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The Fix by Chris Cillizza

Morning Fix: Obama turns aggressive in speech on national security

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By Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 6, 2010; 12:15 PM

1. President Obama on Tuesday laid out in stark terms the failure of his administration to properly act on intelligence regarding Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and pledged to "do better" in the future. Obama, perhaps sensitive to the charge that he was too dispassionate in his first remarks about the attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day, was by turns firm and aggressive. Missed the speech? Here are the highlights: 1) "The system has failed in a potentially disastrous way." 2) "Intelligence was not fully analyzed or fully leveraged." 3) "We have to do better." 4) "Make no mistake: we will close Guantanamo prison." 5) "The margin for error is slim and the consequences of failure can be catastrophic."

2. We've noted before in this space that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is using Facebook to serve as a sort of shadow president, a constant counter to Obama on nearly every issue. Palin's latest missive came late Tuesday when she decried Obama's approach to terrorism as "fatally flawed" because the administration sees the issue through a law enforcement lens rather than a national security one. Palin's Facebook riffs allow her to speak directly to those who share her worldview without having to wade through questions from the news media seeking deeper answers to the complex problems she is addressing. The goal? Perhaps to install Palin as the obvious foil to the current president thereby giving her the right of first refusal when the 2012 Republican presidential primary fight comes around.

3. The departure of Lt. Gov. John Cherry (D) from the 2010 Michigan governor's race is very good news for Democratic strategists who had resigned themselves to losing the seat if he was their nominee. Speculation immediately turned to Denise Ilitch, the daughter of Mike Ilitch, owner of the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings. Polling has been conducted to test Ilitch's viability in the contest; her considerable personal wealth and lack of a voting record -- she has never run for office before -- is attractive to national Democrats who recognize that the state's economy makes the race an uphill one for them. Aside from Ilitch, state House Speaker Andy Dillon and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero are also seriously looking at the race and would be formidable. While Cherry's departure gives Democrats a fighting chance to hold the seat in 2010, Republicans have an extremely strong field and are still favored given the struggles of the state's economy and voters' weariness with outgoing Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D).

4. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will head to New Hampshire later this month, his first visit to the Granite State in more than three years and a trip sure to re-start talk of a potential presidential bid by the Georgia Republican in 2012. Gingrich will be in Manchester at Southern New Hampshire University on Jan. 30 to speak at a conference sponsored by fiscally conservative businessman Fred Tausch. Mike Dennehy, a consultant to Tausch and longtime New Hampshire adviser to Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), heaped praise on Gingrich in an interview with the Manchester Union Leader's John DiStaso -- calling him the "pre-eminent creative thinker in the Republican Party." Gingrich, who weighed a presidential bid in 2008 before ultimately deciding against it, has said little publicly about his interest in a run for national office in 2012.

5. Lynda Tran, communications director for outgoing Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D), will join her boss in Washington later this month. While Kaine will leave office on Jan. 16 and become the full time chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Tran will take a post as the national press secretary for Organizing for America, the grassroots arm of the DNC. Prior to her work for Kaine, Tran spent nearly a decade in the communications operation at the Service Employees International Union. She replaces Natalie Wyeth who left OFA over the summer for a job at the Justice Department.


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