Obama Helps Aides With Damage Control
By Ben Pershing
In the midst of a major international trip, with the economy still teetering and his biggest domestic priorities hanging in the balance back home, you'd think President Obama has enough on his plate. But on Tuesday, he had to spend some precious time cleaning up the messes made by his two top subordinates.
First, Obama paused in the middle of his visit to Russia to clarify the words of his No. 2, emphasizing that the U.S. had "absolutely not" given Israel the green light to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. The question arose after Vice President Biden's appearance Sunday on "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," when he repeatedly made the point that Israel is a sovereign nation and the U.S. can't stop it from defending itself. That may be technically true, and the White House swore that the vice president did not misspeak. But Biden also had ample opportunity to say that an Israeli strike would be problematic or destabilizing for the entire Middle East, and he didn't. (Michael Mullen did make that exact point Tuesday.)
Obama didn't just feel the need to clarify Biden's remarks, he also gave Rahm Emanuel an assist in repairing the damage from the chief of staff's own controversial comments. Many Democrats were upset to read in yesterday's Wall Street Journal that Emanuel was open to compromise on whether the health care reform package should include a public option. He also spoke favorably of a public option "trigger," which most liberals oppose.
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Posted at 8:31 AM ET on Jul 8, 2009
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