Tales from the Trail

Top Navy officer hesitant to predict Libyan future

CNOU.S. Navy Admiral Gary Roughead lived in Libya as a child before Muammar Gaddafi seized power in 1969, and says the experience only underscored how difficult it can be to predict the region’s future.

“Having spent some time in the Middle East, to include actually living in Libya, I am always hesitant to predict what the future may be there,” Roughhead, the Chief of  Naval Operations told a Senate committee Tuesday. “It’s still a very uncertain period that bears watching.”

Roughead lived in Libya in the 1960s when his father worked for Standard Oil, the company that later became Exxon. He left to attend high school at Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania, where he graduated in 1969, just months before Gaddafi overthrew Libya’s King Idris. He returned to the country during his college years at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Roughead said it was important to carefully think through possible U.S. military action in Libya before moving ahead.

The Obama administration has faced sharp criticism in Congress for being too cautious over the turmoil in Libya but has signaled it will not be rushed into decisions that could suck the already strained U.S. military into another conflict.

Ambassador Sean Penn? Dream on, President Chavez

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Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez regularly vents his fury against the United States, but there are a few Americans he’d like to talk to — such as Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, Noam Chomsky and even former President Bill Clinton.

Chavez named his U.S. dream team on Tuesday as possibilities to fill  the role of U.S. ambassador to Caracas after his government turned down the Obama administration’s nominee, Larry Palmer.

The State Department was not nearly as starry eyed.

“We appreciate President Chavez’ suggestions but the fact is we are not looking for another candidate to be the U.S. ambassador to Caracas,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, adding that the administration still believed Palmer was the best man for one of the most difficult diplomatic jobs going.

Healthcare accomplished, the messenger is leaving

Here’s an example of quitting while you’re ahead.

Linda Douglass took on what some last year might have considered an unenviable task — pushing the message of  President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform against a tide of criticism and a history of failure by past administrations.

 Remember, last year it did not always seem like a go.

But now that healthcare reform is in fact the law of the land, the former ABC News correspondent turned Obama campaign spokeswoman turned administration healthcare reform messenger has decided now would be a good time to leave and get back to basics. OBAMA/

“It has been a tremendous honor to serve the President, and leaving this great team is bittersweet. After nearly two years of work that has been exhilarating and grueling in equal measure, I am going to step off the treadmill for awhile and rediscover the experience of dining with my husband on a regular basis,” Douglass said in a statement.

The First Draft: Executive pay crackdown

For a quiet day, there was surprising consensus among editors about the top news — big-time bankers who got government bailout money are going to get their paychecks slashed.

The coverage was fairly straight, but there was a certain glee about the way the story made its way to the top spot in most newspapers.

“Pay slashed at bailout firms,” the Wall Street Journal headlined its story.

from Summit Notebook:

Washington divided, more trouble ahead for Obama?

Washington insiders say that not since the 1890's have the people that represent the U.S. been so divided. From Gay rights to Afghanistan lawmakers are at polar opposites on issues that are on the Obama administration's agenda. What's next? And, what's likely to get the green light or the stop sign?