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Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
11:19 AM ET, 05/ 5/2009

David Espo writes for the Associated Press: "After weeks of concentrating their attacks against President Barack Obama on the economy, Republicans are branching out. They're taking aim at his anti-terrorism policy. 'Just what is the administration's overarching plan to take on the terrorist threat and to keep America safe?' asks House Republican leader John Boehner in a new Web video featuring ominous music, unsettling images and less than flattering photos of the president. The production by the National Republican Congressional Committee is the latest part of a barrage in which former Vice President Dick Cheney, potential 2012 presidential contenders, GOP lawmakers and others seek to raise doubts about Obama's early performance as commander in chief." Here's the video:


John Dickerson writes for Slate: A video, put together by Politico's Patrick Gavin, is making the rounds showing two presidential visits to the White House briefing room. In one, George Bush arrives for a press conference in February 2008, and the press remains seated. In the second, from last Friday, Barack Obama surprises the press by appearing in the midst of the daily briefing. They stand to greet him....The discrepancy in treatment is all the proof a Republican needs to show that the press shows special deference to the new Democratic president."

But as Mark Knoller blogs for CBS News, while it's been "long-standing practice for reporters to rise when the president enters the East Room for a news conference...that hasn't been the case in the briefing room." The principal reason "was not to block the shot of TV cameramen and still photographers in the back of the room who were trying to make a picture of the president's walk-in." Knoller concludes: "When some reporters stood up for President Obama last Friday, they forgot about the needs of their colleagues in the back of the room as well as the less formal atmosphere of the briefing room. Certainly it was a sign of respect for the president, but not one of disrespect for his predecessor."

David Alexander writes for Reuters: "President Barack Obama presents his strategy for defeating al Qaeda to the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan on Wednesday amid growing U.S. concern that it is losing the war and neither is a reliable ally. The White House meetings with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are likely to be cagey affairs -- both visitors have been heavily criticized by Obama's administration and are also wary of each other."

David Lightman writes for McClatchy Newspapers: "The Obama administration's bid for $50 million to move prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility was left out of the Democratic-authored emergency war-spending bill unveiled Monday. Even so, most Democrats remain committed to closing down the military prison, and the issue is likely to be attached to other legislation later this year."

James Rowley and Brian Faler write for Bloomberg: "Republican Senator Orrin Hatch said President Barack Obama told him he won't nominate a 'radical or an extremist' to replace retiring Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court. Hatch, of Utah, also said he expected the president to make his choice in a matter of days."

Glenn Kessler and Michael D. Shear write in The Washington Post: "The Obama administration has backed away from overt expressions of support for human rights and democracy in favor of a more subtle approach, worrying advocates who say that the issues are being given short shrift as President Obama seeks to rebuild relations with allies and reach out to adversaries....Administration officials acknowledge they have approached the issue of human rights differently but deny that there has been a reduction in commitment. Instead, they say, they are first seeking to restore U.S. credibility on the issue by acknowledging U.S. failings and then pushing for progress on human rights and democracy."

Robert Mackey blogs for the New York Times about privacy advocates' big concern about the White House's move into social networking: "People might friend the White House on MySpace, for example, to indicate support for the president or to get messages about what the administration is doing. In doing so, however, they are agreeing that every party photo, love poem, and wisecrack from a friends that appears on their profiles will be visible to White House Web masters. And so far there are no guidelines that say whether those Webmasters might keep copies of any of personal information they see or send it to the government officials who could use it to get authorization to audit people's taxes, keep them from boarding an airplane, tap their telephones or even arrest them.

The Associated Press reports: "The Obama book bump has struck again. President Obama told The New York Times during a recent interview that he has been reading Joseph O'Neill's 'Netherland,' a highly praised novel about cricket, marriage and living in a post 9/11 world." The paperback release has now been moved up.

Ben Smith writes for Politico about yesterday's much-anticipated debate between Obama and Bush political gurus David Plouffe and Karl Rove at the Panetta Institute in Monterey, California: "Rove has been pressing his argument that Obama is failing to fulfill his bipartisan promise in Congress and in the polls. 'This is like getting interview lessons from Sarah Palin,' Plouffe shot back. One thing they agreed on: They both deplore the media, with Plouffe seeing too much conflict and Rove concerned with a lack of substance."

Paul Kane writes in The Washington Post: "Senate Republicans yesterday took the first steps in preparing to challenge President Obama's eventual nominee for the Supreme Court, selecting as their point man for confirmation hearings a backbench Alabama conservative whose own 1986 nomination to the federal courts turned into a racially tinged firestorm."

Amy Chozick profiles White House social secretary Desirée Rogers for the Wall Street Journal.

Jeremy Olshan writes for the New York Post: "The $328,835 snapshots of an Air Force One backup plane buzzing lower Manhattan last week will not be shown to the public, the White House said yesterday. 'We have no plans to release them,' an aide to President Obama told The Post, refusing to comment further."

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