The Buzz

The facts, faces and hum of local politics with Steve Kraske and Dave Helling

Obama seeks to regain his footing on Syria. But is it working?

09/16/2013 6:00 AM

09/16/2013 10:03 AM

The hot talk making its way around the political universe Monday morning:

• “This is not a contest between the United States and Russia. I mean, the fact of the matter is that if Russia wants to have some influence in Syria post-Assad, that doesn't hurt our interests.” — President Barack Obama.

Obama is seeking to regain his footing in the Syrian conflict. He’s got a long way to go. His approach: He’s saying he’s more interested in getting the policy right than style points. At least he’s acknowledging his, um, lack of style.

• “What's happened in the last two weeks is going to take us...awhile to recover from. Our friends wonder what we'll do and our adversaries have taken heart in seeing the uncertainty of the last two weeks.” — Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican, on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.”

Blunt also said Syrian leader Assad is stronger today than he was two years ago, which is not where Obama wants him to be today.

• “Our primary system is a total disaster.” — Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus speaking in Kansas City at the Midwest Republican Leadership Conference.

Priebus is right. But what to do about it? Priebus wants to limit the number of debates and shorten the campaign season for the 2016 presidential primaries by severely penalizing states that try to move up on the calender. Problem is, going early is the best way to influence the pick of the nominee. And states know that.

• “Obviously, auto is striking. It’s no secret that not only was the auto rescue controversial in the public, as I’m sure many of you know, it was even a source of division within the Obama economic team. But the President made the right and very politically difficult call.” — Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council under President Barack Obama.

The Obama team this week is going to be trumpeting what it views as the progress made in turning around the economy five years after the near-collapse. No sector has enjoyed as much of a bounce as the auto industry, and that’s one reason Obama is coming to Kansas City on Friday. He’s visiting the Ford plant here, and Ford is the one automaker that didn’t take part in the bailout. But the Obama team has long insisted that Ford would have nose-dived along with GM and Chrysler if not for the swift cash infusion. Sperling noted as much on Sunday in a preview of what Obama will say here.

• “Larry was a critical member of my team as we faced down the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.” — Obama on Larry Summers who on Sunday withdrew his name from consideration to be the next Fed chair.

The move may or may not clear the way for Janet Yellen, who is vice chair at the Fed and said to be a finalist for the job. She would be the first woman chairman. The good news for Obama: This removes at least one controversy from his plate. The bad news: Summers was the guy he wanted, but members of his Obama’s own party torpedoed him.


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