Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
–Obama worked in an address to the troops and a sit-down with President Karzai in just six hours on the ground in Afghanistan. The brief weekend trip was his first to the nation as commander in chief. Michael tagged along to tell the tale.
–Reuters describes how the entire thing was done in the dark — literally and figuratively.
–In his remarks to service members at Bagram, the president emphasized that whatever partisan rancor there may be stateside, “There’s no daylight when it comes to supporting our troops. That brings us together.”
–Detention policy continues to be the most divisive issue in the Obama White House.
—Nate Silver considers what would constitute a good showing by Democrats in November; losses are more-or-less inevitable, but retaining comfortable majorities in both chambers is not out of reach.
–The political puzzle of America’s budget problems in a nutshell: Quinnipiac finds 84 percent say the middle class will have to make sacrifices to shrink the deficit, but more than 75 percent say their taxes shouldn’t be increased, and Medicare and Social security shouldn’t be pared back.
–The Latest Washington Post/ABC News poll shows a nation still split on the merits of the new health care law and only a slight bump for Obama. A few details that might frustrate the White House: The two most-used selling points on health care over the last year — “if you like the insurance you have, you can keep it” and “it will reduce the deficit” — appear not to have sunk in. Six in ten say they think the overhaul will force coverage changes across the board and 65 percent say they think the plan will increase the deficit. (Just to be clear on what the bill actually does, read here and here.) This raises an interesting question: Should Democrats talk more about bill, trying to clarify these points, or just move on and hope the results speak for themselves? Though the situation is quite different, there may be some lesson in how the stimulus has fared in public perception.
–The same poll finds a majority of Americans view Sarah Palin unfavorably. But she can still turn out a crowd. Mark Halperin was on the road with her in Phoenix, Tuscon and Searchlight over the weekend.
—The Mercury News describes Meg Whitman’s blanket advertising blitz in her bid for California governor: “Megasaurus… devouring the political landscape.” She’s spending an eye-popping $4+ per second. Here’s what it’s going to.
–Our colleague Gilbert Cruz examines student loan reform.
–And as Karen mentioned, Steele continues to rankle RNC donors.
What did I miss?