June 29th, 2011
05:30 PM ET

Gergen: Will Obama's barbs help or hurt debt talks?

Editor's note: David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four presidents. He is professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Follow him on Twitter.

(CNN) - "When they won't see the light," goes the old saying, "make 'em feel the heat." That was the strategy President Obama employed today in his press conference as he skewered Republicans over deficit negotiations. But where will it lead?

The president likely scored political points with two arguments. First, he skillfully made the case that in refusing to end tax breaks for oil companies, millionaires, and CEOs on corporate jets, Republicans are taking money away from hard-pressed Americans who need help. Who would want to do that?

After the conference went on so long that he seemed bored, Obama came alive with a question from CNN's Jessica Yellin about the debt ceiling. Speaking with exasperation, Obama argued that the debt ceiling is not some abstraction but "a jobs issue." Most analysts have talked about the debt ceiling in financial terms; Obama wisely tied it to jobs.

Repeatedly during the 70 minutes, Obama took snide jabs and belittled Republicans. He surely infuriated many of them. They won't appreciate being told they are not as responsible as his young daughters doing their homework. They especially won't like him saying they have been going home too much, and should stay in town to work on the deficits.

Who is he to take that poke, they will ask? Only a few days ago, a conservative columnist argued that Obama himself had gone to nine fundraisers in the previous two weeks while spending only an hour and a half with his Treasury secretary on the economy.

Such personal slights will only prompt Republicans in Congress to dig in their heels. They will insist - with justification - that mammoth deficits are due in large measure to a government that spends nearly a quarter of the GDP, the highest levels since World War II. Their voters have also told them they don't want any more tax increases. Republicans on the Hill will be more alienated from the White House after today's press conference.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Opinion • President Barack Obama
June 29th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

U.S. lawmaker on fact-finding mission to Syria

Damascus, Syria (CNN) - U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the Ohio Democrat who's long been an outspoken anti-war voice in Congress, visited volatile Syria to explore the possibility of a resolution to the violence spiraling across that country.

Kucinich is part of a small delegation on a fact-finding mission to Syria and neighboring Lebanon.

He said in a statement Monday that he pursued the trip because his constituents, in a Cleveland-area district that includes many Arab-Americans, asked him to look into "conditions on the ground" and see if there's a solution to a situation that's "spinning out of control."

The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said President Bashar al-Assad met with Kucinich and the accompanying delegation Monday.

Criticism of Kucinich's trip has surfaced among activists because it is seen as legitimizing the al-Assad government.

But in his statement, Kucinich said he was planning to meet with "democracy activists, non-governmental organizations, small business owners, civilians as well as government officials."

Kucinich emphasized Tuesday that he met with people who are "actively involved" in the opposition, as well as government officials.

"I think it's really important for people involved in making policy to hear both sides," Kucinich told CNN.

The lawmaker arrived in Lebanon later Tuesday, where he plans to meet with President Michel Suleiman.

"Peace is not just the absence of war," Kucinich said, according to the statement.


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Middle East
June 29th, 2011
02:10 AM ET

Video: Author optimistic about 'Arab Spring'

Editor's note: Author Bruce Feiler speaks with Anderson Cooper about the wave of popular uprisings that have swept the Arab world.

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Islam • Middle East
June 29th, 2011
12:14 AM ET

The RidicuList: Winklevoss twins

Editor's note: For fighting the good fight over Facebook, Anderson Cooper adds the Winklevoss twins to AC360's RidicuList.

Related: Winklevoss v. Facebook lawsuit lurches on

June 29th, 2011
12:06 AM ET

Crime & Punishment: Anthony father-daughter relationship

Editor's note: The Anthony murder trial has put a spotlight on the relationship between George and Casey Anthony. Randi Kaye reports.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Crime & Punishment
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