It's Wrestlemania XXVI day! And President Obama snuck off to Afghanistan overnight, landing at Bagram Air Force Base at about 10:55 am ET. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs just Tweeted that Obama is now at the Presidential Palace in Kabul. (Yes, the press knew about this and promised to keep it quiet until the White House gave the all clear.) Luckily for the White House, the Sunday shows were fairly news-free, meaning that the Sunday evening news shows will be led with Obama's secret/risky trip to the front lines of the battlefield. (Fact: Americans, by twenty points, are more optimistic about the conduct of the war in Afghanistan than they were a few months ago. Reasons: no attention to casualties? Actual progress? Who knows?) In any event, a great American way to end the week (the Commander thanking his troops) and a great political capstone to the best week of Barack Obama's presidency. Obama's agenda in Afghanistan: pressure/reward Hamid Karzai for slow, halting progress, press him on merit-based government appointments, corruption and narco-trafficking.
1. When I said no news, I really kinda meant it. So what follows are the things I personally found interesting:
David Axelrod and Candy Crowley talk GTMO:
CROWLEY: So how much of the closing of Guantanamo Bay is tied to where the 9/11 suspects are tried, either civilian or military courts? Those two are inextricably tied, are they not?
AXELROD: Well, look, I'm not going to make -- I'm not going to make that link. Obviously there are complicated issues involved here. There are legislative sensibilities. And there are constitutional principles. And we want to reconcile all of those and come to the right conclusion that will have the greatest positive impact on our security. And I expect, you know, sooner rather than later we're going to resolve some of those issues. But the president remains committed to the goal.
CROWLEY: Right. Two-and-a-half months past your deadline to close it, are you within a month of doing it?
AXELROD: I'm not going to put a time line on it, Candy.
CROWLEY: This year?
AXELROD: But we've made great progress in terms of reducing the numbers of people there in terms of beginning the adjudication process with a lot of them. Remember, all of this was stalled for many, many years. And one of the things that we had to do was sort through the legal status of hundreds and hundreds of people. We've done all of that work. We've made progress. And I believe we're going to get there. But it's complicated and we're going to work through it.
Lindsey Graham seems to understand that the White House doesn't _really_ want an immigration bill voted on before November this year, saying on the Meet the Press that he was frustrated the White House wasn't writing a bill itself and instead was deferring to Congress.
And here's a good recapitulation of Charlie Crist's aggressive first debate with Marco Rubio.
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