Tales from the Trail

Reuters/Ipsos poll: Obama seen as cautious commander-in-chief

The military operation on Libya has once again put President Barack Obama’s commander-in-chief credentials to the test, and nearly half of Americans — 48 percent — describe his style as “cautious and consultative,” according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Obama was seen by 36 percent as “indecisive and dithering”, and the fewest, 17 percent, viewed Obama as a “strong and decisive” commander of the armed forces. USA/

The Reuters/Ipsos poll interviewed 975 adults online and was conducted on March 22, three days after the bombing campaign was launched against Libya to impose a no-fly zone.

When it comes to spending for military operations on Libya, Americans say the financial cost is justified 51-49 percent. But when they are told the price tag is $100 million a day, the number who say it is justified falls to 43 percent with 57 percent disagreeing.

A majority, 60 percent, support U.S. and allied military action in Libya and there is little difference between Democrats, 65 percent, and Republicans, 63 percent. An even greater number, 79 percent, say U.S. and Western allies should seek to remove Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

What would Gingrich do?

RTR2JLFO_Comp-150x150President Obama may be in hot water with lawmakers who think the U.S.-led military mission in Libya is a big mistake. But some GOP voices are calling for an escalation of U.S. involvement — or at least an expansion of U.S. goals.

Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who is considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination, tells NBC’s Today show that the United States will face defeat in Libya if the current mission ends with Muammar Gaddafi still in power.

People might have a hard time arguing with that point.

But what would he do now, if he were president?

Gingrich’s answer sounds just like the message John McCain conveyed on the same TV show a day earlier, when LIBYA-REBELS/GADDAFIhe called for arming the Libyan rebels to ensure the end of Gaddafi’s 41-year rule.

As for Elizabeth Warren? Barney Frank says: “Let’s fight!”

RTXQB96_Comp1-150x150Is President Obama up for a Senate confirmation fight over Elizabeth Warren? Maybe not right now. But that’s just the sort of rhetorical rumble Barney Frank would like to see.

The former Democratic chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who co-authored the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill, tells MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Warren might survive a confirmation battle.

His reasoning? “This is not just the left and the right. The Republican Party is united against healthcare and united against the environment. They’re not united against financial reform.”

Petraeus says budget delays not affecting Afghan war… yet

The commander of international forces in Afghanistan is keeping a wary eye on budget battles in Congress these days.

General David Petraeus says failure to pass a budget this year has noUSA/t yet complicated the war effort against al Qaeda.

But there’s a point at which it will begin to have an impact, he told an event  sponsored by the National Journal on Friday at the Newseum.

Washington Extra – Consequential choice

Truth or Consequences?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s message on Libya’s ceasefire declaration was basically: she’ll believe it when she sees it.

“We are going to be not responsive or impressed by words. We would have to see actions on the ground. And that is not yet at all clear,” she said. USA

President Barack Obama put it in starker terms: “Muammar Gaddafi has a choice.”

Washington Extra – Changing palette

Not so very long ago a no-fly zone over Libya seemed like an option on the outskirts of what the United States was considering in trying to pressure Muammar Gaddafi.

OBAMA/Since last night, apparently a no-fly zone might not be enough, and the United States is now pressing for air strikes against Libyan tanks and heavy artillery. What changed?

“It is not our feeling … that a no-fly zone is a snap-your-fingers, one-size-fits-all solution to a problem. And what we want is action on a variety of items that can improve the situation in Libya,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said, without agreeing with the premise that policy had shifted.

Obama celebrates Irish heritage on St. Patrick’s Day

President Barack Obama celebrated a small piece of his heritage this St. Patrick’s Day and announced he would visit Ireland, including the village of Moneygall, the homeland of his great-great-great-grandfather.

IRELAND-USA/Or maybe it’s five ‘greats’, as he said in the Oval Office this morning? Either way, he’s confident he’s a little bit Irish.

“Two years into my presidency, some are still bent on peddling rumors about my origins.  So today I want to put all those rumors to rest,” he joked at the Friends of Ireland luncheon that he attended at the Capitol with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. ” It is true my great-great-great-grandfather really was from Ireland.”

Washington Extra – Same page

Alarm over Japan’s nuclear crisis prompted a slumping stock market to slump some more in a third day of selling.

The United States and Japan weren’t quite on the same page in terms of advice to the public. The State Department recommended that Americans living within 50 miles of the Fukushima nuclear plant evacuate or stay indoors, while Japan asked residents within 18 miles to do the same.

USA-BUDGET/Republicans and Democrats are still not on the same page as far as spending cuts go, which means back to the drawing board with a three-week reprieve from the sixth stopgap spending bill expected to pass Congress by Friday. Talks will get an added kick when the latest temporary funding bill is passed, but in a divided Congress bipartisan deals become a fairly lofty goal.

Boehner confident on getting budget deal, but admits it won’t be easy

House Speaker John Boehner, facing somewhat of a revolt in Republican ranks, says “it is not going to be easy” to craft and win passage of a bipartisan deal to cut spending and fund the government for the rest of this fiscal year.

USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANSBut the top U.S. Republican said he remains confident that it will be done — somehow, some way.

“We never thought it was going to be easy,” Boehner said a day after the House passed a short-term funding bill that 54 of his 240 House Republican colleagues opposed.

Obama Bracketology — he picks Kansas, again!

They failed him once, but President Barack Obama is sure Kansas won’t fail him twice in a row in the NCAA Basketball  Championship.

In what has become a  much-anticipated annual ritual, Obama joined in on the March Madness and filled out his bracket on ESPN’s SportsCenter. He picked Kansas to go all the way, beating Ohio State in the final game.

“I’m giving them a chance at redemption,” Obama told ESPN’s Andy Katz as he stood, pen in hand, in the White House Library to complete his bracket for the men’s championship. “I picked Kansas last year to win it and I got hurt.”