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Obama agenda: Divisions

New York Times: “In his first term, President Obama presided over an administration known for its lack of open dissension on critical foreign policy issues. But on Thursday, deep divisions over what to do about one of those issues — the rising violence in Syria — spilled into public view for the first time in a blunt exchange between Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and the leaders of the Pentagon. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta acknowledged that he and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, had supported a plan last year to arm carefully vetted Syrian rebels. But it was ultimately vetoed by the White House, Mr. Panetta said, although it was developed by David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director at the time, and backed by Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the secretary of state.”

The Washington Times: “President Obama, speaking to House Democrats at a party retreat in Lansdowne, Va., on Thursday, told lawmakers that if they stick to their principles, “I expect Nancy Pelosi will be speaker again.” The president said immigration, gun control and the economy are his top priorities for the year, and he offered some oddly-worded praise for Mrs. Pelosi, the House minority leader. Mr. Obama opened his remarks by saying how much he loves Mrs. Pelosi and then immediately pivoted to talking about how she “generates” good-looking grandchildren. “I love Nancy Pelosi — love Nancy Pelosi … she just generates good-looking grandbabies,” he said. “They’re just so sharp and handsome.”

The Washington Post: “A Senate hearing on the nomination of John O. Brennan to serve as CIA director exposed deep skepticism of key aspects of the Obama administration’s approach to fighting terrorism, including its unprecedented reliance on targeted killing and the secrecy it maintains around the exercise of that lethal power. Brennan, who served as the White House’s top counterterrorism adviser for the past four years, was challenged in often blunt terms to explain why under President Obama the number of drone strikes has soared while captures of terrorism suspects have dwindled to single digits.”