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Obama agenda: New headaches

Advancing the ball… USA Today: “President Obama holds a brief news conferenceMonday morning with British Prime Minister David Cameron, but he is likely to be asked about pressing domestic issues: Benghazi and the IRS.”

“President Barack Obama is welcoming British Prime Minister David Cameron to the White House for talks on subjects ranging from Syria’s civil war to preparations for a coming summit of the world’s leading industrial nations in Northern Ireland,” AP writes. “Iran, the Mideast peace process, counterterrorism and trade are other likely topics forMonday’s meeting.” 

Glenn Thrush: “President Barack Obama genuinely believed he could buck the second-term curse of fecklessness and scandal that afflicted the last three two-term presidents, even if history — and his adversaries — suggested otherwise. The combination of clever and determined Republican resistance on nearly every front, bad luck, Obama’s overconfidence in his capacity to leverage a decisive reelection victory into legislative clout and his own administration’s past mistakes have left the president feeling deeply frustrated, even angry — and eager to find a way to recapture the offensive.”

Stu Rothenberg: “Maybe it’s because two-term presidents suffer from hubris, or merely that after an administration has been in office for years, it inevitably makes mistakes (and too often tries to cover them up). But recent news reports ought to make Democrats at least a little nervous about the next few months and even 2014.” 

“Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates forcefully defended the Obama administration on Sunday against charges that it did not do enough to prevent the tragedy in Benghazi, telling CBS' ‘Face the Nation’ that some critics of the administration have a ‘cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces.’”

Said Gates: "Frankly, had I been in the job at the time, I think my decisions would have been just as theirs were. We don't have a ready force standing by in the Middle East, and so getting somebody there in a timely way would have been very difficult, if not impossible." Suggestions that the U.S. “could have flown a fighter jet over the attackers to ‘scare them with the noise or something,’ Gates said, ignored the ‘number of surface to air missiles that have disappeared from [former Libyan leader] Qaddafi's arsenals.’ ‘I would not have approved sending an aircraft, a single aircraft, over Benghazi under those circumstances,’ he said.” 

Yet Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Mike Huckabee are crying “impeachment,” or as Inhofe called it, the “I word.”

Politico: “The IRS repeatedly changed the criteria it used for singling out nonprofit applications for further review, at one point looking at all groups hoping to make‘America a better place to live,’ according to new reports Monday morning.

The Wall Street Journal and Reuters both reported that the IRS moved beyond giving a skeptical eye to ‘tea party’ and ‘patriot’ groups. It was also targeting groups focusing on specific issues including ‘government spending,’ ‘government debt,’ ‘Education of the public via advocacy/lobbying to ‘make America a better place to live,’ and all groups that ‘criticize[d] how the country is being run.’”

USA Today: “Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said the IRS actions were ‘truly outrageous’and ‘chilling’ on CNN's State of the Union. A public apology was ‘absolutely’ needed, Collins said. ‘I think that it's very disappointing the president hasn't personally condemned this and spoken out. ... (T)he president needs to make it crystal clear that this is totally unacceptable in America.’”

Carl Bernstein, the other half of Woodward and Bernstein, said on Morning Joe that there’s “no evidence” that this is some kind of Nixon-style plot: “In the Nixon White House, we heard the president of the United States on tape saying ‘Use the IRS to get back on our enemies. We know a lot about President Obama, and I think the idea that he would want the IRS used for retribution — we have no evidence of any such thing.” 

Obama later heads to New York to raise money for Democratic committees.