Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Daily Strike-4/8/09-Diplomacy, Seder and Elections

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. A very slow day in the world of politics, so tonight's entry won't be too long.

THE WHITE HOUSE: President Obama returned to Washington late last night. (I could have sworn I saw Marine One on the way to work today). Not much on the President's agenda today, as even he is entitled to recover from jet-leg. Although he was interrupted by two serious international events. First, an American freighter was attacked this morning by Somalian pirates. The President said he was monitoring the situation. As it stands, American ships are on the way, but the captain is being held captive in a life boat. One more reminder that you never know what you're going to have to deal with as President.

The more interesting international news came out late this afternoon. In a major break with the Bush administration, the American government will now engage in direct multilateral talks with Iran on their nuclear program. The announcement came, ironically, from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who chided candidate Obama for his willingness to engage with America's adversaries. Of course, this is just a baby step. It's too early to tell if the U.S. will engage in bilateral talks. Nevertheless, it marks an important change in philosophy from the Bush administration, which insisted that Iran give up its nuclear program before any talks would begin.

I expect negative reactions both from the tyrannical regime in Iran, which has scoffed at past American overtures, and President Obama's critics at home. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, who is in a tough election fight, said that "those who have nuclear bombs are backward nations, because the time for threats is over." True as that may be in an objective sense, it does not bode well for a successful diplomatic solution. As for Obama's American critics, I expect a reaction along the lines of what Rudy Giuliani said on "Morning Joe" this morning, that President Obama was "showing weakness" in our fight against terrorism. First of all, why would Rudy Giuliani have any authority on international relations? Second of all, these critics just have twisted world views. They act like terrorists and tyrants are poisonous snakes or something. We just have to "show strength" and they'll scurry away, and if we're weak, they'll pounce on us. Truth is, it's a lot more complicated than that. But, who cares? These people have no power anymore!

SEDER: The coolest news of the day is that President Obama will be holding a Passover seder on Thursday night. The Strike would REALLY like to be a fly on the wall. Guests include close Jewish friends of the Obamas, and political donors. The two most prominent Jews in the President's inner circle, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, will not be in attendance. Read this great piece in the American Prospect that sheds some philosophical light on tomorrow night's seder.

ELECTIONS: How about a quick elections update? Last night after our post, Democrat Mike Quigley (as expected) won the U.S. House seat vacated by Rahm Emanuel with about 70% of the vote. He will be sworn in on April 21st. The outstanding race in New York's 20th District remains undecided. The tally currently shows Republican Jim Tedisco ahead by 17 votes. The canvassing board will start counting absentee ballots tomorrow. Republicans have pointed to the Republican advantage among those who sent in absentee ballots. Democrats have countered that the district itself has more registered Republicans, and Murphy still basically pulled off a tie. Democrats are thus confident that Murphy won a decent percentage of the Republican vote. More on that story as it develops.

Thanks for tuning in! Please leave comments! We don't have many nominees yet for our "comment of the week."

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