The AP: "Morgan Tsvangirai (SVAHNG'-ur-eye) is in Washington to ask the U.S. to give 'transitional support' to his government with President Robert Mugabe, a man many in the West accuse of trampling rights and choking off Zimbabwe's once vibrant economy."
The New York Times covers Obama day trip to Wisconsin yesterday. "Mr. Obama came to Green Bay, a city he praised for getting "more quality out of fewer health care dollars than many other communities," as part of an intense push for overhauling health care, his highest legislative priority. But with his insistence on a 'public option' generating increased skepticism on Capitol Hill, he defended it as necessary to spur competition in the marketplace. 'If the private insurance companies have to compete with a public option, it will keep them honest and it will help keep their prices down," Mr. Obama said. Arguing that controlling health costs is crucial to the nation's economic health, he said Republican criticism of a public plan was unfounded."
Video: Hypocrisy Watch: President Barack Obama recently met with two dozen senators to talk about various health care reform plans, including an idea that Obama had previously criticized when it was part of the McCain campaign.
Responding to Obama's event, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (R) held a conference call with reporters, in which he denounced Obama's plans for health care, NBC's Katelin Schartz reports. "The difference between the President's rhetoric and actual plan is quite astounding. When you take a look at what the president is saying and what he is proposing, they are two entirely different things," he said.
Ryan also criticized Obama's support for a public/government insurance option. He argued that a public option would ultimately become a "public plan monopoly," and its only true goal would be creating a government run system that consumes 17% of our economy to run.
"The Obama administration has all but abandoned plans to allow Guantanamo Bay detainees who have been cleared for release to live in the United States, administration officials said yesterday, a decision that reflects bipartisan congressional opposition to admitting such prisoners but complicates efforts to persuade European allies to accept them," the Washington Post front-pages. Four Uighur detainees, Chinese Muslims who were incarcerated at the U.S. military prison in Cuba for more than seven years, arrived early yesterday in Bermuda, where they will become foreign guest workers. An administration official said the United States is engaged in negotiations with other countries, including Palau, an island nation in the western Pacific, to find places for the remaining 13 Uighurs held at Guantanamo."
We've previously reported several Obama bundlers having received plum ambassadorships. Two more now have gotten ambassadorships, a First Read analysis shows, after the White House released a list of nominees it sent to the Senate last night. Donald Sternoff Beyer Jr., who was named Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, bundled more than $500,000 for then-candidate Obama; Vinai K. Thummalapally, named ambassador to Belize, raised between $100,000 and $200,000. Another top fundraiser, Rocco Landesman, was named chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. Landesman, a Broadway producer, raised between $50,000 and $100,000, according to a list maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics. And Howard W. Gutman, who works for the Washington law firm Williams and Connolly and raised more than $500,000 for the campaign, was named ambassador to Belgium.
The LA Times: "When word leaked Wednesday that highly regarded Jujamcyn Theaters impresario Rocco Landesman would be tapped by President Obama as the next chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, I was startled. Not because a commercial theatrical producer in New York would be running a federal agency that is all about the nonprofit sector. For-profit and not-for-profit arts organizations are symbiotic entities in the American cultural system, and achievement matters most. No, what startled me was that the NEA was making any news at all. I'd pretty much forgotten the place exists."
"President Barack Obama says he has lost confidence in the inspector general who investigates AmeriCorps and other national service programs and has told Congress he is removing him from the position," the AP says. "Obama's move follows an investigation by IG Gerald Walpin of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is an Obama supporter and former NBA basketball star, into the misuse of federal grants by a nonprofit education group that Johnson headed. Walpin was criticized by the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento for the way he handled an investigation of Johnson and St. HOPE Academy, a nonprofit group that received hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants from the Corporation for National Community Service. The corporation runs the AmeriCorps program."
Charlie Cook uses his latest National Journal column to praise Obama's White House team. "A third of the way into his first year as president, Obama has established a White House operation as impressive as any before; in fact, you can't throw a rock in a West Wing hallway without hitting someone who would otherwise be among the most experienced people in any previous White House. In some ways, Obama has discovered that effective governing requires a blend of the strongest elements of his campaign with the seasoning, experience, and awareness of the pitfalls that hurt previous presidencies."
More Cook: "Perhaps the best quote in [Matt Bai's New York Times Magazine] piece came from White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who apparently is fond of telling other staff members, 'The only nonnegotiable principle here is success. Everything else is negotiable.' Combine that hard-nose pragmatism with a White House staff filled with congressional experience and it's not surprising that Obama is shaking Washington up as much and as quickly as any president since Franklin Roosevelt hit town in 1933. Obama and his team certainly won't get everything they seek on health care, cap-and-trade legislation, and other priorities, but it's a good bet that they are not likely to come up empty-handed either."