Has a President ever lost a war to a third-world dictator and then been reelected?: NATO is running out of ammunition, they can’t stop mortars from shelling Misrata, the rebels can’t decide who is in charge, and intelligence officials in Europe and the United States both say Gadhafi is consolidating his power in central and western Libya. Facing failure, the Obama administration sent a letter to the Senate informing them that Obama was sending $25 million in “nonlethal aide” to the rebels. The Washington Times broke the story on the same day that Britain, France, and Italy all announced they would be sending military advisers to help overthrow Gadhafi. Despite clear evidence that many of the rebels are jihadists, a State Department memo attached to the letter assures Congress that the rebels are committed to Democratic reform.
But is the White House suffering politically at home from any of this? This week’s Washington Post poll has Obama’s first net negative approval rating for his handling of Libya 49% to 42%. And a new Marist poll out today shows many Americans are connecting Libya to our economy. 36% of Americans blame turmoil in the Middle East for high gas prices, 33% blame oil companies, 11 % blame Obama, and 6% Republicans. That Marist poll also shows that by 57-42 percent, Americans said they don’t have a clear idea of what the U.S. is doing there. If there is a protracted civil war that extends turmoil in the Middle East, how will the White House avoid the blame for the subsequent higher gas prices?
Calling Obama’s IPAB bluff: The chairmen of two of the most powerful House Committees, Reps. Dave Camp of Ways and Means and Fred Upton of Energy and Commerce, sent a letter to Obama yesterday asking him to identify where exactly his Independent Payment Advisory Board will cut Medicare and Medicaid. Obama’s speech last Wednesday relied heavily on the IPAB board of experts to come up with “savings” in Medicare and Medicaid in the future. The Camp Upton letter asks where and how “those reductions in spending are achieved.” Meanwhile, conservative outlets like The Wall Street Journal and National Review have been hitting IPAB hard as a form of rationing and even a precursor to socialism. Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh echoed that message.
2012 round up: On ABC News yesterday Michele Bachmann said Obama’s birth certificate “is not the main issue facing the United States right now” and that the nation should “move on” … Tim Pawlenty backed off his support for a Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility while visiting Nevada yesterday … Pawlenty’s campaign also announced he would be releasing his own budget plan sometime after he made his official announcement … National Review’s Robert Costa examines Marco Rubio‘s effort to become the next Jesse Helms.