Grappling with a war gone awry, President Barack Obama plans to send thousands more U.S. forces into Afghanistan, hoping to hasten the end of a conflict that still has no clear end in sight.
Obama on Friday will announce a multitiered strategy that banks heavily on world help and invigorated U.S. diplomacy. The Afghanistan war, which Obama calls adrift, is now his, and a central part of the new strategy is to build up the Afghan army.
The broad U.S goal remains much as it was when the war began in the fallout of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks: To dismantle the operations of the Taliban and al-Qaida, which have shifted their power base from Afghanistan to Pakistan in recent years.
I fully expect the next "Law and Order" or "CSI" or "24" episode to feature an embattled president racing against time trying to boost national economic confidence. It will star, as himself, Barack Obama.
Then, we'll see Obama singing on "American Idol," twirling on "Dancing With the Stars" and dissecting the American psyche while sitting on Oprah's sofa.
Here's today's puzzler. When is a press conference not a press conference?
The answer is:
When the person pretending to conduct the exercise picks those who will be allowed to ask questions ahead of time and then spends almost an hour artfully dodging any direct answer to a direct inquiry, essentially making a speech or, if you prefer as some analysts have suggested, filibustering.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner nearly struck out Wednesday morning despite multiple opportunities to defend the dollar. Geithner's narrowly averted gaffe was sadly typical, given the greenback's shabby treatment these days.
While addressing a jam-packed meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations, Geithner answered Standard Chartered Bank's Doug Smith who wanted the secretary's thoughts on "the Chinese government proposal about a global currency." People's Bank of China governor Zhao Xiaochuan would shift Earth's reserve currency from the dollar to "Special Drawing Rights" (SDR), combining the dollar, Britain's pound, Japan's yen, and the euro. Call it the international "globo."
The Obama administration proposes to vastly expand federal oversight of the U.S. financial system. There is broad agreement that a new, more powerful regulatory framework is needed. For the moment -- at least, until the economy turns around -- the laissez-faire, deregulatory types are in hiding.
The plan would establish federal regulation of the larger hedge funds -- meaning their books would be open; derivatives trading -- the downfall of several big investment houses; and large insurance companies -- to avoid a repeat of the AIG flameout.
Americans are furious at Wall Street bonuses and wearied by job losses, but many seem ready to give President Barack Obama more time to deal with the nation's economic crisis.
After his second prime-time news conference to defend the decisions he's made since taking office two months ago, Obama appears to enjoy the confidence -- or at least the patience -- of ordinary Americans anxious about the economy.
The Obama administration is proposing an extensive overhaul of financial regulations in an effort to prevent a repeat of the banking crisis last fall that toppled once-mighty institutions and wiped out trillions of dollars in investor wealth.
Officials said the administration will seek to regulate the market for credit default swaps and other types of derivatives and require hedge funds to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was scheduled to outline the proposals in testimony Thursday before the House Financial Services Committee.
President Obama, your inexperience is showing once again -- as is that of one of your most visible employees.
One of the most common mistakes made by inexperienced politicians is inappropriate use of humor. Take, for example, joking about the depressed economy. If you're a two-term state senator, maybe you can be excused for joking about the economy or laughing about it. When you're president of the United States, it's inexcusable. Yet, Obama made that exact mistake in an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes." Interviewer Steve Kroft called him on it:
With Congress pushing back against his proposals for energy, taxes and other matters, President Barack Obama is taking a bend-but-don't-break posture.
He will compromise on certain details if he must, he signaled at his news conference Tuesday evening, but not on the heart of his key initiatives.
His strategic retreats are a nod to political reality. He is angling to avoid confrontations he probably can't win, but to sacrifice no more than is absolutely necessary.
President Barack Obama's plea Tuesday for patience in the economic turmoil fits with the view of most economists that a turnaround will take some time. It doesn't fit quite so neatly with his bullish budget.
The president's spending plans and deficit projections rest on the assumption that the economy will post solid growth next year after a mild, further decline this year. Many economists think that's too rosy.
Obama was more cautious than that in his prime-time news conference — possibly to the point of having it both ways.