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Obama agenda: 'Bulworth'

The New York Times: “Thwarted on Capitol Hill, stymied in the Middle East and now beset by scandal, President Obama has reached a point just six months after a heady re-election where the second term he had hoped for has collided with the second term he actually has.” 

Obama laments the perceptions of the three controversies and lack of power on other things. On the IRS, “he portrayed himself as an onlooker. … He likewise had nothing to do with the Justice Department seizure of phone records of reporters for The Associated Press, aides say. The Benghazi dispute, he complains, is brazen politics, and the White House released e-mails Wednesday meant to show that the president’s close aides had little involvement in its most hotly debated aspect. He has no way to force Congress to pass even a modest gun-control bill, aides say, while the slaughter in Syria defies American capacity to intervene.All of which raises the question of how a president with grand ambitions and shrinking horizons can use his office. Mr. Obama may be right about some of the things he cannot do, but he has also struggled lately to present a vision of what he can do.” 

And the most talked about section: “Yet Mr. Obama also expresses exasperation. In private, he has talked longingly of ‘going Bulworth,’ a reference to a little-remembered 1998 Warren Beatty movie about a senator who risked it all to say what he really thought. While Mr. Beatty’s character had neither the power nor the platform of a president, the metaphor highlights Mr. Obama’s desire to be liberated from what he sees as the hindrances on him.”

Chaser: “Michael, what’s your secret, man? Could it be you were an actor in an Aaron Sorkin liberal fantasy? Could that have something to do with it? I don’t know. Check in with me.” – Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner to actor Michael Douglas on his role as the powerful president in “The American President.”

AP: “Faced with a trio of controversies, President Barack Obama is trying to halt a perception spreading among both White House opponents and allies that he has been passive and disengaged as unexpected developments consume his second term. The new strategy, underscored in a flurry of new White House actions, signals an Obama team anxious to regain control amid controversies that have emboldened Republicans and threatened to plunge the president’s second term into a steady stream of congressional investigations.” 

National Journal’s Beth Reinhard: “Under pressure to show who's boss, President Obama called a press conference late Wednesday to say he was ‘angry’ that the IRS singled out conservative groups for extra vetting and to announce that the agency’s acting commissioner had been forced out. … The hasty moves by the White House were clearly aimed at reversing the impression—heavily promoted by Republican critics—that President Obama had responded passively to a series of scandals enveloping his administration.”

Politico: So did two decisive actions on one rapid-fire news night stop the bleeding? For Republicans, the answer is clearly no. They’re going to remain on the attack — and they’re upping their demands. … But after days of anxiety, Democratic operatives said the White House has found its footing. But happy as they were to see Obama win a news cycle, they insisted he’s far from being in the clear — Republican adversaries feel that they’re only just beginning, and they’ll have another chance to lay into the administration at Friday’s hearing on the IRS.

About those Benghazi emails… “While the e-mails portrayed White House officials as being sensitive to the concerns of the State Department, they suggest that Mr. Obama’s aides mostly mediated a bureaucratic tug of war between the State Department and the C.I.A. over how much to disclose — all under heavy time constraints because of the demands from Capitol Hill,” the New York Times writes. “The e-mails revealed no new details about the administration’s evolving account of the Sept. 11 attack, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.” 

Chaser: “I’ve been able to read all of the cables, I’ve seen the films—I feel like I know what happened in Benghazi. I’m fairly satisfied. But look the House wants to have hearings. I hope they're done in a respectful way. Hopefully, it will shed some light on what happened.” – Bob Corker (R-TN) on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown May 8.

Michael Crowley on the Benghazi emails says they “tell us virtually nothing new about the now well-excavated story.” But has three takeaways: (1) No one doubted a demonstration; (2) The CIA made the big changes; and (3) Susan Rice got hosed.