Friday, June 19, 2009


*** The Week That Was: Let's be honest: This has been a pretty tough week for an Obama White House that so far has seen more good days than bad ones. Republicans and conservatives -- including now Paul Wolfowitz! -- are criticizing the administration for not speaking out more forcefully about what's happening in Iran (even though many experts side with the White House's wait-and-see approach). New polls, including the latest NBC/WSJ survey, showed the public's concern about the rising deficit and the government's intervention into GM. Gay-rights advocates remain disappointed at the White House. And last, but certainly not least, congressional Democrats and liberals are now beginning to panic about their chances of passing health-care reform this year. As a result, Republicans are feeling more emboldened than ever to go after the president.

*** A Turning Point Or An Over-hyped Blip? Of course, we've been here before, right? During the presidential election, the media continually asked, "Why isn't Obama leading by more in the polls?" and he went on to win by the widest margin for a Democrat since 1964. Also during the campaign, there was the thought that disappointed Hillary supporters wouldn't vote for him, which didn't turn out to be true in November. And earlier this year, Democrats worried about the fate of Obama's stimulus, which ultimately passed. So the current round of doubts hasn't fazed the White House. "These days happen once every couple of months," a senior administration official told the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder. "They are almost like clockwork." That said, now five months into office, Team Obama has now entered a new -- and more difficult -- phase in which the glow from the campaign and the inauguration is gone. As NBC/WSJ co-pollster Peter Hart (D) says, "There is no more smooth sailing for the administration. They are going to have to navigate in pretty choppy waters." The campaign was easier for Obama to recover from a rough patch because there was an opponent. But who is the opponent now?

*** Well, We Guess That's Settled Then: In Iran today, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a gathering at the Tehran University that the presidential election was fair and transparent and that all four candidates stand firmly behind the Islamic Republic, NBC's Ali Arouzi reports. The supreme leader said the candidates' arguments were only on policy, and he said enemies of the state are trying to break people's trust in the system and are doing this with the help of the foreign media. Khamenei went on to say that the election was free and transparent and absolutely free of any fraud whatsoever. And he issued this warning: The protesters are acting illegal and will be dealt with if they continue. What's more, Arouzi notes, the thousands of people in the crowd were ardent supporters of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, and they were shouting death to America and death to the United Kingdom after the supreme leader blamed outside forces for fueling the protests.

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