sábado, 30 de janeiro de 2010

John Edwards e Elizabeth Anania separam-se



Fonte próxima do ex-candidato presidencial em 2004 e 2008 já confirmou a informação aos 'media' americanos: John e Elizabeth vão separar-se, na sequência do caso extraconjugal mantido por John com a realizadora Rielle Hunter, que trabalhou na sua campanha, e do qual resultou um filho cuja paternidade John desmentiu, durante um longo período de tempo.

É mais um capítulo da história da queda em desgraça de John Edwards -- que em 2004 muitos acreditaram poder vir a ser o novo JFK. Na política americana, John é 'finito'.

sexta-feira, 29 de janeiro de 2010

Tempestade perfeita


Texto publicado na rubrica «Histórias da Casa Branca», do site de A Bola, secção Outros Mundos:


«E, subitamente, parece ter-se gerado uma «tempestade perfeita» na Administração Obama. A perda da supermaioria no Senado, depois da incrível derrota de Martha Coakley no Massachussets, transformou os últimos dias numa espécie de pesadelo para o Presidente.

O que se passou no Massachussets foi mais uma prova de que, na política americana, nunca se deve festejar antes do tempo. Vicky Kennedy, viúva de Ted, tinha avisado, a poucos dias da votação: «Este não é o lugar dos Kennedy: é o lugar do povo. Teremos que o merecer.» A campanha eficaz do republicano Scott Brown fez o resto.

É certo que os democratas ainda têm uma enorme maioria na câmara de elite. Como lembrou Paul Begala, estratega democrata e antigo conselheiro de Bill Clinton, «convém não esquecer que o Partido Democrata passou da melhor situação de sempre para a segunda melhor situação de sempre no Senado».

O problema é que, na política americana, o lado simbólico tem muita importância. Sem a capacidade de travar um 'filibuster' (minoria de bloqueio) republicano, a bola deixou de estar do lado dos democratas – e temas mais fracturantes, como a Reforma da Saúde, correm o risco de ficar na gaveta.

Nancy Pelosi, ‘speaker’ do Congresso, passou os últimos dias a tentar refazer as condições políticas para que uma versão mais modesta da Reforma da Saúde ainda possa ser aprovada – mas há quem garanta que a derrota do Massachussets transformou esse sonho dos liberais num caminho sem saída.

Jobs, jobs, jobs
O tom e o conteúdo do primeiro discurso sobre o Estado da União foram um reflexo de que Obama procura encontrar uma nova estratégia para a sua Presidência.

A insistência na tecla da criação de emprego ('jobs, jobs, jobs') é reveladora: será essa a prioridade no segundo ano de mandato.

Barack acenou aos independentes, que depois de o terem apoiado na eleição presidencial estão a abandoná-lo mais rapidamente do que se esperava. O «spending freeze» é um piscar de olho aos centristas que se preocupam com os gastos excessivos, mas, ao mesmo tempo, Obama tenta recuperar o entusiasmo de sectores progressitas, ao falar da «melhoria das condições da classe média».

Horas antes do seu discurso no Capitólio, Obama reforçava, em entrevista à ABC, a sua visão crítica sobre a rapidez com que os estados de espírito mudam em Washington: «Quando estás em queda nas sondagens, és um idiota. Quando estás em alta, és um génio. É assim que os ‘media’ e os ‘pundits’ funcionam na América. Há uma tendência em Washington para achar que a função de um Presidente a cumprir um primeiro mandato é trabalhar para a reeleição. Mas eu não fui eleito para procurar a reeleição. Fui eleito para melhorar a vida dos americanos».

A Administração Obama passa, indiscutivelmente, por um mau bocado. Mas o percurso político do Presidente desaconselharia a que se fizessem já apostas sobre o seu falhanço.»

Estado da União (V): 78 por cento de opiniões positivas ao discurso de Obama



MUITO POSITIVAS: 48%

LIGEIRAMENTE POSITIVAS: 30%

LIGEIRAMENTE NEGATIVAS: 15%

MUITO NEGATIVAS: 6%

(sondagem CNN/Opinion Research Corporation)

quinta-feira, 28 de janeiro de 2010

Estado da União (IV): recuperar apoios dos segmentos descontentes


Um artigo de John Harris, no Politico.com:

«President Barack Obama on Wednesday night tacked to the right with appeals for tax cuts for small business and new investments in off-shore oil drilling and nuclear power. He tacked to the left with renewed vows to let gays serve in the military and to get U.S. troops out of Iraq.


He sounded at times like a Bill Clinton-style centrist, at others like a bank-bashing populist. He taunted Republicans, and also presented himself as a lonely tribune of cooperation and bipartisan civility in Washington.


In a favorable light, his State of the Union speech may have revealed the mind of a leader who has never cared much about traditional ideological categories and is determined to create his own results-oriented composite of ideas from across the spectrum.


Less charitably, the address could be interpreted as the work of a president who is desperately improvising by touching every political erogenous zone he and his advisers can think of.


Under either judgment, however, it was inescapable that his 69-minute speech — for all the rush of words and policy ideas — was a document of downsized ambitions for a downsized moment in his presidency.


It was presented to the Congress and a national audience with all of Obama’s usual fluency and brio. There were flashes of wit, as when he noted ruefully that “by now, it should be fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics.”


And there were flashes of defiance, with Obama delivering what the White House clearly intended to be the headline quote: “We don’t quit; I don’t quit.”


But there was no mistaking throughout this box-checking, loosely bundled speech how different the political context in the winter of 2010 is from the winter of 2009.


Obama came into office promising to shatter expectations of what was possible in Washington. The talk then was of a presidential “big bang” — health care, global warming, and financial reform legislation all in one year — and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel boasted that his motto was to “never let a serious crisis go to waste.”


With the big-bang strategy officially a failure, Obama’s speech revealed in real-time a president groping for a new and more effective one. The speech was woven with frequent acknowledgements that the laws of political gravity applied to him after all.


The first and most pressing legislative goals he identified were a comparatively small jobs bill that has passed the House but is languishing in the Senate, and a Bill Clinton-style menu of tax incentives for business.


Health care, the consuming issue of 2009 and the one on which Obama aides insisted they should be judged, did not show up until more than halfway through.


Even then, it was on a notably defensive note. He acknowledged of his signature domestic proposal that “the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became,” adding that, “I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people.” Despite a year of presidential speeches and legislative maneuvering, he said, many people are asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?”


Legislators should pass what he called good policy even if it is bad politics, he asserted. But Obama offered no clarity at all on exactly when or how this would happen after the stalemate caused by the Republican capture of Ted Kennedy’s former Senate seat in Massachusetts.


His tepid rallying cry: “As temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we've proposed.”


That line fit the theme of the night. This president was in a political jam when the evening started. And it was hard to see how he was in any less of a jam when the evening ended.


In many ways his tone belittled the speech’s substance. There were only a few of the rhetorical acrobatics and lyrical flights that mark Obama’s most cultivated speeches. Instead, the language was more straightforward, more informal, more accessible — the words of a realist rather than a romantic.


But if the speech reflected his cramped circumstances, it probably did nothing to alter those circumstances.


The president and his aides have been awash in advice for the past few weeks, and the speech sounded as though they had decided to serve up a buffet of all of it.


For those who thought he needed to take a step to the right and show more outreach to Republicans, there were calls for the parties to transcend “pettiness” and “work through our differences.” He bragged about how he had cut taxes for most families and talked up a spending freeze.


For those who thought he needed to show he was listening to the liberals who were most excited about the original promise of his presidency, there was his vow to act on his campaign promise of ending discrimination against gays in the military. He promised that he would move ahead with energy legislation, which includes the politically volatile “cap and trade” provisions to limit carbon emissions, though he did not try to rebut the widespread analysis that there is virtually no chance these will pass the Senate this year.


For those who thought he needed to stand up to special interests and tell big bankers where to get off, he did just that. He promoted a proposed new fee on banks and crowed, “I know Wall Street isn't keen on this idea, but if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need.”



For those who thought Obama needed to be more modest and contrite, he delivered just that — saying he “deserved” some of his “political setbacks.” He did the same for those who thought he should be less detached and project a more human connection to the lives of real people. There were references to the letters from average Americans he reads nightly and to the struggles of Allentown, Pa., and Elyria, Ohio, and Galesburg, Ill.

It was overwhelmingly a domestic policy address. Though the president was absorbed for months in 2009 with his review of policy in Afghanistan, where 100,000 U.S. troops now serve, the war there was dealt with in two paragraphs.


Iraq also came at the end, with a reference that was brief but resounding about his long-term goal: “But make no mistake: This war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home.”


A speech with parts to satisfy so many different constituencies and perspectives could not fully satisfy very many people. This was reflected in the early reaction.


Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) criticized the president for continuing to express willingness to work with Republicans, arguing that Obama should have been more forceful about calling the Republicans out for obstruction.


"The fact is, we have an opposition determined to bring him down," McDermott said. "I don't know when he's going to get the message. ... They're not going to help him at all. Watch. I've been doing this a long time."


On the other hand, Rep. Joe Wilson — the South Carolina Republican who gained notoriety last year by shouting “You lie!” during an earlier Obama speech to Congress — was staying positive.


“On the issue of national security, I was pleased that the president reiterated the value of sending 30,000 more reinforcements to Afghanistan," Wilson said. "I very much respect the president’s decision to listen to our commanders on the ground. ...”


Another conservative was much less complimentary. On POLITICO’s Arena feature, the Heritage Foundation’s Rory Cooper complained that the speech “seemed to have dozens of authors as it contradicted itself and his policies often and emphatically.


“He said he didn't want to relitigate the past, when the primary focus of the address was exactly that,” Cooper said. “He said he didn't want to penalize bankers, right after he gloriously announced his punitive tax on bankers who have paid back the U.S. Treasury in full with interest. He said he wanted to control spending, and then rattled off a laundry list of liberal investments.”


Also on the Arena, Obama got an assist from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the 2004 Democratic nominee, who said his work with Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut shows that progress on energy legislation is realistic this year.


“The inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom that this issue has stalled is dead wrong,” Kerry said.


Obama knows his challenge is to get other Democrats to share Kerry’s optimism, not just on energy legislation but on the larger promise of the administration. “To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills,” Obama said.»

Estado da União (III): os principais momentos de um discurso feito em momento muito difícil para a Presidência Obama

Estado da União (II): o primeiro discurso de Obama

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Estado da União (I): Obama - «Nunca sugeri que a mudança viesse a ser fácil»

terça-feira, 26 de janeiro de 2010

'Who is Barack Obama?'


Numa altura em que uma boa parte dos americanos que votaram em Obama começa a duvidar da escolha feita a 4 de Novembro de 2008, um interessante artigo de Bob Herbert, no New York Times:

«Americans are still looking for the answer, and if they don’t get it soon — or if they don’t like the answer — the president’s current political problems will look like a walk in the park.

Mr. Obama may be personally very appealing, but he has positioned himself all over the political map: the anti-Iraq war candidate who escalated the war in Afghanistan; the opponent of health insurance mandates who made a mandate to buy insurance the centerpiece of his plan; the president who stocked his administration with Wall Street insiders and went to the mat for the banks and big corporations, but who is now trying to present himself as a born-again populist.

Mr. Obama is in danger of being perceived as someone whose rhetoric, however skillful, cannot always be trusted. He is creating a credibility gap for himself, and if it widens much more he won’t be able to close it.

Mr. Obama’s campaign mantra was “change” and most of his supporters took that to mean that he would change the way business was done in Washington and that he would reverse the disastrous economic policies that favored mega-corporations and the very wealthy at the expense of the middle class and the poor.

“Tonight, more Americans are out of work, and more are working harder for less,” said Mr. Obama in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in August 2008. “More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can’t afford to drive, credit card bills you can’t afford to pay, and tuition that’s beyond your reach.”

Voters watching the straight-arrow candidate delivering that speech, in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Depression, would not logically have thought that an obsessive focus on health insurance would trump job creation as the top domestic priority of an Obama administration.

But that’s what happened. Moreover, questions were raised about Mr. Obama’s candor when he spoke about health care. In his acceptance speech, for example, candidate Obama took a verbal shot at John McCain, sharply criticizing him for offering “a health care plan that would actually tax people’s benefits.”

Now Mr. Obama favors a plan that would tax at least some people’s benefits. Mr. Obama also repeatedly said that policyholders who were pleased with their plans and happy with their doctors would be able to keep both under his reform proposals.

Well, that wasn’t necessarily so, as the president eventually acknowledged. There would undoubtedly be changes in some people’s coverage as a result of “reform,” and some of those changes would be substantial. At a forum sponsored by ABC News last summer, Mr. Obama backed off of his frequent promise that no changes would occur, saying only that “if you are happy with your plan, and if you are happy with your doctor, we don’t want you to have to change.”

These less-than-candid instances are emblematic of much bigger problems. Mr. Obama promised during the campaign that he would be a different kind of president, one who would preside over a more open, more high-minded administration that would be far more in touch with the economic needs of ordinary working Americans. But no sooner was he elected than he put together an economic team that would protect, above all, the interests of Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, the health insurance companies, and so on.

How can you look out for the interests of working people with Tim Geithner whispering in one ear and Larry Summers in the other?

Now with his poll numbers down and the Democrats’ filibuster-proof margin in the Senate about to vanish, Mr. Obama is trying again to position himself as a champion of the middle class. Suddenly, with the public appalled at the scandalous way the health care legislation was put together, and with Democrats facing a possible debacle in the fall, Mr. Obama is back in campaign mode. Every other utterance is about “fighting” for the middle class, “fighting” for jobs, “fighting” against the big bad banks.

The president who has been aloof and remote and a pushover for the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, who has been locked in the troubling embrace of the Geithners and Summers and Ben Bernankes of the world, all of a sudden is a man of the people. But even as he is promising to fight for jobs, a very expensive proposition, he’s proposing a spending freeze that can only hurt job-creating efforts.

Mr. Obama will deliver his State of the Union address Wednesday night. The word is that he will offer some small bore assistance to the middle class. But more important than the content of this speech will be whether the president really means what he says. Americans want to know what he stands for, where his line in the sand is, what he’ll really fight for, and where he wants to lead this nation.

They want to know who their president really is.»

quarta-feira, 20 de janeiro de 2010

Obama é Presidente há um ano (XI): o Nobel da Paz, momento contraditório

Obama é Presidente há um ano (X): fecho de Guantánamo - decisão histórica, concretização demorada

Obama é Presidente há um ano (IX): prenda amarga de aniversário para Barack - a derrota de Martha Coakley desfaz a supermaioria democrata no Senado

Obama é Presidente há um ano (VIII): os percalços no juramento e um discurso para a História

Obama é Presidente há um ano (VII): um discurso poderoso e realista



«My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you've bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.

I thank President Bush for his service to our nation -- (applause) -- as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often, the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we, the people, have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears and true to our founding documents.

So it has been; so it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many -- and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable, but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met. (Applause.)

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation. But in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. (Applause.)

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those that prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops, and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip, and plowed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died in places like Concord and Gettysburg, Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions, greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America. (Applause.)

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift. And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched. But this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control. The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity, on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good. (Applause.)

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers -- (applause) -- our Founding Fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man -- a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience sake. (Applause.)

And so, to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born, know that America is a friend of each nation, and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity. And we are ready to lead once more. (Applause.)

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken -- you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you. (Applause.)

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. (Applause.)

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. (Applause.)

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the role that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who at this very hour patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are the guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service -- a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.

And yet at this moment, a moment that will define a generation, it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all. For as much as government can do, and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.

What is demanded, then, is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence -- the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall; and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served in a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath. (Applause.)

So let us mark this day with remembrance of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At the moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words to be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America: In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.»

Obama é Presidente há um ano (VI): um instantâneo da tomada de posse

Obama é Presidente há um ano (V): dois milhões em Washington

Obama é Presidente há um ano (IV): a euforia decresceu - mas ainda há uma base sólida de apoio

Obama é Presidente há um ano (III): um triunfo - a recuperação bolsista

Obama é Presidente há um ano (II): um cisne negro - a Taxa de Aprovação abaixo dos 50 por cento

Obama é Presidente há um ano (I): 25 por cento do primeiro mandato está cumprido

domingo, 17 de janeiro de 2010

Mensagem Semanal: Obama garante que não deixará «Wall Street ficar com o dinheiro dos americanos»

Senado 2010: Scott Brown 48-Martha Coakley 45


O candidato republicano está ligeiramente à frente da pretendente democrata, actual procoradora-geral do Massachussets, na disputa pelo lugar deixado vago pela morte de Ted Kennedy.

(sondagem American Research Group, dados recolhidos entre 12 e 14 de Janeiro)

sábado, 16 de janeiro de 2010

Depois de «Game Change», há mais três livros sobre a campanha de 2008 a caminho...



Um é de Bob Woodward, outro de Jonathan Alter e haverá ainda um terceiro de Ryan Lizza.

Um artigo de Michael Calderone, no POLITICO.COM:

«“Game Change” by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin has touched off a debate about anonymous sourcing and the accuracy of narrative-driven political books. But the debate isn’t likely to end soon because Bob Woodward and at least two other prominent political journalists, Jonathan Alter and Ryan Lizza, have similar books about the Obama administration coming out this year.


Woodward, the capital’s foremost fly-on-the-wall chronicler of political power, is unapologetic about using anonymous sourcing to enable high-level participants to give accounts of contemporary events. “It’s the only method if you’re going to get an unlaundered version of what occurred,” he said.


But Woodward balks at the idea that he was simply “recreating” scenes in his books. “It’s reported,” he said. “So-and-so was there and they said this. There are meeting notes and so forth.”


His new book, which he said is “going very well,” will use the same methods, and a White House official confirmed that Woodward is getting access to senior officials and will likely sit down with the president.


Alter, a Newsweek senior editor who will be first out of the gate with his Obama White House book in May - “The Promise: President Obama, Year One” - said “the idea that you can write one of these books without using anonymous sources is erroneous.”


“Long-form journalism or works of history benefit from narrative drive,” Alter said. “Most of my scenes are quite short, but it is necessary to include some dialogue in order to take the reader as close as possible to what happened. In my reporting experience, people tend to remember quite well what the president said. I often rely on their memories if the quotations are short.”


Background sourcing can be essential, Alter said, because “you don’t want the source to be parsing every word. You want them to tell you what happened.”


Granting sources anonymity is a bargain made daily in Washington journalism, with the upside being proximity to the unvarnished truth. The downside: getting spun by sources for their own purpose while under the cloak of anonymity.


“Game Change,” which has already been optioned by HBO, has a cinematic feel, complete with such controversy-courting details as a phone conversation between Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy in which Kennedy later “fumed that Clinton had said, A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.”


What Clinton allegedly said isn’t in quotation marks—a practice that, according to the author’s note, “reflect[s] only a lack of certainty on the part of our sources about precise wording, not about the nature of the statements.” Although it may not be precise wording, several news organizations have run it as a verbatim quote from the 42nd president to the late lion of the Senate.


Plum Line blogger Greg Sargent questioned the methodology, writing that “in cases like these, when people are hinting at racism, the precise wording is everything. And in this case, the whole claim is based on an anonymous source’s recollection that someone who has now passed away told him or her that Clinton said something like this.”


For Sargent, “this really illustrates the perils of this approach to sourcing, particularly in the current media environment.”


That kind of sourcing can make it hard to evaluate the book’s content. Although Sen. Harry Reid readily acknowledged his by now-notorious remarks about Barack Obama’s skin color, it’s still not clear what the circumstances were when he made the remark. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews spent a couple minutes on the air Tuesday asking (and asking and asking) both Halperin and Heilemann if he was talking in an interview with them. "We're not talking about who we interviewed for the book,” Halperin responded.


Still, other journalists agree with Woodward and Alter that in order to write a compelling narrative that takes the reader behind-the-scenes—often as events are still unfolding— there is often no alternative.


New York Times White House reporter Peter Baker, whose 2000 book “The Breach” used background sources to bring readers inside the Clinton impeachment and trial, said that as the author, you have “to decide is if you can write a more honest book if you give sources that sort of protection”


“In hindsight, I wish I had been able to do that book with footnotes and more transparent attribution,” Baker said, adding that it can be a “greater work of history” that way.


But when covering real-time events with subjects still in office, as Baker did in “The Breach,” it would have been far more difficult—if not impossible—to tell the story through on-the-record interviews only.


Baker said that he may try and conduct more on-the-record interviews and include footnoting for a book he’s planning to write for Doubleday on the Bush administration, given that the participants are no longer in office. But that will depend on what he gets from sources.


“If that’s not producing the kind of material that’s generally interesting or revelatory, or not catching the back-story, I’d rethink it,” Baker said.


“The unavoidable reality is that people who are uniquely qualified to reveal near-real-time events—particularly for a book that's published close to when the events occurred—aren’t likely to do so unless their identities are concealed,” said Robert Draper, who interviewed Bush and top staffers for his book “Dead Certain.”


“Like hollering at the rain, nothing's going to change that elemental truth in this town,” Draper continued. “That said, reconstructing a hitherto-secret narrative by means of anonymous sourcing is asking a lot of readers.”


Draper added that the “more insidious threat to journalistic credibility isn't anonymous sourcing but rather the tendency, on the part of some authors and reporters, to reward access with hagiography.”


Insiders typically read the narrative genre of political books on another level, parsing blind quotes for evidence of who blabbed and who didn’t. “It’s kind of a famous pastime,” said Dan Bartlett, who served as a high-level White House aide to former President George W. Bush. “People leave interesting tracks.”


Bartlett also has the unique perspective of someone who tried to manage a Woodward book. For “Bush at War”—the first of four books Woodward wrote on the administration— Bartlett said that Woodward was given “reams of material” and granted “countless” interviews with senior-level staffers and Bush. For his third Bush book, “State of Denial,” the White House decided not to give Woodward as much access or an interview with the president.


In Bartlett’s view, the tone and tenor of that book were more negative, reflecting the fact that often by providing key officials “you can undermine a potentially negative narrative.”


If narratives of contemporary events are influenced by who talks anonymously and who doesn’t, along with the level of access, will they play a significant role in the historical record?


Sean Wilentz, a Princeton historian who has written about Ronald Reagan as well as Andrew Jackson, said that “Game Change” or similarly-sourced books have “tended not to have an impact on historical assessment [but are] good for the moment.”


Rick Perlstein, author of “Nixonland” and a biography of Barry Goldwater, has a harsher view of the lack of transparency from Halperin and Heilemann. “Why should we grant them more cultural authority than we do the National Enquirer?” Perlstein said.


“These guys don’t care to defend themselves on the basic questions of verifiability,” Perlstein added. “If they’re comfortable with that, more power to them. We have to decide as readers and commentators whether we’re comfortable than that.”


But Halperin and Heilemann aren’t the first authors of such books to attract criticism over what can and cannot be verified. Whenever a Woodward book drops, someone involved always seems to question the accuracy of specific scenes. But often Woodward is vindicated.


After the publication of “Final Days,” Henry A. Kissinger said Woodward had gotten it wrong when he described him praying with Nixon the day before the president’s resignation. Years later, Kissinger wrote his own account of the prayer session.


And while some Clinton insiders blasted “The Agenda” in 1994, George Stephanopoulos, a White House aide when Woodward was writing his book described it in his memoir as “a comprehensive and basically accurate account.”


Political figures from Senator Charles Schumer to Sarah Palin have questioned the accuracy of “Game Change,” with the debate spilling out onto cable news. Even Woodward got into the act this week on MSNBC, raising questions about an anecdote early in the book in which the authors write that after watching Hillary Clinton’s reaction to losing the Iowa caucus, one of her “senior-most lieutenants thought for the first time, This woman shouldn’t be president.”


“The question is: who is it?” asked Woodward. And second, he continued, “does it reflect a fundamental attitude? Does this person really think this person shouldn't be president?"»

Senado: Obama faz campanha por Martha Coakley, candidata democrata no Massachussets

terça-feira, 12 de janeiro de 2010

Valor mínimo na Taxa de Aprovação: 41 por cento


Barack Obama atingiu, esta semana, o valor mais baixo da sua Taxa de Aprovação: 41 por cento.

CBS NEWS POLL, 6 a 10 de Janeiro de 2010

Será que a América ainda quer o estilo 'No Drama Obama'?



Um artigo de Kristy Keck, no CNNpolitics.com:

«In the days since a botched attempt to blow up a passenger plane, President Obama has faced criticism that he was too cool, too weak and too late in his response to the near-tragedy.

The president, who was vacationing in Hawaii at the time, made his first on-camera statement three days after the Christmas Day attack, detailing reviews he ordered of air travel policies.

"The American people should be assured that we are doing everything in our power to keep you and your family safe and secure during this busy holiday season," said Obama, who appeared in a casual open-neck shirt with no tie.

The next day, Obama gave another statement, this time with tougher language. "A systemic failure has occurred, and I consider that totally unacceptable," he said.

The president said that given the warning signs, the suspect should have never been allowed to board. Had critical information been shared among agencies, "a fuller, clearer picture of the suspect would have emerged," he said.

Still, critics wanted more. Former Vice President Dick Cheney blasted Obama, saying the administration's response is proof that the president "is trying to pretend we are not at war."

Republican strategist Rich Galen said while no one is blaming Obama for the failure of the counterterrorism system, people are questioning the administration's message.

In the administration's first response to the incident, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Americans two days after the indicant that the system in place worked. She later dialed back her comments, saying "no one is happy or satisfied" with how the system performed.

Galen said it was the lack of organization among Obama's team that caused concern.

"I think what got everybody's attention was the reaction of the administration after the event from Secretary Napolitano to the fact that the president didn't come out for three days. That's sort of got everybody's antenna up," Galen said.

It's not the first time Obama has come under fire for his response to a crisis. He was criticized for not speaking out more strongly on the day of the Fort Hood shootings, and he faced scrutiny during the campaign for not immediately condemning Russia when the country invaded Georgia.

Obama is not the only president to face such criticism. "Presidents are always criticized this way. And there is always something behind it, something deeper," presidential historian Doug Wead said in an e-mail.

"Behind the GOP criticism that the president should have been out front on this, reassuring the American people, reacting quicker, is the charge that he is not as focused on American security as was President Bush," said Wead, who served as a special assistant to President George H.W. Bush and as an informal adviser to President George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign.

Bush was not subjected to criticisms when he waited six days to respond to Richard Reid's attempted shoe-bombing of an airline on December 22, 2001. However, he was rebuked for his response to Hurricane Katrina.

"What was behind the criticism of his delayed concern [over Katrina] was the charge that he did not care enough about the poor, that he didn't understand. There was a disconnect," Wead said. "In both [the Obama and Bush] cases, the tardy response is tied to a deeper concern."

After meeting with his security team on Tuesday, Obama was a little more blunt in his assessment of what went wrong in the screening system, saying it failed -- not that intelligence wasn't gathered but that it wasn't shared.

CNN political analyst David Gergen described Obama's tone on Tuesday as "smoldering."

"I don't think I've seen him quite that sort of intense and sort of angry," Gergen said.

Gergen said he thought Obama's apparent anger was directed at the entire U.S. intelligence community for not connecting the dots.

Obama must walk a fine line in what tone he projects in addressing a crisis, one expert says.

"The quandary is that on the one hand he has to provide reassurance to the American people by responding with strength, and yet at the same time he wants to maintain the policy of engagement," said John Quelch, a marketing professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of "Greater Good: How Good Marketing Makes for Better Democracy."

Obama campaigned on what he described as "tough but engaged diplomacy." Then-candidate Obama said he wanted to meet with leaders of hostile nations because "the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration, is ridiculous."

Obama has been articulating his engagement strategy since before taking office, but his logic has not been fully accepted by the public. Telling the public what it wants to hear instead of sticking with his approach, however, would undermine the strategy, Quelch said.

"The engagement strategy has to be sustained for more than one year in order for it to bite, in order for the rest of the world to take it credibly," he said.

"Extremists on the other side have no interest in engagement being effective in terms of winning the hearts and minds of the Arab street," he said.

To get the public to appreciate his strategy, Obama needs to do a better job explaining why it's worth investing in, while also assuring people that effective military action "to take out the bad guys" is being implemented behind the scenes, Quelch said.

"He has to try to educate the public that if they become righteously indignant and pressure the administration to respond precipitously, they are playing into the hands of the extremist," he said.

Obama's remarks Tuesday follow a meeting with members of his national security team. The president said their discussion will focus on "ongoing reviews as well as security enhancements and intelligence-sharing improvements in our homeland security and counterterrorism operations."»

Obama defende Harry Reid: «É um bom homem, esteve sempre do lado certo da História»

O Presidente admite que o deslize de Reid, ao falar no termo 'negro' foi despropositada, mas desdramatizou o incidente e elogiou o líder da maioria democrata no Senado:

quinta-feira, 7 de janeiro de 2010

Obama sobre a falha de segurança: «A responsabilidade é minha»


«President Barack Obama on Thursday accepted responsibility for intelligence shortcomings that led to a failed Christmas Day bombing plot on a Detroit-bound airliner, saying, “Ultimately, the buck stops with me.

“As president, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people, and when the system fails, it is my responsibility,” Obama said.

Obama said an intelligence review found that the U.S. government had the information needed to thwart the plot but failed to do so because of a series of compounding shortcomings, including that intelligence analysts didn’t focus heavily enough on information warning that al-Qaida in Yemen wanted to strike the United States.

“The U.S. government had the information scattered through the system to potentially uncover this plot and disrupt the attack. Rather than a failure to collect and share this intelligence, this was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence we already had,” Obama said at the White House.

The report also highlights other shortfalls, including that a misspelling of the suspect’s name initially resulted in State Department believing he did not have a valid U.S. visa. In addition, the report cites “a series of human errors,” including a delay in disseminating a finished intelligence report that would have shed light on the attempted plot.

Obama’s buck-stops-here message marks a change in tone from earlier statements in which Obama and other officials repeatedly noted that the watch-listing system that failed to flag the suspect, Umar AbdulMatallab, was put in place under the Bush administration.

But while Obama promised to bring more accountability into the counterterrorism system, he indicated he had no plans to fire anyone involved in the missteps prior to Christmas.

“It appears this incident was not the fault of a single individual or organization but rather a systemic failure across organizations and agencies…. I am less interested in passing out blame than I am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer,” Obama said.

However, at a briefing for reporters after Obama’s statement, a top White House counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, said he was also accepting responsibility for the failures.

“I told the president today, ‘I let you down.’ I am the president’s assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism and I told him that I will do better and we will do better as a team,” Brennan said. “The intelligence fell through the cracks. This happened in more than one organization.”

Obama’s comments came as the White House released the most detailed account to date of what information the U.S. Government had about the plot involving the 23-year-old Nigerian and why analysts failed to recognize it.

Obama said he was ordering more resources be put into tracking down leads on potential terrorist attacks, rather than simply compiling information. “We must follow the leads that we get and we must pursue them until plots are disrupted and that means assigning clear lines of responsibility,” he said. The president also said he had ordered that intelligence reports be distributed more widely, that the analytical process be strengthened, and that watch-list procedures be revamped.

Obama also ordered the Department of Homeland Security to move faster to roll out technology like whole-body scanners that might have detected the plastic explosive powder used in the Christmas Day attack.

In the past, Obama White House officials have complained that President George W. Bush and his team were too slow to acknowledge mistakes and rarely took responsibility for them. Obama and his advisers seem intent on taking a different tack, in the hopes that Americans won’t hold the mistakes against the president if they’re convinced he’s moving quickly to fix them.

“Now, there is of course no fool-proof solution, as we develop new screening technologies and procedures, our adversaries will seek new ways to evade them. In the never-ending race to protect our country, we have to stay one step ahead of a nimble adversary,” Obama said.

According to national security adviser Jim Jones, the accumulation of missed signals gives a “shock value” to the report. “I think there’s a certain shock to it,” Jones told USA Today Wednesday. “The man in the street will be surprised that these correlations weren’t made….There were a number of things that could have triggered the prevention of this man getting on an airplane.”

Jones said President Barack Obama is “legitimately and correctly alarmed” by the oversights and added that the episode has a parallel to the government’s inability to recognize clues that preceded the shooting that killed 12 people at Fort Hood in Texas in November. “There is no theater here in terms of how the president reacts,” Jones said in the interview.


The White House is confident it can remedy the failures demonstrated on Christmas Day and do so quickly. “We know what happened. We know what didn’t happen and we know how to fix it,” Jones said.


Part of the overall fix will include a surge in the air marshal program, putting more marshals onto international flights. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that they are canvassing other law enforcement branches within the agency for volunteers to beef up staffing for the marshals.


Agents from Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection branch were aware of some of the intelligence about AbdulMutallab and decided while he was in the air to question him about his plans when he landed in Detroit, officials said Thursday, confirming a report in the Los Angeles Times. However, there were no plans to conduct an in-depth interrogation of AbdulMutallab, who had a valid visa, and no indication he would have been denied entry to the country, they said.


Meanwhile, former Rep. Lee Hamilton, a member of the 9/11 Commission, said Thursday that the problems which led to the Christmas Day failure involve personnel and analysis, and not the configuration of the intelligence system itself.


“I do not see this as a structural problem,” Hamilton told reporters at a briefing organized by the Christian Science Monitor. “I see it as a situation where a number of government employees, some of whom would be at the mid-level, in other words, not at the top of the heap, missed things that they should have caught.”


Hamilton said officials were dutifully entering information into various databases which were theoretically accessible to other agencies, but no one was taking the initiative to run the leads about AbdulMutallab and the alleged plot to the ground.

“I think the failure is to investigate data that comes to you and to investigate it and follow it up very hard,” Hamilton said. “You get a flash on the computer screen saying the father of this young man said he had become radicalized, OK, that's a red flag. You must identify it as a red flag….You've got to begin to dig immediately as to what that means, what other data do we have about that young man... That is the flaw.”

Obama plans to give part of the task of diagnosing the intelligence failures to a blue-ribbon panel, the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board. According to an administration official, Jones has reached out to the co-chairs of that group, former senators David Boren (D-Okla.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), since the incident took place.


“The president has asked us to play an appropriate role in this matter, advising him,” Boren told POLITICO Thursday. “It would be improper for me to go beyond that….but we are involved.”


Obama’s team for the board, or PIAB in intelligence community parlance, was only barely in place at the time of the terrorist incident. While Boren and Hagel were formally named as co-chairs in October, another seven members of the panel, including Hamilton, were announced on December 23—two days before the attack. A few more members are expected to be announced soon.


A White House spokesman declined to say what Obama has asked the panel to do to assess the intelligence failures, but one senior official said there will be “some role.” The board is expected to meet in Washington next week.


One issue on the agenda will be whether the Director of National Intelligence position set up in the wake of 9/11 is performing its intended or best role. The staff under DNI Dennis Blair and his predecessors has grown substantially, but the Obama Administration has ceded to the CIA some of the oversight role Blair hoped for. A bill passed by Congress last year requires the White House to report by April on whether the DNI structure is working.»

in POLITICO.COM

Martha Coakley, procuradora-geral do Massachussets, recebe o apoio da família Kennedy para avançar para o Senado

Mitt Romney posiciona-se para 2012; Chris Dodd está de saída do Capitólio

terça-feira, 5 de janeiro de 2010

domingo, 3 de janeiro de 2010

O Iowa foi há dois anos


A 3 de Janeiro de 2008, faz hoje, precisamente, dois anos, Barack Obama deu o primeiro grande passo rumo a uma eleição histórica.

No caucus do Iowa, batalha de arranque das primárias para a corrida presidencial de 2008, o então senador do Illinois arrebatou o primeiro lugar na disputa democrata, vencendo, folgadamente, um estado com 96 por cento de eleitores brancos.

Obama somou 38 por cento, com grande avanço sobre o segundo classificado, John Edwards (30%) e da terceira, Hillary Clinton (29%).

O resto é conhecido. E foi histórico.

Iémen: EUA e Reino Unido fecham embaixadas perante suspeitas de ameaça da Al Qaeda


«The U.S. closed its embassy in Yemen on Sunday, citing ongoing threats by the al Qaeda group linked to the failed Christmas Day bid to bomb a Detroit-bound flight.


"The U.S. Embassy in San'a is closed today, January 3, 2010, in response to ongoing threats by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula ... to attack American interests in Yemen," the embassy said in a brief message on its Web site. The message did not say how long the embassy, which has been assaulted and threatened several times in the past decade, would remain closed.


“There are indications that Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula is targeting our embassy and targeting our personnel. We’re not going to take any chance with the lives of diplomats,” White House Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser John Brennan said on “Fox News Sunday.”


The British government joined the United States in closing its embassy in Yemen on Sunday, AP reports. Shutting an embassy is a rare and dire step, dramatizing the Arab nation's position as one of the world's premier terrorist havens.


The closures came a day after Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, made a surprise visit to the country on Saturday, where he reportedly met with President Ali Abdullah Saleh.


“Gen. Petraeus was in Yemen today as part of our ongoing consultations with and efforts in support of Yemen," a senior administration official said Saturday, painting the trip as part of an ongoing collaboration with the government there.


Yemen is where alleged Northwest Airlines flight 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is believed to have travelled to obtain from Al Qaeda the explosives he tried to detonate aboard the Detroit-bound airplane.


Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attempted Christmas Day attack, a link President Obama acknowledged for the first time Saturday in his weekly address.


“As President,” Obama said, “I've made it a priority to strengthen our partnership with the Yemeni government—training and equipping their security forces, sharing intelligence and working with them to strike al Qaeda terrorists.”


“We are very concerned about Al Qaeda’s continued growth there,” Brennan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But they are not just focusing on Yemen… they are increasingly looking to the West.”


“We keep thwarting their attacks, but they keep pressing,” warned Brennan.

On Thursday, the U.S. embassy had sent out a Security Warden Message encouraging U.S. citizens there “to follow good security practices and maintain situational awareness,” mentioning Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s “threats against Westerners working in embassies and elsewhere, characterizing them as ‘unbelievers’ and ‘crusaders.’”


The most recent attack on the U.S. embassy, in September, 2008, killed 19, including an 18-year-old American woman and six of the attackers, though no diplomats or members of the mission were hurt. Al Qaeda in Yemen took credit for that assault.


Petraeus’ visit Saturday came as President Obama and his top national security aides are sifting through the initial findings of reviews of airport security procedures and how the government tracks attempted terrorists.


Obama has called a high-level meeting in the situation room on Tuesday to go over the findings with his senior intelligence and national security officials. In the meantime, the White House dispatched Brennan, who is leading the reviews, to appear on several of the Sunday talk shows.


On CNN, Brennan conceded that “Clearly the system didn’t work. We had a problem in terms of why Abdulmutallab got on the plane.”


But he stressed that “There was no smoking gun out there… we had bits and pieces of information.”


“It was not like 9/11,” Brennan said of the failure of the intelligence process to flag Abdulmutallab before the attack. “There was no indication that any of these agencies were intentionally holding back information. There were lapses and human errors… [but] there wasn’t an effort to try and conceal information.

Former Sept. 11 Commission chairman Thomas Kean said Sunday that Abdulmutallab "probably did us a favor."

"The president now is saying the right things and I believe he'll do the right thing," Kean said on CNN, but added: "No matter what else is going on, this has always got to be number one."

Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, said that Brennan, who appeared just before him, was “a bit defensive,” and that the intelligence failing was similar to 9/11.

"A lot of pieces of information, if they'd been put together, then we might have deterred that plot," he said. "This is the same thing."

Republican Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.) took a similar line Sunday, saying “There’s no question that the president downplayed the risk of terrorism since he took office.”


“It begins with not even being willing to use the word.”


Sen. Clare McCaskill (D-Mo.), appearing with DeMint on CNN on Sunday, shot back, “It is unfair and frankly political to take pot shots as the president as we respond to this failure in our system that we’ve got to get fixed.”


On Saturday, the administration official stressed that "we have made Yemen a priority over the course of this year,” echoing language used by Obama in his weekly address. The official said that “Gen. Petraeus briefed John Brennan on the visit, and during the course of his consultations with the president, Brennan updated the president on Gen. Petraeus’s productive visit.”


Several announcements on Saturday seemed to reinforce that narrative. Yemen reportedly deployed several hundred troops to al Qaeda’s strongholds in the nation’s eastern provinces of Marib and Jouf.


Yemen, just south of Saudi Arabia and separated from Somalia, which has also emerged as a Qaeda outpost, by the narrow Gulf of Aden, is the poorest nation in the Arab world. The location of the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, Yemen received $67 million in publicly disclosed training and support funds from the Pentagon in the current fiscal year year, up from just $4.6 million in FY2006 and second only to the $112 million received by Pakistan.


On Friday, Petraeus told reporters in Baghdad that U.S. counterterrorism aid to Yemen ''will more than double this coming year.''


''Al-Qaida are always on the lookout for places where they might be able to put down roots,'' he said.



Yemen, the ancestral home of Osama BIn Laden, is also the native country of nearly half the remaining inmates held at Guantanamo Bay, and the instability of the central government and increased presence and position of Al Qaeda there have emerged as major obstacles Obama’s pledge to close the prison.

While POLITICO, the New York Times and others have reported there was a decision not to release anyone else to Yemen, Brennan said Sunday and claimed that such cases would still be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

“Some of these individuals are going to be transferred back to Yemen at the right time, at the right pace and the right way, he said. “We want to make sure we are able to close Guantanamo. Guantanmo has been used a propaganda tool by AQ and others.”


America has already stepped up its military cooperation with Saleh’s government, whose influence is mostly contained to the capital, including a U.S.-aided air strike on December 24 apparently directed at al Qaeda leadership there. There were numerous reports that that attack employed drones such as those the U.S. has used to target terrorists in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.


“We are continuing to press and maintain pressure on Al Qaeda in Yemen,” said Brennan on Sunday. “There a number of Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen who are no longer alive as of last month.”


Also Saturday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for an international conference on Jan. 28 on how best to counter radicalization in Yemen, as well as a commitment to fund, along with the U.S., the Yemeni police and coast guard’s counter-terror efforts. Pirates in the Gulf of Aden have taken four ships in the past week for ransom.»

in POLITICO.COM