Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
11:26 AM ET, 02/18/2009

Susan Milligan writes in the Boston Globe: "President Obama campaigned for the White House with some sweeping promises: He was going to keep lobbyists out of his administration, impose impeccably high ethical standards, and get rid of the partisanship he said was poisoning Washington. But those pledges - while reliable crowd-pleasers during Obama's campaign - have ended up defining the new president's early stumbles....Democrats and Republicans alike credit Obama with making the effort. But the standards Obama has set are unrealistic, they said, adding that Obama has already broken some of his own rules."

The White House has released a photo gallery of "behind-the-scenes" images of Obama's efforts to get his stimulus package passed. Sample caption: "Jan. 27, 2009: House Republicans surround the President after the meeting. Many of them were seeking his autograph. Every House Republican eventually voted against the bill."

Jackie Calmes blogs for the New York Times: "Now that President Obama has signed a $787 stimulus package into law and weighed tens of billions more to aid homeowners and banks, he will take a break next Monday to consider just how the government can get a grip on its increasingly ugly balance sheet. The White House is finishing plans for what it is calling a 'fiscal responsibility summit,' a three-hour bipartisan wonk-fest. Invitations are going out this week to 90 people: 30 members of the House, 30 senators and 30 scholars and representatives of advocacy groups such as AARP, according to a person familiar with the plans."

Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin write in The Washington Post: "The Environmental Protection Agency will reopen the possibility of regulating carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, tossing aside a December Bush administration memorandum that declared that the agency would not limit the emissions."

Mary Clare Jalonick writes for the Associated Press: "The Obama administration is throwing out food labeling rules proposed by the Agriculture Department just before George W. Bush left office, saying it wants labels for fresh meat and other foods that would show more clearly where an animal or food came from, according to consumer groups who've been briefed on the issue."

Josh Gerstein writes for Politico that three executive orders, one presidential memorandum, one presidential notice, and one proclamation -- none of them particularly newsworthy -- were neither distributed to the press nor posted on the White House Web site. "Such notices were routinely released by the White House press office during prior administrations — making their omission all the more unusual given Obama’s oft-repeated pledges of openness."

The Washington Post's Kathleen Parker weighs in on the roundtable
President Obama held on Friday with five columnists -- and which I posted about yesterday, here and here. Her takeaway: "One of the greatest challenges for the president since taking office has been to convince the American people that their situation is serious while not scaring them into economic paralysis."

The New York Times editorial board writes: "The troubled world economy will almost certainly top the agenda when President Obama meets Thursday with Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, in Ottawa. We hope the two leaders will also take the time to discuss the painful case of Maher Arar."

© 2009 The Washington Post Company