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Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
1:19 PM ET, 04/ 6/2009

Michael Isikoff writes for Newsweek: "A fierce internal battle within the White House over the disclosure of internal Justice Department interrogation memos is shaping up as a major test of the Obama administration's commitment to opening up government files about Bush-era counterterrorism policy." Isikoff writes that Justice department officials are pitted against intelligence officials, and he quotes a senior official saying "Holy hell has broken loose over this."

Scott Horton blogs for the Daily Beast with another explanation for the delay: "Senate Republicans are now privately threatening to derail the confirmation of key Obama administration nominees for top legal positions by linking the votes to suppressing critical torture memos from the Bush era....It now appears that Republicans are seeking an Obama commitment to safeguard the Bush administration’s darkest secrets in exchange for letting these nominations go forward."

Krissah Thompson writes in The Washington Post: "As the nation's first black president settles into the office, a division is deepening between two groups of African Americans: those who want to continue to praise Obama and his historic ascendancy, and those who want to examine him more critically now that the election is over."

Dan Eggen writes in The Washington Post that "in its first big test," the "13 million-strong grass-roots network built during his presidential campaign...had little obvious impact on the debate over President Obama's budget, which passed Congress on Thursday with no Republican support and a splintering of votes among conservative Democrats."

Peter Baker writes in the New York Times: "Confidence is the name of the game for a new president trying to calibrate his message to match the moment, searching for a way to inspire a recession-weary country and convey hope that better times are ahead. It is a tricky balance to strike. If he sounds too gloomy, he could further depress a nation desperate for any sign of progress. If he sounds too optimistic, he risks looking as if he’s trying to pull something over on the nation, a different sort of Confidence Man."

Steven Mufson writes in The Washington Post: "The new president is setting out to change the very nature of American energy, from the way we use it to the way we generate it." Mufson describes what Obama has already accomplished -- and what is yet to come.

George Lardner Jr. blogs for Nieman Watchdog: "President Obama wanted to hit the ground running when he was sworn in, but there are thousands of federal convicts and ex-convicts waiting for him to wake up and take notice of their requests for pardons or commutations. Of all the powers granted to him by the Constitution, his authority here is complete. Yet he has shown absolutely no interest in exercising it. And no one in the media has asked him about it."

Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes that when it comes to Obama's pledge to bring transparency to the White House, he "has bumped up against technological hurdles, privacy concerns and the entrenched culture of secrecy that has flourished for decades in Washington and culminated under his predecessor, President George W. Bush."

Satyam Khanna writes for ThinkProgress.org about White House senior adviser David Axelrod's response on CNN on Sunday to former vice president Cheney's continued critiques of Obama. From the transcript: Axelrod says former president George W. Bush "has behaved like a statesman. And as I’ve said before, here and elsewhere, I just don’t think the memo got passed down to the vice president." Khann writes: "Axelrod also noted that Cheney’s insistence that he kept America safe flies in the face of reality. 'I find it supremely ironic, on a day when we were meeting with NATO, to talk about the continued threat from al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they’re still plotting against us eight years — or seven years later,' he said. 'I think the question for Mr. Cheney is, how could that be? How could this have gone so long? Why are they still in business?'"

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