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President Obama's Wanderlust?

By Ben Pershing
If he's smart, President Obama is sleeping in this morning, having touched down at 2:30 a.m. ET following a long international trip, a whirlwind visit to Iraq and a 12-hour flight home. Obama's stop in Iraq made his stay in Turkey seem like ages ago. And his frenetic schedule opens up a new line of potential criticism -- he's traveling too much.

Obama just spent a week in Europe, and soon will be headed to Mexico and then Trinidad and Tobago, the argument goes, while the recession continues at home and Americans wonder why he isn't here fixing the economy. "There's a delicacy about the optics," a former Obama campaign adviser tells the Tribune papers. First, when and why did everyone in politics start saying "optics"? Second, is there any evidence that voters really think that way? A CNN poll released Monday showed strong approval for what Obama had accomplished abroad, and that was before yesterday's footage of troops cheering their commander in chief. So there's no sign that Obama's globetrotting has caused or will cause trouble for him. Not yet, anyway.

Speaking of trouble, the Justice Department lawyers who prosecuted Ted Stevens must be lining up their own lawyers right about now. Everyone knew that Emmet Sullivan was going to dismiss Stevens's conviction yesterday, but few guessed that the judge would announce a contempt of court investigation against the prosecutors, or that he would use such strong language in doing so: "In 25 years on the bench, I've never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I've seen in this case." Stop with the legal mumbo-jumbo, your honor, and tell us what you really think.

Continue reading at the Political Browser »

By Paul Volpe  |  April 8, 2009; 7:57 AM ET
Categories:  The Rundown  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: POTUS Events: Return to Washington
Next: A Plea to Obama from Father of Detainee


Back on topic, I don't ask about Obama being "out of touch" and wasting so much money because I am worried about myself -- my retirement fund is more than enough -- what about our grandchildren?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse


Unless those pirates had reason to believe it was an American crew on board that ship, even I am not going to blame that on Obama.

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Fancy teleprompter words and media focused boondoggles around the world will not fool those adversaries who look on and measure Obama, the man. And today is an instructive one to reflect on our adversaries measure of Obama's words. Today Somali pirates suddenly demonstrated the confidence to hijack an American flagged vessel. A coincidence? No, our adversaries are not fools. They neither fear nor respect our President. And pretty speaches and townhall meetings will not turn the heads of those who wish to spit in our countries eyes. How naive.

Posted by: donchew1 | April 8, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

James Carville (again, no right-winger) predicted that Obama's post-trip assessment would talk up the economic benefits of the journey, more so than any diplomatic initiatives.

"The spin will be that we got real stuff done here, real economic stuff," Carville said. "You watch when they talk about the trip, they'll say we did repair some damage in the Islamic world, but . . . they'll have a tendency to play down their foreign policy achievements and play up the other things."

It's not an easy case to make, some Obama loyalists concede. The economic downturn has created so much anxiety, the president may be hard pressed to make the case that a week spent abroad would provide concrete relief.

The former campaign advisor said: "Because there's such a focus on the economy and it's at such a crisis stage where people are desperate to see solutions and movement on it, he's in a delicate place. It's a very delicate time to be seen as doing things overseas."

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I did track down information that Michelle Obama stopped in Ireland before returning to D.C., but I can't find any pictures of which jet she was on:

Does anyone else know how much extra that cost the U.S. taxpayers?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Now, scrivener50, how long you will give Obama-Biden until you realize that they are in on it too?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Finally, scrivener50, you have seen the light!!!

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I guess not. Maybe because the answer is obvious. Moving on then ...

Did anyone find out how Michelle Obama traveled back early and how much extra that cost the U.S. taxpayers?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse


• Obama needs to show it ain't so...

I shudder to say it...

...but on this one, JakeD is right.

Obama's retreats on NSA wiretapping, torture memos, state secrets, have his base very worried that the Prophet of Hope may turn out to be another Elmer Gantry.

POTUS needs to make some dramatic move on the civil liberties/human rights front...

...such as ordering the dismantling the Bush-Cheney "extrajudicial punishment network" that uses federally-funded vigilantes to terrorize, marginalize and neutralize those who bureaucrat ideologues have deemed as "dissidents," "troublemakers," "deviates" or "mental defectives."

Then he needs to purge his administration of the saboteurs and Dr. Strangeloves who threaten to bring him down.

OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 8, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Does ANYONE want to answer "yes" to that last question?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

BTW: Can we release Amin al-Bakri into YOUR neighborhood?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

If you would read the linked story from the LA Times (hardly right-wing, last time I checked), Obama's OWN supporters worry that the timing of his trips could suggest a detachment from the concerns of ordinary people. You know, ordinary Americans who are struggling financially yet contributing over $2 BILLION per year to run the White House and allow Obama to jet-set around the globe?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse


I'm not a Republican, but I will still criticize Obama for FAILING to prosecute the war -- big difference from Dems criticizing Bush for prosecuting the war -- he should concentrate on that rather than calavanting around the world. In this economic "crisis" $2 BILLION per year is way too much to spend running the White House and flying everywhere. So, yes, I will criticize Obama for too much travel (I'm not critical that he has too much on his plate). Do you have any questions about my position?

In better economic times, I had no problem with Bush trying to get some down time. Whether it was Crawford or Camp David, it was fine with me. However, these are not ordinary economic times, and Obama should set an example by not wasting money. Bush also never took a single "vacation" as you and I use that word (AWAY from work).

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Amazing. Criticizing him for too much travel? Too much on his plate? After a president who spent almost half of his 8 years on vacation clearing brush? After 8 years of bullying and aggression instead of diplomacy, we have a president who is trying to repair yet another area that Bush damaged almost beyond repair. And the right is criticising him for working too hard?

Just amazing.

By the way, when the left would criticize Bush we were called traitors and unAmerican for having the audacity to criticise a wartime president. Has the right noticed that Obama is also a wartime president? Why do republicans hate America?

Posted by: TimothyJ1 | April 8, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

"When you see the abuse of power, you've got to speak."

-- VP candidate Joseph Biden, Aug. 27, 2008, Democratic National Convention


Bush-Cheney Constitutional Abuses Continue...





And federally-funded programs equip the "community gang stalkers" who are terrorizing their neighbors as police look the other way -- destroying their livelihoods and degrading their health with widely-deployed microwave radiation ("directed energy") weapons

A parallel array of federal "programs of personal financial destruction" slowly decimate the family finances of "target" families -- surely a factor in the mortgage meltdown that precipitated the global financial crisis.

When victims complain, they are told there is "nothing to investigate."

True -- because federal and local authorities KNOW ALL ABOUT IT.

Will the national press corps -- and Team Obama -- wake up and realize that democracy and middle-class wealth are being stolen at the GRASSROOTS?

OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 8, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

The thing is, everyone who understood the international schedule knew the new president, whoever won, would spend a good amount of time in April traveling. The G-20 meeting, NATO summit and Summit of the Americas were going to be must-attend meetings. If he didn't attend, the line of criticism would be why is he ignoring....

Posted by: bloggingsbyboz | April 8, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

How typical of the media to nitpick every move of Obama's and to trash what has been a wildly successful overseas rollout.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | April 8, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

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