Special: President Obama Signs Health Care Bill into Law

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President signs health reform into law

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Poll show health care plan gains favor President Obama reaches for a pen to sign the health care bill Tuesday. A poll finds increased support for the measure: By 49%-40%, those polled say it was “a good thing” rather than a bad one that Congress passed the bill. Half describe their reaction in positive terms — as “enthusiastic” or “pleased” — while about four in 10 describe it in negative ways, as “disappointed” or “angry.” The largest single group, 48%, calls the legislation “a good first step” that needs to be followed by more action. And 4% say the bill itself makes the most important changes needed in the nation’s health care system.
    “After a century of striving, after a year of debate, after a historic vote, health care reform is no longer an unmet promise,” Obama declared in a celebration at the Interior Department auditorium with members of Congress, leaders of advocacy groups and citizens whose personal stories were cited during the debate. “It is the law of the land.”… – USA Today, 3-23-10
  • House passes Democratic changes to health bill: The House has passed key changes to its just-approved overhaul of health care legislation. The changes are part of a prearranged agreement to guarantee passage of the historic legislation. The changes passed by a 220-211 vote. That bill now goes to the Senate for final approval, where it only requires a simple majority to pass…. – AP, 3-22-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • It’s the law of the land: Health overhaul signed: Claiming a historic triumph that could define his presidency, a jubilant Barack Obama signed a massive, nearly $1 trillion health care overhaul on Tuesday that will for the first time cement insurance coverage as the right of every U.S. citizen and begin to reshape the way virtually all Americans receive and pay for treatment. After more than a year of hyperpartisan struggle — and numerous near-death moments for the measure — Obama declared “a new season in America” as he sealed a victory denied to a line of presidents stretching back more than half a century. Democratic lawmakers cheered him on, giving the White House signing ceremony a rally-like atmosphere as they shouted and snapped photos with pocket cameras or cell phones…. – AP, 3-23-10
  • Obama Signs Health Care Overhaul Bill, With a Flourish: With the strokes of 20 pens, President Obama signed his landmark health care overhaul — the most expansive social legislation enacted in decades — into law on Tuesday, saying it enshrines “the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care.”
    Republican lawmakers plan to put up roadblocks to the health reconciliation bill. At a news conference on Tuesday, from left, were Senators Jon Kyl, Judd Gregg and Mitch McConnell. Mr. Obama signed the measure, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, during a festive and at times raucous ceremony in the East Room of the White House. He spoke to an audience of nearly 300, including more than 200 Democratic lawmakers who rode a yearlong legislative roller coaster that ended with House passage of the bill Sunday night. They interrupted him repeatedly with cheers, applause and standing ovations.
    “The bill I’m signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for and marched for and hungered to see,” Mr. Obama said, adding, “Today we are affirming that essential truth, a truth every generation is called to rediscover for itself, that we are not a nation that scales back its aspirations.”… – NYT, 3-24-10
  • Obama signs health care reform into law: President Obama signed legislation into law Tuesday that will overhaul the nation’s health system and, jubilant Democrats hope, overhaul their own political fortunes and become not their Waterloo, but the GOP’s. For House Speaker Nancy Pelosi enactment marks the pinnacle of her career, delivering a landmark law that has eluded Democrats for decades without a single Republican vote. Weeks after insisting that the House could not pass the legislation, the San Francisco Democrat led her chamber to do just that, showing a mastery of legislative maneuvering unmatched by any of her predecessors from either party in recent memory.
    On Tuesday, Obama singled out Pelosi as “one of the best speakers the House of Representatives has ever had,” and Republicans turned to her as the chief target of their ire. So widespread were her kudos that she rivaled the president as the Washington leader most responsible for bringing Democrats’ hard-fought victory to fruition…. – SF Chronicle, 3-23-10
  • Biden to Obama: “A big [expletive] deal”: After introducing Obama at Tuesday’s health-care bill signing ceremony, Vice President Biden turned to the president and said, “This is a big [expletive] deal.”… – WaPo, 3-23-10
  • Ted Kennedy is celebrated for his longtime support of health-care reform: While President Obama gathered with lawmakers for a bill-signing ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday afternoon, dozens of others came to commemorate health-care legislation here, on a quiet hillside in Section 45 of Arlington National Cemetery. The grave site of Edward M. Kennedy consists of only a white cross and a flat marble footstone, but it has attracted hundreds of visitors during the past several days. First came Vicki Kennedy, the widowed wife, staying for several hours Sunday while Congress prepared for its decisive vote. Next was Patrick Kennedy, the son, who left behind a note written on his congressional stationery Monday morning. Then, on Tuesday, health-care advocates and student groups were led to the grave by tour guides, one of whom pointed to the white cross and recalled, “The Great Ted Kennedy, the man who championed health care.”… – WaPo, 3-24-10
  • Health bill included big Republican idea: individual mandate: The lawsuit against the health care overhaul filed Tuesday by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is focused on a provision that has long been advocated by conservatives, big business and the insurance industry. The lawsuit by McCollum, a candidate for governor, and 12 other attorneys general, focuses on the provision that virtually all Americans will need to have health insurance by 2014 or face penalties. The lawsuit calls this an “unprecedented encroachment on the liberty of individuals.” It states the Constitution doesn’t authorize such a mandate, the proposed tax penalty is unlawful and is an “unprecedented encroachment on the sovereignty of the states.”… – Miami Herald, 3-24-10
  • Israel Absorbs Twin Rebukes From Top Allies: Israel found itself at odds with its two most stalwart allies on Tuesday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu culminated a tense visit to Washington with a face-to-face session with President Obama that apparently failed to resolve the impasse between the two over a comprehensive Middle East peace plan…. – NYT, 3-24-10
  • Economic Scene In Health Care Bill, Obama Attacks Wealth Inequality: For all the political and economic uncertainties about health reform, at least one thing seems clear: The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago… – NYT, 3-24-10
  • Gap in health care law’s protection for children: The Obama administration is scrambling to fix a potential problem with a much-touted benefit of its new health care law, a gap in coverage improvements for children in poor health, officials said Tuesday…. – AP, 3-24-10
  • Obama to sign health care reform into law, then promote it on the road: President Obama will sign sweeping health care reform legislation into law at the White House on Tuesday, according to two Democratic officials familiar with the planning….
    Passage of the bill was a huge boost for Obama, who made health care reform a domestic priority. Aides said Monday that Obama exchanged handshakes, hugs and “high-fives” with staffers when the outcome of the House vote became apparent. “I haven’t seen the president so happy about anything other than his family since I’ve known him,” said senior adviser David Axelrod, adding that Obama’s jubilation Sunday night exceeded his election victory in November 2004. “He was excited that night, but not like last night.”… – CNN, 3-23-10
  • A look at the health care overhaul bill: Congress approved a major overhaul of the nation’s health care system for President Barack Obama’s signature. Here are some of the features of the legislation…. – AP, 3-23-10
  • Republicans’ new health care reform bill rallying cry: Repeal it: Republicans couldn’t stop Democrats from passing the health care reform bill Sunday. Now, they vow to make the bill – and big government spending – the core issue of the 2010 elections…. – CS Monitor, 3-22-10
  • 10 states line up to sue over health bill, Florida AG says: Virginia, 10 other states plan to file suit challenging health care reform bill… Florida AG Bill McCollum: “This is a tax … on just living, and that’s unconstitutional”… McCollum says bill would force states to spend money, which violates 10th Amendment
    (CNN) — Ten states plan to file a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new health care reform bill, Florida’s attorney general announced Monday. Bill McCollum, the Republican attorney general under fellow Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, told a news conference that the lawsuit would be filed once President Obama signs the health care bill into law. He said he’ll be joined by his counterparts in Alabama, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington… McCollum said the lawsuit would challenge the bill’s provision requiring people to purchase health insurance, along with provisions that will force state government to spend more on health care services…. – CNN, 3-22-10
  • Healthcare victory could bolster Pelosi: Keeping her majority come November will be another test for the House speaker…. – LAT, 3-23-10
  • On health care, Pelosi kept Democrats thinking big: The landmark health care bill about to be signed into law is as large as it is due in no small part to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s stewardship. When Democrats in Congress and the White House were despondent and inclined to retreat on health care just two months ago, Pelosi stood firm against despair and downsizing. As a result, she could emerge from the yearlong struggle among the most powerful speakers in history…. “It’s safe to say that she’s going to change some of the ways that we look at effective speakers, and maybe create a new definition of how to get things done under incredibly difficult circumstances,” said Ray Smock, who was House historian for a dozen years under former speakers Tip O’Neill, Jim Wright and Tom Foley. – AP, 3-22-10
  • Debra J. Saunders: ObamaCare means: Don’t look behind the curtain: You’ve really got to hand it to President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Saddled with a majority of both houses and a hold on the White House, they somehow managed to pass the Senate health care bill in the House. It’s practically a miracle. And because Washington loves a victory, Pelosi is now seen as stronger, not as a Democrat who unconscionably lost 34 Dems and every Republican… – SF Chronicle, 3-22-10
  • Before health vote, a weekend of ugly discourse: Remember how shocking it was six months ago when Rep. Joe Wilson shouted “You lie!” to the president? Suddenly, that outburst seems positively genteel. From the “N-word” and anti-gay slurs being leveled at congressmen by protesters right outside the Capitol, to a shout of “baby killer!” within the chamber itself, to veiled and not-so-veiled threats online, the weekend saw an explosion of stunningly ugly discourse. What is going on? Is our political culture sinking ever lower? Actually, say political historians, not necessarily, though it surely may seem so. In reality, they say, such a descent into incivility happens periodically at times of significant political change…. – AP, 3-22-10
  • On final day, Obama works vote outside public view: Capping a long day and a consuming political journey, President Barack Obama celebrated the passage of health care legislation on Sunday with hugs, high fives and an emboldened attitude. Said the president to the nation, “Tonight, we answered the call of history.” At nearly midnight in Washington, with a big swath of country asleep or headed that way, Obama strode into the ornate East Room with Vice President Joe Biden backing him. There was no hour too late for the president to embrace this moment.
    “I want to thank every member of Congress who stood up tonight with courage and conviction to make health care reform a reality,” Obama said as the top members of his own health care team stood beaming nearby. “I know this wasn’t an easy vote for a lot of people. But it was the right vote.”… – AP, 3-22-10
  • House Passes Historic Health Care Reform Legislation: The House of Representatives on Sunday passed a sweeping $940 billion health care bill in a historic vote that will dramatically change the U.S. health care system and expand health insurance coverage to 32 million more Americans over the next decade. “Tonight’s vote is not a victory for any one party … it’s a victory for the American people. And it’s a victory for common sense,” President Obama said in a statement after the vote. He added: “This isn’t radical reform, but it is major reform. It will not fix everything that’s wrong with our system, but it will move us in the right direction. This is what change looks like.”…. – PBS Newshour, 3-22-10
  • House Approves Health Overhaul, Sending Landmark Bill to Obama: House Democrats approved a far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s health system on Sunday, voting over unanimous Republican opposition to provide medical coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans after an epic political battle that could define the differences between the parties for years. Reporters gathered around Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, at the Capitol on Sunday. Ms. Pelosi called the health care bill “liberating legislation.”
    With the 219-to-212 vote, the House gave final approval to legislation passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve. Thirty-four Democrats joined Republicans in voting against the bill. The vote sent the measure to President Obama, whose yearlong push for the legislation has been the centerpiece of his agenda and a test of his political power. After approving the bill, the House adopted a package of changes to it by a vote of 220 to 211. That package — agreed to in negotiations among House and Senate Democrats and the White House — now goes to the Senate for action as soon as this week. It would be the final step in a bitter legislative fight that has highlighted the nation’s deep partisan and ideological divisions…. – NYT, 3-22-10
  • With the vote, a new stature for Obama: President Obama scored a stunning political and legislative victory on health care last night that not only will earn him a place in history books, but promises to establish him as a stronger leader of the Democratic party after a tumultuous first year…. Boston Globe, 3-22-10
  • Obama achieves health law success that eluded past: Rarely does the government, that big, clumsy, poorly regarded oaf, pull off anything short of war that touches all lives with one act, one stroke of a president’s pen. Such a moment has come. After a year of riotous argument, decades of failure and a century of spoiled hopes, the United States is reaching for a system of medical care that extends coverage nearly to all citizens. The change that’s coming will reshape a sixth of the economy and shatter the status quo. To the ardent liberal, President Barack Obama’s health care plan, passed by the House on Sunday night, is a shadow of what should have been, sapped by dispiriting downsizing and trade-offs. To the loud foe on the right, it is a dreadful expansion of the nanny state…. – AP, 3-22-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Obama signed major health care legislation into law on Tuesd

  • Remarks by the President and Vice President at Signing of the Health Insurance Reform Bill East Room: Our presence here today is remarkable and improbable. With all the punditry, all of the lobbying, all of the game- playing that passes for governing in Washington, it’s been easy at times to doubt our ability to do such a big thing, such a complicated thing; to wonder if there are limits to what we, as a people, can still achieve. It’s easy to succumb to the sense of cynicism about what’s possible in this country.
    But today, we are affirming that essential truth -– a truth every generation is called to rediscover for itself –- that we are not a nation that scales back its aspirations. (Applause.) We are not a nation that falls prey to doubt or mistrust. We don’t fall prey to fear. We are not a nation that does what’s easy. That’s not who we are. That’s not how we got here.
    We are a nation that faces its challenges and accepts its responsibilities. We are a nation that does what is hard. What is necessary. What is right. Here, in this country, we shape our own destiny. That is what we do. That is who we are. That is what makes us the United States of America.
    And we have now just enshrined, as soon as I sign this bill, the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care. (Applause.) And it is an extraordinary achievement that has happened because of all of you and all the advocates all across the country…. – WH, 3-23-10 Video
  • This is What Change Looks Like: Good evening, everybody. Tonight, after nearly 100 years of talk and frustration, after decades of trying, and a year of sustained effort and debate, the United States Congress finally declared that America’s workers and America’s families and America’s small businesses deserve the security of knowing that here, in this country, neither illness nor accident should endanger the dreams they’ve worked a lifetime to achieve.
    Tonight, at a time when the pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the weight of our politics. We pushed back on the undue influence of special interests. We didn’t give in to mistrust or to cynicism or to fear. Instead, we proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things and tackling our biggest challenges. We proved that this government — a government of the people and by the people — still works for the people.
    Today’s vote answers the dreams of so many who have fought for this reform. To every unsung American who took the time to sit down and write a letter or type out an e-mail hoping your voice would be heard — it has been heard tonight. To the untold numbers who knocked on doors and made phone calls, who organized and mobilized out of a firm conviction that change in this country comes not from the top down, but from the bottom up — let me reaffirm that conviction: This moment is possible because of you….
    Tonight’s vote is not a victory for any one party — it’s a victory for them. It’s a victory for the American people. And it’s a victory for common sense…. – WH, 3-22-10
  • “Make True on that Promise”: Remarks by the President to the House Democratic Congress Capitol Visitor Center Auditorium, Washington, D.C.: In his remarks to the House Democratic Caucus yesterday, President Obama put the upcoming health insurance reform effort into a larger context with some powerful thoughts about how he got invovled in politics and what moments like now mean for the country. …
    And this is one of those moments. This is one of those times where you can honestly say to yourself, doggone it, this is exactly why I came here. This is why I got into politics. This is why I got into public service. This is why I’ve made those sacrifices. Because I believe so deeply in this country and I believe so deeply in this democracy and I’m willing to stand up even when it’s hard, even when it’s tough.
    Every single one of you have made that promise not just to your constituents but to yourself. And this is the time to make true on that promise. We are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true. We are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine. We have been debating health care for decades. It has now been debated for a year. It is in your hands. It is time to pass health care reform for America, and I am confident that you are going to do it tomorrow. – WH, 3-21-10 WH, 3-21-10
  • Fiery Boehner: ‘Hell no you can’t!’: In his final words from the floor of the House before a vote on health care reform legislation, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) led a fiery round of rhetorical questions….
    “Can you say it was done openly with transparency and accountability, without backdroom deals and struck behind closed doors, hidden from the people?,” Rep. Boehner asked. “Hell no you can’t!”
    “Have you read the bill? Have you read the reconciliation bill? Have you read the manager’s assessment?” he asked. “Hell no you haven’t.”
    The acting speaker then banged his gavel, saying calmly, “Both sides would do well to remember the dignity of the House.”
    “By our actions today, we disgrace their values. We break our ties to history in this chamber,” Rep. Boehner said…. – NECN, 3-21-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Bruce Schulman: Before health vote, a weekend of ugly discourse: “I was on my way to work this morning and I saw an amazing bumper sticker,” says Bruce Schulman, a historian at Boston University. It directed a vulgar curse word at Obama. “It’s hard for me to believe that we would have seen that a few decades ago,” says Schulman. “Even with Richard Nixon, who was so hated by many.” Still, Schulman says, it’s clear that with the Internet, social media and other platforms, many with extreme views now merely have a megaphone they didn’t have years ago…. “The rawest, most unfiltered comments now become part of the political discourse,” Schulman says. – AP, 3-22-10
  • How Will History View the Health Reform Debate?: After months of debate, deals and delays, a health reform bill is now headed to the president’s desk. Three historians assess the significance of the moment, in the context of nearly 100 years of U.S. health care legislation…. – PBS Newshour, 3-22-10
  • Robert Dallek, Presidential Historian, Stanford University: How Will History View the Health Reform Debate?: …In terms of the future, I would say the argument will not disappear. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this debate about national health insurance. If it works well, the Democrats will have a very significant talking point for the future. If it falls short, if it’s somehow seen as a failure, the Republicans are going to have a powerful talking point against the Democrats…. – PBS Newshour, 3-22-10
  • Ellen Fitzpatrick, Professor of History, University of New HampshireHow Will History View the Health Reform Debate?: …The battle over this legislation — waged with skills and determination by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, reinforced by pressure from the grassroots who looked with dismay upon the prospect of another defeat at the hands of political inertia and incompetence — marks a milestone in the young Obama presidency. Having staked so much on a promise of change, Obama redeems that pledge in ways that — whatever the struggles ahead — casts in stark relief the recalcitrance of his opponents. – PBS Newshour, 3-22-10
  • Richard Norton Smith, Scholar in Residence, George Mason University, How Will History View the Health Reform Debate?: To state the obvious, it is an enormous personal victory for Barack Obama — not only the magnitude and scope of what is being achieved but how it’s been done, how it has been brought back from the grave. That is the stuff of instant legend as well as lasting history. In some ways, it’s almost easier to predict what historians a generation from now will say than what voters will say six or seven months from now. What we can’t know, what no poll can measure, is what aura will accrue to this president and his party as a result of pulling this rabbit out of a hat…. – PBS Newshour, 3-22-10
  • Jordan Michael Smith: What Obama Could Learn from a New Book on FDR: Health care reform is a major victory for the United States. But, paradoxically, its very passage illustrates the depths of government dysfunction. Reform took 13 months, billions of dollars in advertising and lobbying, and Herculean patience and effort on the part of lawmakers, voters and grassroots supporters — and still the United States’ health care falls well short in terms of quality and breadth of coverage per capita than almost every industrialized country in the world. Even worse, the Supreme Court may strike down some of the new health plan’s provisions…. – Huffington Post, 3-22-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Pelosi emerges as powerhouse in D.C.: The passage of health care will certainly rank as one of the major political achievements of recent decades. Legislation that will eventually extend health care coverage to more than 30 million more Americans, greatly expand the number of options that citizens have when purchasing health care, bring healthy citizens into the pool of the insured and thus lower costs and create important regulations on health care companies will be remembered as one of the biggest domestic policy changes since the Great Society of the 1960s.
    While most attention will focus on President Obama for pulling off a Herculean task that eluded many of our great presidents, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi emerges from this battle as the real powerhouse in Washington. She has pursued a clear ideological agenda but through pragmatic political tactics. Like the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, she stands for something, yet knows how to round up votes…. – CNN, 3-21-10
  • DAVID E. SANGER: News Analysis A Major Victory, but at What Cost?: The House’s passage of health care legislation late Sunday night assures that whatever the ultimate cost, President Obama will go down in history as one of the handful of presidents who found a way to reshape the nation’s social welfare system. After the bitterest of debates, Mr. Obama proved that he was willing to fight for something that moved him to his core. Skeptics had begun to wonder. But he showed that when he was finally committed to throwing all his political capital onto the table, he could win, if by the narrowest of margins. Whether it was a historic achievement or political suicide for his party — perhaps both — he succeeded where President Bill Clinton failed in trying to remake American health care. President George W. Bush also failed to enact a landmark change in a domestic program, his second-term effort to create private accounts in the Social Security system…. – NYT, 3-22-10
  • With the vote, a new stature for Obama: “Some were saying the bloom was really off the rose,” said Roger Wilkins, a historian and author who served as an assistant attorney general in the Johnson administration. “There’s a ‘Bambi’ quality to him. When you look at him, there’s this lithe young man who likes to play backyard basketball. “I think that everybody who thought that Bambi had moved into the White House knows that’s not true today.” Wilkins continued. “He is one tough fellow, and he has proved himself to be pretty good at politics as well.” – Boston Globe, 3-22-10

January 17, 2010: Obama, Clinton, Bush & Haiti

Support the Earthquake Recovery Efforts in Haiti: clintonbushhaitifund.org/

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

Announcing the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund

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IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Poll shows growing disappointment, polarization over Obama’s performance ONE YEAR LATER Political polarization: A year into his presidency, President Obama faces a polarized nation and souring public assessments of his efforts to change Washington, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Nearly half of all Americans say Obama is not delivering on his major campaign promises, and a narrow majority have just some or no confidence that he will make the right decisions for the country’s future…. – WaPo, 1-16-10
  • Obama Image Unscathed By Terrorism Controversy Few See Personal Upside to Health Care Reform: Yet there is little evidence that heightened security concerns are affecting Barack Obama’s standing and image. At 49%, Obama’s job approval rating is unchanged from December. He continues to get markedly higher ratings for his handling of the threat of terrorism (51% approve) than for any other issue. And just 22% say his administration’s policies have made the country less safe from terrorism when compared with the policies of the Bush administration; that is virtually unchanged from June (21%)…. – People-Press.org, 1-14-10
  • Poll: Obama’s Ratings on Health Care, Economy Drop Lower: The poll finds 46 percent approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing as president, while 41 percent disapprove. His approval rating is down from 50 percent in a New York Times/CBS News poll last month, and 56 percent from October, to its lowest level in Times or CBS News polls to date.
    The president’s marks for handling the top domestic issues are even lower, according to the poll. On the economy, 41 percent approve, down 6 points in the last month to a new low. And just 36 percent approve of the way Mr. Obama is handling health care, also down 6 points to a new low. Most, 54 percent, disapprove…. – NYT, 1-12-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Special US Senate Election Threatens Heath Care Deal: The talks have gained urgency with opinion polls indicating the Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley, could lose next week’s special Massachusetts election to replace the late Senator Edward Kennedy. A victory by the Republican, Scott Brown, would cost the Democrats their 60th Senate seat, stripping them of their supermajority and eliminating their power to override Republican delaying tactics on contentious legislation, particularly heath care reform…. – VOA, 1-16-10
  • A Presidential Triple Plea for Haiti Fund: Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton began a new venture on Saturday to raise money for the Haitian relief effort from corporations, foundations and ordinary Americans, as President Obama pledged to ramp up the American response to the devastating earthquake… – NYT, 1-16-10
  • Pentagon Report on Fort Hood Details Failures: A Pentagon review released Friday portrayed a systemic breakdown within the military that permitted an Army psychiatrist, now charged with killing 13 people, to advance through the ranks despite concerns from his superiors about his behavior…. – NYT, 1-15-10
  • G.O.P. Sees Political Gain in Health Care: Even as Democrats nail down the final details of their health care bill, Republicans are devising ways to convert it into political capital. Their greatest hope is to defeat the bill outright, rebuffing President Obama on his signature domestic issue and weakening the Democrats heading into the midterm elections. Republicans now think they can persuade some conservative and moderate Democrats in the House to vote against the final bill, which initially passed the House by just five votes…. – NYT, 1-16-10
  • In Health Talks, President Is Hands-Off No More: President Obama has taken full control of the health care negotiations, casting himself for the first time in the role of mediator between the House and Senate during a 72-hour marathon of talks that have turned his White House into a de facto Congressional conference…. – NYT, 1-15-10
  • Democrats seek quick deal on health-care bill: President Obama and congressional leaders raced Friday to strike a compromise on far-reaching health legislation, hoping to settle lingering disputes before Tuesday, when a special election in Massachusetts could hand Republicans their 41st vote in the Senate and the power to defeat Obama’s top domestic initiative…. – WaPo, 1-14-10
  • Obama’s First State of the Union Speech in Scheduling Limbo: President Obama’s first State of the Union address, which has already sparked protests for potential scheduling conflicts with TV’s most popular programs (LOST, Feb 2), should be coming soon — but exactly how soon is still anyone’s guess… – Fox News, 1-12-10
  • Obama Will Tap Bush and Clinton for Haiti Efforts: President Obama is asking his two immediate predecessors – George W. Bush and Bill Clinton – to come together to lead the nation’s humanitarian and relief efforts to Haiti in the wake of the earthquake that has ravaged the Caribbean island…. – NYT, 1-14-10
  • US Takes Charge in Haiti-With Troops, Rescue Aid: President Barack Obama and the U.S. moved to take charge in earthquake-ravaged Haiti on Thursday, dispatching thousands of troops along with tons of aid to try to keep order as well as rescue the suffering in a country dysfunctional in the best of times… – AP, 1-14-10
  • Bombing suspect had no coat, luggage Congress hears of missed signs in foiled attack: Bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab boarded his Christmas Day flight in Amsterdam to frigid Detroit with no coat – perhaps the final warning sign that went unnoticed leading up to what could have been a terrorist attack. Congress got its first behind-the-scenes look yesterday at the attempted airline bombing, and officials said the security failures were even worse than President Obama outlined last week. It remains unclear, however, how those failures will be fixed….- AP, 1-14-10
  • Obama pledges campaign for health-care bill and Democrats: With unemployment hovering in the double digits and House Democrats eager to move on to the politically crucial task of job creation, President Obama pledged Thursday to publicly champion the health-care legislation that in the past year has consumed much of their attention and often made them targets… – WaPo, 1-14-10
  • Factbox: White House, unions agree on health insurance tax: The White House and labor unions reached tentative agreement on Thursday on a tax on high-cost “Cadillac” healthcare plans, clearing the way for union support for a sweeping healthcare reform bill… – Reuters, 1-14-10
  • Tentative tax deal marks health care breakthrough: In a major breakthrough, union leaders bowed Thursday to White House demands for a new tax on high-cost insurance plans as part of landmark health care legislation taking final shape in intensive negotiations. “We are on the doorstep” of success, President Barack Obama said…. – AP, 1-14-10
  • Obama, Congressional Leaders Resume Push on Health Care: President Obama and Senator Harry Reid hold their first face-to-face meeting on Wednesday since the controversy erupted over comments that Mr. Reid once made about Mr. Obama’s race and dialect. But that topic is not on the Oval Office agenda. Health care is…. – NYT, 1-12-10
  • AP source: Obama considers levy for rescued firms: Targeting an industry whose political deafness has vexed his administration, President Barack Obama is weighing a levy aimed at recovering tax dollars from government-rescued financial institutions…. – AP, 1-12-10
  • White House discussing healthcare help for states: Gibbs: President Barack Obama is discussing ways to help U.S. states cover costs that are destined to rise under pending healthcare reform legislation, his press secretary said on Monday… – Reuters, 1-11-10
  • G.O.P. Chairman Urges Reid to Step Down Over Remarks: Michael Steele, the Republican Party chairman, called Sunday for Harry Reid to step down as U.S. Senate majority leader in the wake of revelations of Mr. Reid’s remarks in 2008 about Barack Obama’s skin color and dialect. A new book about the 2008 campaign quotes Mr. Reid as predicting that Mr. Obama could become the country’s first black president because he was “light-skinned” and had “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”… – NYT, 1-10-10
  • Sarah Palin takes Fox News commentator job: Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, will return to her broadcast roots and take her conservative message to Fox News as a regular commentator, the cable channel announced Monday.
    “I am thrilled to be joining the great talent and management team at Fox News,” Palin said in a statement posted on the network’s Web site. “It’s wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news.” – AP, 1-11-10
  • McCain aide: Palin believed candidacy ‘God’s plan’: Sarah Palin believed that Sen. John McCain chose her to be his running mate in 2008 because of “God’s plan,” according to a top political strategist in the Arizona Republican’s campaign…. – AP, 1-10-10
  • Obama Tries to Turn Focus to Jobs, if Other Events Allow: President Obama keeps trying to turn attention to “jobs, jobs, jobs,” as his chief of staff has put it. But he is finding that it can be hard to focus on any one issue when so many demand attention, often unexpectedly. And as the lackluster employment report on Friday suggested, showing concern is not the same as showing results…. – NYT, 1-8-10
  • Obama takes responsibility for lapse, pledges better investigation, info sharing: “The buck stops with me,” President Barack Obama said Thursday as he outlined measures aimed at preventing another terrorist attack on the United States in the tense aftermath of a Christmas Day attempt to blow a Detroit-bound jetliner out of the sky. “When the system fails, it’s my responsibility,” Obama said – an indication that no high-level firings of intelligence officials would result from the near-miss incident. The president said he’s ordered steps be taken to ensure all leads on potential terrorist plots are thoroughly investigated, that intelligence is better shared and that no-fly lists are utilized properly. “We can’t sit on information that can protect the American people.”… – Canadian Press, 1-7-10
  • Obama Details New Policies in Response to Terror Threat: President Obama on Thursday ordered intelligence agencies to take a series of steps to streamline how terrorism threats are pursued and analyzed, saying the government had to respond aggressively to the failures that allowed a Nigerian man to ignite an explosive mixture on a commercial jetliner on Christmas Day…. – NYT, 1-7-10
  • On the White House After Balmy Hawaii, Chilly Washington: As Air Force One lifted off late Sunday night, President Obama and his family left behind a balmy 77-degree Hawaiian evening. Bearing east, the plane headed toward Washington, where the temperature was a brisk 23 degrees. If a 54-degree climate swing were not reason enough to lament the end of vacation, Mr. Obama certainly had others. He was returning to a Washington in the throes of a political furor over the security breakdown that led to the attempted bombing of an American passenger jet on Christmas Day…. – NYT, 1-5-10
  • Third Uninvited Guest at State Dinner: The saga of President Obama’s first state dinner continues. The Secret Service said Monday that a third uninvited guest gained entry to the dinner at the White House on Nov. 24. A review of video from the party, which was held to honor the prime minister of India, showed that a man wearing a tuxedo entered with members of the Indian delegation…. – NYT, 1-4-10
  • Obama Says Al Qaeda in Yemen Planned Bombing Plot, and He Vows Retribution: President Obama declared for the first time on Saturday that a branch of Al Qaeda based in Yemen sponsored the attempted Christmas Day bombing of an American passenger jet, and he vowed that those behind the failed attack “will be held to account.”… – NYT, 1-2-10
  • U.S. Had Early Signals of a Terror Plot, Obama Says: President Obama was told Tuesday about more missed signals and uncorrelated intelligence that should have prevented a would-be bomber from boarding a flight to the United States, leading the president to declare that there had been a “systemic failure” of the nation’s security apparatus.
    Two officials said the government had intelligence from Yemen before Friday that leaders of a branch of Al Qaeda were talking about “a Nigerian” being prepared for a terrorist attack. While the attacker was not named, officials said it would have been evident had it been compared to information about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian charged with trying to blow up an American passenger jet on Christmas Day…. – AP, 12-30-10
  • Obama Seeks to Reassure U.S. After Bombing Attempt: President Obama emerged from Hawaiian seclusion on Monday to reassure the American public and quell gathering criticism as a branch of Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the thwarted attack on an American passenger jet on Christmas Day.
    Mr. Obama vowed to track down “all who were involved” in helping a Nigerian man who tried to set off explosives aboard a Northwest Airlines flight as the plane approached Detroit, acknowledging the growing conclusion that the act was not that of a lone wolf but of a trained Qaeda operative. With more signs pointing to Yemen as the origin of the attack, the White House was weighing how to respond…. – NYT, 12-28-10
  • Senate Clears Final Hurdle to Vote on Health Care Bill: The Senate trudged Wednesday toward passage of sweeping health legislation after disposing of Republican claims that it would be unconstitutional to require Americans to have health insurance, as the bill does. The Senate was poised to take a final vote on the legislation, President Obama’s top priority, on Thursday morning. Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, said Democrats had secured the 60 votes they needed with “a grab bag of backroom Chicago-style buyoffs” for specific states and favored constituencies… – NYT, 12-23-09
  • 6 Detainees Are Returned to Yemen: The government of Yemen on Saturday took custody of six detainees formerly held for years without trial at the United States military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to a senior Obama administration official and others involved in the process. The transfers, which followed the repatriation of another Yemeni detainee in September, represent a test run for a policy that the administration hopes could eventually make possible a sharp reduction in the population at the prison, which President Obama is trying to close…. – NYT, 12-19-09

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Who’s ahead, Brown or Coakley? Depends on the pollBoston Globe, 1-16-10
  • Obama here for Coakley, trailing a diminished aura: The feverish excitement that propelled Barack Obama and scores of other Democrats to victory in 2008 has all but evaporated, worrying party leaders who are struggling to invigorate the base before Tuesday’s Massachusetts Senate race and November’s critical midterm contests, pollsters and party activists said. – Boston Globe, 1-17-10
  • Some Democrats Wary of 2010 Election Prospects: Retirements and declining poll numbers have some Democrats worried about the election… – US News, 1-15-10
  • The GOP’s 10 Most Wanted List: Smelling political blood in the water, the GOP has put a “Wanted” sticker on several Democrats – US News, 1-15-10
  • Obama to Campaign for Senate Candidate in Massachusetts: In a last-ditch effort to avert a debacle for the Democrats, the White House announced that President Obama would campaign here on Sunday for Martha Coakley, the Democratic Senate candidate, amid growing signs that the race for Edward M. Kennedy’s Senate seat has become too close to call…. – NYT, 1-16-10
  • Mass. Senate poll shows shift toward GOP candidate: The Suffolk University survey released late Thursday showed Scott Brown, a Republican state senator, with 50 percent of the vote in the race to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in this overwhelmingly Democratic state. Democrat Martha Coakley had 46 percent. That was a statistical tie since it was within the poll’s 4.4 percentage point margin of error, but far different from a 15-point lead the Massachusetts attorney general enjoyed in a Boston Globe survey released over the weekend…. – WaPo, 1-15-10
  • Polls show race for ‘Kennedy seat’ about even – WaPo, 1-14-10
  • Senator Harry Reid faces ‘big trouble’ in Nevada race: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been fighting to keep his leadership post this week after his impolitic remarks about President Obama and race. Back in Nevada, that controversy is among the least of his worries. Facing re-election to a fifth term this year, polls show his home-state popularity sagging and his signature political issue, health care, bringing him little benefit among voters. Democrats fear a repeat of 2004, when Reid’s predecessor as Senate leader, Tom Daschle, was tossed from office by voters…. – USA Today, 1-15-10
  • Gingrich considers self among top 2012 prospects: “I think I’m probably on a list of seven or eight possible candidates at this stage,” Gingrich said. “We have a lot of people around the country who would like to have somebody who represents a commitment to replace the current failed programs and to develop a set of solutions that are practical and workable.”
    Gingrich listed several current and former goverors who he thinks might enter the race. They include former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. He said he will discuss his possible candidacy with his wife early next year before making a decision about whether to run…. – AP, 1-14-10
  • Mass. Senate race becoming proxy on health bill: The race to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has turned into a proxy battle over the fate of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. A once-pedestrian contest between Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown has coarsened with a week to go, as the two have cast themselves as custodians of the pivotal Senate vote to determine the bill’s fate…. – AP, 1-12-10
  • 10 Tips for the GOP in 2010: Voters who want Democrats out don’t yet believe Republicans would be better…. – WSJ, 1-10-10
  • Can Senate Democrats keep edge in ’10?: This week’s back-to-back retirements by two senior Senate Democrats puts the focus on one of the key questions of this election year: Will Democrats be able to maintain the overwhelming majority that has enabled them to push President Obama’s agenda through the Senate, or will Republicans be able to whittle it down?… – USA Today, 1-7-10
  • Giuliani says he won’t run in 2010: Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor viewed by many New York Republicans as a potential savior for the struggling party, won’t run for political office in 2010, choosing to concentrate on his law and consulting businesses…. – Boston Globe, 12-23-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President delivers the Weekly Address

  • The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund:
    George W. Bush: The challenges down there are immense, but there’s a lot of devoted people leading the relief effort, from government personnel who deployed into the disaster zone to the faith-based groups that have made Haiti a calling.
    The most effective way for Americans to help the people of Haiti is to contribute money. That money will go to organizations on the ground and will be — who will be able to effectively spend it. I know a lot of people want to send blankets or water — just send your cash. One of the things that the President and I will do is to make sure your money is spent wisely. As President Obama said, you can look us up on clintonbushhaitifund.org. – WH, 1-16-10
  • The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund:
    Bill Clinton: I believe before this earthquake Haiti had the best chance in my lifetime to escape its history — a history that Hillary and I have shared a tiny part of. I still believe that. The Haitians want to just amend their development plan to take account of what’s happened in Port-au-Prince and west, figure out what they got to do about that, and then go back to implementing it. But it’s going to take a lot of help and a long time. – WH, 1-16-10
  • BILL CLINTON and GEORGE W. BUSH: A Helping Hand for Haiti: This weekend, President Obama asked us to spearhead private-sector fund-raising efforts in the aftermath of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that ravaged Haiti. We are pleased to answer his call.
    Throughout both our careers in public service, we have witnessed firsthand the amazing generosity of the American people in the face of calamity. From the Oklahoma City bombings to 9/11, from the tsunami in South Asia to Hurricane Katrina, Americans have rallied to confront disaster — natural or man-made, domestic or abroad — with the determination, compassion and unity that have defined our nation since its founding….
    We should never forget the damage done and the lives lost, but we have a chance to do things better than we once did; be a better neighbor than we once were; and help the Haitian people realize their dream for a stronger, more secure nation. But we need more than just support from governments — we need the innovation and resources of businesses; the skills and the knowledge of nongovernmental organizations, including faith-based groups; and the generosity and support of individuals to fill in the gaps. Visit www.clintonbushhaitifund.org to make a donation and learn more about our efforts. It’s the least we can do, and the least the people of Haiti deserve. At our best, we can help Haiti become its best. – NYT, 1-16-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Vows to “Collect Every Dime” of Taxpayer Funds that Helped Big Banks Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address January 16, 2010: …Many originally feared that most of the $700 billion in TARP money would be lost. But when my administration came into office, we put in place rigorous rules for accountability and transparency, which cut the cost of the bailout dramatically. We have now recovered most of the money we provided to the banks. That’s good news, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s not good enough. We want the taxpayers’ money back, and we’re going to collect every dime.
    That is why, this week, I proposed a new fee on major financial firms to compensate the American people for the extraordinary assistance they provided to the financial industry. And the fee would be in place until the American taxpayer is made whole. Only the largest financial firms with more than $50 billion in assets will be affected, not community banks. And the bigger the firm – and the more debt it holds – the larger the fee. Because we are not only going to recover our money and help close our deficits; we are going to attack some of the banking practices that led to the crisis…. – WH, 1-16-10
  • Text of President Obama’s Remarks Wednesday morning on the earthquake in Haiti and rescue efforts, as released by the White House: Good morning, everybody. This morning I want to extend to the people of Haiti the deep condolences and unwavering support of the American people following yesterday’s terrible earthquake.
    We are just now beginning to learn the extent of the devastation, but the reports and images that we’ve seen of collapsed hospitals, crumbled homes, and men and women carrying their injured neighbors through the streets are truly heart-wrenching. Indeed, for a country and a people who are no strangers to hardship and suffering, this tragedy seems especially cruel and incomprehensible. Our thoughts and prayers are also with the many Haitian- Americans around our country who do not yet know the fate of their families and loved ones back home.
    I have directed my administration to respond with a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives. The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble, and to deliver the humanitarian relief — the food, water and medicine — that Haitians will need in the coming days. In that effort, our government, especially USAID and the Departments of State and Defense, are working closely together and with our partners in Haiti, the region, and around the world…. – NYT, 1-13-10
  • Obama Will Tap Bush and Clinton for Haiti Efforts: Late this afternoon, the two former presidents released this joint statement:
    We are deeply saddened by the devastation and suffering caused by the recent earthquake in Haiti. The people of Haiti are in our thoughts and prayers.
    We are pleased to accept President Obama’s request to lead private sector fundraising efforts. In the days and weeks ahead, we will draw attention to the many ways American citizens and businesses can help meet the urgent needs of the Haitian people. Americans have a long history of showing compassion and generosity in the wake of tragedy. We thank the American people for rallying to help our neighbors in the Caribbean in their hour of suffering – and throughout the journey of rebuilding their nation. – NYT, 1-15-10
  • Reid Apologizes for Racial Remarks About Obama: Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, apologized on Saturday for saying that he believed Barack Obama could become the country’s first black president because he was “light-skinned” and had the advantage of carrying “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”… – NYT, 1-10-10
  • Majority Leader Reid apologizes to Obama for 2008 remarks: “I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words,” Reid said in a statement. “I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans, for my improper comments.”
    Obama said in a statement that Reid called him about the matter on Saturday afternoon. “I accepted Harry’s apology without question because I’ve known him for years, I’ve seen the passionate leadership he’s shown on issues of social justice and I know what’s in his heart,” Obama said. “As far as I am concerned, the book is closed.” – WaPo, 1-10-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Outlines Benefits of Health Reform to Take Effect This Year Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address January 9, 2010: A year ago, when I took office in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression, I promised you two things. The first was that there would be better days ahead. And the second was that the road to recovery would be long, and sometimes bumpy.
    That was brought home again yesterday. We learned that in November, our economy saw its first month of job gains in nearly two years – but last month, we lost more than we gained. Now, we know that no single month makes a trend, and job losses for the final quarter of 2009 were one-tenth what they were in the first quarter. But until we see a trend of good, sustainable job creation, we will be relentless in our efforts to put America back to work….
    In short, once I sign health insurance reform into law, doctors and patients will have more control over their health care decisions, and insurance company bureaucrats will have less. All told, these changes represent the most sweeping reforms and toughest restrictions on insurance companies that this country has ever known. That’s how we’ll make 2010 a healthier and more secure year for every American – for those who have health insurance, and those who don’t.
    We enter a new decade, now, with new perils – but we’re going to meet them. It’s also a time of tremendous promise – and we’re going to seize it. We will rebuild the American Dream for our middle class and put the American economy on a stronger footing for the future. And this year, I am as hopeful and as confident as ever that we’re going to rise to this moment the same way that generations of Americans always have: as one nation, and one people. Thanks for listening. – WH, 1-9-10
  • President Obama’s remarks on security failures Full text of Barack Obama’s speech on the failed Christmas Day bombing: The immediate reviews that I ordered after the failed Christmas terrorist attack are now complete. I was just briefed on the findings and recommendations for reform. And I believe it’s important that the American people understand the new steps that we’re taking to prevent attacks and keep our country safe.
    This afternoon my counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, John Brennan, will discuss his review into our terrorist watchlist system; how our government failed to connect the dots in a way that would have prevented a known terrorist from boarding a plane for America; and the steps we’re going to take to prevent that from happening again.
    Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will discuss her review of aviation screening, technology and procedures; how that terrorist boarded a plane with explosives that could have killed nearly 300 innocent people; and how we’ll strengthen aviation security going forward.
    So today, I want to just briefly summarize their conclusions and the steps that I’ve ordered to address them. In our ever-changing world, America’s first line of defense is timely, accurate intelligence that is shared, integrated, analyzed and acted upon quickly and effectively. That’s what the intelligence reforms after the 9/11 attacks largely achieved. That’s what our intelligence community does every day. But unfortunately, that’s not what happened in the lead-up to Christmas Day…. – Globe & Mail, 1-7-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Outlines Steps Taken to Protect the Safety and Security of the American People Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address January 2, 2010: It has now been more than a week since the attempted act of terrorism aboard that flight to Detroit on Christmas Day. On Thursday, I received the preliminary findings of the reviews that I ordered into our terrorist watchlist system and air travel screening. I’ve directed my counterterrorism and homeland security advisor at the White House, John Brennan, to lead these reviews going forward and to present the final results and recommendations to me in the days to come.
    As I said this week, I will do everything in my power to make sure our hard-working men and women in our intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security communities have the tools and resources they need to keep America safe. This includes making sure these communities-and the people in them-are coordinating effectively and are held accountable at every level. And as President, that is what I will do.
    Meanwhile, the investigation into the Christmas Day incident continues, and we’re learning more about the suspect. We know that he traveled to Yemen, a country grappling with crushing poverty and deadly insurgencies. It appears that he joined an affiliate of al Qaeda, and that this group-al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula-trained him, equipped him with those explosives and directed him to attack that plane headed for America…. – WH, 1-2-10

Alex Brandon/Associated Press

President Obama, speaking on Tuesday at a Marine Corps base near Honolulu, said he would “insist on accountability at every level” for failures in security.

  • Text of Obama’s Comments on Airport Security: Good morning. Yesterday I updated the American people on the immediate steps we took — the increased screening and security of air travel — to keep our country safe in the wake of the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day. And I announced two reviews — a review of our terrorist watch list system and a review of our air travel screening, so we can find out what went wrong, fix it and prevent future attacks….
    The reviews I’ve ordered will surely tell us more. But what already is apparent is that there was a mix of human and systemic failures that contributed to this potential catastrophic breach of security. We need to learn from this episode and act quickly to fix the flaws in our system, because our security is at stake and lives are at stake.
    I fully understand that even when every person charged with ensuring our security does what they are trained to do, even when every system works exactly as intended there is still no one hundred percent guarantee of success. Yet, this should only compel us to work even harder, to be even more innovative and relentless in our efforts.
    As President I will do everything in my power to support the men and women in intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security to make sure they’ve got the tools and resources they need to keep America safe. But it’s also my job to ensure that our intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security systems and the people in them are working effectively and held accountable. I intend to fulfill that responsibility and insist on accountability at every level… – NYT, 12-29-09
  • Weekly Address: The President and First Lady Extend Christmas Greeting and Express their Gratitude to America’s Servicemen and Women Remarks of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama Weekly Address December 24, 2009: FIRST LADY: This is our first Christmas in the White House, and we are so grateful for this extraordinary experience. Not far from here, in the Blue Room, is the official White House Christmas Tree. It’s an 18-foot tall Douglas-fir from West Virginia and it’s decorated with hundreds of ornaments designed by people and children from all over the country. Each one is a reminder of the traditions we cherish as Americans and the blessings we’re thankful for this holiday season.
    PRESIDENT: That’s right, especially as we continue to recover from an extraordinary recession that still has so many Americans hurting: parents without a job who struggled to put presents under the Christmas tree; families and neighbors who’ve seen their home foreclosed; folks wondering what the new year will bring.
    But even in these tough times, there’s still so much to celebrate this Christmas. A message of peace and brotherhood that continues to inspire more than 2,000 after Jesus’ birth. The love of family and friends. The bonds of community and country. And the character and courage of our men and women in uniform who are far from home for the holidays, away from their families, risking their lives to protect ours…. – WH, 12-24-09

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

The President proposes new fees on the largest financial firms

  • Michael Kazin “Obama Weighs Tax On Big Banks”: What’s happening right now is that both left and right are opposed to what they see as the sins of people in power. The right doesn’t like what they see as increasing concentrations of power in government. The left doesn’t like concentrated power in Wall Street and neither group is happy with Obama’s response…. – NPR, 1-12-10
  • Peniel E. Joseph “Many say U.S. race relations have improved under Obama, but divides remain”: “Light-skinned is equated with good, an ability to pass, to fit in the mainstream,” said Peniel E. Joseph, a Tufts University historian and author of a new book about the shifting racial attitudes that allowed for Obama’s election as the nation’s first black president. “He’s light enough and mainstream enough to appeal to a broad audience. Those who are not really stand out in a conspicuous way as ‘the other.’”… – WaPo, 1-12-10
  • Is Obama History?: There were five sessions on President Obama at last week’s annual meeting of the American Historical Association…. – Chron of High Ed, 1-10-10
  • The Label Factor: Is Obama a Wimp or a Warrior?: Like every Democratic president since John F. Kennedy, President Obama is battling the perception that he’s a wimp on national security…. – NYT, 1-10-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Blame game won’t stop terrorism: Almost as soon as the botched Christmas airplane bombing hit the airwaves, the politics of national security reared its head….
    All of this is predictable. Politics has never stopped at the water’s edge and it never will. There is a long history of the parties lashing out against one another for being ineffective at protecting the nation. However, partisan wrangling is certainly not the most effective way to handle the problems at hand. Politics has never stopped at the water’s edge and it never will….
    The blame game will continue. That’s how national security politics works. But while the fights are taking place, we must make certain that the government sets up some kind of independent review to better understand what went wrong. The review must be global and involve allied nations who participate in the international campaign against terrorist threats. Let’s do it before the terrorists get it right.
    Nothing should be excluded from consideration, from the failures of U.S. officials to respond to evidence to the flaws in the system that Obama inherited. We need a comprehensive understanding of what happened so we can improve the system and make sure that innocent travelers are kept safe from the ravages of terrorism.- CNN, 1-3-10
  • The Obama Way: Every presidency is the subject of competing caricatures. But almost a year into his first term, there’s something particularly elusive about Barack Obama’s political identity. He’s a bipartisan bridge-builder — unless he’s a polarizing ideologue. He’s a crypto-Marxist radical — except when he’s a pawn of corporate interests. He’s a post-American utopian — or else he’s a willing tool of the national security state.
    The press has churned out a new theory every week, comparing Obama to John F. Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt, to George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter — to every 20th-century chief executive, it often seems, save poor, dull Gerald Ford. But none of the analogies have stuck. We’re well into the Obama era, but neither his allies nor his enemies can quite get a fix on exactly what our 44th president really represents…. – NYT, 12-25-09
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Delaying health benefits is a big risk: We will find out in the next few weeks whether the Senate can pass a health care bill and if it can reach agreement with the House on the details. But if the two houses do pass legislation, one thing seems likely — there will be a huge delay in starting most of the benefits.
    Under the House bill, much of the program won’t kick in until 2013. Under the proposed Senate bill, the date is 2014. This delay poses a political risk.
    Under the Senate bill, opponents will have a midterm (2010) and presidential election (2012) cycle to make their argument. When programs have been delayed, they often encounter political problems….
    After all the political capital that Democrats have invested in this health care debate, it would be a shame if they were able to win the battle but, as a result of flawed policy design, lose the war…. – CNN, 12-24-09

September 18, 2009: President Obama, Joe Wilson & Health Care

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:


(President Barack Obama speaks about the financial crisis on the anniversary of the
Lehman Brothers collapse Monday, Sept. 14, 2009, at Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York City. 
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • New Yorkers Want a Giuliani-Cuomo Face-Off in 2010: For months, the polls have been a ski slope for New York Gov. David Paterson – all downhill. The 2010 gubernatorial match-up that most New Yorkers want to see is Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on the Democratic side and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for the Republicans. And, in that contest, Cuomo leads 53 percent to 43 percent, with 4 percent undecided, according to a Marist Poll conducted Sept. 8-10. The margin of error for that result is 3.5 points. – Politics Daily, 9-16-09

THE HEADLINES….

President Barack Obama speaks about the U.S. missile defense in Europe
(President Barack Obama speaks about the U.S. missile defense in Europe during a statement in the Diplomatic
Reception Room of the White House, Sept. 17, 2009.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Dems unhappy with proposed tax in health care bill: Unhappy Senate Democrats on Thursday found plenty to complain about in the fine print of the latest health overhaul bill, particularly a tax provision they fear would hit hard at middle-class Americans, from coal miners in West Virginia to firefighters in New York.
    The opposition sprang up a day after Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., unveiled long-delayed legislation that would transform the nation’s health care system, requiring almost everyone to buy insurance, making insurance companies cover people with pre-existing medical conditions and reining in spiraling health care costs.
    The bill has given fresh momentum to President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority of extending health coverage and controlling costs…. – AP, 9-17-09
  • Rockefeller Stands Up for Liberals on Health Care: On Tuesday, John D. Rockefeller IV, a leading Senate liberal on health issues, said he would oppose a new Democratic proposal intended to win elusive Republican support to remake the health system. On Wednesday, he was summoned to a private meeting with President Obama…. – NYT, 9-17-09
  • Dueling ‘racist’ claims defuse once powerful word: Everybody’s racist, it seems. Republican Rep. Joe Wilson? Racist, because he shouted “You lie!” at the first black president. Health care protesters, affirmative action supporters? Racist. And Barack Obama? He’s the “Racist in Chief,” wrote a leader of the recent conservative protest in Washington. But if everybody’s racist, is anyone? The word is being sprayed in all directions, creating a hall of mirrors that is draining the scarlet R of its meaning and its power, turning it into more of a spitball than a stigma. – AP, 9-17-09
  • House bill would boost Pell Grants: The House voted Thursday in favor of the biggest overhaul of college aid programs since their creation in the 1960s — a bill to oust private lenders from the student loan business and put the government in charge.
    The vote was 253-171 in favor of a bill that fulfills nearly all of President Barack Obama’s campaign promises for higher education: The measure ends subsidies for private lenders, boosts Pell Grants for needy students and creates grant programs to improve community colleges and college graduation rates, among other things…. – AP, 9-17-09
  • Obama Is Pushing Israel Toward War President Obama can’t outsource matters of war and peace to another state: Events are fast pushing Israel toward a pre-emptive military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, probably by next spring. That strike could well fail. Or it could succeed at the price of oil at $300 a barrel, a Middle East war, and American servicemen caught in between. So why is the Obama administration doing everything it can to speed the war process along? At July’s G-8 summit in Italy, Iran was given a September deadline to start negotiations over its nuclear programs. Last week, Iran gave its answer: No…. – WSJ, 9-15-09
  • President Is to Appear on ‘Late Show With David Letterman’: After recording interviews for five Sunday political talk shows, President Obama will sit down with David Letterman on Monday night. Mr. Obama will be the sole guest on “Late Show,” CBS announced on Tuesday…. – NYT, 9-15-09
  • Senate Health Bill Due Wed, But Bipartisan Deal Elusive: Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., will release a long-awaited health-care bill Wednesday, but his Republican counterpart decried an “artificial deadline” for coming to agreement on the bill and appears to be withholding his support for it.
    Baucus told reporters that he will continue negotiations on the bill after he releases it Wednesday, expressing optimism that he will attract bipartisan support for the measure before the Finance Committee votes on it. The Finance Committee is expected to take up the bill as soon as next week…. – WSJ, 9-15-09
  • Jimmy Carter: Wilson comments ‘based on racism’: Former President Jimmy Carter says Congressman Joe Wilson’s outburst to President Barack Obama last week was an act “based on racism.” Carter says Wilson’s comment was part of an “inherent feeling” of some in this country who feel that a black man should not be president. Carter called Wilson’s comment “dastardly” and said the president should be treated with respect…. – AP, 9-15-09
  • House Vote of Disapproval on Rep. Joe Wilson: The 240-179 roll call Tuesday by which the House passed a resolution of disapproval against Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., for Wilson’s “You lie!” shout during President Barack Obama’s health care address to a joint session of Congress.
    Voting yes were 233 Democrats and 7 Republicans. Voting no were 12 Democrats and 167 Republicans. Voting present were 5 Democrats…. – AP, 9-15-09
  • Candidates Await Results as Polls Close: As the New York City primary election came to a close, candidates settled in and prepared to watch returns come in. At stake are the Democratic nominations for three citywide races — mayor, comptroller and public advocate — and for Manhattan district attorney. There are primary elections in 32 of the 51 City Council districts. Most incumbents seeking re-election were favored to win. NYT, 9-15-09
  • Jody Powell, who was White House press secretary and among the closest and most trusted advisers to President Jimmy Carter, died Monday of a heart attack. He was 65. AP, 9-14-09
  • Kennedy Senate race shaped by those not running: With the clock running on a shortened election calendar, the campaign to succeed Sen. Edward Kennedy has become notable for who’s not running, instead of who is.
    Not his wife, Vicki Kennedy. Not his nephew Joseph P. Kennedy II. Not Martin Meehan, a former congressman with a mother lode of $5 million in the bank. Not Andrew Card, a former White House chief of staff with the capacity to raise millions himself.
    On Monday, Rep. John Tierney said he wouldn’t run because he was more valuable to the state as a House veteran than as a Senate freshman. That was the same rationale his fellow Democrat, Rep. Edward J. Markey, gave Friday when he bailed on a campaign.
    So far, the field includes an attorney general not three years into her first statewide term, a state senator and a town selectman. Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling has talked about running, and Stephen Pagliuca, co-owner of the Boston Celtics, is said to be weighing a campaign…. – AP, 9-14-09
  • Obama, Clinton eat Italian after Obama’s NY speech: President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton met privately for about 90 minutes on Monday, discussing the global economy over a meal in Manhattan…. – AP, 9-14=09
  • Rules on Wilson’s outburst open to interpretation: Republican Rep. Joe Wilson may have violated good taste when he yelled “You lie!” at President Barack Obama last week, and Democrats are moving forward with a resolution scolding him for it. But did he break any specific House rules? The answer is more complicated than it seems, and the rules that some initially cited don’t appear to apply…. – AP, 9-14-09
  • For Obama, a Chance to Reform the Street Is Fading: President Obama on Monday sternly admonished the financial industry and lawmakers to accept his proposals to reshape financial regulation to protect the nation from a repeat of the excesses that drove Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy and wreaked havoc on the global economy last year.
    “We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess at the heart of this crisis,” President Obama said.
    But with the markets slowly healing, Mr. Obama’s plan to revamp financial rules faces a diminishing political imperative. Disenchantment by many Americans with big government, along with growing obstacles from financial industry lobbyists pressing Congress not to do anything drastic, have also helped to stall his proposals…. – NYT, 9-14-09
  • Obamas to hold event for Chicago Olympic bid: White House gathering on Wednesday will include Mayor Richard Daley, bid backers, athletes and schoolchildren… – Chicgo Tribune, 9-14-09
  • Dems seek to play down role of public option idea: The White House and its Democratic allies on Sunday tried to play down the role of a government insurance option in health care legislation as the party in power worked to reclaim momentum on President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.
    His spokesman described the public option as just one way to achieve Obama’s goal of providing coverage to the estimated 45 uninsured Americans without insurance. His senior adviser contended the White House was not ready to accept that Congress would reject the idea, though he, too, said it was an option, not a make-or- break choice… – AP, 9-13-09
  • Key group of lawmakers nearing healthcare deal: A key group of U.S. senators was “very close” to agreement on healthcare reform, one of its members said on Sunday, suggesting Congress was nearer to meeting President Barack Obama’s goal of passing a reform bill this year.
    “We think we are very close to an agreement,” said Senator Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and part of the “Gang of Six” bipartisan group that is trying to forge consensus, on “Fox News Sunday.”… – Reuters, 9-13-09
  • Election trouble brewing for House Dems in 2010: Despite sweeping Democratic successes in the past two national elections, continuing job losses and President Barack Obama’s slipping support could lead to double-digit losses for the party in next year’s congressional races and may even threaten their House control…. – AP, 9-13-09
  • Lawmaker Says No New Apology for Outburst: Representative Joe Wilson said Sunday that he would not apologize again for his outburst on Wednesday night, when he shouted “You lie!” to President Obama during Mr. Obama’s speech about health care legislation before a joint session of Congress. – NYT, 9-14-09
  • Wilson funds reach $1 million after ‘you lie’ cry, aide says – CNN, 9-12-09
  • Obama rallies Minneapolis crowd for healthcare reform: Drawing on the spirit of his presidential campaign, he likens the battle over the overhaul to that over Social Security under FDR.
    “I have no interest in having a bill get passed that fails,” Obama said.
    “I intend to be president for a while, and once this bill passes, I own it,” he continued. “And if people look and say, ‘You know what? This hasn’t reduced my costs. My premiums are still going up 25%, insurance companies are still jerking me around’ — I’m the one who’s going to be held responsible.”…. – LAT, 9-12-09
  • In Health Care Battle, a Truce on Abortion: “And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up: Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortion, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.”
    Did that apparently unqualified statement by President Obama to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday guarantee that health care overhaul, whatever its other travails, will not fall victim to the seemingly intractable moral battle over abortion? Of course not… – NYT, 9-12-09
  • Commemorating 9/11, Obama renews resolve in terror fight: The president vows to ‘do everything in our power to keep America safe.’ He also notes Sept. 11′s ‘greatest lesson’: the spirit of service.
    Remembering those who died eight years ago in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, President Obama on Friday pledged to “do everything in our power to keep America safe.” “Let us renew our resolve against those who perpetrated this barbaric act and who plot against us still,” Obama said Friday. “In defense of our nation we will never waver. In pursuit of Al Qaeda and its extremist allies, we will never falter.”
    This week, Obama circulated a memorandum to Congress that said: “The terrorist threat that led to the declaration on Sept. 14, 2001, of a national emergency continues.” Despite his stated resolve, however, a Gallup poll released Friday found that Republicans had an edge over Democrats — 49% to 42% — when Americans were asked which party would better protect the U.S. from terrorism and military threats…. – LAT, 9-11-09
  • Healthy Minnesota offers Obama model for nation: President Barack Obama will be in one of the nation’s healthiest states Saturday, where most people have health insurance, medical care tends to be cost-effective and providers like the Mayo Clinic have made a name far beyond the Upper Midwest. AP, 9-11-09
  • Senate committee tackles illegal-immigrant healthcare concerns: Drafters of overhaul plans had been considering the issue for months, and it gained new attention during Obama’s healthcare speech to Congress. But enforcement is fraught with its own problems…. – LAT, 9-12-09
  • Olympics-Michelle Obama to urge IOC to pick Chicago for 2016: U.S. President Barack Obama is sending his wife Michelle to Copenhagen next month to urge Olympics organisers to select Chicago to host the 2016 Games…. – Reuters, 9-11-09
  • Census Bureau Drops Acorn From 2010 Effort: The Census Bureau on Friday severed its ties with Acorn, a community organization that Republicans have accused of voter-registration fraud.
    “We do not come to this decision lightly,” the census director, Robert Groves, wrote in a letter to Acorn that was obtained by The Associated Press…. – AP, 9-11-09
  • Former Bush aide Card not seeking Kennedy seat: Former Bush White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said Friday he will not seek the Senate seat left vacant last month by the death of Edward Kennedy… – AP, 9-11-09
  • Obama faces skeptics in Congress over Afghan war: Carl Levin, the influential chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was the latest top Democrat in Congress to voice opposition to a fresh military build-up in Afghanistan, as the White House weighs deploying yet more troop combat troops…. – AFP, 9-11-09
  • The voices behind Joe Wilson: The South Carolina congressman is representative of the GOP’s talk-radio-led wing…. – LAT, 9-11-09
  • Obama’s healthcare speech helps unify Democrats: Conservatives in the party praised the president’s pledge to ensure that an overhaul would not add to the government’s debt, and liberals cheered his endorsement of a government-run insurance plan…. – LAT, 9-10-09
  • Senators pay tribute to Kennedy ‘One of a kind’ lawmaker lauded: Senators from both parties spent more than five hours yesterday paying bittersweet tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, recalling their late colleague as the chamber’s generous elder statesman, a passionate liberal, and a fierce, well-schooled politician who never shied away from a political fight.
    But when the legislative skirmishing was over, his fellow senators recalled, Kennedy never held a grudge and knew the difference between an adversary and an enemy. And, they noted, he had nearly as many close friends among Republicans as he did among his Democratic allies…. – Boston Globe, 9-10-09
  • Abortion foes aren’t buying Obama’s assurances: They continue to campaign against healthcare reform, contending that federal money will go toward abortions if the president has his way…. – LAT, 9-10-09
  • Congress Faces Backlash Whether Overhaul Passes Or Not: When American political discourse has reached the point where a congressman shouts “You lie!” at the president during a nationally televised address, it must be a sign that the stakes are running pretty high.
    And so they are in the great health debate. Most analysis, though, has focused on only one side of the political poker game now under way: Will lawmakers pay a political price if they vote for a health bill that proves unpopular?
    There’s also a flip side to that question, which is about to get a lot more attention: Will lawmakers also pay a political price if nothing gets done — that is, if the effort to pass a health bill collapses in failure?… – WSJ, 9-10-09
  • Obama to deliver speech in N.Y. on financial crisis: President Obama will give what the White House called a major speech on the financial crisis on Monday, timed to the first anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse that precipitated the meltdown. At Federal Hall in New York City, Obama “will discuss the aggressive steps the administration has taken to bring the economy back from the brink, the commitment to winding down the government’s role in the financial sector, and the actions the United States and the global community must take to prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again,” the White House announced yesterday. – USA Today, 9-10-09
  • Obama advisers: 1M jobs saved or created: President Obama’s economic advisers estimated Thursday that the economic stimulus package has saved or created about 1 million jobs, drawing immediate criticism from Republicans.
    Christina Romer, the head of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, said her team consulted other economists for its report to Congress on the likely effects of the $787 billion package of tax cuts, government spending and aid to states. The administration’s million-job estimate, while preliminary and uncertain, was “in the middle of the plausible range” of estimates made by independent experts, she said.
    “An economy that was in free-fall with a tremendous amount of downward momentum” is now improving in part because of the stimulus package, Romer said. – USA Today, 9-10-09
  • US troops in Afghanistan run to remember 9-11: U.S. troops in Afghanistan donned shorts and laced up sneakers Friday to run in memory of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, as they fight a war that was born of that day but which has seen waning public support. More than 1,000 service members ran 9.11 kilometers (about 5 1/2 miles) at the main U.S. base to commemorate the anniversary and remember troops who have died in nearly eight-years of fighting. AP, 9-10-09
  • Outrage over Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst isn’t dying down: Although President Obama accepted the Republican congressman’s apology for his ‘You lie’ remark, Democrats are calling for a public mea culpa and using the incident in fundraising appeals….
    “I’m a big believer that we all make mistakes,” Obama said in acknowledging the apology from Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.). The lawmaker’s shout of “You lie!” during the president’s speech on healthcare was a significant break in decorum. “I do think that, as I said last night, we have to get to the point where we can have a conversation about big important issues that matter to the American people without vitriol, without name-calling, without the assumption of the worst of other people’s motives,” Obama said. – LAT, 9-10-09
  • Sex scandal further damages lawmakers’ reputation: A scandal involving a family-values legislator caught boasting about his sexual escapades with his lobbyist mistresses created an embarrassing distraction for lawmakers Thursday, further diverting attention from California’s major policy issues in the crucial final days of their session. Republican Mike Duvall resigned Wednesday after a videotape surfaced in which he described to a colleague in lurid detail his sexual conquests, including a spanking fetish, the skimpy underwear of one mistress and his carrying on two affairs simultaneously. He sought to deny the affairs on Thursday…. – AP, 9-10-09

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • GOP hope for 2010: Voters nervous about Obama spending: Republican strategists see an opening in the fact independent voters like President Obama but are nervous about his economic policies. The Republican advocacy group Resurgent Republic conducted five focus groups in August among independents who voted for Mr. Obama in the presidential election but were undecided about whether to support a Republican or Democrat in the 2010 congressional race…. – CS Monitor, 9-14-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The crowd at the rally

  • Book: Bush dissed Obama, Palin (and Hillary’s behind): President George W. Bush’s former speechwriter Matt Latimer reveals that Bush considered Barack Obama unfit for the White House and predicted that vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin would be a disaster for the GOP.
    “After one of Obama’s blistering speeches against the administration, the president had a very human reaction: He was ticked off,” Latimer writes in his forthcoming book, “Speech-Less: Tales of a White House Survivor,” which has been excerpted in the October issue of GQ.
    “He came in one day to rehearse a speech, fuming. ‘This is a dangerous world,’ he said for no apparent reason, ‘and this cat isn’t remotely qualified to handle it. This guy has no clue, I promise you.’”… – KC Star, 9-15-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON FINANCIAL RESCUE AND REFORM Federal Hall New York, New York: While full recovery of the financial system will take a great deal more time and work, the growing stability resulting from these interventions means we’re beginning to return to normalcy. But here’s what I want to emphasize today: Normalcy cannot lead to complacency. … So what we’re calling for is for the financial industry to join us in a constructive effort to update the rules and regulatory structure to meet the challenges of this new century. That is what my administration seeks to do. We’ve sought ideas and input from industry leaders and policy experts, academics, consumer advocates, and the broader public. And we’ve worked closely with leaders in the Senate and the House, including not only Barney, but also Senators Chris Dodd and Richard Shelby, and Barney is already working with his counterpart, Sheldon [sic] Bachus. And we intend to pass regulatory reform through Congress.
    And taken together, we’re proposing the most ambitious overhaul of the financial regulatory system since the Great Depression. But I want to emphasize that these reforms are rooted in a simple principle: We ought to set clear rules of the road that promote transparency and accountability. That’s how we’ll make certain that markets foster responsibility, not recklessness. That’s how we’ll make certain that markets reward those who compete honestly and vigorously within the system, instead of those who are trying to game the system. …. – WH, 9-14-09
  • Obama Pledges to ‘Own’ Health-Care Bill: President Barack Obama, continuing his push to secure support for a health-care overhaul, reiterated his willingness to address the issue of medical malpractice suits, a Republican priority. But the president suggested that his desire for a bipartisan bill wouldn’t trump his ultimate goal of passing legislation this year.
    “We’re not going to get a better opportunity to solve our health-care issues than we have right now,” he said in an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes…. – WSJ, 9-13-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Highlights New Treasury Report on Instability of Health Insurance in America: “In the United States of America, no one should have to worry that they’ll go without health care – not for one year, not for one month, not for one day. And once I sign my health reform plan into law – they won’t.”… – WH, 9-12-09

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  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT WREATH-LAYING CEREMONY AT THE PENTAGON MEMORIAL The Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen and members of the Armed Forces, fellow Americans, family and friends of those that we lost this day — Michelle and I are deeply humbled to be with you.
    Eight Septembers have come and gone. Nearly 3,000 days have passed — almost one for each of those taken from us. But no turning of the seasons can diminish the pain and the loss of that day. No passage of time and no dark skies can ever dull the meaning of this moment.
    So on this solemn day, at this sacred hour, once more we pause. Once more we pray — as a nation and as a people; in city streets where our two towers were turned to ashes and dust; in a quiet field where a plane fell from the sky; and here, where a single stone of this building is still blackened by the fires.
    We remember with reverence the lives we lost. We read their names. We press their photos to our hearts. And on this day that marks their death, we recall the beauty and meaning of their lives; men and women and children of every color and every creed, from across our nation and from more than 100 others. They were innocent. Harming no one, they went about their daily lives. Gone in a horrible instant, they now “dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”
    We honor all those who gave their lives so that others might live, and all the survivors who battled burns and wounds and helped each other rebuild their lives; men and women who gave life to that most simple of rules: I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper… – WH, 9-11-09

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  • Dems answer Obama’s call for action on health care: Democratic leaders wrestling with health care legislation are confronting a host of knotty issues such as medical malpractice, abortion, illegal immigrants and Medicaid, all the while predicting passage of sweeping health care legislation within a few months.
    “That’s the legislative process,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said as she and other Democrats shifted from praising President Barack Obama’s health care speech this week to the less glamorous task of trying to negotiate a bill that will pass muster with a host of opposing factions.
    “As issues emerge, let’s drill down on the public option, let’s drill down on what this means to small business, let’s drill down on what this means to seniors,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday…. – AP, 9-11-09

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

The President records the Weekly Address

  • Stephen Hess “Change the channel Sunday, you’ll still see president”: On Sunday, Obama is scheduled to appear on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” ABC’s “This Week,” NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CNN’s “State of the Union” programs, according to the shows’ websites and the White House. He will sit for an interview on the Spanish-language network Univision to air that day as well. Obama also is booked for “Late Show With David Letterman” on Monday night.
    “He’s pulling out all the stops, and why not,” said Stephen Hess, a presidential historian at George Washington University in Washington. “The answer to why not is that he’s overbooked or that he becomes an old story. I don’t think that cuts the ice. Those stories are written by people who watch everything.” – Bloomberg News, 9-16-09
  • Gil Troy “‘He’s a black man’ What lies beneath the Obama backlash? A Democratic stalwart cries racism, igniting a fiery debate”: Gil Troy, a professor of U.S. history at McGill University, said he sees little difference between the treatment of Mr. Obama and the way opponents attacked his predecessors, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
    He pointed out that Mr. Clinton spent much of his presidency dealing with personal political attacks, while Mr. Bush was often branded a liar over his decision to invade Iraq.
    “When Obama was elected, everyone was talking about how it was a sign of Americans’ political maturity,” Prof. Troy said. “To immediately start playing the race card the first time he runs into trouble is a mark of his supporters’ immaturity.”
    If nothing else, the controversy makes it clear that Mr. Obama’s political honeymoon is over, he added.
    “His supporters are trying to demonize and marginalize normal politics. Conservatives do it to liberals. This time liberals are doing it to conservatives.” – Globe & Mail, 9-17-09
  • Julian E. Zelizer “Commentary: Why the shock about Joe Wilson?”: When Rep. Joe Wilson interrupted President Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress by yelling “You lie!” a livid House Speaker Nancy Pelosi looked as if she was about to jump out of her seat and give her colleague a five-minute “time out” for misbehavior.
    Majority Whip Jim Clyburn warned that he supports reprimanding Wilson unless he goes to the well of the House and apologizes. Many pundits and politicians have subsequently lamented that the incident has revealed a new level of incivility in Congress.
    And certainly this was an embarrassing moment for the GOP, which looked more like the party of Joseph McCarthy than Ronald Reagan. This has been a summer when some members of the Republican Party outside of Congress have chosen a strategy of yelling and screaming, rather than debating and legislating…. – CNN, 9-14-09
  • Stephen Hess: Unplugged: LBJ Had Unique Talent to Pass Medicare: Johnson “was the president of the United States who knew the Senate and the Congress better than any president in history,” Hess, a presidential historian, told CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson. “It would be love to have somebody else who had that capacity to twist arms, but there ain’t no Lyndon Johnson around.” (I dont get what the part in read means, is the quote right?) – CBS News, 9-16-09
  • Stanley Kutler “Afghanistan: Doubt grows over another distant war”: “Americans aren’t conscious of Afghanistan,” says historian Stanley Kutler, editor of The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War. “You couldn’t help but be conscious of Vietnam because of the draft,” he said. But in Afghanistan, “The alleged reasons for going there have completely left the public consciousness.”… – AP, 9-10-09
  • Rick Shenkman “Pelosi rates Obama’s speech one for the ages”: Historians will wait for the outcome of those fights and whether Mr. Obama wins before deciding whether his oratory was truly “great,” said Rick Shenkman, a presidential historian at George Mason University.
    “I don’t know what Nancy Pelosi was thinking,” he said, questioning what criteria she used to rate Mr. Obama’s forensic skills.
    He said Mr. Obama “got off a few good lines, I thought, but none that people are going to be quoting 50 years from now — let alone five months from now.”… – Washintton Times, 9-11-09
  • Fred Beuttler “Heckling of president is rare in American history”: Presidents didn’t even address Congress between 1800, when John Adams held the job, and 1913, says Fred Beuttler, deputy historian at the House of Representatives, who calls the Wilson incident “highly unusual, if not unique.” “Occasionally, members of the opposing party have been known to boo and jeer as expressions of dissent on a specific point,” says Beuttler, citing instances during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. But before Wednesday, he says, “expressions of individual opposition of members to a president’s speech had not been recorded.” – AP, 9-11-09
  • Jack Bass, humanities professor, College of Charleston, Lacy K. Ford Jr., historian, University of South Carolina: Over the Line in South Carolina – NYT, 9-10-09
  • Julian E. Zelizer “Commentary: Liberals’ passion for public option”: President Obama was caught off guard by the frustration that liberals expressed at the suggestion he might drop the public option from health care reform.
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that, “There’s no way I can pass a bill in the House of Representatives without a public option.”
    The proposal for the government to offer Americans health insurance as one of their options had excited many Democrats.
    But the White House insists that the public option was not central to its original plan. One senior adviser complained to the Washington Post, “I don’t understand why the left of the left has decided that this is their Waterloo.” Still, the administration responded to its critics and again expressed support for the public option…. – CNN, 8-25-09
  • David M. Kennedy: Could Afghanistan Become Obama’s Vietnam?: “The analogy of Lyndon Johnson suggests itself very profoundly,” said David M. Kennedy, the Stanford University historian. Mr. Obama, he said, must avoid letting Afghanistan shadow his presidency as Vietnam did Mr. Johnson’s. “He needs to worry about the outcome of that intervention and policy and how it could spill over into everything else he wants to accomplish.” – NYT, 8-23-09

September 8, 2009: President Obama’s Speech to Schools Causes Debate & Opposition

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The crowd listens as President Barack Obama speaks at the AFL-CIO Labor Day Picnic in Cincinnati, OH on Labor Day
(President Barack Obama speaks at the AFL-CIO Labor Day Picnic in Cincinnati, OH on Labor Day.  September 7, 2009.  Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • After years of trashing polls, Republicans now embrace them: “New Rasmussen Poll Shows That 53 Percent of Americans Oppose Democratic Government-Run Health Plan,” read an Aug. 13 release. It cited “no fewer than five polls” that it said “showed increasing concern, if not outright opposition” to the Obama administration’s efforts…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 9-7-09
  • Obama’s declining support among whites: After a summer of health care battles and sliding approval ratings for President Obama, the White House is facing a troubling new trend: The voters losing faith in the president are the ones he had worked hardest to attract.
    New surveys show steep declines in Obama’s approval ratings among whites–including Democrats and independents– who were crucial elements of the diverse coalition that helped elect the country’s first black president.
    Among white Democrats, Obama’s job approval rating has dropped 11 points since his 100-days mark in April, according to surveys by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. It has dropped by nine points among white independents and whites over 50, and by 12 points among white women–all voter groups that will be targeted by both parties for support in next year’s mid-term elections…. – Chicago Tribune, 9-5-09
  • Is Obama wrecking the Democrat party?: It’s no secret that President Obama’s popularity is on the skids. The current Rasmussen Poll lists his job approval rate at just 45%; down from a high of 65% in January. Perhaps more importantly, Rasmussen measures a minus 12 point gap in the number of people who “strongly disapprove” of Obama, over those who “strongly approve.” Gallup currently has Obama at a 54% approval level; as against a disapproval level of 40%…. – Examiner, 9-5-09
  • Obama’s approval rating tumbles to lowest point at 53%: The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey results released yesterday show his overall approval number at 53 percent, down from 76 percent in early February, just after he took office…. – Boston Globe, 9-1-09
  • Hostages of the Hermit Kingdom: Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the two American journalists released last month after being imprisoned in North Korea, tell their story — and remind people of the story they wanted to cover…. – LAT, 9-1-09
  • U.S. journalists say entered North Korea, arrested in China – Reuters, 9-1-09

THE HEADLINES….


[View full size]

(President Barack Obama talks with Justice Sonia Sotomayor prior to her investiture ceremony at the Supreme Court September 8, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Court signals it may loosen campaign spending: The Supreme Court signaled Wednesday it may let businesses and unions spend freely to help their favored candidates in time for next year’s elections. Such a step could roll back a century of attempts to restrain the power of corporate treasuries in American politics.
    The justices cut short their summer recess for a lively special argument that indicated the court’s conservative skeptics of campaign finance laws have the upper hand over its liberals, including new Justice Sonia Sotomayor…. – AP, 9-9-09
  • Mass. Democrats support filling Kennedy seat now: Democratic politicians urged Massachusetts lawmakers on Wednesday to pass a law that would allow an interim senator to succeed the late Edward Kennedy immediately, preserving the party’s 60-vote majority during a battle to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system…. – Reuters, 9-9-09
  • Obama tries to build momentum for health overhaul: Reaching for a game-changer, President Barack Obama is beset by conflicting goals in a prime-time address Wednesday expected to detail just how he wants to expand health care coverage and lower medical costs while signaling to a deeply divided Congress that he’s ready to deal. And show the public he’s in control…. – AP, 9-9-09
  • Obama’s back-to-school speech inspires some kids: On the very first day of the school year, 12-year-old Mileena Rodriguez was reminded by President Barack Obama himself that hard work can take you places.Mileena listened to Obama’s plea to study hard and stay in school Tuesday, watching along with several of her classmates at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School and students across the country. For all the hubbub among adults over the back-to-school speech, many youngsters took the president’s message to heart…. – AP, 9-8-09
  • Schools say no to Obama’s speech: Controversial address won’t be shown today by some area districts…. – Detroit News, 9-7-09
  • Its recess over, Congress has hands full: As Congress returns today after a month-long recess, lawmakers face a pileup of pressing legislation, from immigration to energy, that has been eclipsed by the all-consuming battle over health care…. – USA Today, 9-7-09
  • Obama faces a critical moment for his struggling presidency: President Barack Obama returned to the White House from his summer break Sunday determined to restart his struggling presidency by reasserting command of the health care debate and recalibrating expectations that some advisers believe got away from him. With his honeymoon seemingly over and his White House on the defensive, Obama faces what friends and foes alike call a make-or-break moment in his young administration. Because he has elevated health care to such a singular priority, advisers said he must force through a credible plan or risk crippling his presidency.
    “It goes without saying that a lot is riding now on his ability to re-energize the health care debate and bring it home to a successful conclusion,” said John Podesta, who ran Obama’s transition and still advises him on health care, energy and other issues. “Nothing will influence the perception of the presidency more than whether he can be successful in getting a health care bill through the Congress.”… – NYT, 9-6-09
  • Obama to make Bloom manufacturing czar: President Barack Obama is to name auto adviser Ron Bloom as the administration’s manufacturing czar Monday, responsible for creating policies to boost the long-struggling industries…. – Detroit Free Press, 9-6-09
  • Critics charge ‘indoctrination’ as Obama plans busy speaking week: President Obama will be delivering high-profile speeches three days in a row next week: On Monday, he’ll be the featured attraction at the AFL-CIO’s Labor Day picnic in Cincinnati. Not so coincidentally, that trip will put Obama in the backyard of Rep. Steven Driehaus, a freshman Democrat who faces a tough re-election battle in a district that Republicans held for 14 years before last November…. USA Today, 9-6-09
  • Analysis: More wrangling could doom health care: The patient isn’t dead yet. A few more months of wrangling and indecision, and health care legislation to remedy America’s coverage and costs problem could be drawing its last gasps. As Congress returns to work this week, President Barack Obama and lawmakers have three broad options — competing treatment plans for a patient whose vital signs are growing weak. It’s not clear which one, if any, will work…. – AP, 9-6-09
  • Financial Bailout Package, a Year Later: Obama has said he inherited the financial crisis from President George W. Bush. But he also received a powerful arsenal from his predecessor — the $700 billion financial bailout package…. – WaPo, 9-6-09
  • Obama ‘green jobs’ adviser quits amid controversy: President Barack Obama’s adviser Van Jones has resigned amid controversy over past inflammatory statements, the White House said early Sunday. Jones, an administration official specializing in environmentally friendly “green jobs” with the White House Council on Environmental Quality was linked to efforts suggesting a government role in the 2001 terror attacks and to derogatory comments about Republicans. The resignation comes as Obama is working to regain his footing in the contentious health care debate.
    “On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me,” Jones said in his resignation statement. “They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.”… – AP, 9-5-09
  • Senate Democrat aims to end healthcare deadlock: A key U.S. Senate Democrat, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus may seek to end a stalemate on healthcare legislation by offering a proposal next week prior to President Barack Obama’s highly anticipated address to Congress, Democratic aides said on Saturday…. – AP, 9-5-09
  • FACT CHECK: Biden overlooked stimulus problems: Vice President Joe Biden proclaimed success beyond expectations for the $787 billion economic stimulus, but his glowing assessment overlooks many of the program’s problems, including delays in releasing money, questionable spending priorities and project picks that are under investigation…. – AP, 9-5-09
  • Politics, not race, likely behind Obama speech uproar: After decades of criticizing public schools as places where hardly anybody learns anything, suddenly conservatives are upset that a 15- to 20-minute Web cast in schools might teach too much. That’s because the Web cast is by President Barack Obama. His critics fear he might teach something that they’d rather not have our schoolchildren hear…. – Houston Chronicle, 9-5-09
  • Passing a health bill: What are the odds?: We look at the likely scenarios ahead and predict which results you can bet on… – Houston Chronicle, 9-5-09
  • Obama To Meet With Liberals: Liberal Democrats in the House will get their wish: President Obama will meet with them face to face Tuesday or Wednesday to discuss health reform legislation. Atlantic, 9-4-09
  • Calls to boycott Obama’s speech to kids offer a disturbing lesson in paranoia: Those who are whipping up hysteria over the president’s address are playing a dangerous game with an unhinged segment of public opinion….. – LAT, 9-4-09
  • Kennedy death could impact Wall Street oversight: President Barack Obama’s plan to recast how the government regulates Wall Street could be thrown a curve this fall if Sen. Tim Johnson, a Democrat whose home state is a major hub for credit card companies, takes over the chairmanship of the Senate’s banking committee…. – AP, 9-4-09
  • White House to Open Visitor Logs to Public: President Obama announced Friday that he will open up White House visitor logs on a regular basis for the first time in modern history, providing the public an unusually extensive look at who gets the opportunity to help shape American policy at the highest levels. “Americans have a right to know whose voices are being heard in the policymaking process,” the president said in a written statement issued by the White House while he vacationed with his family at Camp David. The new policy settles four lawsuits against the government seeking such records. NYT, 9-4-09
  • Obama runs into resistance over school speech: The president is scheduled to address students next week about responsibility and goals. Florida’s Republican Party chairman issues a statement denouncing ‘Obama’s socialist ideology.’ LAT, 9-3-09
  • Obama aims to take control of health care debate: Aside from State of the Union speeches, presidents rarely use joint sessions of Congress as backdrops for their remarks to the nation. But President Barack Obama will do just that next week to discuss health care. He hopes to gain control of a high-stakes debate that has been slipping from his grasp under relentless Republican-led attacks. AP, 9-3-09
  • Obama’s big gamble on healthcare debate: The president seeks to retake control of the healthcare debate with his speech to a joint session of Congress next week. But it carries great risk as well…. – LAT, 9-2-09
  • Obama faces a pivotal autumn: Americans are showing signs of impatience with their new president as Barack Obama enters a pivotal period facing a raft of critical decisions ranging from healthcare to Afghanistan. A wide variety of public opinion polls paint a difficult picture for Obama, with Americans expressing doubts about his handling of the U.S. economy, healthcare and Afghanistan. His job approval rating has drifted down to around 50 percent. It was at 68 percent when he took office in January. Reuters, 9-2-09
  • Kennedy memoir reveals remorse over Chappaquiddick: In a posthumous memoir, Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy writes of fear and remorse surrounding the fateful events on Chappaquiddick Island in 1969, when his car accident left a woman dead, and says he accepted the finding that a lone gunman assassinated his brother President John F. Kennedy. The memoir, “True Compass,” is to be published Sept. 14 by Twelve, a division of the Hachette book group. The 532-page book was obtained early by The New York Times…. – AP, 9-2-09
  • Kennedy-Obama Bond Put Health Care on Fast Track: Other than his victory in the Iowa Democratic caucuses, no moment catalyzed Barack Obama’s historic presidential campaign more than winning the endorsement of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy…. – AP, 9-1-09
  • GOP senators seek go-slow approach on health care: An odd couple of Republican senators have hit the road, arguing for a go-slow approach to President Barack Obama’s push to revamp health care. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and 2008 presidential nominee John McCain are headlining the GOP’s answer to the raucous town hall meetings of August in which congressional Democrats had to shout over angry constituents about health care, growing deficits and the increasing role of the federal government…. – AP, 9-1-09
  • Politician won’t apologize for ‘Obama tags’ remark: Idaho Republican Rex Rammell said Tuesday the hoopla over his remarks about hunting President Barack Obama has been a boon to his campaign, and he again refused to apologize for what he called a joke. “This country needs to lighten up,” the GOP gubernatorial candidate said during a press conference in a Boise park Tuesday…. – AP, 9-1-09
  • Obama reduces 2010 pay increases to 2 percent: President Barack Obama notified Congress on Monday he is reducing pay increases for federal workers from 2.4 percent to 2 percent. Using powers employed by his two most recent predecessors, the president cited the national unemployment rate and the budget busting federal payroll…. – AP, 8-31-09
  • Burr, McCain, McConnell to hold NC health forum: McCain will join North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell at event in Charlotte on Tuesday morning. McCain and McConnell are traveling around the country to discuss health care and take questions from those involved in the debate. The GOP lawmakers have been mounting a challenge to the plan offered by President Barack Obama that would create a government option to compete with private insurers. Burr’s plan would raise money by taxing health benefits and use the revenue to give people tax credits to buy their own care. AP, 8-31-09
  • White House Not Pleased With Two Republican Senators: Senator Mike Enzi, the ranking Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, among copies of the health care reform bill before a committee meeting in June.
    The White House was evidently listening when Senator Michael B. Enzi delivered the weekly Republican radio and Internet address Saturday. And the White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, did not like what he heard on health care from the Wyoming lawmaker who is supposed to be part of bipartisan talks…. – NYT, 8-31-09
  • Key Republicans bail on ‘Obama-care’; Dems’ options narrow: The Democrats are edging toward a go-it-alone approach to legislation. Part 1 of two….
    As key Republicans grow increasingly hostile to President Obama’s plans for healthcare reform, the Democrats are edging toward a go-it-alone approach to legislation. In the Senate, where normal rules require 60 votes out of 100 to halt a filibuster, the Democrats’ hopes of passing a bill that way are hanging by a thread. The death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts means the party is down to 59 votes in the Senate. It’s still possible a Republican or two could be persuaded to vote with them, but they would still need to hold onto the more conservative Democrats in their caucus, and that’s not a sure thing…. – CS Monitor, 8-31-09

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • First Candidate Steps Up for Kennedy Seat: Attorney General Martha Coakley of Massachusetts on Tuesday became the first candidate to begin the formal process toward running for the United States Senate seat left vacant by the death last week of Edward M. Kennedy…. – NYT, 9-1-09
  • Another Senator Kennedy in Massachusetts?: Another Kennedy just might occupy the Kennedy seat in the Senate. Amid the emotional public outpouring over the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy, talk of a successor has focused on his widow, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, and his nephew, Joseph Kennedy II, the 56-year-old former congressman who could return to politics after a decade’s absence. “Even though he’s emotionally drained right now, he can’t help but be moved by the enormous flood of affection and respect from all over the country,” said veteran Democratic strategist Dan Payne. “He wouldn’t be human and he wouldn’t be a Kennedy if he didn’t give serious consideration to running for what is known as the ‘Kennedy seat’ in Massachusetts.”… – AP, 8-31-09
  • Va. candidate distances self from college thesis: Virginia’s Republican candidate for governor said Monday he no longer believes his argument in a graduate thesis written 20 years ago that discrimination against gays and other groups is acceptable for the benefit of straight, married couples…. – AP, 8-31-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President memorializes Walter Cronkite
(President Barack Obama delivers remarks at a memorial service for Walter Cronkite at Lincoln Center in
New York, September 9, 2009.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT MEMORIAL SERVICE IN HONOR OF WALTER CRONKITE Lincoln Center New York, New York: He was forever there, reporting through world war and cold war; marches and milestones; scandal and success; calmly and authoritatively telling us what we needed to know. He was a voice of certainty in a world that was growing more and more uncertain. And through it all, he never lost the integrity or the plainspoken speaking style that he gained growing up in the heartland. He was a familiar and welcome voice that spoke to each and every one of us personally.
    I have benefited as a citizen from his dogged pursuit of the truth, his passionate defense of objective reporting, and his view that journalism is more than just a profession; it is a public good vital to our democracy. Even in his early career, Walter Cronkite resisted the temptation to get the story first in favor of getting it right.
    Our American story continues. It needs to be told. And if we choose to live up to Walter’s example, if we realize that the kind of journalism he embodied will not simply rekindle itself as part of a natural cycle, but will come alive only if we stand up and demand it and resolve to value it once again, then I’m convinced that the choice between profit and progress is a false one — and that the golden days of journalism still lie ahead…. – WH, 9-9-09
  • Assemblyman Mike Duvall resigns after his sex comments are broadcast: KCAL-TV in Los Angeles played a tape of the married Yorba Linda Republican speaking about sex with two women. He apparently did not realize a microphone was on during a legislative hearing
    “I am deeply saddened that my inappropriate comments have become a major distraction for my colleagues in the Assembly, who are working hard on the very serious problems facing our state,” Duvall said in a written statement. “I have come to the conclusion that it would not be fair to my family, my constituents or to my friends on both sides of the aisle to remain in office. Therefore, I have decided to resign my office, effective immediately, so that the Assembly can get back to work.” – LAT, 9-9-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN A NATIONAL ADDRESS TO AMERICA’S SCHOOLCHILDREN Wakefield High School Arlington, Virginia: I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. Every single one of you has something that you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.
    Maybe you could be a great writer — maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper — but you might not know it until you write that English paper — that English class paper that’s assigned to you. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor — maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or the new medicine or vaccine — but you might not know it until you do your project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a senator or a Supreme Court justice — but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
    But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.
    Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future…. – WH, 9-8-09
  • Obama says ‘it’s time to act’ on healthcare: In a speech to the AFL-CIO, the president accuses critics and special interests of using scare tactics and spreading ‘lies’ in healthcare debate….
    The president, speaking at an AFL-CIO picnic, said that “special interests” were determined to “scare the heck out of people.” “I’ve got a question for all these folks who say, you know, we’re going to pull the plug on Grandma and this is all about illegal immigrants — you’ve heard all the lies,” Obama said. “I’ve got a question for all those folks: What are you going to do? What’s your answer? What’s your solution? “And you know what? They don’t have one.” – LAT, 9-7-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT AFL-CIO LABOR DAY PICNIC Coney Island Cincinnati, Ohio: But today we also pause. We pause to remember and to reflect and to reaffirm. We remember that the rights and benefits we enjoy today weren’t simply handed to America’s working men and women. They had to be won. They had to be fought for, by men and women of courage and conviction, from the factory floors of the Industrial Revolution to the shopping aisles of today’s superstores. They stood up and they spoke out to demand a fair shake and an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. (Applause.)
    Many risked their lives. Some gave their lives. Some made it a cause of their lives — like Senator Ted Kennedy, who we remember today. (Applause.)
    So let us never forget: much of what we take for granted — the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, health insurance, paid leave, pensions, Social Security, Medicare — they all bear the union label. (Applause.) It was the American worker — men and women just like you — who returned from World War II to make our economy the envy of the world. It was labor that helped build the largest middle class in history. Even if you’re not a union member, every American owes something to America’s labor movement. (Applause)…. – WH, 9-7-09
  • VP Joe Biden pledges to back workers in Pa. stop: Vice President Joe Biden told a rally at Pittsburgh’s Labor Day parade that organized labor was the backbone of the country and that he and Sen. Arlen Specter would continue fighting for workers. “You built the middle class. The middle class cannot be rebuilt without a growth in labor,” Biden told a crowd of about 300 Monday morning outside Mellon Arena…. – AP, 9-7-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Announces New Initiatives for Retirement Savings: As we spend time with family and friends this Labor Day weekend, many of us will also be thinking about the state of working America. Yesterday, we received a report showing that job losses have slowed dramatically compared to just a few months ago. Earlier in the week, we learned that the manufacturing sector has posted its first gains in eighteen months, and that many of the banks that borrowed money at the height of the financial crisis are now returning it to taxpayers with interest.
    These are only the most recent signs that the economy is turning around, though these signs are little comfort to those who’ve experienced the pain of losing a job in the previous month, or in the previous two years of this recession. That’s why it is so important that we remain focused on speeding our economic recovery. Throughout America today, tens of thousands of recovery projects are underway, repairing our nation’s roads, bridges, ports and waterways; renovating schools; and developing renewable energy. We’re putting Americans back to work doing to the work America needs done – and mostly in private sector jobs…. – WH, 9-5-09
  • Obama hosts dinner for Islamic holy month: President Barack Obama on Tuesday praised American Muslims for enriching the nation’s culture at a dinner to celebrate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
    “The contribution of Muslims to the United States are too long to catalog because Muslims are so interwoven into the fabric of our communities and our country,” Obama said at the iftar, the dinner that breaks the holiday’s daily fast…. – AP, 9-1-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Marks Fourth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina; Will Visit New Orleans Later This Year: This weekend marks the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of the Gulf Coast. As we remember all that was lost, we must take stock of the work being done on recovery, while preparing for future disasters. And that is what I want to speak with you about today.
    None of us can forget how we felt when those winds battered the shore, the floodwaters began to rise, and Americans were stranded on rooftops and in stadiums. Over a thousand people would lose their lives. Over a million people were displaced. Whole neighborhoods of a great American city were left in ruins. Communities across the Gulf Coast were forever changed. And many Americans questioned whether government could fulfill its responsibility to respond in a crisis, or contribute to a recovery that covered parts of four states…. – WH, 8-29-09

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

The President records the Weekly Address

  • Julian Zelizer “New rallying cry: ‘Win one for Teddy’ Dems look to unite pols on health care”: Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University political scientist, said Kennedy colleagues’ love for the departed senator isn’t going to be enough. “The reality is we saw in August a Congress that is very polarized, and the opposition is pretty set,” Zelizer said. “It’s hard to imagine they’d switch their vote because it’s called Kennedycare. That’s not the era we live in.” In an earlier era, the death of another Kennedy – President Kennedy – was invoked to pass long-stalled civil rights and Medicare legislation backed by the slain leader. But Zelizer said it was as much President Johnson’s legislative skill as Kennedy’s memory that got the bills passed. Besides, he said, in this case the sponsor died an old man. “It’s about the bill and not the name on the bill,” Zelizer said. – Boston Herald, 9-7-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Did Obama underestimate his critics?”: One of the great puzzles this summer has been why President Obama seemed to have underestimated the intensity of the counter-mobilization he would face in proposing health care reform.
    Historically, each time an American president has sought to reform the health care system, opponents mounted a fierce and unrelenting attack to undermine public support…. CNN, 9-1-09
  • H.W. Brands: “As support fades, Obama attempts to reinvigorate agenda, Scholars say it’s time for Obama to step up leadership”: H.W. Brands , a University of Texas professor who was among a small group of historians who joined the president earlier this summer for a private dinner, said that much of what had happened to Obama this summer had been “entirely predictable.”
    “He sometimes sounds as if he’s still running a campaign. But once you get to be president, you’ve got to figure out who the bad guys are,” Brands said. “And you’ve got to convince Americans that the ones you think are the bad guys really are the bad guys.” – McClatchy Newspapers, 9-1-09
  • Harold Cox “As support fades, Obama attempts to reinvigorate agenda, Scholars say it’s time for Obama to step up leadership”: Harold Cox , a presidential scholar and archivist at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, recalled how Ronald Reagan had great success in his first eight months, winning approval of a major tax cut and the nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor to the U.S. Supreme Court . When Congress returned in September, however, budget fights and a staggering economy made it hard for Reagan to control policy, and his approval numbers slipped.
    Bill Clinton suffered a similar fate in 1993 after he won approval of his massive deficit-reduction bill early in his term. Cox recalled how Clinton was distracted by the gays-in-the-military debate.
    Obama “needs to understand the glow can disappear awfully fast,” Cox said. “Even now, I’d say he’s got only a 50-50 chance at getting health care.” – McClatchy Newspapers, 9-1-09
  • Ross Baker “As support fades, Obama attempts to reinvigorate agenda, Scholars say it’s time for Obama to step up leadership”: “Unless a president lays down a very visible, strong marker, Congress tends to wander,” said Ross Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University.” Congress is historically a ship without a keel, and the president provides the keel. There comes a time when he has to step up and put his imprint on policy.” – McClatchy Newspapers, 9-1-09
  • Kennedy letter to pope sought support: Scholars examine message, meaning… – Boston Globe, 9-1-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Ted Kennedy was a true believer”: …Americans suspect that a majority of politicians are willing to switch their position on any given day, depending on which way the political winds are blowing. Everyone, we sometimes fear, is a flip-flopper.
    This was certainly not the case with Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy. He was a refreshing presence in Washington for many Americans, even those on the right who hated the political ideas that he championed. Love him or hate him, as Walter Sobchak might say, at least Kennedy stood for something…. CNN, 8-27-09

History Buzz September 7, 2009: 9/11 8th Anniversary & Health Care Reform

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

  • Betsy McCaughey: NYT says historian’s profile has risen sharply as a result of her involvement in Obama health care debate “Resurfacing, a Critic Stirs Up Debate Over Health Care” – NYT (9-4-09)
  • Betsy McCaughey Addresses New York Times: Charges of Falsehoods But No Evidence – Reuters, 9-5-09

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

IN THE NEWS:

OP-EDs & BLOGS:

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Steven F. Hayward: Another One for the Gipper THE AGE OF REAGAN The Conservative Counterrevolution, 1980-1989 NYT, 9-6-09
  • Veronica Buckley: Undercover Queen THE SECRET WIFE OF LOUIS XIV Françoise d’Aubigné, Madame de Maintenon NYT, 9-6-09
  • Janet Soskice: Two of a Kind THE SISTERS OF SINAI How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels NYT, 9-6-09
  • Fred Kaplan: Planting the Seeds of the Sixties: 1959 The Year Everything Changed WaPo, 9-4-09
  • Fred Kaplan: 1959 The Year Everything Changed, Excerpt – WaPo, 9-4-09
  • Norman Podhoretz: RELIGION Speaking in Generalities WHY ARE JEWS LIBERALS? WaPo, 9-4-09
  • Marina Belozerskaya: HISTORY Getting Attached to the Past TO WAKE THE DEAD A Renaissance Merchant and the Birth of Archaeology WaPo, 9-4-09
  • Edward M. Kennedy: Books of The Times Kennedy’s Rough Waters and Still Harbors TRUE COMPASS A Memoir NYT, 9-4-09
  • Kennedy Memoir Doesn’t Ignore Lows – NYT, 9-3-09
  • Sam Tanenhaus: History of conservatism shown in Tanenhaus new book – SF Gate (9-1-09)

PROFILED & FEATURED:

INTERVIEWED:

  • A conversation with Jill Lepore – Humanities (9-1-09)
  • Interview with Rodney Stark: The Crusades were “a justified war waged against Muslim terror and aggression” – http://www.medievalists.net (9-3-09)
  • Historians Helen Rappaport and Lisa Hilton: are women guilty of “feminising” their subject?
    BBC (Radio 4) (9-2-09)

HONORED, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

SPOTTED:

  • NASA historian Andrew Chaikin: “Space historian” talks up lunar exploration at the OMNIMAX Theater at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) – The Bee (9-2-09)

EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • Inaugural Semester-long seminar on Constitutional History offered at N-Y Historical Society this fall: Lincoln’s Constitution will be taught at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, on Thursday afternoons from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The seminar will be held on September 17 and 24 and on October 1, 15, 22, and 29, 2009. NYHS Press Release (7-20-09)

ON TV:

  • BBC to launch new series on history of Christianity – Religious Intelligence, 6-19-09
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS History Detectives: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule
  • History Channel: “Next Nostradamus” – Saturday, September 5, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Last Stand of The 300″ – Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Cities Of The Underworld: Maya Underground” – Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 4pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Nostradamus: 2012″ – Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Next Nostradamus” – Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 4pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Decoding The Past: Mayan Doomsday Prophecy” – Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The World Trade Center: Rise and Fall of an American Icon” – Friday, September 11, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Countdown to Ground Zero” – Friday, September 11, 2009 at 4pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: Zero Hour: The Last Hour of Flight”” – Friday, September 11, 2009 at 6pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Day the Towers Fell” – Friday, September 11, 2009 at 7pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “102 Minutes that Changed America / Witness to 9/11″ – Friday, September 11, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Crumbling of America” – Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 5pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Manson” – Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Templar Code” – Monday, September 14, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

    NYT Non-Fiction Best Sellers List – September 13, 2009

  • #1 – Michelle Malkin: CULTURE OF CORRUPTION
  • #3 – Ronald Kessler: IN THE PRESIDENT’S SECRET SERVICE
  • #11 – J. Randy Taraborrelli: THE SECRET LIFE OF MARILYN MONROE
  • #16 – Douglas Brinkley: THE WILDERNESS WARRIOR
  • #17 – Peter S. Canellos: LAST LION
  • #20 – C. David Heymann: BOBBY AND JACKIE
  • #32 – Doug Stanton: HORSE SOLDIERS

COMING SOON BOOKS:

  • Jon Krakauer: Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, September 15, 2009
  • Dean C. Jessee (Editor): The Joseph Smith Papers: Revelations and Translations, Volume 1: Manuscript Revelation Books, September 2009
  • James Patterson: The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King – A Nonfiction Thriller, September 28, 2009
  • Timothy Egan: The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America, October 19, 2009
  • Gil Troy, Vincent J. Cannato, eds.: Living in the Eighties, October 23, 2009
  • L. Fletcher Prouty: JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy, (Paperback), November 1, 2009
  • Edward Kritzler: Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for Treasure, Religious Freedom–and Revenge, (Paperback), November 3, 2009
  • Anthony Haden-guest: Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night (Paperback), December 8, 2009

DEPARTED:

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