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Morning Fix: Leveraging Foreign Policy?

President Obama addressed the United Nations on Wednesday. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

President Obama's prominence on the world stage this week -- he chairs a U.N. Security Council meeting today before heading to Pittsburgh for a gathering of the G-20 -- is being touted by some Democrats as the perfect antidote to his ongoing struggle to pass a health care bill on the home front.

"For Obama, the ability to dominate on a world stage will help project leadership, allow him to dominate the free media real estate, not get caught in the back and forth crossfire and make clear he is a strong leader," said Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist based in San Francisco.

Lehane, a former Clinton administration official, added that the tactic has worked for past president. Lehane argued that former president Bill Clinton's trip to Europe -- and, in particular, his speech in Northern Ireland -- in late 1995 served as the start of a political comeback for the president in the wake of the 1994 Republican wave election. "[It] bolstered his standing back in the U.S. and gave him a little wind at his back," said Lehane.

The thinking among many Democratic strategists is that Obama is at his best when he is on a big stage, looking and acting like a statesman. His electoral appeal -- as demonstrated during the campaign -- originated in a belief among the American public that he had a broad vision for the country and was enough of a statesman to get it done.

Time and again during the campaign, when small events threatened to drag him down, Obama went big -- giving a "major" speech or otherwise projecting an image of himself as above the petty partisan fray.

"It allows him to rise above the heated rhetoric of the health-care debate and pursue progress on problems that most people believe need addressing," said Democratic media consultant Allan Crow about the political benefits of Obama's foreign-policy focused week.

Obama's numbers on his handling of foreign policy have come back to earth somewhat, however, which suggests that simply shifting his -- and the news media's -- attention fro domestic to foreign affairs is not enough.

In the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal survey, 50 percent approved of the way Obama was approaching foreign policy while 36 percent disapproved. That's a significant drop off from a July NBC/WSJ poll where 57 percent approved and just 33 percent disapproved of how Obama was handling foreign policy.

And, not all Democrats are convinced that a strong week for Obama on foreign affairs has any measurable affect on the fate of health care, which continues to wend its way through the Senate Finance Committee.

"I don't see the president's foreign policy favorables rubbing off onto his health care numbers, as much as I would like them to," said Democratic media consultant Jennifer Burton. "I mean Ashley Judd doesn't make Wynonna look any better."

The truth is that while a strong performance this week for Obama could help firm up voters' impressions of his leadership qualities, it isn't likely to significantly affect the handful of senators -- Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), etc. -- who hold the fate of his health care bill in their hands.

Thursday Fix Picks:

1. President Obama on America's image in the world.
2. ACORN on offense.
3. David Paterson keeps talking.
4. Sarah Hong Kong!
5. Might be time to buy a Wii.

It's Getting VERY Ugly in N.J.: New Jersey is known for its rough and tumble politics but a new ad from Gov. Jon Corzine (D) is among the toughest we have seen in recent memory. Not only does Corzine hammer former U.S. attorney Chris Christie (R) for hitting a motorcyclist while going the wrong way down a one way street and for being caught speeding in an unregistered vehicle but he also seems to take a subtle dig at the Republican's weight. "In both cases, Chris Christie threw his weight around as U.S. attorney and got off easy," says the ad's narrator as a picture of the overweight Christie is shown on screen. OUCH! Voters always insist that a candidate's personal appearance has nothing to do with how they cast their ballot but, time and again, attractive candidates wind up winning elections. (Hello John Edwards!) Will raising Christie's weight as an issue work for Corzine or backfire on the already embattled incumbent?

McMahon Hits TV in CT: Linda McMahon (R), CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment and a newly-minted U.S. Senate candidate, is putting her money where her mouth is -- launching two ads statewide (including the costly New York City media market) aimed at introducing her to Connecticut voters. In one, McMahon tells the story of she and her husband founding a business -- she never mentions that said business revolves around professional wrestling -- 30 years ago and tells of the work they did to grow it into a publicly traded company. "It took hard work and perseverance," says McMahon. "Washington could use some of that." In a recognition of McMahon's odd path to a Senate bid, both ads end with her insisting: "It's time for something different." Whispers in Connecticut are that McMahon is planning to spend between $30-$50 million of her own money on the race, a massive sum that almost certainly makes her a factor in a race that has long been regarded as a two-way primary contest between former representative Rob Simmons (R) and former ambassador Tom Foley (R). Democrats, clearly aware of the threat McMahon's wealth poses, put out a release blasting her ads. "If Linda McMahon has any sort of substantive policy ideas or plans to fix all of the things she feels are wrong in this country, we have yet to hear what they are," said party spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan.

Wide Open Race for Michigan Guv: A new independent poll shows the Michigan Republican primary for governor is a wide open affair with no candidate receiving more than 27 percent of the vote. Among those likely to vote in a Republican primary next year, state Attorney General Mike Cox takes 27 percent while Rep. Pete Hoekstra comes in at 26 percent. Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard stands at 15 percent while wealthy businessman Rick Snyder and state Sen. Tom George each take two percent. The poll, which was conducted by the Michigan Research Group and "Inside Michigan Politics," is largely a gauge of name identification at this point and is not necessarily predictive of the final outcome -- particularly if Snyder, a former executive at Gateway computers, spends heavily from his own pocket. Republicans have to feel good about where they stand in the general election as Lt. Gov. John Cherry, the likely Democratic nominee, is stuck in the low 40s.

Porter's Out (Again) in Nevada: Former representative Jon Porter (R) will not challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) in 2010, the second time the former member has removed himself from the contest in recent months. "Congressman Porter told us months ago that he was not planning to run so this shouldn't come as a surprise," National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director Brian Walsh told Jon Ralston. Porter, who was widely seen as preparing a challenge to Reid before his defeat in 2008, had already ruled the race out once but was reportedly re-considering. Republicans are coming out of the woodwork to challenge Reid after a series of polls showed the Democrat's vulnerability; Danny Tarkanian, the son of the legendary UNLV basketball coach is in as is state Sen. Mark Amodei. State Republican party chairwoman Sue Lowden is considering a bid.

Paul's Million: Rand Paul, the son of Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R), crested the $1 million raised mark in his Senate bid on Wednesday. "Our fundraising success ensures that Rand will be able keep the focus of the Republican primary on balanced budgets, term limits and following the Constitution rather than just having to listen to mindless attacks from political opponents," said David Adams, Paul's campaign manager. Paul has been aggressively raising money via the Internet -- using the network built during his father's presidential bid -- despite the fact that the Kentucky establishment has lined up behind Secretary of State Trey Grayson. Grayson raised just over $600,000 through the end of June, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Polling suggests Grayson is the favorite, however, and it remains to be seen whether Rand Paul can convert Internet excitement (and dollars) about his campaign into actual votes. The seat is open as Sen. Jim Bunning (R) is retiring.

Click It!: In case there was any question that Louisiana Sen. David Vitter (R) planned to use President Obama against Rep. Charlie Melancon in 2010, a new e-mail from the Republican should clear that right up. In it, Vitter points out the fact that Melancon has a video on his website of Obama addressing a joint session of Congress on health care. "After holding 21 town halls across the state of Louisiana during the month of August, it couldn't be clearer that Louisianians aren't interested in President Obama's plans to meddle in the health care of Louisiana's families," writes Vitter. Given Vitter's own negatives and the fact that Obama took just 40 percent in the Bayou State, attempting to turn the race into a referendum on the president is sound strategy.

A New Klein!: Jack Herman Klein was born last night to proud parents Rick "The Note" Klein and his wife, Laine. The newest Klein clocked in at 8 lbs, 4 ounces and mom and newborn are "alert and resting at Sibley Hospital," the proud papa said via email last night.

Say What?: "For Majority Leader Reid, it seems that 'oversight' is a selective responsibility, and the misuse of taxpayer dollars by a fraud-ridden organization does not qualify as a priority in his purview as the Leader of the U.S. Senate." -- Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) doesn't mince words after Harry Reid turned down his request for a formal investigation of the community organizing group ACORN.

By Chris Cillizza  |  September 24, 2009; 5:56 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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Come on CC, fair is fair, President Barack Obama has had a gonzo this the best you can offer to the party of NO hacks, 50% as opposed to 59% last week..sheesh..CC I think you are clutching at straws here..only eight months in office and President Barack Obama is half-way to fixing W's eight year mess...

Posted by: ruraledcomm | September 24, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear ...

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 24, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin was paid to make the case for not regulating banking by bankers. They hired the harpy with the grading voice because they wanted her treasonous comments published in the American press.

Their punishment was to have listen to the vapid illiterate drone for 90 minutes.

Posted by: Gator-ron | September 24, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

The poll on foreign policy makes script for the media but has little significance in what policy will be. The likelihood that Obama's re-election is unlikely to hinge on foreign policy and foreign policy is unlikely to be influenced by polls. Health care is another matter but those who interpret the polls have wanted to make them look unfavorable to Obama so that there is the appearance of a horse race when none exists.

Posted by: Gator-ron | September 24, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

The funny thing about Palin and about stupid opinionated people in general is how they never seem to recognize how dull they actually are.

Go over to the Number thread #35 and read the rambling two-part diatribe "justifying" making adultery illegal again .. a completely unoriginal regurgitation of decades-old Culture War boilerplate but presented with the self-important aplomb of scholarly original thought. All arguments based on "anyone can see" this and "it's self-evident that."

Right-wingers accept with complete conviction that their beliefs are established fact. That deregulation energizes the economy (please ignore the repeated collapses and recessions), that pre-emptive invasion is good policy (please ignore the resurgent Taliban and violent resentment of our occupation), that free markets always produce great outcomes (please ignore those 50 million uninsured, all those miscarriages, and all that obesity and diabetes).

Some people never learn.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 24, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Barack Obama's Foreign Policy initiatives are nothing more than his usual Communist-inspired blame--America excuse tours. This pathetic excuse for an American gives lip--service to America (especially when he was trying to get elected and needed to fool the fools), wears a flag pin that he once said he'd never wear, and then undermines our country by groveling and kow-towing to friend and foe alike, telling everyone who listens that all the problems in the world that has ever happened is our fault.
It shouldn't have surprised anybody though. This guy has been a racist white and America--hater throughout his entire adult life, so he's only doing what he's always done, spread the hate--America around.
In college he was a member of James Combs Communist Black Liberation Front that was teaching the Malcolm X philosophy of hatred for white people and hatred for our country.
In Chicago he joins the black-version of the KKK, Trinity UFC Church, that was teaching it's members the vile racist hatred for white people and hatred for America. This church (?) had close ties to racist white and America--hater Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. All his his friends he paled around with, and all his neighbors, and assocciates were all racist white and America--haters like Jerimiah Wright Jr, Otis Moss 3d, Michael Pfleger, Louis Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dorhn, etc. No one should be surprised, now that he's gotten elected by the fools, when this racist white and America--hater continues what he's always been. I'm not.

Posted by: armpeg | September 24, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Will Corzine go 'all in' and shave his beard?


That would sure help me keep my lunch down where it belongs. Those closeups of that wirey gray fiber are disgusting. Not as disgusting as pics of Ken Shramm on the sides of buses but disgusting enough.

Ugh. Facial hair.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 24, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I'd rather our President be hated but feared by these UN tyrants then to be adored but viewed as weak.


Spoken like a lifelong playground bully

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 24, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

"time and again, attractive candidates wind up winning elections. Will raising Christie's weight as an issue work for Corzine or backfire on the already embattled incumbent?"

Will Corzine go 'all in' and shave his beard?


Posted by: bsimon1 | September 24, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse


(The following commentary elicited a "will be reviewed for publication" message upon attempted posting to Dick Polman's political column at the Philadelphia Inquirer web site -- despite the fact that comments generally are posted immediately.

I believe the commentary was subject to real-time censorship by U.S. government surveillance operatives who are unjustly and unconstitutionally interfering with my constitutional right to telecommunicate.

Because the commentary is relevant to this discussion, I will now attempt to post it here:)

Afghanistan is but the most palpable symbol of Obama's biggest political challenge -- preventing an incipient, silent coup d'etat that is arguably being covertly executed on several fronts.

Obama had the opportunity to install his own team at the Pentagon. Instead, he left the Bush-Cheney military hierarchy intact, from SecDef Gates on down to the commanding generals in the field. Most recently, he chose a Republican to serve as Army secretary. With Bush-Cheney "leave-behinds" firmly entrenched and unchallenged, is it any wonder that Obama finds his Afghanistan policy being commandeered by the bureaucracy and the generals?

When Harry S Truman was faced with a similar political challenge, he fired the general who defied his presidential authority. And that was famed Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

Does President Obama have it in him to so firmly take the reins from those who may seek to usurp his powers as the constitutionally elected

Judging from his tendency to compromise and equivocate, it appears that the Generals will get their way -- discreetly, covertly, the "will of the people" be damned.

Posted by: scrivener50 | September 24, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

"I'd rather our President be hated but feared by these UN tyrants"

George W Bush was certainly hated but he was feared by no man. He was a joke.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | September 24, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Mark, I laugh when I look over their excerpts of her speech and say "that was the cream of 90 minutes of talking?"

Besides the circular logic, there was the unbelievably simplistic framing of problems and the hackneyed solutions (lowered taxes would have brought us out of the financial mess!), her assertion that all Main Streets think alike ('cause they've got common sense), her perspective taking that begins and ends with Reagan, trotting out her Death Panels as representative of her sagacity, and mentioning Uighurs and Tibetans in passing as if that shows she understands the issues involved. I can't imagine those "international investors" paid her a moment's notice. Even in a friendly house with controlled media she is in over her head.

Were there more people in attendence here than at Value Voter? Certainly there were deeper pockets.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | September 24, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Mark giving a speech about deregulation in hong kong is simply knowing your audience.

Similar to bashing Israel at the un.

Posted by: snowbama | September 24, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

KOZ, you should be glad this morning and every morning that John Edwards is not POTUS.

Indeed yes. And al gore and John Kerry and perplexingly, John McCain.

Some of these garbage ideas might actually be law under McCain.

Posted by: snowbama | September 24, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

"treasonous dwarf," that's great!

Posted by: nodebris | September 24, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I read the WSJ excerpts of SHP's speech and see that she considers the Fed having kept interest rates low as one cause of the bubble, and I agree with her. But then she attacks the Fed's early decade position as too much regulation.

That is too clever by half.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | September 24, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"CC wrote:

"McMahon tells the story of she and her husband founding a business..."

"of she...founding a business" simply should not be correct and grates so much that it either must be changed or the clanging in my ears will not go away. Now I know how Scriv felt at that HRC rally where he was zapped by microwaves.

Posted by: mark_in_austin"

yeah! Glad I wasn't the only one who felt like that. The object of a preposition needs to be an object pronoun!!!

I don't care if I sound like some anal retentive loser.

Also it was a woman who made the Winonna Judd joke. Not necessarily nullifying the sexist charge, but at least a mitigating factor.

Well, time to wiki and find out who this person is.

Posted by: DDAWD | September 24, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I'd rather our President be hated but feared by these UN tyrants then to be adored but viewed as weak. I'd rather Hugo Chavez, Qaddafi, and Castro view our President as the devil instead of someone they admire

Posted by: TexasProud1 | September 24, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

As POTUS Plays Upon the World Stage...



• When will Team Obama realize that covert programs are subverting the rule of law and violating the civil and human rights of thousands of unjustly "targeted" Americans...

...their lives and their livelihoods ruined, a socio-political AMERICAN GENOCIDE conducted under the legal cover of the USA Patriot Act?

• These are CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY AND THE CONSTITUTION -- enabled by federal officials who are either naive, misinformed, or complicit. OR (if link is corrupted / disabled): RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | September 24, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Another day, another board on which to face the insane rants of KOZ I mean snobama, joked, and armpit.

To keep this on topic, compare Obama's speech with that of treasonous dwarf Sarah Palin in Hong Kong. She (or whoever wrote her screed) is seriously deranged.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | September 24, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Too bad Fox News was so consumed with Gadhafi's birther kindling (Obama is a "Kenyan") that they didn't cover our president's speech.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | September 24, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Corzine is stuck in the 40s six weeks from the election, against a known opponent. That's serious trouble for an incumbent.

The situation in Michigan for 2010 is indeed wide open. With 3 or more potential GOP candidates with decent numbers, the incumbent Lt. Gov. is in the low 40s. When the challenger is identified, we can expect a different race. Job approval is more of a floor for an incumbent than a ceiling.

Posted by: justjoeking | September 24, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

KOZ, you should be glad this morning and every morning that John Edwards is not POTUS.

margaret, SHP's speech was over 90 minutes long. Maybe the WSJ cherry picked the most amateurish moments? Probably not.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | September 24, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

The Wynonna remark does sound like Mouthpiece Theatre, but it was a quote, so Cillizza's only contribution was to think, "Great line! I'm gonna use that." Sad.

Posted by: justjoeking | September 24, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry but I won't apologize. A comedy of fools at the U. N.

Posted by: snowbama | September 24, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

So Obama is Best when acting like something he's not.

Posted by: snowbama | September 24, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

msame -- I agree. The Wynonna crack is the kind of thing the boys find funny, and then mistakenly pass on thinking we'll all see the humor. The parallel is false -- one might just as well say Zac Ephron doesn't improve Mick Jagger. This is the kinds of stuff that sank Mouthpiece Theatre.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | September 24, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

CC wrote:

"McMahon tells the story of she and her husband founding a business..."

"of she...founding a business" simply should not be correct and grates so much that it either must be changed or the clanging in my ears will not go away. Now I know how Scriv felt at that HRC rally where he was zapped by microwaves.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | September 24, 2009 7:07 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link to the WSJ excerpts of Sarah Palin's big premiere on the International Poitical Stage. I'm assuming these are the *highlights* the WSJ printed.

This was a very feeble speech, and I think she really did write it herself -- I cannot imagine a professional writer producing that mess for money. She uses the kind of vague, circular logic you usually see at school board meetings when they have open mic night. Her explanation about the roots of the current financial crisis must have had all those experienced international investors smirking at her.

Palin has been on the national stage for 14 months now and this is her new level of play? If this is all the progress she can manage she will never be ready to run for the Presidency. 14 months with policy coaches and political groomers resulting in this appearance proved that she thinks she's got it all and she doesn't need to listen to others. If you think back on how many colleges she went to in how many years to get what kind of degree, if you consider her career as Mayor and Governor, and then as a candidate on the national stage -- you see a lifetime of going her own way and ignoring counsel and -- always, always -- quitting and moving on to the next place. She is incapable of growth or grooming.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | September 24, 2009 6:45 AM | Report abuse

What's up with cutting on Wynonna?

Posted by: msame | September 24, 2009 6:25 AM | Report abuse

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