Above the Fold. Washington’s worst kept secret is now out. President Obama has nominated Leon Panetta to be secretary of defense and David Petraeus to be director of the CIA. Washington insiders are weighing the pluses and minuses of these choices, with some pundits rating it between a wash and a slight negative and others thinking that Obama made a big mistake. Time will tell who is right. Lots of superstars have flamed out in the Cabinet, and plenty of supposedly misfit nominees have turned out to know what they were doing. A more interesting question is what these choices say about the president. The answer looks to be: he wants proven commodities rather than fresh faces. And who can blame him? He’s got three wars on his hands, the Middle East is in turmoil, and solving America’s fiscal woes will require making tough decisions about all kinds of government programs, including defense spending. So why not pick a defense secretary who understands budgets and knows how to navigate political minefields in Congress? And why not select a CIA director who is bulletproof on Capitol Hill and understands the importance of intelligence? During tough times you want to be surrounded by people who have been to the rodeo before.
CFR Event of the Week. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner dropped by CFR on Tuesday to discuss the variety of challenges facing the United States and world economies and prospects for growth. Inevitably, his comments on the upcoming battle over the debt ceiling made headlines as Washington gears up for the debate. You can watch the full video or download the audio to go. In the clip below, Geithner discusses what the emergence of new markets will mean for the United States and emphasizes the need for the country to arrive at a consensus on fiscal policy.
Click here to view this video on YouTube.
Read of the Week. If you want to get smart on what can be done to address the problem of climate change, read David Victor’s new book, Global Warming Gridlock: Creating More Effective Strategies for Protecting the Planet. David is as smart and as savvy as they come, and he has been working the climate change issue since before it began grabbing front-page headlines. He presents a devastating critique of the global, UN-based diplomatic strategies that have dominated over the past two decades. He offers up an alternative approach that emphasizes bottom-up initiatives at the national, regional, and global levels.
The third time is the charm. That’s at least what Ron Paul hopes. An unsuccessful presidential aspirant in 1988 and again in 2008, he announced today in Des Moines, Iowa today that he is forming a presidential exploratory committee. If successful, Paul would be the first medical doctor to sit behind the Oval Office desk. He would also be the first sitting member of the House of Representatives since James Garfield in 1881 to jump directly to the White House.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour surprised everyone yesterday by announcing that he won’t be throwing his hat in the ring for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination after all. After spending much of the last several months hop scotching among the early nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, Barbour decided that his:
Supporters expect and deserve no less than absolute fire in the belly from their candidate. I cannot offer that with certainty, and total certainty is required.
Governor Barbour’s wife, Marsha, has to be happy with the decision. She recently told WLOX Channel 13 in Biloxi-Gulfport-Pascagoula that the thought of a presidential campaign “horrifies me”: Read more »
The Water’s Edge examines the political forces shaping American foreign policy, the sustainability of American power, and the ability of the United States to navigate a rapidly changing world.