Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Peevish or Loaded for Bear - Obama Getting Tough on Critics

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Peevish or Loaded for Bear - Obama Getting Tough on Critics

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * Just as Congress is hitting something of a bipartisan stride on such issues as Medicare, Iran and trade, President Barack Obama and his White House team have decided to go after their Republican critics, picking fights and scornfully calling them out by name.

In just the past week, the president and his spokesman have targeted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Sens. John McCain and Charles Grassley, on topics from climate change to the Iran nuclear deal. On Friday, he used a news conference to deliver to senators a testy lecture about the delayed confirmation of attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch.

This is a White House unleashed, forgoing niceties for the kind of blunt talk some of Obama's allies have been demanding for some time.

But the rhetoric carries risks of sounding peevish and signals that a president who once ran on the promise of changing the tone in Washington has fully embraced its political combat.

Obama on Friday decried the long wait Lynch has faced since she was nominated in early November.

"Enough. Enough!" he said, addressing Senate Republicans. "This is embarrassing, a process like this."

Last Saturday, Obama hit McCain especially hard, after his 2008 presidential rival declared a major setback in the Iran nuclear talks after Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, demanded that sanctions against Tehran had to be lifted immediately after a deal went into place. (The preliminary deal says the sanctions will be lifted as Iran proves it is complying with limits on its nuclear program.)

Obama cast McCain's criticism as an assault on the credibility of Secretary of State John Kerry.

"That's an indication of the degree to which partisanship has crossed all boundaries," Obama said. "That's a problem. It needs to stop."

He went on: "We have Mitch McConnell trying to tell the world, 'Oh, don't have confidence in the U.S. government's abilities to fulfill any climate change pledge that we might make.'"

On Thursday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest singled out Grassley, declaring comments he made about the Lynch vote "duplicitous. …

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