Analysis: In budget deal, Obama emerges stronger, but his victory comes with strings attached
WASHINGTON — By most measures, President Barack Obama emerged far stronger than his Republican adversaries in Washington’s latest fiscal fight. He gave away virtually nothing and his hard-line tactics exposed deep divisions among Republicans and growing public frustration with the GOP.
But Obama’s victory came with strings attached. Under his watch, big swaths of the federal government were shuttered for 16 days, forcing hundreds of thousands of workers off the job and restricting many services. The nation was brought to the brink of a default for the second time in two years. And Congress’ last-minute deal generated yet another round of looming deadlines on the same issues, with no guarantee that Republican opposition to Obama’s objectives will be dampened in any way.
“What comes next is very unpredictable,” said Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist. “The notion that this group of people is going to be chastened by this, while it seems obvious, is uncertain.”
Indeed, there’s little consensus among Republicans about how to proceed in the aftermath of the budget crisis. Some conservatives who demanded changes to Obama’s health care law in exchange for funding the government have signaled they’re ready to dig in for another fight. Among them is Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, who said Republicans may have “lost the battle but we’re going to win the war.”
AP source: Obama to nominate ex-Pentagon lawyer to head Homeland Security
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is calling back a trusted counterterrorism adviser from his first term by nominating former top Pentagon lawyer Jeh Johnson as secretary of Homeland Security.
Obama plans to announce Johnson’s nomination Friday. He must be confirmed by the Senate before taking over the post most recently held by Janet Napolitano, who stepped down in August to become president of the University of California system.
As general counsel at the Defense Department during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Johnson was an aggressive advocate on a number of complex and contentious legal issues. He oversaw the escalation of the use of unmanned drone strikes, the revamping of military commissions to try terrorism suspects rather than using civilian courts and the repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay service members. He also mapped out the legal defense for the American cross-border raid into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.
A senior Obama administration official on Thursday confirmed Johnson’s selection, first reported by The Daily Beast. The official was not authorized to speak about the nomination on the record and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Iran’s internal drama in nuclear talks: Seeking common ground with outreach critics
TEHRAN, Iran — The Iranian foreign minister’s parting words in Geneva carried hopes that the U.S. and other world powers could begin closing the gap with Tehran over its nuclear program. He returns home with perhaps an even tougher challenge at finding common ground.
In a sharp counterpoint to the Western outreach by President Hassan Rouhani’s government, hard-line factions in Iran have amplified their bluster and backlash in messages that they cannot be ignored in any diplomatic moves with Washington either in the nuclear talks or beyond.
They also hold important sway over the pace and direction of Iran’s nuclear program through the Revolutionary Guard, the single most powerful institution in Iran.
By wire sources