Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Tea Party poopers

A man holds a sign during a March 24 Tea Party Patriots rally in Washington calling for the repeal of the 2010 healthare law. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

All that Tea Party support in 2010 for the 87 House Republican freshmen seems to have come with a price — and now it’s time to collect.

Representative Michael Grimm found his office filled with activists wanting to know why he hadn’t done more to slash government spending and why he had voted to raise the U.S. debt limit. He too is frustrated, the former Marine told them, but you just can’t shut down government and stop paying the soldiers.

There is Tea Party talk that the freshmen have become corrupted by Washington and part of the bureaucratic fabric that they very much despise. By one account, two-thirds of the freshmen have compromised while only 20 or so have maintained the zero tolerance Tea Party line on spending.

Alas, the Tea Party could end up giving the Republican freshman class of 2010 more grief than the Democrats heading toward the November elections. If 2010 was the year the Tea Party emerged as a political force in Washington, 2012 will be the year that determines whether the movement can live with itself on Capitol Hill.

Washington Extra – The choice

President Barack Obama wants the “Arab spring” to bloom.

And that means having choice. The United States supports “the right to choose your own leaders — whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus, Sanaa or Tehran,” he said in a much awaited Middle East speech.

For Syria: “President Assad now has a choice: He can lead that transition, or get out of the way.”

In Libya, Obama didn’t think leader Muammar Gaddafi would be left with much choice. “When Gaddafi inevitably leaves or is forced from power, decades of provocation will come to an end, and the transition to a democratic Libya can proceed.”

Clinton doesn’t want Iran taking ‘one iota of credit’ for Mideast revolutions

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says when it comes to the pro-democracy movements sweeping through the Middle East give credit where credit is due. And that means not to Iran.

The United States has long been at loggerheads with Iran over its nuclear program — the West suspects Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, Iran says it is trying to provide energy for its people. USA/

Now the United States, which sees Iran as a major threat to the region,  is also suspicious that Tehran is trying to capitalize on the Middle East revolutions.

In Libya speech, Obama reminds Americans of their country’s birth by revolution

Americans take great pride in how their country was formed through a spirit of rebellion and revolution that overcame tyranny.

And President Barack Obama managed to tie that ultimate banner of American patriotism to his decision for military action on Libya in one simple sentence, hoping it will resonate with the public and soothe concerns about another intervention in the Middle East.

LIBYA-USA/“Born, as we are, out of a revolution by those who longed to be free, we welcome the fact that history is on the move in the Middle East and North Africa, and that young people are leading the way,” Obama said.

Washington Extra – Royal news

bahraintowerCalling Bahrain.

As is increasingly the case, the United States is finding that talking pro-democracy is one thing. Dealing with the aftermath of uprisings another.

U.S. officials have been on the telephone with officials in Bahrain urging restraint after police attacked anti-government protesters.

The tiny Gulf kingdom that is home of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet becomes another U.S. ally in the Middle East seeing unrest with protesters wanting their leaders gone.

from Global News Journal:

Does Obama deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?

U.S. President Barack Obama has won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Obama had been awarded the prize for his calls to reduce the world's stockpiles of nuclear weapons and work towards restarting the stalled Middle East peace process.

The committee praised Obama for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

"Very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future."

The First Draft: On The Road Again

EGYPT/Now that Congress is back from its week-long Memorial Day recess, it’s time for the U.S. top brass to hit the road. President Barack Obama heads to the Middle East today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Honduras, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is in China and U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke promises a visit to Pakistan this week.

Closer to home, Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor starts making the rounds on Capitol Hill in advance of her confirmation hearings. Meantime, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal faces questions at his confirmation hearing today before the Senate Armed Services Committee today. McChrystal’s nominated to be the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

This might be an opportune time for travel. The Ipsos/Reuters poll indicates global consumer confidence is stabilizing, after dropping for 18 months.

First draft: No driving with the king this time

The last time Barack Obama saw Jordan’s King Abudullah, the monarch literally gave him a PORTUGAL/ride to the airport in Amman. That was before Obama was elected president, and the king shouldn’t expect a return of the favor during his visit to Washington today.

But Abdullah — the first Arab leader to hold face-to-face talks in the White House since Obama took office – has been invited to Obama’s personal dining room for a one-on-one meeting with the American president before a more formal gathering with aides in the Oval Office.

Abdullah is expected to lobby on behalf of Arab states for a stronger U.S. role in Middle East peacemaking, according to Jordanian palace officials.

Obama says odds of winning White House ‘very good’

ARLINGTON, Va. – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama likes his chances in the White House battle with Republican John McCain, telling a fundraising reception the odds of his winning are “very good.”
    
“Let’s face it, there weren’t too many people who thought we were going to pull this off,” Obama told a fundraiser attended by about 40 people on Monday in Arlington, Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington.
    
“We are now in a position where the odds of us winning are very good. But it is still going to be difficult.”
    
Obama said he was pleased with his trip to Europe and the Middle East — “we executed very well” — but did not expect it to give him a big bump in polls.
    
He said people were still evaluating his candidacy because he was a new face in national politics.
    
“I don’t look like any presidential candidate America has ever seen,” said Obama, the son of a black African father and white mother from Kansas who spent part of his youth in Indonesia.
    
“It’s not just a function of race, it’s background, experience, resume — this is new for them, and new for us as a country,” he said. He expects a close race to the end.
    
“We’re not going to see some huge gap develop, some huge separation develop between now and Nov. 4,” he said. “This is going to be a close election for a long time because I’m new on the national scene. 

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage:  
http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/2008candidates