washingtonpost.com
Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
1:05 PM ET, 06/ 9/2009

Michael Slackman writes in the New York Times: "There were many domestic reasons voters handed an American-backed coalition a victory in Lebanese parliamentary elections on Sunday — but political analysts also attribute it in part to President Obama's campaign of outreach to the Arab and Muslim world. Most analysts had predicted that the Hezbollah-led coalition, already a crucial power broker in the Lebanese government because of its support from Shiites who make up a large part of Lebanon's population, would win handily. In the end, though, the American-aligned coalition won 71 seats, while the Syria-Iranian aligned opposition, which includes Hezbollah, took only 57. It is hard to draw firm conclusions from one election. But for the first time in a long time, being aligned with the United States did not lead to defeat in the Middle East. And since Lebanon has always been a critical testing ground, that could mark a possibly significant shift in regional dynamics with another major election, in Iran, on Friday."

Aluf Benn writes for Haaretz: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes that U.S. President Barack Obama wants a confrontation with Israel, based on Obama's speech in Cairo last week, Netanyahu's confidants say. In Netanyahu's opinion, the Americans believe an open controversy with Israel would serve the Obama administration's main objective of improving U.S. relations with the Arab world, the aides say.... By telephone yesterday, Netanyahu told Obama of his intention to give a key policy speech on Sunday, in which he would outline his policy to achieve peace and security. Obama promised to listen to the address closely, and the two 'agreed to maintain open and continuous contact,' the Prime Minister's Bureau said."

Peter Baker writes in the New York Times: "More than four years after his predecessor declared it America's mission to end tyranny around the world, President Obama is trying to reformulate a lofty goal that has become tarnished in many circles. Mr. Obama used his address in Cairo last week to revive but recast the democracy agenda that was central to President George W. Bush's foreign policy. Yet even as he embraced the aspiration rhetorically, Mr. Obama left it uncertain how aggressively he planned to push repressive regimes that did not agree."

Caren Bohan writes for Reuters: "Obama is weighing whether to send either former U.S. Vice President Al Gore or New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to Pyongyang to try to negotiate the release" of two U.S. journalists jailed by North Korea."

Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes in the New York Times: "The rising unemployment rate is giving President Obama's critics an opportunity to raise questions about the effectiveness of his recovery plan and his economic leadership. The huge budget deficit is focusing fresh concern on the national debt. So Mr. Obama began a new effort on Monday to show that his stimulus plan was yielding concrete benefits, saying that his administration expects to save or create 600,000 more jobs this summer, as the federal government spends billions to expand care at health centers, spruce up national parks, hire teachers and improve military facilities."

But David Jackson writes for USA Today: "Obama's pledge Monday to speed up stimulus spending and 'create or save' 600,000 jobs drew a sharp attack from Republicans who argue the rising unemployment rate invalidates the claims from the White House."

And Alec MacGillis writes in The Washington Post: "The list of spending plans detailed under the road map amounted to little more than a restatement of plans already underway for the coming months, without any explanation of what steps, if any, the White House would take to accelerate the pace of spending."

Heidi Przybyla writes for Bloomberg: "Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said President Barack Obama's plan to fix the economy through stimulus spending and government intervention to boost companies like General Motors Corp. has 'already failed.'"

Andy Barr writes for Politico: "Alaska GOP Gov. Sarah Palin said Monday during an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity that President Barack Obama's agenda 'defies any sensible economic policy any of us learned when we were in college.' Asked if she would call the president's policies 'socialism,' Palin responded: 'If we keep going down these roads.yes that is where we are headed.'"

Neocon Frank J. Gaffney Jr. writes in his Washington Times opinion column: "During his White House years, William Jefferson Clinton -- someone Judge Sonia Sotomayor might call a 'white male' -- was dubbed 'America's first black president' by a black admirer. Applying the standard of identity politics and pandering to a special interest that earned Mr. Clinton that distinction, Barack Hussein Obama would have to be considered America's first Muslim president.... The man now happy to have his Islamic-rooted middle name featured prominently has engaged in the most consequential bait-and-switch since Adolf Hitler duped Neville Chamberlain over Czechoslovakia at Munich.... Whether Mr. Obama actually is a Muslim or simply plays one in the presidency may, in the end, be irrelevant."

Firedoglake blogger Christy Hardin Smith has the Justice Department's new "Communications Guidelines for Contact with the White House and Congress." She writes: "What it does, essentially, is erect the proper 'Chinese walls' between the political units in the WH and the non-political DOJ needs on discretionary cases, but doesn't interfere with policy discussions that need to take place."

Richard Leiby writes in The Washington Post: "Although far better known as a hoops man, President Obama seems to be morphing into a golf nut these days. He's hit the course five times since late April -- rushing out to the links on Sunday afternoon just 90 minutes after returning to the White House from his overseas trip."

And Jocelyn Noveck writes for the Associated Press: "A juicy burger or a chili half-smoke in D.C., soul food in Chicago. Our new president eats something and the world wants to eat it, too. We've always cared about the words that emerge from a president's lips, but has there ever been such attention to the food that enters them?"

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