October 18th, 2009
03:09 PM ET
5 years ago

State of the Union: John King's Crib Sheet for October 18

In his Crib Sheet, CNN's John King looks back at Sunday's talk shows and ahead to the topics that will be making news this week.
In his Crib Sheet, CNN's John King looks back at Sunday's talk shows and ahead to the topics that will be making news this week.

There were two clear messages from the Obama White House this Sunday regarding Afghanistan:

*To Afghan President Hamid Karzai: schedule a runoff election or broker a power sharing deal with his chief election rival.

*To those waiting to know whether Mr. Obama will add thousands more U.S. troops to the Afghan mission: be patient, because the commander-in-chief wants a better sense of the Afghan political climate before he announces his big military decision.

“It would be reckless to make a decision on U.S. troop levels if, in fact, you haven’t had a thorough analysis of whether, in fact, there’s an Afghan partner,” the White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel told us.

Privately, two senior U.S. officials involved in the issue told us they would prefer that Mr. Karzai move immediately to negotiate a power-sharing agreement with his lead challenger, Abdullah Abdullah. Both officials predicted that would be the ultimate resolution, but both also said they worried Mr. Karzai would drag his feet and resist, for now, efforts aimed at a quick resolution.

Health care was also a major topic in the Sunday conversation. We didn’t hear any dramatic shifts, but it was interesting to watch the White House team navigate the delicate internal Democratic politics.

Also interesting: Senator Arlen Specter’s scathing take on the Republican Party. Yes, the same Republican Party he left just a few months ago.

We Watch the Other Sunday Shows So You Don’t Have To.


HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SOUND OF SUNDAY, BEGINNING WITH AFGHANISTAN

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, on CNN’s “State of the Union”
“Before you commit troops, which is not irreversible but puts you down a certain path, before you make that decision, there's a set of questions that have to have answers that have never been asked, and it's clear that after eight years of war, that's basically starting from the beginning, and those questions never got asked.”

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, on CNN’s “State of the Union”
“What President Karzai must do in the process there, is a credible and legitimate election or result, more importantly, for the Afghan people and for that government going forward. Whether that's through a runoff, whether that's through negotiations, the process will be determined by the Afghan people. The result, for us and for the president, is whether, in fact, there's a credible government and a legitimate process.”

Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), on CNN’s “State of the Union”
“It would be entirely irresponsible for the president of the united states to commit more troops to this country, when we don't even have an election finished and know who the president is and what kind of government we're working in, with. And when our own, you know, commanding general tells us that a critical component of achieving our mission here is, in fact, good governance, and we're living with a government that we know has to change and provide it, how could the president responsibly say, oh, they asked for more, sure, here they are?"

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), on CBS’s “Face the Nation”
“I hope President Karzai understands that our national security interests don't depend entirely on his decision there whether to allow a recount. Obviously the legitimacy of that government is an important component of it. But my point is it shouldn't be the lynch pin for us deciding whether to protect our national security interests in that region.”

Also noteworthy: Emanuel indicated the administration would need a “supplemental” or emergency budget to pay for military operations in Afghanistan, something the president had said he hoped to avoid.

On health care, a good deal of the back-and-forth was on the question of whether the way the Senate Finance Committee pays for many of its changes – a fee on the so-called Cadillac insurance plans – can fairly be labeled a backdoor tax increase on the middle class. Labor unions see it that way – as do many liberal Democrats in Congress. But the White House took issue, even as it said it remains to be seen what financing provisions will survive as compromise negotiations continue.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, on CNN’s “State of the Union”

“This is basically one of the ways in which you basically put downward pressure on health care costs. The president believes, as he said in the joint sessionk, that while he opposed this originally, he thinks that based on the analysis, it is helpful in getting costs under control. And it hits the insurance companies and the high expansive and expensive plans.”

Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), on CNN’s “State of the Union”
“Well, I have great, great respect for Gerry McEntee. He is a good pal of mine, and i appreciate enormously his concern, and I share his concern for workers who might be affected if the threshold were to stay too low. I don't believe the threshold will stay too low.”

Senior White House Advisor David Axelrod, on ABC’s “This Week”
“The bulk of this is not going to hit middle class. In his campaign he opposed John McCain's tax exemption on healthcare benefits and he still believes that. This is a tax on insurance and having said that the we're going through a process, the house has it's proposals, the senate has it's proposals we'll go to conference and we'll hammer these issues out.”

A FEW PARTING NOTES AND SOUNDS

*GOP Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire said their party is getting a bad rap in the health care debate, and putting forward a number of alternatives to the approach favored by the Obama White House and congressional Democrats. But that didn’t stop Republican-turned-Democrat Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, perhaps with his primary challenge in mind, from lashing out at the party he left just a few months ago:

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pennsylvania), on “Fox News Sunday”
“On the Republican side it is no, no, no – a party of obstructionism. This is no longer the party of John Heinz and Mack Mathias and Lowell Weicker. You have responsible senators who have been in the Senate like Howard Baker and Bob Dole and Bill Frist who say Republicans ought to cooperate. Well they’re not cooperating.”

*Chris Wallace made a point on “Fox News Sunday” of noting the White House has since August refused to make any administration officials available to the program. The president’s two top political advisers were asked about the standoff:

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, on CNN’s “State of the Union”
“It's not so much a conflict with Fox news. But unlike, I suppose, the way to look at it and the president looks at it and the way we look at it is it’s not a news organization so much as it has a perspective. And that's a different take."

Senior White House Advisor David Axelrod, on ABC’s “This Week”
“They’re not really a news station. If you watch… it’s not just their commentators but a lot of their news programming, it’s really not news. It’s pushing a point of view."

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday and the week ahead,
John King


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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    It's about time the U.S. use their head instead of muscle. We cannot muscle our way into conflict in a country such as Afghan when there is no clear picture of whose controlling the government and we can't force Karzai into power when the people don't want him. Karzai was clearly installed by the Bush administration and the Afghan people know this and continue to associate U.S. influence and power with him.

    October 18, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  2. David

    Bush ignored the public opinion and politics and did things and committed mistakes. The current president do not do anything and avoids mistakes this way. Then, to fortify his image his people go and talk a lot in the media. When things do not go well, they blame the past administration, the fox news, etc. All distraction from a do-nothing WH which is attempting a government control in a way that they hope will
    eternal-ize the Democratic party power! This is a mistake, going after the change that the 20% liberals wanted and ignoring the change that the other 35% wanted!

    October 18, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  3. MJ

    You can be sure Obama wants to wait. He is quite busy campaigning for fellow democrats, criticizing FOX, pushing his big Health Plan, and ignoring our Troops overseas, as well as, our Troops at home.

    October 18, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |