Politics In The News: Obama's Successful Week In Washington
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage was just one of many events marking an extraordinary week for the country and for President Obama. It ended on Friday with the president's moving eulogy in Charleston for a slain pastor, even as in Washington, D.C., the White House was illuminated in rainbow colors. Cokie Roberts has been mulling over what the events of the last week mean for the rest of the Obama presidency and the presidential campaign ahead, and she's on the line with us now. Good morning, Cokie.
COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Now, despite the tragedy in Charleston, it was a good week for the president and especially politically. Republicans helped him get authority to more easily negotiate trade deals. Then the Supreme Court affirmed Obama care and same-sex marriage. How does all of this affect the president's remaining time in office?
ROBERTS: Oh, well, I think that people who are close to him say that he really has a new sense of confidence, that he has found his voice on the issue of race, finally, that it's been so troubling for him. And - but that - in that eloquent eulogy in Charleston - that he really did get there and that his legacy of health care for more Americans is now protected. And so he can go forward with some momentum into these last months of his presidency. But look, Renee, there's still an awful lot of problematic issues on the table, starting right this week with an Iran nuclear deal that doesn't seem to be ready to be done by the deadline of this week. So there's a great deal still for the president to deal with, but with a sense that his presidency is not over, which some people were beginning to feel.
MONTAGNE: Well, it also seems like there's a great deal for the Republicans running to replace him to think about. How are they navigating the cultural issues that came to the floor this last week?
ROBERTS: Well, on the Confederate flag, which has been a remarkable just change, led by a Republican governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, they seem to have gotten pretty much in line on, you know, bring down that flag. But on gay marriage, they're in a pickle. They all say they disagree with the court ruling, but they're very different from each other. And right now, they're close to 16 Republicans running for president that - what they would do about it - some of them, like Ted Cruz, say you have to have a constitutional amendment, although nobody thinks such a thing would pass the Congress. Mike Huckabee, citing Martin Luther King's letter from a Birmingham jail, says you have to resist unjust laws, although it's not clear what he means by that. And then there are others, like John Kasich and Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush, who are basically saying move on from this and privately saying it's a blessing we don't have to deal with this anymore. The problem for them is the debates. The debates will push them farther and farther out there as they vie for the base of the party and push them to oppose gay marriage in the party platform; though, as Sen. Graham said in an understatement yesterday, that wouldn't be useful for the party given where the public is on the issue.
MONTAGNE: And what about Democrats? Is this all a positive for those running for president?
ROBERTS: Well, they certainly are cheering on the Obamacare decision. But on the gay marriage question, there's cheering as well, but I think it's a moment where Hillary Clinton could bring together those who believe in gay marriage and those who think it violates their religion and ask them to respect each other. But right now, she's playing to her base as well, so celebrating the decision without talking to those who are troubled by it.
MONTAGNE: Cokie, thanks much. That's Cokie Roberts.
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