Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Daily Strike-4/7/09-Surprise!

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. The President is on his way back to the United States after an unexpected detour. Let's get to it.

IRAQ VISIT: The President tricked us! We thought he would be flying back to Washington from Istanbul, but instead, he flew to Baghdad to visit American troops and talk war strategy with General Ray Odierno (not exactly a DailyKos reader, if you know what I mean.) Odierno met Obama at the airport, and the two of them traveled to "Victory Hall" in central Baghdad. He spoke to about 600 troops, many of whom were very excited, according to videos. He thanked the troops for their service, and acknowledged their "extraordinary achievement" in bringing relative political stability to the US-occupied country. He told servicemen and women that the next 18 months will be "crucial" as the US transfers sovereignty to Iraqi security forces. After his short speech, the President waded into the crowd and shook hands.

The President then met personally with Odierno, and mentioned among other things:

-that he wanted to make sure that the troops were getting enough support from the federal government, specifically mental health support

-the integration of the Sunni minority into Iraqi security forces

-national hydrocarbon laws (really?)

The President also met personally with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and phoned President Jalal Talibani.

The trip was particularly interesting because of a question Obama answered earlier in the day at a Turkish town-hall meeting. The President told a questioner that even though he opposed the war from the start, he now had to make sure that the withdrawal is handled with prudence. I know some commentators will surely snark at that statement, saying things like "candidate Obama never would have said what President Obama did." I would remind them that the President repeatedly promised to be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in.

One last thing on foreign travel: It looks like Obama will be traveling to Israel and the West Bank in June. Should be interesting.

ELECTION MADNESS: Two election related stories to report on today, and neither of them have to do with the razor-tight race in New York's 20th District. Today in Illinois, voters go to the polls to select the replacement to former Rep. Rahm Emanuel in the 5th District. The heavy favorite is Democrat Mike Quigley, who emerged from a crowded primary in this heavily Democratic district. My one minor worry (and it seems pretty implausible) is that the election seems like such a foregone conclusion that people don't show up to vote. It sort of happened in a special election in Louisiana in December, although the loser (former Rep. William Jefferson) in that case was under indictment. One bad sign is that Rahm Emanuel admitted today on Air Force One that he himself forgot to vote. Typical of Rahm, he used some colorful language.

The other election news comes from the never-ending marathon in Minnesota, where Democrat Al Franken defeated former Senator Norm Coleman. The court ruled last week that the canvassing board could only recount about 400 ballots, far less than what Coleman had demanded. It turns out that Franken actually gained votes during that recount today, and extended his lead to 312 votes, virtually eliminating any chance Coleman had of pulling this one out. Of course, that fact matters little to Coleman. He knows he will not win this race, but he wants to drag out this process as long as possible (at the instruction of the Republican leadership) so that the Democrats don't get a crucial vote in the Senate. Expect him to make a federal repeal. Can't we stop him somehow?

That's it for tonight. Join us tomorrow when the President (for real) makes it back to the States! Remember to leave your comments! The most insightful comment will be included in Friday's Daily Strike!

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