In his first days on the job, President Barack Obama has acted to appease core Democratic interest groups, making good on a few campaign promises and shoring up support among key constituencies as he reaches out to Republicans on the big economic stimulus package. It's a balancing act.
While Obama's first week is generally being hailed by fellow Democrats, he's drawn some push-back from groups that don't think he's gone far enough.
And that can put him in the line of unwanted crossfire from both Republicans and disillusioned Democrats.
"He's trying to tilt left to stay in the center so he doesn't get done in by friendly fire," said Democratic pollster Doug Schoen. "Right now, I think he may be more worried about Nancy Pelosi than John Boehner." Pelosi, D-Calif., is the House speaker and Boehner, R-Ohio, the House minority leader.
"On the other hand, he's got good will. And I don't think he's made any missteps. But unless he achieves results quickly, he will be more vulnerable than anyone can imagine," said Schoen, who worked in the Clinton White House.
In his first week, Obama moved to reverse many of former President George W. Bush's most contentious policies. He pledged to close the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year, set tighter limits on CIA interrogation tactics, outlined plans to withdraw combat forces from Iraq and reversed Bush's financing restrictions on overseas abortion-help groups.
He moved to reduce fuel consumption and combat global warming, imposed strict ethics guidelines on top White House staff and appointees and halted last-minute rules and regulations put in place by his predecessor. He named special envoys for the Middle East and for Afghanistan-Pakistan. Then he went to Capitol Hill to try to sell his $825 billion stimulus plan. You'd think that would go over well with Democratic liberals. And it did for the most part.
But some anti-war activists are unhappy he isn't shuttering Guantanamo sooner or moving to pull troops out of Iraq as quickly as he seemed to suggest during his campaign. Others are chagrined that Obama kept Defense Secretary Robert Gates and that he is intensifying the war on terror — although Obama expressly doesn't call it that — in Afghanistan.
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