Tales from the Trail

Live blog of Obama’s Afghanistan speech

By Reuters Staff
December 1, 2009

Reuters’ Toby Zakaria will be live blogging the Obama speech on Tuesday night.

The First Draft: Poll shows growing U.S. support for Afghan troop increase

November 25, 2009

If President Barack Obama opts to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan next week, the decision could be underscored by something a bit unusual for his policies: growing U.S. public support. 
 OBAMA   
Polling data have shown for a while now that most Americans don’t favor many of Obama’s policy positions, despite his enduring personal popularity.
    
A USA Today/Gallup poll depicts Obama battling headwinds on a number of fronts: Americans oppose the closing of Gitmo by more than a 2-to-1 margin; those against healthcare reform edge out those in favor by 5 percentage points; and most don’t want accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tried in civilian court in New York City.
    
Afghanistan is no cakewalk, either. Public opinion is divided over the question of more troops and 55 percent of Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of the war up to now — a reversal of his 56 percent approval rating four months ago. CANADA/
    
But the polling data, compiled Nov. 20-22, might also suggest a silver lining for the president as he nears an announcement that could send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.
    
Less than half of Americans — 47 percent — favor a troop increase. But that’s up from 42 percent in a Nov. 5-8 survey.
    
Plus, the opposition is down: 39 percent of Americans now want the president to reduce the U.S. military footprint, vs. 44 percent earlier.
    
What hasn’t changed for Obama is that Republicans, not fellow Democrats, are his best buddies when it comes to increasing troops. Seventy-two percent of Republicans back a bigger U.S. force in Afghanistan, while 57 percent of Democrats say it’s time to start pulling out. USA-ELECTION/    

The First Draft: Crossing the Grey Line

November 18, 2009

President Barack Obama admits he has crossed the grey line.

In the well-worn tradition of those who entered the White House before him, the president’s hair has greyed. And it’s only his first year in office.

Will latest polls weigh on Obama?

November 11, 2009

President Barack Obama summoned his war council today for what may be a pivotal meeting as he decides what to do in Afghanistan. OBAMAWhile Obama weighs up his options on whether to send in more troops — with most money on about 30,000 more – he might also glance at the latest round of public opinion polls on Afghanistan.One by the Pew Research Center put Obama’s favorable job rating on Afghanistan at 36 percent, sharply down from 49 percent in July.On troop levels in Afghanistan, 40 percent say there should be fewer U.S. soldiers, 32 percent approve of an increase while 19 percent say current troop levels are satisfactory.A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released today found that 56 percent of respondents opposed sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan while 42 percent supported additional forces.Which way are you leaning? More troops, less, the same? Stay, go, the status quo? As commander-in-chief, will Obama go the way of Goldilocks and take the middle road, or will there be a surprise?Click here for more Reuters political coveragePhoto credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Obama making statement about Fort Hood shootings)

Obama walks in rain-soaked cemetery of U.S. war dead

November 11, 2009

President Barack Obama walked in the rain among the graves of U.S. casualties from the Iraq and Afghan wars at Arlington National Cemetery and took an unscheduled detour into section 60, a thicket of simple white headstones, to mark Veterans Day. OBAMA/

from Photographers' Blog:

Those left behind: The legacy of Arlington’s Section 60

November 10, 2009

Larry Downing is a Reuters senior staff photographer assigned to the White House. He shares that duty with three other staff photographers. He has lived in Washington since 1977 and has been assigned to cover the White House, since 1978. President Barack Obama is the sixth president Larry has photographed.

Obama: Not worrying about perceptions on Afghanistan

November 10, 2009

OBAMA/INTERVIEWAs President Barack Obama nears a decision on whether to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, some experts say he should consider the signal his decision will send about his broader commitment to the war, which has grown increasingly unpopular at home.

Obama admits to mistakes, but no big ones

November 10, 2009

Barack Obama says he probably makes one mistake a day, but doesn’t think he has made any fundamental ones in almost 10 months as president of the United States.

Holbrooke: my relationship with Karzai is good, really

November 5, 2009

Absolutely they are on good terms…

Richard Holbrooke, special U.S. representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, once again declared his respect for Afghan President Hamid Karzai. AFGHANISTAN/

Victory for Karzai, minefield for Obama?

November 2, 2009

Former President George W. Bush used to talk about the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” He was talking about education in the United States.