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Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
1:02 PM ET, 06/22/2009

Having come to realize that it was neither realistic nor useful, the White House is now retooling Obama's first officially broken campaign promise: His vow that once a bill was passed by Congress, the White House would post it online for five days before he signed it. Katharine Q. Seelye writes in the New York Times: "Instead of starting the five-day clock when Congress passes a bill, administration officials say they intend to start it earlier and post the bills sooner. 'In order to continue providing the American people more transparency in government, once it is clear that a bill will be coming to the president's desk, the White House will post the bill online,' said Nick Shapiro, a White House spokesman. 'This will give the American people a greater ability to review the bill, often many more than five days before the president signs it into law.'"

I was pretty horrified at Obama's failure to express remorse for the massive civilian casualties caused by U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan in May. Now, at least someone down his chain of command seems to be doing something about it. Dexter Filkins writes in the New York Times: "The new American commander in Afghanistan said he would sharply restrict the use of airstrikes here, in an effort to reduce the civilian deaths that he said were undermining the American-led mission."

Obama tells CBS News's Harry Smith: "Well, I think -- I think when it comes to -- Vice-president Cheney, he and I have a deep disagreement about what's required to keep the American people safe. And I think that disagreement -- has been -- amply aired. And -- and certainly he has a right to -- to voice his opinions. I would argue that -- our policies are making the American people safer -- and that -- some of the policies that he's promoted in the past have not."

Helene Cooper writes in the New York Times: "President Obama ratcheted up his language against Iran's leadership on Saturday, in a statement that invoked the American civil rights movement as an analogy for what was unfolding on the streets of Tehran. 'Martin Luther King once said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,' ' Mr. Obama said in a statement released after security forces in the Iranian capital clashed repeatedly with protesters. 'I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian people's belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.'"

That didn't assuage Republicans, who as Anne Gearan writes for the Associated Press, "intensified their criticism of President Barack Obama's handling of his first major test of international leadership, saying Sunday that he has been too cautious in response to Iran's postelection upheaval. 'The president of the United States is supposed to lead the free world, not follow it,' said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. 'He's been timid and passive more than I would like.'"

E.J. Dionne Jr. writes in his Washington Post opinion column: "For Obama's critics, this one is a no-brainer. Their counsel: Stand tall for freedom and human rights, trash the repressive mullahs, and let the chips fall. If the opposition wins, everybody wins. If the regime cracks down and manages to survive, engagement is dead. That, from the point of view of Obama's critics, is win-win."

Former Bush State Department official Paul J. Saunders writes in a Washington Post op-ed that "the president has struck the right tone in his public statements.... And he is right to avoid becoming more deeply involved in Iran's post-election political crisis, both practically and morally."

Al Kamen writes in The Washington Post: "A National Journal study of 366 top Obama administration officials has found that 52 percent are white males, down from 59 percent at this point in President George W. Bush's first term. Eleven percent of those officials are African Americans, compared with 10 percent under Bush. The Journal assessment, out today, said 8 percent of Obama's top folks are Hispanic, compared with 6 percent for Bush. Asian Americans totaled 4 percent of Obama's team and 3 percent of Bush's, according to the Journal. Overall, given the demographics of the Obama vote, the percentages don't differ all that much between the two administrations, at least so far."

Michael A. Fletcher writes in The Washington Post: "Despite signs that the recession gripping the nation's economy may be easing, the unemployment rate is projected to continue rising for another year before topping out in double digits, a prospect that threatens to slow growth, increase poverty and further complicate the Obama administration's message of optimism about the economic outlook."

Faiz Shakir reports for ThinkProgress that White House Staff Secretary Lisa Brown on Friday night "conceded that the administration is 'moving slowly' on gay rights. 'Nobody thinks it's fast enough right now, but I know the President cares about this. … It's going in the right direction, if not quickly enough.'"

Greg Sargent blogs that the public release of a highly-anticipated CIA inspector general's report on torture, originally set for last Friday, will now come this Friday.

Albert R. Hunt writes in the New York Times about Obama and the media: "Although the fawning coverage depicted by some is hyperbole, the tone has been largely favorable. That will change if events go sour — a foreign policy mistake, the demise of the president's health care plan, a scandal involving one of his people."

Lee Ross write for FOXNews.com that, in a victory for the defendants: "The Supreme Court announced Monday it will not give further consideration to a lawsuit brought by a fired CIA agent and her husband against high ranking Bush administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney."

Frank Rich writes in his New York Times opinion column: "Though we don't know how Obama will fare on all the challenges he faces this summer, last week's big rollout of his financial reform package was a big punt, an accommodation to the status quo. Given that the economy remains the country's paramount concern — and that all new polling finds that most Americans still think it's dire — this timid response was a lost opportunity. It violated the Rahm Emanuel dictum that 'you never want a serious crisis to go to waste' and could yet prompt a serious political backlash."

Obama talks to the New York Times's John Harwood about why he plays so much golf: "I don't take golf that seriously, actually. The reason I've been playing since the summer started is, it's actually the closest thing to being outside of the bubble of anything else that I do. I can see why presidents play as often — or enjoy playing as often as they do — because when I'm out there, it's the only time I'm outside for any sizable stretch of time.... [G]etting out of the confines of this place is, uh, I find useful."

And here's the quote of the day: "You read Urdu poetry?" That came from Anwar Iqbal, who writes in Pakistan's Dawn about his interview with Obama last week, in which Obama said he believes the Pakistani state is strong enough to win the military offensive against the extremists. Here's one exchange:

Q: Any plan to visit Pakistan in the near future?

Obama: I would love to visit. As you know, I had Pakistani roommates in college who were very close friends of mine. I went to visit them when I was still in college; was in Karachi and went to Hyderabad. Their mothers taught me to cook.

Q: What can you cook?

Obama: Oh, keema -- daal -- you name it, I can cook it. And so I have a great affinity for Pakistani culture and the great Urdu poets.

Q: You read Urdu poetry?

Obama: Absolutely. So my hope is that I'm going to have an opportunity at some point to visit Pakistan.

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