Chad’s Morning Brief: Obama Responds to Putin, Castro Heads to Iowa, & More
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of September 16, 2013. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at KFYO.com or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.
1. Obama Responds (link)
Lawmakers were upset last week when the NY Times published an op-ed from Russian President Vladimir Putin. President Obama responded in an interview with ABC News.
President Obama says a tumultuous month as commander in chief, when his policy toward Syria took a number of unexpected turns, may not have looked “smooth and disciplined and linear,” but it’s working.
“I’m less concerned about style points. I’m much more concerned with getting the policy right,” Obama told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview on “This Week.”
Obama said his surprise announcement on Aug. 31 that he would seek congressional authorization for U.S. military strikes against Syria, then the abrupt cancellation of a vote this week and pursuit of a diplomatic plan led by the Russians, has put the country “definitely in a better position.”
“My entire goal throughout this exercise is to make sure what happened on Aug. 21 does not happen again,” the president told Stephanopoulos of the large-scale chemical weapons attack outside Damascus that he said killed more than 1,400 civilians.
“We have the possibility of making sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.
Obama Responds to Critics, Putin
Critics of the president on both the left and the right have accused him of a meandering response to Syria’s bloody ongoing civil war and a failure to effectively communicate to the American people a compelling case for action.
In the latest diplomatic turn, some say Obama is being outmaneuvered, even insulted, by Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose New York Times op-ed this week rebuked “American exceptionalism.”
Obama argued on “This Week” that the choices he’s made — including a renewed partnership with Putin — have already created a desired deterrent effect, making it less likely the Syrian government will again use chemical weapons in the short term.
The president said a “verifiable agreement” to disarm Assad of his chemical stockpiles will go further than any U.S. military strikes could have in eliminating the threat of their use.
“If that goal is achieved, then it sounds to me like we did something right,” Obama said.
On Saturday, the U.S. and Russia announced a plan to transfer Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile to international control by the middle of next year for destruction, with Syria given one week to declare the size and location of its chemical weapons stashes before outside inspectors arrive in November.
But it’s still unclear how inspectors will be able to remove and destroy the weapons in the middle of an ongoing civil war, and whether Assad will go along. Another open question is whether the Russians will facilitate enforcement of an agreement.
Obama said he is optimistic but cautious that Putin will be a reliable partner.
“I don’t think that Mr. Putin has the same values that we do,” Obama said in response to Putin’s controversial op-ed.
“I welcome him being involved. I welcome him saying, ‘I will take responsibility for pushing my client, the Assad regime, to deal with these chemical weapons,’” he said. “This is not the Cold War. This is not a contest between the United States and Russia.”
If Russia wants influence in Syria, Obama added, “that doesn’t hurt our interests.”
Obama Sends Message to Iran
The president suggested that he even sees a potential role for Iran in helping to stabilize Syria, despite reports that Iranian fighters have been streaming into the country to support the Assad regime.
Obama confirmed publicly for the first time on “This Week” that he has exchanged letters with new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, who has vowed to act forcefully to prevent any Western military intervention in Syria, using “all efforts to prevent it.”
Obama said he believes his threat to use U.S. military force in Syria, and subsequent pause to pursue diplomacy, sends a signal to the Iranian regime in the ongoing dispute over its contested nuclear program.
“What they should draw from this lesson is that there is the potential of resolving these issues diplomatically,” Obama said.
“I think this new president is not going to suddenly make it easy,” he added. “But you know, my view is that if you have both a credible threat of force, combined with a rigorous diplomatic effort, that, in fact … you can strike a deal.”
Will this plan in Syria fall apart? Probably. Also, take notice that Obama didn’t disagree with Putin’s statement about American exceptionalism. I believe it’s probably because Obama agreed with Putin on that front.
2. 2016? Castro Heads to Iowa (link)
No, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro won’t be running for President but I do think he will be a serious contender for VP.
A quick drive south from Des Moines past rolling hills and golden rows of corn, this town of 15,000 harnesses political might that far exceeds its size.
On Sunday, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, will host his 36th annual Steak Fry here. It’s a Democratic fundraiser unrivaled in this state, the place to be for aspiring Democratic nominees during presidential election years.
Though he’s not a presidential contender, Mayor Julián Castro will join Vice President Joe Biden as the event’s two featured guests.
Castro’s remarks, though expected to last no more than 15 minutes, will resemble those that gave him a national profile in the first place — his 2012 keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.
“I’m going to talk about the challenges the United States faces to remain competitive in the 21st century and the opportunity we ought to be creating for a prosperous future,” he said Friday.
He’ll likely note his family story: a grandmother who immigrated to the United States as a child, a single mother who couldn’t afford to send her twin sons to college, because it serves as the foundation of his political philosophy.
Castro said he doesn’t buy into the idea that “we’re all better off when everybody is on their own.” Rather, everyone should work hard and be rewarded with opportunity, he said. Castro is a strong proponent of government assistance for higher education, having used Pell grants, Perkins loans and work-study to fund his college education.
Indianola residents know Castro’s name but aren’t well-versed in his story and background. Outside the Uncommon Grounds Coffee House and Deli on the town square, resident Denise Day said she remembered the DNC address but not much more.
“I do know that I loved the way he spoke. I liked listening to him,” she said. “He seems to hold the attention of people and be well-respected, too.”
Democrats will see how Castro handles the Iowa crowd as this could be an early test for him.
3. Voter ID Extended Hours (link)
Despite what Democrats claim it’s pretty easy to get a Voter ID and it’s about to get even easier.
Selected Texas driver’s license offices are expanding their days of operations to include Saturdays, offering potential voters another window to apply for a free photo IDs required of voters.
The electronic identification certificates are valid for six years, and can only be used for voter identification. Nearly 50 offices around the state will be open for four hours on Saturdays, solely to handle requests for the certificates. They are intended to aid voters who do not yet have a viable form of ID. The extended hours begin Saturday and end Nov. 2.
The DPS began accepting applications for the documents in late June, and as Sept. 6, only eight had been issued across the state, according to DPS officials.
Offering the documents is a requirement of the state’s Senate Bill 14, which mandates voters furnish a photo ID before voting. The Texas Legislature passed the bill in 2011, but it was on hold until a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year paved the way for its implementation.
In a statement, DPS officials said most Texans already have what they need to cast ballots. Current law states voters can show either a driver’s license or state-issued ID; a passport or passcard; a military ID, a Texas concealed handgun license or naturalization or citizenship certificate with an ID.
Applicants for the free IDs must furnish proof of citizenship and identity and be registered to vote or register at the DPS office.
Opponents and supporters of voter ID have used the fact that so few IDs have been issued to back up their claims. Opponents, including Democratic lawmakers and representatives of minority groups, say that even though the ID is free, the costs to obtain the needed documents are a hurdle for low-income voters, the elderly and minority groups. The state, Republican lawmakers and others say that so few of the free IDs have been issued because, as they have argued for years, most Texans already have the identification required to cast a ballot.
A list of the offices extending their hours can be found here.
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