5 p.m. ET: Is it a good idea for the White House press secretary to use the briefing room podium to go after one particular critic personally? That's the question of the afternoon after Robert Gibbs' briefing today, during which he went after CNBC reporter Rick Santelli for his criticisms of President Obama's housing plan.
The video of Santelli trashing the housing proposal got tons of traffic Thursday, particularly after it got the full-banner red-fonted Drudge Report treatment. In response today, Gibbs suggested that Santelli print the bill out and read it. So, did Gibbs put Santelli in his place and respond effectively to widely-publicized criticism? Or did he go overboard, perhaps overpersonalizing the issue and making Santelli even more of a folk hero to Obama's opponents? Or maybe a little bit of both? Watch for yourself and decide. We'll find out over the weekend, as we see whether Gibbs' attack gives this story an extra day or two of mileage it would not otherwise have had.
8 a.m. ET: In his inaugural address, President Obama approvingly quoted George Washington. But exactly one month into his term, the 44th president is not so far paying heed to one of the first president's most famous warnings: Beware of foreign entanglements.
In Ottawa Thursday, Obama reassured Canada that the U.S. would not do anything to diminish the alliance between the two countries or weaken the ties that bind, whether on trade, energy or Afghanistan. In Seoul, Hillary Clinton spoke of forming a "common front" with Asian allies in handling nuclear negotiations in North Korea, where, she controversially suggested, Kim Jong Il might not be in power much longer. In Poland, Robert Gates told NATO allies that the new administration "has not yet reviewed where it is on a whole range of issues" related to Europe, missile defense and Russia. In Israel, U.S. diplomats are trying to figure out how to kick-start the peace process as Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to form a new government.
For Obama, the most sobering thought is that dealing with this panopoly of foreign challenges might just be easier than handling the domestic ones.
Here at home, the administration is still trying to navigate the thorny debate over how to deal with the rising flood of home foreclosures and what's causing them in the first place. Nationalizing troubled banks remains a real, but politically unpalatable, possibility. The budget deficit is massive and growing more so. And the Republican National Committee is marking Obama's first month in office this morning with a release suggesting it "has been marked by wasteful spending, failed bipartisanship, and questionable ethics."
Speaking of questionable ethics, the lobbying firm PMA Group continues to be the locus of some curious goings-on. More evidence is emerging that "employees" of the group reported to have given out campaign contributions to lawmakers either weren't really employees or didn't really give the contributions. More recipients are starting to give the cash back, and PMA will cease to exist at the end of March.
Also on the ethics front, The Rundown's favorite indicted ex-lawmaker (so hard to choose!), William Jefferson, is asking the Supreme Court to drop most of the charges against him in advance of his May trial. Scroll down to the end of that story to read that Jefferson supposedly has an "honorable explanation" for the $90,000 the FBI found in his freezer. Perhaps he was planning to eat it? It should be noted here that Jefferson really got himself into trouble by allegedly offering to help secure telecommunications contracts in Africa. Again -- beware of those pesky foreign entanglements.
February 20, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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