Good Conversation

The administration talks about talking to Iran.

The Change-o-Meter is also a widget. You can add it to your blog, Web site, or profile with just a few clicks. (Shortcut for Facebook here.)Each time we publish a new column, the widget will automatically update to reflect the latest score.

Wall Street-Obama relations are looking sour, while Earth-asteroid relations are getting uncomfortably close, and official Iran-U.S. relations could recommence. All these relationships add up to a 40 on the Change-o-Meter.

According to Business Week, Wall Street has turned on the Obama administration. The magazine reports that many investors are disappointed with the administration’s performance or had inflated expectations for what the government could do to quickly mitigate the credit crisis. While the ‘Meter realizes that the administration faces a mountainous financial disaster, some of the investors’ complaints—particularly over Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s poor salesmanship of a major rescue effort in February—seem valid. The ‘Meter withholds judgment on this developing story but reserves the right to add or subtract points as Obama and the market work though some issues in their relationship.

At a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, Belgium, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposed a conference on Afghanistan at the end of March that would probably include Iran among the invitees. No word yet on whether Iran will come to the meeting, which will be convened by the United Nations, but the ‘Meter awards 10 points for a move toward a constructive dialogue with Iran, plus another five for Sen. John Kerry’s suggestion that sanctions on Syria be eased as part of an effort to engage the country in the Mideast peace process. And, hell, while it’s feeling friendly, the ‘Meter gives another 10 for NATO’s resumption of normal relations with Russia, a move the United States urged. That’s a total of 25 points for seeds of a functional foreign policy, with more to come if the wheels keep turning.

Back home, several readers alert the ‘Meter to Obama’s temporary reversal of an 11th-hour Bush administration rule that exempted federal agencies from certain Endangered Species Act provisions. In the name of the Kauai cave amphipod and the pig-footed bandicoot, the Change-o-Meter awards 15 points.

There’s a lot to cover, so we want to hear your thoughts on what the Change-o-Meter should be taking into account. No detail is too small or wonky. E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.