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The conversation: President Obama's February hit and misses

February 25, 2011 | 12:27 pm


Out front on gay rights

Kudos to President Obama, says the Los Angeles editorial board:

The Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage, deserves to sink into oblivion. That came a step closer to happening this week when President Obama reversed course on the law and instructed the Justice Department to stop defending it in court. […] Yet popular votes still tend to limit gay rights; considering Obama's reelection hopes, his stance this week was a courageous one.

Pathetic, dithering response to the Arab uprisings

Is Obama Secretly Swiss? asks Christopher Hitchens. From Slate:

This is not merely a matter of the synchronizing of announcements. The Obama administration also behaves as if the weight of the United States in world affairs is approximately the same as that of Switzerland. We await developments. We urge caution, even restraint. We hope for the formation of an international consensus. And, just as there is something despicable about the way in which Swiss bankers change horses, so there is something contemptible about the way in which Washington has been affecting—and perhaps helping to bring about—American impotence. Except that, whereas at least the Swiss have the excuse of cynicism, American policy manages to be both cynical and naive.

Obama's overly tame budget

The president's 2012 budget plan missed the mark. Said our editorial board:

The president's proposal, in other words, ignores the core message of the bipartisan deficit commission the White House assembled last year: Washington cannot climb out of its deep fiscal hole just by shrinking domestic discretionary programs. Entitlements, defense and homeland security account for the vast majority of the spending, and the federal government won't stop piling up debt without making fundamental changes in those areas as well. The rising healthcare costs that are driving up Medicare and Medicaid expenses are especially important factors in the long term. But the budget has little to offer on healthcare costs, and proposes to pare defense spending no more than the Pentagon brass wants to.

Obama and Wisconsin: No Need for a Balancing Act

Obama ought to march with protesters in Wisconsin, writes Justin Krebs, a political organizer. From It's A Free Blog:

The conventional wisdom is that this Wisconsin moment puts him in a squeeze between his support for unions and his desire to please deficit hawks with harsh budget cuts. After all, as protesters gathered in the streets of Madison, the president was proposing his own array of tough love measures, from slashing community development block grants to reducing support for heating subsidies for poor families. Could the president support the workers without looking weak on budgetary concerns?

The short answer: yes, he can. This surge of protest actually puts the president in a clear position.

At a time when he’s calling for investing in America — the theme throughout his State of the Union — he has an opportunity to side with the workers who support that agenda.

At a moment when “jobs, jobs, jobs” are the top three priorities of every politician, he can cast his lot with the organizations that fight for decent jobs with respect and security.

Alternatively, he can side with the banks whose bailout-backed profits aren’t changing the economic outlook of regular Americans, and big business, which benefits from the cheap workforce of high unemployment and non-unionized labor.


Cartoons: Bottom lines on the budget

The vacuous first round in the fight over budget cuts

On Wisconsin: This time, Democrats are the obstructionists

--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: President Obama speaks at a news conference Feb. 15. Obama spoke on various topics, including his budget proposal and the situation in Egypt. Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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