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Returning from Hawaii. (Photo/WWR)

Friday, March 19, 2010

President's Schedule: Friday, March 19

Good morning from the West Wing press room...

As WWR tweeted last night: Beware the pundits. The narrative of many of them, through yesterday, was "Obama's on the ropes." The President, after all, was forced to cancel an important trip to Indonesia and Australia because he lacked the votes for his $940 billion health-care plan. And his poll numbers continue to sink. Yesterday, Gallup said Obama's approval rating hit the lowest point of his presidency, 46%, with 48% disapproving.

But look for this narrative to change, perhaps as early as Sunday, driven by what is now becoming apparent: that the President will, in fact, get the magic 216 votes he needs. So the "Obama on the ropes" theme will morph, for some, into "The President stuck to his guns and got the job done." This is how it's looking as the sun comes up this Friday morning.

In fact, the discussion appears to have shifted from "Will Obama and Pelosi get the votes" to "Which Democrats will be allowed to vote no?" There are many Dems on thin ice this November. But the ice is thinner for some than others, and they will be allowed to vote against the health-care plan.

The President this morning will make one more final pitch for his plan, an 11:35 rally at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. It will be his 54th major health-care event since taking office and you won't hear anything new. Today's event is designed to show that Obama is fighting to the very end - this plays into the coming change of narrative that WWR predicts will soon occur.

Deal on Guantanamo Near

Obama failed to deliver on another major campaign pledge, to close the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year. But within a year-and-a-half? That seems doable. The administration and a bipartisan group of Senators are close to a deal that would shut the prison and put more detainees on trial before a military commission.

The military commission route is a reversal of stated administration policy. Originally, the White House intended to try 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other suspects in a civilian court.

Of course, the Gitmo naval base itself stays open. The U.S. has been there since 1903 and with an annual rent of around $4,085, the price is right. WWR highly recommends a visit. The bachelor officer's quarters on leeward is the place to stay - but look out for the big iguanas in the road.

The President's Schedule


9:30AM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT receive the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office

10:00AM THE PRESIDENT meets with senior advisors
Oval Office

11:35AM THE PRESIDENT delivers remarks on health insurance reform
George Mason University’s Patriot Center

Private Dining Room


On This Day
2003: The war in Iraq began. The U.S. and its allies - primarily the British - invaded, promising to bring down the government of Saddam Hussein, who was suspected of building weapons of mass destruction. No WMD were ever found, and after 7 years, more than a trillion dollars and (as of today) 4,385 American lives, the United States is pulling out. Saddam is long gone and a new Iraqi government is emerging from the rubble. When Bush said "Mission Accomplished" on May 1, 2003, that clearly wasn't so - but Iraq, which WWR has visited, is now increasingly stable, has held a series of highly successful elections and holds much promise for the future.

Presidential Quote
"Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost." - John Quincy Adams

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