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Nov 3, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Chastened, humbled… and shellacked

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It was a subdued and chastened president who took the podium for his post-election news conference today. His tone flat, his eyes often downcast, his smile largely absent, Obama admitted the election results were “humbling.” At first, he tried to pin the blame on the tepid economic recovery, but as the questions ground on, he took more and more responsibility for the defeat on himself. For setting a bad tone with business, for not making enough progress on the economy, for failing to change the way Washington works.

Yet there was no contrition about the policies he pursued.  Perhaps this was not the right venue for that, perhaps history will prove him right, but one had the feeling the president believed just as firmly as ever in the policies he had so painstakingly worked out in his long Oval Office deliberations. The Democrats who lost on Tuesday, he said, had already contacted him to say they had no regrets, because they felt “we were doing the right thing.”

Nov 3, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Time for a change, Take two

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For the second time in two years, the American people have delivered a message of change, a message that they think Washington is broken. In 2008, Barack Obama took that message into the White House but has, at least according to these polls, failed to deliver change that most Americans readily believe in.

Now, the conservative Tea Party movement is riding what Kentucky’s new Senator-elect Rand Paul called a “tidal wave” right into the halls of power to “get our government back.”

Nov 3, 2010

Washington Extra-Time for change in Washington, Mark Two

WASHINGTON, Nov 2 (Reuters) – For the second time in two
years, the American people have delivered a message of change,
a message that they think Washington is broken.

In 2008, Barack Obama took that message into the White
House but has, at least according to these polls, failed to
deliver change that most Americans readily believe in.

Nov 1, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Midterm, one-term?

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As we approach half-time in his presidency, just over half of Americans believe Barack Obama will not win re-election in 2012. Our final Reuters/Ipsos poll showed just one-third of those surveyed still thought President Obama would win a second term. An amazing transformation in the national mood in less than two years since the inauguration.

A 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll found 39 percent of those surveyed believe Obama should be a one-term president, compared to 26 percent who wanted a second term and 33 percent who were unsure.

Oct 28, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – The relative merits of Obama, Stewart, Palin and baseball

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It is unclear to me if appearing on “The Daily Show” will have done much for President Barack Obama’s ratings. But it doesn’t seem to have helped Jon Stewart’s much. Nielsen data just in shows last night’s episode attracted 2.8 million viewers (minus TiVo data), compared to the show’s average of roughly 3.6 million an episode. Not sure if it says much about the president, except that people probably watch the Daily Show for Jon Stewart, not for his guests. Or maybe they were just watching the World Series.

That said, I suspect Sarah Palin would draw higher ratings if she ever graced Stewart’s studio. Instead, the former vice presidential candidate will be on air on Entertainment Tonight this evening. Asked bluntly if she planned to run for president, Palin said she would take a look at the lay of the land, to see if there was anyone else with the “common sense, conservative, pro-Constitution passion” she believes in.

Oct 27, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Analyze This

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A confusing labyrinth. That is how the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) described the American development effort in Afghanistan, in a damning report on how $17.7 billion in aid and reconstruction money was doled out to 7,000 contractors between 2007 and 2009 with little or no coordination.

With all the criticism that surrounds the Afghan government and the tactics employed by the U.S. military, the major shortcomings in the West’s development effort in Afghanistan sometimes seem to get too little attention. The U.S. Special Representative to the region Richard Holbrooke once said he had “never seen anything remotely resembling the mess” he inherited in terms of the development effort, while former Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani once described the aid effort to me as “dysfunctional and lacking accountability.” It is a view shared by many experts, who see it as a major reason why the West has failed to win more Afghan hearts and minds, and why things are now not going as well as President Barack Obama would have hoped.

Oct 26, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – The octopus is dead, long live the opinion pollster

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We start this afternoon with the sad news of the demise of Paul, the psychic octopus who captivated the world this summer with his uncanny ability to predict the results of Germany’s World Cup soccer matches.

Fear not, though. There are other ways to divine the future, and especially the results of next week’s midterm elections.

Oct 25, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Swallows and Democrats

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In the words of Aristotle: “one swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.”

Nevertheless, Democrats might not be feeling quite so down in the dumps today, as evidence comes in that in early voting (allowed at election offices and satellite locations in 32 states) the Democrats are off to a stronger-than-expected start. It is impossible to tell how people actually voted, but Democrats do appear to be showing up in greater numbers in some key states than some had feared. But things are still not going as well for them as in 2008.

Oct 25, 2010

Is aid doing Haiti more harm than good?

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – It was Haiti’s premier private hospital, its rooms filled with the latest medical equipment, its surgeons trained in the latest techniques, its thick walls built to withstand an earthquake.

Those walls stood firm when the earth shook on Jan. 12, and for three months after that devastating quake the CDTI du Sacre Coeur Hospital threw open its doors, treating thousands of victims free of charge.

Oct 25, 2010

Special report: Is aid doing Haiti more harm than good?

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – It was Haiti’s premier private hospital, its rooms filled with the latest medical equipment, its surgeons trained in the latest techniques, its thick walls built to withstand an earthquake.

Those walls stood firm when the earth shook on January 12, and for three months after that devastating quake the CDTI du Sacre Coeur Hospital threw open its doors, treating thousands of victims free of charge.

    • About Simon

      "Simon is Washington Bureau Chief for Reuters and author of the Reuters Washington Extra newsletter and blog, a daily look at political and economic news from the capital. He has 18 years experience covering politics, economics and financial markets for Reuters for text and television all over the world, including in the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. Before arriving in Washington, he spent seven years as Reuters bureau chief in Pakistan, Afghanistan and then India, and is the editor of Foreign Correspondent: Fifty Years of Reporting South Asia, which was published by Penguin India in 2008 and ..."
      Joined Reuters:
      1992
      Languages:
      French, Spanish
    • More from Simon

      Publications:
      Foreign Correspondent: Fifty Years of Reporting South Asia
      Penguin, 2008
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