Riding the Swell

Obama latches onto a fourth straight day of gains in the stock market.

The Change-o-Meter is now 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.

Surf’s up for President Obama as the stock market continues to swell for the fourth consecutive day. A new strategy for beating insurgents in Afghanistan is in the pipeline, but an aide casts a pall over the administration after an FBI raid of his former office. The Change-o-Meter settles at 15.

Small signs of life on Wall Street continue to spark economic hope as stocks rose for the third straight day Thursday, with more positive signs Friday. The swell especially buoyed Obama, who is facing declining confidence in his economic plan as his once-soaring approval numbers sink. While addressing business leaders yesterday, the president continued to trumpet his long-term optimism. It’s beyond the ‘Meter’s powers of prognostication to say whether this optimism is unfounded, but it’s feeling slightly less apocalyptic about the economy today, for which it tosses Obama five points.

Meanwhile, Obama is prepping to announce a new strategy for Afghanistan, a final draft of which he and top advisers will review next week. Tentative details suggest the United States will shift efforts toward more military and financial aid to Pakistan, in hopes of directing the country away from India toward more counterinsurgency efforts, while also continuing covert efforts inside Pakistan. The ‘Meter advances 15 points for continued progress on rethinking the long conflict in the region.

As if Obama needed more trouble staffing his administration, his chief information officer, Vivek Kundra, took an indefinite leave of absence on Thursday after an FBI raid on his former D.C. government office. Law enforcement officers say Kundra isn’t involved in the case, but the out-of-office sign will hang from Kundra’s post at the Office of Management and Budget until more details are divulged. Even though Kundra’s hands appear to be clean, the raid is unquestionably bad PR for an administration billing itself as beyond ethical reproach. The ‘Meter deducts five points for continued spotty vetting.

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.