House blamed the Senate; the Senate blamed the Obama administration. President Obama, on travel in California, was relatively quiet on the issue. But Republicans blamed everyone," The Hill reports.

*More Blame Game: "Isn't it unseemly of Republicans to blame this mess on the Obama administration?" Carl Cannon asks. "Isn't it also untoward for Democrats on Capitol Hill to turn on their own president -- and his Treasury Secretary -- so quickly?"

*Sen. Sam Brownback said he's going to do "everything I can" to hold up Chris Hill's nomination as Iraq ambassador, the Wash Times reports.

**Campaign Stuff
*Mitt Romney said on Larry King that Obama "is a president who is learning on the fly. He's never turned anything around before. He hasn't had the experience of leading a nation or a business or a state in trouble. And the first rule I can tell him is focus, focus, focus." Romney also criticized the AIG tax, "You don't have a government take punitive action against a small group of people. Frankly, it's unconstitutional, in my view."

*NY-20: Politico's Kraushaar reports on the ad wars in the special election race between Republican Jim Tedisco and Democrat Scott Murphy.

*CT Sen: Rough story in the NYT for Chris Dodd (D). "Across Connecticut, anger is erupting against Mr. Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, whose stature in Washington once reflected the state's beneficial ties with the financial industry. Now, he finds himself a symbol of the political establishment's coziness with tainted corporations and a target of populist wrath over their excesses."

**Sports Alert: Congrats to VCU on a great season and tough 1-point loss to UCLA last night. And congrats to Eric Maynor for a great career -- Kyle was there for Maynor's first game.

--Kyle Trygstad and Mike Memoli