December 03, 2010

Article at Reuters

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Washington Extra - Bad weather and bad blood

WASHINGTON, Dec 3 (Reuters) - It was never going to be a relaxing day trip, but the presidential visit to Afghanistan had something of a jinxed quality to it. First, President Barack Obama got stranded at Bagram Air Base by high winds. He addressed the troops and met commanders but was unable to make the helicopter trip into Kabul to visit his increasingly uncomfortable ally, Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Then, the military tried to set up a secure video conference between the two men, only for technical difficulties to scupper that idea. Finally, they had to settle for a simple and apparently brief phone call. Critics may see symbolism in the failure of the American leader, at his highly fortified military encampment, to connect properly with his Afghan counterpart, so near and yet so far away in his presidential palace, a man whose distrust of Obama’s intentions and actions seems to be growing all the time.

The gulf between Obama and his fellow Democrats must also concern the president these days. Two more, largely symbolic Senate votes are expected on Saturday, forced by Dems increasingly concerned the White House is not going to back them up on tax cuts for the middle class only.

A disappointment for the president with the news that the deficit panel failed to muster the 14 votes required for its proposals to proceed to Congress, but not a disaster in that there was some bipartisan support.

Finally, amid the clouds, a burst of sunshine for Obama with the announcement that the United States and South Korea had reached a deal to save their free-trade agreement, a pact that has been years in the making. Now if only the rest of the news from the Korean peninsula was as good.

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