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White House Cheat Sheet: What's Next?

President Obama returns to America today after eight days abroad. AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici

President Obama returns stateside today, concluding a trip abroad that serves as a bookend for a breakneck first eleven weeks in office that has seen his administration fundamentally reshape the financial and auto industries, propose and pass the outline of a $3 trillion budget, and begin to redefine America to the world community.

The obvious question: What's next?

There's little debate that Obama's first 77 days in office have been among the most active (and activist) of any modern administration -- drawing comparisons to the first 100 days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, both of whom, like Obama, dealt with a major national (FDR) or international (JFK) crisis in their first days in office.

Now that so much has been set in motion -- from broad economic reforms to an increased focus on the war in Afghanistan -- there is some sense that the only thing to do is sit back and wait to see whether the early actions have the desired effect.

But, the American public tends to equate movement with progress so don't expect the Obama administration to do anything that projects an image of luxuriating in their own accomplishments over the next few months.

The primary focus of the administration efforts likely will be, unsurprisingly, Obama's continued salesmanship for his economic plan as the best way to a long term recovery. Obama acknowledged that part of the recovery has to do with people believing things are getting better and, given his continued high popularity ratings, he is the best messenger to instill the sort of confidence average Americans need and want.

A recent national poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News suggests that the economic corner hasn't yet been turned in the minds of most Americans. Twenty-seven percent of those polled said the economy was getting better while 36 percent said it was getting worse and an equal 36 percent said the economy was holding steady.

Given those numbers, expect Obama to continue his habit of spending a day or two (or more) outside of Washington in the coming weeks, perhaps with the town halls he has employed to much success both during the fight over his economic stimulus plan and during his time in Europe.

In truth, there will be something of a slowdown over the next few months -- particularly from a legislative standpoint. Congress is now on a two-week recess and the major fights on issues like health care and the environment aren't likely to come up until the fall.

But, Obama knows that with the country still in dire economic straits nothing but full speed ahead is acceptable. How and whether he matches the pace of his first seven weeks, however, is an open question.

What To Watch For:

Tuesday's Fix Picks: Soon -- we promise -- these picks will migrate into a permanent spot in the top left hand corner of the blog. Stay tuned!

1. President Obama insists America "is not and never will be at war with Islam" during a speech in Turkey.
2. There will be no attempt to overturn the Iowa same sex marriage decision by the state legislature.
3. New Yorkers do not like their governor. Like, at all.
4. Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) comes out against the Employee Free Choice Act. Is she worried about her 2010 race? Paging Tim Griffin.
5. The showdown for the future of journalism may come down to this: the Associated Press vs. Google.

More Ads for Americans United: As President Obama arrives back in the United States, he'll be greeted by ads applauding passage of his budget last week and urging Republicans to work with the president on future legislative measures. "Last week Members of Congress from across America came together to make history," says the narrator in the ad, which is being sponsored by Americans United, a liberal outside group. "They voted overwhelmingly to turn the page on the failed economic policies of the past." Later, the narrator notes that not a single Republican voted for Obama's budget blueprint, adding: "Tell the Republican leaders that when it comes to future decisions on health care, energy, education and jobs, America doesn't want 'no we won't'... we want 'Yes we can.'" The ad buy is in the "five figures" and will run only on D.C. cable stations, according to Americans United spokesman Jeremy Funk, meaning that it is intended not to persuade voters but rather to influence the chattering class as they debate future fights between Congress and the administration.

2012 Like It's Tomorrow: The Democratic National Committee seems to be making a habit of attacking unannounced candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. The latest victim? Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal whose preferred candidate in a state Senate special election got clobbered over the weekend. Hari Sevugan, deputy communications director at the DNC, whipped around an email on Monday taking note of the loss with the addendum: "I don't usually make a habit of sending out clips of Republican electoral victories, but this one merited an exception." Asked about the governor's unsuccessful endorsement, Jindal consultant Curt Anderson said simply "You stick by your friends." Anderson added that he was "amused" by the DNC's interest in the race, noting that Democrats failed to even qualify a candidate for the state Senate special. The DNC's decision to elevate Jindal by attacking him is an interesting one. Strategists for the party insist that the fact that Jindal was chosen to give the Republican response to President Obama's address to Congress in February is a sure sign he was already elevated in the eyes of most political observers.

The Clinton Alumni Association: Ever wonder what happened to the massive political machine then Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton built for her unsuccessful presidential bid? While some of her top aides have made high profile moves -- communications director Howard Wolfson to the same position in the reelection race of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Patti Solis Doyle to a D.C. law firm -- a number of other operatives have made more under the radar moves that have put them in influential positions in the campaigns of 2009 and 2010. Geri Prado, who served as deputy political director for Clinton, has signed on to manage the Senate candidacy of Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher; former Clinton state director Jonathan Drobis is the deputy campaign manager for New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson who is running against Bloomberg this year. And then of course there are Ace Smith and Nick Clemons -- two leading state operatives for Clinton -- who are overseeing the political operations of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, respectively. Both men are eyeing the 2010 governor's race in the Golden State. Got any other tips on where Cinton alums have landed? Feel free to shoot me an email at chris.cillizza@wpost.com or leave your tip in the comments section below.

The Missing Linc Running for Gov?: Former Rhode Island senator Lincoln Chafee took a major step toward returning to the political arena Monday, forming an exploratory committee to raise money for a potential gubernatorial bid in 2010. A statement released by his fledgling campaign said that he would spend the next few months "meeting with advisers and supporters" to put together the framework of a bid -- as an Independent -- for governor. Chafee, who was defeated by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D) in 2006, is a household name in the state thanks to his own service as well as the iconic status of his father, John, who spent decades representing the state in the Senate before his death in 1999. Sources on both sides of the political aisle acknowledge that Chafee has a real chance at winning a three-way race particularly with Democrats headed to a rock 'em, sock 'em primary and Republicans without a particularly stellar candidate. If he does get elected, Chafee will follow in the footsteps of Maine's Angus King and (gulp) Minnesota's Jesse Ventura.

UNC Wins, McDonnell Loses: When Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell (R) put together an NCAA basketball tournament competition on his gubernatorial campaign Web site -- offering the winner the chance to dine with him or play a two on two basketball game with him and his two sons, he and his political team likely saw it as a fun distraction to get people to visit his site. He didn't count on Greg Scanlon, however. (No one ever does.) Scanlon, who is a researcher for the Virginia Democratic Party, won the pool -- cinching it with his pick of national champion University of North Carolina in last night's championship game. Um, awkward. Of the possibility of playing against McDonnell in hoops, Scanlon said: "If we play basketball, I know I'll have to watch out for Bob's hard driving to the right." Heyooooo!

Vandenberg to Davis: Rep. Artur Davis's (D-Ala.) fledgling bid for governor will be managed by Jessica VandenBerg, an experienced Washington hand, the campaign announced on Monday. VandenBerg, an Iowa native, rose to prominence in 2006 when she guided Jim Webb to an upset victory over then Sen. George Allen in Virginia. She has also spent time in Minnesota and North Carolina as a political operative. "Joining Congressman Davis' campaign is a no-brainer," Vandenberg said when contacted by the Fix. "His polling shows him leading Democrats and Republicans next year...and it's an open seat in a state that has very competitive and very close general elections." Davis will face state Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks and, potentially, state Sen. Roger Bedford in the coming Democratic primary as he seeks to become the first African American governor of Alabama.

Say What?: "They make you take your shoes off and everything, it's terrible." -- Disgraced financier "Sir" Allen Stanford tells ABC of the perils of flying commercial.

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 7, 2009; 6:15 AM ET
Categories:  Cheat Sheet Share This:  E-Mail | Technorati | Del.icio.us | Digg | Stumble Previous: Wag the Blog Redux: Obama's New Media World
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On second thought it could be worse.
If McCain were president,
Saint Sarah could be leading us in prayer meetings every morning and we would still be just as broke.

Posted by: seemstome | April 8, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

What's next is anyone's guess. Kal Penn aka
Taj in the movie Van Wilder has joined the white house as a liaison between the Obama administration and Hollywood.
What the hell?
Obama and Kumar shut down Guantanamo part 2.

Posted by: seemstome | April 8, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

He's needs to reverse course on the economy, because the bad news is about to catch up to him. In September if we still have 10 percent unemployment Americans won't be so forgiving when Obama blames Bush. Worse news for him if the North Koreans test another missle or things continue to deteriorate in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. By them we won't care much what Ms. Obama is wearing.

Posted by: kenpasadena | April 7, 2009 8:13 PM | Report abuse

What's always next... more propaganda to promote the excess of evil...

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 7, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

"...follow in the footsteps of Maine's Angus King and (gulp) Minnesota's Jesse Ventura."

Angus King was Maine's second independent governor. The 1st was James Longley, who served from 1974-78.

Posted by: Pokeyboy | April 7, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

"modern conservative "thought""

that's an oxymoron, nodebris, as they are morons.

Posted by: drindl | April 7, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

It's hilarious. Intelligent, informed comments are popping all over, and then NadeemZacharia and koz drop their stinking t*rds in the middle of it. Giving vivid, odoriferous demonstration as to the quality of modern conservative "thought" in year of Our Lord 2009.

Posted by: nodebris | April 7, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

iowa-"There will be no attempt to overturn the Iowa same sex marriage decision by the state legislature".

wise choice. don't waste the time, money or energy.
it's going to the supreme court...

California is happy!!!

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 7, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse




Attorney General Eric Holder
DHS Sec. Napolitano
DoD Sec. Gates
Treas. Sec. Geithner
DNI Dennis Blair, DNI Inspector General-designate Roslyn Mazer
Rahm Emanuel. David Axelrod, Jay Carney, White House
(staffs, please forward)


Google it.

YOU -- or someone close to you -- could be the next victim.

Unless Team Obama takes down the draconian Bush-Cheney extrajudicial punishment network...

...an array of secret "programs of personal financial destruction" and a government-funded army of citizen vigilante "community gang stalkers"... using the GPS satellite system to hunt and harass human prey (with the full knowledge of law enforcement)...

...coupled with the proliferation of mind- and body-degrading "directed energy" microwave radiation weapons -- the Zyklon B of a grassroots, military/intel- enabled civilian American Gestapo.

These federal programs and policies have corrupted local law enforcement nationwide, allowing vigilante injustice to rule the streets. This shameful legacy of the Bush-Cheney Reign of Terror must be taken down.

Attorney General Holder, you must act NOW to restore human and civil rights in America.

Before the naivete of liberals empowers the saboteurs and Dr. Strangeloves who say "No!" to change.

Where is the civil rights division investigation that victims have demanded?

Or is there "nothing to investigate" -- because the government already knows all about this?





Posted by: scrivener50 | April 7, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

the banks and mortgage companies should be doing what they are supposed to be doing.

it's time for the frontline workers and middle management of all these entities that GOT MONEY do start doing something to show they are "giving back" somehow.

Diplomatic trips will happen. He is the President of the country.

Implementing P.L. 111-5 is the highest priority. And that implementation does NOT come from the White House.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 7, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

President Purple Lips should be at home addressing real problems instead of grinning his way through Europe and posing for every photo op.

Posted by: NadeemZacharia | April 7, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

What's next? If I had to guess I would have to say a long boring TelePrompTer speech full of empty promises and soaring rhetoric.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 7, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, mark_in_austin for very interesting synopses - sounds like a fascinating conversation.

Very small potatoes in comparison but, CHRIS - Is someone at the Post all over the dog? Obama said it would be "in place" when he came home.

Posted by: annieb346 | April 7, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

they keep those trips to see the troops a secret....

what's next??
the banks can loosen up and actually reach out to the families that are in dire straits.
The banks are not initiating any type of "goodwill" initiatives to their customers. No outreach.
No customer service except to say no.
No calls coming in from banks to these families saying "come on in, we can work on your mortgage".

where are the banks?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 7, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Well, according to the breaking news on your site, what's next is an unannounced trip to Iraq now underway! Wow.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | April 7, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Well, if Congress is bashing companies over bonuses (and why not) maybe they should walk the talk and NOT TAKE VACATION or recess, whatever, until some major threats to our country are resolved. I mean, it's not like they've done a stellar job the past few years either.

Posted by: tslats | April 7, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

What's next? The GOP approval rating being at historic lows, and staying there as long as they stay white, male, and fearmongering. The Dems argue with the Prez and the Fix reports fierce problems. Um Chris, that's the way things are supposed to operate. that way the constituents see that the Dem representing them is putting their needs before party, I know it's a foreign concept to you of the Republican ilk, but that way Congress doesn't rubberstamp everything that comes from the WH like when Bush was in. I always admire pols of any sort that vote with their conscience, whether I agree with them or not, I respect them for putting their voter's first before party loyalty.

Posted by: katem1 | April 7, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Synopsis, part 3:

Zbig then says the economy and Afghanistan-Pakistan create limitations. The conversation shifted then.
HK likes Holbrooke-Petraeus "fluid" approach.
Charlie shifts to Israel. HK says when faced with Israeli hardliners, we should say to them "What will you do the day after?"
Israel has no answer to this. Zbig says we should let Israel know our displeasure with their sabre rattling. Zbig goes back to
Pakistan and says he likes Holbrooke-Petraeus, too, but that the scale of possible disaster in Pak is so great that we may have no answer for it. HK says we should try to help resolve India-Pakistan without becoming the mediator. HK says this cannot be on an agenda now, but discussions with Russia and China in private are hopefully going on. Zbig agrees. We are not able to talk publicly as if Pak is a problem.
Charlie shifts back to Israel. I get the feeling that these guys think Palestine is small change compared with Pakistan. Zbig says Israel and Palestine are unable to resolve this on their own and the US must take the lead. HK objects on priority grounds - the Prez has too much on his plate to mess with Palestine.

Wrap: Zbig thinks BHO has started well on FP. HK says BHO has laid the basis to move forward.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | April 7, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Synopsis, Part 2:

HK says similarly we need to make an agreement with Russia about Iran. Zbig says the Prez signaled Iran during the trip in a way that he thinks Russia will back. Zbig thinks the Prez was carrying a message that was sort of preapproved.
HK allowed that he and Zbig usually see the world the same way, but HK sees himself as more cautious. HK says Iran has never given a clear signal in negotiation of what it wants.

HK and Zbig remind me of what Holbrooke said to Charlie last year. No preconditions to negotiations with Iran, BUT clear agendas presubmitted by Iran and the west, agreed to as the topics for discussion, before sitting down.

Zbig says if Russia is helpful with Iran there will be a reduced need for a western missile shield toward Iran. HK and Zbig agree that toward Iran this should NOT start as a negotiation about specific proposals. It should start with patient discussion of identified issues, instead. The thinking is that Iran and the US, especially, have no recent history of negotiations, so there must be a feeling out period.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | April 7, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Charlie Rose visited with Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski last night about the Prez's trip and the future of Am FP.

Synopsis, Part 1:

Kissinger said the Prez achieved everything that could be achieved on this trip. He also said BHO has the characteristic of a negotiator who clearly states the problem and makes the case for negotiation. He said Condi had tried to invite Iran to negotiate on several occasions, and she should get credit for it, but the Prez is much more able to make a case.

Zbig is, as we know, a strong supporter of the Prez.

Both HK and Zbig think the problems are so tough that there is no guarantee at all that the Prez will have any success. They agree that we should not talk about force against NK, although that is always an implicit possibility. With Iran and NK we do not have to say what we will do if negotiations fail. The key player in the NK scenario is China and there was an agreement apparently that HRC and the foreign minister of China are going to have a series of intense tete-a-tetes about NK. HK thinks the foreign minister of China is superb and Zbig agrees. Zbig says we must agree with China to go slow on NK, but China must agree to move forward, albeit slowly.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | April 7, 2009 7:48 AM | Report abuse

The Euro trip may have been a tough job, but something tells me card check may be the messiest issue Obama has dealt with so far in office...


Posted by: parkerfl1 | April 7, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

The "Houston Chronicle" runs regular updates on Stanford. Here is a recent example:


Posted by: mark_in_austin | April 7, 2009 7:35 AM | Report abuse

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