Michael Crowley

That's the word Palin used in her ABC interview to describe Obama's handling of the economy: "I would start cutting taxes and allowing our small businesses to keep more of what they are earning, more of what they are producing, more of what they own and earn so that they could start reinvesting in their businesses and expand and hire more people," Palin told Walters. "Not punishing them by forcing health care reform down their throats; by forcing an energy policy down their throats that ultimately will tax them more and cost them more to stay in business.

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Via Pakistan's Dawn, New Delhi remains irritated by talk of a brokered Kashmir settlement with Pakistan: India on Wednesday said it needs no external help to improve ties with neighbor Pakistan, in a testy response to a statement issued by the United States and China. New Delhi is sensitive to what it perceives as any outside interference in its regional diplomacy, especially over Pakistan and the fate of the disputed Kashmir region. The United States and China issued a joint statement after President Barack Obama met his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao, which included a line of support for the

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Beijing Muzak

Obama and Hillary, both equipped with an arch sense of humor, must have been stifling giggles at this: China returned the effusiveness in its music selection at a state dinner for Obama on Tuesday night. The People's Liberation Army serenaded him and other U.S. officials with "I Just Called to Say I Love You," "In the Mood" and "We Are the World," as Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sat on either side of the Chinese president over a steak dinner. What, no "Yesterday"?

Robert Gibbs has issued a statement saying the Obama White House is "dismayed" at Israel's plans to build 900 new homes beyond the Green Line in Jerusalem. Full text: We are dismayed at the Jerusalem Planning Committee’s decision to move forward on the approval process for the expansion of Gilo in Jerusalem. At a time when we are working to re-launch negotiations, these actions make it more difficult for our efforts to succeed. Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations. The U.S.

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Alex Massie with has a fun analysis: Until now Romney has been tacking towards the nationalist base. But Mitt's not very good at phoney populism and it shows. Put Palin in the race, however, and the equation changes: there's no point in Romney going after the type of voters most attracted to Palin (and, to a lesser extent, Mike Huckabee) which, mercifully for him, might spare Romney the embarrassment of trying, once again, to be something he's not.

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Could be: Obama returns from Asia on Thursday. "There is a sense" that he has made up his own mind. A source who closely follows AfPak professionally and has been right about such things in the past thinks Thursday is the day. And I know that a certain high-level military official abruptly scratched a planned overseas trip this week for reasons unstated. Hmmm....

The Washington Post editorial page--which takes a hard line on Obama's pronounced realism--thinks so: Mr. Obama didn't shrink from discussing democracy and human rights. He said "America will always speak out" for its "core principles," and nudged his Chinese audience to consider the advantages of free expression. But the president cast this fundamental difference between the United States and China as that one can be overcome by "cultivating spheres of cooperation." The notion that China would need to embrace democratic values in order to become a true American partner was missing from Mr.

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Hillary and Dikembe

Another nice bit from that Vogue piece--this one about Hillary's ill-tempered moment in the Congo a few weeks ago: One aspect of the incident that went unreported is that [retired NBA star Dikembe] Mutombo, a national hero in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who has invested millions in his country, swooped in and rescued Clinton from the long, awkward, stunned silence that followed her outburst. He defended her and put the students oh so gracefully in their place. "Madam Secretary say hope is something is in the sky," he said in his broken English.

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Speaking of Hillary, Vogue's Jonathan van Meter traveled with the secretary of state and produced an interesting profile--he has good backstory on her decision to take the job: All of these hand-wringing calculations took place in the span of a few days, and for various reasons—those mentioned above, others known only to herself—Clinton wavered daily. This seesaw effect created what was described to me as a "boys against the girls" dynamic among her advisers.

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Under the Bus

Using Greg Craig's departure as his hook, Lloyd Grove has an amusing roundup of erstwhile friends and allies--including Van Jones, Tom Daschle, and Jim Johnson--whom Obama has tossed under the bus in the past couple of years. I don't think all of them warrant inclusion: the top commander in Afghanistan, David McKiernan, doesn't really fit the mold. (That was more a Gates/Mullen/Petraeus thing, and Obama never appointed the guy to begin with.) Still, it's a fun reminder that Obama doesn't fetishize loyalty the way his predecessor did.

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