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Obama agenda: The women vs. the men?

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported Saturday night on the internal debate about the decision to go into Libya. “In the end, it became the women foreign policy advisers against the men. Although Hillary Clinton initially resisted the idea of a no-fly zone, she was persuaded at the beginning of this week by the Arab League’s endorsement of military action, and she had intense meetings with the Arab League leaders and a Libyan opposition leader this week. She actually joined U.N. ambassador Susan Rice and two other women in the National Security Council, who had been arguing for some time for more aggressive action in persuading the president on Tuesday. This is a rare instance, by the way, of Clinton going up against Defense Secretary Bob Gates and the National Security Adviser Tom Donilon among other men in the White House who were much more cautious about this.”  

To that point, here was more Lindsey Graham on FOX: “I don't know how many people have died as we wait to do something. Thank God for strong women in the Obama administration.”

House Speaker John Boehner: “The United States has a moral obligation to stand with those who seek freedom from oppression and self-government for their people.  It’s unacceptable and outrageous for Qadhafi to attack his own people, and the violence must stop. The President is the commander-in-chief, but the Administration has a responsibility to define for the American people, the Congress, and our troops what the mission in Libya is, better explain what America’s role is in achieving that mission, and make clear how it will be accomplished. Before any further military commitments are made, the Administration must do a better job of communicating to the American people and to Congress about our mission in Libya and how it will be achieved.”

A House leadership aide later clarified Boehner's statement this way to First Read: "For starters, the ‘consultation’ they keep talking about was nothing of the sort. While the commander-in-chief does not need congressional authorization to take military action, he does have an obligation to consult with Congress -- and contrary to administration claims over the past 48 hours, there has been no real consultation. Congress was simply informed that it was happening, as it was happening. Secondly, we all agree that Qadhafi needs to go, but it's up to the commander-in-chief to define the mission and its goals, and so far we've received a mixed message from the administration on whether his removal is a goal or not (POTUS has said yes, Mullen has said no)."

Responding to the congressional criticism, White House National Security spokesman Tommy Vietor said, "As the President told the country, the deployment under consideration would be limited in duration and scope, and conducted in partnership with an international coalition. It is aimed at preventing an imminent humanitarian catastrophe that directly implicates the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States. We have been closely consulting Congress regarding the situation in Libya, including in a session the President conducted before his announcement with the bipartisan leadership. The President is committed to maintaining the full support of Congress in the course of ongoing and close consultation."

The New York Times: "All the deliberations over what military action to take against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya have failed to answer the most fundamental question: Is it merely to protect the Libyan population from the government, or is it intended to fulfill President Obama’s objective declared two weeks ago that Colonel Qaddafi 'must leave'?" Obama "had intended for the third year of his presidency to be devoted to showing that he had learned the lessons of the midterm election, was able to rise above partisanship and focus on solutions to unemployment and the nation’s long-term economic problems. ...But with the developments in Libya, a man who reached the White House on the strength of a forceful antiwar sentiment four years ago now has three major military conflicts under his command, with polls showing a limited appetite for increased American intervention."

Military officials continue to describe the U.S role in the Libyan conflict as "limited," but lawmakers and reporters are raising questions about exactly what that means -- and what the administration's goals in the region are.

Potential GOP White House candidates slammed Obama for failing to take more decisive action on Libya, but they haven't had much positive to say about the U.S. involvement since it began, Politico points out. "After demanding for weeks that he be more decisive on Libya, not one candidate in the field of 2012 GOP hopefuls has expressed support for President Barack Obama since he began bombing the North African nation. The GOP’s presidential prospects either sharply criticized the commander-in-chief this weekend or avoided weighing in."

The New York Times' Friedman has this thought: "At a time when Japan is suffering a nuclear catastrophe that is likely to make the world even more dependent on oil and gas, at a time when the world’s top oil and gas producers are entering what will be, at best, an unstable, and, at worst, a viciously violent transition from autocracy to, one hopes, democracy, and at a time when the combination of the two could slow down global growth while we’re still trying to climb out of recession, America has no energy policy, no climate policy and no long-term plan to deal with its unsustainable deficit. We’re basically saying to the market and Mother Nature: 'Bring it on. We’re going to be dumb as we wanna be and put off all these big decisions, possibly until 2013, after the next presidential election, because our two political parties would rather focus on winning the next election and blaming the other guy than making hard choices.' ... President Obama has the right convictions on all these issues, but he has not shown the courage of his convictions. The Republicans have just gone nuts." And this: "It is what a lot of Obama supporters find frustrating about him: They voted for Obama to change the polls not read the polls."

Nick Kristof: "Japan’s communitarianism has its downside, but we Americans could usefully move a step or two in that direction. Gaps between rich and poor are more modest in Japan, and Japan’s corporate tycoons would be embarrassed by the flamboyant pay packages that are common in America. Even in poor areas — including ethnic Korean or burakumin neighborhoods — schools are excellent. ... Look, we’re pushy Americans. We sometimes treat life, and budget negotiations, as a contest in which the weakest (such as children) are to be gleefully pushed aside when the music stops. But I wish we might learn a bit from the Japanese who right now are selflessly subsuming their own interests for the common good. We should sympathize with Japanese, yes, but we can also learn from them."

The Times notices that Obama didn't mention his own racial background yesterday in Brazil, one of the most racially diverse countries in the Western hemisphere.

The Post previews Obama's trip to El Salvador, where drug smuggling dominates.

“The U.S. ambassador to Mexico has resigned after the publication of U.S. diplomatic cables that criticized that government’s anti-drug fight, infuriating the Mexican president,” the Washington Post reports. “Carlos Pascual appears to be the first senior U.S. diplomat to lose his job because of the WikiLeaks revelations.”