Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra -The audacity of hope?

If rescuing the U.S. economy from the Slough of Despond wasn’t enough, President Barack Obama took a stab at finding peace in the Middle East today. Obama is determined to forge a new relationship with the Muslim world, and presumably would like to unquestionably earn the Nobel Peace Prize he was awarded last year.obama_middleast But getting embroiled in the Middle East is a risk for the president, not least because failure to reach an accord could set back his efforts to win over Muslims and achieve solidarity over Iran. Ordinary Israelis and Palestinians are not optimistic about this latest peace effort, and experts say the one-year deadline to reach a deal does not appear very realistic. Nevertheless, it is hard to argue with Obama’s opening remarks today, and his hope that “extremists and rejectionists” should not be allowed to derail the peace process.

It is often interesting when high-ranking officials leave office and get the chance to unburden themselves. White House economist Christina Romer was no exception today, issuing an impassioned plea for more economic stimulus measures, even if they push up the fiscal deficit in the short term. “The only sure-fire ways for policymakers to substantially increase aggregate demand in the short run are for the government to spend more and tax less. In my view we should be moving forward on both fronts,” she said in a speech at the National Press Club. “I desperately hope that policymakers on both sides of the aisle will find a way to finish the job of economic recovery,” she added. WashingtonExtra won’t be holding its metaphorical breath.

Finally today, another win by a Tea Party favorite in Alaska this week underlines that the movement is not just a passing fad, and has the staying power to be  a significant factor in November’s Congressional elections. What’s more, Democratic hopes that radical Tea Party candidates will alienate moderate voters and energize Democrats are not being realized. In fact, Tea Party favorites are already ahead of Democratic rivals in the opinion polls in Colorado, Kentucky and Florida, and only slightly behind in Nevada.

Here are our top stories from today…

Obama opens Mideast peace summit, says U.S. resolute

President Barack Obama vowed that “extremists and rejectionists” would not derail the relaunch of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as he opened a peace summit shadowed by Middle East violence. Wading into Middle East diplomacy in the face of deep skepticism over his chances for securing an elusive peace deal, Obama condemned as “senseless slaughter” a Hamas attack on Tuesday that killed four Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.

For more of this story by Matt Spetalnick and Jeffrey Heller, read here.

Romer: U.S. must find will for further stimulus

Departing White House economist Christina Romer said the United States needed to find the political will for more economic stimulus, even if it pushed up the fiscal deficit in the short run. “While we would all love to find the inexpensive magic bullet to our economic troubles, the truth is, it almost surely doesn’t exist,” Romer said in a speech at the National Press Club.

Obama joins call-in to back his pick in Colorado primary

President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged people in Colorado to support his pick to run for U.S. Senate in their state, jumping into a close Democratic  primary race in which the other  candidate is  backed by former President Bill Clinton.obama_bennet

Obama has put his weight behind current Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, who was appointed to take over the seat vacated by Ken Salazar, whom Obama selected to be secretary of the Interior at the beginning of his term.

“He’s been a breath of fresh air in a town with a lot of hot air,” Obama told a telephone conference call with Bennet and listeners, who quizzed the freshman Senator about the attack ads he has endured. Obama said this was par for the course in politics.