Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
1:20 PM ET, 06/18/2009

Helene Cooper and Mark Landler write in the New York Times: "As tens of thousands of Iranian protesters take to the streets in defiance of the government in Tehran, officials in Washington are debating whether President Obama's response to Iran's disputed election has been too muted....[S]everal administration officials acknowledged that Mr. Obama might run the risk of coming across on the wrong side of history at a potentially transformative moment in Iran."

Glenn Kessler writes in The Washington Post: "The administration's stance is practical -- the real power in Iran rests with [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei, not with whoever is president -- but pressure for a shift in policy will mount if the protests continue to grow and begin to threaten the government's hold on power.

Gary Kamiya writes for Salon: "The shameless fools whose Iraq folly empowered Iran's hard-liners are back, smearing Obama as an appeaser."

Mark Z. Barabak writes in the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama offered a modest expansion Wednesday of benefits for the same-sex partners of federal employees, but failed to quell the anger of many who called the gesture inadequate....Some disappointed by the substance of Obama's act were at least heartened by the symbolism of the Oval Office ceremony."

Said Obama: "Now, under current law, we cannot provide same-sex couples with the full range of benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. That's why I'm proud to announce my support for the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act, crucial legislation that will guarantee these rights for all federal employees....It's a day that marks a historic step towards the changes we seek, but I think we all have to acknowledge this is only one step. Among the steps we have not yet taken is to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. I believe it's discriminatory, I think it interferes with states' rights, and we will work with Congress to overturn it."

Scott Wilson writes in The Washington Post: "Lawmakers in many parts of the country are moving far faster and further than the president on issues important to gays. Six states have legalized same-sex marriage, which Obama says he opposes because of his religious beliefs."

Robert Pear and David M. Herszenhorn write in the New York Times: "Partisan anger flared Wednesday as senators began the public drafting of legislation to remake the health care system. By day's end, lawmakers had settled in for a long, hard slog that may not fit with President Obama's goal of signing a bill within four months."

David S. Hilzenrath writes in The Washington Post that Obama's plan to rein in federal spending on health care could make health care more efficient for everybody -- or it could end up simply shifting costs to the private sector.

Ezra Klein blogs for The Washington Post: "Health reform is, I think it fair to say, in danger right now."

There are competing views about the importance of bipartisanship on today's Washington Post op-ed page. E.J. Dionne Jr. writes: "Where did we get the idea that the only good health-care bill is a bipartisan bill? Is bipartisanship more important than whether a proposal is practical and effective? And if bipartisanship is a legitimate goal, isn't each party equally responsible for achieving it?" Meanwhile David S. Broder extolls the virtues of -- you guessed it -- a bipartisan plan.

Carrie Johnson writes in The Washington Post: "A Justice Department report focusing on possible ethics violations by Bush administration lawyers who approved waterboarding of terrorism suspects is still 'a matter of weeks' from release, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told lawmakers yesterday.... The conclusions of the five-year-long probe are hotly anticipated because they could shed new light on the interplay between the Bush White House, the Justice Department and the CIA in formulating an interrogation policy that critics assert included torture."

Nick Baumann writes for Mother Jones: "Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which sued the Bush White House over millions of missing White House emails, has released a treasure trove of documents relating to the loss of the emails.... CREW says the headline item is that the documents seem to confirm that emails subpoenaed by Patrick Fitzgerald regarding the leak of Valerie Plame's CIA identiy were among those missing from Dick Cheney's office."

Ann Sanner writes for the Associated Press: "The national service agency's inspector general, fired by President Barack Obama, disputed on Wednesday claims from the White House that he was 'confused' and 'disoriented' at an agency meeting." Here's more from the New York Times.

Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten write in the Los Angeles Times: "Neil Barofsky, inspector general of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, is embroiled in a dispute with the Obama administration that delayed one recent inquiry and sparked questions about his ability to investigate without interference."

The New York Times editorial board calls for the repeal of Congress's 2008 revisions to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: "We do not believe that Mr. Obama is deliberately violating Americans' rights as Mr. Bush did, and it is to his credit that the government acknowledged part of the problem in April. But this nation's civil liberties are not predicated on trusting individuals to wield their powers honorably. They are founded on laws."

Mark Silva blogs for Tribune: "In the realm of presidential interviews, the one promised on Sunday, Father's Day - 'Barack Obama, an American Dad'' - has the potential to outdo even Brian Williams' recent fawning look at the first family inside the White House. Harry Smith of CBS News will conduct this one, interviewing the president on Friday at the White House and presenting his work Sunday morning in the 9 to 10:30 am slot."

Chris Ariens wriets for TVNewswer about the reaction from Fox Newsers to Obama's comment Tuesday that he has "one television station entirely devoted to attacking my administration." "Look, we are just balancing things out. When you watch the other channels, the news channels, it's all -- you know, you don't hear a lot of the criticism," said Steve Doocy. Media Matters has footage of Charles Krauthammer calling fox "the one, only voice of opposition in the media. And it makes us a lot like Caracas where all the media, except one, are state run, with the exception that in Hugo Chavez-land, you go after that one station with machetes. I haven't seen any machetes around here, so I think we are at least safe for now."

Megan K. Scott writes for the Associated Press that some black women "say the new code word for Prince Charming has become so commonplace that they have been asked 'Have you found your Barack?' or told others 'I'm looking for my Barack.'"

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