Saturday, May 23, 2009

CNN: AC360 covers "Extreme Challenges": Second 100 Days


Anderson Cooper hosted “Extreme Challenges” on CNN tonight.

Michael Ware, David Gergen, Christiane Amanpour and Fareed Zakaria formed the panel.

The first issue was the air strikes in Afghanistan, which may be greatly increasing civilian casualties. It is more difficult to replicate the strategy from Iraq (which could face extension in the Mosul area) in Afghanistan, but the critical problem is to stabilize Pakistan, and to build better bridges with Pakistani intelligence. Zakari talked about an ethnic rivalry in Pakistan as complicating the picture.

Obama wants to attack the Israel-Palestine problem directly (like Jimmy Carter does in his book) rather than focus on Iran, which is Israel’s focus.

Here is ac360 blog entry for the show.

Obama’s “two words” are “The Economy.” The biggest problem for the president will be holding on to his popularity, and consumer spending has improved as a “leap of faith.” Zakaria says that he best that we can hope for after recovery starts is 1.5% annual growth. There will be, at best, a “new normal lifestyle” and it will be less ambitious, with some sacrifice. The new economy might be “work for two years to buy the TV. We will get what we need, but we will shave the excess out of the system.”

On health care, Sanjay Gupta said that Obama is emphasizing lowering costs first and then improving access, with letting Congress work out the “systems analysis” details. The cost might be $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

Jeffrey Toobin (“The Nine”) talked about the upcoming Supreme Court appointee replacing David Souter. For the first time right now every justice is a former appeals court judge. There might be a litmus test on preserving Roe v. Wade. A replacement will probably preserve some place for race consciousness in affirmative action related cases.

David Gergen said that this government “is going to grow,” and that strikes fear in the hearts of Republicans.

At the end they mentioned the delay in considering “don’t ask don’t tell” (regarding gays in the military) because it would be too big a “distraction” in the early days of the “strategic” presidency.

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