The first rule of politics and medicine: Do no harm. “Foreign travel has been seen as a political liability for Obama; and with this [South American] trip, the pattern is likely to continue. The worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl is unfolding in Japan, the United States and its allies are crafting urgent plans for a Libya no-fly zone operation that could mean air raids on Tripoli within days, and at home, Republicans and Democrats are in a standoff over a budget for the federal government, which administration officials say is being hobbled by a series of stopgap funding measures.”

First he insists on going to the U.N., and then he tells the enemy no ground troops will be used and Gaddafi might be able to stay. This is no way to wage or win a war. “The United States is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya. And we are not going to use force to go beyond a well-defined goal.”

First he was against, and then he was for it. “At the start of this week, the consensus around Washington was that military action against Libya was not in the cards. However, in the last several days, the White House completely altered its stance and successfully pushed for the authorization for military intervention against Libyan leader Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi. What changed? The key decision was made by President Barack Obama himself at a Tuesday evening senior-level meeting at the White House, which was described by two administration officials as ‘extremely contentious.’ Inside that meeting, officials presented arguments both for and against attacking Libya. Obama ultimately sided with the interventionists. His overall thinking was described to a group of experts who had been called to the White House to discuss the crisis in Libya only days earlier.” Pathetically, the administration member with the most common sense appears to have been Samantha Power.

The Obama team first discovered the imperative to curtail the bloodbath in Libya. When will it get around to Yemen? “Yemen’s pro-democracy protests exploded into violence on Friday, as government supporters opened fire on demonstrators in this capital, killing at least 45 people and wounding more than 200. The bloodshed failed to disperse the angry throng of tens of thousands of protesters, the largest seen so far in a month of demonstrations calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. ”

First they tell us the deficit is bad. Now we know it is even worse. From CBO: “Compared with the Administration’s estimates, CBO’s estimates of the deficit under the President’s budget are lower for 2011 (by $220 billion) but higher for each year thereafter (by a total of $2.3 trillion over the 2012–2021 period). That disparity stems from differences in the underlying projections of what would happen under current law ($1.3 trillion) as well as from differing assessments of the effects of the President’s proposals ($1.0 trillion).”

For the first time support for gay marriage is over 50 percent. “A slim majority of Americans now support gay marriage, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The results underscore the nation’s increasingly tolerant views about homosexuals, and parallel a string of recent legal and legislative victories for gay rights advocates.” So why is that judges are needed to impose state constitutional rights for gays to marry? Seems like the voters are deciding.

First conservatives wanted him out, and now liberals do too. “Indiana Democrats are doing their best to ensure that Sen. Dick Lugar (R, Ind.) loses his primary challenge, suggesting that they hope the Indiana Senate race will replicate Delaware’s in the last cycle.” Apparently, Lugar’s only true fan is Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Isn’t the first lesson in politics to have a tough skin? Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s son writes a mega-defensive letter in response to Bill Kristol’s criticisms of the governor. A sample: “Come to think of it, you two may disagree on whether defense cuts are on the table. If we were staring at 15 trillion dollars of debt (not to mention 120t of unfunded liabilities), we would probably need to look at everything. Oh wait, we are!! But that’s not what this hee-haw article was about. You used it to talk about dad’s past as a lobbyist (you sabotaged him just the same on the race issue in December). Let’s get something straight. My dad lobbied for businesses. We have a president who organized against them. Take your pick. It is a shame that you don’t like my dad. I just want to know why.” Shudder.