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Obama agenda: Off to Louisiana

There are lots of unwelcoming headlines for President Obama as he heads to Louisiana on the front page of the New Orleans Times-Picayune: "Louisiana needs its share of offshore oil revenue now, Mr. President"; "Jury still out on top kill as spill surpasses Valdez"; "Local officials struggle with what they say is an unwieldy command structure"; "Obama suspends drilling at 33 wells"; "Sand berm approved as oil barrier."

And inside the paper, another editorial: "Federal response to oil spill should be more nimble." From the article: "President Barack Obama will find a region clamoring for more effective government action when he arrives in Louisiana today. President Obama's presence here is reassuring. But Louisianians also hope his visit will help refocus government efforts to speed up the cleanup and to better protect our coast. It's urgent for the government response to become more nimble. As oil began soiling our marshes in recent weeks, local and state officials complained of delays in getting the Coast Guard and BP to deploy protective measures and cleanup crews."

The New York Times' analysis of yesterday's press conference: "President Obama uttered three words on Thursday that many of his 43 predecessors twisted themselves into knots trying with varying degrees of success to avoid: 'I was wrong.'… He was wrong, he said, to assume that oil companies were prepared for the worst as he tried to expand offshore drilling. His team did not move with 'sufficient urgency' to reform regulation of the industry. In dealing with BP, his administration "should have pushed them sooner" to provide images of the leak, and "it took too long for us" to measure the size of the spill."

More: "The mix of resolve and regret served to erect a political berm that advisers hope may contain the damage from a five-week-old crisis that has challenged Mr. Obama's presidency. Amid deep public frustration and criticism from both sides of the political aisle, the president sought to assert leadership in response to a slow-motion disaster emanating from a mile beneath the sea."

The Washington Post's Tumulty writes, "A defensive President Obama sought Thursday to quell doubts about his handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, insisting that his administration has been "in charge" from the moment it began and bristling that critics who accuse it of being sluggish to react 'don't know the facts.'"

"But at times during a 63-minute news conference in the East Room of the White House, the president seemed to undercut his own argument. He enumerated a litany of fumbles and lapses: that the government lacks resources and 'superior technology' to respond to the disaster; that he personally had assumed oil companies 'had their act together when it came to worst-case scenarios'; that his administration 'fell short' with its acceptance of BP's inaccurate estimate of the size of the gusher; that reforms of the corruption-plagued government agency that oversees offshore drilling 'weren't happening fast enough.'" 

Politico's take: "On Thursday, President Barack Obama's damage control message was, I'm in control. The president -- so stern he didn't crack a smile for the entire 63-minute East Room news conference -- met the press to dispel the notion that he was disengaged, distracted and willing to let BP take the reins on the Gulf oil spill." 

Howard Fineman wonders if Obama's handling of the oil spill is "too cool." His argument: "No one expects Obama to be a Clinton-like master of syrupy empathy. No one wants him to be a Bush-like bull-horned cheerleader. But voters expect him to convince them that he cares, that he's focused, and that he can somehow put himself in the shoes of an average American." 

The New York Post's cover: "'Did you plug the hole yet, daddy?'"

The New York Daily News: "Oil vey."

The Boston Globe's front-page headline: "Gulf leak tops Valdez as nation's worst spill." 

Per the AP, "President Barack Obama says 'nothing improper' happened in the case of a Pennsylvania lawmaker who claims the administration offered him a job to drop his primary challenge against Sen. Arlen Specter. At a news conference Thursday, Obama said his administration would provide a full accounting shortly but declined to elaborate. Rep. Joe Sestak had said earlier this year that he was offered a job if he abandoned his Senate bid. Republicans and some Democrats have called for an explanation from the White House." 

The Washington Post notes that President Obama speaking on Memorial Day at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Illinois -- instead of Arlington National Cemetery outside DC -- has irked some veterans. But: "Obama is not the first president to miss the Arlington ceremony. Ronald Reagan spoke at West Point one year, and went to his California ranch another year. George H.W. Bush, a war veteran, did not go at all. Bill Clinton, who did not serve in Vietnam and had a rocky time with the military, went to Arlington all eight years, and George W. Bush, who also avoided combat service in Vietnam, attended from 2003 onward."