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Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
12:46 PM ET, 04/13/2009

Shailagh Murray writes in The Washington Post about all the outreach White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is doing with members of Congress. "The White House legislative strategy blends Obama's vision and salesmanship with Emanuel's granular political expertise and dealmaking skills...Emanuel also sits down once a week with a different committee chairman and ranking member to catch up on business before their panel. Obama attends at least part of those sessions. Emanuel brings in all the major groups: the Blue Dog budget hawks, the moderate New Democrats, the politically skittish House freshman class."

Mike Dorning writes for Tribune: "When President Obama needs to reach out to the political opposition, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood often gets the call to be the go-between...[I]n the Cabinet of a president pledged to bipartisanship, LaHood is the only member, as he likes to point out, who was 'elected as a Republican. Seven times.'"

Tom Raum writes for the Associated Press that the dealmaking skills Obama exhibited on his international trip will be tested as he tries to get his "legislative priorities through Congress, where partisan lines continue to harden."

Roger Cohen writes in his New York Times opinion column: "For Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, 'a combination of ignorance and arrogance' under the Bush administration squandered countless diplomatic opportunities with Iran and so allowed it to forge ahead with its nuclear program. Referring twice to Dick Cheney as 'Darth Vader,' ElBaradei told me in an interview that 'U.S. policy consisted of two mantras — Iran should not have the knowledge and should not spin one single centrifuge. They kept saying, wait, Iran is not North Korea, it will buckle. That was absolutely a mistake.'"

Steve Coll writes in the New Yorker: "Gradually, the President is fashioning a turn in national-security policy — by insisting, first of all, on an end to denial."

Greg Jaffe and Karen DeYoung write in The Washington Post: "Senior Obama administration officials are debating how to address a potential terrorist threat to U.S. interests from a Somali extremist group, with some in the military advocating strikes against its training camps. But many officials maintain that uncertainty about the intentions of the al-Shabab organization dictates a more patient, nonmilitary approach.

Frank Newport reports for Gallup: "Over two-thirds of Americans -- 71% -- have a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in President Obama to do or recommend the right thing for the economy, a much higher level of confidence than is given to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, or the Democratic or Republican leaders in Congress."

David Leonhardt writes in the New York Times Magazine that Obama's economic "agenda is a bold one in many ways. Yet his tax code would still look more kindly on wealth than Nixon's, Kennedy's, Eisenhower's or that of any other president from F.D.R. to Carter." He points out that "yesterday's tax code, unlike today's, had separate marginal tax rates for the truly wealthy and the merely affluent."

Manuel Roig-Franzia writes in Sunday's Washington Post about his own busted scoop: "The identity of the first puppy -- the one that the Washington press corps has been yelping about for months, the one President Obama has seemed to delight in dropping hints about -- leaked out [Saturday]...The little guy is a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog given to the Obama girls as a gift by that Portuguese water dog-lovin' senator himself, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. The girls named it Bo -- and let it be noted that you learned that here first. Malia and Sasha chose the name, because their cousins have a cat named Bo and because first lady Michelle Obama's father was nicknamed Diddley, a source said." Roig-Franzia has more today.

(The White House, incidentally, had planned to give the dog story exclusively to The Post today, to make amends for a New York Times scoop last month on the creation of a White House vegetable garden. But then a mysterious new Web site called firstdogcharlie.com ran a picture of the new dog, and TMZ.com soon followed.)

Rachel L. Swarns writes in the New York Times: "Mr. Obama's search for a church home has touched off a frenzied competition among ministers of various colors and creeds who are wooing the first family. The president, in turn, has sent emissaries to observe worship services, interview congregants and scrutinize pastors."

Matt Zapotosky and Hamil R. Harris write in The Washington Post that Obama celebrated Easter across the street from the White House, at St. John's Episcopal Church, but "questions remain about which D.C. church he will eventually call his own. Joshua DuBois, the White House's top faith adviser, released a statement yesterday saying the first family was 'honored to worship' at St. John's but 'has not made a decision yet on which church they will formally join in Washington.'"

Andrew Breitbart, one of the "Baracknophobes" Jon Stewart mocked last week, fights back on RealClearPolitics, accusing Stewart of "carrying water" for Obama. Breitbart gratuitously points out that Stewart was born with the last name Leibowitz, then writes: "Mr. Stewart can't stand anyone having a different opinion than his own. He's as fearful of an opposing voice as he is his own last name."

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