The Domestic Calculus

As the chorus of voices calling for a faster pullout from Afghanistan grows, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said today that domestic considerations are certainly playing into President Obama’s troop-withdrawal decision-making process. The situation on the ground matters a lot but isn’t the only concern. Gates is meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today to talk Afghan strategy, and Obama is expected to announce his Afghanistan pullout plans tomorrow.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is keeping surprisingly positive given the number of roadblocks in his path at the moment. He said today that he was certain lawmakers in Washington would come to an agreement to raise the debt ceiling: “We're going to avoid a default crisis, no doubt about that.” And he’s pretty sure that Europe can deal with its financial crisis too, if only it could get it together. He said it “would be helpful” if the EU could work on producing a “a simple, clear, unified declarative strategy.” Greece is on the brink of defaulting on its loans.

Secretary Clinton came under a bit of fire last week for choosing not to publicly come out in support of protesters pushing for Saudi women to be granted the right to drive. Turns out she didn’t keep completely quiet. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said yesterday that Clinton did bring the issue up when she met with Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Friday. According to Nuland, “In that conversation they talked about Yemen, they talked about Syria and the subject of driving did come up.”

And Jon Huntsman, former Utah governor and former Obama administration ambassador to China, made it official today: he’s going after his former boss’s job. The somewhat unknown Republican threw his hat into the presidential ring.