The most recent New York Times/CBS poll -- conducted during the president's overseas trip -- shows Obama with a 66% overall approval rating (his highest as president), 59% approving his handling of foreign policy, and 56% approving his handling of the economy. "By contrast," the New York Times writes, "just 31 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of the Republican Party, the lowest in the 25 years the question has been asked in New York Times/CBS News polls."
"Also, the number of people who said they thought the country was headed in the right direction jumped from 15 percent in mid-January, just before Mr. Obama took office, to 39 percent today, while the number who said it was headed in the wrong direction dropped to 53 percent from 79 percent. That is the highest percentage of Americans who said the country was headed in the right direction since 42 percent said so in February 2005, the second month of President George W. Bush's second term."
The Washington Post: "Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates outlined sweeping changes to the defense budget Monday that would shift billions of dollars in Pentagon spending away from elaborate weapons toward programs more likely to benefit troops in today's wars. The proposal by Gates amounts to a radical change in the way the Pentagon buys weapons. For decades, the United States has spent trillions of dollars on weapons programs that strove for revolutionary leaps but often were delivered years late and billions of dollars over budget."
The New York Times: "The decisions are expected to set off a vigorous round of lobbying over the priorities embroidered into the Defense Department's half-trillion dollars of annual spending. They represent the first broad rethinking of American military strategy under the Obama administration, which plans to shift more money to counterterrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan while spending less on preparations for conventional warfare against large nations like China and Russia."
Expect a slower pace for Obama's legislative agenda when Congress reconvenes at the end of this month? So says Politico's Allen: "President Barack Obama, after a lightning-quick start for his agenda on Capitol Hill, is bracing for a much slower pace and big changes in his proposals as early urgency and excitement give way to the more languid rhythms that are the norm for Congress."
The president's approval ratings are soaring. Attacking Rahm Emanuel hasn't worked. So who's the GOP's next target? GOP strategist Alex Conant, in a Politico op-ed, argues that Republicans should target David Axelrod. "Axelrod's appearance on the Sunday shows this past weekend, The New York Times profile last month and his routine quotes in day-to-day stories signal he has no intention of being a quiet, behind-the-scenes operator," Conant writes. "But given his unequaled influence over Obama and the public's intuitive unease with such Machiavellian relationships, it should be only a matter of time before he is a public-relations liability for the White House."