July 12, 2010: Financial Regulation Overhaul Set to Pass & Obama meets with Benjamin Netanyahu

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Shakes Hand with Jacob Lew, His Nominee for OMB   Director

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

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address

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 HaitiWH, 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

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)

February 22, 2010: Obama & Health Care – CPAC, Conservative Policy Action Conference

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President delivers the Weekly Address

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • 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

THE HEADLINES….

  • 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

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • 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

February 15, 2010: Michelle Obama Launches Let’s Move Campaign,

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President Signs a Memorandum Taking on Childhood Obesity

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

THE HEADLINES….

The First Lady Announces "Let's Move"

  • 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

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President delivers the Weekly Address

  • 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, 2-9-10Let’s Move campaign

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

The President holds a bipartisan meeting on the economy

  • 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 Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, and Valerie JarrettWave During Olympics Opening Ceremonies

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)

June 15, 2009: President Obama, Healthcare Reform and the Middle East

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President speaks on kids tobacco legislation

(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

THE HEADLINES….

The Headlines…

  • 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 Guantánamo 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

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President gives the Weekly Address

Political Quotes

  • 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

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President in Green Bay

Historians’ Comments

  • 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

June 4, 2009: President Obama’s Speech to the Muslim World in Cairo & Honoring Ronald Reagan

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • 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

THE HEADLINES….

nancy reagan photoDoug Mills/The New York Times Nancy 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.

The Headlines…

  • 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

POLITICAL QUOTES

Political Quotes

  • 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. – NYTMp3 DownloadVideo
  • 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
  • The President Spells Out His Vision on Health Care Reform – White House, 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

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President in Cairo

Historians’ Comments

  • 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

The President in Cairo

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.

Watch the Video

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