Essential Reads

Essential Reads is your one-stop source for the top stories of the day as reported by your favorite Washington Week panelists. It's a simple way to save time and stay informed about the news you need to know. Check it out every day!

May 30, 2014

  • Critics Trash Obama’s Big Foreign Policy Address

    By Michael Crowley, TIME Magazine

    At West Point on Wednesday, President Barack Obama took his latest stab at defining a foreign policy vision he has spelled out many times before. His speech was less a grand intellectual exercise than a political gambit — meant to stanch a recent torrent of criticism about his foreign policy woes.

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  • Bush and Obama at West Point: Bookends of a Foreign Policy Era

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    Two presidents. One stage. A dozen years apart.

    One was speaking to the West Point graduating class that would be the first to go off to a kind of war this country had never fought before. In that June 1, 2002, commencement address, George W. Bush made the case that in the post 9/11 era, " If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long. ... Our security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives."

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  • Obama says sports must take concussions more seriously

    By Christi Parsons, Tribune Newspapers

    President Obama said Thursday that he may have suffered a mild concussion more than once while playing football as a child, recalling a "ringing sensation" in his head that he simply shook off.

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May 29, 2014

  • Rebutting Critics, Obama Seeks Higher Bar for Military Action

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    As President Obama listens to assessments of his foreign policy these days, he grows deeply frustrated. Syria? Ukraine? Afghanistan? What more do his critics want him to do? Get into another war? Keep fighting one that has already become America’s longest?

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  • What Obama didn't explain in his foreign policy speech at West Point

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama’s foreign policy speech at West Point on Wednesday didn’t break any new ground, not even rhetorically. But it wasn’t intended to. It was meant as a rebuttal, an answer to critics who have harried Obama for months complaining that America’s adversaries (Russia, China and Syria, for example) are pursuing their goals with more success than the United States has found in stopping them.

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  • Barack Obama still undecided on Eric Shinseki

    By Edward-Isaac Dovere and Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico

    President Barack Obama hasn’t decided to fire Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki — at least, not yet.

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  • Calls for Eric Shinseki’s resignation grow among Republicans, Democrats

    By Ed O'Keefe and Wesley Lowery, The Washington Post

    Three senior Republican lawmakers and two Democratic senators running for reelection for the first time Wednesday called on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki to resign following the release of a new report confirming allegations about wait times at a veterans facility in Phoenix, a signal that more members of both political parties are likely to follow suit in coming days.

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  • Obama delays deportation review to give immigration bill a chance

    By Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama will not make changes to the nation's deportation system for at least two months in order to give House Republican leaders more time to search for votes for an overhaul of immigration laws, administration officials said Wednesday.

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  • Drugs Can Reach Patients Faster and Cheaper, FDA Chief Says

    By Anna Edney and Alex Wayne, Bloomberg News

    A new program that lets drugmakers move more quickly through the approval process for breakthrough products may help lower the cost of life-saving treatments, the nation’s chief drug regulator said today.

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May 28, 2014

  • Obama’s Foreign Policy Speech Sounds Familiar

    By Michael Crowley, TIME Magazine

    For all the hype, President Barack Obama’s foreign policy speech at West Point on Wednesday didn’t break much new ground.

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  • Obama, at West Point, plays down military power, emphasizes diplomacy

    By Christi Parsons, Tribune Newspapers

    President Obama praised the potential of American leadership around the globe on Wednesday while laying out a new definition of that term, downplaying military might and emphasizing diplomacy, alliances and the will to “lead by example.”

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  • U.S. to reduce troop level in Afghanistan to 9,800 by year's end

    By Christi Parsons and David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama's plan to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to fewer than 10,000 by year's end seeks to balance fear that a speedier withdrawal would push Afghan forces to collapse against his desire to end more than a decade of war.

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  • Vladimir Putin, master player

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Let us now praise Vladimir Putin.

    Yes, Russia's president is a cold-hearted autocrat. And yes, he rules through a network of nasty oligarchs bent on squeezing profit from their country's oil riches. If he covets a piece of territory, he's liable to try to grab it.

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  • What Do You Look For in a President?

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    What qualities do voters want in a president? A white male Protestant lawyer of European descent from a big state has been the historical answer, but the Pew Research Center recently asked this question to get a more current view. The results were bad news for the Senate’s class of presidential hopefuls, such as Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio. Republican Party voters like governors—and just about nothing about the Washington political system in which today’s senators serve.

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  • Climate change cornerstone

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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May 27, 2014

  • Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Setting Strict I.Q. Limit for Execution

    By Peter Williams, NBC News

    The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a law used by Florida and other states that set a strict cut-off, based on IQ test scores, to determine eligibility for the death penalty.

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  • Obama will explain 'interventionist' foreign policy at West Point

    By Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    After months of running his foreign policy like a firefighter responding to alarms, President Obama is worried that Americans don't understand his overall approach and plans to launch a campaign to explain it over the coming months.

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  • Governments Await Obama’s Move on Carbon to Gauge U.S. Climate Efforts

    By Coral Davenport, The New York Times

    President Obama is expected to announce on Monday an Environmental Protection Agency regulation to cut carbon pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants, in a speech that government analysts in Beijing, Brussels and beyond will scrutinize to determine how serious the president is about fighting global warming.

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  • Campaign 2014: A fight for power. Then what?

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    What is this election about? So far it is all about power: who has it and who wants it, not necessarily what can or actually will be done with it.

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  • GOP hopes renewed probes into Benghazi, IRS will fire up conservatives and not annoy centrists

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Republican strategy for the fall elections seemed set: hammer Democrats on the health care law and "jobs, jobs, jobs."

    As Democrats show increasing confidence on those fronts, however, House Republicans are gambling that ramping up new inquiries into old controversies involving the Internal Revenue Service and Libya will energize conservative voters without turning off moderates.

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