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Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
12:00 PM ET, 06/17/2009

Jeff Zeleny and Helene Cooper write in the New York Times: "President Obama said Tuesday that it would be counterproductive for the United States 'to be seen as meddling' in the disputed Iranian presidential election, dismissing criticism from several leading Republicans that he has failed to speak out forcefully enough on behalf of the Iranian opposition."

In his interview with CNBC's John Harwood yesterday, Obama said of Iran: "I think first of all, it's important to understand that although there is amazing ferment taking place in Iran, that the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi in terms of their actual policies may not be as great as has been advertised....The second thing that I think's important to recognize is that the easiest way for reactionary forces inside Iran to crush reformers is to say it's the US that is encouraging those reformers."

Lori Montgomery, Shailagh Murray and Ceci Connolly write in The Washington Post: "President Obama's plan to expand health coverage to the uninsured is likely to dig the nation deeper into debt unless policymakers adopt politically painful controls on spending, such as sharp reductions in payments to doctors, hospitals and other providers, congressional budget analysts said yesterday."

David Leonhardt writes in his New York Times business column that the specter of "rationing" has become "a rejoinder to anyone who says that this country must reduce its runaway health spending." But, he explains, "the case against rationing isn’t really a substantive argument. It’s a clever set of buzzwords that tries to hide the fact that societies must make choices."

Seth Borenstein writes for the Associated Press: "Rising sea levels, sweltering temperatures, deeper droughts, and heavier downpours — global warming's serious effects are already here and getting worse, the Obama administration warned on Tuesday in the grimmest, most urgent language on climate change ever to come out of any White House. But amid the warnings, scientists and government officials seemed to go out of their way to soften the message. It is still not too late to prevent some of the worst consequences, they said, by acting aggressively to reduce world emissions of heat-trapping gases, primarily carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels."

Ed O'Keefe writes for The Washington Post: "The inspector general fired last week by President Obama appeared confused, disoriented and unable to answer questions at a late May board meeting of the Corporation for National and Community Service, according to a White House letter delivered to lawmakers last night. The letter came in response to several inquiries by lawmakers concerned about the president’s dismissal of Gerald Walpin, who was appointed in 2007 by President George W. Bush to serve as watchdog at the agency that operates the AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs."

Jim Tankersley writes for Tribune: "As a candidate for the presidency, Barack Obama wooed environmentalists with a promise to 'support and defend' a plan to protect nearly 60 million acres of pristine national forest land. But five months after he entered the White House, Obama has done nothing to defend the so-called roadless protections in a court case that could soon decide their fate - tacitly maintaining the legal position staked out by the Bush administration, which tried to scrap the plan to curb construction of new roads in national forests."

At Salon, the ACLU's executive director joins with a military officer to ask for a special prosecutor for torture

Charlie Savage writes in the New York Times that Judge Sonia Sotomayor's record suggests she is a skeptic when it comes to executive power issues -- but not any more so that David Souter, the Supreme Court justice she would replace.

Christopher Beam writes in Slate about Obama's theory of interdependence: "Whether it's health care reform, closing Guantanamo, or cap-and-trade, he rarely sells a new policy just for its own sake. Instead, he presents it as part of a broader vision, in which each piece of the puzzle depends on the rest. The practice carries risks as well—but so far, at least, it is working for Obama."

Michael D. Shear writes in The Washington Post: "President Obama has embraced Bush administration justifications for denying public access to White House visitor logs even as advisers say they are reviewing the policy of keeping secret the official record of comings and goings."

Harwood asked Obama yesterday to respond to media critics who say he's gotten great press. "It's very hard for me to swallow that one. First of all, I've got one television station entirely devoted to attacking my administration. I mean, you know,...that's a pretty big megaphone. And you'd be hard-pressed, if you watched the entire day, to find a positive story about me on that front....And, you know, we welcome people who are asking us some, you know, tough questions. And I think that I've been probably as accessible as any president in the first six months—press conferences, taking questions from reporters, being held accountable, being transparent about what it is that we're trying to do. I think that, actually, the reason that people have been generally positive about what we've tried to do is they feel as if I'm available and willing to answer questions, and we haven't been trying to hide them all."

Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald offers up an Obama transparency timeline.

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