The Night Beat: No Vuvuzelas Edition; Obama's Week to Cap the Doubts about Competence; and More

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Good evening. Put down your vuvuzelas for a moment and lend me your ears.

1. A leadership moment for President Obama. He plans an Oval Office address at 8:00 pm EST Tuesday to address his proposal for a BP escrow fund and discuss a government-wide initiative to re-regulate the oil industry as well as what one White House official called a sense of "realism" on when the American people should expect the spill to be contained and things to begin to return to normal.  It will be a relatively short address, his aides say. 

The idea for it came together last week, when White House officials and the President agreed on the BP escrow idea as the stick to bring to Wednesday's meetings with BP executives. The idea had been floating around Congress (and was first proposed by Sen. George LeMieux (R-FL), who will appear with the President in Florida during his two-day tour of the region). ... Local television stations in Alabama and Mississippi have begun showing pictures of oil washing ashore. Florida is preparing boom-line to try to contain oil that is spreading toward Pensacola Beach. ... Democrats are happy that Republicans seem to be backing away from liability caps, a signal to them that their frontal pressure on BP is politically popular. Republicans wonder whether Tuesday night will be seen as Obama's Jackson Square moment, or whether it resets the public perception of his handling of the oil spill. 

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and other senators sent BP executives a letter demanding that the escrow fund be at least $20 billion to start with (read the letter here). BP has still not determined what to do with a planned dividend payment that is set to be deposited to shareholders on June 21. The company's board of directors meets tomorrow.

2. Eric Pooley, author of an influential new book on climate change politics, urges Obama to "discover what can be achieved with sustained policy-making, politicking and communicating" can do. "After all, the president only recently pledged to 'keep fighting' for a carbon cap, conceding that the votes aren't there now but promising to round them up over the coming months." Pooley wants the White House to set the ground-work for a lame duck session during which a carbon cap of some sort will be passed. 

The one factor that Obama advisers may be overlooking is the impact that the Senate's failure to act will have on Obama's international reputation. Without a bill, it will be difficult to reach the 17 percent reduction in emissions that the president promised at Copenhagen.  What impact will this have on the U.S.'s ability to make agreements about other issues? Will this undermine his/the U.S's credibility with other nations? Where is Sec. of State Clinton?  She promised $100 billion in U.S. funds for adaptation. This promise cannot be met without some sort of mechanism to price carbon. She has a stake in fulfilling this commitment, too. 

3. The Pentagon is pushing back, hard, on reports that the "Battle for Kandahar" will be delayed because Hamid Karzai (or his brother, Wali) opposes it. No D-Day-style invasion had ever been planned, and coalition military strategists have determined that a Marja-style air assault is not the best way to proceed. (Indeed, coalition special forces have participated in numerous "DA" -- direct action -- incursions over the past several weeks and months.) A Pentagon official points out that there are numerous ways to fight a war these days, including diplomatic efforts, clandestine and covert action, and offensive information operations. Indeed, Gen. Stanley McChrystal told reporters last week that, so far as he was concerned, the battle had already begun, and allowed that it would "play out" over the next several months. 

4. The Times of London reports that Saudi Arabia will let Israel use its airspace for a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. The Saudis call the report slanderous, which they would do regardless of whether it were true or not. ... Foreign Policy reports that Kyrgyzstan asked the U.S. military for help in dealing with violent insurrections and the U.S. said no. ...The comptroller said that SecDef Robert Gates's budget discipline will be possible provided that mid-level bureaucrats and program manager jobs are eliminated. ... The Russians said this weekend that they've killed two senior Emirates Caucasus commanders affiliated with Al Qaeda. ... Why is CENTCOM tasking U.S. military intelligence brigades with anti-corruption investigation in Afghanistan? A case for why this may not be the best example of strategic communication is on Danger Room's blog. ... Pakistan is beginning talks with China about the purchase of submarines. ... Two views on the polygraph, one from the government and one from an organization that thinks the polygraph is junk science.

5. The U.S. made it clear to the world that they will NOT support an international investigation until (if) Israel completes an "independent," "impartial," "credible," and "public" investigation, which Israel plans to establish this week. From a statement from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: "We believe that Israel, like any other nation, should be allowed to undertake an investigation into events that involve its national security. Israel has a military justice system that meets international standards and is capable of conducting a serious and credible investigation, and the structure and terms of reference of Israel's proposed independent public commission can meet the standard of a prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent investigation. But we will not prejudge the process or its outcome, and will await the conduct and findings of the investigation before drawing further conclusions. While Israel should be afforded the time to complete its process, we expect Israel's commission and military investigation will be carried out promptly. We also expect that, upon completion, its findings will be presented publicly and will be presented to the international community."

6. Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle will be in New York City tomorrow for a fundraiser, POLITICO reports. ... @PoliticsNation: Media meme this week: "Year of the woman!" In reality, it won't be. Only 7 of 105 Young Guns are women. ... Read a great summary of the Sunday shows here.
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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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