quinta-feira, 30 de abril de 2009

100 dias da Presidência Obama (XXV): a visão dos republicanos e o humor de Jon Stewart

Michael Steele, líder do Comité Nacional do Partido Republicano, destilou, na FOX, os argumentos que o GOP tem vindo a lançar para criticar o Presidente: despesismo, custo para a América do Plano de Recuperação. Steele foi também muito crítico em relação a Arlen Spector, o senador da Pensilvânia que acaba de trocar os republicanos pelos democratas. Jon Stewart, no «Daily News» não perdeu tempo e lançou mais uma tirada de génio...

100 dias da Presidência Obama (XXIV): David Axelrod, o fiel escudeiro

É, há vários anos, o homem sombra de Obama -- aquele em quem Barack confia a 200 por cento. David Axelrod, chefe da equipa de conselheiros do Presidente, falou ao «Countdown» da NBC sobre os 100 dias da nova administração, sobre a conferência de Imprensa de Obama e, claro, sobre os temas mais quentes do momento, com destaque para os «memos» sobre a tortura:

100 dias da Presidência Obama (XXIII): B+ para o Presidente


Uma pesquisa feita pela CNN aos leitores do seu site, enquanto estes viam a cobertura televisiva do centésimo dia da Presidência Obama, deu resultados muito positivos sobre o desempenho desta administração. Numa escala de A+ (perfeito) a F- (desastroso), aqui vão os mais significativos:

BARACK OBAMA: B+

HILLARY CLINTON: B

TIM GEITHNER: C

POLÍTICAS ECONÓMICAS: B

POLÍTICA EXTERNA: C+

100 dias da Presidência Obama (XXII): a conferência de Imprensa, ponto a ponto

Obama deu, esta noite, a sua terceira conferência de Imprensa no «prime time», a fim de traçar um balanço dos primeiros 100 dias.

1. O Presidente falou num «longo caminho» que ainda há a percorrer, mas referiu: «Estou muito satisfeito com o que já fizemos, mas não estou conformado»


2. Sobre a tortura na Administração Bush:


3. No momento mais insólito, pegou na caneta para apontar as ramificações da pergunra do jornalista do NYT: o que o surpreendeu mais nestes 100 dias, o que o tornou humilde, o que o encantou...


4. Sobre a mudança de Arlen Specter:


5. Sobre imigração:


Obama respondeu ainda a perguntas sobre o aborto, o apoio a negros e hispânicos desempregados, sobre o Paquistão e o Iraque, e, claro, sobre a recuperação económica.

100 dias da Presidência Obama (XXI): Barack fala no «início de um tempo novo»



Dirigindo-se a um grupo de americanos no Missouri, Obama falou sobre os 100 dias do seu mandato e apontou: «Vamos todos levantar-nos da crise e começar a afastar a recessão económica»

quarta-feira, 29 de abril de 2009

100 dias da Presidência Obama (XX): os momentos marcantes, em três minutos

100 dias da Presidência Obama (XIX): o discurso inaugural



Lançado pela senadora Dianne Feinstein, Barack Obama dirigiu-se à multidão no Washington Mall e proferiu um dos melhores discursos da sua vida. Faz hoje 100 dias.

100 dias da Presidência Obama (XVIII): 10 decisões para os próximos 100 dias


Que decisões tomará Barack Obama entre os dias 101 e 200 da sua Presidência? O exercício foi feito por Jonathan Martin, no POLITICO.com:

«They might be less dizzying than the first 100, but President Barack Obama’s second 100 days in office could prove just as vital to his legacy.

By Day 200 — Aug. 7 — the president will know if hopeful spring signs presaged an economic recovery, whether he’s on course to pass comprehensive health care and energy legislation, if his initial foray into Middle East peacemaking brings any results, and if he’s succeeded in getting banks and automakers off life support.

The White House is carefully preparing for all these issues, but it got a reminder this week that the best laid plans are often upended by unpredictable events.

The decision by Sen. Arlen Specter to switch from Republican to Democrat could play a pivotal role in at least two big-ticket issues on Capitol Hill — and that’s only the first of what may be other X-factors in the weeks ahead. Here’s a look at 10 key decisions Obama faces in the next 100 days:

1. Will Obama fire another CEO by Monday?

When President Barack Obama fired General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, the task fell to car czar Steven Rattner, who delivered the news to Wagoner in the Treasury building.

So Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit and Bank of America’s Ken Lewis might want to steer clear of Treasury over the next week.

Both men run banks that might need massive infusions of capital when Treasury announces the “stress test” results on Monday. But Obama’s price for government help might just be the head of another CEO.

That could open him up Republican charges that he’s meddling in free enterprise. But politically, a financial firing would go a long way toward helping the Obama push back against complaints he’s been hard on the auto sector and easy on Wall Street. Just don’t expect Obama to deliver the news in person.

2. Will Obama go “nuclear” on health care?
Tuesday morning, before Specter made his stunning announcement and became the 59th Senate Democrat, a senior White House official said Democrats were likely to ram health care through the Senate with only a simple majority — no matter how much Republicans didn’t like it.

By Tuesday evening, another White House official stated the obvious: “Obviously, the equation’s a little different should Franken be seated.”

That is to say, if and when Al Franken is certified as the winner of the Minnesota Senate race sometime in June or July, the Democrats have their 60th Senate vote. That would allow them to break a GOP filibuster on a major healthcare bill — meaning Obama wouldn’t have to resort to the legislative tactic that Republicans claim is the “nuclear” option.

But Obama’s keeping it as an “insurance policy,” one administration official said.

3. “Torture memos” aside, what will Obama do about Gitmo and CIA interrogations?
Obama set off a firestorm recently by releasing legal memos detailing interrogation methods some viewed as torture. But that controversy could pale in comparison to the one he will confront in the coming weeks, as his administration wrestles with the question of what to do with the roughly 240 war-on-terror prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, which Obama pledged to close a year after taking office.

He gave an interagency panel until July 21 to come up with a new framework for detaining prisoners. In practical terms, that means confronting the explosive issue of where war-on-terror detainees will be housed on U.S. soil, a prospect that has already led to protests from various lawmakers.

Obama set the same July 21 deadline for another controversial question — can the CIA go a bit farther than military interrogators in questioning terror suspects? Obama has pledged to bar the return of the most aggressive techniques in the “torture memos,” such as waterboarding.

But in both cases, human rights groups are watching closely for any sign of backsliding by Obama, who must balance the need to detain and question anti-U.S. terrorists with his campaign promises to do it differently than the Bush administration.

4. What to say to Israel about Middle East peace?
Obama has invited Middle Eastern leaders to the White House in the coming weeks. And all eyes will be on his talks with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, to see if Obama takes a harder line toward Israel than the Bush administration did.

Obama is likely to stress that, like Netanyahu, he realizes that dealing with the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is vital to bringing stability to the Middle East — one reason Obama is pursuing engagement with Tehran and preparing further sanctions in case diplomatic outreach doesn’t work.

But Obama will also likely tell Netanyahu: “You’ve got to take some steps yourself, Mr. Prime Minister.”

Specifically, he will likely urge Netanyahu to say something in public to indicate some support for the eventual creation of a separate Palestinian state, a step Netanyahu has been unwilling to take since he took office March 31. Netanyahu may well come to Washington prepared to outline a new approach that will do just that.

5. What to say at Notre Dame?
Obama’s May 17 commencement address at Notre Dame in has riled many in the anti-abortion community, who are protesting the Catholic university’s invitation to a president who supports abortion rights.

Thanks to a troubled economy and his own deft positioning, Obama has largely avoided the culture wars. No avoiding them in South Bend, Ind.

The commencement speech has not yet been written, but Obama aides suggest he’s likely to address the issue head-on in the manner he typically does when faced with a controversial topic. Expect him to stress the need to reduce the number of abortions.

Whether Obama is able to defuse his support for abortion rights, or only angers some in the Catholic community further, could have consequences for his future political prospects with a key constituency.

6. Will Obama let Chrysler and GM go bankrupt?
Obama has adopted a get-tough approach to the ailing automakers — giving Chrysler until this week and General Motors until next month to pull themselves out of their financial woes, or he’ll cut off government assistance and let them fall into bankruptcy.

He could know the fate of Chrysler at any moment — either they cut a deal with Italian automaker Fiat, or Obama shuts off the bailout funds.

For GM, Obama would have to cough up an additional $11.6 billion in loans in exchange for at least half of the ownership of the company.

If he lets GM topple into bankruptcy, he could take some blame turning his back on a 101-year-old company once considered a jewel of American capitalism. If he embraces a rescue package, he could be seen as a little too eager for government to take over major chunks of the free market.

7. What to do about Pakistan?
Pakistan could easily become the first major foreign policy crisis of Obama’s presidency, if Taliban militants gain strength in coming months and further threaten the stability of Pakistan’s government.

For now, Obama will attempt to head off a crisis by urging Pakistan to carry out serious counterinsurgency operations and by beginning new civilian aid programs in Pakistan’s western border areas aimed at reversing Taliban gains.

But more American boots on the ground? Not likely, beyond the couple of dozen Special Forces soldiers Pakistan agreed to let in to help train Pakistani forces. The U.S. could keep up attacks on militants using unmanned drones.

But if the situation in Pakistan deteriorates further, a military coup would become more likely, as the Army has repeatedly seized power in moments of crisis in the country’s history. At that point, Obama might issue a small protest but privately view a military takeover as an unfortunate but unavoidable step for stabilizing the country.

8. Will Obama show labor some love?
It’s the labor movement’s No. 1 priority — legislation to make organizing unions easier, known as the Employee Free Choice Act. But Obama hasn’t much appetite to push the bill often called card check.

Here’s another place where Specter’s switch could change the political odds. Specter had effectively killed the bill by coming out in opposition last month — when he was still trying to curry favor with GOP voters in Pennsylvania.

But Obama may have more leverage now to encourage Specter to support the bill. Still, it’s not clear Obama is willing to spend any political capital on it, especially when he’s got his hands full with tough battles on health care and energy.

9. Can Obama get a win on energy — without driving away moderate Democrats?
The White House is circling its calendar for Memorial Day to get a wide-ranging energy plan through a key House committee. Obama sees the so-called “cap and trade” plan as a win-win — cutting global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and shifting the U.S. toward cleaner energy.

But already Obama and Democratic leaders may face the need to compromise — with fellow House Democrats, particularly in Rust Belt and coal country states where they know a thing or two about smokestacks.

They fear Obama’s plan to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 14 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 would drive away jobs and drive up energy costs. So Obama will have to decide how far to go to get a bill through — possibly by backing off part of his plan to sell pollution permits to raise $646 billion over 10 years, and instead giving some of the permits away to companies facing job cuts.

10. Where to go on vacation?
Seems innocent enough, right? But since President Bill Clinton famously polled where Americans thought he should vacation in 1995 and settled on Wyoming’s Jackson Hole over Martha’s Vineyard, presidential holidays have been closely scrutinized.

Don’t expect to see Obama sporting a cowboy hat atop a horse à la his Democratic predecessor.

Obama aides assure that he’s not testing vacation preferences and that he’ll go where he wants to go. “He always does,” said one aide.

The Boston Globe reported earlier this month that the president may wind up on the Vineyard and had rented a house for the end of August in the popular African-American vacation enclave, Oak Bluffs.

Obama has been there before, including to stay with Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree after the 2004 Democratic convention in Boston.

But an aide said that as of late last week, no holiday plans had been booked yet.»

100 dias da Presidência Obama (XVII): Barack congratula-se com a mudança de Arlen Spector para os democratas



... e oferece-lhe, desde já, «total apoio político» para a reeleição ao Senado, em 2010.

100 dias da Presidência Obama (XVI): a opinião de Valerie Jarret, chefe dos conselheiros políticos de Barack

100 dias da Presidência Obama (XV): Hillary Clinton, de rival a aliada


Foi uma das decisões mais marcantes, e mais arriscadas também, de Barack Obama, desde que venceu as eleições gerais nos EUA.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, 62 anos, a grande rival de Barack na corrida à nomeação democrata à Presidência dos Estados Unidos da América, em 2008, teve comportamento exemplar para com Obama, logo após ter perdido o duelo nas primárias.

A partir desse momento, tornou-se uma possível «vice» do nomeado democrata mas, para desilusão dos seus 18 milhões de votantes, a escolha de Obama recaiu em Joe Biden.

Mas o que Barack já teria na manga apareceu duas semanas depois da eleição: Hillary Clinton é a terceira mulher a chefiar a diplomacia norte-americana (depois de Madeleine Albright e Condoleeza Rice), numa escolha ousada de Obama, que não teve medo de ir buscar aquela que, para uma fatia de perto 50 por cento do eleitorado democrata, deveria ter sido a Presidente.

«Team of Rivals», anunciou-se logo, em alusões ao que fizera a maior referência política de Obama, Franklin Roosevelt, quando chegou à Casa Branca. Houve até quem profetizasse um duelo interno entre Presidente e secretária de Estado, numa espécie de segunda volta das primárias, mas agora em funções de Estado.

Mas estes 100 dias têm mostrado uma quase perfeita sintonia entre Barack e Hillary. Era capaz de apostar que assim continuará a ser até Janeiro de 2013. Ou mesmo 2017, talvez...

100 dias da Presidência Obama (XIV): Arlen Spector explica a surpreendente mudança para os democratas

O veterano senador da Pensilvânia, de 79 anos, deu uma espécie de prenda de centésimo dia de Presidência a Barack Obama, ao mover-se do Partido Republicano para o Partido Democrata, facto que permite aos democratas terem 60 senadores, a fasquia para não precisarem de negociar com o GOP.

Spector fala numa «decisão muito dolorosa», mas explica que a viragem dos republicanos à direita provocou esta decisão.

terça-feira, 28 de abril de 2009

100 dias da Presidência Obama (XIII): Fareed Zakaria disserta sobre «o segredo do sucesso» do Presidente


Para o editor-chefe da Newsweek, «o que Obama conseguiu nestes primeiros 100 dias já é suficiente para causar inveja a qualquer antigo Presidente». Vale a pena ler:

«No other American president in modern memory has faced a learning curve as steep as the one Barack Obama has encountered. When he began his quest for the Democratic nomination three years ago, the Dow Jones industrial average was 14,000, and the world was in the midst of a great economic boom. By the time he took office, America's financial industry was in chaos, credit markets were frozen, housing values were plummeting and the economy was in its worst contraction since the Great Depression. Add to that Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran and North Korea, and you get an extraordinary set of challenges.

And yet, by most measures, President Obama's first 100 days have been successful. The economy remains weak, of course, but he has put forward a series of initiatives to stabilize the capital and housing markets, proposed longer-term programs to create sustained growth, adjusted America's military priorities in Afghanistan and Iraq, and begun a process of reaching out to the world and changing America's image. These are only overtures, and naturally much will depend on how things turn out—in the economy, in Pakistan, in Iraq. But so far, any president would be envious of Obama's accomplishments.

The real question is, why has Obama been so successful? Many commentators have focused on his calm leadership style, his deliberative methods and his tight teamwork. That's all true, but there is a larger explanation for the success so far. Obama has read the country and the political moment correctly. He understands that America in 2009 is in a very different place now. Polls say the country is more liberal than it was two decades ago.

Conservative commentators have made much of a recent Pew survey showing that public reaction to Obama has been more polarized than to any previous president: Democrats really like him, and Republicans really dislike him. But the poll's most striking statistic was how few Americans now self-identify as Republicans. For the past year it has hovered around 24 percent, the lowest in three decades. It's not so much that the Republican base has shrunk, as Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz points out in a recent essay: the Democratic base has expanded. When Bill Clinton was elected in 1992, the Democratic base was 30 percent of the electorate; swing voters were 43 percent and Republicans 27 percent. Last year Democrats made up 41 percent; swing voters dropped to 32 percent and Republicans stayed put at 27 percent. Because party loyalties tend not to shift quickly, an 11-point rise for the Democrats is astonishing. Abramowitz argues that since these changes are largely rooted in demography—particularly the growing nonwhite population—they are likely to persist for a while.

It's not only that Obama has inherited a more liberal country. He has figured out how to utilize the moment. Rahm Emmanuel's aphorism "Never let a crisis go to waste" has in fact proved a brilliant political strategy. By combining short-term stimulus spending with long-term progressive projects, Obama has confounded the opposition. Sen. Judd Gregg was on CNBC last week trying to explain that while he fully supported government spending for 2009 and 2010 to jump-start the economy, his concerns were about 2011 and 2012. That's a pretty complicated case to make to the electorate.

Just as important, Obama has not overinterpreted the moment. He has steered a careful middle course on the bank bailouts. The most spirited critiques of his policies have come not from the right but from the left—in the clamor for nationalization. He may or may not have the policy right, but he certainly has the politics right. The country remains generally suspicious of big government and comfortable with free markets and private enterprise. And the old Democratic hostility to big business doesn't resonate so strongly anymore, since the new Democratic majority has fewer working-class whites and more college graduates.
Obama has handled the public's anger well, giving voice to outrage but not enacting populist policies. He quietly announced last week that he will not reopen negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement to impose new labor and environmental standards.

On the torture memos, Obama has made clear (after some hesitation) that he does not want to criminalize a policy disagreement. On Iraq, he has hewed to a centrist course, but still one that draws down America's military presence there. On Cuba, Iran and Syria, his overtures have been modest and preliminary. In almost every arena, he has pushed the envelope to change policy, not worrying about the inevitable opposition from the right, yet always in a sober and calculating manner.

Globalization, immigration, more working women and college graduates—all these have changed America over the past two decades. In a detailed study for the liberal think tank the Center for American Progress, Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin point out that 67 percent of Americans now think favorably of the term "progressive," a 25 point increase in five years. This doesn't make us a European country—67 percent also think favorably of the term "conservative"—but it does suggest that things are changing. And Barack Obama's success derives from his understanding of this shift—and his readiness to act on it.»

Democratas conquistam senador aos republicanos


Arlen Specter, 79 anos, senador republicano eleito pelo estado da Pensilvânia, está a um passo de se mudar para o Partido Democrata.

A notícia, aparentemente bizarra, não é alheia ao facto de Specter ter vindo a ser um dos apoiantes das políticas de Barack Obama -- foi, aliás, um dos três senadores do GOP que permitiram a passagem do 'stimulus package' no Capitólio.

Com esta mudança, os democratas chegam à fasquia dos 60 senadores e impedem, assim, o filibuster -- a minoria de bloqueio com que os republicanos tentaram, até à última, travar a aprovação do Plano Obama.

Senador há quase três décadas, Arlen Specter é um dos decanos da alta política americana. E terá percebido que, neste momento, a última coisa que a América precisa é uma guerra partidária contra o Presidente, como muitos republicanos estão ansiosos por fazer.

100 dias da Presidência Obama (XII): uma nova imagem na Casa Branca

Há quem os compare aos Kennedy, na juventude, no carisma e na beleza. Há quem fale num certo regresso ao espírito dos Clinton. Mas a verdade é que os Obama marcaram mesmo um estilo novo na Casa Branca. Era capaz de apostar que a lua de mel com os americanos vai durar todo o primeiro mandato. Pelo menos...

segunda-feira, 27 de abril de 2009

100 dias da Presidência Obama (XI): o tom já está definido


Para George Will, colunista do Washington Post e da Newsweek, os primeiros 100 dias já determinaram o caminho de Barack Obama no seu primeiro mandato:

«A 19th-century historian called the Middle Ages "a thousand years without a bath." That oversimplified somewhat, but was interestingly suggestive. So is the summation of Obama's opening sprint as 100 days without silence.

Ordinary politicians cannot comprehend that it is possible for the public to see and hear too much of them. In this sense, Obama is very ordinary. A few leaders of democracies have understood the importance of being economical with their demands for the public's attention. Charles de Gaulle believed that remoteness nurtures a mystique that is an essential ingredient of leadership. Ronald Reagan, an actor, knew that the theatrical dimension of politics requires periodic absences of the star from center stage. He spent almost an eighth—a year—of his presidency at his ranch. But when he spoke, people listened. If Obama, constantly flitting here and there, continues to bombard the nation with his presence, he will learn how skillfully Americans wield the basic tool of modern happiness, the TV remote control with its mute button.

Calvin Coolidge, the last president with a proper sense of his office's constitutional proportions, was known, not coincidentally, as Silent Cal. His reticence expressed an institutional modesty: "It is a great advantage to a President, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know that he is not a great man."

"Men," Coolidge said, "do what I tell them to do—why, is a great mystery to me." Perhaps it was because he did not ask them to do all that much. Unless today's Congress can legislate that there shall henceforth be 36 hours in a day, and unless it can lengthen the year by four months—some liberals probably think Congress can—Obama will soon learn what happens when government's circuitry becomes overloaded.

Toward the end of his first 100 days, Obama heeded the better angels of his administration regarding free trade: He will not press for renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The long-stalled (by organized labor's opposition) agreements with Colombia and South Korea may now advance. Labor's "card check" plan for abolishing secret ballots in unionization decisions in order to make it easier to herd workers into unions cannot currently be passed. Labor is the big loser of the first 100 days.

The last 10 of those days were dominated by Obama's defensible release of what are accurately called the "torture memos." But then came what looked like a willow bending beneath hot winds from his hyperliberal base, which still luxuriates in loathing the Bush administration. Obama shut the door on possible prosecutions of Bush officials for authorizing torture, then two days later he left the door ajar. But to read the memos is to realize what quicksand the Obama administration would step into if it tried to hold the authors of them legally accountable.

The authors' reasoning is dense and unconvincing as it reaches conclusions that leave interrogators virtually unconstrained as to their methods. But it is reasoning and is not easily susceptible to proof that the authors intentionally misconstrued the law. Torture was indeed the subject of much tortured reasoning by zealots among Bush's lawyers, who were determined to hack away at any restraints on presidential power concerning national security. But if meretricious lawyering is a crime, millions of lawyers in our litigious society shall not, in Hamlet's words, 'scape whipping.

And then there is the inconvenient truth that many Democratic congressional leaders, who were not bashful about criticizing the Bush administration, knew of, and were silent about, the interrogation methods. An investigation of the past might crimp the style of some people who are currently grandstanding about the subject of torture.

In Obama's second hundred days, he may make two crucial decisions about health care. More than 70 Democratic members of the House of Representatives have said they will oppose any reform plan that does not include a government insurance plan that would compete with private insurance. Any such plan will arouse fierce opposition from most Republicans, who think it would put private insurance on a path to extinction. So Obama might endorse the Senate's passing such a reform by a heavy-handed parliamentary tactic (with the inapposite title "reconciliation") that prevents the minority from forcing the majority to muster 60 votes. Resorting to reconciliation might provoke Republicans to use the rich resources of the Senate rules to put such sand in the institution's gears that everything grinds to, if not a halt, a crawl.

The trajectory of Obama's presidency might have been determined by what he did in his first 100 days. His budget calls for doubling the national debt in five years and almost tripling it in 10. If the necessary government borrowing soon causes a surge in long-term interest rates, the result will be the 1970s redux—inflation and stagnation. If so, the 44th president will be remembered not as the second iteration of the 32nd (Franklin Roosevelt) but of the 39th (Jimmy Carter).

There were 43 presidents before the current one and there will be many more than that number after him. The nation that elects the 88th probably will remember little about what the 44th did. This does not mean Obama is unimportant. It does mean that he is in the middle of the broad, deep river of history, where the current is strong and will not be much bent by him.»

100 dias da Presidência Obama (X): Barack é popular, as suas políticas não tanto

100 dias da Presidência Obama (IX): a opinião de Bob Woodward

Em entrevista a Bob Schieffer, na CBS, o jornalista do Washington Post, que protagonizou com Carl Bernstein o caso Watergate, na década de 70 e escreveu uma biografia de Hillary Clinton, comenta o arranque do mandato de Barack Obama:


Watch CBS Videos Online

100 dias da Presidência Obama (VIII): Joe Biden, um 'vice' muito, muito genuíno

Muitos acusam-no de de ser uma máquina de «gaffes», mas a verdade é que Barack Obama gosta verdadeiramente dele e sabe que acertou em cheio na escolha para o seu 'vice'.

Joe Biden, 65 anos, senador durante 36, tem sido o número dois ideal para o Presidente: leal, mesmo que indisciplinado; mais velho e por isso capaz de dar cobertura à excessiva juventude do Presidente e do secretário do Tesouro (ambos com apenas 47 anos).

Cem dias depois, o vice-presidente continua a ser «o velho Joe». E na Casa Branca a opinião maioritária é a de que é mesmo isso que ele deve continuar a ser. Aqui está ele, em entrevista e reportagem a Lesley Stahl, no «60 Minutes», da CBS, na qual também participam o próprio Presidente e a secretária de Estado Hillary Clinton:


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domingo, 26 de abril de 2009

100 dias da Presidência Obama (VII): se tivesse que definir Barack numa só palavra, qual seria?



O desafio foi feito pelo Pew Research Center e os resultados estão apresentados desta forma visualmente apelativa: quanto maiores são as palavras no quadro acima exposto, mais vezes elas foram referidas pelos americanos que responderam à pesquisa.

«Intelligent» foi, por isso, a palavra mais associada a Barack Obama. A seguir foi «good» e em terceiro lugar apareceu «socialist» (termo que, na América, é mais ou menos um insulto político).

Também muito citados, mas em posições abaixo destas três, foram termos como«liberal», «great», «confident», «inexperienced» e «honest».

Entre as oito palavras mais referidas, o balanço é, por isso, muito positivo: só duas têm uma conotação claramente negativa («socialist» e «inexperienced»). Há uma outra, «liberal», que terá tido interpretações repartidas: para os democratas, é um elogio, para os republicanos um problema...)

100 dias da Presidência Obama (VI): o mais difícil estará para vir?


Um artigo de John King, chefe dos correspondentes da CNN na Casa Branca e apresentador do programa «State of The Union»:

«As introductions go, it has been a fast-paced, fascinating first 100 days: an ambitious domestic agenda aimed at reinvigorating the economy and the government's reach into its workings, and several provocative steps on the world stage that, like at home, signal a clear break from the previous administration.

CNN's John King talks with President Obama in Peoria, Illinois.

1 of 3 It is the second 100 days that will give a much more comprehensive test of President Obama's approach, his resilience -- and his effectiveness.

Still, the White House cites significant accomplishments, including:

• Passage of the $787 billion economic stimulus plan.

• Signing into law an expanded children's health care program that it says provides benefits to 4 million additional working families.

• Signing the Ledbetter law requiring equal pay for women.

• Winning approval of a congressional budget resolution that puts Congress on record as dedicated to dealing with major health care reform legislation this year.

• Implementing new ethics guidelines designed to significantly curtail the influence of lobbyists on the executive branch.

• Breaking from the Bush administration on a number of international policy fronts, including climate change, while spelling out his plan to withdraw American troops from Iraq.

By the numbers, it is hard to not judge it as a strong start politically: The American people, for the most part, like their new president and see him as a leader. Nearly six in 10 Americans approve of how Obama is handling the economy, and hardly any blame the president for the country's economic struggles and challenges. Watch more on the polls »

"I mean, it was basically left to him, you know. He didn't really do it, in my opinion," is what Chris Guynn told us when we visited him in Peoria, Illinois, just as he was told by Caterpillar that his job was being eliminated.

"But it's his problem now," Guynn said of Obama. It's a reminder that although he has broad public support and considerable patience from most Americans at the moment, Obama's political standing over time will be closely intertwined with the strength of the economy.

There are some warning signs found in the numbers and found repeatedly in our travels these past 100 days to 17 states and a diverse mix of communities, from rural Vermont and suburban New Jersey to the critical emerging battleground states of the South and Southwest.

• Obama is perceived as a liberal, a word that is often more a liability than an asset in national politics.

• Nearly four in 10 Americans voice the concern that he is trying too much at once.

At our recent diner conversation in Park Ridge, New Jersey, teacher Peter Fitzgerald put it this way: "I would kind of worry about him burning out, too, because he's doing so much. Any time you look at the news, President Obama's doing this, he's got a million things going on. I understand that you have to attack the issues that are going on here, but I wonder some times if they are a little fearful he is going to run out of gas."

• If there are a few major stumbles and setbacks, the risk is that voters will question his leadership and governing skills.

"Keep an eye on this," veteran Democratic pollster Peter Hart noted.

His core supporters are wary of two major Obama initiatives: taxpayer-funded bailout of big financial and auto companies, and his plan to significantly increase U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan.

Several mayors we have visited in the past few months also grumble a bit that stimulus money is slow to trickle through the bureaucracy.

"So far, I haven't seen any of the stimulus money," Las Vegas, Nevada, Mayor Oscar Goodman said at his office this week. "I am told that we are going to get it. I think it will probably help us with our transportation. ... But we need it right now, because what we have to do is, we have to create jobs so that folks will be able to pay their mortgages and not lose their homes and be able to feed their families." Watch diners in Las Vegas discuss Obama's performance in White House »

Asked to give Obama a grade at the 100-day mark, Goodman was for the most part complimentary.

"You've got to give credit where it's due, and I think that the president has been very aggressive in the programs that he is suggesting," the mayor said.

The assessments from more conservative quarters are, not surprisingly, very different.

Sen. John McCain, a rival in the presidential race, says Obama has not sought out genuine bipartisanship, a sentiment echoed by the Senate and House Republican leadership teams.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney infuriated the Obama White House with his assertion on "State of the Union" that Obama changes to Bush anti-terrorism policies have made the American people less safe.

And that debate continues to echo in squabbling over the release of Bush-era memos written to justify harsh interrogation tactics and the debate over whether some independent commission should be named to explore whether laws were broken in the prior administration.

Looking at the Obama domestic agenda, conservative columnist David Brooks framed things this way in a recent column in The New York Times:

"If Republicans aren't nervous, they should be. Obama is arguing for his activist agenda not on the basis of class consciousness, which is alien to America, but as a defense of middle-class morality, which is central to it. Obama is positioning the Democrats as the party of order, responsibility and small town values. If he pulls this mantle away from the Republicans, it would be the greatest train robbery in American politics."

The second 100 days will be a critical test of Obama's agenda and, if you agree with the framing of the stakes provided by Brooks, an equally important period for his critics.

Consider two of the big issues front and center in the next phase:

• Will Americans view health care reform as Obama argues: an overdue moral imperative that requires forceful government action and a strong government hand in reorganizing the marketplace? Or will critics succeed, as they did when the Clinton health care push went off the rails in 1993-94, in framing the argument as too expensive, too powerful government reach into the most personal of our affairs?

• Can Obama sell a new energy and environmental approach that includes more government efficiency and emission mandates as a generational calling and national security necessity? Or will opponents sway the debate by warning that the end result is higher energy taxes on working- and middle-class households, and choking mandates that will undermine U.S. manufacturers in the competitive global economy?

There are many other challenges that are opportunities for Obama to advance his agenda and redefine his party as well as the United States image on the world stage. But several of these opportunities could also emerge as tripwires.

Iraq and Afghanistan are inherited tests. But Obama has placed such a heavy fingerprint on these policies that success will bring him credit, but setbacks will leave no doubt where the responsibility lies.

Likewise, overtures to Iran, Cuba and Venezuela put to the test Obama's bold campaign promise to give dialogue a chance even, perhaps especially, with those nations with whom U.S. relations had turned most stagnated or contentious.

Blaming George W. Bush was an easy -- and often credible -- foil for Obama in his important first 100 days.

Not so much in the defining second 100.»

100 dias da Presidência Obama (V): comparação com o arranque de Roosevelt

Visita surpresa de Hillary Clinton a Bagdad


A secretária de Estado norte-americana foi ao Iraque deixar uma mensagem clara: apesar deste súbito ressurgimento dos atentados, a tendência da estabilização militar vai manter-se:

«BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday deplored the recent bombings in Iraq, but said the "terrible and tragic events" haven't stopped the nation from making strides in security.

U.S. and Iraqi officials greet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her arrival Saturday in Baghdad.

The bombings that left nearly 160 people dead and scores wounded since Thursday "are regrettable and horrible in terms of loss of life," Clinton said at a press conference during her unannounced, one-day visit to Baghdad.

But Clinton said she and Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, share the same perspective about the high-profile bombings in Diyala province and Baghdad.

"They do not reflect any diversion from the security progress that has been made," she said. "The reaction from the Iraqi people and the Iraqi leaders was firm and united in rejecting that violence and refusing to allow it to set Iraqi against Iraqi, which is obviously one of its intended goals."

Clinton said Odierno briefed her on the attacks, which stoked fears of a return to Shiite-Sunni sectarian violence. Watch what was on Clinton's agenda »

Iranian religious pilgrims were targeted in a couple of the incidents -- one at a Diyala restaurant and another at a Shiite shrine in Baghdad.

The attacks have raised concerns in Iran, where the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Saturday indicated that the United States was ultimately to blame for the attacks, Iranian news reports said.

"The main accused in this crime and other crimes are the U.S. security and military forces that have occupied an Islamic state under the pretext of a campaign against terrorism and have killed or wounded tens of thousands of people so far and have intensified insecurity there," the ayatollah said.

Iran said it expects Iraq to confront such attacks and provide security for the pilgrims. Iran is predominantly Shiite Muslim and Iraq is majority Shiite, and religious faithful travel between the countries on pilgrimages.

Clinton said she was unaware of Khamenei's remarks, but said, "It is disappointing for anyone to make such a claim since it is clearly traced to the al Qaeda remnants and other violent groups who wish to disrupt progress of Iraq."

Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, also at the press conference, said he's unaware of Americans participating in such attacks.

Zebari acknowledged there have been attackers in Iraq from a range of countries -- Saudi Arabia, Gulf states, and North African countries, such as Tunisia and Morocco -- reflecting remarks made Friday to a House panel by Gen. David Petraeus, leader of the U.S. Central Command.

Clinton also met with other U.S. and Iraqi leaders and spoke with Iraqis at a town meeting.

"We are committed to Iraq. We want to see a stable, sovereign, self-reliant Iraq," Clinton said at the town hall.

Clinton said that America was an example of diverse groups living together.

America has just elected Barack Obama, an African-American, as president -- "someone who is leading all Americans, not just one group or another group," she said. "I believe Iraq can be one of the strongest countries ... if there is a way to work together."

Clinton praised Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's "strong stand against armed insurgent elements, no matter who they were."

The focus is on a nonsectarian security force that will not tolerate any attacks on Iraqis, she said.

"And we will continue to support their efforts to integrate the military, and I think they've made a lot of strides," Clinton added.

The Obama administration plans to pull out combat troops from Iraqi cities and towns by the end of June, and withdraw most troops from the country by the end of August 2010. But the recent spate of suicide bombings has raised questions about that timetable.

Like Clinton, Zebari said he doesn't think the recent attacks will halt Iraq's progress.

"I personally don't believe these deadly attacks will derail the government's determination to pursue plans to stabilize the country," Zebari said.

Iraq has a timeline for the troop withdrawals and "we are doing our utmost and coordinating closely with the multinational forces to ensure there is no vacuum when that happens," he said.

Clinton's visit coincides with the arrival in Iraq of the United States' new ambassador, Christopher Hill, who was confirmed to that post Tuesday in spite of strong opposition from conservative Republicans because of his previous diplomatic record on North Korea.

This is Clinton's fourth visit to Iraq, the first as secretary of state.»

sábado, 25 de abril de 2009

100 dias da Presidência Obama (IV): o 'Mr. Cool' está a dar conta do recado


Confiança e descontracção, eloquência e carisma, ousadia e coragem.

Todas estas características misturadas tornam Barack Obama um Presidente singular
. Para Howard Finemann, analista político da Newsweek e do MSNBC, estas imagens de marca têm sido decisivas para o sucesso destes primeiros 100 dias:

The 'Mr.Cool' Presidency Turns 100 (Days)
«WASHINGTON - I’ve covered presidents and presidential candidates for a long time. I’ve interviewed Barack Obama in quiet, empty rooms; I’ve seen him on a football field, surrounded by 80,000 spectators; and I’ve observed him from near and far as commander in chief.

So I feel qualified to say this about the guy: Of all the folks I’ve covered, he is the most comfortable in his own skin and with his on-stage role as a leader. This was true at the beginning of his campaign, and remains a reality through the first months of his presidency.

This gift is a crucial one to grasp as Obama nears his 100th day in office. He not only represents a new administration and a shift in governing philosophy, but he also embodies the ideals of a fresh leadership strategy.

Ever-present president
He is the ever-present president — as ubiquitous, image-rich, far-reaching, and networked as the Internet that helped launch him into power.

Obama seems to live — to have been born to live — calmly and confidently on a global stage with the hottest lights and biggest audience.

That stage now is fully digitized, cabled, YouTubed, Huffpo’d, and Twittered. He never leaves it, or seems to want to. At the same time, Obama doesn’t seem bothered that he’s on that stage to begin with.

He doesn’t seem needy, aloof or afraid. We used to call that “cool.”

Whatever the label, it’s an impressive and potent combination of confidence, articulateness, brains, and stage awareness.

True, Obama uses a teleprompter, but he also seems at home during press conferences and “avails” without that electronic crutch.

And his wife and daughters (and probably even the new dog) seem as utterly at home in the 24/7 spotlight as he does. White House handlers have brilliantly packaged and presented them, but the family has dad’s inherent knack for not seeming packaged at all.

And so, like him or not, agree with him or not, trust him or not — you can’t escape him. He’s always with us — just hanging with us here on planet Earth in his designated role as president.

This is beyond unique.

Other presidential personalities
No one I’ve written about quite captures Obama’s vibe. Ronald Reagan comes closest. He had been an actor, and was a truly genial sort, so he, too, was comfortable in public — with himself and others. But Reagan was wary of the press, and he liked his privacy. And first lady Nancy Reagan absolutely loathed most public displays.

Other presidents I’ve covered were, in one way or another, uncomfortable at times in their public roles — or needed refuge in ways that Obama doesn’t understand, let alone require.

George H.W. Bush, engaging and confident in private, was afraid to be dismissed as a foppish preppy in public and reacted by overplaying his hand in a caricature of “every man” behavior.

Bill Clinton loved the limelight, of course, but was conflicted about it and, sadly, needed his dark moments of private release.

George W. Bush was really, at heart, a private guy. He once told me that if he had gotten out of politics he would have been happy to spend his days fishing alone in a rowboat. I believed him. He saw himself as a virtual prisoner in the White House — an attitude that had explosive consequences for the country.

That’s not Obama. He conveys the sense of being a fish that doesn’t (of course) know that he is in a fishbowl. It’s merely the place where he lives and breathes.

Now this gift has some good uses, as Obama has shown. His placid demeanor helped soothe the country as he took its reins in the midst of the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Still relatively young and admittedly inexperienced in world affairs, he nevertheless seemed to be right at home with his fellow G-20 summiteers during his travels in Europe last month.

Obama's confidence in public helps him advance his breathtakingly ambitious and expensive agenda — which includes everything from his massive stimulus plan, to his new budget, to his bailouts of banks.

After the flawed brilliance of Clinton and the foxhole moralizing of Bush, Obama’s easy equanimity has not only allowed him to remain popular in the polls, but to restore, in some ways, the very idea of presidential leadership – especially on domestic issues.

Risks for Obama
But there are risks associated with the Mr. Cool presidency.

For one, presidents aren’t supposed to handle everything — all the explaining, all the deciding, all the legislating. That is what we have Congress and the courts and the state and local governments for.

In our media-suffused democracy, visibility means responsibility, and while Obama cannot handle every task and issue, he seems determined to discuss and administer in his “reality TV” presidency.

Yes, the buck stops there — on his desk — but it can get piled so high he cannot see.

There will be mistakes and failures, and we have yet to see how the always-on Mr. Cool will react. He can get angry in private, they say, though I have never seen anything other than an occasional glint of icy dismay at a logistical matters handled badly.

If there is another Obama behind the curtain we will eventually see it — for the play is never ending and he is the only man on the stage.»

100 dias da Presidência Obama (III): 62 por cento de aprovação

SONDAGEM FOX NEWS (insuspeito de favorecer Obama, portanto...)

-- Taxa de aprovação: 62 por cento
-- Reprovação: 29%

DEMOCRATAS: 92% aprovam, 4% reprovam o Presidente nos primeiros 100 dias
REPUBLICANOS: 24% aprovam, 66% reprovam

McCain receia uma «caça às bruxas» nas investigações sobre a tortura na era Bush

sexta-feira, 24 de abril de 2009

Será Meghan uma das caras do Partido Republicano para a próxima década?

Em nítida crise de identidade, e à procura de sangue novo, o GOP tem ouvido com interesse crescente as opiniões desassombradas de Meghan McCain, filha do nomeado republicano em 2008.

Tal como o pai, Meghan não tem medo de assumir diferenças com a linha conservadora e, tal como o pai, chamam-lhe... maverick. Não é de espantar: a rapariga apoia o direito dos homossexuais a casarem-se e critica a linha política de Karl Rove, o arquitecto do bushismo.

100 dias da Presidência Obama (II): Barack dá uma conferência de Imprensa em «prime time» na quarta-feira, dia do centésimo dia do seu mandato



Será a terceira conferência de Imprensa em prime time em apenas 12 semanas, quase tanto como George W. Bush em todo o seu primeiro mandato.

100 dias da Presidência Obama (I): Michelle, um novo ícone, um novo estilo


Michelle e Barack Obama à chegada a Londres, para a cimeira do G20: a Primeira Dama da América corporiza um estilo completamento novo, que alia sobriedade, elegância e uma personalidade própria. Há quem lhe chame «Mom in Chief», pela forma como dá prioridade à educação de Malia e Sasha, as primeiras meninas em idade escolar na Casa Branca desde a filha de Jimmy Carter, no final dos anos 70. Muito do possível sucesso de Barack no primeiro mandato poderá passar por Michelle, o rochedo dos Obama

Como os 100 dias da Administração Obama estão quase a chegar...


... vale a pena começar já a fazer um balanço que terá, aqui, no CASA BRANCA, uma duração prolongada e contará com vários capítulos. O arranque é neste post, com um interessante artigo de Joe Klein, na Time:

«The President almost seemed apologetic. "This may be a slightly longer speech than I usually give," he told his audience at Georgetown University on April 14. "This is going to be prose and not poetry." What followed, as promised, was not poetry. Barack Obama doesn't do much poetry anymore. But in prose that was spare and clear and compelling, the President proceeded to describe how his Administration had responded to the financial crisis, the overriding challenge of his first 100 days in office.

He had covered this ground before, nearly as well, in his budget message to Congress. But now Obama went further, using a parable from the Sermon on the Mount — the need for a house built on rock rather than on sand — to describe a future that was nothing less than an overhaul of the nature of American capitalism. "It is simply not sustainable," he said, "to have an economy where, in one year, 40% of our corporate profits came from a financial sector that was based on inflated home prices, maxed-out credit cards, overleveraged banks and overvalued assets."

That was the house built on sand. His house built on rock had five pillars — new rules for Wall Street, new initiatives in education, alternative energy and health care, and eventually budget savings that would bring down the national debt — which did sound a bit prosaic. Democratic politicians have been promising one or another, if not all, of the above since Franklin Roosevelt reinvented American government in the 1930s. But Obama was making his case in the midst of a national crisis, at a moment when it seemed possible that he might enact much of what he was seeking. And he was talking about far more than a new set of policies: he was implying a new set of national values. "There's also an impatience that characterizes [Washington]," he said, "that insists on instant gratification in the form of immediate results or higher poll numbers. When a crisis hits, there is all too often a lurch from shock to trance, with everyone responding to the tempest of the moment until the furor has died down ... instead of confronting major challenges that will shape our future in a sustained and focused way." (See who's in Obama's White House.)

The combination of candor and vision and the patient explanation of complex issues was Obama at his best — and more than any other moment of his first 100 days in office, it summed up the purpose of his presidency: a radical change of course not just from his predecessor, not just from the 30-year Reagan era but also from the quick-fix, sugar-rush, attention-deficit society of the postmodern age. The speech received ho-hum coverage on the evening news and in print — because, I suspect, it was more of a summation than the announcement of new initiatives. Quickly, public attention turned to new "tempests of the moment" — an obscene amount of attention was paid to the new Obama family dog and then, more appropriately, to the Bush Administration's torture policy and the probably futile attempt to prosecute those who authorized the practices. And then to a handshake and a smile that the President bestowed on the Venezuelan demagogue Hugo Chávez. These are the soap bubbles of our public life. They have become the hasty, capricious, bite-size way that we experience the world. It has made for slovenly, sandy citizenship.

The most important thing we now know about Barack Obama, after nearly 100 days in office, is that he means to confront that way of life directly and profoundly, to exchange sand for rock if he can. Whether you agree with him or not — whether you think he is too ambitious or just plain wrong — his is as serious and challenging a presidency as we have had in quite some time.

The idea that a President can be assessed in a mere 100 days is a journalistic conceit. Most presidencies evolve too slowly to be judged so quickly. Roosevelt set the initial standard in 1933, overpowering Congress and passing a slew of legislation to confront the Great Depression during his first three months in office. "Lyndon Johnson had two 100-days periods," says historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, "one after the Kennedy assassination and another after he was elected in 1964." Indeed, Johnson's legislative haul dwarfs anything before or since; he quickly got Congress on track to pass landmark civil rights bills and create Medicare, among other things. "And you have to say that Reagan had a significant 100 days," Goodwin adds, "because he represented a clear break from the policies of the past, even if his signature legislation — the tax cuts — didn't pass until after the 100 days were over. But I don't think we've ever seen anything like Obama since Roosevelt."

The legislative achievements have been stupendous — the $789 billion stimulus bill, the budget plan that is still being hammered out (and may, ultimately, include the next landmark safety-net program, universal health insurance). There has also been a cascade of new policies to address the financial crisis — massive interventions in the housing and credit markets, a market-based plan to buy the toxic assets that many banks have on their books, a plan to bail out the auto industry and a strict new regulatory regime proposed for Wall Street. Obama has also completely overhauled foreign policy, from Cuba to Afghanistan. "In a way, Obama's 100 days is even more dramatic than Roosevelt's," says Elaine Kamarck of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. "Roosevelt only had to deal with a domestic crisis. Obama has had to overhaul foreign policy as well, including two wars. And that's really the secret of why this has seemed so spectacular.

To be sure, the historic unpopularity of the Bush Administration has been a convenient foil for Obama. He has also been lucky in his enemies, a reeling Republican Party that lurches from gimmicks to hissy fits, including frequent, unbidden appearances by such unpopular characters as Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich, whose rants about everything from Obama's decision to repudiate the torture of enemy combatants to his handshake with Chávez seem both ungracious and unhinged. "We obviously haven't found our voice yet," says Senator Lamar Alexander, one of the more thoughtful GOP leaders. "The American people sent us to the woodshed. And when you go to the woodshed, the best course of action is to sit there, be quiet, figure out why you're there and what you can do about it."

Perhaps Obama's most dramatic departure from the recent past is his public presence: cool where George W. Bush seemed hot, fluent where Bush seemed tongue-tied, palliative rather than hortative. Bush would never admit a mistake, but Obama said the words plainly — "I made a mistake" — when his appointment of Tom Daschle as health-care czar tanked, one of the few significant setbacks during his time in office. (One senses that Obama's cool can quickly turn chilly. "He is not very sentimental," says an Obama aide. "If you're no longer useful, he'll cut you loose.") The President's willingness to speak candidly about American failures when he travels at home and overseas — Wall Street's role in launching the financial crisis, for example — has annoyed Bush stalwarts, but it has opened the door for a new, cooperative foreign policy that is as dramatic a break from the past as the domestic initiatives Obama described in his Georgetown speech. (See behind-the-scenes photos of President Obama in Iraq.)

With the exception of Johnson's remarkable run, the few successful 100-day sprints have been a triumph of vision over substance. Roosevelt, Reagan and Obama changed the national mood more than anything else — and moods can change back quickly, especially in our overripe, overwired cable-news dystopia. As impressive a start as Obama has had, these 100 days could come to seem an overambitious and naive presage of disaster if the President's financial policies are inadequate to meet the crisis; his budget proposals are gutted by Congress; and his attempts to leave Iraq, fight in Afghanistan and negotiate with the Iranians turn sour. "Those of us who are older and more scarred have to be skeptical about all that Obama is trying to do," says William Galston, a Clinton White House policy adviser. "If he's right, our traditional notion of the limits of the possible — the idea that Washington can only handle so much at one time — will be blown to smithereens. If he's wrong, he may be cruising for a bruising on a lot of things. Then again, there's a third possibility: that this is the best negotiating strategy attempted by a Democratic President in a long time and he's angling for only a portion of what he has proposed. But I think he wants it all."

The fate of Obama's first year in office, if not his Administration, will probably be determined by the way he handles four distinct challenges — two in foreign policy and two domestically. The domestic challenges are more important, given the financial crisis. One is whether the financial community will buy his "house built on rock" formulation. "I don't think the banking community understands the scale of the damage that they've done to this society," says a senior Obama financial adviser. And another says, "They're in denial. They don't understand how angry people are about a $1 million bonus."

If the bankers and corporate executives don't understand the need to modify their behavior, Obama's financial plan could come crashing down. There is a minirebellion going on right now among executives, from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to Chrysler, who don't want to take government loans because they won't be able to gorge on their usual bonuses. "The plan to buy up toxic assets is going to evolve very slowly, if at all," an investment banker told me. "The banks don't want to take the haircut, and the hedge-fund managers" — who would partner with the government to buy the assets — "are afraid that if they start making big money on this, Congress is going to whack them the way it did on the AIG bonuses. If this plan doesn't work, it's going to take a much longer time to get out of the recession. And if it takes longer to get out of the recession, the President won't have nearly the revenues he needs to fund his domestic priorities." (Read about how the recession is affecting the American South.)

And that's the second domestic challenge: the realization that Congress will not give Obama everything he wants. Aides say the President's moments of frustration almost always have to do with Congress. "We know that not every wagon makes it across the frontier," says a top Obama adviser. "But we're not willing to decide yet which wagons are going to make it and which aren't." In fact, that decision seems more and more apparent: Congress is unlikely to pass the linchpin of Obama's alternative-energy initiative — a cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions to combat global warming and tilt the market toward energy independence but that would also raise energy prices in the midst of a recession.

"The wagon that needs to get through is health care," says a second Obama adviser, picking up the metaphor. But that won't be easy either — unless the Obama Administration can lure some Republicans to support it, which might be possible if the plan relieves the pressure of health-care coverage on corporate America. "If he narrows his agenda to fixing the banks and focusing fully on health care," says Senator Alexander, "there's a good chance we could get it done." If the rest of his agenda is trashed but Obama emerges with universal health insurance, the achievement will be historic.

There are other challenges. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has submitted a radically sane Pentagon budget, which eliminates some unneeded weapons systems — and is likely to be eviscerated by members of Congress from the districts where those systems are built. "We are absolutely going to stand with Gates on this one," said an Obama aide, implying that the President would veto a same-old defense budget.

Gates is considered a major success within the Administration, as is the straight-talking Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. There is some concern, however, about National Security Adviser James Jones, who is still adjusting to civilian life after a brilliant career in the military. "Obama has appointed all these high-powered envoys like [Richard] Holbrooke and [George] Mitchell, but we don't know who's going to really be in charge of setting the foreign policy priorities," says a prominent foreign policy realist who admires Jones. "That should be Jim's job. But he's throwing off a sense of uncertainty." Several sources say Jones seems to attend meetings rather than lead them. "He needs to drive the agenda," the foreign policy expert adds. "He has to be first among equals — the fact that Condi [Rice] couldn't control Cheney and [Donald] Rumsfeld in Bush's first term was disastrous. A lot depends on what sort of relationship develops between Jones and Obama."

The second big foreign policy challenge is the natural conflict between the demure slog of diplomacy and the need for the American President to be a strong leader who sets the international agenda. "The one thing Obama hasn't done in the first 100 days," says Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser, "is the big Middle East speech where he says, 'This is the settlement. This is what we're for.' If he doesn't do that soon, [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is going to set the agenda, not us — and that will be a disaster. If we don't act now, any chance of a two-state solution will be gone. If he does act now, every government in the world will stand with him." Except, perhaps, the Israelis and their American supporters in the Jewish and Evangelical communities. Obama's willingness to override domestic politics for the greater good will be a major test.

In a way, Brzezinski's stark choice is emblematic of the problem that Obama faces now that his first 100 days is nearly complete. There are those who mistake his quiet, deliberative style for softness. There is the fear that he won't have the strength to stand up to the Israelis (or the Iranians) or to the left wing of his party on health care or to the porkers on the defense budget. On the other hand, there are three dead Somali pirates who attest to this President's ability to make tough decisions in a timely fashion. Obama won't stand up to everyone, always; he is, after all, a politician. But the quality of fights he does choose will determine whether he builds his legacy on rock or sand. He has had a brilliant time announcing his intentions, but the real game of governing is about to begin.»

Hillary volta a criticar a herança Bush no plano internacional -- agora foi sobre o Irão

quinta-feira, 23 de abril de 2009

MoveOn.org incita Obama a investigar a tortura

A MoveOn.Org, poderosa organização que apoiou de forma intensa a candidatura presidencial de Barack Obama, pressiona agora o Presidente a levar avante as investigações sobre a tortura praticada em interrogatórios durante a Administração Bush.

Será que o estado de graça de Obama está comprometido com a questão da tortura?


Barack Obama foi obrigado a recuar, depois de ter dito que não iria aceitar uma comissão de inquérito sobre a tortura na Administração Bush. A pressão da ala esquerda do Partido Democrata terá sido forte de mais. Terá sido este o primeiro caso perdido pelo Presidente desde que tomou posse?

Há quem ache que sim, como o analista político da CNN Ed Rollins:

«Like so many politicians I have known, the man we elected president wants to be loved. He wants to be loved passionately and daily by the 69 million who voted for him and even some of the 60 million who voted for John McCain.

He wants to be loved by the Democrats on the Hill and even the Republicans who have still not given him any love.

He wants to be loved by the Europeans who have made a career out of badmouthing U.S. presidents and their policies.

The real example of searching for love in all the wrong places was last week's lovefest south of the border when, in effect, he appeared to be hugging Castro, Ortega and Chavez who have spent their lives fighting everything the United States stands for.

The problem, President Obama will find out as time goes on, is that he is not a rock star or a celebrity. He is certainly famous, and for the foreseeable future everyone will want to see him, touch him and hear him. But the job of president is about making choices. And right now he has the toughest job in the world at one of the toughest times in U.S. history. Every time he makes a choice, he will make the losing side mad.

This last week was the best example. The president decided, as he promised in the campaign, that he would ban torture -- a decision I agree with but many don't. Then he decided to release four Bush-era Justice Department memos that gave legal guidelines to the executive branch on "enhanced interrogation techniques."

Many wanted these documents released, and the president, after a month-long internal debate, gave them up. At the same time he said he had no intention of prosecuting the drafters of those memos or anyone else in a federal agency, mainly the CIA, who followed those guidelines.

The Right went nuts over the release of the documents. The CIA felt betrayed. The Left went nuts over the contents of the memos and pressed to have the authors -- high Justice Department officials in the Bush administration -- prosecuted, investigated and maybe even tortured! The president went to the CIA and gave them a cheerleading speech.

The next day he reversed himself and said it's up to Attorney General Eric Holder and the Congress to determine if any laws were violated by the former officials.

He waffled big time. Now all sides are mad at him and he looks weak. Weakness is the death knell for a president. With 1,366 days to go before this term is up, Obama's got to get tougher or he will be viewed as a personality who reads well from a teleprompter.

The president obviously knows the war on terror is not over. I imagine every morning when he gets the National Security briefing from the Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, he takes a deep breath because he knows the world is not a very safe place.

Things aren't as simple as they were in the old days, when, for the most part, countries had conflicts with each other and they went to war wearing different-colored uniforms so you knew who your enemy was and where they might be found.

Fortunately, because of the enormous talents of many federal agencies comprised of extraordinary Americans who work very hard at their jobs, the United States has not been struck in 2,781 days. That was the day we all remember and always will remember as 9/11 -- when four aircraft hijacked by 19 al Qaeda terrorists crashed into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing 2,974 people.

On that day and the days that followed we felt a new sense of vulnerability and said, "never again." We know now in hindsight that our intelligence mechanism failed us in regard to the threat posed by al Qaeda. A lot of things were done in the days after that to gather intelligence and protect ourselves, our families and our neighbors.

We were playing under a new set of rules and in a way making it up as we went along. What I am trying to say is the CIA doesn't need to be handcuffed again or demoralized. It needs to know its mission.

Historically it has been an agency that has done a lot of heavy lifting. It has often also done the dirty work that other agencies didn't want to do. Some of it benefited this nation immensely and some may have hurt us abroad. But it has been an important element in battling the bad guys. It's now Obama's agency under the direction of his people and he has to earn its trust. His visit to the agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and his speech to the employees was helpful, but only a first step.

Releasing the Justice memos opened a door and the contents repulsed many people. But these were not evil men who drafted the memos. These were not evil people who carried out the methods authorized by them. They were our fellow citizens who were trying to protect us from the real evildoers.

The president has got a lot on his plate. If his fellow Democrats in Congress want to try to impeach a federal appeals court judge who oversaw the memos and interrogate or prosecute former Justice Department lawyers, an attorney general or two and maybe a former vice president, then the battle will be drawn in the courtroom and in the political arena.

The losers will be us. All of us.»

in CNNpolitics.com

Hillary Clinton corrosiva: «Dick Cheney não é lá muito credível...»

A secretária de Estado respondeu assim às críticas do antigo vice-presidente, em relação à forma como a Administração Obama está a libertar a informação sobre interrogatórios com métodos de tortura durante os anos Bush:

quarta-feira, 22 de abril de 2009

Afinal, Obama não foi só sorrisos com Hugo Chavez...

O lado dos conservadores: Mitt Romney diz que Obama tem sido «tímido» na política externa

O ex-governador do Massachussets e terceiro classificado nas primárias do Partido Republicano em 2008, tece duras críticas à forma como o Presidente tem conduzido os assuntos internacionais, sobretudo a forma como se comportou com Daniel Ortega e Hugo Chavez:

PRÉMIO PULITZER: Obama em campanha, à chuva, na Pensilvânia


A foto é da autoria de Damon Winter, fotógrafo do New York Times. O NYT foi o grande vencedor desta edição, com cinco prémios arrebatados, contra apenas um do Washington Post.

O então senador Barack Obama, a caminho da nomeação do Partido Democrata, falava aos apoiantes num comício na Pensilvânia, onde viria a perder para Hillary Clinton, por 55-45, faz hoje precisamente um ano.

Mesmo com esse resultado na Pensilvânia, Obama viria a garantir praticamente a nomeação duas semanas depois, com uma grande vitória na Carolina do Norte. A confirmação acabaria por chegar a 3 de Junho, com o triunfo no Montana.

Dick Cheney, visado na questão da tortura, volta a criticar Obama pela divulgação dos «memos»

A opinião da Rainha Rania, da Jordânia, sobre Barack Obama

terça-feira, 21 de abril de 2009

Obama apoia divulgação dos «memos» sobre tortura na Administração Bush


Barack Obama com o director da CIA, Leon Panetta


«President Obama, visiting CIA headquarters Monday, defended his decision to release Bush-era memos on interrogation tactics, saying the country will ultimately be stronger as a result.

The president's remarks came in the wake of criticism from a former CIA chief and others that his decision compromised national security and encouraged terrorist groups such as al Qaeda.

Obama also met with CIA Director Leon Panetta, Deputy Director Stephen Kappes and other officials, and talked to employees about the importance of the agency's mission to national security.

The president asserted that he had released the documents primarily because of the "exceptional circumstances that surrounded these memos, particularly the fact that so much of the information was [already] public. ... The covert nature of the information had been compromised." Watch Obama talk about "exceptional circumstances" »

Obama added that he ended the controversial interrogation techniques mentioned in the memos because the United States "is stronger and more secure" when it can deploy both power and the "power of our values, including the rule of law."

"What makes the United States special ... is precisely the fact that we are willing to uphold our values and our ideals even when it's hard, not just when it's easy, even when we are afraid and under threat, not just when it's expedient to do so," he said. Watch Obama talk about the importance of values »

Although abiding by the rule of law can make battling groups such as al Qaeda more difficult, he added, it is ultimately why "we'll defeat our enemies. We're on the better side of history."

Panetta, while introducing the president, promised that the CIA would abide by the president's order barring controversial enhanced interrogation techniques. He also agreed that it was possible to protect the country and its values at the same time.

Obama's visit to the CIA's Langley, Virginia, headquarters came a day after former CIA Director Michael Hayden said the decision to release the four memos undermined the work the agency is doing.

Hayden, President George W. Bush's CIA director from 2006 to 2009, said the release of the memos emboldens terrorist groups such as al Qaeda.

"What we have described for our enemies in the midst of a war are the outer limits that any American would ever go to in terms of interrogating an al Qaeda terrorist. That's very valuable information," Hayden said on "Fox News Sunday."

"By taking techniques off the table, we have made it more difficult in a whole host of circumstances I can imagine, more difficult for CIA officers to defend the nation."

He added, "if you look at what this really comprises, if you look at the documents that have been made public, it says 'top secret' at the top. The definition of top secret is information which, if revealed, would cause grave harm to U.S. security."

Obama said last week that withholding the memos "would only serve to deny facts that have been in the public domain for some time."

"This could contribute to an inaccurate accounting of the past and fuel erroneous and inflammatory assumptions about actions taken by the United States," he said in a statement.

The memos include details on terrorist suspect interrogations such as waterboarding, a technique used to simulate drowning. Obama has called the method torture.

One memo showed that CIA interrogators used waterboarding at least 266 times on two top al Qaeda suspects.

The administration also has come under criticism from human rights organizations after announcing that CIA officials would not be prosecuted for past waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics. Watch for details on the interrogation techniques »

Obama believes "that's not the place that we go," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

"It's not a time to use our energy ... looking back [with] any sense of anger and retribution."

Attorney General Eric Holder has promised that officials who used such interrogation tactics would be in the clear if their actions were consistent with Justice Department legal advice under which they were operating at the time.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Sunday that the release of the memos is consistent with how Obama conducts government.

"It's about transparency. It's about accountability. And he released them. And on the other hand, he said to those CIA employees who were following what the Department of Justice told them they could do, they would not be subject to further prosecution, because it's also about closing this chapter so we can move on to the future," Napolitano said.»

in CNNpolitics.com

Barómetro semanal: 66 por cento de aprovação


Obama aproxima-se dos cem dias de mandato com os valores de aprovação mais altos desde que foi eleito. Indícios dos pequenos sinais de recuperação revelados na bolsa e na economia americana nos últimos dois meses?

SONDAGEM
-- Taxa de aprovação: 66 por cento
-- Reprovação: 30%

(fonte: CNN/Opinion Research Corporation)

Os conservadores já reagiram ao aperto de mão de Obama a Chavez



Newt Gingrich, o líder da «Revolução Republicana» no Congresso durante os anos Clinton, criticou fortemente a atitude de Obama

domingo, 19 de abril de 2009

Será que os Presidentes republicanos que fazem dois mandatos levam os EUA a uma crise financeira?

http://open.salon.com/blog/skewz/2009/04/17/over_last_100_years_multi-term_gop_presidents_bank_crisis

A tese, à primeira vista um pouco bizarra, está exposta no link acima e aponta os casos que, nos últimos 100 anos, revelam um padrão preocupante para o GOP...

Cimeira das Américas (II): o estender da mão a Chavez e a Ortega


Um artigo de Mark S. Smith, na Associated Press:

«President Barack Obama offered a spirit of cooperation to America's hemispheric neighbors at a summit Saturday, listening to complaints about past U.S. meddling and even reaching out to Venezuela's leftist leader.

While he worked to ease friction between the U.S. and their countries, Obama cautioned leaders at the Summit of the Americas to resist a temptation to blame all their problems on their behemoth neighbor to the north.

"I have a lot to learn and I very much look forward to listening and figuring out how we can work together more effectively," Obama said.

Obama said he was ready to accept Cuban President Raul Castro's proposal of talks on issues once off-limits for Cuba, including political prisoners held by the communist government.

While praising America's initial effort to thaw relations with Havana, the leaders pushed the U.S. to go further and lift the 47-year-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.

To Latin American nations reeling from a sudden plunge in exports, Obama promised a new hemispheric growth fund, an initiative to increase Caribbean security and a partnership to develop alternative energy sources and fight global warming.

As the first full day of meetings began on the two-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago Saturday, Obama exchanged handshakes and pats on the back with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who once likened Obama's predecessor, President George W. Bush, to the devil.

In front of photographers, Chavez gave Obama a copy of "The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent," a book by Eduardo Galeano that chronicles U.S. and European economic and political interference in the region.

When a reporter asked Obama what he thought of the book, the president replied: "I thought it was one of Chavez's books. I was going to give him one of mine." White House advisers said they didn't know if Obama would read it or not.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs made a joke about it, noting the president doesn't speak or read Spanish: "I think it's in Spanish, so that might be a tad on the difficult side."

Later, during a group photo, Obama reached behind several leaders at the summit to shake Chavez's hand for the third time. Obama summoned a translator and the two smiled and spoke briefly.

Those two exchanges followed a brief grip-and-grin for cameras on Friday night when Obama greeted Chavez in Spanish.

"I think it was a good moment," Chavez said about their initial encounter. "I think President Obama is an intelligent man, compared to the previous U.S. president."

At a luncheon speech to fellow leaders, Chavez said the spirit of respect is encouraging and he proposed that Havana host the next summit.

"I'm not going to speak for Cuba. It's not up to me ... (but) all of us here are friends of Cuba, and we hope the United States will be, too," Chavez said.

U.S. aides said that Chavez later spoke during a summit session on democratic governance; Obama chose not to speak.

The White House said Chavez was civil in his criticism of the U.S. during a summit meeting, but that there was no discussion of reinstating ambassadors who were kicked out of each other's countries last year. "Relationships depend on more than smiles and handshakes," Obama economic adviser Larry Summers told reporters later.

The State Department welcomed Chavez's outreach.

"Earlier today at the Summit of the Americas President Chavez approached Secretary (Hillary Rodham) Clinton, and they discussed returning ambassadors to their respective posts in Caracas and Washington," said State spokesman Robert Wood. "This is a positive development that will help advance U.S. interests, and the State Department will now work to further this shared goal."

Bolivia President Evo Morales, a close ally of Chavez, said Obama's pledge of a new era of mutual respect toward Latin America rings hollow.

"Obama said three things: There are neither senior or junior partners. He said relations should be of mutual respect, and he spoke of change," Morales said. "In Bolivia ... one doesn't feel any change. The policy of conspiracy continues."

Morales expelled U.S. ambassador Philip Goldberg in September and kicked out the Drug Enforcement Administration the next month for allegedly conspiring with the political opposition to incite violence. Chavez expelled the U.S. ambassador in Venezuela in solidarity. The Bush administration subsequently suspended trade preferences to Bolivia that Bolivian business leaders say could cost 20,000 jobs.

But as the summit neared its close, Chavez said he soon expects to send an ambassador back to Washington.

Obama also extended a hand to Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, whom President Ronald Reagan spent years trying to drive from power. Ortega was ousted in 1990 elections that ended Nicaragua's civil war, but was returned to power by voters in 2006.

Ortega stepped up and introduced himself to Obama, U.S. officials said. But a short time later, Ortega delivered a blistering 50-minute speech that denounced capitalism and U.S. imperialism as the root of much hemispheric mischief. The address even recalled the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, though Ortega said the new U.S. president could not be held to account for that.

"I'm grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old," Obama said, to laughter and applause from the other leaders.»