May 8th, 2014
10:01 AM ET
7 years ago

Inside Politics Speed Read: Obama wants to 'save those kids,' but can he?

The horrible story of Nigerian girls being kidnapped for going to school seems to have affected President Obama and the first lady personally as the U.S. government also struggles to find consequential ways to help rescue them.

First lady Michelle Obama joined the social media campaign to raise awareness about the missing Nigerian schoolgirls when she tweeted a photo from the White House with a determined and sad look on her face and a piece of paper in her hand saying, “#BringBackOurGirls.”

[twitter-follow screen_name='zbyronwolf']

The President spoke Wednesday about how he wants to use the power of his office to “save those kids,” even as he considers what he can actually do.

He suggested an incremental effort toward tolerance while speaking at the USC Shoah Foundation in Los Angeles.

“I have this remarkable title right now, President of the United States. And yet, every day when I wake up and I think about young girls in Nigeria or children caught up in the conflict in Syria … there are times in which I want to reach out and save those kids,” he said. “And (I have) to think through what levers, what powers do we have at any given moment. I think drop by drop by drop that we can erode and wear down these forces that are so destructive. That we can tell a different story.”

Related: Nigeria abducted girls: Why hasn’t rescue effort worked?

Clinton’s State Department called slow to dub Boko Haram a terror group: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also tried to raise awareness on the Nigerian issue. She said Wednesday the Nigerian government clearly has not done enough to combat Boko Haram, the terror group that has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings.

But The Daily Beast said that when Clinton was secretary, the State Department declined urgings from the Justice Department and lawmakers on Capitol Hill to designate Boko Haram as a terror organization.

Clinton warned of the threat of violent Islamic extremism in Nigeria during a 2009 trip there.

CNN's Jake Tapper wrote at length in 2013 about the arguments for and against designating Boko Haram as a terror organization.

GOP fund-raising and Benghazi: The House of Representatives is expected this week to approve a new special committee to investigate the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Republicans say the White House influenced the American response for political reasons.

But Democrats have dismissed this latest effort as political posturing and may not participate in the committee. They pointed to a fund-raising pitch posted online by the National Republican Congressional Committee that promised the inquiry and its leader, Rep. Trey Gowdy, would hold Democrats accountable.

Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, has twice asked the committee, the House Republicans’ campaign arm, to take the post down.

Related: Rep. Gowdy calls on NRCC to stop fund-raising on Benghazi

Contempt of Congress: Lois Lerner, the former Internal Revenue Service official accused by Republicans of targeting conservative groups, has officially been held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before a House committee.

For nearly a year, Lerner has refused House requests to testify on the matter, citing her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Roll Call recently pointed out the House has the authority to imprison individuals to compel compliance, although no one has suggested such action in this case. Whatever happens to Lerner is now in the hands of the Justice Department, also conducting an inquiry.

The GOP-led House called on Attorney General Eric Holder to remove the IRS investigation from his department and appoint a special counsel to look into the matter.

Related: GOP-led House holds former IRS official in contempt

Reading List:

Gallup: Four years in, GOP support for Tea Party down to 41 percent

The Washington Post: Tea Party candidates wilting in conservative Georgia

The New York Times: Florida finds itself in eye of climate change storm

Politico: Harry Reid embraces earmarks, calls Republicans “greased pigs”

Politico: Earmarks divide Republicans

The Daily Beast: This Southern Republican backed immigration reform and lived to tell about it.



Filed under: Africa • Hillary Clinton • President Obama • State Department • Terrorism
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. smith

    Obama is being thrown a baited hook by Boko Haram to draw the US into a conflict in that region. Let the locals handle this issue.

    May 8, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    Malala is outspoken on this matter. I wonder where the conservative voices are on this. I've only heard Susan Collins speak up about it and she's not a conservative by far. Where's Speaker Boehner or Cantor or that lady they like to flaunt around?

    May 8, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  3. rs

    When Republicans yearn for heavily-armed government-hating "peasants" like they do with Bundy and his ilk, I hope they realize that the environment they want is only a few steps away from Boko Haram.... is that really the America we want?

    May 8, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  4. Silence DoGood

    Obama is being thrown a baited hook by Boko Haram to draw the US into a conflict in that region. Let the locals handle this issue.
    I agree – it looks like an entrapment. Obama has handled international affairs with a keen balance so I think he is smart enough to handle this one as well.

    May 8, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  5. Sniffit

    " I wonder where the conservative voices are on this. "

    No doubt getting ready to broadcast talking points that go something like this: "Obama is using his African muslim connections to have Boko Haram create a distraction from all his scandals because something something Benghazi and he's also at fault for Flight 370 because herpy derpy Al Qaeda."

    May 8, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  6. don in albuquerque

    This type incident has been going on in Africa, and the Middle East since, oh, the beginning of time. It is a big deal now because it can gain political points (they believe) for both sides of the aisle. It was just in the last couple of weeks that the Ways and Means Comm. stripped a bill of 12 million dollars to keep Foster children (at risk children) from being absorbed into the sex industry. Then a couple of hours latter these same people voted for 300 plus BILLION in additional corporate and 1% tax breaks (corporate welfare). These were American children. The same children who the GOTP are only too willing to abandon at birth. Again these were American children. Why are they so willing to take care of some one else's children when they don't even like their own?

    May 8, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  7. rs

    It is interesting- given the pantheon of world problems out there, saving a few hundred school kids from armed nutjobs sounds like where the U.S. ought to be. Is that really possible? Do we have the needed intelligence to be successful in such a venture? Does the President have the support necessary to mount such action (without being told he is a "dictator" or "leading from behind" as the ankle-biters shout). Where is the GOP? Oh, yeah, drumming up weapons sales for the Syrian rebels and the Ukrainians.

    May 8, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  8. don in albuquerque

    We don't even like our own children, why are we so willing to take care of someone else's?

    May 8, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  9. Sniffit

    " It's equally lame for dems to say that repubs don't care about veterans."

    They sure do care a lot about creating them.

    May 8, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. YoonYoungJo

    I don't get the big deal with the IRS scrutiny. Okay so "conservative groups" had to fill out a tiny extra bit of paper work, really? All of this for a tiny bit of extra paper work? Maybe Lerner legitimately thought Conservative Groups were using a loop hole incorrectly. Isn't that her doing her job? If a bank believes a group of people are using their bank accounts for illigitmate methods then isn't the banks responsibility to scrutinize their accounts? No real harm or damage was done. The IRS didn't retract or remove anyone's rights, I just don't get it. The same goes for Benghazi. Its horrible that those Amerixans lost their lives, absolutely horrible but instead of pointing the finger at the President or Hillary the blame should solely rest on those who committed the heinous act. Could the President have acted more prudently? Maybe. Could things have been done differently? Maybe. Okay some miscalculations were made and a bipartisan effort to bring the murders to justice should be made, not lead to in party bickering. Launch an committee to find those who killed the Americans. Lastly I truly hope Nigeria seriously begins searching for the girls. Its ridiculous that 3 weeks have passed and nearly nothing's been done. Those girls have been living a nightmare for over 3 weeks and are now under threat of being sold to slavery. Goodluck's lack of action and claims that scrutinizing the schools enrollment records count as real action is absurd. Terror/criminal groups need to be wiped out, period. You cannot reason with these groups. There is no logic they understand. They do not care about truth or facts. They care about exploiting people, things, everything for their own ends.

    May 8, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. jerry

    obama took out OBL, a sick and lonely old man surrounded by his family. destroyed the film and tossed the remains into the ocean. He has bundled everything else he has touched from health care to foreign policy…looked us in the eye and lied repedidly…no, I doubt he can find his hind end with both hands.

    May 8, 2014 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  12. don in albuquerque

    Don't forget Little Bighorn. I just know he was at the bottom of that.

    May 8, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  13. Lizzie

    rs, yes let's just send our troops there, without knowing where to go or where the girls are.

    May 8, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  14. Rudy NYC

    don in albuquerque

    We don't even like our own children, why are we so willing to take care of someone else's?
    We don't. Does anyone honestly believe that Republicans are concerned about the welfare of 200 Nigerian girls? It is just something else to right wing's narrative about Dictator Obama being a weak leader. Besides, the U.S. has been providing the Nigerian government with assistance and aid for years. I have no doubt that satellite photos have been shared with them.

    Personally, I don't think the girls are still in Nigeria anymore. If they are, they're holed up in bunkers, but that's a lot of mouths to feed. I fear the worst, that many have already been sold off as wives, possibly to some of the very men who kidnapped them in the first place.

    May 8, 2014 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  15. don in albuquerque

    It must be a bad reaction from the 60's, because I'm starting to agree with you more and more.

    May 8, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  16. Rick McDaniel

    The real are we willing to get our guys killed, in the effort? That WILL be the result, while Nigerian soldiers do NOTHING!

    May 8, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  17. smith1

    No one commented on the fund raising efforts by republicans, using the Benghazi investigation. How many investigations now anyway???? Republicans just can't seem to understand what the other investigations found or they simply want to waste tax payers dollars to fund their own coffers. Why don't we investigate them and their crude and immoral tactics??? Vote them all out As far as the young girls I would expect our president to come out with statements that supported the parents and finding the girls. Why so silent on the repo side???? No political gain I guess. Why would the back remarks made by our president? Way to go you creeps.

    May 8, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  18. Peace

    I would urge Pres. Obama not to throw himself and the entire nation on this saga. As much as we feel sorry for the girls who have been abducted, but we should also think about the consequences of allowing US to assist in every and each individual of every country which falls in such a trouble. Once US will do it in one country in this case Nigeria, must be prepared to do it in many other countries, which means the rest of the world. Frankly speaking thats quite impossible. Let Nigeria stand on its feet and help its own people. If it can't, why is it there for?

    May 8, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  19. Harry Kuheim

    It would seem that after 60 years of the US and many others sending Aide $$$ by the many Billions, Doctors, Dentists, Charity workers of all stripes by the thousands and recently Military Advisors and Equipment by the hundreds of plane loads that finally an African Country might be able to do at least something except to ask for more from their Evil White Oppressors/Colonial Masters doesn't it?

    May 8, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  20. Thomas

    Find the Boko Brothers , and who dose there banking .

    Make them No More .

    It's amazing that the wealthiest oil producing country in Africa have now law . How much dose it take to protect the top 4% ?

    May 8, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  21. Huh?

    The only thing we can do to eradicate extremist groups like Boko Haram is to have our military train indigenous counter-insurgency forces to fight them. Unfortunately this will take a long time. We can provide additional intelligence and logistical support for the internal forces. Under no condition should U.S. military personnel be involved in the fighting.

    And one other thing. Please stop tweeting photos of government officials and Michelle Obama holding up little signs.
    We are are playing hardball with animals. Images like this make us look weak.

    May 8, 2014 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  22. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Isn't Boku Haram or whatever his name is, his brother or cousin???

    May 8, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  23. Donna

    There is no strategic national interest at stake in Nigeria. There are no Americans taken hostage. Therefore this is not our problem. After nearly 6 years in office, Obama still doesn't understand what his job is.

    May 8, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  24. don in albuquerque

    Not even worth a response.

    May 8, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  25. Ali

    On Fox channel he is Dictator and on CNN he's Weak. I'm glad I support the President no matter what the media has to say.

    May 8, 2014 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
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