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The arrival of Bo the first dog turned into a full-fledged media frenzy yesterday. Manuel Roig-Franzia writes in The Washington Post about the "overflow crowd of reporters and photographers who swarmed onto the White House South Lawn for a glimpse of the new first puppy....'I love him,' Malia Obama, 10, said as Bo nuzzled her leg. 'He's perfect.'...Nothing about the arrival of the first puppy has been too trivial for inquiring minds. So the first family strolled along a rope line, the better to field questions." Here's a photo gallery.

Spirits were running so high at the White House yesterday that Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was making jokes about a torture investigation. David Corn writes for Mother Jones on how his question about a potential Spanish investigation of six former Bush administration officials for having sanctioned torture at Guantanamo turned into the butt of Gibbs's humor.

Chris Cillizza writes for The Washington Post: "Conservatives across the country are hoping to grab the national spotlight away from President Obama for at least a day by holding tea parties across the country today to signal their displeasure with the government spending put in place in the early days of the Obama administration."

Paul Krugman wrote in his New York Times opinion column on Monday that "it turns out that the tea parties don't represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They're AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects. In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires. And the parties are, of course, being promoted heavily by Fox News."

Lori Stahl writes for the Dallas Morning News: "George and Laura Bush met with former White House advisers Tuesday for a private strategy session on how the former president's policy institute should be organized and presented....Although the group gave no public statement after the meeting at Southern Methodist University, one person who attended said the Bushes want to pair principles such as freedom and compassion with case studies that show those ideas in action."

Susan Page writes for USA Today: "Most Americans say they're glad Big Government is back to help through hard times. But they aren't sure they want it to stay....[M]ost Americans in a nationwide USA TODAY/Gallup Poll approve of President Obama and the government's latest assertiveness. However, some of the steps he has ordered have made them wary."

Whorunsgov.com blogger Greg Sargent deflates the "claim making the rounds right now on the top right wing blogs that the image of wildly-cheering troops during Obama's visit with them in Iraq was staged."

Mary Ann Akers blogs for The Washington Post: "The surviving (and formerly feuding) members of the Grateful Dead had a secret impromptu meeting Monday evening with the man they credit with reuniting them: President Obama. The president welcomed all the members of The Dead, who are performing tonight at the Verizon Center in Washington, to the Oval Office just before dinner last night. They didn't talk music as much as they did history - history about the Oval Office, and the president's desk."

By Dan Froomkin  |  April 15, 2009; 11:45 AM ET
 
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Next: Parsing Obama's Speech on the Economy

Comments

"the claim making the rounds right now on the top right wing blogs that the image of wildly-cheering troops during Obama's visit with them in Iraq was staged."

Textbook cognitive dissonance in action. If you accept as fact that Democrats don't support the military and that the military therefore doesn't like Democrats, and then you see a photo of military personnel cheering a Democrat, the only possible explanation is that it was staged.

Heaven forbid the validity of the assumption should ever be called into question.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | April 15, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Krugman is correct: the "tea parties" are astroturf, plain and simple.

But Krugman missed some facts about the sponsor.

FreedomWorks used to be Citizens for a Sound Economy, which received over a million dollars from the largest cigarette company in America, Philip Morris, according to the Washington Post (Think Tanks: Corporations' Quiet Weapon, January 29, 2000; Dan Morgan).

Sometimes it's hard to find someone to get all angry about raising cigarette taxes to pay for health care for the children of the working poor. That's where FreedomWorks comes in. It's capable of great displays of self-righteous indignations. Philip Morris knows it can count on FreedomWorks to oppose any tobacco tax, anywhere, for any reason. Freedomworks delivers.

Dan Morgan's article referenced above is well worth reading. It gives background and context for understanding think tanks as activist groups for big business, including the dirtiest big business there is, Big Tobacco. Krugman is correct that today's "tea parties" were no spontaneous outpouring. But it's worth a hard look at exactly how these events happen. That means taking a hard look at the groups that do astroturf.

Posted by: jpk1 | April 15, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

"the claim making the rounds right now on the top right wing blogs that the image of wildly-cheering troops during Obama's visit with them in Iraq was staged."

---------

"Staged" is a bit ham handed a term ... more like coordinated and well orchestrated to place those sympathetic to the Dear Leader in front of the cameras. It was hardly a representative outpouring of love from the armed forces to our Dear Leader.

But considering the polite, professional but very cold reception Obama got from a less well scripted photo op with the Marines I think that his handlers were eager to avoid a repeat.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | April 16, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

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