Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Energy epiphany

If you thought you’d heard it before, you have.

President Barack Obama said today the United States must reduce its dependence on oil. And even he acknowledged this is not a new idea. OBAMA-ENERGY

“Richard Nixon talked about freeing ourselves from dependence on foreign oil. And every president since that time has talked about freeing ourselves from dependence on foreign oil,” he said at Georgetown University.

“Politicians of every stripe have promised energy independence, but that promise has so far gone unmet,” Obama said.

As all of those presidents found, it is no small task to wean the world’s largest oil consumer and importer away from that addiction — especially since U.S. domestic oil production peaked in the early 1970s.

So why will this time be any different?

Obama has set a goal that he says is “reasonable,” “achievable,” and “necessary,” of reducing oil imports by one-third over a decade.

And today’s word from Washington is … stalemate

BRITAINCongress has it. Gaddafi wants it. And President Obama is trying to figure out how best to avoid it. What is it?  The answer: stalemate (noun \ˈstāl-ˌmāt\) … that unsatisfying state of affairs in which there can be no action or progress.

Admiral Mike Mullen, the four-star U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman, conceded the possibility of a stalemate in Libya way back on March 20, a day after U.S. forces and their allies started raining high explosives on Muammar Gaddafi’s military infrastructure and ground forces.

The acknowledgment raised worries that a stalemate would allow Gaddafi’s government to live to fight another day — in perpetuity – while delivering an embarrassing defeat to the U.S. and its allies.

Florida Republican Marco Rubio “not running for president”

While the world waits for  potential Republican candidates to decide whether they are in or out of the 2012 presidential race, Florida Senator Marco Rubio is leaving no room for speculation.

“I am not running for president in 2012. Because I want to be a United States senator. I want to be the best United States senator that Florida has ever had,” Rubio said in an interview on ABC’s “Nightline.”

“I just got elected three months ago so how can I be a full-time United States senator if my eye’s already on running for  something else?”

Obama defends Libya policy during hectic New York day

President Barack Obama followed up his speech to the nation defending his Libya policy on Monday night with a whirlwind visit to New York City. He explained the policy in three network news  interviews  (ABC, NBC, CBS)  — at the city’s famed Museum of Natural History.

Then he made a quick visit to a kids’ science fair, joking to the high school students that they are smarter than he is, before dedicating the new Ronald H. Brown U.S. Mission to the United Nations building.bill_barack

There his Libya strategy was applauded by a roomful of diplomats and endorsed by a Democratic predecessor, ex-President Bill Clinton, the husband of his secretary of state.

Washington Extra – Sharp tongues

Democrats are trying a bit of divide-and-conquer strategy on Capitol Hill.

CHINAAs another budget showdown looms, they are employing a tactic of trying to turn the Tea Party and the rest of the Republican ranks against each other.

It was made starkly clear when Senator Charles Schumer told fellow Democrats to portray Republican House Speaker John Boehner as boxed in by the Tea Party, and to criticize his spending cuts as extreme — “I always use the word extreme,” Schumer said, according to The New York Times’ blog “The Caucus.”

That strategy is not going to work very well now that its cover is blown.

Republicans were not about to let that slide. They accused Democrats of secretly wanting a government shutdown. “With No Plan to Force Washington to Live Within Its Means, Democrats Dig In With ‘Extreme’ Rhetoric to Mask Tacit Support for a Government Shutdown,” blared the headline on a National Republican Congressional Committee email.

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 – Some explaining to do

Critics say President Barack Obama has some explaining to do.

OBAMA-BRAZIL/So tonight he plans to do just that in a speech on U.S. military involvement in Libya at the National Defense University.

One question clearly on people’s minds is when will it end? But clarity on that question is unlikely since Obama himself probably doesn’t know right now.

It’s turned into a NATO operation, which means more countries have more say in decisions — although obviously the United States remains a key player.

Standing room only at Social Security rally

Social Security rock stars? Senate Democrats held a rally that turned into almost a religious revival-type event on Capitol Hill where they were treated like rock stars by a standing-room only audience.

USA/The crowd, which included the old and disabled, embraced the  lawmakers with a prolonged ovation, cries of approval and shouts of “back off Social Security.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in a battle with Republican House Speaker John Boehner over how to keep the government running when temporary funding ends April 8, gave fiery defense of the popular retirement program.

Washington Extra – Let’s talk

Members of Congress have been complaining all week (while out of town on a weeklong break) that they weren’t given enough information when President Barack Obama moved ahead with military action on Libya.

OBAMA-LATINAMERICA/What is the goal in Libya? How will the goal be achieved? Explain, explain, explain! they demanded (while Obama was on a Latin America trip).

So today, Obama held a conference call with leaders of Congress from both parties to consult on Libya, and he plans to address the public in the “very near future” (although not today), White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “We take the need to consult very seriously,” he said.

Washington Extra – Fed speak

Has hell frozen over? Are pigs flying? Is the sun rising in the West?

Don’t rub your eyes, it’s real. The Federal Reserve chairman, that oracle of monetary policy, will hold FOUR news conferences a year. AUSTRALIA

The first will be on April 27 after a two-day FOMC meeting. It marks the first time in the nearly 100-year history of the central bank that a Fed chief will deign to hold a regular media briefing. It’s almost too tantalizing to contemplate.

After years of reading the tea leaves following these monetary policy setting meetings, reporters will actually get to ask questions of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke immediately after THE DECISION is made.