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Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
11:38 AM ET, 03/18/2009

Krissah Thompson writes in The Washington Post: "The 'Obama women' -- as African American women who've taken big jobs in his administration have been nicknamed -- mark another step in the long journey of black women from outsiders to gatekeepers in political Washington. They have quietly entered their jobs with little attention paid to the fact that they are the largest contingent of high-ranking black women to work for a president."

Nia-Malikia Henderson and Carrie Budoff Brown write for Politico: "It was a year ago today that Barack Obama, then a candidate for president fearing a divisive racial backlash over his pastor, took to the stage in Philadelphia and said it was time to have a new conversation about race....But in the year since that speech – through campaign and convention, election and inauguration – Barack Obama hasn’t taken part in the discussion of race in America in any sustained way, the way he did that day in Philadelphia to get out of a campaign jam."

Peter Wallsten and David G. Savage write in the Los Angeles Times: "Obama's success has emerged as a central argument from conservatives who say his victory proves that some of the nation's most protective civil rights laws can be erased from the books. Conservative legal foundations and the Republican governor of Georgia, challenging key parts of the Voting Rights Act, filed briefs in the Supreme Court this month pointing to racial progress and a high black turnout in the fall election."

Al Kamen announces the launch of "Head Count, The Washington Post's interactive database to help you keep a sharp eye on the people President Obama is appointing to the nearly 500 top positions in the federal government that require Senate confirmation. The new feature will not only tell you who they are but also help you count all the demographic beans -- age, sex, ethnicity, education (elite schools or not), home states and so on."

Ann Scott Tyson writes in The Washington Post: "An Obama administration proposal to bill veterans' private insurance companies for treatment of combat-related injuries has prompted veterans groups to condemn the plan as unethical and powerful lawmakers on Capitol Hill to promise their opposition. Nevertheless, the White House confirmed yesterday that the idea remains under consideration, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and leaders of veterans groups are scheduled to meet tomorrow to discuss it further."

Josh Gerstein writes for Politico: "President Obama's White House Counsel’s Office is in settlement negotiations to resolve two lawsuits over millions of official White House e-mails that may have gone missing during President Bush’s tenure....'They reached out to us and sent us a smiley face,' Tom Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive, confirmed Monday in remarks to a conference on government secrecy and transparency at American University....In 2007, two groups, the National Security Archive and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, sued after reports emerged that some White House e-mails were not properly archived."

Chritopher Drew writes in the New York Times: "Congressional auditors estimated that the national missile defense programs could have cost overruns of $2 billion to $3 billion, reinforcing widespread expectations that they will be subject to cuts by the Obama administration."

Matthew Lee writes for the Associated Press: "The Obama administration will endorse a U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality that then- President George W. Bush had refused to sign, The Associated Press has learned."

Howard Kurtz blogs for The Washington Post: "President Obama may be lightening things up with a visit to Jay Leno this week, but no one can accuse him of ducking tougher journalistic forums. Obama has agreed to sit down with '60 Minutes' for an interview that will air Sunday. CBS's Steve Kroft will be questioning the president."

According to a pool report from last night's St. Patrick's Day reception at the White House, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen was just a few words into his remarks -- "We begin by welcoming today a strong friend of the United States" -- when he stopped in surprise as he realized he was reading Obama's speech off the teleprompter. "Why don't these things work for me?" he asked, as the crowd roared. "Thank you for having us. Who said these things were idiot-proof?" Then he got his bearings and proceeded with his intended speech. When that was over, Obama stepped to the microphone and said, to much laughter: "First, I'd like to say thank you to President Obama."

MSNBC anchor David Shuster explained last night that every time his "Hypocrisy Watch" segment features former Bush adviser Karl Rove, he asks Rove to come on and defend himself. "This weekend, I received the following Twitter direct response: 'Re 1600. Wait until the book. You're in there. Signed Karl Rove.' So Karl Rove is writing a book. It sounds like Rove may try and settle some scores with people who followed the CIA leak case or tracked Rove‘s damage to the Bush administration or the country."

Lynn Sweet blogs for the Chicago Sun-Times: "President Obama filled out his NCAA brackets for ESPN. He picked Louisville, North Carolina, Memphis and Pittsburgh."

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