5 p.m. ET: President Obama's passive-aggressive tour of Europe continued apace today, as he alternated between blaming the U.S. and other countries for the financial crisis and proclaimed that both America and its allies need to do more in Afghanistan.
Perhaps "passive-aggressive" isn't fair. Diplomacy is all about nuance, so Obama could be striking just the right balance between the carrot and the stick on his first major foray abroad. Politico suggests Obama is offering "tough love" to Europe. The New York Times notes that Obama "seemed bent on repairing soured transatlantic relations," but that didn't stop him from saying that Europe needs to change just as much as the U.S. does. At Slate, Fred Kaplan believes Obama has done a fine job balancing hopeful rhetoric with realistic statements about advancing our national interests.
Obama has a packed schedule between now and his return to Washington next Tuesday, and he is suffering from what's described as a persistent head cold. Hopefully he and Michelle didn't pass any germs on to the queen during their visit.
8 a.m. ET: Thursday was brought to you by the letter "B," as the budget, Blagojevich and a brief bull market dominated headlines after G-20 summit participants struck a deal to beef up global financial regulations and bolster the coffers of the International Monetary Fund. Next is "N" for NATO, as President Obama is now in Strasbourg aiming to persuade allies to provide more troops and resources in Afghanistan.
After the agreement in London, Obama may just develop a reputation as a dealmaker. Surely if he can get China and France to agree on complex financial regulations, Obama can get Reid and McConnell, et al, together on health care reform, right? But how impressive was the deal itself? The stock markets certainly liked it. Steven Pearlstein called it not quite a "turning point" but "an easy win for all concerned." But the New York Times notes that Obama "did not get much of what American officials had been hoping for," particularly in convincing other countries to boost their stimulus spending.
Obama's task in France and Germany may be tougher. The president is pressing Britain and others to send more troops to Afghanistan just as the political and military situation there gets murkier. Obama wrapped up a press conference with Nicolas Sarkozy moments ago and will soon hold what the French call a "town hall." Then he heads to Germany to meet with Angela Merkel, watch a concert and have a "working dinner."
Back home, the House and Senate handed the president an initial win late last night/early this morning by approving budget resolutions before skipping town for a two-week recess. Obama was going to declare victory almost no matter what Congress passed, but the devil is in the details -- the differences between the blueprints the House and Senate approved and the one submitted by the White House. David Rogers judges that both budgets "fall short of the bold mandate" Obama needs to move his most ambitious agenda items.
Looking at party unity, there are two ways to spin last night's House votes. You could note that Democrats kept their members together on their budget a lot better than Republicans did on their version. Or you could point out that slightly more Democrats (20) voted against this 2010 budget than did against the 2009 or 2008 ones.
And in Illinois, the premier scandal of late 2009 made a return engagement yesterday, as Rod Blagojevich was indicted on 16 counts of racketeering, fraud, extortion and stealing cookies from Girl Scouts (you have to read deep into the indictment). Blagojevich spent the day at Disney World, so go ahead and make your Super Bowl jokes now. Even after so much had already been written about this case, the indictment still managed to contain some new dirt: It turns out that Blagojevich tried to shake down both Rahm and Ari Emanuel. The Rundown looks forward to his trial, and sincerely hopes Blagojevich decides to defend himself.
April 3, 2009; 5:04 PM ET
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