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Obama's speech yesterday

The Washington Post's Balz notes, "The muscular speech appeared aimed at inoculating him from criticism that he lacks the toughness to lead the country in a post-9/11 world, while attempting to show that an Obama presidency would herald an important shift in the United States' approach to the world, particularly the Middle East and nearby Asian nations."

The New York Times: "The speech offered a broader glimpse into Mr. Obama's world view. If elected, he said, he would seek out an Islamic audience in the first 100 days of his administration to 'redefine our struggle' and open 'America Houses' across the Islamic world to improve a tarnished image of the United States."

Tom Edsall in the Huffington Post says this speech was just "another" example of Obama breaking with Dem Party orthodoxy. "Although little noticed, Obama has been challenging influential Democratic primary constituencies at a rate of about once a month, building what now is a significant record of dissent from key party factions. He has taken on civil rights groups, the National Education Association, and the powerful lobby opposed to any changes in Social Security benefits."

Obama: We're less safe than before 9/11

"Obama's foreign policy advisers said they have been working on the speech for weeks, though it follows a disagreement that started last week with Clinton."

The Los Angeles Times reminds us that "after a Democratic debate in April, some political observers faulted Obama for failing to answer forcefully enough when asked what he would do as president if the U.S. again fell victim to a terrorist attack. While Clinton said she would strike back, Obama, in his first answer, said he would check the country's emergency preparedness and consult with other nations. But Obama aides and advisors denied that the speech Wednesday was an attempt to make up for that response."

The Politico's Smith writes, "there's a third-way quality to his speech. He's not a dove or a hawk, but a dove in Iraq and a hawk in Afghanistan. (This is, to be fair, the position of a lot of Democrats.) It mirrors his attempt to get beyond partisanship, and the usual categories. And, in other circumstances, it might warm Bill Clinton's heart."

Analyst Stu Rothenberg wondered if Obama's speech would cause him some problems on the left: "It's tough to criticize the Bush administration for unilateralism in Iraq, then say you'd be unilateral in Pakistan," he said. "I'm wondering if some people are going to jump on him."

Quad City Times headline: "Obama's hawkish speech doesn't thrill local Democrats."

It seems candidates on both sides decided to comment… McCain "said Sen. Barack Obama's threat to use military force to get rid of terrorists in Pakistan shows he does not understand the complexities of the region. McCain said the situation in Pakistan is 'very delicate,' since the country's leader, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, is an American ally with a tenuous hold on power. The Arizona senator said a direct American attack on the country could cause a backlash that might topple Musharraf."

"The speech drew criticism from presidential campaign rivals Sen. Chris Dodd and Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee."

Bill Richardson, in a telephone interview, said that Obama's threat, if acted upon, could inflame the entire Muslim world. "'My international experience tells me that we should address this issue with tough diplomacy first with Musharraf and then leave the military option as a last resort,' he said."

Interestingly, one candidate who seemed to find agreement with Obama was Clinton. "Clinton said in a radio interview later in the day that she also would not hesitate to attack Al Qaeda targets on Pakistani territory. 'If we had actionable intelligence that Osama bin Laden or other high-value targets were in Pakistan I would ensure that they were targeted and killed or captured. And that will be my highest priority because they pose the highest threat to America,' Clinton told American Urban Radio Networks."

Edwards seemed to agree with him, too. "'We have a responsibility to go find al Qaeda and (Osama) bin Laden wherever they operate,' Edwards said after a fundraiser in San Francisco, appearing to agree with Obama's call during a major foreign policy speech in Washington for possible U.S. military action in Pakistan against terrorists hiding there. Edwards said that if Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf can't control such operatives, 'we have to do it.'"