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November 30th, 2009
11:15 AM ET

Obama's 'mistakes': way too early to judge

Joe Klein
Time

Over the past few weeks, Barack Obama has been criticized for the following: He didn't go to Berlin for the 20th anniversary of the Wall's coming down. He didn't make a forceful enough statement on the 30th anniversary of the U.S. diplomats' being taken hostage in Iran. He didn't show sufficient mournfulness, at first, when the Fort Hood shootings took place, and he was namby-pamby about the possibility that the shootings were an act of jihad. He has spent too little time focusing on unemployment. He bowed too deeply before the Japanese Emperor. He allowed the Chinese to block the broadcast of his Shanghai town-hall meeting. He allowed the Chinese President to bar questions at their joint press conference (a moment memorably satirized by Saturday Night Live). He didn't come back with any diplomatic victories from Asia. He allowed Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other 9/11 plotters to be tried in the U.S. criminal-justice system rather than by the military. He has dithered too long on Afghanistan. He has devoted too much attention to — and given congressional Democrats too much control over — health care reform, an issue that is peripheral to a majority of Americans.

And all this has led to a dangerous slippage in the polls, it is said, a sense that his presidential authority is ebbing.

As a fully licensed pundit, I have the authority to weigh in here ... but I demur. Oh, I could sling opinions about every one of the events cited above — some were unfortunate — but it would matter only if I could discern a pattern that illuminates Obama's presidency. The most obvious pattern, however, is the media's tendency to get overwrought about almost anything. Why, for example, is the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall demolition so crucial that it requires a President's presence? Which recent U.S. President has gotten the Chinese to agree to anything big? (In fact, Obama has secured significant diplomatic cooperation from the Chinese on North Korea, Afghanistan and Pakistan.) Was his deep bow indicative of anything other than his physical fitness? (My midsection, sadly, prevents the appearance of obsequiousness in such circumstances.)

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Filed under: 360° Radar
November 30th, 2009
11:01 AM ET

Dear President Obama #315: The value of losing

Reporter's Note: President Obama, ages ago, invited advice from the public on how to run the government. As we move into this season of giving, I continue offering my suggestions every day in a letter to the White House. I may also send a fruit cake.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

My Saints are playing the Patriots on Monday Night Football, and I must say that my nerves are all aflutter. The Pats are a dangerous team on even a bad night, and as beautifully as the Saints are playing now, stumbles are always possible.

To make it even more frightening, the Pats are something of a wounded team at the moment. Their pride has been hurt by some unfortunate and unexpected losses, including a particularly painful one to the Colts, the only other undefeated team aside from the Saints. I shudder to think of the venom running through Tom Brady’s veins at the moment.

Winning streaks are peculiar things. They are magnificent when they are initially taking shape, whether for a sports team, or a singer, or a politician. Watching someone arise in that magical fashion that suggests he or she simply can not be beaten is mesmerizing. You had a lot of that going for you when you swept toward your big election victory a year ago. Seriously, it was like seeing a wizard at work. Somehow you managed to always have just the right smile, just the right comment, just the right strategy to make all the old political hands look instead like hacks. As Peter Gabriel would say, “This is the new stuff.”

FULL POST

November 30th, 2009
11:00 AM ET

Prosecute the White House gate-crashers


President Obama greets Michaele Salahi in a reception line at Tuesday's state dinner. The White House says she wasn't invited.

Ed Rollins
CNN Senior Political Contributor

The gate crashers Michaele and Tareq Salahi want to be famous as stars of reality television. I am all for that. Give them a reality television series and call it "Trial and Jailtime" in the D.C. criminal justice system. This despicable, desperate, duplicitous couple disgraced the Secret Service and embarrassed the president in his home.

They totally overshadowed the president's meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the leader of an important ally. The incident made the Obamas' first state dinner, honoring the prime minister and his wife, Gursharan Kaur, fodder for comedians - and it certainly raises security concerns for other world leaders visiting at later dates.

The gate-crashers need to be held accountable and not glorified.

Unless they have some excuse we haven't heard yet, the Salahis deserve to be charged with criminal trespassing and lying to federal officers for starters. Yes, they dressed for the occasion, but the Salahis are no different, and shouldn't be regarded any differently, than a nut case who jumps over the White House fence and tries to run in the front door. The only difference is that the fence-jumper would be shot ten feet from his entrance point.

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November 30th, 2009
10:45 AM ET
November 30th, 2009
10:36 AM ET
November 30th, 2009
10:17 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Women breaking the combat barrier

Eliza Browning
AC360° Associate Producer

During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, American women in the military have quietly been proving themselves as never before. These are the first wars in which women in the American military have lived and fought alongside men for long periods of time – and some say they could not fight these wars without them. Recently, it was announced that the nation’s top drill sergeant is now a woman.

Even in the field many women have taken on roles that were often seen as taboo in the past, as the necessity of manpower means they are called upon for duties previously set aside for male colleagues. But has their pioneering work come at a price? Do they receive the same support as their male counterparts? We'll talk to women in the military about how they are breaking barriers tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

Tomorrow evening, President Obama will deliver an address at West Point Military Academy to announce his plans to send thousands of additional U.S. military troops to Afghanistan. More than 900 American soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan, and October was the deadliest month since the start of the war in 2001, with 74 U.S. soldiers killed. According to numerous reports, the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq have cost $768.8 billion dollars. Will Obama face resistance from lawmakers on Capitol Hill?

FULL POST


Filed under: Eliza Browning • The Buzz
November 30th, 2009
07:00 AM ET

Sound Off: Your comments 11/27/09

Editor's Note: After Friday night's AC360° we heard from many of you about the State Dinner crashers. Most of you disagreed with Lisa Bloom that it was no big deal because Michaele and Tareq Salahi did not try to harm anyone. Many of you also weighed in about Tiger Woods' car crash. What do you think? Let us know!

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I am positive if I had had a crash, or you, or anyone else like Tiger's crash, there would have been a blood test at the hospital re: blood alcohol or other substance, what is he trying to hide? IF we didn't watch his matches, didn't buy his endorsed products, he would not be where he is today. There seems to be 2 sets of rules for those who have, and those who have not. IF I ran over a fire hydrant and crashed into a tree first thing you would do is a drug/alcohol test! I am sick of the double standard!!!

I feel CNN legal analysts are usually on point. Lisa Bloom is part of this team but had a lapse tonight. To say no harm was done by the Whitehouse gate crashers is silly. They certainly provided some food for thought for terrorists. If that is not acted upon, it looked President Obama's staff do not have their act together or perhaps that they by-pass security for prominent DC couples or reality TV stars. No matter how you slice it, some examples need to be set here. Lisa should think again. i usually agree with her opinions.


Filed under: Behind The Scenes
November 29th, 2009
07:49 AM ET

Dear President Obama #314: The burden is the lights

Reporter's Note: President Obama, I’m pretty sure, does not have to help decorate the White House for Christmas. Yet another advantage he has over most of the rest of us.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Well, I told you last week that I was going to get all the Christmas lights up at our house over this weekend, and I must sadly report that it has been a mess. Last year I cut through giant, Gordian knots of wires, haunted by the ghosts of many Christmases past, to separate all of the working strands from those countless others that suffered from a variety of maladies. Some lit up along the wire near the plug, some in the middle, some at the far end. Some inexplicably came on, then went off, then four minutes later blinked furiously. Some simply sat there, dark and mysterious, like a girlfriend I once had when she descended into a foul mood. And a few did what they were supposed to do: They glowed cheerily as soon as I plugged them in, and they stayed that way.

So I gently put aside these “nice” strands; gathered up all of the naughty ones, and threw them into the trash. Finally, I thought, my Christmas lighting display woes will be at an end. I put up the winners; the house looked magnificent; and I carefully took them all down after Christmas and packed them away. So you can imagine my consternation when I pulled them out this weekend to find, once again, about half of them are not working! Arghhh!

FULL POST

November 28th, 2009
08:09 AM ET

Dear President Obama #313: Interlopers on the guest list

Reporter's Note: The investigation continues into the unexpected and uninvited guests who turned up at the President’s State Dinner. So far they have not started investigating uninvited letters…and I hope it stays that way.

President Obama meets the Salahis at Tuesday’s state dinner.

President Obama meets the Salahis at Tuesday’s state dinner.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

You’ll forgive me for bringing it up I hope, because I really hate to, but this whole State Dinner Party Crashers story is getting out of hand. When I saw that photo of you welcoming them to the White House, my jaw fell to the floor. (Maybe you heard it?) I was already stunned that they’d made it into the White House uninvited; the fact that they stood right in front of you and chatted you up, boggles my mind.

I know that everyone makes mistakes from time to time. I suspect that maybe this gate-crashing couple also got a little lucky. But when it comes to the security of the White House and the president, luck is simply not supposed to be part of the equation.

Let me see if I have this right: Your staff was on the ball enough to ensure that the decorations were lovely. They arranged a nice menu; helped write a brief and strong toast. They even made sure America got absolutely no more than a two-minute glimpse of Marvin Hamlisch and the National Symphony, because allowing TV cameras to show the entertainment would somehow upset the whole affair.

FULL POST

November 27th, 2009
09:42 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 11/27/09

Tonight on 360°, the photo the Secret Service must hate to see. It shows President Obama face-to-face with the White House party crashers. Plus, the latest on Tiger Woods' SUV accident. Why his wife used a golf club in the incident and why police faced when they got on the scene. Plus, meet the CNN Hero of the Year.

Want to know what else we're covering? Read EVENING BUZZ

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)


Filed under: Live Blog • T1
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