Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:
The President & Senate Democratic Leaders before final votes on Wall Street Reform, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 7/13/10
IN FOCUS: STATS
Obama White House tries to turn around bad poll numbers: The polls aren’t looking good for President Obama. ABC News says 51% would prefer to see a Republican Congress elected in November, as a check on Obama. A CBS News poll says only 13% of Americans say Obama’s economic plan has helped them personally…. – USA Today, 7-14-10
After 18 months of Obama, Americans already feeling fonder of Dick Cheney, less so of Al Gore: The new Gallup Poll, released overnight, shows that a near-majority of Americans now views almost-president Gore unfavorably (49%), while 44% are favorable, down 14 points since his Nobel Prize glory days of 2007. As the most recent former White House No. 2, Cheney had the most to improve in favorable ratings. And, actually, he did improve the most in the opinion of surveyed Americans.
Cheney’s robust unfavorable rating melted 11 points during the past 18 months of the Democrat duo of Obama-Biden to 52% now. While the Republican’s favorables surged from their low point of 30% all the way up to an impressive 36% now. That’s a stunning 20% improvement. LAT, 7-14-10
VP Favorable Ratings: Gore Down; Cheney, Biden Flat Americans more negative than positive toward Gore, Cheney: Americans’ current views of former Vice President Al Gore have become significantly more negative compared with three years ago, and are among the worst for him in more than a decade. The July 8-11 Gallup poll, finding 44% of Americans viewing Gore favorably and 49% unfavorably, was conducted after the announcement that he and his wife were separating, and amid a police investigation into allegations that he committed sexual assault in 2006. Gallup last measured Gore’s image in October 2007, after he was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, when 58% of Americans had a favorable view of him. All three party groups are less favorable toward Gore now compared with 2007, though his rating has declined more among Republicans (from 32% to 16%) and independents (from 57% to 43%) than among Democrats (from 79% to 72%)… – Gallop.com, 7-14-10
Poll finds Pennsylvania Senate race in dead heat: Pennsylvania’s Senate race is dead even, with Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak and Republican Pat Toomey both drawing 43% of support in a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
At this point in the race, momentum appears to be on Sestak’s side. He was down 2 percentage points in May and 8 percentage points in an April survey by Quinnipiac.
“Congressman Joe Sestak, a decided underdog who knocked off U.S. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary, has now closed an 8-point gap in the last three months to tie Pat Toomey,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement…. – USA Today, 7-14-10
Crist leads 3-way Senate race in Florida: Florida Governor Charlie Crist holds a narrow edge over Republican Marco Rubio in a three-way Senate race dominated by economic worries, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.
Crist, who left the Republican Party to run as an independent after Rubio mounted a primary challenge against him, leads Rubio 35 percent to 28 percent. Democrat Kendrick Meek trails with 17 percent less than four months before the November election for the open Senate seat.
Crist holds a similar 34 to 29 percent edge over Rubio in a three-way race against Democrat Jeff Greene, who is locked in a tough party primary fight with Meek. The Florida primary will be held August 24.
In the race to succeed Crist as governor, Republican Rick Scott leads Democrat Alex Sink by 34 percent to 31 percent. But Sink leads slightly, 31 percent to 30 percent, when matched against Republican Bill McCollum. McCollum and Scott are waging a bitter Republican primary race…. – Reuters, 7-13-10
President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Jack Lew to replace Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Peter Orszag during a statement to the press in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House July 13, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Obama enlists Bill Clinton’s aid on economy: U.S. President Barack Obama sought on Wednesday to lift sagging confidence in his economic stewardship by enlisting the help of predecessor Bill Clinton, as a leading business group issued a scathing critique of the administration’s policies… – Reuters, 7-14-10
Major banking bill faces final vote this week: President Barack Obama on Tuesday secured the 60 votes he needs in the Senate to pass a sweeping overhaul of financial regulations, all but ensuring that he soon will sign into law one of the top initiatives of his presidency. With the votes in hand to overcome Republican delaying tactics, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday took steps to end debate on the bill Thursday, setting the stage for final passage perhaps later in the day. The House already has passed the bill.
“This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses, it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he prodded the Senate to act quickly…. – AP, 7-14-10
White House Official: Recovery Act Has Created 3 Mln Jobs: The Obama administration’s stimulus push has saved or created about 3 million jobs and is on track to save an additional 500,000 by the end of the year, according to a new report by President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers…. – WSJ, 7-14-10
For Obama, more on legislative priorities: President Barack Obama is discussing legislative priorities with Democratic congressional leaders for a second day Wednesday. The president met with the Senate Democratic leadership on Tuesday. On Wednesday it’s the House Democrats’ turn. Obama is getting the meetings in before Congress takes its August break…. – AP, 7-14-10
Sarah Palin rebuts NAACP charge of Tea Party racism: Using her favored and unorthodox means of communicating with nearly 2 million followers via her Facebook page, Sarah Palin Tuesday night expressed sadness over an as yet unpublished NAACP convention resolution accusing Tea Party activists of tolerating racist elements in their midst. The former Republican governor of Alaska, who appears to be positioning herself for a possible run at the 2012 GOP presidential nomination using the disgruntled Tea Party’s concerns over expanding and fiscally irresponsible government as a major portion of her base, said:
I am saddened by the NAACP’s claim that patriotic Americans who stand up for the United States of America’s Constitutional rights are somehow “racists.” The charge that Tea Party Americans judge people by the color of their skin is false, appalling and is a regressive and diversionary tactic to change the subject at hand. – 7-14-10
As NAACP aims to stay in national debate, charge of tea party racism draws fire: One thing is clear as the NAACP gathers this week for its 101st annual meeting: The civil rights organization is intent on being seen as still relevant. Even former Alaska governor Sarah Palin sent out a Twitter message and posted a statement on her Facebook page, helping to make the NAACP convention a hot topic on conservative Web sites. She condemned the organization’s passage of a resolution denouncing what it called “racist elements” within the “tea party” movement…. – WaPo, 7-14-10
Pelosi, White House Feud Over Gibbs’ House Prediction: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the driving force behind the Obama agenda in Congress, sharply criticized White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs during a closed-door House Democratic caucus meeting late Tuesday, according to Democratic sources.
Pelosi, irked since Sunday by what she and other top Democrats considered Gibbs’ careless and dismissive comments that Democrats could lose their House majority this November, upbraided a top White House aide as she knocked Gibbs’ unwelcome handicapping of House races.
“How could he [Gibbs] know what’s going on in our districts?” Pelosi said, according to Democrats who attended the meeting. “Some may weigh his words more closely than others. We have made our disagreements known to the White House.”… – Fox News, 7-14-10
Obama To Nominate Former Clinton Official To Head OMB: President Barack Obama plans to nominate a former Clinton administration official to head the Office of Management and Budget, which is grappling with how to best reduce a $1.4 trillion deficit while the economy is on shaky ground. Obama will nominate Jacob Lew, who ran OMB from 1998 to 2001 under former President Bill Clinton… WSJ, 7-13-10
Nelson ensures 60 votes for bank regulation bill: All but clearing the way for passage of financial regulations, conservative Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska said Tuesday he will vote for the sweeping overhaul of banking. His support ensures the legislation now has 60 votes to clear the Senate and land on President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature. The House passed the bill last month.
“This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses , it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he announced his nomination of Jacob Lew to be the new director of the White House budget office…. – AP, 7-13-10
Senior Republican wins weeklong delay on Kagan: The Senate Judiciary Committee postponed scheduled action Tuesday to send Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate for confirmation, setting a panel vote for next week.
Republicans insisted on the delay, saying they needed more time to review Kagan’s written answers to questions they posed to her after her confirmation hearings, and to inquire still further into how she would behave as a justice…. – AP, 7-13-10
NAACP to vote on controversial resolution condemning ‘tea party’ supporters: Members of the NAACP will vote Tuesday on a resolution that condemns what the group calls “explicitly racist behavior” by supporters of the “tea party.” The resolution, which is expected to pass, pits the civil rights group against the conservative grass-roots movement, which has repeatedly denied allegations of racism…. – WaPo, 7-13-10
Obama looks to Bush’s worldwide strategy on AIDS: President Barack Obama is trying to bring home some of the much-lauded strategies his predecessor used to fight AIDS around the world. The national strategy for combatting HIV and AIDS the Obama administration released Tuesday credits the Bush-era international campaign against AIDS for setting clear targets and ensuring a variety of agencies and groups worked together smoothly to achieve them…. – AP, 7-13-10
US should better define, counter Islamic extremism: The Obama administration’s recent move to drop rhetorical references to Islamic radicalism is drawing fire in a new report warning the decision ignores the role religion can play in motivating terrorists. Several prominent counterterror experts are challenging the administration’s shift in its recently unveiled National Security Strategy, saying the terror threat should be defined in order to fight it. The question of how to frame the conflict against al-Qaida and other terrorists poses a knotty problem. The U.S. is trying to mend fences with Muslim communities while toughening its strikes against militant groups. In the report, scheduled to be released this week, counterterrorism experts from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy argue that the U.S. could clearly articulate the threat from radical Islamic extremists “without denigrating the Islamic religion in any way.” President Barack Obama has argued that words matter, and administration officials have said that the use of inflammatory descriptions linking Islam to the terror threat feed the enemy’s propaganda and may alienate moderate Muslims in the U.S…. – AP, 7-12-10
Congress returns from recess to even more of the same: Congress will return this week from the July 4th recess to a pile of unfinished business. Yes, the same might be said of every Congress returning from every recess since lawmakers wore wigs and tights. But this time it could be a big problem, especially for the party in power. When Barack Obama took office and the Democrats took control of Washington, they made ambitious promises about how much they’d get done, with or without Republican help. Now, with relatively few working days left before the November midterm elections (in part because lawmakers granted themselves another long break beginning at the end of July), they might not be able to convince skeptical, frustrated voters that they delivered — and that they deserve to stay in charge…. – WaPo, 7-11-10
U.S. might launch 2nd suit against Arizona immigration law, Holder says: 2nd lawsuit weighed on immigration law. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Sunday that if the federal government does not stop Arizona’s immigration law from taking effect, it might launch a second legal challenge to combat any racial profiling that occurs. The Obama administration is suing Arizona over the law, set to take effect July 29, which would make it a state crime for someone to be in the country illegally. During “lawful stops,” local law enforcement officers will be required to question people about their immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that they might be illegal immigrants. WaPo, 7-11-10
Governors: Obama’s Immigration Suit Is ‘Toxic’: Democratic governors expressed “grave” concerns to White House officials this weekend about the Obama administration’s suit against Arizona’s new immigration law, warning it could cost the party in crucial elections this fall, The New York Times reported late Sunday. The closed-door meeting took place at the National Governors Association in Boston on Saturday, according to two unnamed governors who spoke to the Times. “Universally the governors are saying, ‘We’ve got to talk about jobs, and all of a sudden we have immigration going on,’” Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a Democrat, was quoted as saying. “It is such a toxic subject, such an important time for Democrats.” The Arizona law, which is facing a U.S. Justice Department challenge, requires police to question people about their immigration status while enforcing other laws if there’s reason to suspect someone is in the country illegally….. – Fox News, 7-12-10
With votes looming, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan plays it cool: With committee and floor votes beginning this week on the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan, skeptical lawmakers could not resist the opportunity to search for a weak point that might provoke last-minute controversy. Six Republican senators submitted questions that produced 74 pages of written responses from Kagan. In ritual form, her answers — released Friday — were finely sanded to avoid any clamor. Kagan carefully hewed to the themes she struck at last month’s hearings: In cases in which she voiced opinion, she said, it was that of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she once worked…. – WaPo, 7-10-10
Obama changes VA rule to help vets get stress disorder aid: War-zone veterans will no longer have to submit specific evidence to get benefits and treatment for post-traumatic stress….- LAT, 7-11-10
PM: Israel-US alliance strong: “The alliance between Israel and the US is stable and strong. It has the support of the American administration and people,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting Sunday. Netanyahu said that he reiterated to Obama “Israel’s desire to proceed immediately to direct negotiations with the PA, with the goal being to advance the diplomatic process and try to reach a peace agreement.”… – JPost, 7-11-10
Governors avoid debate on Arizona’s immigration law: The topic’s not on their convention agenda, but it’s on everyone’s mind as demonstrators rally nearby…. – LAT, 7-11-10
No full Social Security benefits until age 70?: Young Americans might not get full Social Security retirement benefits until they reach age 70 if some trial balloons that prominent lawmakers of both parties are floating become law. No one who’s slated to receive benefits in the next decade or two is likely to be affected, but there’s a gentle, growing and unusually bipartisan push to raise the retirement age for full Social Security benefits for people born in the 1960s and after. The suggestions are being taken seriously after decades when they were politically impossible because officials – and, increasingly, their constituents – are confronting the inescapable challenge of the nation’s enormous debt…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 7-11-10
Obama turns a corner on Middle East peace: Two bits of good news emerged during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brief visit to Washington this week: First, that Netanyahu and President Barack Obama publicly reaffirmed the strength of U.S.-Israeli relations, and, second, that Netanyahu said he expects direct talks with the Palestinians to begin soon. Both items suggest a maturing of the Obama administration’s foreign policy as it relates to the Middle East, and may even portend real results soon. Israel has been participating in indirect negotiations with the Palestinians through former Sen. George Mitchell since Obama named him a special envoy last year…. – Detroit Free Press, 7-10-10
In spy swap, agents were pawns in a practiced game: In the rapid-fire spy swap, the United States and Russia worked together as only old enemies could. Less than two weeks after the FBI broke the spy ring in a counterintelligence operation cultivated for a decade, 10 Russian secret agents caught in the U.S. are back in Russia, four convicted of spying for the West have been pardoned and released by Moscow, and bilateral relations appear on track again. In describing how the swap unfolded, U.S. officials made clear that even before the arrests, Washington wanted not only to take down a spy network but to move beyond the provocative moment…. – AP, 7-10-10
U.S.-Russia spy swap is complete: The speed of the exchange has some wondering what was behind the deal…. – LAT, 7-9-10
Going Nuclear: Romney vs. Obama (and Kerry): Yesterday Mitt Romney blasted Barack Obama via a Washington Post op-ed denouncing Obama’s nuclear Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia as the president’s “worst foreign policy mistake yet.” Romney complains that the Russians “badly out-negotiated” Obama and came out with a decided strategic advantage in the treaty, including the power to walk away from the treaty if the U.S. presses too far ahead with missile defense systems. Today, John Kerry, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, hit back at Romney (also in the Post), calling his argument “baloney,” and tossing in some tart insults:
I have nothing against Massachusetts politicians running for president. But the world’s most important elected office carries responsibilities, including the duty to check your facts even if you’re in a footrace to the right against Sarah Palin. More than that, you need to understand that when it comes to nuclear danger, the nation’s security is more important than scoring cheap political points…. – Time, 7-7-10
Relief well drilling ahead of schedule: While workers keep drilling the wells, the battle over President Barack Obama’s effort to suspend deepwater drilling moves Thursday to a federal appeals court in Louisiana. Oral arguments in a case that challenged the Obama administration’s six-month ban on deepwater drilling start in the afternoon in New Orleans. An advocacy group called Alliance for Justice made a pre-emptive strike against the court on Wednesday. It released a scathing report alleging that many appeals court judges have extensive ties to the oil industry, including the three-judge panel that will preside over the drilling ban hearing. As the case proceeds, others hope the seas will be calm enough for vessels to return to cleaning up the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. CNN, 7-8-10
Department of Justice seeks injunction against Arizona immigration law: In a lawsuit filed July 6 in federal court in Arizona, the U.S. Department of Justice made good on its promise to challenge Arizona’s immigration law. Arizona law S.B. 1070, due to take effect July 29, was challenged on the basis that it unconstitutionally interferes with the federal government’s authority to set and enforce immigration policy, accoridng to a July 6 news release from the Department of Justice.
In the brief, the administration said that “the Constitution and federal law do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country,” the release said.
The Department of Justice has requested a preliminary injunction to enjoin enforcement of the law, the news release said. The department believes law’s operation will cause irreparable harm, the release said.
“Arizonans are understandably frustrated with illegal immigration, and the federal government has a responsibility to comprehensively address those concerns,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in the news release. “But diverting federal resources away from dangerous aliens such as terrorism suspects and aliens with criminal records will impact the entire country’s safety.” The Packer, 7-6-10
President Obama wants injunction to stall Arizona’s controversial new immigration law: The Obama administration sued Arizona on Tuesday to kill, or at least stall, the state’s hotly disputed new law allowing local cops to target suspected illegal immigrants. In seeking an injunction to block the law from going into effect July 29, Attorney General Eric Holder said he sympathized with Arizonans and others who are “frustrated with illegal immigration.”
But “setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility,” Holder declared, and “seeking to address the issue through a patchwork of state laws will only create more problems than it solves.” His lawsuit said it’s also flat-out unconstitutional, usurping federal power to control the borders…. – NY Daily News, 7-7-10
Obama trying carrot, not stick, on Netanyahu: Netanyahu got off easy in Washington: He left strengthened by Obama and without having to make any real concessions. Haaretz, 7-7-10
Obama Bypassing Senate for New Medicare Chief: Obama to use a recess appointment to put a new director in place for Medicare and Medicaid… – ABC News, 7-7-10
Obama Returns to Missouri, Site of Slim 2008 Loss: For some in President Obama’s White House, Missouri remains the state that got away, nearly two years after his election. Mr. Obama was the first Democrat since 1964 to win Indiana and the first since 1976 to win North Carolina. But his loss in Missouri by the narrowest of slivers (fewer than 4,000 votes) was of special disappointment. After all, the state has sided with the winner of the presidential race in nearly every election in the past century. Who would wish to be remembered for breaking that sort of trend? Now, even as President Obama juggles a barrage of dire matters, relatively calm Missouri seems to continue to carry some particular attention for the White House. This week, Mr. Obama will be in the state again, raising money in a competitive Senate campaign in a challenging political season for Democrats…. – NYT, 7-6-10
ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….
Outsider Wins Alabama GOP Gov Nomination: Self-described outsider Robert Bentley won Alabama’s Republican nomination for governor Tuesday night over establishment candidate Bradley Byrne with a strong showing in rural areas.
In the unofficial count, Bentley had 56 percent of the vote to Byrne’s 44 percent with 83 percent of the precincts reporting. Bryne ran strong in the state’s four big counties, but Bentley outperformed Byrne in small counties, including areas where Tim James and Roy Moore did well when they ran third and fourth in the June 1 Republican primary…. – AP, 7-14-10
GOP candidate Angle rallies GOP against Reid: U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle on Friday denounced Majority Leader Harry Reid as a “desperate man” who was distorting her conservative record while ignoring a state that leads the nation in joblessness, foreclosures and bankruptcies. A day after President Barack Obama delivered a mocking indictment of her candidacy at a rally in Las Vegas, Angle accused the president and Reid of pushing billions of dollars in stimulus spending while Nevada struggles with “an economy that is a disaster.”… – AP, 7-10-10
Democrats digging harder than ever for dirt on Republicans: The Democratic Party is moving faster and more aggressively than in previous election years to dig up unflattering details about Republican challengers. In House races from New Jersey to Ohio to California, Democratic operatives are seizing on evidence of GOP candidates’ unpaid income taxes, property tax breaks and ties to financial firms that received taxpayer bailout money…. – WaPo, 7-6-10
Once a withdrawn teen, SC man now takes on senator: Alvin Greene earned the nickname “turtle” in high school — a quiet, withdrawn boy who was smart when he applied himself but rarely took a chance and tried to put himself in comfortable situations. Nearly four weeks ago, the 32-year-old unemployed military veteran turned South Carolina’s political scene upside down when he won the Democratic nomination for a U.S. Senate seat. And unlike that high school student, he’s taking a big chance: running against powerhouse Republican Sen. Jim DeMint…. – AP, 7-6-10
Poll: Meg Whitman, Jerry Brown in virtual tie: California’s race for governor is a dead heat, as Republican Meg Whitman’s massive advertising blitz coupled with Democrat Jerry Brown’s lo-fi campaign have raised doubts about Brown and cut his lead among Latino voters and other key Democratic constituencies, a Field Poll released today shows.
Brown leads Whitman 44 to 43 percent in the poll, with 13 percent undecided, according to Field’s survey of 1,005 likely voters. The poll, conducted June 22 to July 5, has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.
But billionaire Whitman’s relentless advertising campaign has helped sour voters’ views of Brown, with 40 percent holding an unfavorable opinion of him – up from 25 percent in March 2009. Still, 42 percent view him favorably…. – SF Chronicle, 7-6-10
Feingold faces unexpectedly tough race: Add Russ Feingold to the list of Senate Democrats who find themselves in unexpectedly tough races, the latest evidence of the GOP’s success in widening the playing field that President Barack Obama’s party has to defend.
The Wisconsin Democrat faces a wealthy political newcomer with early backing from tea party activists in a state that has many independent voters and is known for doing its own thing. Likely GOP nominee Ron Johnson is running an outsider’s campaign in a year that seems to favor outsiders…. – AP, 7-6-10
McCain’s Immigration Shift: ‘Many’ Should Be Sent Back: A lot has changed since 2007, when John McCain was the #1 immigration compromiser in the U.S. Senate, leading the way with a large, bipartisan bill that would have given illegal immigrants an opportunity to become U.S. citizens while beefing up border security….
Now, McCain finds himself in a different political situation, and so does the immigration issue. McCain lost the 2008 election, during which he was sharply criticized as an immigration liberal by his GOP primary rivals, and he’s facing a primary challenge from Tea-Party-style candidate J.D. Hayworth. As a national issue, immigration has heated up after Arizona passed its new law and as a drug war has raged in Mexico…. – The Atlantic, 7-6-10
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 7/9/10
Wall Street Reform: Final Votes Approach: Remarks by the President in Selection of Jack Lew to be Director of OMB: Before I begin, I just want to note a breakthrough that we’ve had on our efforts to pass the most comprehensive reform of Wall Street since the Great Depression. Three Republican senators have put politics and partisanship aside to support this reform, and I’m grateful for their decision, as well as all the Democrats who’ve worked so hard to make this reform a reality, particularly Chairman Dodd and Chairman Barney Frank.
What members of both parties realize is that we can’t allow a financial crisis like this one that we just went through to happen again. This reform will prevent that from happening. It will prevent a financial crisis like this from happening again, by protecting consumers against the unfair practices of credit card companies and mortgage lenders. It will ensure that taxpayers are never again on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes. And it will end an era of irresponsibility that led to the loss of 8 million jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth.
Now, as we finish our work on Wall Street reform, we’re also mindful that we’ve got significant work to do when it comes to reforming our government and reducing our deficit.
This reform is good for families. It’s good for businesses. It’s good for the entire economy. And I urge the Senate to act quickly so that I can sign it into law next week….. – WH, 7-13-10
President Obama & President Fernandez Meet on Trade, Drug-Trafficking, and Haiti – WH, 7-12-10
Weekly Address: President Obama Announces Changes to Help Veterans with PTSD Receive the Benefits They Need
Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address July 10, 2010 …Today, we’ve made it clear up and down the chain of command that folks should seek help if they need it. In fact, we’ve expanded mental health counseling and services for our vets.
But for years, many veterans with PTSD who have tried to seek benefits – veterans of today’s wars and earlier wars – have often found themselves stymied. They’ve been required to produce evidence proving that a specific event caused their PTSD. And that practice has kept the vast majority of those with PTSD who served in non-combat roles, but who still waged war, from getting the care they need.
Well, I don’t think our troops on the battlefield should have to take notes to keep for a claims application. And I’ve met enough veterans to know that you don’t have to engage in a firefight to endure the trauma of war.
So we’re changing the way things are done.
On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs, led by Secretary Ric Shinseki, will begin making it easier for a veteran with PTSD to get the benefits he or she needs.
This is a long-overdue step that will help veterans not just of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, but generations of their brave predecessors who proudly served and sacrificed in all our wars.
It’s a step that proves America will always be here for our veterans, just as they’ve been there for us. We won’t let them down. We take care of our own. And as long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, that’s what we’re going to keep doing. WH, 7-10-10
Treasury Secretary Geithner on Wall Street Reform: “All Americans Have a Stake in Reforms”: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared on PBS NewsHour last night to discuss, among other items, the financial reform bill that is awaiting final passage by the Senate when they return from recess next week. In his conversation with NewsHour host Jim Lehrer, Secretary Geithner expressed confidence that the Congress will soon deliver a strong bill to President Obama’s desk… – WH, 7-7-10
Obama thanks Europe for renewing anti-terrorist financing program: The United States welcomes today’s decision by the European Parliament to join the Council and Commission of the European Union in approving a revised agreement between the United States and the European Union on the processing and transfer of financial messaging data for the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP). We look forward to the Council’s completion of the process, allowing the agreement to enter into force on August 1, 2010, thus fully restoring this important counterterrorism tool and resuming the sharing of investigative data that has been suspended since January 2010. The threat of terrorism faced by the United States and the European Union continues and, with this agreement, all of our citizens will be safer.
The TFTP has provided critical investigative leads — more than 1,550 to EU Member States — since its creation after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. These leads have aided countries around the world in preventing or investigating many of the past decade’s most visible and violent terrorist attacks and attempted attacks, including Bali (2002), Madrid (2004), London (2005), the liquids bomb plot against transatlantic aircraft (2006), New York’s John F. Kennedy airport (2007), Germany (2007), Mumbai (2008), and Jakarta (2009).
This new, legally binding agreement reflects significant additional data privacy safeguards but still retains the effectiveness and integrity of this indispensable counterterrorism program.
Protecting privacy and civil liberties is a top priority of the Obama Administration. We are determined to protect citizens of all nations while also upholding fundamental rights, using every legitimate tool available to combat terrorism that is consistent with our laws and principles. – USA Today, 7-8-10
HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS
Allan Lichtman: Scholar’s “13 Keys” Predict Another Obama Win: Although the next presidential election is 28 months away, President Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012 is nearly guaranteed despite former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s prediction that Obama has only a 20 percent chance, according to American University Professor Allan Lichtman. Lichtman’s “13 Keys” system predicts the outcome of the popular vote based on the performance of the party and not the use of candidate preference polls, campaign tactics, or events…. – American University, 7-14-10
Julian E. Zelizer: Sarah Palin likes government too: During a speech at an event called “Freedom Fest,” former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin warned Tea Party activists that while government spending was a bad thing, conservatives should not go too far and start calling for reductions in the military budget.
While Palin told the crowd in Norfolk, Virginia, “Something has to be done urgently to stop the out-of-control Obama-Reid-Pelosi spending machine,” she also told them, “We must make sure, however, that we do nothing to undermine the effectiveness of our military.”
Palin’s speech touched on a historic problem for the conservative movement. Ever since conservatives embraced a hawkish stance toward national security policy in the early Cold War in the late 1940s and started to challenge Democrats for not being tough enough, national security has always been the poison pill for anti-government conservatism.
Despite all their rhetoric about the dangers of government intervention and the virtues of private markets, conservatives have rather consistently supported an expansion of the government when it comes to national security….
But when it comes to Republicans, Palin’s recent comments at the conservative rally show why voters should take right-wing arguments about the dangers of government with a grain of salt. While conservative activists like to talk about a choice between big government and small government, the real debate is over what kinds of government we must have, what our priorities should be, and where our federal money should be directed…. – CNN, 7-12-10
The Bush Tax Cuts and the Deficit Myth: Runaway government spending, not declining tax revenues, is the reason the U.S. faces dramatic budget shortfalls for years to come…. – WSJ, 7-14-10
Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton “Bringing down the House? Why is the White House warning of a Republican takeover of Congress?”: If the White House starts to talk about the other party gaining control of Congress or about how terrible midterms usually are, then they are trying to manage expectations. The White House has depended on the Democratic House to move its legislative agenda. Having votes on Capitol Hill is better than a foil and the perception of weakness…. – Politico, 7-12-10
Gil Troy: Obama’s ‘we’ philosophy collides with capitalism’s ‘me’: Business leaders accuse President of using failures of a few to justify expansion of government regulatory authority…
For McGill University political historian Gil Troy, Mr. Obama’s attacks on business put him well within a presidential tradition that goes back at least as far as Andrew Jackson in the 1830s. But they also betray his particular world view and a career spent entirely outside the private sector.
“Not only does Barack Obama lack corporate experience, but his defining experiences were as a community organizer, public interest lawyer and law lecturer,” Prof. Troy said in an interview. “That puts him ideologically, structurally and professionally in opposition to business.”
Mr. Obama, Mr. Troy continued, is “trying to convince Americans of the efficacy of government. He’s enough of a [Ronald] Reagan baby to know that is not necessarily the easiest sell to make. So, if [the economic crisis] is not a God-given opportunity, it’s at least a Goldman Sachs-given opportunity to make that sell.”… – Globe & Mail, 7-9-10
Republicans should embrace Paul Ryan’s Road Map: For now, the road map has a relatively small but growing cheering section. A dozen House members have endorsed it. Sen. Jim DeMint praised it in his book “Saving Freedom.” Jeb Bush likes it. On CNN last week, economic historian Niall Ferguson called Ryan “a serious thinker on the Republican right who’s prepared to grapple with these issues of fiscal sustainability and come up with a plan.”… – Washington Examiner, 7-11-10
Kennedy’s clout could grow on high court: David Garrow, a Cambridge University historian who has written about the court, said the 74-year-old Kennedy already writes a disproportionate share of the court’s big decisions and will have even more chances to do so now because he can assign opinions to himself…. – AP, 7-11-10
Julian Zelizer: Senate bill to repeal health reform lacks backing from Republican leaders: “Unified party positions are better than divided party positions,” Julian Zelizer, a congressional expert at Princeton University, said in an e-mail. “When the GOP is not all on board with legislation,” he added, Democrats can argue “Republicans calling for repeal are on the wrong track.”
“Equally important, in an age of party unity, when divisions like this emerge it suggests [what] pollsters are saying: there is support for the healthcare bill in red America,” he said. The Hill, 7-5-10
President Barack Obama talks with President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic following their meeting in the Oval Office July 12, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Majority of Americans say President Obama doesn’t deserve 2nd term: poll: President Obama’s new jobs plan may include finding one, a new survey suggests. A majority of Americans think Obama should be a one-term president, the CNN / Opinion Research Corp. poll says, with 52% saying he is undeserving of a second term in office. 44% of respondents answered that Obama deserves reelection, with 4% saying they had no opinion…. – NY Daily News, 2-17-10
Congress poll is Capitol hell Voters’ support for incumbents hits historic low: Just when you thought Congress couldn’t reach a new low, it did. Only a third of US voters think their Congress members have earned the right to get sent back next year — a record-low number, a poll released yesterday shows. Thirty-four percent of voters queried think members of the House and the Senate ought to be re-elected — while an astonishing 63 percent were in favor of throwing the bums out, the new CNN poll showed….. – NY Post, 2-17-10
Obama plan would curb health insurers on rate hikes: The proposal would give the Health and Human Services secretary power to block premium increases deemed excessive…. – LAT, 2-21-10
White House adjusts strategy on Republicans: The Obama administration aims to put members of the GOP on the spot, forcing them to compromise on issues or be portrayed as obstructionists…. – LAT, 2-20-10
Michelle Obama thinks doubts about her have eased: Michelle Obama wears blinders, of sorts. That helps her to see the real America. As the first lady put it in an interview Saturday, the people she’s met and the causes she’s taken up have put her in touch with a side of the country far removed from the tempest of attack politics and nasty commentary, which she tries her best to shut out. “Most of America isn’t like that and they’re tired of that,” she said. “You know, they want folks to get stuff done. The beauty of my job is that I get to see more of that America. And that feeds me.”… – AP, 2-20-10
Conservatives Help Fuel Primary Challenges to Some Republicans: Before the activists at this week’s Conservative Action Political Conference battle Democratic candidates in the fall election, they’re first helping challenge some Republican officeholders. Insurgents such as former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, former Representative J.D. Hayworth of Arizona and Utah lawyer Mike Lee — all running against well-established Republicans in party primaries — have found receptive audiences among those attending the annual gathering sponsored by the American Conservative Union in Washington. “I’d rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate who believe in the principles of freedom than 60 who don’t believe in anything,” Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina told the conference. “I believe in holding incumbent Republican senators accountable.”… – Bloomberg
On Reid turf, Obama plugs his agenda: Days before hosting a potentially intensive health care summit with Republicans and Democrats, President Obama made a fervent push yesterday for his overhaul, calling it critical not just for the millions without insurance but also for the entire country’s economic well-being. “It is vital for our economy to change how health care works in this country,” Obama said at a town hall meeting in a high school gym. “Don’t let the American people go another year, another 10 years, another 20 years without health insurance reform in this country.”… – Boston Globe, 2-20-10
Obama sets record straight: ‘I love Vegas’: President Barack Obama is setting the record straight – he loves Las Vegas. And Las Vegas was glad to hear it. Obama had irked Nevada officials by using Las Vegas as an example of how people should not spend irresponsibly in tough times. But during an overnight visit to the city, Obama made it clear he meant no harm. “I love Vegas,” Obama told an audience of 650 business and tourism leaders Friday at a resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip…. – AP, 2-19-10
Obama to Offer Health Bill to Ease Impasse as Bipartisan Meeting Approaches: President Obama will put forward comprehensive health care legislation intended to bridge differences between Senate and House Democrats ahead of a summit meeting with Republicans next week, senior administration officials and Congressional aides said Thursday. Democratic officials said the president’s proposal was being written so that it could be attached to a budget bill as a way of averting a Republican filibuster in the Senate. The procedure, known as budget reconciliation, would let Democrats advance the bill with a simple majority rather than a 60-vote supermajority. Congressional Democrats, however, have not yet seen the proposal or signed on…. – NYT, 2-19-10
How the GOP Sees It What Republicans would do if given carte blanche to run the country: “We’ve offered to work with the president all year. We’ve been shut out, shut out, and shut out.” —House GOP leader John Boehner Such is the lament of the party out of power in Washington. Republicans on Capitol Hill say they have many good ideas and want to join with President Obama and the Democrats to alleviate the country’s problems. They want to collaborate on a health-care bill, a jobs bill, a clean-energy bill. But they can’t, because the Democrats—intent on pushing through a radical agenda that is out of touch with real Americans—won’t listen to them. Republicans want to help the president succeed, but he won’t let them. This isn’t true, of course—any more than it was true when the Democrats said the same thing as they dedicated themselves to thwarting George W. Bush. In zero-sum Washington, members of the opposition party have little incentive to help the president, especially if it means the credit for their actions could accrue to him and not them. If politics is the art of compromise, then politics as practiced in the capital is the art of preventing compromise at all costs. This is why, infuriatingly, our elected officials spend so much time plotting ways to stick it to the other side with “filibuster-proof super-majorities” and “nuclear options,” while the unemployment rate hovers in the double digits and 46 million Americans go without health insurance. It is why not a single GOP senator voted for the health-care bill now stalled in Congress, and why Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell turned against a GOP-inspired plan for a deficit commission once Obama endorsed the idea…. – Newsweek, 3-1-10
Obama tries to rally his party in Colorado visit: At a fundraiser for Sen. Michael Bennet, the president has tough words for Republicans. He’ll next take his message to Nevada to help out another embattled Democratic senator: Harry Reid.
“A lot of these guys when it comes to the ribbon-cuttings for the projects, they show up,” Obama told a packed concert hall. “They’re holding up those big checks: ‘Look what I did for you!’ “I’m not going to give ‘em hell,” the president continued. “I’m going to tell the truth and they’ll think it’s hell. That’s what Harry Truman said.”… – LAT, 2-18-10
Romney courts the right with jabs at Obama Crowd reserves fervor for new faces: Sounding like a potential rival for President Obama in 2012, Mitt Romney delivered a brutal critique yesterday of what he called American liberal “neo-monarchists” as he sought the favor of traditional conservatives and insurgent tea party activists at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. While Romney received several standing ovations in the packed ballroom, his reception did not have the same feverish enthusiasm awarded to such new faces as Marco Rubio, a conservative US Senate candidate from Florida, and Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, who, in a surprise appearance, introduced Romney.,… – Boston Globe, 2-19-10
GOP leaders agree to panel on federal deficit: With the national debt soaring, Republican leaders reluctantly consented Thursday to join Democrats on a bipartisan commission to address the government’s budget problems. But they continued to reject any solution that involves higher taxes, and analysts in both parties said the effort faces a dauntingly poisoned political atmosphere…. – WaPo, 2-18-10
Energized conservatives pound on Democrats at CPAC: A newly muscular “tea party” movement dominated an old-line conservative conclave Thursday, depicting Democrats as destroying America’s freedoms and warning Republicans not to take their support for granted. President Obama and congressional Democrats “are using this downturn as cover, not to fix America but to try to change America, to fundamentally re-define the role of government in our lives and the role of America in the world,” Marco Rubio said in the opening address at the annual Conservative Policy Action Conference (CPAC). The rising conservative star, who is seeking the GOP Senate nomination in Florida, said, “The good news is it didn’t take long for the American people to figure this out.”… – USA Today, 2-18-10
Dick Cheney’s bold proclamation: Barack Obama’s ‘a one-term president’: Former Vice President Dick Cheney made a surprise appearance this afternoon at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference gathering in Washington after a speech by his daughter, Liz Cheney. And a surprise proclamation. He was greeted by cheers and chants of “Run, Cheney, Run!” To which Cheney responded: “A welcome like that almost makes me want to run for office — but I am not going to do it.”… – LAT, 2-18-10
GOP sees possible upside in health care summit: Congressional Republicans see a chance for political gain in President Barack Obama’s televised health care summit next week, even though the president will be running the show. Obama and the Democrats are certain to highlight a crucial element of their health care plan — extending coverage to more than 30 million Americans — at the one-of-a-kind event. By comparison, a Republican plan would only help 3 million more. But during a time of ballooning deficits, the GOP figures reining in rising medical costs — not coverage — could resonate with voters in an election year…. – AP, 2-18-10
Obama says stimulus bill averted deeper economic crisis A year later, he repudiates GOP criticism: President Obama hailed the success of his much-debated $787 billion stimulus legislation yesterday, saying the one-year-old program has created or saved 2 million jobs and helped prevent a second Great Depression.
“No large expenditure is ever that popular, particularly at a time when we are also facing a massive deficit,” the president said. “Our work is far from over, but we have rescued this economy from the worst of this crisis. The American people are rebuilding a better future. We will continue to support their efforts.”
And he made fun of GOP lawmakers who he said were unsure whether to clap last month when, during his State of the Union speech, Obama recounted the tax cuts in the act. “They were all kind of squirming in their seats,” he said…. – Boston Globe, 2-17-10
Second Tea Party Convention Planned for Vegas in July: Fresh off a convention just a few weeks ago, Tea Party organizers on Wednesday announced another national convention, and this time they’re going to invade Las Vegas from July 15-17 with their message of lower taxes and smaller government…. – Fox News, 2-17-10
Stimulus funds going to slashed programs: More than $3.5 billion in economic stimulus funds are going to programs that President Obama wants to eliminate or trim in his new budget. The president’s budget released this month recommends getting rid of Army Corps of Engineers’ drinking-water projects, which got $200 million in stimulus funds, and a U.S. Department of Agriculture flood-prevention program, which received $290 million from the stimulus, a USA TODAY review of stimulus spending reports show…. – USA Today, 2-17-10
Obama pledges $8 billion for new nuclear reactors: The move represents a new federal commitment to the low-carbon-emitting, but highly controversial, sector long championed by Republicans. Environmentalists voice concern…. – LAT, 2-16-10
ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….
Illinois Republicans see unique chance for victory: The last decade was lousy for Illinois Republicans. They lost a Senate seat, their party’s last governor went to prison and they were shut out of every statewide office. But the recent surprise win by Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race and a string of setbacks for Illinois Democrats have Republicans giddy about their chances to claim the next big election prizes: President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat and ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s old job. Republicans have reason to feel confident. This year’s races are likely to be fought against the backdrop of Blagojevich’s corruption trial — a point Republicans are sure to belabor — and Illinois’ finances are in shambles, with the state deficit likely to reach $13 billion this year…. – AP, 2-17-10
Elections’ Stakes: Control of Senate Retirements, Voter Ire Make GOP Majority a Possibility: Lawmakers in both parties are contemplating for the first time the possibility that the Republicans might recapture the Senate this year, though it’s an uphill climb in which the GOP would have to win states that have recently been inhospitable to the party. Republicans’ prospects are surging, driven by an electorate deeply dissatisfied with Washington, the economy and incumbents. And the surprise retirement announcement from Sen. Evan Bayh (D., Ind.) Monday on the heels of a host of other bad news for Democrats is prompting party leaders to take a fresh look at the Senate landscape. Because Democrats hold a 59-41 voting majority in the Senate, Republicans would have to gain 10 new seats and retain all of their own to gain control…. – WSJ, 2-16-10
Powell: We Are Not Less Safe Under Obama Disputes Critics’ Charges That Current Admin’s Actions Compromise National Security, But Says U.S. “Still at Risk”: Claims that the United States is less safe under President Obama are not credible, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said on “Face the Nation” Sunday.
“The point is made, ‘We don’t waterboard anymore or use extreme interrogation techniques.’ Most of those extreme interrogation techniques and waterboarding were done away with in the Bush administration,” Powell said. “They’ve been made officially done away with in this current administration.”
“The Transportation Security Administration created by George Bush is still in action working in our airports; they take care of me every day that I go to an airport,” Powell told moderator Bob Schieffer.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was also created under President Bush, “and it is still under President Obama working hard,” he said. “Our counterterrorism authorities and forces are hard at work. Our law enforcement officials are hard at work. We have gone after the enemy in Afghanistan with 50,000 more troops, more predators are striking al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in Pakistan. We have continued the policies that President Bush put in place with respect to Iraq.
“The bottom line answer is the nation is still at risk. Terrorists are out there. They’re trying to get through. But to suggest that somehow we have become much less safer because of the actions of the administration, I don’t think that’s borne out by the facts,” Powell said. CBS, 2-21-10
Weekly Address: President Obama Says it is Time to Move Forward on Health Care Reform Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address February 20, 2010:
And as bad as things are today, they’ll only get worse if we fail to act. We’ll see more and more Americans go without the coverage they need. We’ll see exploding premiums and out-of-pocket costs burn through more and more family budgets. We’ll see more and more small businesses scale back benefits, drop coverage, or close down because they can’t keep up with rising rates. And in time, we’ll see these skyrocketing health care costs become the single largest driver of our federal deficits.
That’s what the future is on track to look like. But it’s not what the future has to look like. The question, then, is whether we will do what it takes, all of us – Democrats and Republicans – to build a better future for ourselves, our children, and our country.
That’s why, next week, I am inviting members of both parties to take part in a bipartisan health care meeting, and I hope they come in a spirit of good faith. I don’t want to see this meeting turn into political theater, with each side simply reciting talking points and trying to score political points. Instead, I ask members of both parties to seek common ground in an effort to solve a problem that’s been with us for generations…. – WH, 2-20-10
HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS
Historians say that Obama’s chance to be next FDR or Reagan fading fast: “He’s tried, but to this point, he’s failed,” said George Edwards, a scholar of the presidency at Texas A&M University. “He got things done, but they’re not the historic things that are transformational.”…
“I wouldn’t call it transformative because it’s short-term,” said Edwards. “It’s ephemeral and it’s designed to be ephemeral. And, there’s no support for doing it again.”… – McClatchy Newspapers (2-16-10)
Historians say that Obama’s chance to be next FDR or Reagan fading fast: “If he doesn’t get significant health care reform, it’s going to be very difficult to accomplish much domestically in the remaining three years of his term,” said Richard Shenkman, an historian at George Mason University in Virginia.
“He’ll have the Carter problem. Members of Congress will have taken very hard votes on this, and if there’s no payoff, they’re going to look out for themselves and abandon him and his leadership.”
Said Shenkman: “If I were making bets at this point, aside from his election, I would very much doubt that he’s going to be much of a transformative figure.”…. – McClatchy Newspapers (2-16-10)
Julian Zelizer: Obama can model Ike in fighting off GOP hawks: …When Obama campaigned, he emphasized the importance of diplomacy and multilateralism — working through international alliances and institutions — as well as the need to re-establish stronger respect for civil liberties in counterterrorism policy.
He has also called for more investment in domestic programs to prevent bioterrorism and to improve intelligence officials’ foreign language skills, particularly in Arabic. Unless he has drastically changed his positions, there is a path for sticking with his principles. As a model, President Obama could turn to a Republican predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower, who served in the White House from 1953 to 1961. Nicknamed Ike, he remains one of the most popular presidents in American history…. – CNN, 2-16-10
Obama as campaigner in chief: Will his record improve?: On the road in Colorado and Nevada, Obama looks to boost embattled Democrats after similar bids failed in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts. “He has to pick his spots,” says Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “He can’t afford that many campaigns where he’s not seen as having clout, because that just resonates toward the Republicans.”…. – CS Monitor, 2-20-10
Obama and Reid forge bond beyond politics as usual: Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University professor who writes about U.S. politics, sees a bleak landscape ahead. “The honeymoon is over, and it is possible the divorce is about to begin,” Zelizer said. “This has been an incredibly strained relationship. In general, there is a perception that the Senate has not delivered. President Obama has proposed, the House has passed and the Senate has stalled.” – Las Vegas Sun, 2-18-10
President Barack Obama signs a memorandum on childhood obesity in the Oval Office. From left are, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar February 9, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha
IN FOCUS: STATS
Partisan tensions continue to escalate: Poll shows that 93% of Americans thinks there is too much fighting between the parties, but a memo by Democrats seeking to increase political heat on GOP isn’t in line with president’s pleas…. – LAT, 2-15-10
Poll finds most Americans are unhappy with government: Two-thirds of Americans are “dissatisfied” or downright “angry” about the way the federal government is working, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. On average, the public estimates that 53 cents of every tax dollar they send to Washington is “wasted.” – WaPo, 2-10-10
Poll finds most Americans are unhappy with government: Although Palin is a tea party favorite, her potential as a presidential hopeful takes a severe hit in the survey. Fifty-five percent of Americans have unfavorable views of her, while the percentage holding favorable views has dipped to 37, a new low in Post-ABC polling.
There is a growing sense that the former Alaska governor is not qualified to serve as president, with more than seven in 10 Americans now saying she is unqualified, up from 60 percent in a November survey. Even among Republicans, a majority now say Palin lacks the qualifications necessary for the White House.
Palin has lost ground among conservative Republicans, who would be crucial to her hopes if she seeks the party’s presidential nomination in 2012. Forty-five percent of conservatives now consider her as qualified for the presidency, down sharply from 66 percent who said so last fall… – WaPo, 2-10-10
Voters Divided Over Obama vs. Republican Candidate in 2012 Republicans most often mention Romney, Palin as preferred candidate: These results are based on a Feb. 1-3 Gallup poll. Forty-four percent of U.S. registered voters say they are more likely to vote for Obama, 42% for the Republican candidate, and the remaining 14% are undecided or would vote for another candidate…. – Gallop, 2-11-10
Obama’s rating plunges underwater for first time in new poll as just 44% give him their approval: Just 44% of the country approve of the work Obama is doing, while 47% don’t like what they see.
The tough reviews come as Americans still find the commander in chief likable, with 50% rating him favorably, and 44% viewing him negatively…. – NY Daily News, 2-8-10
Senate Woes Flag Wider Disease: On this much, just about everybody agrees: The U.S. Senate isn’t well….
The common explanation for why the Senate doesn’t work better is that 60 has become the new 50. That is, it takes 60 votes, rather than a simple majority of 50 plus one, to break the nonstop debate of a filibuster and move to a vote on a bill. And it’s now become virtually routine for the Senate’s minority party—the Republicans today—to stop any meaningful legislation by threatening a filibuster…. – WSJ, 2-15-10
Joe The Plumber McCain and Tea Party Movement: Republican Sen. John McCain gets thrown under the bus by Joe The Plumber. Sam Wurzelbacher joins conservative Tea Party movement. Barack Obama on business taxes…. – News OXY, 2-16-10
Palin plays politician around Daytona 500: Sarah Palin took a break from the snow and played politician on stock car racing’s biggest stage. Pretty important place on the political landscape, too. The former vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor sped around Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, shaking hands and taking photos with drivers and fans alike before what she called the “all-Americana event.” Palin said she was “having fun and not thinking about the politics of this,” but didn’t miss the chance to energize her base in one of the most critical regions of the largest swing state. “This is awesome,” she said. “It’s all-Americana event. Good, patriotic, wonderful event that’s bringing a whole lot of people together. I think this is good for our country.”… – AP, 2-14-10
Cheney criticizes Obama on national security policy, and Biden fires back: Vice President Biden and his predecessor, Richard B. Cheney, engaged in a virtual debate Sunday that highlighted how little progress has been made over the past year — and across consecutive administrations — in resolving the central national security questions raised by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and their aftermath…. – WaPo, 2-14-10
Republican strategy: Filibuster everything, win in November: The Senate voted 60-39 Saturday to clear the way for consideration of historic legislation to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system, but reluctant Democratic moderates sent strong signals that the bill has an uncertain future. Senate Republicans are using the filibuster to limit and often derail Democrats’ initiatives, paralyzing the Senate and making it nearly impossible to accomplish even the most routine matters. The filibuster strategy “makes the Senate dysfunctional,” said Mark Strand, the president of the Congressional Institute, a nonpartisan research group. That, in turn, blocks the Obama administration’s agenda, but it also sours public opinion on Washington, with polls showing clear public disdain for Congress in particular. Republicans think voters will reward them for that in November. However disruptive it is to governance, their extensive use of the filibuster – extended debate to block a decisive vote – could prove to be a valuable campaign asset this fall. Democrats used similar tactics in 2006 and won enough seats to gain a Senate majority. Now Republicans hope it’s their turn. McClatchy Newspapers, 2-14-10
Failure of health care overhaul will add more woes: What could be worse than health care overhaul? No health care overhaul. It’s anybody’s guess whether President Barack Obama’s health remake will survive in Congress. But there’s no doubting the consequences if lawmakers fail to address the problems of costs, coverage and quality: surging insurance premiums, more working families without coverage, bigger out-of-pocket bills, a Medicare prescription gap that grows wider and deeper, and government programs that pay when people get sick but do little to keep them healthy…. – AP, 2-13-10
Obama names U.S. envoy to Islamic Conference: President Obama announced Saturday the appointment of Rashad Hussain, a White House lawyer, to be his special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference…. – WaPo, 2-14-10
Cheney keeps firing, and critics fire back: Former Vice President Cheney will appear on ABC’s “This Week” today, and it’s a safe bet what he will say: President Barack Obama projects weakness to terrorists and puts American lives at risk. It’s the kind of brutal charge — nuance-free and politically explosive — that has become a Cheney specialty since he left office 13 months ago. Cheney’s broadsides on Afghanistan policy, detention and surveillance policies and Obama’s general philosophy about the U.S. role in a dangerous world inevitably dominate the news. No other figure in Republican politics has equal ability to drive debate on national security, rally Obama critics and force the administration to respond. Vice President Joe Biden will be countering Cheney today on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS’s “Face the Nation.”… – Politico, 2-13-10
Michelle Obama “Let’s Move” Campaign and Childhood Obesity Rates: Michelle Obama “Let’s Move” campaign and childhood obesity rates. First Lady Michelle Obama is pushing the “Let’s move” campaign in order to fight childhood obesity. For the first time since in history, the life expectancy of our children could be less than our own life expectancies…. – CNM News Network, 2-14-10
McCain: Palin reading from hand no different than using teleprompter: Senator John McCain on Friday defended Sarah Palin’s use of her hand to help her remember some key points at last week’s Tea Party convention…. – CS Monitor, 2-12-10
Senate Confirms 2 Dozen Obama Nominees: Before leaving for the Presidents’ Day break, the Senate on Thursday night confirmed — by unanimous consent — more than two dozen of President Obama’s nominees to federal positions. Mr. Obama and Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, had warned this week that the president might use the weeklong holiday break to make recess appointments, a threat underscoring his frustration with months of delays in confirming some key nominees…. – NYT, 2-11-10
White House Sends out Invites for Health Summit White House announces format, guests for bipartisan health care summit: In a make or break move, President Barack Obama on Friday challenged three dozen Republicans and Democrats to participate in a one-of-a-kind televised summit this month to thrash out a deal on health care. House Republicans immediately greeted the invite to the Feb. 25 event with derision, casting doubt on whether it would yield any bipartisan agreement to extend coverage to millions of Americans and rein in medical costs. “We need answers before we know if the White House is more interested in partisan theater than in facilitating a productive dialogue about solutions,” said Kevin Smith, a spokesman for House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio…. – AP, 2-12-10
Deal on Jobs Shows Limits of Push for Bipartisanship: Key Democrats and Republicans in the Senate reached a rare bipartisan agreement on Thursday on steps to spur job creation. But Democratic leaders said they would move ahead on only some elements as the two parties maneuvered to address both the struggling economy and voter unrest over gridlock in Washington. Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and majority leader, said he would take four core job-creating initiatives from the bipartisan proposal — including tax breaks for businesses that hire unemployed workers and increased public works spending — and seek to move those rapidly through the Senate…. – NYT, 2-11-10
Bill Clinton gets stents in artery after having chest discomfort: The former president undergoes the relatively common procedure at a hospital in Manhattan. He had quadruple bypass surgery in 2004…. – LAT, 2-11-10
Obama Report: 95, 000 Jobs to Come Each Month: The United States is likely to average 95,000 more jobs each month this year, while personal savings will remain high as credit remains tight, according to a White House report released Thursday. “I can report that over the past year, this work has begun. In the coming year, this work continues,” Obama said in a letter he sent to the Capitol attached to his economic update to lawmakers. “But to understand where we must go in the next year and beyond, it is important to remember where we began one year ago.” Casting its first year as positive, the administration’s 462-page report served as a summary of its logic and a pitch for Obama’s future agenda…. – AP, 2-11-10
Charlie Wilson, Texas Congressman Linked to Foreign Intrigue, Dies at 76: Charlie Wilson, a 12-term Texas congressman who was best known for his playboy ways until he masterminded a covert effort to funnel billions of dollars in arms to Afghan rebels fighting the Soviets in the 1980s, died Wednesday in Lufkin, Tex. He was 76…. – NYT, 2-11-10
On Health Bill, G.O.P.’s Road Is a New Map: When Republicans take President Obama up on his invitation to hash out their differences over health care this month, they will carry with them a fairly well-developed set of ideas intended to make health insurance more widely available and affordable, by emphasizing tax incentives and state innovations, with no new federal mandates and only a modest expansion of the federal safety net…. – NYT, 2-8-10
To Ace This Interview, Palin Keeps Notes Close: Ask conservatives why they love Sarah Palin so and they will often say it is because she is so “authentic.” Photographs posted to blogs after Ms. Palin’s speech to the National Tea Party Convention on Saturday night captured several words scribbled seventh-grade style on her left palm: “energy,” “tax cuts” (with “budget” crossed out in front of cuts) and “lift American spirits.”… – NYT, 2-8-10
ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….
Bayh exits Senate against backdrop of angry voters: The stunning announcement by centrist Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh that he’s retiring from a Congress he no longer loves adds yet another name to a list of lawmakers fleeing a town they say has become acidly partisan. And it gives Republicans a chance to pick up a seat. The decision by the Indiana Democrat, who was in strong position to win a third term in November in his GOP-leaning state, also compounds the problems facing Senate Democrats this fall as they cling to their majority in the chamber, where they now hold 59 of the 100 votes…. – AP, 2-15-10
Under campaign pressure, McCain makes U turns: Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain has undergone a transformation on significant issues since the failure of his presidential campaign, particularly since he has faced a challenge from a conservative rival in his Senate re-election campaign. A look at some of his changes in policy positions…GAYS IN THE MILITARY, CLIMATE CHANGE, FINANCING CAMPAIGNS, IMMIGRATION, CURBING THE NATIONAL DEBT – AP, 2-13-10
Sen. McCain faces toughest re-election challenge: Defeated just two years ago as the Republican presidential candidate and with his bonafides as a true conservative again being challenged, John McCain finds himself in a struggle to get even his party’s nomination for another term in the Senate. Many conservatives and Tea Party activists are lining up behind Republican challenger and former talk radio host J.D. Hayworth, reflecting a rising tide of voter frustration with incumbent politicians. Only 40 percent of Arizonans have a favorable view of McCain’s job performance. Faced with his toughest re-election battle ever, McCain has moved to the right on several hot-button issues, like gays in the military and climate change, and has built a campaign war chest of more than $5 million. Former running mate Sarah Palin and newly elected Republican Sen. Scott Brown, both popular with conservatives, are pitching in…. – AP, 2-13-10
Kennedy: ‘I will not be a candidate for reelection’: Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, the last member of his famous family still serving in elective office, has decided not to seek a ninth term in Congress. “I will not be a candidate for reelection this year,” the 42-year-old Kennedy says in an emotion-laden advertisement released by his office Thursday that will air Sunday night. Facing the camera in a blue suit and striped tie, the Rhode Island Democrat mentions his years of service and the death of his father, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, last summer. “We all know how difficult the last few years have been,” Kennedy begins. “Rhode Island families have struggled,” he adds, citing the bad economy and mortgage foreclosures. Then Kennedy says of his father, the longtime Democratic senator from Massachusetts: “Illness took the life of my most cherished mentor and confidant, my ultimate source of spirit and strength.” – Providence Jourbnal, 2-11-10
Liz Cheney: Biden, Obama Administration Ignoring Al Qaeda Pursuit of WMD: Liz Cheney, Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter and a former Bush administration official, on Monday accused Vice President Biden of downplaying the threat from Al Qaeda and suggested the Obama administration isn’t doing everything in its power to stop terror….
“There’s very strong concern that still remains that Al Qaeda is working very hard to try to obtain weapons of mass destruction and Al Qaeda armed with any nuclear or biological weapon is clearly one of the gravest threats we face,” Liz Cheney said.
“The notion that this White House and this administration is minimizing that possibility makes you very concerned, I think has to make us very concerned about whether or not they are doing everything in their power to prevent it,” she added…. – FOX News, 2-15-10
Biden bickers with Cheney across TV airwaves: Vice President Biden said his predecessor, Dick Cheney, is either “misinformed or … misinforming” as the two sparred on separate Sunday news shows about Cheney’s continued criticism of the Obama administration’s handling of terror threats.
Biden said that Cheney is off base criticizing Obama on fighting terrorists and noted that the administration has killed 12 of the 20 most wanted al-Qaeda operatives — and has “taken out 100 of their associates.”
Cheney said he is a “supporter” of Obama’s policy in the Afghanistan war, including last year’s decision to deploy 30,000 more U.S. troops. But he said the administration has failed to take a wartime posture toward terror suspects.
Cheney criticized Obama’s treatment of the Christmas Day airline bombing suspect as “an isolated extremist,” when it now is clear that he was trained by al-Qaeda. He said the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, should be tried by a military tribunal as an enemy combatant, instead of in federal court. He also criticized Obama’s order to outlaw “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including waterboarding, and said they should be “on the table” for Abdulmutallab… – USA Today, 2-14-10
Weekly Address: President Obama Praises Restoration of Pay-As-You-Go Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address February 13, 2010: But this isn’t a perfect world. This is Washington. And while in theory there is bipartisan agreement on moving on balanced budgets, in practice, this responsibility for the future is often overwhelmed by the politics of the moment. It falls prey to the pressure of special interests, to the pull of local concerns, and to a reality familiar to every single American – the fact that it is a lot easier to spend a dollar than save one.
That is why this rule is necessary. And that is why I am pleased that Congress fulfilled my request to restore it. Last night, I signed the “pay as you go” rule into law. Now, Congress will have to pay for what it spends, just like everybody else.
But that’s not all we must do. Even as we make critical investments to create jobs today and lay a foundation for growth tomorrow – by cutting taxes for small businesses, investing in education, promoting clean energy, and modernizing our roads and railways – we have to continue to go through the budget line by line, looking for ways to save. We have to cut where we can, to afford what we need… – WH, 2-13-10
President Obama’s Message to Team USA: I want to congratulate all the athletes here today for making the 2010 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams – you are truly the best of the best. All of us are incredibly proud of everything you’ve accomplished to get here, and we can’t wait to see what you’ll accomplish in Vancouver.
The Olympics represent one of the greatest traditions in sports – a place where legends are born and history is made. And over the next two and a half weeks, each of you will have the experience of a lifetime – the culmination of years of hard work and endless sacrifice; dogged perseverance and unyielding determination.
As Olympic and Paralympic athletes, you’ll be representing your coaches, family and friends who gave so much to help you get to where you are. You’ll be representing the hopes and dreams of millions of Americans watching at home and around the globe. And you’ll be serving as ambassadors for your country, both on and off the playing field – presenting the very best of America to the world.
So congratulations again on making the team, and best of luck in Vancouver. Michelle, Malia, Sasha, Bo and I can’t wait to follow your journeys from here in Washington. I know you’ll all make America enormously proud. Thank you. WH, 2-12-10
Biden: Major terror attack on U.S. unlikely: “The idea of there being a massive attack in the United States like 9/11 is unlikely, in my opinion,” Biden said in an interview on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”
Instead, groups such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula “have decided to move in the direction of much more small-bore but devastatingly frightening attacks,” such as the failed bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day. “I think there are going to be attempts,” Biden said, but he praised the successes of the U.S. security and intelligence apparatus in dealing with the threats. On other issues, Biden said he expected Congress to pass a jobs bill to stimulate employment growth, though it “will be probably less than is needed initially, but it will be very helpful.” “I think you’re going to see net creation of jobs every month” starting in the spring, Biden said, acknowledging the growth would begin slowly. – CNN, 2-11-10
Making Moves for a Healthier Generation: “It’s done, honey,” President Obama said to The First Lady earlier today as he signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing a task force on childhood obesity to address the growing health epidemic. “Now we work,” she responded.
I am so proud of the work that the First Lady, along with the Cabinet Secretaries behind me, has done in trying to tackle one of the most urgent health issues that we face in this country, and that is the increase of childhood obesity. And because of the outstanding planning that they’ve done, they are going to be rolling out a terrific plan of action that involves the private sector as well as government agencies coordinating much more effectively a lot of public information out there to help parents make good decisions about allowing their children to be active and eating healthier….
“These words – ‘overweight’ and ‘obese’ – they don’t tell the full story. This isn’t just about inches and pounds or how our kids look. It’s about how our kids feel, and how they feel about themselves. It’s about the impact we’re seeing on every aspect of their lives.” – WH, 2-9-10 – Let’s Move campaign
HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS
E.J. Dionne Jr.: What Bill Clinton could teach President Obama: When word went out that Bill Clinton had been rushed to the hospital, the prospect that he was in danger made me wish that President Obama had spent more time learning lessons that only Clinton can teach… – WaPo, 2-14-10
Obama as professor-in-chief: The history of “professor” as a term of derision: Thomas L. Haskell, a professor emeritus of history at Rice University, agrees that racial bias may be implicit in the attack on Obama’s professorial past. “For me and a lot of other academic types, we identify with Obama precisely because he is an intellectual,” Haskell says. “But what does that mean to John Q. Public? I don’t know. John Q. Public may be frightened of these people, especially because this particular intellectual is a black.” – Inside Higher Ed (2-10-10)
Obama as professor-in-chief: The history of “professor” as a term of derision: Attacks on the professoriate or intellectuals in general, however, are certainly not limited to African Americans. The late Richard Hofstadter, a historian at Columbia University, explored such attacks in his 1963 book, Anti- Intellectualism in American Life. David S. Brown, author of Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual Biography (University of Chicago Press, 2006), says Hofstadter would probably see shades of Barry Goldwater’s brand of conservatism among the Tea Party activists.
It’s no surprise that the anti-intellectualism that Hofstadter wrote about has resonance among some Americans today, says Brown, a historian at Elizabethtown College. Higher education programs are increasingly moving toward the pre- professional variety, and students and parents are inclined to press colleges about how their programs will lead to jobs — not to intellectual growth, Brown says. In that context, the stereotypical liberal arts professor is ever more marginalized.
“A traditional humanities professor is going to be engaged in criticism and speculative ideas, and will probably have more questions than answers,” says Brown. “But we’re a culture that wants answers.” – Inside Higher Ed (2-10-10)
Julian Zelizer: One year in, Obama must define himself: In his first year in the White House, President Obama has proved to be an elusive figure. This is ironic given that his campaign to win the Democratic primary in 2007 and 2008 had been premised on the idea that voters preferred a candidate who stood for something.
For one thing, he distinguished himself from Sen. Hillary Clinton by highlighting the fact that he had been against the Iraq War from the start and never wavered in his position.
Yet in 2010, many Democrats, as well as Republicans, are unsure of who President Obama is and what exactly he stands for….
The president is still early in his presidency. He has time to correct his problems and to emerge stronger during year two. But time is slipping away. Many members of the administration must feel like athletes on the court, looking up at the game clock as the minutes fade away.
The president must do better at explaining just what his presidency is about. This does not mean abandoning a strategy of negotiation and compromise and ideological flexibility, but it does mean better defining the person who will be at the negotiating table. Otherwise, everyone else in the room will do that job themselves…. – CNN, 2-9-10
Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, Valerie Jarrett, and U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson wave to the U.S. Olympic team as they enter the arena for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada February 12, 2010. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
(President Barack Obama addresses the media about the passage of the kids tobacco legislation in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 12, 2009. Official White House Photographer Lawrence Jackson.)
IN FOCUS: STATS
In Focus: Stats
Crist maintains early lead in Senate race poll: Gov. Charlie Crist, riding a wave of public support even greater than President Obama’s popularity in Florida, posted a big lead in a U.S. Senate campaign poll released Wednesday. The new poll showed Crist leading 54 percent to 23 percent…. – News Press, 6-10-09
Poll: Third of Republicans view party unfavorably How Republicans view their party: USA TODAY/Gallup poll of 1,015 adults taken May 29-31. Margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points for the full sample and 6 percentage points for the sub sample. There’s no such dyspepsia among Democrats. Just 4% have an unfavorable view of their party…. – USA Today, 6-9-09
Media bias can help GOP: That could be the head-thumping postscript of the 2010 midterm elections. With the media fawning over President Obama and failing to appropriately cover several key Democrat problems, scandals and missteps, a false sense of security for the Democrats is growing. The media, snugly tucked into the Democrats’ back pocket, paint a deceivingly rosy picture of the job Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are doing. The shopworn “conventional wisdom” that the GOP has marginalized itself into near-oblivion is being pedaled daily by cocksure reporters and (other) Democratic operatives. But the emerging true storyline is increasingly becoming diametrically opposed to this myopic view. Last rites for the GOP may be premature. A recent Gallup poll shows Americans overwhelmingly disagree with Obama on closing Guantanamo. Rasmussen reports Republicans and Democrats tied on the generic congressional ballot. Americans have a more favorable opinion of former Vice President Cheney than Pelosi and trust Republicans over Democrats on economic issues. And Reid is down nationally, and in serious trouble in his home state of Nevada…. – The Hill, 6-11-09
Obama Open to Reining in Medical Suits: The American Medical Association has long battled Democrats who oppose protecting doctors from malpractice lawsuits. But during a private meeting at the White House last month, association officials said, they found one Democrat willing to entertain the idea: President Obama…. – NYT, 6-15-09
Analysis: Netanyahu is steering a course that pleases neither side: Binyamin Netanyahu became prime minister of Israel barely three months ago and already finds himself in an unexpectedly difficult position, torn between mounting US pressure for a Middle East peace deal and the loyalties of his rightwing coalition allies, many of whom oppose a Palestinian state. His key policy speech last night was an effort to navigate the difficult course between the two.
Netanyahu’s message was mixed. On the one hand, he finally mentioned the prospect of a Palestinian state, although he said that could come only under strict conditions. On the other hand, he refused to meet US demands for a halt to settlement activity and insisted Palestinians must accept Israel as a Jewish state if a deal was to be achieved… – Guardian UK, 6-15-09
Obama Will Make His Case for Health-Care Reform Before AMA in Chicago: Opposition Mounts for President Before He Delivers His Health-Care Reform Plan in Chicago Monday…- ABC News, 6-14-09
Co-op compromise gives White House a health option: With Republicans fighting the idea of a government-run health insurance plan, Obama administration officials said Sunday that they are open to a compromise: a cooperative program that would expand coverage with taxpayer money but without direct governmental control. Congress begins work this week on putting President Barack Obama’s goal of universal health coverage into law. But some lawmakers are expected to introduce specific plans that run counter to Obama’s political promises. The concessions could be the smoothest way to deliver the bipartisan health care legislation the administration seeks by its self-imposed August deadline, officials said…. – AP, 6-14-09
Congress Passes Measure on Tobacco Regulation: The House moved quickly Friday to pass the Senate’s tobacco bill and send it to the White House, where President Obama promised to sign it…. – NYT, 6-12-09
Many in Congress Hold Stakes in Health Industry: As President Obama and Congress intensify the push to overhaul health care in the coming week, the political and economic force of that industry is well represented in the financial holdings of many lawmakers and others with a say on the legislation, according to new disclosure forms…. – NYT, 6-14-09
Obama on healthcare reform: Mr. Flexible: His idea of a public insurance plan to compete with private ones is meeting resistance. Will the alternative of health insurance ‘cooperatives’ suffice?… – CS Monitor, 6-13-09
Sotomayor anecdotes, manner impress senators: Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has bonded with female senators about her childhood love of Nancy Drew mysteries and shared war stories with the Senate’s former prosecutors about her days in the gritty Manhattan district attorney’s office. Slogging through dozens of personal, one-on-one meetings with senators that amount to a high-stakes job interview, she has impressed her questioners with an engaging personality and life story — even those lawmakers with big reservations about her views on the law…. – AP, 6-13-09
Could Palin flap be Letterman’s Hugh Grant?: Sarah Palin would no doubt be horrified by the idea, but there’s a chance she could become the same boon to David Letterman’s career that Hugh Grant was to Jay Leno’s…. Letterman did not court last week’s battle with Palin, who called him “perverted” for making a joke about her daughter getting “knocked up” by New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, and he said in retrospect the remark was in poor taste. Palin rebuffed his invitations to appear on the show, but that might not matter. The story had the effect of turning the attention to Letterman at a critical time, during the second week of his new competition with Leno’s replacement, Conan O’Brien…. – AP, 6-13-09
US rejects victory claim by Iran’s Ahmadinejad: The U.S. on Saturday refused to accept hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s claim of a landslide re-election victory in Iran and said it was looking into allegations of election fraud. Any hopes by the Obama administration of gaining a result similar to Lebanon’s recent election, won by a Western-backed moderate coalition, appeared to be in jeopardy. “We are monitoring the situation as it unfolds in Iran, but we, like the rest of the world, are waiting and watching to see what the Iranian people decide,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at a news conference with Canada’s foreign affairs minister, Lawrence Cannon…. – AP, 6-13-09
Administration speeds overseas detainee relocation &l; Obama won’t rule out freeing Gitmo detainees in US: Despite fierce opposition in Congress, the White House insisted Friday it has not ruled out releasing Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States. But with narrowing options, the administration has begun shipping newly cleared inmates abroad to regain momentum in its effort to close the Cuba-based prison camp… – AP, 6-13-09
Congress won’t try to keep Guantanamo detainees out of U.S. for now: Congressional negotiators have agreed to drop amendments to a supplemental appropriations bill that would have banned the release of photos depicting alleged detainee abuse and would have restricted bringing Guantanamo detainees to the United States. The agreement on those issues should speed passage of the bill, which provides $79.9 billion for the Pentagon to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another $10.4 billion would go to the State Department and other “international affairs and stabilization” efforts in Pakistan. The agreement came after President Barack Obama wrote a five-paragraph letter promising to fight to prevent disclosure of the photos. The letter noted that an appeals court on Thursday agreed to stay a lower court ruling ordering the photos release so that the Obama administration could appeal to the Supreme Court…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 6-12-09
Historic anti-smoking bill aims at stopping teens:No more “light” cigarettes or candy-flavored smokes. Bigger, scarier warning labels. Fewer ads featuring sexy young smokers. Historic anti-smoking legislation sped to final congressional passage on Friday — after a bitter fight lasting nearly a half-century — and lawmakers and the White House quickly declared it would save the lives of thousands of smokers of all ages. Even more important, they said, the measure could keep countless young people from starting in the first place. President Barack Obama, admittedly still struggling with his own nicotine habit, saluted passage of the bill, which he will soon sign. He said, “For over a decade, leaders of both parties have fought to prevent tobacco companies from marketing their products to children and provide the public with the information they need to understand what a dangerous habit this is.”… – AP, 6-12-09
Tax on health benefits may be delayed until 2013: Legislation to be outlined next week in the Senate Finance Committee will likely include a new tax on workers with the costliest employer-provided health coverage, officials said Friday, but with implementation delayed until 2013 to minimize any political fallout. Officials familiar with internal deliberations said the leading option under consideration by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the committee chairman, would mean higher taxes for workers whose family coverage costs $15,000 a year or more in premiums paid by employer and employee combined…. – AP, 6-12-09
House vote could send FDA tobacco bill to Obama: Smoking foes see a turning point in their long battle against the tobacco industry as Congress prepares to send President Barack Obama a bill giving the government broad authority to determine how cigarettes will be made, marketed and sold.
The House was scheduled to vote Friday on legislation, passed just a day before by the Senate, that for the first time would put the Food and Drug Administration in charge of regulating cigarettes and other tobacco products…. – AP, 6-11-09
Senate approves FDA regulation of tobacco: The bill, passed in a 79-17 vote, would give the agency control over ingredients in tobacco products and restrict ads…. – LAT, 6-11-09
Obama on healthcare bill: Flexibility on details, not results: President Obama urged lawmakers yesterday to work through partisan differences that are threatening healthcare legislation just as it starts moving through Congress. After the White House meeting, key Democrats and Republicans said a compromise may be emerging on one of the biggest disputes – whether to create a government-sponsored health plan to compete with private insurers. The compromise would create nonprofit health cooperatives owned by groups of patients, similar to how electric or other cooperatives operate, and without the government involvement that troubles Republicans and business groups about the public plan…. – Boston Globe, 6-11-09
McAuliffe defeat is another blow to Clinton legacy: Terry McAuliffe’s crushing defeat in Virginia’s gubernatorial primary is the latest blow to former President Bill Clinton’s political legacy, still reeling from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s loss to Barack Obama in last year’s Democratic presidential contest. McAuliffe, a longtime fundraiser and close friend of both Clintons, brought money and attention to an off-year election that otherwise would have commanded little notice outside Virginia. Bill Clinton appeared at five rallies across the state for McAuliffe, lent his voice to radio commercials and recorded telephone endorsements to help get out the vote. Clinton also attended a fundraiser at McAuliffe’s northern Virginia home…. – AP, 6-11-09
Possible compromise emerges in health care debate: A potential compromise emerged Wednesday on one of the most vexing issues of the health care overhaul debate — whether to create a new government-sponsored health plan to compete with private insurers. The compromise offered by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., would create health care cooperatives owned by groups of residents and small businesses, similar to how electric or other cooperatives operate…. The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, said Wednesday the idea could be key to a bipartisan health bill. Baucus raised it in a meeting with President Barack Obama, saying later that Obama showed interest. Baucus’ Republican counterpart, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, also said the concept had potential. “It’s a way to bridge the gap,” Baucus told reporters…. – AP, 6-11-09
Top Republican rips Democrats for Sotomayor ‘rush’: Republicans accused Democrats Wednesday of moving too hastily on Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination, warning that the decision could imperil her confirmation as they pressed the judge for more documents from her past. The top Senate Republican blasted Democrats’ decision to schedule mid-July hearings for Sotomayor’s confirmation, while another senior GOP senator floated the possibility of a filibuster by angry Republicans against President Barack Obama’s first high court nominee. “They want the shortest timeline in recent memory for someone with the longest judicial record in recent memory,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the minority leader. “This violates basic standards of fairness and it prevents senators from carrying out one of their most solemn duties.”… – AP, 6-10-09
Some Israelis Insulted By Obama Picture: Israeli TV newscasters Tuesday night interpreted a photo taken Monday in the Oval Office of President Obama talking on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an “insult” to Israel. They saw the incident as somewhat akin to an incident last year, when the Iraqi reporter threw a shoe at President Bush in Baghdad…. Some Israeli newscasters are crying foul over a photo of President Barack Obama, snapped in the Oval Office on Monday as he spoke on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The journalists on Tuesday called the image insulting, since in many parts of the region, it is considered an insult to show someone the sole of your shoe…. – CBS News, 6-10-09
Administration seeks ways to tame corporate pay: Talking tough but stepping gently, the Obama administration rejected direct intervention in corporate pay decisions Wednesday even as officials argued that excessive compensation in the private sector contributed to the nation’s financial crisis…. – AP, 6-10-09
Latino-Black Rivalry Helped Fuel G.O.P.’s Takeover of State Senate: When two Democratic state senators, Pedro Espada Jr. and Hiram Monserrate, joined Republicans on the Senate floor Monday to kick off their surprise takeover of the chamber, almost every other Democratic senator in the room walked out in anger, shock or disgust…. – NYT, 6-10-09
Kennedy’s health care plan gets frosty reception from GOP: Congressional Democrats’ bid to overhaul the nation’s health care system got off to a rocky start Tuesday when Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., introduced his long-awaited plan — only to face furious criticism from even moderate Republicans. Kennedy, whose fight to reshape the health care system spans more than 40 years, would require all Americans to get medical insurance, establish complex new insurance exchanges to facilitate near-universal coverage, and dramatically step up government oversight of the insurance industry…. But reaction to the 615-page bill — written with little GOP involvement — was an ominous preview of the potential for a return to the kind of partisan conflict that sank previous efforts to reshape the troubled medical system…. – LAT, 6-9-09
Economic Scene Sea of Red Ink: How It Spread From a Puddle: There are two basic truths about the enormous deficits that the federal government will run in the coming years. The first is that President Obama’s agenda, ambitious as it may be, is responsible for only a sliver of the deficits, despite what many of his Republican critics are saying. The second is that Mr. Obama does not have a realistic plan for eliminating the deficit, despite what his advisers have suggested…. – NYT, 6-9-09
First Guant namo detainee arrives in U.S.: The Obama administration pressed ahead Tuesday with its plans to close the military prison at GuantÃ¡namo Bay, flying a detainee to New York to face federal trial despite bipartisan opposition in Congress to bringing such prisoners to the United States for trial, resettlement or continued detention. The transfer of Ahmed Ghailani to face capital charges in the 1998 East Africa bombings marked the first time a detainee who is not a U.S. citizen has been brought from the military prison in Cuba to the United States. Ghailani, appearing briefly in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Tuesday, pleaded not guilty to multiple charges in connection with the blasts at the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. Those attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans…. – WaPo, 6-9-09
Minority lawmakers want bill to close health gaps: Black, Latino and Asian lawmakers warned Democratic leaders that any health care overhaul that ignores health gaps between whites and minorities will face stiff opposition. The lawmakers said they would be hard-pressed to support a bill without a new program providing access to health care for all Americans…. – AP, 6-9-09
Deeds wins Democratic primary for Va. governor: State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds won Virginia’s three-way Democratic primary for governor Tuesday with shocking ease, defeating a former Clinton White House insider and a former legislative colleague. The victory sets up a Deeds rematch with Republican Bob McDonnell, who beat him in the 2005 attorney general election by 323 votes out of nearly 2 million cast. “I’m a Presbyterian. I believe things happen for a reason,” a jubilant Deeds, surprised at the ease of his victory, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. Deeds had about half the vote with nearly all precincts reporting. His opponents, Terry R. McAuliffe and Brian J. Moran, each had around a quarter of the vote. “The rematch isn’t so important to me,” Deeds said of the race against McDonnell, a conservative with strong ties to Pat Robertson. He was unopposed for the GOP nomination…. – AP, 6-9-09
Hearings on Sotomayor Are Set to Begin on July 13: After consulting closely with the White House, Senate Democrats announced Tuesday that hearings on Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court would begin on July 13, infuriating Republicans who said that they had been blind-sided and that the timetable would recklessly short-circuit the review process…. – NYT, 6-9-09
Biden says ‘everyone guessed wrong’ on jobs number: ice President Joe Biden said Sunday that “everyone guessed wrong” on the impact of the economic stimulus, but he defended the administration’s spending designed to combat rising joblessness. “The bottom line is that jobs are being created that would not have been there before,” Biden said….
“No one realized how bad the economy was. The projections, in fact, turned out to be worse. But we took the mainstream model as to what we thought — and everyone else thought — the unemployment rate would be,” Biden said….
“At the time our forecast seemed reasonable. Now, looking back, it was clearly too optimistic,” he told reporters last Monday….
“Can I claim credit that all of that’s due to the recovery package? No. But it clearly has had an impact,” Biden said. “Everyone guessed wrong at the time the estimate was made about what the state of the economy was at the moment this was passed,” Biden said. Biden appeared Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” from his hometown of Wilmington, Del. – AP, 6-14-09
Health care status quo unacceptable: US official: The United States’ unwieldy health care system is “unsustainable,” US health secretary Kathleen Sebelius warned Sunday as she ramped up calls to back President Barack’s Obama health reform plans. “Everybody recognizes the status quo is the enemy. It’s unacceptable, unsustainable,” said Sebelius, who leads the Department of Health and Human Services. “We can’t continue down this path,” she told ABC television….
“Doctors understand the current system doesn’t work. They’re spending way too much time on paperwork and overhead, and not enough time with patients. Hospitals can’t sustain it,” she said….
“It’s crushing businesses, it’s crushing families. Our workers are less competitive. We can’t sustain the system that we have right now, so the status quo is not an acceptable alternative,” Sebelius told ABC. – AFP, 6-14-09
CIA head says Cheney almost wishing US be attacked: CIA Director Leon Panetta says former Vice President Dick Cheney’s criticism of the Obama administration’s approach to terrorism almost suggests “he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point.” Panetta told The New Yorker for an article in its June 22 issue that Cheney “smells some blood in the water” on the issue of national security….
Panetta said of Cheney’s remarks: “It’s almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that’s dangerous politics.”… – AP, 6-14-09
WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Outlines More than $300 Billion in new Medicare and Medicaid Savings: When it comes to the cost of health care, this much is clear: the status quo is unsustainable for families, businesses, and government. America spends nearly 50 percent more per person on health care than any other country. Health care premiums have doubled over the last decade, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs have skyrocketed, and many with preexisting conditions are denied coverage. More and more, Americans are being priced out of the care they need.
These costs are also hurting business, as some big businesses are at a competitive disadvantage with their foreign counterparts, and some small businesses are forced to cut benefits, drop coverage, or even lay off workers. Meanwhile, Medicare and Medicaid pose one of the greatest threats to our federal deficit, and could leave our children with a mountain of debt that they cannot pay.
We cannot continue down this path. I do not accept a future where Americans forego health care because they can’t pay for it, and more and more families go without coverage at all. And I don’t accept a future where American business is hurt and our government goes broke. We have a responsibility to act, and to act now. That is why I’m working with Congress to pass reform that lowers costs, improves quality and coverage, and protects consumer health care choices…. – White House, 6-13-09
Hospitals oppose Obama’s Medicare, Medicaid cuts: President Barack Obama said Saturday he wants to help pay for his health care overhaul by slowing Medicare and Medicaid spending, but hospitals, medical technicians and others are resisting. The high-stakes struggle over medical care is heating up as Obama declares the status quo unacceptable. The president suggests trimming federal payments to hospitals by about $200 billion over the next 10 years, saying greater efficiencies and broader insurance coverage will justify the change. Hospitals, especially those with many poor patients, say the proposed cuts are unfair and will harm the sick and elderly. Congress ultimately will shape the new laws. Obama is urging lawmakers to be bold and to resist powerful lobbies trying to maintain their clout and profits. “Americans are being priced out of the care they need,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address…. – AP, 6-13-09
GOP says Democrats’ climate bill is another tax: Republicans on Saturday slammed a Democratic bill before the House that seeks to address climate change, arguing that it amounts to an energy tax on consumers. In the GOP’s weekly radio and Internet address, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence said Congress should instead open the way for more domestic oil and natural gas production and ease regulatory barriers for building new nuclear power plants. “During these difficult times, the American people don’t want a national energy tax out of Washington, D.C.,” said Pence, the third-ranking House Republican.
“The Republican energy plan calls for more domestic exploration for oil and natural gas, renewed commitment to clean emission-free nuclear energy, investments in renewable and alternative energy technologies and incentives to spur greater conservation among individuals and businesses,” he said…. – AP, 6-13-09
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE PASSAGE OF THE KIDS TOBACCO LEGISLATION Rose Garden: THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. I just wanted to give a quick statement about the kids tobacco legislation that passed the Senate yesterday.
This bill has obviously been a long time coming. We’ve known for years, even decades, about the harmful, addictive, and often deadly effects of tobacco products. Each year Americans pay nearly $100 billion in added health care costs due to smoking. Each day about a thousand young people under the age of 18 become regular smokers.
For over a decade, leaders of both parties have fought to prevent tobacco companies from marketing their products to children, and provide the public with the information they need to understand what a dangerous habit this is. And after a decade of opposition, all of us are finally about to achieve the victory with this bill, a bill that truly defines change in Washington.
I’m proud that the House and the Senate have acted swiftly and in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion to pass this legislation that will protect our kids and improve our public health. Along with legislation to protect credit card owners from unfair rate hikes, homeowners from mortgage fraud and abuse, and taxpayers from wasteful defense spending, this kids tobacco bill would be the fourth piece of bipartisan legislation that I’ve signed into law over the last month that protects the American consumer, and changes the way Washington works and who Washington works for.
So I look forward to signing it. I want to thank all the people in the House and the Senate for working so hard to pass this bill in a bipartisan way. And I want to give a special shout-out to my legislative director, Phil Schiliro. He and his team have just done an outstanding job. They’ve been working on this for a long time, even before they joined the administration. I’m really proud of them…. – White House, 6-12-09
An Answer on Iranian Elections: THE PRESIDENT: We are excited to see what appears to be a robust debate taking place in Iran. And obviously, after the speech that I made in Cairo, we tried to send a clear message that we think there is the possibility of change. And ultimately, the election is for the Iranians to decide, but just as has been true in Lebanon, what can be true in Iran as well is that you’re seeing people looking at new possibilities. And whoever ends up winning the election in Iran, the fact that there’s been a robust debate hopefully will help advance our ability to engage them in new ways…. – White House, 6-12-09
Troops in Iraq hailed by Bush on ‘Colbert Report’: Former President George W. Bush had a hearty message for troops serving in Iraq – and delivered it on a silly TV comedy show. Appearing in a pretaped spot during Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” on Thursday, Bush hailed the military.
“Your achievements in Iraq have earned you a special place in American history. You are men and women of great courage and endurance – and that’s gonna come in handy,” Bush noted, winding up to zing Stephen Colbert, the blustery “Colbert Report” host: “I’ve sat through Stephen’s stuff before.” Bush said former first lady Laura Bush joined him in the shout-out. – AP, 6-12-09
No. 2 House Republican compares Obama to Putin: The No. 2 Republican in the House on Thursday compared President Barack Obama’s plans for the auto industry to the policies of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, saying the White House has stripped credit holders of rights and given them to Democratic allies.
“They said, ‘Set aside the rule of law, let’s strip secured creditors, bondholders, of their rights. Take them away outside of the bankruptcy process and give them to the political cronies and the auto workers’ unions,” Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s almost like looking at Putin’s Russia,” added Cantor, the GOP’s House whip. “You want to reward your political friends at the expense of the certainty of law?”… – AP, 6-11-09
Obama confronts critics on health care overhaul: President Barack Obama challenged Republican critics Thursday to offer alternative plans for overhauling U.S. health care, declaring he’s “happy to steal people’s ideas” but that doing nothing about out-of-reach costs and uninsured Americans is not an option.
“What else do we say to all those families who spend more on health care than on housing or on food?” Obama said at a town hall-style meeting, surrounded by supportive citizens in the nation’s heartland. “What do we tell those businesses that are choosing between closing their doors and letting their workers go?”….
“I know there are some who believe that reform is too expensive, but I can assure you that doing nothing will cost us far more in the coming years,” Obama said. “Our deficits will be higher. Our premiums will go up. Our wages will be lower, our jobs will be fewer and our businesses will suffer.”… – AP, 6-11-09
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN TOWN HALL MEETING ON HEALTH CARE Southwest High School Green Bay, Wisconsin: For the government, the growing cost of Medicare and Medicaid is the biggest threat to our federal deficit, bigger than Social Security, bigger than all the investments that we’ve made so far. So if you’re worried about spending and you’re worried about deficits, you need to be worried about the cost of health care.
We have the most expensive health care system in the world, bar none. We spend almost 50 percent more per person on health care than the next most expensive nation — 50 percent more. But here’s the thing, Green Bay: We’re not any healthier for it; we don’t necessarily have better outcomes. Even within our own country, there are a lot of the places where we spend less on health care, but actually have higher quality than places where we spend more. And it turns out Green Bay is a good example. Right here in Green Bay, you get more quality out of fewer health care dollars than many other communities across this country. (Applause.) That’s something to be proud of. I want to repeat that: You spend less; you have higher quality here in Green Bay than in many parts of the country. But across the country, spending on health care keeps on going up and up and up — day after day, year after year.
I know that there are millions of Americans who are happy, who are content with their health care coverage — they like their plan, they value their relationship with their doctor. And no matter how we reform health care, I intend to keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you’ll be able to keep your doctor; if you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan…. – White House, 6-11-09
President Obama “On the Holocaust Museum Shooting”: I am shocked and saddened by today’s shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms. No American institution is more important to this effort than the Holocaust Museum, and no act of violence will diminish our determination to honor those who were lost by building a more peaceful and tolerant world. Today, we have lost a courageous security guard who stood watch at this place of solemn remembrance. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this painful time…. – White House, 6-10-09
Huckabee warns against ‘mushy middle’: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is warning Republicans against moving to the “mushy middle,” arguing that only clearly articulated and conservative policies can bring the party back into power. In an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press, Huckabee mocked suggestions that Republicans moderate their stands and move to the left. He says that sounds like advice from Democrats that would ensure “we’d never win another election, ever.”… – AP, 6-10-09
Jon Voight: Obama “Bringing Us To Chaos And Socialism” (VIDEO): Fresh off making headlines for calling President Obama a “false prophet” at a GOP fundraiser, actor Jon Voight appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s show Tuesday night to continue pressing his case against Obama. After a quick name-checking of Julius Caesar–as in Obama thinks he is a “soft-spoken Julius Caesar”–Voight got down to business, making the case that Obama is “a fellow who’s bringing us to chaos and socialism.”… – Huffington Post, 6-9-09
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON “PAY AS YOU GO” East Room: THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you all for joining us here in the White House. Before I begin, I want to comment briefly on the announcement by the Treasury Department with regard to the financial stability plan.
As you know, through this plan and its predecessor, taxpayer dollars were used to stabilize the financial system at a time of extraordinary stress. And these funds were also meant to be an investment — and they were meant to be temporary. And that’s why this morning’s announcement is important.
Several financial institutions are set to pay back $68 billion to taxpayers. And while we know that we will not escape the worst financial crisis in decades without some losses to taxpayers, it’s worth noting that in the first round of repayments from these companies the government has actually turned a profit.
This is not a sign that our troubles are over — far from it. The financial crisis this administration inherited is still creating painful challenges for businesses and families alike. And I think everybody sees it in their own individual districts. But it is a positive sign. We’re seeing an initial return on a few of these investments. We’re restoring funds to the Treasury where they’ll be available to safeguard against continuing risks to financial stability. And as this money is returned, we’ll see our national debt lessened by $68 billion — billions of dollars that this generation will not have to borrow and future generations will not have to repay.
I’ve said repeatedly that I have no interest in managing the banking system — or, for that matter, running auto companies or other private institutions. So today’s announcement is welcome news to me. But I also want to say the return of these funds does not provide forgiveness for past excesses or permission for future misdeeds. It’s critical that as our country emerges from this period of crisis, that we learn its lessons; that those who seek reward do not take reckless risk; that short-term gains are not pursued without regard for long-term consequences…. – White House, 6-9-09
Victor Davis Hanson “Obama’s history is off”: In his speech last week in Cairo, President Obama proclaimed he was a “student of history.” But despite Mr. Obama’s image as an Ivy League-educated intellectual, he lacks historical competency in both facts and interpretation.
This first became apparent during the presidential campaign. Mr. Obama proclaimed then that during World War II, his great-uncle had helped liberate Auschwitz and that his grandfather knew fellow American troops who had entered Auschwitz and Treblinka.
Both are impossible. The Americans didn’t free either Nazi death camp. (Regarding Mr. Obama’s great-uncle’s war experience, the Obama team later said he had meant the camp at Buchenwald.)
Much of what Mr. Obama said to thousands of Germans during his Victory Column speech in Berlin last summer also was ahistorical. He began, “I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city.” He apparently forgot that for the previous eight years, the official faces of American foreign policy in Germany had been Secretaries of State Colin L. Powell and Condoleezza Rice – both black….
This list of distortions could be expanded easily. Mr. Obama, in elegant fashion, may casually invoke the means of politically correct history for the higher ends of contemporary reconciliation. But it is a bad habit. Eloquence and good intentions exempt no one from the truth of the past – Mr. Obama included. – The Washington Times, 6-14-09
Julian E. Zelizer Commentary: Palin, Gingrich, Romney and 2012: The first hundred days is barely over and the Republican primaries for 2012 have begun.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has announced he won’t seek a third term, immediately stirring speculation that he is preparing to run for president.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has been delivering speeches on many key issues, ranging from national security to tax cuts, keeping himself in the public eye.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called Judge Sonia Sotomayor, a “reverse racist.” This is one of many statements that he has been making in recent months to define his agenda and position himself as a leading candidate in the Republican Party. He then backtracked from his original statement which had not played well in the press or politically.
Since the day that the McCain-Palin campaign closed shop, Gov. Sarah Palin has never stopped running. She has appeared regularly at Republican fundraisers, conventions and speaking events as well as in the media.
President Obama must govern in a political environment where Republicans are already in full campaign mode. There are many reasons behind the polarization that defines Washington, but the endless campaign is one of the most important….
Is it possible to break this cycle? In general, the opportunities for reform are limited barring a radical change to our election process that would make our system look more like Europe — where elections are usually shorter, cheaper and publicly funded.
One potential reform has to come from the media. If the major news outlets devote more attention to policymaking and less to the statements of potential candidates, there will simply be fewer opportunities for people like Romney (or any comparable Democrat when a Republican is in the White House) to run this early. Nobody will be listening. The endless campaign thrives on receiving media attention.
The second change has to come from government. The White House and Congress must tackle campaign finance reform and attempt to restore some of the system that had been put into place as a result of the Watergate scandal. Only with public finance, enforced contribution limits and possibly expenditure limits would the nation be able to dampen the fundraising pressures on candidates.
Until these and other steps are taken, presidents will have to govern constantly in a campaign season — as will the opposition party. And the policymaking process — as well as public confidence that government officials have their eye on the public rather than on the ballot box — will suffer as a result. – CNN, 6-9-09
Stephen Hess & Julian Zelizer: Analysis: Obama woes no match for other presidents: “This fellow was dealt an incredibly difficult hand, both foreign and domestic,” said Stephen P. Hess, senior follow at the Brookings Institution. “But maybe if you compare him to Lincoln or to FDR, it is not such a mountain to climb.” History shows that other presidents have taken on bigger challenges, according to Hess and other presidential scholars. “On the scale of being confronted with truly major problems on taking office, I think I would have to put it in the top 10 percent,” Hess said. “Lincoln took over on the verge of a civil war that was going to divide the country. Americans were slaughtering Americans. Roosevelt faced the worst depression the United States ever had.”
Roosevelt did not have a big foreign policy problem early on, said Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University…. – AP, 6-9-09
Matthew Dallek “The Reassessment of Reagan”: Ronald Reagan is getting a critical re-evaluation — from both left and right — even as regrouping Republicans double down on his legacy in opposing big government…. – NYT, 6-9-09
JULIAN E. ZELIZER “Recalling Ronald Reagan at Normandy”: President Ronald Reagan traveled to Normandy in June 1984 to deliver one of his most famous addresses. In a carefully choreographed moment at Pointe du Hoc, adviser Michael Deaver had the president stand in front of a dramatic backdrop where one Army battalion, being commemorated, had launched its attack. “These are the champions who helped free a continent,” Reagan said of the veterans in front of him. “These are the heroes who helped end a war.”….
In the three years that followed the Normandy speech, Reagan used diplomacy, courted moderate elements among America’s adversaries and made bold moves overseas with the hope of achieving peace without bloodshed. In this respect, Obama’s visit to Normandy, his speech in Cairo and his broader national security agenda are closely connected. As the administration and Congress seek breakthroughs in foreign affairs, they, too, will need to rely on the pen and not just on the sword. – Politico, 6-5-09
First President in US History to Have Voted to Filibuster a Supreme Court Nominee Now Hopes for Clean Process: President Obama’s expressed hope today in his weekly address “that we can avoid the political posturing and ideological brinksmanship that has bogged down this (Supreme Court nomination) process, and Congress, in the past” runs against another historical first for the 44th president: his unique role in history as the first US President to have ever voted to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee.
So while there is little indication Republicans intend to filibuster President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the GOP will likely invoke the President’s unique history whenever he calls their tactics into question…. – Jake Tapper ABC News, 5-30-09
Addressing Muslims, Obama Pushes Mideast Peace: In opening a bold overture to the Islamic world on Thursday, President Obama confronted frictions between Muslims and the West, but he reserved some of his bluntest words for Israel, as he expressed sympathy for the Palestinians and what he called the “daily humiliations, large and small, that come with occupation.” While Mr. Obama emphasized that America’s bond with Israel was “unbreakable,” he spoke in equally powerful terms of the Palestinian people, describing their plight as “intolerable” after 60 years of statelessness, and twice referring to “Palestine” in a way that put Palestinians on parallel footing with Israelis…. – NYT, 6-5-09
Americans Remain Skeptical About Middle East Peace Just 32% think Israel and Arabs will ever live in peace: With President Barack Obama seeking to engage the Arab world with his speech in Cairo, Americans’ confidence that there will ever be peace in the Middle East is at near-record lows. Only 32% of U.S. adults surveyed by USA Today and Gallup in late May believe “there will come a time when Israel and the Arab nations will be able to settle their differences and live in peace”; 66% disagree. – Gallup, 6-4-09
Poll Watch: Early Reactions to Sotomayor: Quinnipiac University, Gallup and The Associated Press polls each found Americans support the President’s pick to replace Justice David H. Souter on the Supreme Court. The Quinnipiac poll found 55 percent of voters approve of Judge Sotomayor’s nomination, while 54 percent of Americans surveyed by Gallup and 50 percent of those polled by the AP said they would like to see the Senate confirm the nomination when they hold hearings sometime this summer. Judge Sotomayor, who would be the third woman and the first Hispanic justice to serve on the Supreme Court, enjoys strong support from several groups of voters in particular — blacks (85 percent), Democrats (80 percent), women (60 percent) and Hispanics (58 percent), according to the Quinnipiac poll. White evangelical Christians, however, oppose the nomination 41 to 35 percent…. – NYT, 6-4-09
Doug Mills/The New York TimesNancy Reagan wiped tears away as a statue of former President Reagan was installed in the Capitol Building on Wednesday. Among the Congressional lawmakers joining the first lady were Representative John A. Boehner, House Republican leader from Ohio; Senator Harry Reid, Senate majority leader from Nevada; Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican leader from Kentucky.
In Buchenwald, Obama to target Holocaust denial: In a solemn rendezvous with history, President Barack Obama will visit a scene of the 20th century’s great European horror to make an urgent point about the fear that still stalks its survivors. After meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel in this city crushed by allied bombing in World War II, Obama was to fly by helicopter Friday to the Buchenwald concentration camp, where an estimated 56,000 people perished. Most were Jews — worked to death, shot or hanged by Nazi guards. The visit comes on the eve of commemorations in France of the 65th anniversary of the Allies’ D-Day invasion — and the day after Obama’s long-awaited speech to the Muslim world seeking a fresh start in relations with America…. 0 AP, 6-5-09
Expectation mounts ahead of Obamas’ Paris weekend: Not since the Kennedy era has an American first lady — and in tow, her presidential husband — been so eagerly awaited in Paris. Officials on both sides of the Atlantic were short on specifics about the American first couple’s upcoming weekend in the City of Light. The White House has only spoken openly about the D-Day commemorations in Normandy…. – AP, 6-4-09
Obama seeks common cause with Muslim world: Invoking the Quran and his rarely used middle name, Barack Hussein Obama declared Thursday that America has a common cause with Islam and never will be at war with the faith — an overture intently watched by the Muslim world and welcomed in unlikely quarters. An Iranian cleric called the president’s speech “an initial step for removing misconceptions.”
Obama spoke at a seat of Islamic learning, his 55-minute address suffused with respect for touchstones of the religion. He said the time had come to “speak the truth” and “seek a new beginning.”
“America and Islam are not exclusive,” he said, “and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”… – AP, 6-4-09
Do Obama’s words reveal his Middle East sympathies?: A close examination of the speech underscores how Obama, four months into his presidency, is still introducing himself — and what he stands for — to Americans and the world….
But now, with Thursday’s speech in Cairo, Obama is laying bare more of his sympathies and inclinations in the volatile area of Middle East politics. Obama spoke, for example, of Palestinian “resistance” — a word that can cast Israel as an illegitimate occupier. He drew parallels between Palestinians and the struggles of black Americans in slavery and of black South Africans during apartheid. Both references made some allies of Israel uneasy. Moreover, in his defense of Israel’s legitimacy, Obama cited the Holocaust and centuries of anti-Semitism, but not the belief of some Jews that their claim to the land is rooted in the Bible and reaches back thousands of years…. – LAT, 6-5-09
World Reaction Mixed On Obama’s Cairo Speech: President Obama’s much anticipated speech to Muslims was watched by people of all faiths around the world. The reaction ranges from praises for a new beginning in Muslim-American relations to skepticism about setting words to action. From the Gaza Strip to Kabul to Washington, D.C., the world held its breath as President Obama made his historic speech to the Muslim world. “I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world,” he said…. – VOA, 6-4-09
Analysis: Obama’s Islam success depends on Israel: President Barack Obama’s speech to Muslims also had a huge and attentive Jewish audience, attuned to any suggestion that he might soften U.S. support for Israel or make nice with Iran at the expense of the Jewish state. His careful words illustrate the constraints posed by Obama’s political obligations as he tries to reinvigorate America’s honest- broker status in the Islamic world…..
An Israeli government statement issued after Obama spoke ignored his calls for a settlement freeze and the creation of an independent Palestinian state — demands that the hawkish Netanyahu continues to reject. “We share President Obama’s hope that the American effort heralds the beginning of a new era that will bring about an end to the conflict,” the statement said, noting that Israel’s security must be guaranteed. – AP, 6-4-09
Many Muslims Praise Tone of Speech, but Call for Action: Mr. Obama won over many Muslims for delivering what many viewed as a respectful address — peppered with the moral message Muslims receive at weekly homilies and the straightforward talk they rarely get from their own leadership. Muslims in the Middle East and beyond praised U.S. President Barack Obama for the tone of his speech Thursday, but they had more of a mixed reaction to the substance of the address. “The Holy Quran tells us, ‘Be conscious of God and speak always the truth,’ ” said Mr. Obama, quoting the Muslim holy book in his hour-long speech at Cairo University. “That is what I will try to do.”… – WSJ, 6-4-09
Varying Responses to Speech in Mideast Highlight Divisions: On one level, President Obama’s speech succeeded in reaching out to Muslims across the Middle East, winning widespread praise for his respectful approach, his quotations from the Koran and his forthright references to highly fraught political conflicts. But Mr. Obama’s calibrated remarks also asked listeners in a region shaken by hatred to take two steps that have long been anathema: forgetting the past and understanding an opposing view. For a president who proclaimed a goal of asking people to listen to uncomfortable truths, it was clear that parts of his speech resonated deeply with his intended audience and others fell on deaf ears, in Israel as well as the Muslim world…. – NYT, 6-4-09
Gender and heritage a frequent topic for Sotomayor: Sonia Sotomayor told the Senate on Thursday that the White House never questioned her about cases or issues she might have to decide as a Supreme Court justice, a disclosure gleaned from reams of documents that reveal she has spoken repeatedly about how her gender and Latina heritage affect her judging…. – AP, 6-4-09
Speeches Show Judge’s Steady Focus on Diversity and Struggle: In speech after speech over the years, Judge Sonia Sotomayor has returned to the themes of diversity, struggle, heritage and alienation that have both powered and complicated her nomination to the Supreme Court…. – NYT, 6-5-09
Democrats may add car vouchers to war fund bill: U.S. congressional Democrats are considering fast-tracking legislation to boost auto sales by offering Americans vouchers to trade in older, less fuel-efficient vehicles for ones that get better mileage, a congressional aide said on Thursday. The legislation, known as “cash for clunkers,” would be added to a pending war funding measure in Congress, but “no final decisions have been made” despite wide support for the voucher program, said Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi…. – Reuters, 6-4-09
Rival Messages as Obama Lands in the Mideast: Aiming to repair the American relationship with the Muslim world, President Obama was greeted on Wednesday with reminders of the vast gulfs his Cairo speech must bridge, as voices as disparate as Al Qaeda’s and the Israeli government’s competed to shape how Mr. Obama’s message would be heard…. – NYT, 6-3-09
Israelis Say Bush Agreed to West Bank Growth: Senior Israeli officials accused President Obama on Wednesday of failing to acknowledge what they called clear understandings with the Bush administration that allowed Israel to build West Bank settlement housing within certain guidelines while still publicly claiming to honor a settlement “freeze.” The complaint was the latest in a growing rift between the Obama administration and the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over how to move forward to achieve peace in the Middle East. Mr. Obama was in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and is scheduled to address the Muslim world from Cairo on Thursday…. – NYT, 6-3-09
First lady Michelle Obama joins push for Sotomayor: The White House dispatched first lady Michelle Obama to defend Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday, part of a broad offensive to humanize the judge that came as former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich backed off his harsh criticism of her as a racist. Mrs. Obama told students at a high school graduation that Sotomayor is “more than ready” to be a justice and compared the judge’s life story of humble beginnings and high achievement to the paths taken by her husband and herself…. – AP, 6-3-09
Public plan threatens bipartisan health deal: President Barack Obama’s hopes for a bipartisan health deal seemed in jeopardy Thursday as GOP senators protested his renewed support for a new public health insurance plan, and a key Democratic chairman declared that such a plan would likely be in the Senate’s bill. A public plan that would compete with private insurers is opposed by nearly all Republicans. Obama long has supported it, but he had avoided going into detail about his health goals, leaving the specifics to Congress and emphasizing hopes for a bipartisan bill…. – AP, 6-4-09
Sotomayor’s Talk Made No Waves in ’01: For an event that has emerged as one of the biggest issues in the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice, the speech Judge Sonia Sotomayor delivered in 2001 generated little notice at the time from the audience at a symposium on Latinos and the law. Ms. Sotomayor’s comment that she hoped a “wise Latina” would usually reach a better judicial conclusion than a white male has prompted cries of racism from her detractors and calls from Republican senators for an explanation. To critics like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Ms. Sotomayor was clearly saying that members of one ethnic group make better judges than those of another…. – WSJ, 6-3-09
Obama outlines health care plan for all: President Barack Obama, providing the first real details on how he wants to reshape the nation’s health care system, urged Congress on Wednesday toward a sweeping overhaul that would allow Americans to buy into a government insurance plan. In a letter to two senators leading the health care debate, Obama also moved toward accepting a requirement for every American to buy health insurance, as long as the plan provides a “hardship waiver” to exempt poor people from having to pay…. “The plans you are discussing embody my core belief that Americans should have better choices for health insurance, building on the principle that if they like the coverage they have now, they can keep it, while seeing their costs lowered as our reforms take hold,” Obama wrote…. – AP, 6-3-09
Obama Names a Republican to Lead the Humanities Endowment: President Obama intends to nominate Jim Leach, a former Republican congressman from Iowa who is now a professor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, as the next chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the White House said on Wednesday. “I am confident that with Jim as its head, the National Endowment for the Humanities will continue on its vital mission of supporting the humanities and giving the American public access to the rich resources of our culture,” Mr. Obama said in a statement…. – NYT, 6-3-09
Dems use war funding bill for more GI benefits: Congressional Democrats are using an approximately $100 billion war funding bill to give recently expanded GI Bill education benefits to the children of military service members who die while on active duty. The provision, pressed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, would give GI Bill benefits — which were greatly expanded last year — to each child of a service member killed in action or while on active duty, instead of a single family member as permitted under current rules…. – AP, 6-3-09
Nancy Reagan on hand as statue of President Reagan unveiled in D.C: Former First Lady Nancy Reagan held back tears Wednesday as she helped to unveil and then gently caressed a 7-foot bronze statue of her “Ronnie” that went on display at the Capitol. The statue in the Capitol’s soaring Rotunda, where the late President Ronald Reagan lay in state after his death at age 93 in 2004, was “a wonderful likeness of Ronnie and he would be so proud,” said Nancy Reagan, who will be 88 next month. “The last time we were in this room was for Ronnie’s service,” Reagan said. “So it’s nice to be back under happier circumstances.” – NY Daily News, 6-3-09
Nancy Reagan Joins Mrs. Obama for Lunch: Michelle Obama and Nancy Reagan will meet for the first time on Wednesday over lunch at the White House, an Obama administration official said… – NYT, 6-2-09
Obama Urges Quick Action by Senators on Insurance: President Obama on Tuesday affirmed his support for the creation of a government-sponsored health insurance plan, but he acknowledged that such a plan would sharply reduce the chances for Republican support of legislation to overhaul the health care system, Democratic senators said…. – NYT, 6-2-09
Sotomayor counters GOP critics over bias claims: Judge Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday countered Republican charges that she would let her background dictate her rulings as Americans signaled a favorable first impression of President Barack Obama’s first Supreme Court choice. A new Associated Press-GfK poll suggested that Americans have a more positive view of her than they did of any of former President George W. Bush’s nominees to the high court. Half backed her confirmation…. – AP, 6-2-09
Nancy Reagan and Obama Kiss and Make Up: It was a kiss and make up session at the White House Tuesday, with President Obama towering over former First Lady Nancy Reagan as he signed a proclamation establishing the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission. The commission is supposed to organize activities to mark the 100th anniversary, in 2011, of President Reagan’s birth. But enough about that; today’s White House event was also a chance for Mr. Obama to make up with Mrs. Reagan, whom he famously — and inexplicably — dissed back in November during the transition…. – NYT, 6-2-09
Pres. Obama holds surprise meeting with Ehud Barak: United States President Barack Obama made a surprise appearance yesterday at a meeting Defense Minister Ehud Barak was holding in Washington, shortly before the U.S. leader was set to leave on a five-day trip to the Middle East. Obama spoke for about 15 minutes with Barak, who was meeting with National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones at the time. While Obama’s official schedule did not include a meeting with Barak, he has in the past dropped into other officials’ meetings with international figures. Obama intends to give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu four to six weeks to provide an “updated position” regarding construction in the settlements and the two-state principle…. – Haaretz, 6-2-09
Minnesota Gov Pawlenty says won’t seek third term: Republican Tim Pawlenty said on Tuesday he would not seek a third term as Minnesota’s governor but deflected questions about whether he would run for U.S. president in 2012. “I’m not ruling anything in or out,” the 48-year-old Pawlenty told reporters in Minnesota, adding he planned to offer his party new ideas. “I have 19 months left in my term — this is not a wake,” Pawlenty said, joking that he planned to tend to his lawn…. – Reuters, 6-2-09
Obama: Nationalization of GM to be short-term: In a defining moment for American capitalism, President Barack Obama ushered General Motors Corp. into bankruptcy protection Monday and put the government behind the wheel of the company that once symbolized the nation’s economic muscle. The fallen giant, the largest U.S. industrial company ever to enter bankruptcy, is shedding some 21,000 jobs and 2,600 dealers. Sparing few communities, the retrenchment amounts to one-third of its U.S. work force and 40 percent of its dealerships…. – AP, 6-1-09
Analysis: Gov’t firmly behind the wheel at GM: President Barack Obama now owns General Motors, even though he insists he’s taking it out only for a spin. Hours after the government sent GM into court Monday to file for Chapter 11 protection, Obama declared, “What I have no interest in doing is running GM.” But with a 60 percent equity stake in the carmaker and $50 billion in taxpayer money riding on GM’s success, the federal government is far from a hands-off investor…. – AP, 6-1-09
Ex-US Rep formally announces run for Ohio governor: Former Ohio Congressman John Kasich kicked off his campaign for governor Monday, saying he would eventually eliminate the state’s income tax while Democrats leveled a pre-emptive strike to tie him to Wall Street greed and irresponsibility…. – AP, 6-1-09
Judge: Gitmo legal documents must be public: A federal judge ordered the United States on Monday to publicly reveal unclassified versions of its allegations and evidence justifying the continued imprisonment of more than 100 detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay…. – AP, 6-1-09
Obama is confusing the Left on Gitmo: Folks on the Left are confused because, for one thing, it is the Barack Obama hour, they love him, and they want to support him on just about everything. But there he is doing what he said he would not do on Guantanamo Bay. How to get around it? Well, if you have been reading what they write and listening to what they say, it’s pretty clear that many, if not all, have decided to put their faith in Obama’s dodges instead of his deeds…. – Washington Examiner, 5-27-09
Text: Obama’s Speech in Cairo: The text of President Obama’s prepared remarks to the Muslim world, delivered on June 4, 2009, as released by the White House. – NYT – Mp3 Download – Video
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON A NEW BEGINNING Cairo University Cairo, Egypt: So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end.
I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles — principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. I know there’s been a lot of publicity about this speech, but no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have this afternoon all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each other the things we hold in our hearts and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.” (Applause.) That is what I will try to do today — to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart…. – White House, 6-4-09
Obama cites Quran, but message is interfaith: President Barack Obama showed respect for Islam by quoting from the Quran in his speech Thursday but did so in a way meant to resonate with Christians and Jews as well. The passages he chose from the Muslim holy book had meanings that were universal in their appeal. He also referred once to the Talmud, the collection of Jewish law, and quoted a verse from the Gospel of Matthew. Both underscored the Quranic verses. “The Holy Quran tells us, ‘Mankind, we have created you male and a female. And we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another,’” Obama said in the Cairo address. “The Talmud tells us, ‘The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.’ The Holy Bible tells us, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.’”… – AP, 6-4-09
Israel Government spokesman Mark Regev: “Israel shares the hope expressed by President Obama that his efforts will indeed lead to a new period of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. a period where Israel will be recognized as a Jewish state and that we can live without fear of violence and terrorism.”
Saeb Erekat, a chief advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: “Now I hope that in the next few months, President Obama will lay a real plan with time lines, monitors and mechanisms to implement and translate the vision of two states to a realistic political track.”
Obama on Obama: “We have a joke around the White House. We’re just going to keep on telling the truth until it stops working — and nowhere is truth-telling more important than the Middle East.” “Stop saying one thing behind closed doors and saying something else publicly…. There are a lot of Arab countries more concerned about Iran developing a nuclear weapon than the ‘threat’ from Israel, but won’t admit it.” There are a lot of Israelis, “who recognize that their current path is unsustainable, and they need to make some tough choices on settlements to achieve a two-state solution — that is in their long-term interest — but not enough folks are willing to recognize that publicly.” There are a lot of Palestinians who “recognize that the constant incitement and negative rhetoric with respect to Israel” has not delivered a single “benefit to their people and had they taken a more constructive approach and sought the moral high ground” they would be much better off today — but they won’t say it aloud…. – NYT, 6-3-09
Obama makes nice with Nancy Reagan: President Obama kissed and made up with Nancy Reagan today at a White House event to create a commission to celebrate the centennial of her husband Ronald’s birth.
“Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not, and a way that Bill Clinton did not,” he said in an interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal in January 2008.
And today, Obama said, “President Reagan understood that while there are often strong disagreements between parties and political adversaries — disagreements that can be a source of conflict and bitterness — it is important to keep in mind all that we share….President Reagan helped as much as any President to restore a sense of optimism in our country, a spirit that transcended politics — that transcended even the most heated arguments of the day.”
“I want to thank our special guest here today, Nancy Reagan, our former first lady, who redefined that role in her time at the White House — and who has, in the many years since, taken on a new role, as an advocate on behalf of treatments that hold the promise of improving and saving lives,” Obama said. “And I should just add, she has been extraordinarily gracious to both me and Michelle during our transition here and I’m thankful for that.
“There are few who are not moved by the love that Ms. Reagan felt for her husband — and fewer still who are not inspired by how this love led her to take up the twin causes of stem cell research and Alzheimer’s research. In saying a long goodbye, Nancy Reagan became a voice on behalf of millions of families experiencing the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer’s disease.”
When Obama escorted Nancy Reagan into the Diplomatic Reception Room, she walked using a cane in her right hand, while her left hand was in the crook of the president’s arm, where it stayed the entire time he spoke, according to the press pool report.
When he escorted her out, she again had her hand in the crook of his elbow. The president leaned down, and said, “Michelle….She just thinks the world of you.” – Boston Globe, 6-2-09
Taking Shifts to Walk the Dog: Who’s walking Bo? Well, the Obamas are taking shifts. The president takes the night shift, usually just before 10 p.m., the first lady, Michelle Obama, told Time magazine. She walks the dog in the early morning (and picks up a few other shifts during the day, for good measure). “We sort of handle Bo like we did the kids,” said Mrs. Obama, who appears on the cover of this week’s Time magazine. “I’m the early-morning person … Once I go to bed, I don’t care what happens. Just make sure the dog doesn’t have an accident.”…
“I know women who have given up a lot of themselves,” she said. “And there were times in my marriage where I put stuff aside. This isn’t one of those times.” – NYT, 6-2-09
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON GENERAL MOTORS RESTRUCTURING Grand Foyer: What we have, then, is a credible plan that is full of promise. But GM can’t put this plan into effect on its own. Executing this plan will require a substantial amount of money that only a government can provide. Considering GM’s extensive operations within their borders, the governments of Canada and Ontario have agreed to do their part with an investment in GM’s future, and I want to thank them for doing so. I also want to thank the government of Germany for working diligently to reach a Memorandum of Understanding on the sale of a major stake in GM’s European Division and for providing interim funding that will make it possible for that transaction to be finalized.
But of course GM is an American company with tens of thousands of employees in this country, and responsibility for its future ultimately rests with us. That’s why our government will be making a significant additional investment of about $30 billion in GM — an investment that will entitle American taxpayers to ownership of about 60 percent of the new GM…. What we are not doing — what I have no interest in doing — is running GM. GM will be run by a private board of directors and management team with a track record in American manufacturing that reflects a commitment to innovation and quality. They — and not the government — will call the shots and make the decisions about how to turn this company around. The federal government will refrain from exercising its rights as a shareholder in all but the most fundamental corporate decisions. When a difficult decision has to be made on matters like where to open a new plant or what type of new car to make, the new GM, not the United States government, will make that decision. In short, our goal is to get GM back on its feet, take a hands-off approach, and get out quickly…..
I’m confident that the steps I’m announcing today will mark the end of an old GM, and the beginning of a new GM; a new GM that can produce the high-quality, safe, and fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow; that can lead America towards an energy independent future; and that is once more a symbol of America’s success…. – White House, 6-1-09
Cheney “wrong” on facts: Obama: President Barack Obama on Monday struck back at one of his toughest critics, saying former Vice President Dick Cheney was wrong when he criticized White House plans to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay. “He also happens to be wrong. Last time, immediately after his speech, I think there was a fact check on his speech that didn’t get a very good grade,” Obama told NPR News…. – Reuters, 6-1-09
Romney criticizes Obama’s defense cuts: “Backing away from missile defense and depleting the defense budget to fund new social programs, particularly in the face of global turmoil, would put America and Americans at risk,” he said. Romney, speaking to the conservative Heritage Foundation, called Obama’s proposal to cut missile defense programs a “grave miscalculation” in light of North Korea’s provocations, Iran’s near-nuclear status and Pakistan’s instability….
“Arrogant, delusional tyrants can’t be stopped by earnest words and furrowed brows,” he said. “Action, strong bold action coming from a position of strength and determination, is the only effective deterrent.” “I know the liberals have opposed missile defense ever since Ronald Reagan came up with it,” he said. “But this is too big an issue for ideology or politics to prevail over national security.”…
“I take issue with President Obama’s recent tour of apology,” Romney said. “It’s not because America hasn’t made mistakes — we have – but because America’s mistakes are overwhelmed by what America has meant to the hopes and aspirations of people throughout the world.”… – AP, 6-1-09
Romney says Obama is putting nation at risk Words not enough in dealing with tyrants, he says: “The president’s planned budgets and multitrillion dollar deficits, financed by a level of borrowing never before attempted by any nation, puts our whole economy in jeopardy,” Romney said in the speech, sponsored by the conservative Heritage Foundation. “He may take us past the tipping point and create a crisis of confidence in the dollar that would burden us for years.”… “Arrogant, delusional tyrants can’t be stopped by earnest words and furrowed brows,” Romney said. “Action — strong bold action — coming from a position of strength and determination, is the only effective deterrent.”… – Salt Lake Tribune, 6-1-09
SUMAIYA HAMDANI, George Mason University “Obama’s Speech Could Mark Shift in U.S.-Muslim Relations”: I was very impressed with the speech, actually, and I was impressed with the speech for a lot of reasons. I think, first and foremost, the quality of the speech was one that was very different from the previous administration and, I think, for most administrations, U.S. administrations. Obama was speaking to an audience, as opposed to at an audience. And… By which I mean that he engaged the audience in terms that resonated with them. For example, whereas most U.S. presidents and policymakers have spoken in terms of freedom and democracy, much of his speech was really about justice, which is a concept around which political discourse is built in many over other parts of the world, including the Islamic world. And I think that he also was able to engage the audience in terms of what was particular to their culture and heritage. But at the same time, what made it universal, in the introduction to his speech — sorry.
I would — my colleagues are putting Obama’s speech or putting his feet to the fire much more than I would. I listened to the speech as a speech by an American president. I listened to it for what kind of rationale he would provide for the kinds of policies — rather than specific policies, but the rationale for the kinds of policies he would pursue. And I listened to the speech, I have to admit, as an American Muslim. And on all of those levels, I found the speech impressive, in the sense that, again, he engaged the audience in terms that made sense to them. I think with regard to, for example, the Palestinian issue, the fact that a U.S. president talked about the humiliation that Palestinians suffer under occupation — I think those words are very important, because those are words the Palestinians have used to talk about their experience as displaced people, as refugees, as people trapped in the kind of Bantustans that exist in the occupied territories. And American presidents have not addressed them in terms that they themselves have used to describe their condition….
I think realistically not much. I mean, as he himself said in a speech, one speech does not make a big difference. But I think what he did do in the context of a speech — and an important one at that — was to engage his audience and create this potential for common understanding and mutual interest. One of the things that impressed me about the speech was that, unlike many political pundits and many authors of the contemporary scene in the Islamic world, he attempted to transcend what has been a kind of accepted “othering” of Islam. He talked about the sort of debt that world civilization has to Islam. And in doing that, I think he transcended the sort of clash of civilization paradigm that has become so accepted. And I think, in talking about Islam as to, quote, “a part of America,” he went beyond the “othering” of Muslims in the West, which I think was also very important. – PBS Newshour, 6-4-09
Burton Visotzky “Obama cites Quran, but message is interfaith”: “Obama’s taking that step, showing familiarity with the Quran, is the palpable demonstration of the respect he went to Cairo to show,” said Burton Visotzky, a professor of interreligious studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York… – AP, 6-4-09
Julian Zelizer, professor, Princeton University: “President Obama should highlight three important points. The first is that the administration is committed to improving relations with the Muslim world after the tensions that have been building over the past decade — before and after 9/11. Diplomacy and financial assistance will be part of the mix. Second, he should reiterate his commitment to democratization and human rights in this region of the world. And finally, he should call for regional coalitions which include Israel to find ways to contain growing threats such as Iran without having to resort to war.” – Politico, 6-3-09
David Orentlicher, professor, Indiana University: “The president should reaffirm the message from his visit to Turkey that the United States is not at war with Islam, that the United States has been enriched by Muslims and that we seek broader engagement based upon mutual interest and mutual respect. He also should restate his point that ‘our partnership with the Muslim world is critical in rolling back a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject’ and then talk about the need for Muslims to meet their responsibility in condemning the beliefs, statements and actions that arise out of that fringe ideology. The president should remind the world that Egypt was the first of Israel’s neighbors to recognize Israel and agree to a peace treaty and highlight the important model of Anwar Sadat in seeking reconciliation with one’s enemy. The president also should contrast the efforts of Sadat with the example of other Arab leaders who not only have failed to pursue peace with Israel but have rebuffed genuine peace overtures or have tried to provoke an escalation of hostilities. The president should say that the time has come to enter a new era of relationships in the Middle East, where the vision of leaders like Sadat can be realized and not thwarted by the guns of extremists.” – Politico, 6-3-09
Don Ritchie “Reagan returns to Washington, D.C., in bronze”: Don Ritchie, the Senate’s associate historian, said that although he was sad to see the King statue go, “I’ve rarely met a Californian who knew who he was.” “I suppose that former presidents will have more staying power,” he said. “Anyway, having your statue in the U.S. Capitol for almost eight decades is a pretty good run, even if it’s not for eternity. And since King was a minister, he would likely have recalled Solomon’s warning in Ecclesiastes: ‘Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.’” – LAT, 6-3-09
Robert Dallek “Familiar Obama Phrase Being Groomed as a Slogan”: President Obama told doctors and insurers on Monday that revamping health care would “lay a new foundation for our economy.” He told graduating college students on Wednesday that “we need to build a new foundation.” He told consumers on Thursday that protecting them was vital “to the new foundation we seek to build.”…
Robert Dallek, a presidential historian, suspects Mr. Obama’s expression may suffer the same fate. “I’m not sure what it means,” Mr. Dallek said. “The successful slogans tied in a convincing way to current events. T.R.’s Square Deal, F.D.R.’s New Deal, J.F.K.’s New Frontier and L.B.J.’s Great Society all resonated because they summed up what their presidents intended and what the public was eager for at the time.” “I guess you could say the same for the New Foundation,” he added, “but foundation doesn’t strike me as a word people will comfortably take to.” – NYT, 5-15-09
White House Photo, 6/4/09, Pete Souza
The President in the Middle East
The President spoke in Cairo on America’s relationship with Muslim communities around the world, watch the video or read his remarks in a dozen languages.
Poll gives Va. dark horse Deeds a boost Democratic bid is wide open: State Senator R. Creigh Deeds was the only one of three candidates vying for the party’s nomination to show a jump in the latest poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling. The survey shows support for Mr. Deeds at 20 percent – up 6 percent from a similar poll taken two weeks ago. Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe continues to lead the race with 29 percent support – one point down from the previous poll. Former Delegate Brian J. Moran remained at 20 percent support, with undecided voters making up 31 percent…. – Washington Times, 5-22-09
Poll shows Obama getting little support in Oklahoma: President Barack Obama’s approval rating in Oklahoma is only 38 percent, according to a new poll that shows that even a third of the state’s Democrats aren’t happy with the new president. The poll, released Thursday by Public Policy Polling, a North Carolina firm, reflects little change in the state’s sentiment toward Obama since the election in November. Nationally, Obama had his worst showing in Oklahoma, getting just 34 percent of the vote and losing all 77 counties to Republican Sen. John McCain…. – Tulsa World, 5-21-09
Roll Call: House rejects probe of Pelosi’s claims: The 252-172 roll call Thursday by which the House rejected a measure to investigate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s assertion that the CIA misled her on the use of torture. A “yes” vote is a vote against an investigation. Voting yes were 250 Democrats and 2 Republicans. Voting no were 0 Democrats and 172 Republicans…. – AP, 5-21-09
House panel advances global warming bill: Legislation imposing the first nationwide limits on the pollution blamed for global warming advanced in the House late Thursday, clearing a key committee despite strong Republican opposition. The Energy and Commerce Committee approved the sweeping climate bill 33-25 after repeatedly turning back GOP attempts to kill or weaken the measure during four days of debate…. – AP, 5-21-09
The Death of the Republican Party May Have Been Greatly Exaggerated: Some in the media believe the Republican Party is washed up and dying. Leslie Savan wrote in The Nation earlier this month: “What sort of psychological bent would lead people to want to be part of a dead-end political party like the GOP has become?”
But, a new Gallup poll from May 7 – 10 shows it’s not quite that bad for the GOP. Thirty-two percent of participants in the survey identified themselves as Republicans, 32 percent as Democrats, and 34 percent Independents. And if you include Independent “leaners,” Republicans and Democrats are also tied at 45 percent between May 7 – 10. Fox News, 5-20-09
Poll: Nearly half of Nevadans would oust Sen. Reid: Along with the 45 percent who said they’d oust the four-term Democrat, 17 percent of the 625 voters contacted statewide for the Las Vegas Review-Journal poll said they would consider another candidate. Thirty-five percent of the poll respondents said they would re-elect him…. – Mercury News, 5-19-08
Poll: Americans want moderate judge as next justice: In the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, however, majorities said it is “not important at all” that Obama nominate a woman, an African American, or a Hispanic. A plurality, 32 percent, said it’s not important for the nominee to have experience in elected office.
But 67 percent of respondents said it’s important that the nominee has experience as a judge.
In terms of political ideology, 37 percent said they believed Obama should nominate a moderate, while 27 percent said someone who was very or somewhat liberal, and 35 percent said a nominee who was very or somewhat conservative. Also, 68 percent said they do not want to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established the right to abortions in the first three months of pregnancy…. – Boston Globe, 5-18-09
Did Nancy Pelosi lie? New poll shows Americans are divided: 43 percent of those polled believe that it;s “at least somewhat likely” the CIA misled Pelosi while 41 percent believe it’s not likely. The partisan gap is what’s telling. Sixty-two percent of Democrats are willing to accept what she said while an identical 62 percent of Republicans don;t buy it.
Those not affiliated with a party are more likely not to support Pelosi’s statement by a 48 percent to 38 percent margin…. – CS Monitor, 5-18-09
(President Barack Obama and a bipartisan group of lawmakers applaud after the President signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act in the Rose Garden of the White House Friday, May 22, 2009. Official White House photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Memorial Day roll call honors 148,000 veterans: The names are whisked away by the hot, gusting wind as soon as they are spoken, forgotten in the stream of the next name and the next name and the next name…. The story of America could be told through these names, tales of bravery and hesitation, of dreams achieved or deferred and of battles won and lost. Taken alone, they are just words, identities stripped of place and time, stripped of rank and deeds and meaning. But they are not taken alone. They are taken together — 148,000 names, representing the entire veteran population of Riverside National Cemetery, a roll call of the dead read aloud over 10 days by more than 300 volunteers…. – AP, 5-23-09
Dick Cheney: Washington trembles at the return of ‘Darth Vader’: Dick Cheney was a formidable backroom operator during his eight years as vice-president in the Bush administration. Having abandoned his short-lived retirement in Wyoming, he is now leading the Republican charge against Obama from the front…. – Guardian UK, 5-24-09
Obama Signs Credit-Card Overhaul Legislation Into Law: President Barack Obama put his signature on legislation Friday clamping down on credit-card companies’ ability to boost interest rates and slap higher fees on consumers, a measure long-sought by the White House but reviled by the banking sector.
“We’re not going to give people a free pass, and we expect consumers to live within their means and pay what they owe, but we also expect financial institutions to act with the same sense of responsibility that the American people aspire to in their own lives,” Obama said at a signing ceremony in the Rose Garden…. – WSJ, 5-22-09
Cheney Seeks Book Deal on Bush Years and More: With his sustained blitz of television appearances and speeches, former Vice President Dick Cheney has established himself as perhaps the leading Republican voice against President Obama. Not a bad time, then, to be in the market for a multimillion-dollar book contract. Mr. Cheney is actively shopping a memoir about his life in politics and service in four presidential administrations, a work that would add to what is already an unusually dense collection of post-Bush-presidency memoirs that will offer a collective rebuttal to the many harshly critical works released while the writers were in office and beyond…. – NYT, 5-22-09
GOP effort to discredit Pelosi sees modest success: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has avoided serious damage from the relentless Republican effort to discredit her, though there’s some evidence that the GOP is making small inroads. Republicans have been battering the California Democrat over her assertion that the CIA misled her in 2002 about whether terrorism suspects had been tortured…. – Miami Herald, 5-22-09
President’s Detention Plan Tests American Legal Tradition: President Obama’s proposal for a new legal system in which terrorism suspects could be held in “prolonged detention” inside the United States without trial would be a departure from the way this country sees itself, as a place where people in the grip of the government either face criminal charges or walk free…. – NYT, 5-22-09
House Climate Change Bill Clears Key Hurdle: The nation’s first federal climate change cleared a key hurdle last night by making it out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on a 33-25 vote. The American Clean Energy and Security Act, also known as the Waxman-Markey bill because of its two authors, now heads to the full House and could see a vote as early as late June, according to reports. But the massive bill faces more revisions as it makes its way through additional committees and also faces opposition in the Senate…. – Reuters, 5-22-09
House panels will make haste on climate bill, Hoyer says: Expect another fast-paced month of committee action on a sweeping global warming and energy bill ahead of possible floor debate in late June or early July, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said today.
“I think the speaker and I will both be urging the committee chairs to consider these quickly,” the Maryland Democrat said in an interview, referring to eight panels with jurisdiction on a bill approved last night by the Energy and Commerce Committee. “Frankly, they’ve been considering them for some time now. It’s not like it’s a great surprise.” For most committees, the work will be swift, Hoyer said. “Their level of concern,” he said, “is not high.”… – NYT, 5-22-09
Naval graduates include Sen. McCain’s son, Jack: Far from the madding crowds of last year’s campaign trail, Barack Obama quietly greeted the newly graduated midshipman and son of the man he defeated for the presidency. The moment had to be a bit cathartic for both John Sidney “Jack” McCain IV and Obama, whose fitness to be commander in chief was questioned just months ago by young Jack’s father, Sen. John McCain…. – AP, 5-22-09
To cover both wars, Senate passes $91.3B bill: The Senate is backing President Barack Obama’s efforts to ramp up the war in Afghanistan, granting his request for $91.3 billion for military and diplomatic operations there and in Iraq. The spending bill, approved on an 86-3 vote Thursday night, goes to congressional negotiators to work out a compromise with a similar measure the House passed. Lawmakers expected to present a bill for Obama’s signature next month…. – AP, 5-22-09
Bush’s Gitmo Vindication Obama still hasn’t said where the worst terrorists will go: President Obama delivered a major speech yesterday on how he intends to prosecute the war on terror (or whatever it’s now called), and in particular his desire to close the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay. As rhetoric, his remarks were at pains to declare a bold new moral direction. On substance, however, the speech and other events this week look more like a vindication of the past seven years. The President’s speech came after both houses of Congress had denied his funding requests to shut down Guantanamo and relocate some of the most dangerous prisoners to the U.S. The 90-6 vote in the Senate was especially notable because all but a half-dozen Democrats opposed their own President, on that high-minded principle known as not-in- my-backyard…. – WSJ, 5-22-09
Obama backs Gitmo plan, Cheney defends Bush policy: President Barack Obama fought Thursday to retake command of the emotional debate over closing Guantanamo, denouncing “fear-mongering” by political opponents and insisting that maximum-security prisons in the U.S. can safely house dangerous terror suspects transferred from Cuba. In a unique bit of Washington theater, former Vice President Dick Cheney delivered his own address just one minute later, defending the Bush administration’s creation of the prison camp as vigorously as Obama denounced it….. – AP, 5-21-09
Obama: 50 Gitmo detainees cleared for transfer: Forty-eight terror suspects currently held at Guantanamo Bay are waiting to be released to other nations, the Obama administration said Thursday. The detainees are among 50 detainees whose cases President Barack Obama said Thursday have already been reviewed. The detainees would be the first to be released to other nations under the Obama administration’s effort to empty the Cuba-based prison without bringing all its inmates to the United States…. – AP, 5-21-09
Palin picks memoir collaborator: Sarah Palin has picked a collaborator for her memoir. A spokeswoman for SarahPAC, the Alaska governor’s political action committee, says that Palin has selected Lynn Vincent, an author and features editor for World magazine, a conservative Christian publication. Palin’s book, currently untitled, is scheduled for release next year by HarperCollins…. – AP, 5-21-09
Obama vs. Cheney: Just the facts: President Barack Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney laid out a variety of arguments Thursday in staking out two widely divergent views of national security in the age of terror…. – Politico, 5-21-09
SPIN METER: Obama vs. Cheney: Two tough speeches conveying two radically different views of America’s fight against terrorism and the nation’s values unfolded Thursday in separate halls, minutes apart…. – AP, 5-21-09
GOP’s best hope: Obama overreaches or underachieves: If history’s any guide, the Republican Party’s best hope for winning back power is a public backlash against Barack Obama. That’s how Republicans came back from the edge of a political abyss in 1966, as voters started to turn against Lyndon Johnson two years after his landslide election. That’s what helped unify them in the late 1970s, when a wholesale rejection of Jimmy Carter set the stage for Ronald Reagan’s sweeping victory of 1980. It worked again in 1994, when the public turned thumbs down on the first two years of Bill Clinton’s presidency and turned the Congress over to Republicans for the first time in four decades. Whether the American people will turn against Obama is an open question. Even if they do, it could take years, well beyond the 2010 midterm elections or Obama’s likely run for re-election in 2012…. – Miami Herald, 5-21-09
14 hours later, House Democrats hold the line on climate bill: House Democrats defeated a series of Republican “benchmark” amendments aimed at halting a future U.S. global warming law during a 14-hour, politically charged Energy and Commerce Committee markup yesterday. The GOP amendments took on a familiar theme by proposing the law’s sunset should the measure lead to significant job losses, higher gas prices and electricity rates, or a lack of corresponding action from China and India…. – NYT, 5-20-09
Obama Speech to Address Gitmo Worries: President Barack Obama will attempt to explain in a speech Thursday a series of decisions on the handling of detainees that has given ammunition to political opponents and raised concerns among Democrats that the issue could prove damaging to the young administration…. – WSJ, 5-20-09
GOP drops effort to rename Democrats ‘Socialist’: Republicans on Wednesday abandoned an effort to label their opponents the “Democrat Socialist Party,” ending a fight within the GOP ranks that reflected the divide between those who want a more centrist message and those seeking a more aggressive, conservative voice…. – AP, 5-20-09
Senate OKs bill to rein in credit card industry: The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to rein in credit card rate increases and excessive fees, hoping to give voters some breathing room amid a recession that has left hundreds of thousands of Americans jobless or facing foreclosure. “This is a victory for every American consumer who has ever suffered at the hands of a credit card company,” said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Banking Committee. The bill passed the Senate 90-5…. – AP, 5-19-09
Senators reject closing Gitmo prison without plan: President Barack Obama’s promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison suffered a blow Tuesday when his allies in the Senate said they would refuse to finance the move until the administration delivers a satisfactory plan for what to do with the detainees there…. – AP, 5-19-09
Obama’s new rules will transform US auto fleet: Some soccer moms will have to give up hulking SUVs. Carpenters will still haul materials around in pickup trucks, but they will cost more. Nearly everybody else will drive smaller cars, and more of them will run on electricity. The higher mileage and emissions standards set by the Obama administration on Tuesday, which begin to take effect in 2012 and are to be achieved by 2016, will transform the American car and truck fleet. The new rules would bring new cars and trucks sold in the United States to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon, about 10 mpg more than today’s standards. Passenger cars will be required to get 39 mpg, light trucks 30 mpg…. – AP, 5-19-09
Sen. Reid botches 3 subjects at news conference: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid became the latest Democrat to stray into rhetorical trouble Tuesday, botching statements on three subjects in one news conference — including the fragile health of the chamber’s most senior members…. – AP, 5-19-09
FEC dismisses complaint over Palin clothing: The Federal Election Commission has dismissed a complaint over the $150,000-plus designer wardrobe the Republican Party bought to outfit vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the good-government group that filed the complaint, argued that candidates aren’t supposed to use donor money for personal expenses such as clothes. The FEC ruled Tuesday that the ban doesn’t apply to party money, however…. – AP, 5-19-09
U.S. pressing Israel for gestures to PA before June 4: The United States expects Israel to make concrete concessions to the Palestinians before U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Cairo on June 4, an American official said during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington this week. Israel’s cabinet is due to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip this Sunday, and one concession the U.S. would like to see is for Israel to decide at this meeting to ease its restrictions on imports and exports of goods to Gaza. It also wants Israel to ease restrictions on movement in the West Bank…. – Haaretz, 5-19-09
Obama prods Netanyahu, Iran in Mideast foray: President Barack Obama on Monday opened his deepest foray into the Middle East quagmire, telling Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu he must stop Jewish settlements and should grasp a “historic opportunity” to make peace with the Palestinians. Obama also had pointed words for Iran on a second major Mideast dispute, warning the Iranians they had until year’s end to get serious about talks with the world community on curbing their nuclear ambitions. “We’re not going to have talks forever,” the president said. Obama and Netanyahu spoke highly of their hopes for progress in the Mideast after a lengthy private meeting in the Israeli’s first visit to the White House since Obama became president and Netanyahu began his second stint as prime minister. Yet the new president was firm in insisting the Israelis move toward peace with the Palestinians, and Netanyahu stuck to his stance that Israel cannot negotiate with people who deny its right to exist…. – “We should have a fairly good sense by the end of the year as to whether they are moving in the right direction and whether the parties involved are making progress and that there’s a good-faith effort to resolve differences,” the president said. “We have seen progress stalled on this front, and I suggested to the prime minister that he has a historic opportunity to get a serious movement on this issue during his tenure,” Obama said. “That means that all the parties involved have to take seriously obligations that they have previously agreed to.” “There is a clear understanding that we have to make progress on settlements; that settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward,” Obama said, referring to past negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. AP, 5-18-09
Obama Tells Netanyahu He Has an Iran Timetable: President Obama said Monday that he expected to know by the end of the year whether Iran was making “a good-faith effort to resolve differences” in talks aimed at ending its nuclear program, signaling to Israel as well as Iran that his willingness to engage in diplomacy over the issue has its limits…. – NYT, 5-18-09
Vatican: Obama seeks “common ground” on abortion: The Vatican said Monday that President Barack Obama was clearly looking for some common ground with his speech at the University of Notre Dame about abortion. The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano said Obama’s speech at the leading Catholic university on Sunday confirmed what he had said at a recent news conference — that signing the so-called Freedom of Choice Act in the U.S. Congress wasn’t his highest legislative priority. The bill would protect a woman’s right to have a child or end a pregnancy. Obama’s stance on the issue is that he supports abortion rights but says the procedure should be rare…. – AP, 5-18-09
Obama to link auto emissions and mileage standards: President Barack Obama, seeking to end a stand-off between states and the auto industry, plans to issue new national emission limits and mileage requirements for cars and trucks. Obama plans to announce on Tuesday that he will couple pollution reduction from vehicle tailpipes with increased efficiency on the road. It would be the first time that limits on greenhouse gases were linked with federal standards for passenger cars and light trucks…. – AP, 5-18-09
Bill Clinton to be named special UN envoy to Haiti: Former President Bill Clinton will be named special U.N. envoy to this impoverished Caribbean nation that has been mired in political and social turmoil for decades, his spokesman said Monday. An official announcement is expected from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Tuesday, Clinton spokesman Matt McKenna told The Associated Press…. – AP, 5-18-09
Dodd to face Democratic challenger in 2010: Embattled Sen. Christopher Dodd is getting a Democratic challenger. Connecticut businessman and former Air Force officer Merrick Alpert plans to launch a 2010 primary campaign against Dodd, who faces his toughest re-election in five terms. The official announcement is expected Tuesday…. – AP, 5-18-09
Pelosi got warning from administration on CIA memo: The Central Intelligence Agency gave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., advance warning before CIA chief Leon Panetta sent a memo to employees at the spy agency that countered Pelosi’s claim that the agency lied to Congress about waterboarding. A CIA official, but not Panetta, made the call to Pelosi “His office gave a heads-up,” a Democratic aide said Monday…. – Washington Examiner, 5-18-09
Biden speaks at Wake Forest – does not disclose nuclear launch codes: Good news for Vice President Biden’s office! The Veep successfully delivered the commencement address at Wake Forest University without disclosing top secret information. The problem is, he may have done that a few weeks ago. Newsweek is reporting that Biden may have revealed where former Vice President Cheney’s undisclosed location was. After the 9/11 attacks, Cheney’s whereabouts were frequently unknown. And that was on purpose. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer coined the phrase “undisclosed location” and it stuck. And no one, save a few with the highest of clearances, knew where it was located…. – CS Monitor, 5-18-09
WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Calls on All Americans to Honor the Service of the Troops and Their Families: On this Memorial Day weekend, President Obama calls on the American people to join him in paying tribute to America’s veterans, servicemen and women – particularly those who have made the ultimate sacrifice – and their families…. – White House, 5-23-09 – Weekly Address: Sacrifice
Obama sees court pick as smart with common touch: On the verge of choosing his first Supreme Court nominee, President Barack Obama has already provided a profile of the person he is likely to pick: an intellectual heavyweight with a “common touch,” someone whose brand of justice means seeing life from the perspective of the powerless. Obama is expected to announce his nominee this week, as early as Tuesday…
“You have to have not only the intellect to be able to effectively apply the law to cases before you,” Obama said in an interview carried Saturday on C-SPAN television. “But you have to be able to stand in somebody else’s shoes and see through their eyes and get a sense of how the law might work or not work in practical day-to-day living.”… – AP, 5-23-09
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT SIGNING OF THE CREDIT CARD ACCOUNTABILITY, RESPONSIBILITY AND DISCLOSURE ACT: …And that’s why, because of this new law, statements will be required to tell credit card holders how long it will take to pay off a balance and what it will cost in interest if they only make the minimum monthly payments. We also put a stop to retroactive rate hikes that appear on a bill suddenly with no rhyme or reason…. – White House, 5-22-09 – A New Era for Credit Cards
Obama Is Embraced at Annapolis: “As long as I am your commander in chief,” Mr. Obama said, “I will only send you into harm;s way when it is absolutely necessary, and with the strategy and the well-defined goals, the equipment and the support that you need to get the job done.”…..
“These Americans have embraced the virtues that we need most right now: self-discipline over self-interest; work over comfort; and character over celebrity,” the president said. “After an era when so many institutions and individuals have acted with such greed and recklessness, it’s no wonder that our military remains the most trusted institution in our nation.” – NYT, 5-22-09
Obama vows not to send people to war without cause: “I will only send you into harm’s way when it is absolutely necessary, and with the strategy, the well-defined goals, the equipment and the support that you need to get the job done,” the president told more than 1,000 graduates during a sun-splashed ceremony at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium….
“In short, we will maintain America’s military dominance and keep you the finest fighting force the world has ever seen,” Obama said, as more than 30,000 watched from the stands….
“The extraordinary precision and professionalism displayed that day was made possible, in no small measure, by the training, the discipline and the leadership skills that so many of those officers learned at the United States Naval Academy,” Obama said in his first public comments on the matter…. – AP, 5-22-09
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT SIGNING OF THE WEAPONS SYSTEMS ACQUISITION REFORM ACT: The bill I’m signing today, known as the Weapons System Acquisition Reforms Act, represents an important next step in this procurement reform process. It reforms a system where taxpayers are charged too much for weapons systems that too often arrive late — a system that suffers from spending on unproven technologies, outdated weapons, and a general lack of oversight…. – White House, 5-22-09 – Reform for Our Troops
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON NATIONAL SECURITY: In the midst of all these challenges, however, my single most important responsibility as President is to keep the American people safe. It’s the first thing that I think about when I wake up in the morning. It’s the last thing that I think about when I go to sleep at night.
And this responsibility is only magnified in an era when an extremist ideology threatens our people, and technology gives a handful of terrorists the potential to do us great harm. We are less than eight years removed from the deadliest attack on American soil in our history. We know that al Qaeda is actively planning to attack us again. We know that this threat will be with us for a long time, and that we must use all elements of our power to defeat it…. – White House, 5-21-09 – Security & Values
SPIN METER: Obama vs. Cheney: Obama: “I released the memos because the existence of that approach to interrogation was already widely known. The Bush administration had acknowledged its existence. And I had already banned those methods. The argument that, somehow, by releasing those memos, we are providing terrorists with information about how they will be interrogated makes no sense. We will not be interrogating terrorists using that approach. That approach is now prohibited.”….
“The decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable — a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions, that failed to use our values as a compass.”….
“I can stand here today as president of the United States and say without exception or equivocation that we do not torture and that we will vigorously protect our people while forging a strong and durable framework that allows us to fight terrorism while abiding by the rule of law. Make no mistake. If we fail to turn the page on the approach that was taken over the past several years, then I will not be able to say that as president. And if we cannot stand for our core values, then we are not keeping faith with the documents that are enshrined in this hall (the National Archives).”…
“Now let me be clear: We are indeed at war with al-Qaida and its affiliates. … Al-Qaida terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture, like other prisoners of war, must be prevented from attacking us again.”…
“Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. And I believe that those decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that too often our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight, and all too often trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions. Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, we too often set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And in this season of fear, too many of us — Democrats and Republicans, politicians, journalists and citizens — fell silent.” – AP, 5-21-09
Remarks by Richard B. Cheney: On May 21, 2009, former vice president Richard B. Cheney, now a member of AEI’s Board of Trustees, spoke at AEI on the serious and ongoing threat terrorism poses to the United States. He was introduced by AEI president Arthur C. Brooks…. – AEI, 5-21-09
SPIN METER: Obama vs. Cheney: Cheney: “Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national security interests of the United States. The harm done only begins with top-secret information now in the hands of terrorists who have just received a lengthy insert for their training manual.”….
“We did not invent that authority. It’s drawn from Article Two of the Constitution, and it was given specificity by Congress after 9/11 in a joint resolution authorizing all necessary and appropriate force to protect the American people.”…
“When just a single clue that goes unlearned or one lead that goes unpursued can bring on catastrophe, it’s no time for splitting differences. There is never a good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American people hang in the balance.”…
“Apparently using the term ‘war’ where terrorists are concerned is starting to feel a bit dated. So henceforth we’re advised by the administration to think of the fight against terrorists as ‘overseas contingency operations.’ … And when you hear that there are no more enemy combatants, as there were back in the days of that scary war on terror, at first that sounds like progress. The only problem is that the phrase is gone, but the same assortment of killers and would-be mass murderers are still there. And finding some less judgmental or more pleasant-sounding name for terrorists doesn’t change what they are or what they would do if we let them loose.”…
“To the very end of our administration, we kept al-Qaida terrorists busy with other problems. We focused on getting their secrets, instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again. … It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed.” – AP, 5-21-09
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE SIGNING OF THE HELPING FAMILIES SAVE THEIR HOMES ACT AND THE FRAUD ENFORCEMENT AND RECOVERY ACT: Well, standing up for the American people is exactly what we’re doing here today with two bills that I’m about to sign — The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, and The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act. These landmark pieces of legislation will protect hardworking Americans, crack down on those who seek to take advantage of them, and ensure that the problems that led us to this crisis never happen again. – White House, 5-20-09
A Culture Change on Climate Change: “For what everyone here believes, even as views differ on many important issues, is that the status quo is no longer acceptable.” – WH Blog, 5-19-09
Obama brings foes together for auto deal: “In the past, an agreement such as this would have been considered impossible,” Obama said Tuesday in announcing the deal, the usually pokerfaced president reveling in his own achievement. “It represents not only a change in policy in Washington but the harbinger of a change in the way business is done in Washington.”… – AP, 5-19-09
Steele: GOP must confront Obama’s celebrity appeal: “He’s young. He’s cool. He’s hip … he’s got all the qualities America likes in a celebrity, so of course he’s going to be popular,” Steele told state party chairmen Tuesday. But “this is not American Idol. This is serious … and we are going to take them on.” “The era of apologizing for Republican mistakes of the past is now officially over,” he said. “We have turned the corner. No more looking in the rearview mirror. From this point forward, we will focus all of our energies on winning the future.” – AP, 5-19-09
(President Barack Obama meets with, from left: former Defense Secretary William Perry; former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn; former Secretary of State George P. Shultz; and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office Tuesday, May 19, 2009. Official White House photo by Pete Souza)
Julian Zelizer “Why Guantanamo has become Obama’s problem”: As Princeton scholar Julian E. Zelizer points out, when it comes to national security, Obama seems to lose the confidence he so evidently has on other major issues…. – Xinhua, 5-22-09
Barack Obama gives the national security speech Democrats were waiting for: President Barack Obama delivered the national security speech Thursday that Democrats have been waiting for. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Democrats have stumbled in offering a response to the Republican approach to the war on terrorism. When former Vice President Dick Cheney speaks on national security — as he did again Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute — most Democrats continue to shudder. Republicans have argued that they are the party that will be tough on terrorists and that their policies offer the only way to keep Americans safe…. – Politico, 5-21-09
Lou Zickar: Commentary: Republicans must move to center: In his CNN.com column last week, Ed Rollins said of the Republican Party, “We may be down for awhile, but what we won’t become is a ‘Democratic Party lite’! We are a party that wants smaller government and lower taxes. Obama and the Democrats do not. We are a party that wants to encourage small business.”….
The success of these efforts provides the GOP with a road map on how to rebuild their party today. In this, Rollins is right — Republicans should not abandon their core philosophy of a strong defense, low taxes and smaller federal government. But they do need to figure out how to make this philosophy relevant to the lives of more Americans. And for this, they would be wise to do what the Democrats did in 1992 and 2006.
They need to turn toward the center. Among other things, this means coming to grips with the role of government in our lives. For nearly 30 years, the party’s position in this regard has been clear and absolute — government should be smaller. But Katrina and Iraq and Walter Reed brought to light a simple truth — government needs to be more efficient, too.
Unfortunately, smart government is not in the Republican Party’s rhetorical toolbox. It also runs counter to everything many on the far right represent. Yet it’s going to be one of the defining issues of the next few years as taxpayers begin to demand greater accountability and transparency in how their federal tax dollars are being spent.
Simply arguing that we need to establish pro-growth tax policies and leave it at that is not enough anymore. Republicans also need to acknowledge government has a role to play, and it is the responsibility of all elected lawmakers to get it right. Taking this kind of step would not only move the GOP closer to the political center, but would also be another step in the party’s journey back from political oblivion. CNN, 5-22-09
Julian Zelizer: Commentary: Democrats play defense on security: President Obama has been struggling to get things right on national security. The president has not displayed the same kind of poise and confidence as he has with domestic issues.
In contrast to the economic stimulus and health care reform, there have been a number of missteps, reversals and intra-party tensions over national security since Obama took office.
Obama, who in February 2008 said the trials of Guantanamo detainees were “too important to be held in a flawed military commission system,” now says that he will continue to use that system, though in slightly modified fashion. When Obama announced that he would not release photographs of mistreated detainees, many of his supporters could not help but be disappointed….
We have a growing military engagement in Afghanistan, the possibility of greater involvement in Pakistan, and the announcement that Obama plans to leave between 30,000 and 50,000 troops in Iraq after the “withdrawal” next year. To be sure, Obama has sent Clinton to embark on a more ambitious diplomatic agenda, but we have only seen the outlines of what they hope to achieve. The administration must start explaining what the primary objectives of its foreign policy will be.
The more thought that goes into what we are doing before a crisis hits, the better prepared we are to deal with a crisis should it occur.
But Democrats have a political incentive to be proactive as well. Democrats have shown in the previous two elections that Republicans don’t have an electoral monopoly on national security debates. But unless they provide a bold and coherent vision of their alternative, Democrats will continue to play defense. – CNN, 5-20-09
John Steele Gordon: Why Government Can’t Run a Business: The Obama administration is bent on becoming a major player in — if not taking over entirely — America’s health-care, automobile and banking industries. Before that happens, it might be a good idea to look at the government’s track record in running economic enterprises. It is terrible.
In 1913, for instance, thinking it was being overcharged by the steel companies for armor plate for warships, the federal government decided to build its own plant. It estimated that a plant with a 10,000-ton annual capacity could produce armor plate for only 70% of what the steel companies charged….. – WSJ (5-20-09)
(President Barack Obama pets the family dog, Bo, during a brief break from meetings on the South Lawn of the White House May 12, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Democrat wins Illinois congressional seat: Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley, 50, trounced GOP nominee Rosanna Pulido and Green Party candidate Matt Reichel for the 5th Congressional District seat that Emanuel first won in 2002. With 59 percent of precincts reporting, Quigley had 15,977, or 74 percent of the vote. Pulido had 4,184 or 19 percent and Reichel had 7 percent…. – AP, 4-7-09
Absentees push Franken’s Senate lead to 312: Democrat Al Franken’s lead in Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race widened Tuesday to 312 votes after previously rejected absentee ballots were added to the counting. Franken did better than Republican Norm Coleman by a nearly 2-to-1 margin as the ballots were opened and counted as part of a lawsuit brought by Coleman over the statewide recount. A three-judge panel ruled earlier that 351 ballots had been improperly rejected during the election and should be restored…. – AP, 4-7-09
Is Obama the Divider-In-Chief?: A Pew Research poll indicates 88 percent of Democrats approve of the president’s job performance, while just 27 percent of Republicans say the same thing. That’s a 61-point difference.
The gap for President George W. Bush at a similar juncture was 51 points. It was 45 for Bill Clinton — 38 for the first President Bush — and 46 for Ronald Reagan. Fox News, 4-6-09
Obama’s scorecard: Some setbacks but a good summit: At his summit debut, President Barack Obama failed to persuade foreign counterparts to commit to fresh and lavish spending to boost economic revival. And the success he did achieve in finding common ground was as much the result of modified goals as swaying other countries to bend to U.S. priorities…. – AP, 4-2-09
Charles Dharapak/Associated PressPresident Obama was greeted by Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, as he arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday.
Obama in Europe: ‘The waters didn’t part’: …How much he succeeded is open to debate, however, and it could take a long time to gauge how successfully he managed to reshape American policy, and with it the course of world affairs. “This will be tested in time,” Obama said at a town hall meeting in Istanbul, his second of his trip. “Moving the ship of state is a slow process. States are like big tankers; they’re not like speedboats. You can’t just whip them around and go in a new direction. Instead you’ve got to slowly move it and then eventually you end up in a very different place.” – Miami Herald, 4-7-09
Defense budget plan tough sell on Capitol Hill: Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ proposed budget, which axes some multibillion-dollar weapons projects, is encountering strong resistance from lawmakers whose districts stand to lose thousands of jobs during a recession. Members of Congress and military analysts said Tuesday that the potential loss of jobs is by far the biggest hurdle the administration’s plan must overcome as it looks to build support on Capitol Hill, and they expect some concessions…. – AP, 4-7-09
WHITE HOUSE NOTEBOOK: Obama misses dinner in Iraq: One thing missing from President Barack Obama’s whirlwind visit to the capital of Iraq? Dinner at the president’s residence. Before he disappeared behind closed doors to meet with President Jalal Talabani, Obama said the meal was one thing he missed. The two shared dinner at Talabani’s house when he visited Baghdad as senator. Tuesday’s unannounced visit to Baghdad was Obama’s first to the Iraq war zone as president…. – AP, 4-7-09
Obama Makes Surprise Visit to Iraq: President Obama made a surprise detour to Iraq on Tuesday, stopping to visit American troops and commanders before returning to Washington from his first overseas trip as president…. – NYT, 4-7-09
‘House’ actor Kal Penn joins White House team: The White House has hired actor Kal Penn as a liaison between President Barack Obama’s administration and Asian constituents. White House spokesman Shin Inouye said Tuesday that the actor who had a recurring role on Fox’s TV show “House” and has starred in several movies would join the staff as an associate director in the Office of Public Liaison…. – AP, 4-7-09
Bios of prosecutors facing criminal investigation: NICHOLAS MARSH, JOSEPH BOTTINI, WILLIAM WELCH, EDWARD SULLIVAN, EDWARD SULLIVAN…. – AP, 4-7-09
Tony Gutierrez/Associated PressFormer President George W. Bush threw out ceremonial first pitch before the game between the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers.
Photos: Bringing the Heat on Opening Day: Two political heavy hitters took part in baseball’s opening day festivities. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. took to the field before the Baltimore Orioles opening day game against the New York Yankees….
Meanwhile, former President George W. Bush received a standing ovation at the Ballpark in Arlington, where he threw out the first pitch before the game between the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers…. – NYT, 4-6-09ABC, 3-30-09
Obama Team’s Finances Released: Recently released financial records paint a contrasting picture of the Obama administration: a cabinet composed largely of politicians and government employees who have been on the public payroll for years, and a White House staffed with numerous aides who received substantial compensation over the past year from firms that could have a big stake in administration policies…. – WSJ, 4-6-09
Dismayed Lawyers Lay Out Reasons for Collapse of the Stevens Conviction: Even before Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. moved last week to throw out the conviction, the trial record was filled with instances of serious prosecutorial mistakes that dismayed the large corps of Washington lawyers who followed the case, including former prosecutors and defense lawyers…. – NYT, 4-6-09
Virginia Race Takes Tone, Tactics of National Politics: Independent election advocacy groups known as “527s” have been common in national and federal races for years as a way around fundraising limits. Because Virginia has no such limits anyway, 527s scarcely bothered. But are they on the verge of playing a larger role in this fall’s high-stakes gubernatorial races?… – ABC 7 News, 4-6-09
Quigley favored to replace Emanuel in Congress: Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley isn’t taking anything for granted even though he’s the favorite in Tuesday’s special congressional race to replace Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s chief of staff…. – AP, 4-6-09
President Bush’s Emergency AIDS Plan Saved 1.2 Million in Africa: The largest U.S. foreign aid program fighting the AIDS epidemic has cut the disease’s death toll by 1.2 million from 2004 to 2007 in a dozen hard-hit African countries, researchers said…. – Bloomberg, 4-6-09
Obama brings hope for warmer relations to Turkey: President Barack Obama is reaching out to Turkey to help him wind down the Iraq war and bring stability to the Middle East. He is also counting on the only Muslim member of NATO to remain a steadfast ally in the Afghanistan conflict…. – AP, 4-6-09
President Obama in Turkey: President Obama, directly addressing a majority Muslim country for the first time in his presidency, said Monday that the United States “would never be at war with Islam.”…. NYT, 4-6-09Transcript
For Obama, politics may be hard to avoid in auto bailout: Given Obama’s ties to the United Auto Workers and his reliance on Ohio, Michigan and Indiana to win the election, he has ‘to be very careful’ about alienating a key political ally in the Rust Belt… – LAT, 4-6-09
Analysis: Obama visit to Turkey no afterthought: President Barack Obama’s stop in Turkey is hardly an afterthought, a “while I’m in the neighborhood” visit. For starters, he wants to mend relations strained when the United States went to war in Iraq six years ago. Ankara’s Islamic-rooted government denied Washington’s request to use Turkish territory to invade Iraq from the north. But Turkey also is in line for thanks for trying to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Turkey is the only predominantly Muslim country in NATO, an alliance stalwart and America’s best friend in the Islamic world. Obama, completing a European trip, arrives Sunday and undoubtedly will reprise his message from a town hall meeting Friday in France. “We must be honest with ourselves. In recent years, we’ve allowed our alliance to drift,” he said at that appearance…. – AP, 4-5-09
GOP May Be Stuck on Cohesion: On the House floor Thursday, Republicans registered their unanimous opposition to President Obama’s budget proposal…. WaPo, 4-5-09
House fight is a boon for lawyers: Democrat Scott Murphy and Republican Jim Tedisco remain tied in the contest to represent the 20th Congressional District, but one clear winner has emerged: the legal profession. Both candidates have hired top election lawyers to represent them in what could be a lengthy post-ballot battle to for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s seat in the House. Less than 24 hours after polls closed Tuesday, both sides began asking supporters for money to pay the coming legal bills…. – Albany Times Union, 4-5-09
Ted Stevens: Rested, and ready to be Alaska governor?: With his criminal conviction about to be vacated, thanks to a Democratic attorney general, Alaska’s former Senator- for-life Ted Stevens should be tanned, rested and relieved. But is he ready? A fellow Republican, Alaska’s Congressman-for-life Don Young, came up with a capital idea for 85-year-old Uncle Ted. “Personally I’d like to see him run for governor, and that’s my personal feeling,” said Young, who himself has been under investigation by two federal grand juries. Young and Stevens served in Congress together for 36 years. – Seattle PI, 4-5-09
Obama: US cannot shoulder Afghan burden alone: On the eve of the NATO summit, President Barack Obama didn’t get what he wanted most from U.S. allies: significant new commitments of combat troops for Afghanistan. Faced with stiff public opposition to war, reluctant European leaders on Friday offered only limited aid for civilians and some troops to help train Afghan police and soldiers. Afghanistan was the theme to which a frustrated Obama returned over and over throughout the day. “This is a joint problem, and it requires a joint effort,” he said. – AP, 4-3-09
Analysis: Plenty of cheers but mixed bag for Obama: Stop after stop, crowds are thronging, leaders gushing, headlines blaring. Even a roomful of foreign reporters applauded after President Barack Obama’s London news conference. They love him over here. But are they giving him anything else to take home? It’s a mixed bag: some success, several failures and much still to be determined. The president hit the halfway point Saturday on a European trip that, by the end, will have him charming and listening (not lecturing) his way through five countries, three international summits, one-on-one meetings with at least 17 leaders, a Buckingham Palace audience, at least seven news conferences, three speeches, two question-and-answer sessions with regular-folk foreigners and three official dinners…. – AP, 4-4-09
White House Photo, 4/7/09, Pete Souza
Troops in Iraq
The President drops in on the troops in Iraq
on his way back from Europe.
White House Photo, 4/7/09, Chuck Kennedy
The President holds a roundtable with a hundred students in Istanbul, discussing everything from climate change to the relationship between America
and the Muslim world.
White House Photo, 4/3/09, Pete Souza
Weekly Address: The Challenges of Our Time
The President discusses the breadth and depth of the global challenges we face, as well as our potential to address them through renewed international alliances.
Analysis: Congress backs some Obama goals, not all: President Barack Obama emerged from this year’s congressional budget debate with a half-victory: a green light to pursue an overhaul of health care, accompanied by a rebuke over how to pay for it. Obama’s plan to tackle global warming fared worse. Nine Democratic senators broke with him on a symbolic but politically resonant vote to cut inheritance taxes.
In short, Obama’s Democratic allies embraced providing health care to the uninsured, boosting education and promoting clean energy. But the second part of the equation — finding billions of dollars to finance his agenda without further exploding the deficit — suffered repeated setbacks in the Senate. -
“It’s a realistic blueprint for restoring the promise of the American dream — getting people back to work, ending our energy crisis, improving education for millions of students, and at long last achieving the goal of quality, affordable health care for all Americans,” said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
A survey taken March 25 by the Gallup Poll showed that 39 percent of respondents had positive views of Obama’s budget plan and 27 percent had negative views. That was slightly worse than a poll taken just after the budget’s release in February. – AP, 4-4-09
Obama Finds That Washington’s Habits of Secrecy Die Hard: At 12:01 p.m. on Jan. 20 — the precise moment Barack Obama became president of the United States — a new White House Web site sprang to electronic life with a pledge to “provide a window for all Americans into the business of the government.” The next day, Mr. Obama issued a memorandum on transparency, promising to make it one of “the touchstones of this presidency.” But on issue after issue — a raucous internal debate over whether to release memorandums detailing harsh interrogation techniques used during the Bush years, for example, or publicizing financial information about high-level administration appointees — Mr. Obama has discovered that fulfilling his pledge is easier said than done…. – NYT, 4-4-09
State Department says North Korea launches rocket: President Barack Obama said North Korea should refrain from further provocative actions after that nation’s government made good on their promise to launch a long-range rocket…. – AP, 4-4-09
Did President Obama dodge a friendly kiss from French First Lady Carla Bruni?: Forget NATO, world peace or the global recession – it was The Kiss, or the lack of one, that was the talk of Europe Friday. The international kiss-ident unfolded as President Obama and his wife, Michelle, met French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his supermodel wife, Carla Bruni, in Strasbourg, France, as part of this weekend’s NATO summit…. – NY Daily News, 4-4-09
Obama tapes message pushing Chicago as 2016 Olympics host: They’re trying to show Chicago is an international city ready for a global event and when they make their case to Olympic evaluators Saturday, members of the Chicago 2016 team will trot out worldwide rock star and hometown guy, President Barack Obama. The White House confirmed the president taped what Chicago 2016 officials describe as a “welcome message” for the 13-member International Olympic Committee’s Evaluation Commission, charged with grading the city’s readiness for the 2016 summer games…. – Chicago Sun-Times, 4-3-09
Europe’s Giddiness Eases a Bit for President O-BA-MA: Barack Obama is back in Europe. Only this time, he’s president. On the Continent, the giddiness on display last summer, when 200,000 turned out to hear candidate Obama give a speech in Berlin, has subsided as the weight of the economic crisis unfolds. Candidate Obama was a blank slate on which Europeans drew what they wished. President Obama brought with him wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a global recession. “It’s different, totally different,” said Elisabeth Vogel, a teacher at the Lycée Camille See in Alsace, who took a bevy of students to attend a town hall meeting here. “Now he’s president of the United States. That changes everything.” Since his arrival Tuesday, Mr. Obama and his entourage have cut through Europe like a comet, creating excitement but less gravitational pull — and some irritation…. – WSJ, 4-2-09
Obama touts policy changes, seeks Afghanistan help: Courting Europe with an American-style campaign, President Barack Obama on Friday talked up his plans — popular here — to eliminate nuclear weapons, close the Guantanamo Bay prison and tackle global warming. In return, he’s hoping for European popular support in the anti-terror fight in Afghanistan. “It’s not just a matter of more resources, it’s a matter of more effectively using the resources we have,” Obama said. – AP, 4-3-09
On the World Stage, Obama Issues an Overture: In his debut on the international stage, President Obama presented himself as the leader of an America that can no longer go it alone, and as abiding by the protocol of a global new deal….
“If there’s just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy, that’s an easier negotiation,” Mr. Obama said during his hourlong meeting with the international news media, during which he called on reporters from India and China to ask him questions. “But that’s not the world we live in, and it shouldn’t be the world that we live in.” – NYT, 4-2-09
Obama, Brown predict G20 deal to fight recession: Doggedly optimistic in the face of doubts, President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown predicted Thursday’s emergency G-20 economic summit would produce a significant global deal to tackle the deepening worldwide recession…. – AP, 4-1-09
White House Photo, 4/7/09, Pete Souza
Troops in Iraq
The President drops in on the troops in Iraq
on his way back from Europe.
(President Barack Obama addresses his remarks at a town hall meeting Tuesday, April 7, 2009,
at the Tophane Cultural Center in Istanbul. White House Photo/Chuck Kennedy)
Obama in Baghdad, tells troops Iraq must take over: Iraqis “need to take responsibility for their own country,” Obama told hundreds of cheering soldiers gathered in an ornate, marble palace near Saddam Hussein’s former seat of power. “You have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country. That is an extraordinary achievement,” he told some 600 troops, saluting their efforts during six years of American fighting and losses. “We love you,” someone yelled from the crowd of photo-snapping men and women in uniform. “I love you back,” responded the president, repeating a sequence that played out at hundreds of campaign stops on his successful run for the White House last year…. – AP, 4-7-09
Biden says Cheney ‘dead wrong’ on security policy: “I don’t think he is out of line, but he is dead wrong. … The last administration left us in a weaker posture than we’ve been any time since World War II: less regarded in the world, stretched more thinly than we ever have been in the past, two wars under way, virtually no respect in entire parts of the world,” Biden said. “And so we’ve been about the business of repairing and strengthening those. I guarantee you we are safer today, our interests are more secure today than they were any time during the eight years” of the Bush administration. – AP, 4-7-09
Gov. Sarah Palin Isn’t Happy About Today’s ‘Tyra Show’: “Bristol did not even know Levi was going on the show,” says the statement, issued to People magazine. “We’re disappointed that Levi and his family, in a quest for fame, attention, and fortune, are engaging in flat-out lies, gross exaggeration, and even distortion of their relationship. Bristol’s focus will remain on raising Tripp, completing her education, and advocating abstinence. It is unfortunate that Levi finds it more appealing to exploit his previous relationship with Bristol than to contribute to the well being of the child. Bristol realizes now that she made a mistake in her relationship and is the one taking responsibility for their actions.” – NYT, 4-6-09
Obama Ends Trip Pledging ‘New Chapter’ of Global Engagement: “I’m personally committed to a new chapter of American engagement,” the president told a town-hall meeting with students yesterday in Istanbul. In a surprise stop in Iraq before heading back to the U.S., Obama spoke of being committed to an Iraq that is “sovereign, stable and self-reliant.” – Bloomberg, 4-7-09
The Student Roundtable in Turkey: I enjoyed visiting your parliament. I’ve had productive discussions with your President and your Prime Minister. But I also always like to take some time to talk to people directly, especially young people. So in the next few minutes I want to focus on three areas in which I think we can make some progress: advancing dialogue between our two countries, but also advancing dialogue between the United States and the Muslim world; extending opportunity in education and in social welfare; and then also reaching out to young people as our best hope for peaceful, prosperous futures in both Turkey and in the United States. – WH Blog, 4-6-09
Obama tells Turkish students change will take time: President Barack Obama heralded a “new chapter of American engagement” with the world on Tuesday and vowed to forge new relationships in the Middle East and elsewhere. “States are like big tankers, they’re not like speedboats. You can’t just whip them around and go in another direction,” Obama said in a question-and-answer session with Turkish college students. “You turn them slowly, and eventually you end up in a very different place,” he said, responding to a student who asked about differences between him and his predecessor. Obama ended his first overseas trip as president with an appeal to the world to put aside stereotypes and misconceptions: the view by many Muslims that Israel is to blame for all problems, similar views in reverse by “some of my Jewish friends,” the view in parts of the world that Americans are crass and selfish. “The world will be what you make of it,” Obama told the students. “You can choose to make new bridges instead of new walls.” – AP, 4-6-09
Crossroads in Turkey: I know there have been difficulties these last few years. I know that the trust that binds the United States and Turkey has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced. So let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam. (Applause.) In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical not just in rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject, but also to strengthen opportunity for all its people.
I also want to be clear that America’s relationship with the Muslim community, the Muslim world, cannot, and will not, just be based upon opposition to terrorism. We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. We will listen carefully, we will bridge misunderstandings, and we will seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree. We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world — including in my own country. The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their families or have lived in a Muslim-majority country — I know, because I am one of them. (Applause.)… – WH Blog, 4-6-09
Obama to Muslim world: No US war with Islam: “We seek broader engagement based upon mutual interest and mutual respect,” Obama said in a speech to Turkey’s Parliament. “Our partnership with the Muslim world is critical, not just in rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject but also to strengthen opportunity for all its people,” he said. He portrayed terrorist groups such as al-Qaida as extremists far removed from the vast majority of Muslims…. “Turkey’s greatness lies in your ability to be at the center of things. This is not where East and West divide — this is where they come together,” Obama said. – AP, 4-6-09
Obama’s Agenda Demands a Star Player: At this peak moment of college basketball fervor, President Obama likens Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to an underappreciated teammate who “gets that extra rebound, takes the charge, makes that extra pass.” – NYT, 4-6-09
NKorea rocket fizzles, US says; Obama urges action: “North Korea broke the rules, once again, by testing a rocket that could be used for long-range missiles,” Obama said in Prague. “It creates instability in their region, around the world. This provocation underscores the need for action, not just this afternoon in the U.N. Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons.” – AP, 4-5-09
Obama outlines sweeping goal of nuclear-free world: “This goal will not be reached quickly — perhaps not in my lifetime,” he told a cheering crowd of more than 20,000 in the historic square outside the Prague Castle gates. We “must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change. We have to insist, ‘Yes, we can.’” – AP, 4-5-09
(President Barack Obama confers with U.S.Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during the NATO
summit in Strasbourg, France, Saturday, April 4, 2009. White House Photo/Pete Souza)
Afghanistan and NATO: We start from a simple premise: For years, our efforts in Afghanistan have lacked the resources needed to achieve our goals. And that’s why the United States has recommitted itself to a clear and focused goal — to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.
This effort cannot be America’s alone. All of NATO understands that al Qaeda is a threat to all of us, and that this collective security effort must achieve its goals. And as a signal of that commitment, I am pleased that our NATO allies pledged their strong and unanimous support for our new strategy. Keep in mind it was only just a week ago that we announced this new approach. But already with Secretary Clinton’s work at The Hague and with the success at today’s summit we’ve started to match real resources to achieve our goals…. – WH Blog, 4-4-09
Europe praises Obama, pledges few Afghan troops: European leaders enthusiastically praised President Barack Obama’s new Afghan strategy at a NATO summit Saturday but held their ground on a central disagreement and offered only military trainers and extra security forces for upcoming elections.
“I am pleased that our NATO allies pledged their strong and unanimous support for our new strategy,” Obama said. “We’ll need more resources and a sustained effort to achieve our ultimate goals.” – AP, 4-4-09
Obama Calls for Global Coordination, Praises G-20 Agreement: President Obama used his weekly address to continue to send the message he has sought to convey throughout his trip to Europe — that no one country can go it alone. Threats to U.S. security and the economy “can no longer be kept at bay by oceans or by borders drawn on maps,” President Obama said in his address, taped aboard Air Force One during his presidential trip… – NYT, 4-4-09
White House Photo, 4/7/09, Pete Souza
Troops in Iraq
The President drops in on the troops in Iraq
on his way back from Europe.
White House Photo, 4/7/09, Chuck Kennedy
The President holds a roundtable with a hundred students in Istanbul, discussing everything from climate change to the relationship between America
and the Muslim world.
Weekly Address: The Challenges of Our Time: “The only way forward is through shared and persistent efforts to combat fear and want wherever they exist.” – WH Blog, 4-4-09Transcript
State Department says North Korea launches rocket: “I urge North Korea to abide fully by the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council,” the president said as the council approved an emergency session Sunday to deal with North Korea’s rocket launch. North Korea will not find acceptance in the international community “unless it abandons its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction,” Obama said. – AP, 4-4-09
Reset with Russia: As I’ve said in the past, I think that over the last several years the relationship between our two countries has been allowed to drift. And what I believe we’ve begun today is a very constructive dialogue that will allow us to work on issues of mutual interest, like the reduction of nuclear weapons and the strengthening of our nonproliferation treaties; our mutual interest in dealing with terrorism and extremism that threatens both countries; our mutual interest in economic stability and restoring growth around the world; our mutual interest in promoting peace and stability in areas like the Middle East.
So I am very encouraged by the leadership of the President. I’m very grateful that he has taken the time to visit. I am especially excited about the fact that the President extended an invitation for me to visit Moscow to build on some of the areas that we discussed on today. And I have agreed to visit Moscow in July, which we both agreed was a better time than January to visit. – WH Blog, 4-1-09
Todd Heisler/The New York TimesPresident Obama in Prague on Sunday.
Bruce Buchanan “Obama Ends Trip Pledging ‘New Chapter’ of Global Engagement”: The trip has been “especially important for a new president,” said Bruce Buchanan, a presidential scholar at the University of Texas in Austin. “He now has working relations that he can use via the telephone to push for additional action in matters such as stimulus.” – Bloomberg, 4-7-09
Allan Lichtman “Obama Ends Trip Pledging ‘New Chapter’ of Global Engagement”: “Did he accomplish everything he might have hoped for? No,” said Allan Lichtman, a political history professor at American University in Washington. “Did he accomplish everything that could reasonably be expected and more? Yes, and in that sense it was a very successful trip.” Obama’s initial foreign-policy venture compares favorably with those of his predecessors, Lichtman said. While John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, were the “toast of Paris” on their 1961 European trip, the new president’s meeting with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was a “disaster,” he said. And Franklin Delano Roosevelt skipped an economic conference in London held soon after his 1933 inauguration. – Bloomberg, 4-7-09
Lou Cannon “Now, Obama ‘Owns’ General Motors Obama’s economic legacy may hinge on whether he becomes known as the President who saved the U.S. car industry or the one who destroyed it “: It’s too early to say how important Obama’s ultimatum to the U.S. auto industry will prove. “This could be an important moment,” says Lou Cannon, a preeminent Reagan scholar and the author of five books on the former President. But even if it is, the decision could turn out to have starkly different meanings. Obama could be “seen two years from now as the President who saved the American automobile industry, or…as the President who destroyed it,” Cannon said by phone from his California home. “Think of the two characterizations.”
Because of that uncertainty, Cannon thinks there may be a more apt analogy. It is then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s remonstration to President George W. Bush before his final decision to go to war in Iraq: “If you break it, you own it.” “The President of the U.S. owns GM. He put himself in a position in which the success or failure of GM will be blamed on him,” Cannon said. – Business Week, 4-1-09
Richard Reeves “Now, Obama ‘Owns’ General Motors Obama’s economic legacy may hinge on whether he becomes known as the President who saved the U.S. car industry or the one who destroyed it”: There’s another key difference between Obama last week and Reagan and Thatcher in the ’80s: The conservative icons acted in the face of blatant opposition, and in the process changed the political equation by showing that government was not going to side with labor, says Richard Reeves, the author of biographies of both JFK and Reagan.
Obama, by contrast, is in a much more fluid situation. The true message of his move remains to be seen. Reeves compares Obama’s strategy with that of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s. The economic downturns in the 1930s and now were bafflingly complex. FDR “had not mastered the declining economics of the country,” he said. As for Obama, Reeves said, “I can’t believe that, with the amount of time that’s passed and the people involved, that they have dug so deep into these problems. There’s no way that they know what they’re doing. You couldn’t know so many things in such a confusing time.”
In both cases, the Presidents were “throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks,” Reeves said. “I think Obama is saying, ‘Someone has to be in charge,’ and I think he’s right. If he was just sitting back, he’d be toast. This country wants a sense that someone is in charge.” – Business Week, 4-1-09
Julian E. Zelizer “Now, Obama ‘Owns’ General Motors Obama’s economic legacy may hinge on whether he becomes known as the President who saved the U.S. car industry or the one who destroyed it”: “On the most obvious level, if you issue threats or you intimidate business, and in the end business just does what it wants, you lose some of your political capital,” says Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs. “It will suggest the business community is not so frightened of Obama at a time he needs to be able to lean on them.”
That happened to FDR, too. One of his signature early initiatives, the National Recovery Act, sought to impose voluntary production levels to bring the country out of the Depression. It flopped, even before the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional, Zelizer says. “Sometimes a President can’t use the power of persuasion to get business to act even in a time of major economic crisis,” he said. – Business Week, 4-1-09
Julian Zelizer: A surprising model for Obama’s presidency: While pundits have compared President Obama to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, less attention has been paid to another, perhaps more apt parallel — Lyndon Baines Johnson. Sometimes the similarities are striking. Both aimed high, seeking major legislation to reshape America — Johnson with civil rights and Medicare, Obama with health care and energy legislation. Both Johnson and Obama understood that Congress was a credit-claiming institution whose members did not like to have proposals rammed down their throats. Johnson’s style of political leadership was famous. A creature of the Senate, Johnson loved to lean on legislators and intimidate them into supporting his agenda….
The comparisons between Johnson and Obama likewise offer reminders about what could go wrong for the current president. After all, Johnson was a politician who looked like a transformative president in 1965 but within three years found himself to be a defeated man who withdrew from the Democratic primaries. Johnson’s fears of the right, moreover, pushed him and America deeper into the deadly war in Vietnam. The social movements that LBJ used to his benefit in 1964 and 1965 turned against him as the administration plunged deeper into Vietnam, a lesson worth thinking about for the current administration. Johnson’s policy of respect for committee chairmen prompted him to make compromises over social policy — such as cuts in social spending in 1968 — that weakened his support among the very Democrats he needed to win re-election. Johnson was never fully aware of how his greatest political skills could also become the source of his downfall. Obama’s challenge is to harness the best parts of this comparison — such as how Johnson handled Congress to produce dramatic legislative results — without repeating the destructive characteristics that shattered Johnson’s White House. – CNN, 4-6-09
Christiane Amanpour: What Obama’s trip achieved: Such has been the success of President Obama’s first overseas visit that some observers are even suggesting North Korea’s weekend rocket launch was not the dreaded “3 a.m. moment,” but a golden opportunity for the U.S. president. Coming just hours before Obama’s big speech on combating nuclear proliferation, it added urgency to his proposals…. – CNN, 4-6-09
(First Lady Michelle Obama and Hayrunnisa Gul, right, the wife of Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul, listen to a french interpretor during a tour at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg, Fance, Saturday, April 4, 2009. White House Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
President Obama with Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show.”
IN FOCUS: STATS
In Focus: Stats
Obama and the polls: is opinion shifting?: In the new National Public Radio poll conducted by the Democratic polling company Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and its Republican counterpart, Public Opinion Strategies, 42 percent of the 800 likely voters surveyed March 10 to 14 said that if the next congressional election were held today they would vote for the Republican candidate; an identical percentage of respondents said they would vote for the Democratic one. For several years, Democrats held a substantial lead on this question… – The Atlantic, 3-21-09
Are Independents Hedging Their Bets? If Republicans really have pulled even among independents, it’s an ominous sign for Democrats: National Public Radio poll conducted by the Democratic polling company Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and its Republican counterpart, Public Opinion Strategies, 42 percent of the 800 likely voters surveyed March 10 to 14 said that if the next congressional election were held today they would vote for the Republican candidate; Democrats still outnumbered Republicans in terms of party identification in this poll by 6 points, 45 percent to 39 percent. Democrats also favored their own party’s congressional candidates 83 percent to 7 percent. But voters who call themselves independents gave GOP candidates the edge by 14 points, 38 percent to 24 percent. And self-identified Republicans supported their own party’s candidates 85 percent to 3 percent. – Charlie Cook, National Journal, 3-21-09
Letter to the Editor: Obama’s presidency is disastrous: In two short months, Barry Soetoro, a.k.a. Barack Obama, and this Congress are proving to be beyond inept, extremely arrogant, tyrannical, unqualified and unprepared — and, in so doing, have made Jimmy Carter appear as though he was in total control and knew exactly what he was doing. You wanted change? You got it. By the way, how’s it working for you?…. – Augusta Chronicle, 3-21-09
Geithner Urges Stronger Financial Regulations: Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said on Monday that the economic crisis showed that the American financial system had failed a major test and was in need of an overhaul. Speaking at a conference in Washington, Mr. Geithner said that the Obama administration planned to work with Congress to develop a modernized government regulatory structure for financial institutions…. – NYT, AP, 3-23-09
$50 Million in A.I.G. Bonuses to Be Repaid: The New York State attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, said on Monday that he had persuaded nine of the top 10 bonus recipients at the American International Group to give the money back, as the Senate retreated on plans to tax such bonuses….. – NYT, 2-23-09
Half of $165 Million in AIG Bonuses May Be Returned: Nine of the top 10 recipients of bonuses at American International Group Inc. agreed to give back the money and half of the total $165 million paid may be retrieved, said New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo…. – Bloomberg, 3-23-09
Gregg continues budget-blasting of Obama: When Senator Judd Gregg stunningly withdrew as President Obama’s choice for commerce secretary, the New Hampshire Republican blamed “irresolvable conflicts” on policy. He wasn’t kidding. Since giving Obama the heave-ho last month, Gregg has been one of the Democratic president’s harshest critics. In recent days, he has been blasting Obama’s proposed $3.6 trillion budget, saying it would bankrupt the country. Gregg, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, got some more ammunition Friday, when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that Obama’s plan would generate unsustainable deficits averaging almost $1 trillion a year for the next decade…. -
‘Bobby Jindal not in race for 2012 presidential polls’: Supriya Jindal, wife of Indian-American Republican leader Bobby Jindal, has denied that her husband is in the race for 2012 US presidential elections, saying that he is concentrating on his re-election as the Governor of Louisiana in 2011.
“It’s very flattering, it’s very nice,” Supriya said in an interview to Meghan McCain and posted on ‘The Daily Beast’ when asked about news reports that her husband would be leading the Republican Party in the 2012 presidential elections. “But I think the party as a whole and the country as a whole needs to focus on solutions right now and not focus on who the next candidate’s going to be. All of that needs to go by the wayside. We have dire problems going on in the country and we need to focus on that right now,” she said. – Indian Express, 3-23-09
Obama implies rejection of House bonus tax plan: President Barack Obama wagered significant political capital Sunday, signaling opposition to a highly popular congressional drive to slap a punitive 90 percent tax on bonuses to big earners at financial institutions already deeply in hock to taxpayers…. – AP, 3-22-09
Sen. Gregg says Obama budget will bankrupt US: The top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee says the Obama administration is on the right course to save the nation’s financial system. But Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire also says President Barack Obama’s massive budget proposal will bankrupt the country…. – AP, 3-22-09
HHS names health technology coordinator: A former Harvard Medical School professor who has advised Sen. Edward Kennedy and one-time Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis will lead health information technology efforts for the Obama administration. Dr. David Blumenthal was also a senior adviser to President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. – - AP, 3-20-09
NY election seen as referendum on stimulus: With polls tight, a Republican state legislator and Democratic venture capitalist battle daily over the economic stimulus package in congressional race that’s seen as a referendum on President Barack Obama’s policies and a test of GOP strength. – AP, 3-22-09
Can this David slay Republicans’ Goliath? A Canadian, knowledgeable about how conservatives in Canada rebranded themselves, seeks a renaissance of the GOP. To succeed, he’ll likely have to defeat party titan Rush Limbaugh in the arena of media opinion: The future of the Republican Party, if it has one, is Canadian. David Frum is emerging as the reasoned alternative to the blinkered prejudices that inform much of the debate within the GOP. His close knowledge of the struggle to reinvent and reunite Canadian conservatism, and his own personal evolution, have led him to call for a renaissance of the Republican Party within the United States, one that combines fiscal probity with social moderation, targeted primarily at young, university- educated voters. – Globe & Mail, 3-22-09
Lots of ham on the menu at annual Gridiron Dinner: President Barack Obama didn’t have time to join a roast of prominent officials by the journalists who cover them, cracks Vice President Joe Biden, because Obama is getting ready for Easter. “He thinks it’s about him,” Biden says. No, that’s not the reason, counters California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “He’s just not that into you.” – AP, 3-22-09
The Dissing of Laura Bush: If the ABC interview was a one-off thing, it would be easy to overlook. But these days the reporting seems to reflect an assumption that if the Obamas haven’t done something, nobody else has, either. Certainly the Washington Post did not challenge the First Lady’s social secretary when she said, “one idea Michelle had was to have an event for military families — here they are sacrificing so much for the country and many of them probably have never been invited to the White House.” This uncritical reportage does Laura Bush an injustice. In hundreds of ways — picnics on the South Lawn, fund-raising d families of the fallen, the work she did for military kids under her Helping America’s Youth initiative -for scholarships for the children of sailors on the USS Texas, unheralded visits with the wounded an- Mrs. Bush showed our troops and their loved ones how close they were to her heart. – Wall Street Journal, 3-20-09
Senate Republicans brake rush to tax AIG bonuses: Senate Republicans are drawing out a flap that has made the Obama administration squirm, applying the brakes to Democratic attempts to quickly tax away most of the bonuses at troubled insurance giant AIG and other bailed-out companies. – AP, 3-21-09
PROMISES, PROMISES: Obama rhetoric, reality clash: Barack Obama’s optimistic campaign rhetoric has crashed headlong into the stark reality of governing…. For now at least, Obama’s deviations have served only to invite occasional cries of hypocrisy from some Republicans and infrequent grumbles of disappointment from some Democrats. He has popularity on his side, and it seems people mostly are chalking up his moves to much-needed flexibility at a difficult time. But the shifts could take a toll over time if they become a persistent pattern and the public grows weary. His overall job-performance marks could suffer and jeopardize his likely re-election campaign in 2012. People could perceive him as a say-one-thing-do-another politician and the Democratic-controlled Congress could see him as a weak chief executive. Obama’s moves and maneuvering for political cover run the gamut…. – AP, 3-21-09
Not bowled over by Obama’s Special Olympics joke: When she met Barack Obama two years ago, Caitlin Cox proudly wore the two bronze medals she had won at the Special Olympics. The then-Illinois senator grinned as she showed him pictures of her signature bubble-gum-pink bowling ball and posed for photographs with her…. Thompson tried to console her daughter, telling her sometimes people do disappointing things. But as a mother and special education teacher, Thompson said, internally she was crushed by the president’s insensitivity. She knows how destructive such stereotypes can be, and it infuriated her that an organization dedicated to empowering millions of people with developmental disabilities would be reduced to a late-night punch line…. – Los Angeles Times, 3-21-09
Administration wants to buy up banks’ toxic assets: Struggling to contain the worst financial crisis in seven decades, the Obama administration wants to buy billions of dollars of toxic assets from banks to ease borrowing for consumers and businesses. – AP, 3-21-09
Obama’s Day: Back in Washington: Back at the White House after a California trip, President Barack Obama continues cultivating support for his economic recovery program…. – AP, 3-20-09
Obama’s Special Olympics joke creates a stir around the nation: It seemed like a harmless remark. In an appearance Thursday night on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” President Barack Obama made a joke about his lackluster bowling skills by saying: “It was like Special Olympics or something.” But the comment caused an immediate stir in Washington and around the nation. – McClatchy Newspapers, 3-20-09
Just a Couple of Average Joes Having a Fireside Chat: President Obama didn’t look burdened by his office on “The Tonight Show” on Thursday; he seemed detached. As he described the problems of the American International Group and the credit crisis to Jay Leno, Mr. Obama behaved less like a beleaguered president than like the head of a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia reporting back to the main office: concerned and engaged, but intent on maintaining his professional distance and neutrality…. – NYT, 3-21-09
White House says Obama shares US outrage over AIG: The White House says President Barack Obama shares the “outrage and frustration” of Americans over the millions of dollars in bonuses that taxpayer-funded AIG handed out to its executives. AP, 3-20-09
Obama urges states to use recovery money carefully: With states eager to spend, President Barack Obama announced guidelines Friday aimed at preventing waste and fraud and limiting the influence lobbyists will have in carrying out the $787 billion economic stimulus program. “This plan cannot and will not be an excuse for waste and abuse,” Obama declared. To make his point, the guidelines specify that stimulus funds can’t be used on projects like aquariums, zoos, golf courses, swimming pools, casinos or other gambling establishments.”… – AP, 3-20-09
Senator urges healthcare overhaul this year: Congress must enact a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system by the end of this year or risk waiting at least another four years to get the job done, a senior Republican senator said on Thursday. – Reuters, 3-20-09
Senate Republicans brake rush to tax AIG bonuses: Senate Republicans are drawing out a flap that has made the Obama administration squirm, applying the brakes to Democratic attempts to quickly tax away most of the bonuses at troubled insurance giant AIG and other bailed-out companies. – AP, 3-20-09
Obamas to Plant Vegetable Garden at White House: Michelle Obama will begin digging up a patch of the South Lawn on Friday to plant a vegetable garden, the first at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden in World War II. There will be no beets — the president does not like them — but arugula will make the cut. – NYT, 3-20-09
Obama calls on Americans to support budget: In a new Web video, President Barack Obama is asking Americans to help him pass his $3.6 trillion budget. “I’m asking you to head outside this Saturday to knock on some doors, talk to some neighbors, and let them know how important this budget is to our future,” he said in the video. – AP, 3-20-09
Many in Government Knew Weeks Ago About A.I.G. Bonuses: A Treasury spokesman, Isaac Baker, said in a statement on Thursday night, “Although Congressman Crowley raised the issue of the bonuses two weeks ago, Secretary Geithner was not aware of the timing or full extent of the contractual retention payments or the other bonus programs until his staff brought them to his attention on March 10.” NYT, 3-19-09
Crown Publishing Group will pay the former president $7 million to write his most important life lessons: George W. Bush’s book deal, news of which broke yesterday, is valued at about $7 million, according to a person familiar with the matter. The sum is less than half what Bill Clinton was paid for his memoir, My Life, and less than the $8 million Hillary Clinton received. – The Daily Beast, 3-19-09
Obama visit juices up SoCal electric vehicle plant: Whether President Barack Obama’s California visit rallied sufficient support for his economic stimulus package remains to be seen, but his arrival Thursday definitely juiced the spirits of those who have toiled for years here building, testing and maintaining the kind of electric-powered cars Obama says are the nation’s future. – AP, 3-19-09
White House to break ground on ‘kitchen garden’: The White House is getting a new garden. First lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to break ground Friday on a new garden near the fountain on the South Lawn that will supply the White House kitchen. She will be joined by students from Bancroft Elementary School in the District of Columbia. The children will stay involved with the project, including planting the fruits, vegetables and herbs in the coming weeks and harvesting the crops later in the year. Mrs. Obama spent time earlier this week at an exhibit on rooftop gardening. “We’re going to get a big one in our back yard, the South Lawn,” she promised the volunteers. – AP, 3-19-09
Obama targets foreclosures in Calif.: President Barack Obama on Thursday announced that California will receive $145 million to help communities hard-hit by the foreclosure crisis. The president, speaking to about 1,000 people at a town hall-style event in downtown, said the Department of Housing and Urban Development funds will be used to purchase and rehabilitate vacant, foreclosed homes and resell them with affordable mortgages. – AP, 3-19-09
UPDATE 1-First Family’s dog coming soon, Obama tells TV host: U.S. President Barack Obama was alternately somber and light-hearted in an unusual appearance on America’s top-rated late-night variety show on Thursday, moving deftly from the economic crisis to the April arrival of a “First Dog” in the White House. In an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” the first by a sitting president, Obama talked seriously about his economic plans and voiced strong support for embattled Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner…. – Reuters, 3-19-09
Obama Signs Book Deal For Post-Presidency Book: President Barack Obama, the best-selling author who received royalties of $2.5 million last year, has signed a deal for a youth-oriented version of his published memoir and a nonfiction book after he leaves office. Huffington Post (Blog) (3-19-09)
Facts about George W. Bush’s new book: Facts about George W. Bush’s new book: Quick start: He began writing the memoir of his years as president just two days after leaving the White House. Notes, assistance: Although he didn’t keep a diary, he said, he jotted down an occasional note. And so far, he said, he’s written “maybe” 30,000 words, working with research assistants and a former White House speechwriter, Chris Michel. Another Bush book: Former first lady Laura Bush previously signed a book deal with Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Both are scheduled for 2010, but a Bush spokesman said hers would come out first…. – Dallas Morning News, 3-19-09
Bush begins writing ‘Decision Points’–his memoir: Former President George W. Bush has already written about 30,000 words of a memoir tentatively called “Decision Points” that will cover everything from how he found faith to how he quit drinking to how he chose Karl Rove and Dick Cheney for their jobs…. – Politico, 3-18-09
Obama tells Leno he was stunned by AIG bonuses: President Barack Obama has told Jay Leno he was stunned when he learned of the bonuses that bailed-out insurance giant AIG was paying its employees. AP, 3-19-09
Obama to Leno: Geithner doing ‘outstanding’ job: President Barack Obama says his embattled treasury chief, Timothy Geithner, is doing an “outstanding job.” In a taped appearance on “The Tonight Show”, he told host Jay Leno that Geithner is a smart guy who’s been handed an incredibly full plate. But he’s handling it all with grace and good humor. – AP, 3-19-09
Obama wants comprehensive strategy in Afghanistan: “What we can’t do is think that just a military approach in Afghanistan is going to be able to solve our problems,” the president said on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” “So what we’re looking for is a comprehensive strategy. And there’s got to be an exit strategy. There’s got to be a sense that this is not perpetual drift.” “It’s easier terrain,” the president said of Iraq, where the war is winding down after six hard-fought years. “You’ve got a much better educated population, infrastructure to build off of. You don’t have some of the same destabilizing border issues that you have between Afghanistan and Pakistan.” “You are often confronted with bad choices that flow from less than optimal decisions made a year ago, two years ago, five years ago, when you weren’t here,” Obama said. “A lot of times, when things land at my desk, it’s a choice between bad and worse.” “The facts don’t bear him out,” Obama said. “Let’s assume we didn’t change these practices. Are we going to just keep on going until … the entire Muslim world and Arab world despises us? Do we think that’s really going to make us safer? I don’t know a lot of thoughtful thinkers, liberal or conservative, who think that that was the right approach.” “When I make a decision to send 17,000 young Americans to Afghanistan, you can understand that intellectually, but understanding what that means for those families, for those young people when you end up sitting at your desk, signing a condolence letter to one of the family members of a fallen hero, you’re reminded each and every day at every moment that the decisions you make count.” AP, 3-22-09
Obama 60 Minutes interview: Wall Street was ‘out of balance’: “Because of bad bets made on Wall Street, there have been enormous losses. I want them (the people on Wall Street) to do well, but what I also know is that the financial sector was out of balance.”… USA Today, 3-22-09
Why Obama Is Still Smiling: But Obama was so calm — even jolly — in his “60 Minutes” interview broadcast last night that anchor Steve Kroft asked him about it straight out: “You’re sitting here. And you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people gonna look at this and say, ‘I mean, he’s sitting there just making jokes about money.’ How do you deal with, I mean, explain the…mood and your laughter?…Are you punch drunk?”
Obama replied with another laugh: “No, no. There’s gotta be a little gallows humor to get you through the day. You know, sometimes my team — talks about the fact that if — if you had said to us a year ago that — the least of my problems would be Iraq, which is still a pretty serious problem — I don’t think anybody would have believed it. But — but we’ve got a lot on our plate. And — a lot of difficult decisions that we’re going to have to make.”…
“The one thing that — I’ve tried to emphasize, though, throughout this week, and will continue to try to emphasize during the course of the next several months as we dig ourselves out of this — the economic hole that we’re in — is we can’t govern out of anger. We’ve got to try to make good decisions based on the facts, in order to put people back to work, to get credit flowing again. And I’m not going to be distracted by — what’s happening day to day. I’ve gotta stay focused on making sure that — we’re getting this economy moving again.” – WaPo, 3-23-09
Obama Responds to Criticism From Cheney: President Obama has hit back at Dick Cheney, the former vice president, calling Bush administration policy on detainees at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, “unsustainable.” “How many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by Vice President Cheney?” Mr. Obama said on Friday in an interview that will air Sunday on the CBS program “60 Minutes.” – NYT, 3-22-09
RAW DATA: President Obama’s Weekly Address: In his weekly address, President Obama announced that in the coming week, he will highlight the core principles of his budget, including reform of the energy, education and health care sectors. – Fox News, 3-21-09
A Budget Equal to the Task Before Us: Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address, Saturday, March 21, 2009, Washington, DC: “These investments are not a wish list of priorities that I picked out of thin air – they are a central part of a comprehensive strategy to grow this economy by attacking the very problems that have dragged it down for too long: the high cost of health care and our dependence on oil; our education deficit and our fiscal deficit.” – WH Blog, 3-21-09Transcript
Sarah Palin shocked at Obama’s Special Olympics joke: “I was shocked to learn of the comment made by President Obama about Special Olympics. This was a degrading remark about our world’s most precious and unique people, coming from the most powerful position in the world. These athletes overcome more challenges, discrimination and adversity than most of us ever will. By the way, these athletes can outperform many of us and we should be proud of them. I hope President Obama’s comments do not reflect how he truly feels about the special-needs community.” – Christian Science Monitor, 3-20-09
Mrs. Obama Speaks Out About Her Household: The interview, which started out on the subject of the new White House vegetable garden, ended up ranging over a variety of household topics, which Mrs. Obama addressed with substantial fun-poking at her husband, her mother and herself. – NYT, 3-20-09
Michelle Obama “Obamas to Plant Vegetable Garden at White House”: “My hope,” the first lady said in an interview in her East Wing office, “is that through children, they will begin to educate their families and that will, in turn, begin to educate our communities.” Virtually the entire Obama family, including the president, will pull weeds, “whether they like it or not,” Mrs. Obama said with a laugh. “Now Grandma, my mom, I don’t know.” Her mother, she said, will probably sit back and say: “Isn’t that lovely. You missed a spot.” “There’s nothing really cooler,” Mrs. Obama said, “than coming to the White House and harvesting some of the vegetables and being in the kitchen with Cris and Sam and Bill, and cutting and cooking and actually experiencing the joys of your work.” “A real delicious heirloom tomato is one of the sweetest things that you’ll ever eat,” she said. “And my children know the difference, and that’s how I’ve been able to get them to try different things. I wanted to be able to bring what I learned to a broader base of people. And what better way to do it than to plant a vegetable garden in the South Lawn of the White House? You can begin in your own cupboard,” she said, “by eliminating processed food, trying to cook a meal a little more often, trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables.” – NYT, 3-20-09
Biden: Help on the way for middle-class families: The focus of the town-hall-style forum in a bus garage in central Minnesota was the middle class, and Biden told the crowd of more than 400 that the Obama administration is making sure the $787 billion economic stimulus package helps middle-class families get through the downturn and prosper when the economy eventually turns around.
“We’ll measure our success in these four or eight years based on one thing: whether or not we’ve been able to raise the standard of living for middle-class people,” Biden said. “We’ve got to get this nation growing again.” – AP, 3-19-09
First lady discusses career goals with students: First lady Michelle Obama promoted the value of a college education and hard work Thursday, telling high school students that the people who doubted her when she was younger only encouraged her to aim higher. “That never stopped me. That always made me push harder,” she said….
“Our job is simple: just be open, be honest, be real, be clear and have fun,” Mrs. Obama told the group, which gathered in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House for the event, part of the first lady’s celebration of March as Women’s History Month….
“I wanted an A … I wanted to be smart, I wanted to be the person who had the right answer,” said Mrs. Obama, a lawyer and former hospital executive in Chicago. “I ran into people in my life who told me, ‘You can’t do it, you’re not as smart as that person.’ And that never stopped me. That always made me push harder, because I was like, ‘I’m going to prove you wrong.’”…
“College is being able to get up and discipline yourself and get help when you need it and to work hard and not give up,” Mrs. Obama said. “Those are like basic concepts that carry you through life.” AP, 3-19-09
Heeeere’s Barack….: Asked by Mr. Leno if it was fair to judge him based on just 59 days in office, President Obama said Washington “is a bit like ‘American idol’ except everybody’s Simon Cowell. Everybody’s got an opinion.” But, he said, the American people are in a place where “they understand that it took us a while to get into this mess, and it will take us a while to get out of it.” “I think they are going to give us some time,” he added. “The question is who in their right mind when the company is going bust decides we’re going to be paying a whole bunch of bonuses to people,” Mr. Obama said. “That I think speaks to a broader culture that existed on Wall Street, where I think people just had this general attitude of entitlement where we must be the best and the brightest, we deserve $10 million or $50 million or $100 million payouts. “And the immediate bonuses that went to A.I.G. are a problem, but the larger problem is we’ve got to get back to an attitude where people know enough is enough and people have a sense of responsibility, and they understand that their actions going have an effect on everybody,” he said. “And if we can get back to those values that built America, then I think we’re going to be okay.” – NYT, 3-19-09
George W. Bush in Speech in Calgary & about his Memoirs: “I want people to understand the environment in which I was making decisions. I want people to get a sense of how decisions were made and I want people to understand the options that were placed before me,” he told the AP.
During his speech in Calgary, Bush told Canadian business leaders he equated the world’s economic mess to booze. Quoth Bush: “Wall Street was drunk and we got the hangover. It seems like your [Canadian] banking system was more sober than ours.” Quipped Frank McKenna, the former Canadian ambassador to the U.S., who was sitting next to Bush: “We like to drink.” Countered Bush: “Not the whole bottle.” Bush notes….
Bush may have refrained from criticizing his successor, but he did tell the Canadian crowd: “It’s the risk takers, not the government — that is going to pull us out of this recession . . . My message to policymakers is don’t substitute government for the marketplace.” – Chicago Sun-Times, 3-19-09
Bush Talks About Life Outside the White House: ‘The Only Thing We Don’t Have Are the Newspapers,’ Says Former First Lady – ABC News, 2-26-09
Laura Bush: Life in Dallas Has Been a ‘Slow Adjustment’ Former First Lady on Life After the White House: Commercial airline travel, trips to the hardware store for nightlights and walks around the neighborhood are all part of everyday life these days for former President George W. Bush and his wife, former first lady Laura Bush. The former first lady discusses what keeps her and the former president busy. In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Mrs. Bush said she and her husband were settling into a normal, post-presidency life at their new home in the Preston Hollow section of Dallas after spending a month at their ranch in Crawford while the house was finished. – ABc News, 2-26-09
Mrs. Bush: Former first family adapts to new life: Former first lady Laura Bush says she didn’t watch President Barack Obama’s speech to Congress because “I just totally forgot about it.”… – AP, 2-27-09
“In Obama’s Election, a Textbook Case of History in the Making for Students This Fall”: For many, the excitement of the 2008 presidential election was about witnessing a moment that people would one day read about in history books. Well, the first draft of history has a release date: this fall. On Page 1,126 of the newest edition of “United States History,” a Pearson textbook for high schoolers that is due in classrooms this fall, a picture of Barack Obama at his election night rally in Chicago appears next to the red-lettered headline “An Historic Moment.” “History — there’s no end to it,” said Randy Roberts, a history professor at Purdue University and an author of the Pearson book. “It’s a work in progress.” – NYT, 3-21-09
Larry Sabato “Era of ‘presidential innocence gone’ for Obama”: Larry Sabato, professor of politics at the University of Virginia, argued that this event was “the beginning of the end of the age of innocence” for the Obama administration. “Yes, the AIG scandal has been on President Obama’s watch, and clearly, his treasury secretary is involved,” Sabato said. “There is no way to blame that on the Bush administration.” He added that it was “remarkable how quickly former presidents fade in the public memory.” – AFP, 3-22-09
Divided we stand The problem with bipartisanship: IF THERE IS a new mantra in American politics, it is “bipartisanship.” Barack Obama won the presidency emphasizing national unity; his rival, Senator John McCain, made bipartisan credentials a centerpiece of his own campaign. Prominent politicians from President Bill Clinton to high-ranking House Republican John Boehner speak of bipartisanship as an independent, innate good….
History suggests that would be a disaster. There is little evidence that solutions to big problems are to be found through bipartisanship, and plenty to suggest that they are not. The ideal of bipartisanship is what historians call an invented tradition, a new thing that cloaks itself in venerability as a way of obscuring its lack of accomplishment. When it comes to crisis – and there are now a few – the record of bipartisanship is particularly weak.
In fact, it is partisanship that enjoys a more distinguished place in American history. America’s existence as a nation, its civil liberties, its principle of equality before the law, and some of the most popular and successful government programs all began as highly partisan causes. Accomplishments of deeply partisan origin are so core to national life that it is often forgotten that they initially once divided the people, sometimes violently….
In his first two months in office, President Obama has enacted a string of clear partisan policies, quickly reversing the previous administration’s policies on torture and interrogation, foreign aid for agencies that provide birth control, and embryonic stem-cell research. He has done so with a collegiality that Americans have not had recent cause to associate with either partisanship or the presidency, even calling his predecessor before announcing troop withdrawals….
As much as politicians like to invoke Lincoln as a uniter, it is also worth remembering that his election began the most dramatic partisan shift of any period in American history. By his own admission, Lincoln did not seek this change, and did not consider himself a radical. But when radically partisan ideas presented themselves as the best – or the only – solutions for the crises facing the nation, Lincoln’s “sense of unity” did not stop him from taking a side. – Boston Globe, 3-22-09
Analysis: Obama rhetoric, reality clash: “Candidates make promises and presidents break promises, and that’s a very predictable pattern,” said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University historian. Like those before him, “Obama’s shifting to the political realities,” said Zelizer. That’s not a bad thing, he said. “We want presidents to adjust to the realities of governing, to the realities of the environment.” – AP, 3-21-09
Julian Zelizer “Obama turns to online army to push his budget plan”: “Americans are not as interested in policy as they are in personalities and elections,” said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton historian and author of several books on Congress. “They’re trying to rekindle the enthusiasm from the campaign, but it’s harder to get people involved in budget issues.”… Some Obama voters are independents and Republicans, and “Obama’s efforts will lose their freshness if this is seen as just a political tool of a party,” Zelizer said. Obama largely played the “inside” game on his stimulus bill, negotiating with three Senate Republicans to get it passed. Now, on the budget, he will use such traditional tactics but also an “outside” game of building pressure from the netroots on key members… “How will a senator like Arlen Specter or Evan Bayh react to that? It’s a big question,” Zelizer said, referring to two moderate senators whose votes may be needed to pass the budget. – Mercury News, 3-19-09
Stephen Crowley/The New York TimesThe waters of the fountains at the White House ran green to mark St. Patrick’s Day.
White House Photo, 3/17/09, Pete Souza
President’s Picks Bracket
The President picks his winners for the
Official White House Photo, 3/17/09, by Chuck Kennedy
Budget Spratt Conrad
The President outlines the new priorities in his budget, and calls for his critics to come to the table with good ideas, not political tactics.
White House Photo, 3/16/09, Chuck Kennedy
President Obama pledges to help small businesses, fight AIG bonuses.
IN FOCUS: STATS
Monica Almeida/The New York TimesPresident Barack Obama during a town hall meeting at the Orange County Fairground in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Wednesday.
In Focus: Stats
Obama’s Approval Equal To or Better Than Bush’s, Clinton’s: President Barack Obama’s job approval rating, at 61% in the latest three-day average of Gallup Poll Daily tracking, is slightly above where George W. Bush’s and in particular Bill Clinton’s were at this point in mid-March of the first years of their administrations.
Bush’s disapproval rating in mid-March 2001 was about the same as Obama’s is now (28%), while Clinton’s disapproval rating was significantly higher. Gallop.com, 3-16-09
White House Photo, 3/17/09, Pete Souza
President’s Picks Bracket
The President picks his winners for the
Official White House Photo, 3/17/09, by Chuck Kennedy
Budget Spratt Conrad
The President outlines the new priorities in his budget, and calls for his critics to come to the table with good ideas, not political tactics.
President to pioneer chat on late-night TV: President Obama hasn’t been practicing one-liners, but he is going Thursday night where no sitting president has gone before: to a late-night comedy show. Obama plans to be a guest on NBC’s The Tonight Show With Jay Leno at 11:35 p.m. ET. His press secretary says not to look for a comedy routine. “I anticipate that a large amount of the discussion will center around the president’s economic plans, and the president’s economic ideas,” spokesman Robert Gibbs says. “And I think the president believes it’s a unique audience with which to explain those challenges and the decisions that he’s made.” – USA Today, 3-18-09
Obama schedules second prime time news conference: President Obama will hold his second prime time news conference next Tuesday evening at 8 pm ET, the White House announced Wednesday. The president is expected to use the forum to promote his ambitious budget plan, which has come under fire from Republicans and conservative Democrats for its hefty price tag…. – CNN, 3-18-09
Dodd: Administration pushed for language protecting bonuses: Senate Banking committee Chairman Christopher Dodd told CNN Wednesday that he was responsible for language added to the federal stimulus bill to make sure that already-existing contracts for bonuses at companies receiving federal bailout money were honored. CNN, 3-18-09
Bush to deliver first U.S. post-presidency speech in May: Former President George W. Bush will make his first domestic post-presidency speech on May 28 in Benton Harbor, Michigan, his spokesman, Rob Saliterman, said Wednesday. Bush will be speaking to members of the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan. The event will be closed to the media. Separately, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also will address the economic club on April 30. – CNN, 3-18-09
Obama nixes idea of billing vets’ insurance: President Barack Obama has decided to drop any consideration of billing veterans’ private insurance companies for the treatment of combat-related injuries, the White House said Wednesday. – AP, 3-18-09
Chaos in the White House – Obama’s teleprompter blows up: Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen liked President Obama’s speech so much yesterday that he repeated it — for 20 seconds. At that time he realized that Obama’s speech was still on the teleprompter…. – Christian Science Monitor, 3-17-09
Health care overhaul may cost about $1.5 trillion: Guaranteeing health insurance for all Americans may cost about $1.5 trillion over the next decade, health experts say. That’s more than double the $634 billion ‘down payment’ President Barack Obama set aside for health reform in his budget, raising the prospect of sticker shock at a time of record federal spending. Administration officials have pointedly avoided providing a ballpark estimate, saying it depends on details to be worked out with Congress. – AP, 3-17-09
The McCain ‘Twitterview’: has Twitter jumped the shark?: That “Twitterview” was a little weird. Watching questions from George Stephanopoulos (@GStephanopoulos) and answers from Sen. John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) bounce back and forth felt like watching a tennis match on delay. But it took Twitter somewhere it hadn’t been before, and brought users an instant interview with a major newsmaker in a format that only it could manage….. – Christian Science Monitor, 3-17-09
Battle brews over Bush library: Former President George W. Bush is preparing for one final struggle against the odds: raising $300 million for a presidential library, museum and policy institute at a time when dollars are tight and skepticism about his presidency runs high. – Politico, 3-16-09
Palin to headline GOP dinner in Washington: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will deliver the keynote address at a dinner sponsored by the House and Senate Republican campaign committees…. – AP, 3-16-09
8 Dems oppose quick debate on global warming bill: Eight Senate Democrats are opposing speedy action on President Barack Obama’s bill to combat global warming, complicating prospects for the legislation and creating problems for their party’s leaders…. – AP, 3-16-09
US says it shot down Iranian drone last month: U.S. jets shot down an Iranian unmanned surveillance aircraft last month over Iraqi territory about 60 miles northeast of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Monday. A U.S. statement said the Ababil 3 was tracked for about 70 minutes before U.S. jets shot it down “well-inside Iraqi airspace” and that the aircraft’s presence over Iraq “was not an accident.”… – AP, 3-16-09
Obama tries to loosen credit for small businesses: President Barack Obama freed billions of dollars to help the nation’s small businesses on Monday, hoping to get credit flowing again to Main Street, not just Wall Street. He heaped praise on the little guys of American industry, often overshadowed in the blitz of government bailouts. The centerpiece of Obama’s latest plan will allow the government to spend up to $15 billion to buy the small-business loans that are now choking community banks and lenders. That, in turn, could allow those banks to start lending money again to small companies to invest, pay bills and stay afloat…. – AP, 3-16-09
Obama berates AIG and vows to try to block bonuses: Joining a wave of public anger, President Barack Obama blistered insurance giant AIG for “recklessness and greed” Monday and pledged to try to block it from handing its executives $165 million in bonuses after taking billions in federal bailout money. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?” Obama asked. “This isn’t just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s about our fundamental values.” – AP, 3-16-09
Obama will try to block executive bonuses at AIG: President Barack Obama declared Monday that insurance giant American International Group is in financial straits because of “recklessness and greed” and said he intends to stop it from paying out millions in executive bonuses. AP, 3-16-09
White House Photo, 3/17/09, Pete Souza
President’s Picks Bracket
The President picks his winners for the
Biden: Officials must ‘get it right’ on stimulus: Vice President Joe Biden issued a stern warning to local officials Wednesday, urging them to “get it right” when it comes to spending money from the administration’s $787 billion economic stimulus package.
“The work you are doing is being watched very closely, not just by me, but by everybody…. I’ll show up in your city, and tell you it was a stupid idea… The Recovery Act will help ensure older Americans are not forced to choose between paying bills and buying food…. We will recover. The economy will grow.” – AP, 3-18-09
Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh: ‘Moderate Dems Working Group’ organized in Senate: A group of 15 Senate Democrats have organized their own working group, the office of Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh announced Wednesday.
“Our group seeks to work collaboratively with the Obama administration and Senate leadership to make sure legislation is crafted in a practical way that will solve people’s problems,” Bayh said in a statement. “It’s going to take all of us working together in the Senate to get the 60 votes necessary to deliver the change the American people deserve.” – CNN, 3-18-09
Florida Rep. Connie Mack “GOP Rep calls on Geithner to ‘resign or be fired’”: “Well before Timothy Geithner became Secretary of the Treasury, he was working hand-in-hand with AIG and other financial institutions to provide them hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money as one of the key architects of the financial sector bailout,” Florida Rep. Connie Mack said in a statement released Wednesday. “I was outspoken against the bailouts then, and I’m even more outraged now.”
“I’ve had serious concerns about Secretary Geithner from the moment he was nominated. In the months since, he has shown us time and again why he was the wrong choice for this critical post. This week’s news on the AIG bonus scandal is but the latest fiasco under his watch and he has lost the confidence of the American people.” “Quite simply, the Timothy Geithner experience has been a disaster.” – CNN, 3-18-09
GOP Rep calls on Geithner to ‘resign or be fired’: Rep. Darrell Issa, ranking Republican on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also called on Geithner to step down.
“As one of the chief architects of the AIG bailout, Secretary Geithner was in a position to do what any lender of the last resort would do – negotiate concessions from AIG,” he said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
“Secretary Geithner either didn’t know about the bonuses, and was grossly negligent, or he did know and failed to bring this to the President’s attention. Either way, the end result has been a significant waste of taxpayer dollars and he should take immediate responsibility and resign.” CNN, 3-18-09
Boehner says GOP budget alternative being drafted: “Mr. President, with all due respect: your budget spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much, and that’s going to do further harm to our economy at a time when it desperately needs our help,” Boehner says in a video message posted on YouTube Wednesday. “We believe there’s a better way – better solutions to restore some fiscal sanity here in Washington while encouraging more job creation and more investment.”Our alternative, which is being drafted as we speak by Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and others, will reflect core principles that should guide us as our nation works to emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.” – CNN, 3-18-09
McCain: ‘Too Early’ to Tell If Obama Has Put Nation at Risk of Terror Attack: GStephanopoulos@SenJohnMcCain AIG: Would a President McCain break bonus contracts? Obama teams says that would cause more harm than good
SenJohnMcCain@GStephanopoulos i would have never bailed out AIG, the real scandal is billions to foreign banks.
GStephanopoulos@SenJohnMcCain ok, but today: should bonus contracts be broken? Dodd wants a targeted tax on bonuses OK with that?
SenJohnMcCain@GStephanopoulos i haven’t seen it but i would explore every option. i repeat, we wouldn’t have this problem if we hadn’t bailed them out….. – ABC News, 3-17-09
Obama Defends Budget Proposal: “If there are members of Congress who object to specific policies and proposals in this budget, then I ask them to be ready and willing to propose constructive, alternative solutions,” Mr. Obama said. “‘Just say no’ is the right advice to give your teenagers about drugs. It is not an acceptable response to whatever economic policy is proposed by the other party.” – NYT, 3-17-09
Bush refuses to criticize Obama in Canada: “I’m not going to spend my time criticizing him. There are plenty of critics in the arena. He deserves my silence. I love my country a lot more than I love politics. I think it is essential that he be helped in office….
I’m going to put people in my place, so when the history of this administration is written at least there’s an authoritarian voice saying exactly what happened. I want people to understand what it was like to sit in the Oval Office and have them come in and say we have captured Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, the alleged killer of a guy named Danny Pearl because he was simply Jewish, and we think we have information on further attacks on the United States….
I actually paid for a house last fall. I think I’m the only American to have bought a house in the fall of 2008. AP, 3-17-09
Bush, Cheney strike different post-White House tones: “I’m not going to spend my time criticizing him. There are plenty of critics in the arena,” the former president told the audience, according to the Associated Press. “It’s the risk-takers, not the government, that is going to pull us out of this recession,” the former president said, according to the Calgary Herald. “My message to policy-makrs is don’t substitute government for the marketplace. Don’t become protectionist. I’m a free-trader to the core.” But overall, the president’s demeanor in front of a friendly crowd was described as jovial. “This is my maiden voyage,” he said in his debut address on the speaking circuit. “I can’t think of a better place to give it than Calgary, Canada.” – CNN, 3-17-09
The President, the Taoiseach, and the Shamrocks: Now, before I turn it over to the Taoiseach, it turns out that we have something in common. He hails from County Offaly. And it was brought to my attention on the campaign that my great-great-great grandfather on my mother’s side came to America from a small village in County Offaly, as well. We are still speculating on whether we are related. (Laughter.)
I do share, though, a deep appreciation for the remarkable ties between our nations. I am grateful to him for his leadership of Ireland. The bond between our countries could not be stronger. As somebody who comes from Chicago, I know a little bit about Ireland, and the warmth, the good humor, and the fierce passion and intelligence of the Irish people is something that has informed our own culture, as well. And so that’s why this day and this celebration is so important. – WH Blog, 3-17-09
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE BUDGET But the one thing I will say is this: With the magnitude of the challenges we face right now, what we need in Washington are not more political tactics — we need more good ideas. We don’t need more point-scoring — we need more problem-solving. So if there are members of Congress who object to specific policies and proposals in this budget, then I ask them to be ready and willing to propose constructive, alternative solutions. If certain aspects of this budget people don’t think work, provide us some ideas in terms of what you do. “Just say no” is the right advice to give your teenagers about drugs. It is not an acceptable response to whatever economic policy is proposed by the other party.
The American people sent us here to get things done. And in this moment of enormous challenge, they are watching and waiting for us to lead. Let’s show them that we’re equal to this task before us. Let’s pass a budget that puts this nation on the road to lasting prosperity. I know Kent Conrad is committed to doing that; John Spratt is committed to doing that; I’m committed to doing that. We’re going to need everybody working together to get this thing done. – WH Blog, 3-17-09
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT TO SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS, COMMUNITY LENDERS AND MEMBERS OF CONGRESS – Help for small business, condemnation for AIG bonuses: I’ve asked Secretary Geithner to use that leverage and pursue every single legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole. (Applause.) I want everybody to be clear that Secretary Geithner has been on the case. He’s working to resolve this matter with the new CEO, Edward Liddy — who, by the way, everybody needs to understand came on board after the contracts that led to these bonuses were agreed to last year.
But I think Mr. Liddy and certainly everybody involved needs to understand this is not just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s about our fundamental values. All across the country, there are people who are working hard and meeting their responsibilities every day, without the benefit of government bailouts or multi-million dollar bonuses. You’ve got a bunch of small business people here who are struggling just to keep their credit line open — that they are foregoing pay, as one of our entrepreneurs talked about, they are in some cases mortgaging their homes, and doing a whole host of things just in order to keep things afloat. All they ask is that everyone, from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, play by the same rules. And that is an ethic that we have to demand.
And what this situation also underscores is the need for overall financial regulatory reform, so we don’t find ourselves in this position again, and for some form of resolution mechanism in dealing with troubled financial institutions, so that we’ve got greater authority to protect American taxpayers and our financial system in cases such as this….
Well, I want to say to John and to every American running a small business or hoping to run a small business one day: You deserve a chance. America needs you to have that chance. – WH Blog, 3-16-09
Obama will try to block executive bonuses at AIG: “It’s hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay. How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat.”
Noting that AIG has “received substantial sums” of federal aid from the federal government, Obama said he has asked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner “to use that leverage and pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole.”…
“All across the country, there are people who work hard and meet their responsibilities every day, without the benefit of government bailouts or multimillion-dollar bonuses. And all they ask is that everyone, from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, play by the same rules. This isn’t just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s about our fundamental values.” – AP, 3-16-09
Fed chief Bernanke: recession could end in ’09: “We’ve seen some progress in the financial markets, absolutely, But until we get that stabilized and working normally, we’re not going to see recovery. But we do have a plan. We’re working on it. And, I do think that we will get it stabilized, and we’ll see the recession coming to an end probably this year.”… AP, 3-16-09
Victor Davis Hanson “First, do no harm”: When it comes to our complex economy, President Barack Obama would do well to heed the physician’s ancient commandment to first “do no harm.”
Instead, Obama’s administration has been prescribing all sorts of multibillion-dollar borrowing remedies without any consistent diagnosis of what is exactly wrong with the weak economy or even how bad things actually are.
Since becoming president, Obama has offered numerous bleak economic prognoses. He has told Americans: “The situation we face could not be more serious. We have inherited an economic crisis as deep and as dire as any since the Great Depression.” He has also warned, “Recovery will likely be measured in years, not weeks or months” and “If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years.”
But suddenly last week, physician Obama flipped and issued an entirely new prognosis: “I don’t think things are ever as good as they say, or ever as bad as they say.” He added. “(Things) are not as bad as we think they are now.”…
Or did Obama’s change in rhetoric reflect a sort of premeditated strategy: talk down the economy to scare everyone into supporting more government spending and borrowing; then, once the stimulus bill has passed, talk up the economy to reassure us that it will work?….
It is clear from the last two months that no one in this herky-jerky administration quite knows what is going on in the economy, which has its own self-correcting mechanisms that were already in play without vast new federal spending and borrowing.
So before we give more toxic-debt medicine to the recovering patient, let us take a timeout from the borrowing, let nature do its work – and at least do no more harm to generations not yet born. – San Francisco Chronicle, 3-18-09
Julian Zelizer “White House, Congress Complicit in AIG Bonus Scandal”: Julian E. Zelizer, congressional expert at Princeton University, said the failure of policymakers to limit executive pay for bailed out banks was no accident. “Neither Congress nor the president wanted to look as if they were ‘taking over’ financial institutions,” Zelizer wrote in an email, “nor did they want to anger business.” The result, he added, was “predictable:” a bailout strategy with plenty of leeway for the companies receiving the money. – Washington Independent, 3-18-09
Julian Zelizer “Obama Caught In The Eye Of AIG Storm”: Julian Zelizer, a political historian at Princeton University, agreed Obama had no easy way out. “He can come out and say it is bad and reprimand executives–it is another thing to formulate some kind of policy response.” “There is some kind of communication problem here,” said Zelizer. “In the campaign, the president was very good at responding to crises,” he said, refering to Obama’s elegant speech on race after a furore erupted over his fiery former pastor Jeremiah Wright. “But now he is running a government. It is not just him any more–some of Obama’s (top aides) don’t seem as skilled in the political arena as they are in the economic arena.” – mysinchew.com, 3-18-09
Julian Zelizer “Commentary: GOP’s “small government” talk is hollow”: As the budget debate heats up, Republicans are warning of socialism in the White House and claiming that Democrats are rushing back to their dangerous tonic of big government. …
After the past eight years in American politics, it is impossible to reconcile current promises by conservatives for small government with the historical record of President Bush’s administration. Most experts on the left and right can find one issue upon which to agree: The federal government expanded significantly after 2001 when George W. Bush was in the White House….
Fifty years of American history have shown that even the party that traditionally advocates small government on the campaign trail opts for big government when it gets into power. The rhetoric of small government has helped Republicans attract some support in the past, but it is hard to take such rhetoric seriously given the historical record — and it is a now a question whether this rhetoric is even appealing since many Americans want government to help them cope with the current crisis. – CNN, 3-18-09
Julian Zelizer “Economy tops everyone’s agenda as Congress returns”: “The economy is on everyone’s mind, and they have to show they’re thinking about what to do at this point. That’s got to be issue No. 1,” said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University history professor. “But just as important is getting the groundwork ready to work with the new president. They’re desperately trying to avoid another Jimmy Carter situation.” – News & Observer, 3-17-09
President Obama signs an Executive Order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls.
White House Photo 3/10/09 by Pete Souza
The President lays out his five pillars of investment and reform for education.
White House Photo 3/11/09 by Chuck Kennedy
Council on Women
President Obama signs an Executive Order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls.
White House Photo 3/10/09 by Pete Souza
The President lays out his five pillars of investment and reform for education.
THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:
IN FOCUS: STATS
In Focus: Stats
FACTBOX: Main developments of Obama’s first 50 days: President Barack Obama marked his 50th day in office on Tuesday with a speech about overhauling the U.S. education system…. – Reuters, 3-11-09
Rasmussen Reports: 56%-43% approval, with a third strongly disapproving of the president’s performance. – WSJ, 3-13-09
DOUGLAS E. SCHOEN and SCOTT RASMUSSEN: “Obama’s Poll Numbers Are Falling to Earth”: It is simply wrong for commentators to continue to focus on President Barack Obama’s high levels of popularity, and to conclude that these are indicative of high levels of public confidence in the work of his administration. Indeed, a detailed look at recent survey data shows that the opposite is most likely true. The American people are coming to express increasingly significant doubts about his initiatives, and most likely support a different agenda and different policies from those that the Obama administration has advanced. – WSJ, 3-13-09
White House Photo 3/11/09 by Chuck Kennedy
Council on Women
President Obama signs an Executive Order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls.
Bracing for a Bailout Backlash: The Obama administration is increasingly concerned about a populist backlash against banks and Wall Street, worried that anger at financial institutions could also end up being directed at Congress and the White House and could complicate President Obama’s agenda. – NYT, 3-15-09
President Obama’s call for longer school days raises questions: “That calendar may once have made sense,” Obama said last week. “But today, it puts us at a competitive disadvantage.” – Wichita Eagle, 3-15-09
Obama says US economy sound, reassures investors: President Barack Obama on Saturday downplayed divisions between the U.S. and Europe over how to tackle the world’s financial crisis and said China should have “absolute confidence” that its sizable investments in the United States are safe…. – AP, 3-14-09
G-20 pledge sustained action on financial crisis: Finance officials from rich and developing countries pledged Saturday to do “whatever is necessary” to fix the global economy, including supervision of freewheeling hedge funds and restoring bank lending by dealing with the shaky securities burdening their finances…. – AP, 3-14-09
Obama admin. to end use of term ‘enemy combatant’: The Obama administration said Friday that it is abandoning one of President George W. Bush’s key phrases in the war on terrorism: enemy combatant. But that won’t change much for the detainees at the U.S. naval base in Cuba — Obama still asserts the military’s authority to hold them. Human rights attorneys said they were disappointed that Obama didn’t take a new stance…. – AP, 3-14-09
Investigator uses phony documents to get passports: Using phony documents and the identities of a dead man and a 5-year-old boy, a government investigator obtained U.S. passports in a test of post-9/11 security. Despite efforts to boost passport security since the 2001 terror attacks, the investigator fooled passport and postal service employees four out of four times, according to a new report made public Friday. The report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm, details the ruses…. – AP, 3-14-09
The First Lady’s First Trip: Michelle Obama took her first trip as first lady on Thursday, visiting the military base at Fort Bragg where she offered thanks and support to military families. – NYT, 3-12-09
Obama to tap Hamburg to run FDA: sources: President Barack Obama is set to nominate former New York City health chief Margaret Hamburg as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, people with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday. – Reuters, 3-12-09
Feds spending millions on Kennedy legacy in Mass.: More than one out of every five dollars of the $126 million Massachusetts is receiving in earmarks from a $410 billion federal spending package is going to help preserve the legacy of the Kennedys. The bill includes $5.8 million for the planning and design of a building to house a new Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate. The funding may also help support an endowment for the institute…. – AP, 3-11-09
Obama defends pet projects and signs spending bill: President Barack Obama, sounding weary of criticism over federal earmarks, defended Congress’ pet projects Wednesday as he signed an “imperfect” $410 billion measure with thousands of examples. But he said the spending does need tighter restraint and listed guidelines to do it. Obama, accused of hypocrisy by Republicans for embracing billions of dollars of earmarks in the legislation, said they can be useful and noted that he has promised to curb, not eliminate them…. – AP, 3-11-09
Officials: Iran does not have key nuclear material: Iran does not yet have any highly enriched uranium, the fuel needed to make a nuclear warhead, two top U.S. intelligence officials told Congress Tuesday, disputing a claim by an Israeli official…. – AP, 3-10-09
9/11 suspects: ‘We are terrorists to the bone’: Puerto Rico – The self-professed mastermind and four other men charged in the Sept. 11 attacks declared they are “terrorists to the bone” in a statement that mocked the U.S. failure to prevent the killings and predicted America will fall like “the towers on the blessed 9/11 day.”… – AP, 3-10-09
Congress approves massive $410B spending bill: Congress on Tuesday cleared for President Barack Obama’s signature a $410 billion measure to fund the government, a measure denounced by most Republicans as an example of reckless spending. The Senate approved the measure by voice after it cleared a key procedural hurdle by a 62-35 vote. Sixty votes were required to shut down debate. – AP, 3-10-09
Recession on track to be longest in postwar period: Factory jobs disappeared. Inflation soared. Unemployment climbed to alarming levels. The hungry lined up at soup kitchens. It wasn’t the Great Depression. It was the 1981-82 recession, widely considered America’s worst since the depression…. – AP, 3-8-09
Cheney Says Obama Has Increased Risks: “He is making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack,” Mr. Cheney said of Mr. Obama in an interview on the CNN program “State of the Union.”….
“I think those programs were absolutely essential to the success we enjoyed of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11.” “I think that’s a great success story. It was done legally. It was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles.”
“Up until 9/11, it was treated as a law enforcement problem. You go find the bad guy, put him on trial, put him in jail. Once you go into a wartime situation and it’s a strategic threat, then you use all of your assets to go after the enemy. You go after the state sponsors of terror, places where they’ve got sanctuary. You use your intelligence resources, your military resources, your financial resources — everything you can — in order to shut down that terrorist threat against you. When you go back to the law enforcement mode, which I sense is what they’re doing, closing Guantánamo and so forth, that they are very much giving up that center of attention and focus that’s required, and that concept of military threat that is essential if you’re going to successfully defend the nation against further attacks.”
“We’ve accomplished nearly everything we set out to do,” he said about Iraq. “Now, I don’t hear much talk about that, but the fact is, the violence level is down 90 percent. The number of casualties and Iraqis and Americans is significantly diminished. There’s been elections, a constitution. They’re about to have another presidential election here in the near future. We have succeeded in creating in the heart of the Middle East a democratically governed Iraq, and that is a big deal,” Mr. Cheney said. “And it is, in fact, what we set out to do.” – NYT, 3-15-09
Cheney going high-tech and driving a car: Dick Cheney’s going high-tech with a BlackBerry and a wireless device for reading books. And he’s driving a car these days. AP, 3-15-09
Remarks of President Barack Obama, Weekly Address, Saturday, March 14, 2009, Washington, DC, “Weekly Address: Reversing a Troubling Trend in Food Safety”: In this week’s address, President Barack Obama makes key announcements regarding the safety of our nation’s food.
“We are a nation built on the strength of individual initiative. But there are certain things that we can’t do on our own. There are certain things that only a government can do. And one of those things is ensuring that the foods we eat, and the medicines we take, are safe and don’t cause us harm.” – WH Blog, 3-14-09 – Transcript
President Obama: “A wonderful meeting of the minds”: Is that directed at me? Well, look, I think Brazil has shown extraordinary leadership when it comes to biofuels. And I’ve been a great admirer of the steps that have been taken by President Lula’s government in pursuing biofuels and developing them. And this is an investment that Brazil has made for a very long time.
My policies coming into this administration have been to redouble efforts here in the United States to pursue a similar path of clean energy development. And I think we have a lot to learn from Brazil.
As I mentioned to President Lula, I think we have the potential to exchange ideas, technology to build on the biodiesel cooperation structure that we’ve already established. I know that the issue of Brazilian ethanol coming into the United States has been a source of tension between the two countries. It’s not going to change overnight, but I do think that as we continue to build exchanges of ideas, commerce, trade around the issue of biodiesel, that over time this source of tension can get resolved. – WH Blog, 3-14-09
Speaker Nancy Pelosi “The Buzz About a Second Stimulus Package”: I really would like to focus on the first one. I know that people have made suggestions that we should be ready to do something, but I really would like to see this stimulus package play out.
I think it’s important that the American people and the Congress of the United States have confidence in the recovery package that we have passed. We believe that it has the right components to take the country in a new direction in terms of job creation, tax cuts for the middle class, investments in the short term for job creation and longer term stabilization. So I’ve always been trying to be fiscally responsible about doing — getting the most for — I won’t say a small amount of money because we’re talking hundreds of billions of dollars.
As we go down that path as people make judgments, I would hope that we get the results that we need from this package. But that doesn’t mean that people won’t talk about it, as one of our economists suggested the other day. But not from my initiation. – NYT, 3-12-09
President Obama declares turning point on earmark reform: Now, yesterday Congress sent me the final part of last year’s budget; a piece of legislation that rolls nine bills required to keep the government running into one, a piece of legislation that addresses the immediate concerns of the American people by making needed investments in line with our urgent national priorities.
That’s what nearly 99 percent of this legislation does — the nearly 99 percent that you probably haven’t heard much about.
In my discussions with Congress, we have talked about the need for further reforms to ensure that the budget process inspires trust and confidence instead of cynicism. So I believe as we move forward, we can come together around principles that prevent the abuse of earmarks.
These principles begin with a simple concept: Earmarks must have a legitimate and worthy public purpose. Earmarks that members do seek must be aired on those members’ websites in advance, so the public and the press can examine them and judge their merits for themselves. Each earmark must be open to scrutiny at public hearings, where members will have to justify their expense to the taxpayer….
And finally, if my administration evaluates an earmark and determines that it has no legitimate public purpose, then we will seek to eliminate it, and we’ll work with Congress to do so. – WH Blog, 3-11-09
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT SIGNING OF EXECUTIVE ORDER CREATING THE WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL ON WOMEN AND GIRLS “Opportunities their mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers never dreamed of”: I sign this order not just as a President, but as a son, a grandson, a husband, and a father, because growing up, I saw my mother put herself through school and follow her passion for helping others. But I also saw how she struggled to raise me and my sister on her own, worrying about how she’d pay the bills and educate herself and provide for us.
I saw my grandmother work her way up to become one of the first women bank vice presidents in the state of Hawaii, but I also saw how she hit a glass ceiling — how men no more qualified than she was kept moving up the corporate ladder ahead of her.
I’ve seen Michelle, the rock of the Obama family — (laughter) — juggling work and parenting with more skill and grace than anybody that I know. But I also saw how it tore at her at times, how sometimes when she was with the girls she was worrying about work, and when she was at work she was worrying about the girls. It’s a feeling that I share every day…..
So now it’s up to us to carry that work forward, to ensure that our daughters and granddaughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements — and that they have opportunities their mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers never dreamed of. That’s the purpose of this Council. Those are the priorities of my presidency. And I look forward to working with all of you to fulfill them in the months and years to come.
All right, so I’m going to go sign this thing. Thank you very much. – WH Blog, 3-11-09 – Transcript
U.S. “in a deep mess” but we will fix it: Geithner: “This president is going to do what is necessary to get us through this. … We’re a terrifically strong country with abundant resources, and we will get through this.”…. You’re going to see (President Obama) lead an ambitious agenda to try to get the world moving with us so that the global economy is firing on all cylinders. Getting the world to move with us (is) necessary and critical.”… “Our markets are still the most liquid markets in the world. And frankly, there is a lot of confidence still in our capacity to manage this and get through it. Everything we do in moving aggressively to fix this crisis is guided by that basic obligation, of not just to American investors but around the world, to do what is necessary to get this economy back on track…. There are a lot of people who want us to come in and pay an inflated price for these assets, and have the government absorb a bunch of those losses directly to socialize that risk. We want to pursue a market mechanism that leaves the taxpayer with less risk and better overall benefit in trying to fix this system.” – Reuters, 3-10-09
President Obama “Taking on Education”: Every so often, throughout our history, a generation of Americans bears the responsibility of seeing this country through difficult times and protecting the dream of its founding for posterity. This is a responsibility that has fallen to our generation. Meeting it will require steering our nation’s economy through a crisis unlike any we have seen in our time. In the short-term, that means jumpstarting job creation, re-starting lending, and restoring confidence in our markets and our financial system. But it also means taking steps that not only advance our recovery, but lay the foundation for lasting, shared prosperity.
I know there are some who believe we can only handle one challenge at a time. They forget that Lincoln helped lay down the transcontinental railroad, passed the Homestead Act, and created the National Academy of Sciences in the midst of Civil War. Likewise, President Roosevelt didn’t have the luxury of choosing between ending a depression and fighting a war. President Kennedy didn’t have the luxury of choosing between civil rights and sending us to the moon. And we don’t have the luxury of choosing between getting our economy moving now and rebuilding it over the long term.
Of course, no matter how innovative our schools or how effective our teachers, America cannot succeed unless our students take responsibility for their own education. That means showing up for school on time, paying attention in class, seeking out extra tutoring if it’s needed, and staying out of trouble. And to any student who’s watching, I say this: don’t even think about dropping out of school. As I said a couple of weeks ago, dropping out is quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country, and it is not an option – not anymore. Not when our high school dropout rate has tripled in the past thirty years. Not when high school dropouts earn about half as much as college graduates. And not when Latino students are dropping out faster than just about anyone else. It is time for all of us, no matter what our backgrounds, to come together and solve this epidemic. – WH Blog, 3-10-09
Sen. Joe Lieberman now sings Obama’s praises: “He’s shown real leadership,” Lieberman told The Associated Press in an interview. “Bottom line: I think Barack Obama, president of the United States, is off to a very good start.” – AP, 3-9-09
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery Signing of Stem Cell Executive Order and Scientific Integrity Presidential Memorandum, Washington, DC, March 9, 2009 – “A debt of gratitude to so many tireless advocates”: Today, with the Executive Order I am about to sign, we will bring the change that so many scientists and researchers; doctors and innovators; patients and loved ones have hoped for, and fought for, these past eight years: we will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research. We will vigorously support scientists who pursue this research. And we will aim for America to lead the world in the discoveries it one day may yield….
That is why today, I am also signing a Presidential Memorandum directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making. To ensure that in this new Administration, we base our public policies on the soundest science; that we appoint scientific advisors based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology; and that we are open and honest with the American people about the science behind our decisions. That is how we will harness the power of science to achieve our goals – to preserve our environment and protect our national security; to create the jobs of the future, and live longer, healthier lives….
That is why today, I am also signing a Presidential Memorandum directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making. To ensure that in this new Administration, we base our public policies on the soundest science; that we appoint scientific advisors based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology; and that we are open and honest with the American people about the science behind our decisions. That is how we will harness the power of science to achieve our goals – to preserve our environment and protect our national security; to create the jobs of the future, and live longer, healthier lives. – WH Blog, 3-9-09 – Transcript
Michael Kazin “Bracing for a Bailout Backlash”: “The change now is you have a free-floating economic anxiety that has expressed itself in a kind of lashing out at those being bailed out and people who are bailing out,” Michael Kazin, a professor at Georgetown University who has written extensively on populism. “There’s not really a sense of what the solution is.” “I do think there’s a potential for a ‘damn everybody in power’ kind of sentiment,” Mr. Kazin said. – NYT, 3-15-09
Robert Dallek “How Not to End Another President’s War (L.B.J. Edition)”: Now that President Obama has inherited not one war but two, does he face a similar hurdle? With the country’s economy in such poor shape and his eagerness to enact bold health insurance, education and environmental reforms, he will need to recall that wars are the enemy of far reaching change. World War I stopped Progressivism; in the 1940’s “Dr. Win the War replaced Dr. New Deal,” as Franklin D. Roosevelt said; the Korean War sidetracked Harry Truman’s Fair Deal; and Vietnam frustrated Johnson’s hopes of additional Great Society measures.
Mr. Obama’s commitment to maintain perhaps 50,000 troops in Iraq after the drawdown of combat forces over the next 19 months, combined with his decision to send an additional 17,000 troops (for starters) to Afghanistan, could be the beginning of an unwanted debate about commitments abroad. If the country begins to see mounting costs in lives and money from the administration’s war policies, it risks distractions from the more urgent designs the president described in his campaign and recent messages to the Congress and the country.
History is never a precise guide for current political actions. But the consistent negative impact of earlier foreign conflicts on grand projects at home is a cautionary tale that should command President Obama’s close attention. Guns and butter rarely mix. – NYT, 3-12-09
Julian Zelizer “Omnibus bill’s hidden item: a Democratic rift On Tuesday, Congress passed the spending bill to keep the government running – 160 days late, and not without some unusual friction between House and Senate leaders”: The moment marked a sharp break with tradition. “It’s hard to think of a comparable moment like this,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. “The tension between the two chambers is becoming very strong, especially the Pelosi-Reid rivalry.” – Christian Science Monitor, 3-11-09
Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Is it Obama’s economy yet?”: President Obama currently has the polls on his side. In numerous surveys, Americans have said they are pleased with Obama’s performance thus far and confident the president can fix the economy, acknowledging this will take some time.
The political question for the White House is how long those poll numbers will last. At some point, the “Bush Economy” is going to become the “Obama Economy.”
When that happens, Obama will be in serious political trouble unless the economy has turned around. Republicans will be able to argue that the administration’s plans are not working and this perception will greatly diminish public support for the White House….
The clock is ticking for Obama. There will likely be a tipping point when the approval ratings start to slide and a majority of Americans start to associate the recession with this White House.
Arguments about how the crisis started earlier will sound more like a defeated leader, trying to explain his failures, than a reasoned leader trying to explain the situation we face. That’s how politics works.
It will be politically essential that Obama’s early policies, particularly the economic stimulus bill and financial bailout, stop the downward slide of the economy and create some kind of stability. Otherwise, the president will find himself in rough waters. – CNN, 3-9-09