4:45 p.m. ET: President Obama unveiled his new strategy for Afghanistan today, and if the plan does have any high-profile opponents, they're few and far between.
Obama announced the commitment of at least 4,000 more military personnel to the country and significant new resources to strengthen it, moves which almost surely would have provoked at least some controversy during the Bush administration. Yet, as Greg Sargent notes, anti-war groups -- with only a couple of exceptions -- have been mostly silent today, and some anti-war leaders have even endorsed Obama's plan.
John Boehner, meanwhile, just came out with a statement saying he supports Obama's new strategy "because it reflects the advice of our commanders on the ground." In the Senate, Richard Lugar is on board and so is Mitch McConnell. Now, all that unanimity doesn't mean Republicans won't turn around and criticize Obama if they feel that the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating. But for this rare moment, all the major players appear to be on the same page.
8 a.m. ET: After a week focused almost entirely on domestic matters -- including a news conference where foreign policy barely reared its head -- President Obama shifts his focus abroad again today, as he seeks to build consensus for an increase in troops and treasure for Afghanistan. "This is Obama's war" now, even though he inherited it, especially since he spent much of last year's campaign attacking his predecessor's stewardship of the conflict and vowing to do things differently.
Obama will deliver remarks on the new Afghanistan strategy this morning, after which a trio of administration officials will hold an on-the-record session with reporters on the details. That follows background leaks to the press yesterday as well as briefings on Capitol Hill and calls to key allies, all designed to drum up broad support for the most significant non-domestic initiative of Obama's presidency so far. Republicans who were briefed on the plan yesterday (yes, they were briefed), haven't said yet what they think of it. David Brooks today calls the Afghanistan conflict "the winnable war," while at the same time giving Obama praise he may not want by saying the president "is doubling down on the very principles that some dismiss as neocon fantasy."
On the domestic front, Obama will try today to round up additional support for his plans to fix the financial system. The president is scheduled to meet at noon with several top banking executives, including the CEOs of Citigroup, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. Will Obama bring the carrot or the stick to the gathering? Probably both. Obviously, the administration wants the support of the banking industry brass for what it's trying to do. But the White House also doesn't want to read any more embarrassing stories about seven-figure bonuses being paid for out of taxpayer funds. It will also be worth noting whatever executives tell Obama about his sweeping proposal for tougher financial regulation, which Tim Geithner outlined yesterday to a mixed reaction on and off the Hill.
The budget, meanwhile, keeps chugging along, as the Senate committee yesterday approved its version of the spending blueprint along party lines. The Senate bill spends a little less than the House bill but is similarly vague in explaining how or whether Obama will have the room to enact his signature initiatives on health care and energy. Republicans took either a step forward or a step back yesterday, depending on your perspective, unveiling a budget "blueprint" of their own but not providing much in the way of useful detail. And in the process, they revealed some interesting intraparty tensions over how to battle Obama on the message front.
Speaking of the House GOP, remember the '90s? Specifically, remember when Republicans on the House Government Reform Committee, led by Dan Burton, spent an awful lot of time investigating what Hillary Clinton was up to? Well, now Darrell Issa is in charge of the panel GOP, and they're in the minority. But not everything has changed -- they're still awfully interested in the first lady. Issa and his fellow Republicans are pushing legislation that would require Michelle Obama and her successors to be transparent in any substantive policy work they do. Issa says the bill will actually help first ladies by giving them clear rules to follow. How generous of him.
March 27, 2009; 4:45 PM ET
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