Tales from the Trail

The First Draft: Obama recipe – take crisis-filled agenda, add one Iran

There is a new crisis on the agenda for President Barack Obama.

While trying to revitalize a nosediving economy, rebuild the collapsing auto industry, rein in North Korea’s unpredictable Kim Jong-il and overhaul the costly healthcare system, Obama now can ponder his response to an Iran reeling from a disputed election and the biggest street protests since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Several leading Republicans have hammered Obama for what they say is a too cautious approach to the disputed vote that gave hardliner President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a big win over former Prime Minister Mirhossein Mousavi. Obama said on Monday he was “deeply troubled” by the post-election violence but it was up to the Iranians to work out who their leaders will be.

Republicans say that is not good enough.

“He should speak out that this is a corrupt, fraud, sham of an election.  The Iranian people have been deprived of their rights,” Senator John McCain said on NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday.

While Obama considers his next move on Iran, however, he will also grapple with North Korea during a White House meeting on Tuesday with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. The South Korean leader has taken a tough line on North Korea even before Pyongyong ratched up tension in recent weeks by test-firing missiles, restarting a plant to produce weapons-grade plutonium and holding a May 25 nuclear test.

Albright: Memories of Kim

What a difference nine years makes. Then the U.S. was toasting with Kim Jong-il, now it’s vilifying him for shooting a rocket over Japan.

Madeleine Albright, the last U.S. Secretary of State to meet North Korea’s Kim nine years ago, says people thought he was crazy then, but she disagreed. KOREA NORTH USA

Kim is the center of attention again (a place he seems to relish) after North Korea launched its rocket over the weekend, sending world powers scrambling for a response. But the U.N. Security Council has been unable to agree on how severe its words should be to scold him.

First Draft: French kiss

Can this be France? What happened to the days when cross-Atlantic gauntlets were thrown down and French fries turned into Freedom fries?

President Barack Obama was welcomed like a rock star in a land notorious for its air-sniffing disdain of almost everything American. NATO/

Although first lady Michelle Obama is almost overshadowing her husband in media coverage about their European jaunt, with many comparisons to Jackie Kennedy who wowed them all overseas.