What a Week

President Obama at White House Correspondents DinnerDuring Friday night’s White House Correspondents Dinner, President Obama paused during his remarks, smiled thoughtfully and said, “What a week.” We had no idea.

In addition to his everyday duties, briefings, meetings with the National Security Team, the Attorney General, Defense Secretary,  Secretary of State, Congresspeople, Governors, etc., doing press interviews, hosting Crown Princes and Presidents, working to fix our immigration problems, manage a few a wars, and commemorating the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike, our President took time to do a few more things that made last week seemed pretty amazing.

It started out ordinary enough as he and the first family hosted the Easter Egg Roll. By Wednesday morning, he and Michelle were in Chicago doing Oprah, then to New York for a fund raiser and back to Washington. Thursday, he announced a new National Security Team and presented his long form birth certificate. Friday he and Michelle were in Alabama to view the storm damage, meet with Governor then on to Florida to meet with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and view the final space shuttle launch. Fortunately, the Endeavor  was aborted (still legal), so he could get back for the Correspondents Dinner and a relaxing weekend at the White House. All that was planned, was his Saturday address announcing a plan to end oil subsidies at this time of record oil company profits;  the special ops mission to take out bin Laden and a relaxing bipartisan dinner Monday night with leaders of both houses to informally discuss the budget and Republican plans to hold the nation hostage on debt ceiling. OK, that was eight days.

Recapping: Easter Egg Roll; Oprah; new National Security Team; long-form birth certificate; Libya; immigration reform; multi-state natural disaster; Correspondents Dinner; announce plans to end oil subsidies; take out bin Laden; host bipartisan dinner to talk about the budget; help kids with their homework. The reviews aren’t all in, but early reports suggest it was a pretty good week.







What on his schedule this week?

Southern governors (all but one, Republican), report the Federal response to the disaster has been almost perfect – Google “Bush Katrina” to be reminded of the political risk of natural disasters. This week and next, of course, he’ll also be dealing with the greatest flood surge along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers since 1927.

Celebrations have broken out evoking a sense of relieve and patriotism not seen in decades – Google “Carter Hostage Rescue” to be reminded of the political risk of precision military operations. Perhaps, we should also be reminded that it was during last week, that NATO missiles missed Gaddafi and killed his son and grandchildren – something that President Obama will be dealing for a while.

And then there is debt ceiling. Is it possible that Republicans, back fresh from two-weeks being yelled at by constituents for voting to end Medicare and Medicaid, stinging from watching a competent president succeed where others failed, and flushed with patriotism for the bin Laden mission, will do what’s important for our country and pass the debt ceiling? Or will they march as lemmings off a cliff and take the world’s economy with them? That’s something that President Obama has already started working on this week. The Washington Post reports that the Treasury Department has begun implementing some emergency measures that buys 25 more days than expected to solve the political issues – we have now until August 2nd before default. Stay tuned. The week has barely just begun.

Update 05.03.11: Reuters reports the Mississippi River dropped a foot within hours of levee detonation and the NY Times reports it saved Cairo, IL. Obama has more work to do, though, the Army Corp of Engineers warns the river may rise again and isn’t expected to crest in New Orleans until May 22nd.

Update 05.03.11: Newsweek/Daily Beast reports the week might not have been so good. In a survey just completed, President Obama got no post-bin Laden bump in approval ratings saying, “The clear reason: It’s the economy, stupid. Even after Bin Laden’s death, only 30 percent think the country is on the right track, and only 27 percent think the economy is on the right track.”

Update 05.03.11: Not so fast, the Los Angeles Times reports a survey released by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Washington Post, shows President Obama’s approval rating jumping nine points post-bin Laden to 56%; a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation showing a four-point bump to 52%; USA Today/Gallup poll finding “32% said they feel more confident in Obama as commander while 21% said they feel a little more confident;” and “Ipsos-Reuters poll said that their view of Obama’s leadership had improved in the wake of the raid.” The Times went on to say, “Overnight polls are notoriously fickle and often differ from each other on the questions asked and the numbers computed.”

Update 05.03.11: Over a drink together, Chris Matthews reminded me that on Friday, President Obama also gave the commencement address at Miami-Dade College (4/30/11), let’s watch:

Update 05.04.11: CBS News reports a “new CBS News/New York Times poll found that 57 percent of Americans generally approve of Mr. Obama in the wake of the raid in Pakistan. Two weeks ago, when bin Laden was still America’s most-wanted terrorist, the president’s overall approval rating was at 46 percent. A whopping 85 percent of those polled gave Mr. Obama high marks for his handling of the operation to find bin Laden.”

Update 05.04.11: Channel 6 News reports the Army Corp plans to blow additional sections of levees along the Mississippi in Mississippi County, MO; New Madrid, MO; and Hickman, KY. Tough decisions. Huge stakes in the lives of residents and politically for the Obama administration.

8 thoughts on “What a Week

  1. Monica Smith

    Good to see you’re feeling just a bit more cheerful, Lee. But, just to let you know there are still some things to carp about, I can report that mice are stealing bird seed from my feeder in broad daylight and a big bird speared seven foot long koi causing them to die in the pond next door. And then there are the raccoons that keep coming to die in my back yard--three just this year. Up in New Hampshire it’s great blue herons that keep coming to our ponded streams to die. From which I can only conclude that if the environment is going to be wild-life friendly, you’re going to see some dead critter remains.
    Feeding Osama to the fishes is not something to complain about.

  2. Will Cantrell

    Lee, I am glad to see and read that SOMEBODY else recognizes the President’s achievements during this past week or so.

    One night late during last week — and before Sunday night’s announcement — I was in awe of Barack Obama’s coolness under fire and how well he was handling everything that was on his plate …and it is a very full plate, these days. I marveled at how he handled this birth certificate business. Seems to me he did it all with humanity, professionalism and aplomb.

    Years ago, when I was a part of middle management in what is commonly termed ‘corporate America’, I learned the real value of “… catching subordinates, as well as other people, doing something right, and acknowledging them.” It’s a great tool and suggest that we all try it more than we do.

    I don’t know what it is about us as a nation of people, but we like to complain an awful lot. We enjoy it. We delight in it. We revel in it. We think of complaining as our birthright. And while it certainly is, constant harping and complaining gets old and depressing, having more negative effect sometimes on the complainer than the complained about. Constant negativity clouds our thinking and our ability to acknowledge when someone – anyone — has done a job well.

    I make note of this because it seems that only a few of the President’s critics have said ‘job well done, Mr. President” in the dispatching of Osama bin Laden. Many of those who did seemed to have done it sarcastically or begrudgingly. Most of his usual critics deigned to even use the words “President Obama” in acknowledging the success. Many of them give credit only to the military and the intelligence agencies.

    There is little doubt that the military, the CIA, and many others did yeoman work on this …yeoman work that is worthy of high recognition. High recognition! More importantly, this particular accomplishment took cunning, guile, and a disregard for old, traditional thinking on the part of the POTUS. (One may note that John McCain once said that he wouldn’t go into Pakistan to get bin Laden because Pakistan was a sovereign country. Ha!)

    Why is it that that supposed intelligent adults cannot acknowledge when someone on the other side has a good idea or has done a good job on something. Seems like it would be the intellectually honest thing … the manly thing …the adult thing to do. I guess that the inability for people to do this is the price that one pays for being a politician. How sad. How very sad.

    Sorry for the epistle … and the rant, but this immaturity on the part of supposed adult Americans has chaped my hide as they say out on the prarie. Great piece, Lee. Thanks for pointing all of this out to us. Will.

    1. Lee Leslie Post author

      One thing I’d point out from your epistle, both Bush and Clinton found bin Laden, put their yeomen to work and failed. Of course, neither were dealing with Oprah, the Donald, Teapublicans, or at natural disaster at the time.

    2. MonicaSmith

      Monday night there was a dinner party for chairs and ranking members. You’ll note that while almost everyone in the room is attending politely to the POTUS McCain is staring at his plate. What a bitter old man.
      McCain staring at his plate

    3. Lee Leslie Post author

      An update on the failed Clinton attempt on bin Laden. From Reuters, it seems Clinton’s failure to kill bin Laden may have been due to trusting Pakistan.

      “Washington’s first attempt to kill the al Qaeda leader came in August 1998. President Bill Clinton launched 66 cruise missiles from the Arabian Sea at camps in Khost in eastern Afghanistan to kill the group’s top brass in retaliation for the suicide bombings on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
      The CIA had received word that al Qaeda’s leadership was due to meet. But Bin Laden canceled the meeting and several U.S. officials said at the time they believed the ISI had tipped him off. The U.S. military informed their Pakistani counterparts about 90 minutes before the missiles entered Pakistan’s airspace, just in case they mistook them for an Indian attack.
      Then U.S. Secretary of State William Cohen came to suspect bin Laden escaped because he was tipped off. Four days before the operation, the State Department issued a public warning about a “very serious threat” and ordered hundreds of nonessential U.S. personnel and dependents out of Pakistan. Some U.S. officials said the Taliban could have passed the word to bin Laden on an ISI tip.”


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