8 a.m. ET: President Obama came to office promising bold change on a variety of fronts, but he has often conducted his foreign policy in shades of gray. Whether in Iran or China or North Korea, when is the Obama administration not "moving cautiously" or "treading carefully" abroad?
The latest example is Honduras, where the White House yesterday criticized the coup that toppled Manuel Zelaya yet didn't signal complete disapproval. "But while condemning the overthrow, U.S. officials did not demand the reinstatement of Zelaya,' the Los Angeles Times writes. "The administration left its ambassador to Honduras in place, while several governments in the region recalled theirs." Conservatives believe the Honduran military is doing the right thing and want the U.S. to say so, while liberals want Obama to take a firmer stance against the coup and cut of military aid to the country. So far, Obama isn't huddling with either camp.
Obama is walking a similar tightrope in Iraq, where U.S. troops are today withdrawing from major cities and handing over most security responsibilities to Iraqi forces. Initial reports this morning portray Iraqis celebrating the move. Still, Tom Ricks calls it a "faith-based" policy. He explains: "Will the Iraqis be able to keep the population relatively secure? To be honest, I don't know, and no one else does. It's a matter of faith." (A sidenote: Remember when a shift like this in Iraq would have been atop the front page, rather than at the bottom or inside the paper somewhere?)
Leading the news on the home front is yesterday's Supreme Court ruling in the Ricci v. DeStefano bias case. The decision has important implications for employment law across the country, but Washington was more concerned yesterday with how it might -- but probably won't -- damage Sonya Sotomayor's confirmation to the court. Republicans cited the ruling as evidence that Sotomayor's judgment is suspect, but there remains the sense that Senate opponents are mostly just going through the motions here and her candidacy remains safe, particularly since yesterday's ruling was 5-4 and not the recently popular tally of 8-1. The Washington Post's Web headline: "No Peril Seen for Sotomayor."
A decision the Supreme Court didn't make yesterday may end up having an even bigger impact on the political scene. The court did not issue a ruling in a case testing whether an anti-Hillary Clinton documentary violated provisions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law last year, deciding instead to hold an unusual September hearing on the case. "Given the dynamics of the court, there is a great chance the justices will use the opportunity to overrule limits on how much money corporations can spend supporting candidates," Rick Hasen writes for Slate, regardless of whether Sotomayor is confirmed in time to hear the case. On ScotusBlog, Tom Goldstein agrees, "A material shift in campaign finance law seems inevitable."
Obama made history yesterday by holding a gay pride event in the White House, a move that was welcomed as significant by some pro-gay rights activists while others used the occasion to condemn the administration for not doing enough on their behalf. Obama told attendees that he should to be judged “not by promises I’ve made but by the promises that my administration keeps.” Obama reiterated his opposition to the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy but did not say how quickly it might be reversed. Nor did he say when he might make good on his pledge to try to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
June 30, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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