August 30, 2010: Obama & Katrina 5 Years Later, John McCain wins Arizona Primary

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

President Obama at Xavier University in New Orleans, La.
President Obama at Xavier University in New Orleans, La., White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/29/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Election 2010 map: Track House, Senate and governor racesUSA Today
  • Poll: Six in 10 say Sarah Palin would be ineffective as president: She has been helping to drive conservative candidates to victory in GOP primaries across the country, but six in 10 Americans say Sarah Palin would not be an effective president, according to a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll released today. Palin, the former Republican governor of Alaska, did better among GOP voters. Forty-seven percent of Republicans say she could be an effective president, compared with 12% of Democrats and 21% of independents, according to the poll…. – NY Daily News, 8-30-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Baghdad; will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: Biden’s back in Baghdad. The vice president landed in Iraq on Monday in a surprise visit to mark the end of combat operations in the war-torn nation. The last American combat troops left Iraq earlier this month, and the White House says the number of U.S. troops in Iraq is now the lowest since the beginning of the conflict in 2003. A ceremony on Wednesday will signal the beginning of a new phase of the ongoing mission to establish a democratic government there, with the U.S. moving away from military operations and toward a largely diplomatic one.
    Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will “discuss the political situation and withdrawal, and Iraqis taking over responsibility for security,” the prime minister’s adviser, Yasin Majeed, told The Associated Press…. – NY Daily News , 8-30-10
  • Obama Pledges Commitment to New Orleans: Speaking at Xavier University on the fifth anniversary of the hurricane that took 1,800 lives, Mr. Obama emphasized the resilience of New Orleans residents.
    The legacy of Katrina, Mr. Obama said, must be “not one of neglect, but of action; not one of indifference, but of empathy; not of abandonment, but of a community working together to meet shared challenges.” “There are some wounds that do not heal,” the president acknowledged. “There are some losses that cannot be repaid. And for many who lived through those harrowing days five years ago, there is a searing memory that time will not erase.”… – NYT, 8-29-10
  • Obama, in New Orleans, promises to ‘fight alongside’ Gulf Coast: In New Orleans, the president talks Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, pointing up post-Katrina aid improvements and work on shoring up levees…. – LAT, 8-29-10
  • President Obama hails New Orleans’ comeback; samples local seafood: President Obama visited New Orleans Sunday on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to hail the storied city’s return from the dead and promise to keep it safe from new monsters whirling offshore.
    “Five years ago, many questioned whether people could ever return to this city. Today, New Orleans is one of the fastest-growing cities in America, with a big surge in new small businesses,” Obama said. “You’re not only rebuilding; you’re rebuilding stronger than before,” Obama said. “My administration is going to stand with you, and fight alongside you, until the job is done.”… – NY Daily News, 8-29-10
  • Glenn Beck and Al Sharpton: The rallies of 8/28WaPo
  • Glenn Beck rally: A warning to Obama and Democrats?: There may have been some Democrats at the Glenn Beck rally Saturday, but even many of them aren’t happy with the country’s direction. Does the large turnout portend trouble for Democrats? One hundred to two hundred thousand people attended a rally organized by Fox TV commentator, Glenn Beck, at the foot of the Lincoln memorial. Although it was avowedly “non-political,” Sarah Palin was one of the main speakers and the crowd resembled very much the Tea Party crowd…. – CS Monitor, 8-29-10
  • Sharpton’s ‘Reclaim the Dream’ event brings thousands to honor MLK Sharpton: ‘The dream has not been achieved': Thousands of people joined the Rev. Al Sharpton and other leaders Saturday in a counter-protest to the rally called by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. The event, billed as “Reclaim the Dream,” included a march that culminated at the Mall, the site of Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally.
    In an interview before the rally began at Dunbar High School in Northwest Washington, Sharpton said he called the event to show respect for the dream of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech 47 years ago at the March on Washington near where Beck spoke to thousands Saturday.
    “People are clear in what Dr. King’s dream was about, and we will not react to those who try to distort that dream,” Sharpton said. He was one of several prominent leaders who condemned Beck’s rally, despite cries from organizers that “Restoring Honor” was not intended to dishonor King or his work…. – WaPo, 8-28-10
  • Beck says US has ‘wandered in darkness’ too long: From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck told the tens of thousands of activists he drew from around the nation Saturday that the U.S. has too long “wandered in darkness.”
    At an event billed as nonpolitical but reflecting the mood of a sizable number in the country, the rally’s marquee speaker, Sarah Palin, praised “patriots” in the audience for “knowing never to retreat.”
    “Something beyond imagination is happening,” he said. “America today begins to turn back to God.” “For too long, this country has wandered in darkness,” said Beck, a Fox News host. He said it was now time to “concentrate on the good things in America, the things we have accomplished and the things we can do tomorrow.”… – AP, 8-28-10
  • Glenn Beck rally: Sarah Palin and President Obama agree on one thing: President Obama and Sarah Palin disagreed sharply on the war in Iraq. But in Obama’s radio address Saturday and Palin’s speech at Glenn Beck’s ‘Restoring Honor’ rally, they agreed on the need to honor and support the troops…. – CS Monitor, 8-28-10
  • Family Feud Erupts Over Martin Luther King’s Legacy Martin Luther King’s son, Martin Luther King III, and King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, found themselves on opposing sides when it came to the Glenn Beck rally: A day of activism and protest in the nation’s Capitol today featured two prominent members of the King family laying very different claims on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.
    Addressing a massive crowd gathered at the Lincoln Memorial for Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally, King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, tied the civil rights icon’s legacy to the featured themes of honor, patriotism, service and faith that were highlighted at the gathering.
    “Today, we are here to honor special men and women, who like my uncle Martin are blessed with servant’s hearts” said King. “Though they gave their service in ways very different from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., like him they are people who are not afraid to give their lives for the freedom of other. If uncle Martin could be here today, he would surely commend them.”
    But Martin Luther King II, King’s son, seemed not to share that belief, instead joining civil rights leaders in a counter protest. “This is not about a left side or a right side,” he said. “This is about God’s side in terms of doing what’s right for all of America. That’s what Martin Luther King’s dream is about.” AOL News, 8-28-10
  • Carter and Former Prisoner Return to U.S.: Mr. Gomes, 31, stepped off a private plane at Logan International Airport about 2 p.m. on Friday, a day after Mr. Carter secured his release in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. He was immediately surrounded by more than a dozen relatives who enveloped him in a group hug. Neither Mr. Gomes (pronounced GOHMZ) nor Mr. Carter spoke with reporters upon their arrival, and it was unclear if or when either man would share details of Mr. Gomes’s detainment and release. Mr. Gomes quickly left the airport with his family and stayed out of the public eye for the rest of the day. But Mr. McCarthy later said that Mr. Gomes appeared in good health and that Mr. Carter had told the family that “the Koreans had taken good care of him.”… – NYT, 8-27-10
  • US implores Americans not to visit NKorea: The State Department on Friday urged Americans to respect its warning against traveling to North Korea, saying in a cheeky Twitter message that there are not too many former U.S. presidents left available for rescue missions. In a Tweet posted shortly after former President Jimmy Carter arrived in Boston from North Korea with American Aijalon Gomes who had been detained in the communist country for seven months, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said: “Americans should heed our travel warning and avoid North Korea. We only have a handful of former presidents.”
    His message referred to the fact that Carter was the second former U.S. president to travel to North Korea in the past year to win the release of American citizens imprisoned there. Last August, former President Bill Clinton secured the release of two television reporters who had been arrested for illegally entering North Korea…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • Sharpton: Beck rally goes against King’s vision: Broadcaster Glenn Beck and tea party activists have a right to rally in the nation’s capital but not to distort Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision, the Rev. Al Sharpton said Friday.
    Sharpton described the demonstration planned for Saturday by Beck and his supporters as an anti-government rally advocating states’ rights. And he said that goes against the message in King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, in which the civil rights leader appealed to the federal government to ensure equality.
    Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally will be held at the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his speech exactly 47 years earlier. Beck and other organizers say the aim is to pay tribute to America’s military personnel and others “who embody our nation’s founding principles of integrity, truth and honor.” The broadcaster toured the site Friday as supporters cheered…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • Obama to commemorate Katrina on 5th anniversary: President Barack Obama will use the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to reaffirm his commitment to the Gulf Coast amid lingering questions over his administration’s response to the BP oil spill.
    Obama ends his Martha’s Vineyard vacation Sunday and heads to New Orleans, five years to the day from when Hurricane Katrina raged ashore, busting through crumbling levees and flooding 80 percent of the city, killing more than 1,600 people. Then-President George W. Bush was harshly criticized in many quarters for not responding aggressively enough to the disaster.
    The unfinished business of helping make New Orleans whole is Obama’s responsibility now. On Sunday, he will have the delicate task of commemorating the ravaging storm while reassuring residents who may still believe the government has failed them — both when it comes to Katrina and to the BP spill…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • On Martha’s Vineyard, Obamas savor local produce: For a vacationing President Barack Obama, it seems all produce — like politics — is local. So far, in their only dinner outings since arriving on Martha’s Vineyard last week, the president and his wife have twice eaten at restaurants that feature locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs. And the White House has let it be known that the meals being cooked at their rented vacation compound feature all manner of things from farms and gardens on this island off Cape Cod. It seems the passion for freshness behind first lady Michelle Obama’s backyard garden at the White House hasn’t taken a holiday during her family’s stay here…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • Obama Hits Fairway With UBS’s Wolf, Lawyer Jordan During Vineyard Vacation: The biggest names on the links this week aren’t all teeing off at the PGA tournament in Paramus, New Jersey. The power foursomes are on Martha’s Vineyard, where President Barack Obama is spending a chunk of his vacation playing golf with partners who have included Robert Wolf, chairman and chief executive officer of UBS Americas, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Vernon Jordan, Lazard Ltd. senior managing director and a longtime Democratic Party supporter.
    Obama had a 15-minute discussion with Bloomberg about the economy in the clubhouse before heading out to the fairways yesterday, Reid Cherlin, an administration spokesman, said…. – Bloomberg, 8-27-10
  • Rain lifts, vacationing Obamas dine out for lunch: Emerging from semi-seclusion after four days of drenching rain, a cheery President Barack Obama lunched with his wife and daughters at a wharfside restaurant Wednesday and mingled with fellow vacationers. It was the family’s first public appearance together since beginning their Martha’s Vineyard stay.
    “Good to see you guys, you doing alright?” the smiling president asked a crowd that cheered his arrival at Nancy’s, an eatery well known for its fried local seafood. First lady Michelle Obama commiserated with the onlookers over the lousy weather. “You dried off finally?” she asked…. – AP, 8-26-10
  • U.S. deficit panel chair stirs uproar over remark: The co-chairman of a commission on the U.S. budget deficit came under fire on Wednesday after an off-color remark that likened the payment of government retirement benefits to milking cows. Women’s groups and some lawmakers called for the resignation of Alan Simpson, a Republican who serves on the bipartisan deficit panel created by President Barack Obama. Simpson wrote this week in an email to one of his critics the Social Security retirement program has reached the point “where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits.” He later issued an apology for the comment…. – Reuters, 8-26-10
  • Glenn Beck supporters head for Washington, D.C., rally: Glenn Beck’s supporters started boarding buses days ago in cities as far from the nation’s capital as Sacramento, Salt Lake City and Houston. Heading east for a grass-roots show of force on Saturday, they will join the conservative icon for a rally that he says is aimed at “restoring honor” to a troubled nation.
    “People are upset with the direction of the country,” says Patti Weaver, head of the Pittsburgh Tea Party, who is bringing 900 people on 16 buses to the event at the Lincoln Memorial. The rally will “continue to unite people who are upset with our government. … We can take our country back.”
    Beck has been criticized by civil rights groups such as the National Urban League for holding the rally at the site of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on racial equality and on its 47th anniversary. The Fox News and radio talk-show host insists that his rally is about supporting the nation’s troops — not about politics…. – USA Today, 8-26-10
  • David & Charles Koch: Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama: …One dignitary was conspicuously absent from the gala: the event’s third honorary co-chair, Michelle Obama. Her office said that a scheduling conflict had prevented her from attending. Yet had the First Lady shared the stage with Koch it might have created an awkward tableau. In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular…. – New Yorker, 8-30-10
  • Jimmy Carter: Can Obama trust him in North Korea talks?: Jimmy Carter gained a reputation as an independent actor when President Clinton sent him to North Korea in 1994. President Obama will hope Carter – on a mission to bring back a jailed American – does not stray into talks about North Korea’s nuclear program…. – Cs Monitor, 8-25-10
  • US general: Afghan deadline ‘giving enemy sustenance': General James Conway said troops in southern Afghanistan were likely to have to remain for a few years. A senior US general has warned President Barack Obama’s deadline to begin pulling troops out of Afghanistan is encouraging the Taliban. US General James Conway, head of the US Marine Corps, said the deadline was “giving our enemy sustenance”. Gen Conway warned that US forces in southern Afghanistan will likely have to stay in place for several years. His comments are likely to fuel debate over US strategy in Afghanistan and Mr Obama’s July 2011 withdrawal date… – BBC, 8-24-10
  • Stem cell ruling to be appealed, some work to stop: The government will quickly appeal a court ruling that undercut federally funded embryonic stem cell research, the Obama administration declared Tuesday, but dozens of experiments aimed at fighting spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and other ailments probably will stop in the meantime.
    The White House and scientists said Monday’s court ruling was broader than first thought because it would prohibit even the more restricted stem cell research allowed for the past decade under President George W. Bush’s rules.
    The Justice Department said an appeal is expected this week of the federal judge’s preliminary injunction that disrupted an entire field of science…. – Boston Globe, 8-24-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

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  • ‘World News’ Political Insights — Tea Party’s Boil Still Singing Republicans: Movement Continues as Mixed Blessing for GOP, as More Primaries Loom… – ABC News, 8-29-10
  • Dems’ bright spots in foreboding election year: John Carney of Delaware is a rarity in a campaign season of foreboding for Democrats, a practicing politician with a strong chance of winning a Republican-held seat in Congress. Not that Carney is interested in attaching any national significance to his race. “I’ll support (President Barack Obama) when I think he’s right and I won’t when I think he proposes something that isn’t in the best interests of Delaware,” he says…. – AP, 8-29-10
  • W.Va. Gov. Manchin wins Dem primary for US Senate: Popular Gov. Joe Manchin won the Democratic nomination Saturday and will face GOP primary winner and wealthy businessman John Raese in the race to fill the Senate seat vacated by the late Robert C. Byrd. Raese defeated a crowded field of Republicans and becomes part of the GOP quest to dismantle the Democratic Senate majority as high unemployment and the slow economic recovery take a toll on their political prospects this fall…. – AP, 8-29-10
  • Crist, Meek tout plans to stimulate economy: Two of Florida’s U.S. Senate hopefuls, Gov. Charlie Crist and Congressman Kendrick Meek, on Sunday touted their plans to stimulate the lagging economy…. – AP, 8-29-10
  • Tweet by AK Senate candidate’s staffer causes stir: Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Joe Miller apologized on Twitter and a campaign staffer was told to exercise more caution Friday after someone in Miller’s campaign sent a tweet that appeared to liken a possible party switch by Sen. Lisa Murkowski to prostitution. The item posted on Miller’s Twitter account Friday said, “What’s the difference b/n selling out your party’s values and the oldest profession?” The tweet linked to an online article speculating on whether Murkowski would run on the Libertarian Party ticket if she loses the GOP primary to Miller. Murkowski’s campaign responded by calling the tweet “disgusting” and demanding an apology, after which Miller issued another tweet that said: “Please accept my apologies. Staffer trying to encourage Libertarians not to sell out.”… – AP, 8-28-10
  • Democratic Campaign Chief Says Tea Party Will Hurt Republicans: Victories of “extreme right” Tea Party-backed congressional candidates in Republican primaries will help the Democratic Party retain control of the House by alienating independent voters who will determine the November election outcome, the House Democrats’ campaign chief said.
    Many Republican candidates “emerging from the primaries are on the far right of the political spectrum, and many are driven by the Tea Party movement,” Representative Chris Van Hollen told reporters in Washington…. – Bloomberg, 8-27-10
  • Low-Profile Alaskan Swaps Law Court for the Limelight: This time last year, Joe Miller was augmenting his income from his private legal practice by working as a part-time attorney for the borough here, and had to put in for leave to take an elk-hunting trip with two of his sons.
    Now, the 43-year-old Mr. Miller stands on the brink of what would be one of this year’s biggest political upsets. If his slim lead in last Tuesday’s GOP primary holds, he will oust Sen. Lisa Murkowski from a seat she and her father, Frank, have held for 30 years.
    The final vote tally is expected within two weeks, after the state finishes counting 11,266 absentee ballots. With 100% of precincts counted, Mr. Miller currently leads by 1,668 votes. Most political watchers expect a Miller victory, and observers in Alaska and across the U.S. are taking a closer look at a man who, even in Fairbanks, maintained a low profile before he jumped into the race against Ms. Murkowski last April…. – WSJ, 5-27-10
  • Harry Reid vs. Sharron Angle: this season’s must-see political slugfest: The US Senate race between Harry Reid and Sharron Angle in Nevada is so close and the stakes are so high that the political world is riveted…. – CS Monitor, 8-27-10
  • John McCain survives Tea Party challenge at US primaries John McCain wins in Arizona after Sarah Palin endorsement, Tea Party’s Joe Miller set for surprise defeat of Alaska senator: Tea Party activists were on the verge of achieving one of the biggest upsets of the year by ousting the sitting Republican senator for Alaska, a scalp that would compensate for their failure earlier in the day to defeat the former presidential candidate John McCain.
    With 98% (91,000) of the votes counted in Alaska, the senator, Lisa Murkowski, was trailing Joe Miller on 51%. Miller has a lead of 1,190 votes, but still with 16,000 absentee ballots to be counted. Although Murkowski has been the senator since 2002 and polls suggested an easy win, Miller enjoyed Tea Party support, including one of its unofficial figureheads, the former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
    In a year that has seen establishment candidates beaten by outsiders in Republican primaries across the country, Alaska could be added to a list of Tea Party battle honours that already include Kentucky, Florida, Nevada and Utah.
    Miller’s surprise success suggests nationwide resentment over lack of jobs and the slowness of economic recovery remains as strong as ever, with voters blaming Washington…. – Guardian UK, 8-25-10
  • As GOP civil war rages, Democrats look to benefit: A Republican civil war is raging, with righter-than-thou conservatives dominating ever more primaries in a fight for the party’s soul. And the Democrats hope to benefit. The latest examples of conservative insurgents’ clout came Tuesday at opposite ends of the country. In Florida, political newcomer Rick Scott beat longtime congressman and state Attorney General Bill McCollum for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. And in Alaska, tea party activists and Sarah Palin pushed Sen. Lisa Murkowski to the brink of defeat, depending on absentee ballot counts in her race against outsider Joe Miller…. – AP, 8-26-10
  • McCain, Murkowski Primary Results Send Mixed Messages Incumbents McCain and Meek win, while Palin, Tea Party flex their Alaska muscle: Tuesday’s Senate primaries in Arizona, Florida, and Alaska were a test for the major players in the 2010 primaries: the establishment, wealthy political newcomers, and the Tea Party movement. Two establishment candidates prevailed, GOP Sen. John McCain in Arizona and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek in Florida. And the fate of a third hangs in the balance in Alaska, where officials determined that the race between eight-year incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sarah Palin-backed candidate Joe Miller is too close to call. The Alaska outcome will be decided by the 16,000 absentee ballots, and officials said it could take a week to determine the final results. Murkowski, the fifth ranking Republican in the Senate, said she will not concede the race in which she was about 2,000 votes behind Miller as of Wednesday morning. If Murkowski loses, she will be the seventh incumbent, and fourth Republican, taken down by voters this primary season. A Miller win would be seen as a substantial victory for Palin in her home state and for the Tea Party movement nationally, though a high-profile Tea Party candidate, J.D. Hayworth, lost to McCain in Arizona…. – US News, 8-25-10
  • In Alaska, Doubts About Climate Change Rise With a New Politician: Alaska’s cliffhanger primary is poised to propel a climate skeptic toward the U.S. Senate, observers say, likely bolstering the number of nominations achieved by conservative candidates who challenge manmade global warming. Republican Joe Miller, a former judge with a Yale law degree, showcased Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s past support for climate legislation, among other things, before slipping by her at the voting stations Tuesday to capture a 1,900 vote lead with several thousand absentee ballots still being counted…. – NYT, 8-26-10
  • Where GOP’s Lisa Murkowski went wrong and John McCain went right: Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska didn’t open her war chest in time, and it may have cost her the GOP primary. Arizona’s Sen. John McCain, by contrast, spent early and often… – CS Monitor, 8-25-10
  • Murkowski Counts on History Lesson to Remain Confident in Alaska: Sen. Lisa Murkowski declared Wednesday that “it ain’t over yet, folks” as she faced the prospect of being ousted by a conservative challenger backed by Sarah Palin amid widespread anti-incumbent rage this year. Joe Miller leads Murkowski by about 2,000 votes with several thousand absentee ballots still to be counted, putting him in position to potentially be the latest political newcomer to defeat a well-known incumbent.
    At a news conference in Anchorage, Murkowski mentioned that then-Sen. Ted Stevens in 2008 went to bed one night in the lead and learned later he had lost his Senate seat of 40 years to Mark Begich. She said U.S. Rep. Don Young also reminded her of a race he had won after going into the election thinking he would be the clear loser. “There is much, much yet to be counted,” she said.
    Regardless of who prevails, the Republican primary is a sign of Palin’s clout in her home state after the former governor and vice presidential candidate had suffered a string of loses recently in endorsing other candidates nationally…. – AP, 8-25-10
  • Arizona primary: Why McCain is set to beat the anti-incumbent backlash: Polls suggest Sen. John McCain is set to win his primary Tuesday. Some voters have been turned off by his attack ads and big spending in the race against J.D. Hayworth. But it has worked…. – CS Monitor, 8-24-10
  • Establishment vs. outsiders in primaries: It’s the political establishment vs. the outsiders in Tuesday’s primaries. And the establishment has the better odds.
    Republican Sens. John McCain and Lisa Murkowski were poised to win bitter primaries in Arizona and Alaska against tea-party-backed candidates.
    In Florida, boatloads of cash may not be enough to propel former health care executive Rick Scott and real estate businessman Jeff Greene to victory in gubernatorial and Senate primaries.
    “I think the voters have figured out that no matter how much money some guy spends, just because he’s wealthy and can run ads that slam the other guy doesn’t make him the right person to govern Florida,” said state Attorney General Bill McCollum, who is locked in a bruising Republican gubernatorial campaign against Scott…. – AP, 8-24-10
  • Republican Chuck Hagel backs Democrat in Pa. Senate race: Republican Chuck Hagel, the former Nebraska senator, will endorse Democrat Rep. Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania’s competitive U.S. Senate race…. – USA Today, 8-23-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson

  • Remarks by the President on the Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana Xavier University New Orleans, Louisiana: … Now, even as we continue our recovery efforts, we’re also focusing on preparing for future threats so that there is never another disaster like Katrina. The largest civil works project in American history is underway to build a fortified levee system. And as I — just as I pledged as a candidate, we’re going to finish this system by next year so that this city is protected against a 100-year storm. We should not be playing Russian roulette every hurricane season. (Applause.) And we’re also working to restore protective wetlands and natural barriers that were not only damaged by Katrina — were not just damaged by Katrina but had been rapidly disappearing for decades.
    And when I came here four years ago, one thing I found striking was all the greenery that had begun to come back. And I was reminded of a passage from the book of Job. “There is hope for a tree if it be cut down that it will sprout again, and that its tender branch will not cease.” The work ahead will not be easy, and there will be setbacks. There will be challenges along the way. But thanks to you, thanks to the great people of this great city, New Orleans is blossoming again. – WH, 8-29-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama: As the Combat Mission in Iraq Ends, We Must Pay Tribute to Those Who Have Served: Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House August 28, 2010: On Tuesday, after more than seven years, the United States of America will end its combat mission in Iraq and take an important step forward in responsibly ending the Iraq war.
    As a candidate for this office, I pledged I would end this war. As President, that is what I am doing. We have brought home more than 90,000 troops since I took office. We have closed or turned over to Iraq hundreds of bases. In many parts of the country, Iraqis have already taken the lead for security.
    In the months ahead, our troops will continue to support and train Iraqi forces, partner with Iraqis in counterterrorism missions, and protect our civilian and military efforts. But the bottom line is this: the war is ending. Like any sovereign, independent nation, Iraq is free to chart its own course. And by the end of next year, all of our troops will be home.
    As we mark the end of America’s combat mission in Iraq, a grateful nation must pay tribute to all who have served there. Because part of responsibly ending this war is meeting our responsibility to those who have fought it.
    The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now make up America’s longest continuous combat engagement. For the better part of a decade, our troops and their families have served tour after tour with honor and heroism, risking and often giving their lives for the defense of our freedom and security. More than one million Americans in uniform have served in Iraq – far more than any conflict since Vietnam. And more than one million who have served in both wars have now finished their service and joined the proud ranks of America’s veterans.
    What this new generation of veterans must know is this: our nation’s commitment to all who wear its uniform is a sacred trust that is as old as our republic itself. It is one that, as President, I consider a moral obligation to uphold.
    At the same time, these are new wars; with new missions, new methods, and new perils. And what today’s veterans have earned – what they have every right to expect – is new care, new opportunity, and a new commitment to their service when they come home…. – WH, 8-28-10
  • Hurricane Katrina: Five Years of Remembering & RebuildingWH, 8-25-10
  • Vice President Biden on Iraq and Our Veterans: “These Homecomings Are Something I Have Long Looked Forward To…”: These homecomings are something I have long looked forward to, and I know many of you have as well. The day my son Beau returned from a yearlong tour in Iraq, and I watched him embrace his wife and children, was one of the proudest and happiest moments of my life. By the end of next year—2011—our remaining troops in Iraq will have come home to their families and a grateful nation. This is only possible because of the extraordinary progress our military—the finest fighting force this planet has ever seen—has brought about, led by the great General Ray Odierno…. – WH, 8-24-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Time for Obama to put cards on table: If current polls are a guide, the midterm elections probably won’t be good for President Obama and his party. The Democrats are in danger of losing control of the House of Representatives and of seeing their majority in the Senate diminish.
    With Obama’s approval rating sagging to 45 percent according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll, even his most ardent supporters admit that he will need a stimulus act for his presidency before 2012 comes around.
    One of Obama’s biggest challenges has been his reticence about defining a clear agenda and a set of governing principles. Doing so has been at odds with his legislative strategy, which has hinged on avoiding big proclamations to give himself wiggle room with Congress….
    But Obama must also do a better job at telling voters what he is about. While the president has a large legislative record to boast of, it remains unclear to many voters, including Democrats who support much of the record, what it all adds up to.
    It’s time for Obama to state his agenda and lay out a set of governing principles that will guide him in his next two years as president. It’s likely that the pressure of the 2010 midterm elections will compel Obama to present an argument to the public to build a case for his presidency. – CNN, 8-30-10
  • PETER BERKOWITZ: The Death of Conservatism Was Greatly Exaggerated In 2008 liberals proclaimed the collapse of Reaganism. Two years later the idea of limited government is back in vogue: Last August left little doubt that a conservative revival was underway. Constituents packed town-hall meetings across the country to confront Democratic House members and senators ill-prepared to explain why, in the teeth of a historic economic downturn and nearly 10% employment, President Obama and his party were pressing ahead with costly health-care legislation instead of reining in spending, cutting the deficit and spurring economic growth.
    Still, whether that revival would have staying power was very much open to question. A year later—and notwithstanding the Democrats’ steadily declining poll numbers and the mounting electoral momentum that could well produce a Republican majority in the House and a substantial swing in the Senate—it still is.
    Sustaining the revival depends on the ability of GOP leaders, office-holders and candidates to harness the extraordinary upsurge of popular opposition to Mr. Obama’s aggressive progressivism. Our constitutional tradition provides enduring principles that should guide them…. – WSJ, 8-28-10
  • PEGGY NOONAN: We Just Don’t Understand Americans look at the president and see a stranger: All presidents take vacations, and all are criticized for it. It’s never the right place, the right time. Ronald Reagan went to the ranch, George W. Bush to Crawford, both got knocked. Bill Clinton even poll-tested a vacation site and still was criticized. But Martha’s Vineyard—elite, upscale—can’t have done President Obama any good, especially following the first lady’s foray in Spain. The general feeling this week was summed up by David Letterman: “He’ll have plenty of time for vacations when his one term is up. Plenty of time.”… – WSJ, 8-27-10
  • E.J. Dionne Jr.: Tuesday’s tutorial: a GOP too far right: Republicans are in the midst of an insurrection. Democrats are not. This vast gulf between the situations of the two parties — not some grand revolt against “the establishment” or “incumbents” — explains the year’s primary results, including Tuesday’s jarring outcomes in Florida and Alaska.
    The agitation among Republicans is not surprising, given the trauma of the final years of George W. Bush’s presidency. After heavy losses in 2006 and 2008, it was natural that GOP loyalists would seek a new direction.
    Liberals who saw Bush’s presidency as a failed right-wing experiment thought Republicans would search for more moderate ground, much as Britain’s Tories turned to the soothing leadership of David Cameron to organize their comeback. But this expectation overlooked the exodus of moderates over the past decade, which has shifted the balance of power in Republican primaries far to the right. As a result, the main critique of Bush in Republican ranks casts him as insufficiently conservative — too inclined to support federal action on education and in expanding prescription drug assistance to the elderly, and too ready to run up the deficit…. – WaPo, 8-26-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: GOP needs a Reagan to unite its factions: The debate over the construction of an Islamic center and mosque in New York exploded into a fierce national controversy. President Obama was unable to contain the issue, and his comments only added fuel to the fire. Polls show that his approval ratings continue to fall.
    But the debate over the Islamic center and mosque tells us as much about the tensions that are brewing within the Republican Party as it does about the challenges facing the White House. It is unclear whether any Republican has the capacity to unite the party and help repair the damage inflicted by the final year of President George W. Bush’s presidency.
    The same week that many conservatives were laser-focused on Muslims and the mosque, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed published in The Boston Globe criticizing the administration’s economic policies. Romney argued that Obama’s policies have been hampering, not helping, economic recovery and outlined as an alternative a package of tax cuts that he believes would generate growth.
    If Republicans can’t find a unifying figure like Reagan, and instead move toward one of the candidates who leans heavily toward one of these factions, the party won’t be able to prevent the contradictions and internal tensions from drowning any effort to challenge Obama. – CNN, 8-24-10
  • Joe Klein: Dems Depressed and Disheartened: The lead item on Politico–titled “Dems Urge Obama to Take a Stand”–is almost surrealistic. Take a stand? The guy passed health care, a stimulus bill that helped avoid a Depression, a groundbreaking financial reform bill that is too complicated to be popularly described, a bailout that enabled General Motors and Chrysler to survive. He nominated two estimable women to the Supreme Court. He restored America’s image in the world. I can go on…
    But Dems are distressed? He’s not populist or ideological enough? Oh please. There are several ways to go about the presidency. Ronald Reagan chose one way: he said one thing and did another. He was for cutting back the size of government, but didn’t. He was for lowering taxes and he did, but then he raised taxes–two of the laegest percentage increases in American history–when his supply-side “philosophy” proved a phony. He confronted the Soviet Union, but he also would have agreed to massive reductions in nuclear arsenals if the Soviets had allowed him to pursue his Star Wars fantasy…. – Times, 8-23-10

Republican National Convention Day 1: September 1, 2008

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH: REPUBLICAN CONVENTION COVERAGE

Laura Bush, Cindy McCain call for Gustav donations (CNN)

Laura Bush, Cindy McCain call for Gustav donations (CNN)

Day 1 Schedule

    MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2008
    Country First: Service

    John McCain 2008 and 2008 Republican National Convention Announce Changes to Convention Program and Hurricane Response Efforts

    Monday’s Convention Program Will Only Include Required Proceedings, McCain Campaign Takes Steps to Aid Affected Delegations

    “Love of country, my friends, is another way of saying love of your fellow countryman.”
    –Sen. John McCain

    John McCain’s commitment to his fellow Americans, a commitment forged in service to his country, is one of the defining hallmarks of his life. Monday’s events will highlight John McCain’s record of service and sacrifice and reflect his commitment to serving a cause greater than one’s own selfinterest.

    Speakers: First Lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain
    GOP Convention 2008

Highlights:

  • September 1, 2008: GOP convention appeals for hurricane aid; Palins say unmarried daughter is pregnant … Palin says daughter, 17, is pregnant; announcement aims to rebut rumors about governor’s son … Obama curtails campaign to watch Gustav, asks for Red Cross donations … McCain says campaign raised $47 million in August … Smashing windows and throwing bottles, some protesters turn violent in march to GOP convention … Biden skips Pittsburgh parade to monitor Gustav, still plans to visit hometown of Scranton. – AP, 9-1-08

Stats & In the News…

  • GOP convention opening with appeal for Gustav aid – AP, 9-1-08
  • Republican Convention by the Numbers – PBS Newshour, 9-1-08
  • McCain raises $47 million in August – AP, 9-1-08
  • Palin’s Teen Daughter Is Pregnant; New G.O.P. Tumult – NYT, 9-1-08
  • 5 arrested in protests at GOP convention site – AP, 9-1-08

Historians’ Comments

  • Henry Robertson on “McCain’s VP choice surprises La. GOP leaders”: And associate history professor Henry Robertson at Louisiana College in Pineville says the history doesn’t end there, with both the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates snubbing political tradition by choosing their running mates from states with few electoral votes. Obama’s running mate, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, hails from a state with three electoral votes, the same as Palin’s Alaska. “On both counts, I think, it was kind of a surprise that they didn’t pick people to geographically balance or to have the kind of electoral count you would expect,” said Robertson, who also is the faculty adviser to the College Republicans, a student group at LC. Robertson did praise Palin’s selection, though, calling her “an excellent choice, a fresh new face” who will make the Republican ticket a strong contender. But as Republicans expressed glee with their completed ticket, they also expressed concern as Hurricane Gustav threatened to wreak havoc just as their convention kicks off. Robertson suggested that the party should consider delaying the convention should Gustav become a large national event. “I don’t think you want to have a convention when you have a major emergency in the United States,” Robertson said. “I do think it would be wise if they waited, or delayed certainly, the convention because the focus needs to be on what is going on, on the Gulf Coast.” – The Town Talk, LA, 8-30-08

The Speeches….

  • First Lady Laura Bush encouraging contributions for hurricane relief
    “Our first priority is to assure the safety and well-being of those living in the Gulf Coast region. When such events occur, we are reminded that, first, we are all Americans, and that our shared American ideals will always transcend political parties and partisanship. We hope that the people on the Gulf Coast know that the American people are here to do what we can to assist them.”

    Though she focused on private aid, Bush noted that her husband “has been speaking with the officials in the region to make sure they have what they need from the federal government.”

    She noted that the governors of the affected states — Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida — “happen to be Republicans,” but had canceled their planned attendance at the convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

    “We know that it’s far more important for them to remain in their home states to provide the leadership and the management of this crisis…. Let’s work together to provide those affected with the means to restore and rebuild their communities.”

  • First Lady Laura Bush listened as Cindy McCain spoke at the 2008 Republican National Convention on Monday in St. Paul. (NYT)

    First Lady Laura Bush listened as Cindy McCain spoke at the 2008 Republican National Convention on Monday in St. Paul. (NYT)

  • Cindy McCain encouraging contributions for hurricane relief
    Cindy McCain, said her husband, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, John McCain, “has been saying for the last several days this is the time we take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats.” She urged Americans to go to www.causegreater.com, a Web site paid for by John McCain 2008, to donate. “That will allow all of us to aid those who have been affected by Hurricane Gustav.”

On the Campaign Trail….

  • Obama Cuts Short Rally and Calls for Moment of Silence
    “Today’s not a day for political speeches. I hope you’ll forgive me. I hope you don’t mind. Today is the day for all of us to come together as Americans and send our thoughts and prayers to our brothers and sisters who are worrying at this very hour…. I know that John McCain wants what’s best for the people that have been evacuated. I know George Bush wants what’s best and so do I. So I want all of us to come together. “I will be monitoring it all day,” Mr. Obama said, urging people to give to the Red Cross or contribute in whatever way they could. “We are prayerful this will not be the same situation we saw three years ago.”
  • Obama says Palin’s family off limits

    Sen. Barack Obama campaigns in Monroe, Michigan, on Monday. (AP)

    Sen. Barack Obama campaigns in Monroe, Michigan, on Monday. (AP)

    “Let me be as clear as possible,” Obama said. “I think people’s families are off-limits, and people’s children are especially off-limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin’s performance as governor or her potential performance as a vice president.” Mr. Obama said the pregnancy “has no relevance to Governor Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president… My mother had me when she was 18. How a family deals with issues and teen-age children — that shouldn’t be the topic of our politics, and I hope that anybody who is supporting me understands that’s off-limits. So, I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories.”

    “I am offended by that statement. There is no evidence at all that any of this involved us. We don’t go after people’s families; we don’t get them involved in the politics. It’s not appropriate, and it’s not relevant,” he added. “Our people were not involved in any way in this, and they will not be. And if I ever thought that there was somebody in my campaign that was involved in something like that, they’d be fired.”

  • McCain spokesman Steve Schmidt about news of Bristol Palin’s Pregnancy
    “Senator McCain’s view is this is a private family matter. As parents, (the Palins) love their daughter unconditionally and are going to support their daughter. Life happens.”
  • Sarah and Todd Palin said in a brief statement about their Daughter’s Pregnancy
    “Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents. Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family. We ask the media, respect our daughter and Levi’s privacy as has always been the tradition of children of candidates.”

June 30-September 11, 1862: Confederate Eugenia Phillips is sentenced to Ship Island by “the Beast” General Butler

Eugenia Levy Phillips in her later years

Eugenia Levy Phillips in her later years

On this day in history… June 30, 1862 to September 11, 1862 Eugenia Levy Phillips, an ardent Confederate was arrested and sentenced to time on Ship Island, Mississippi because she laughed during a Union soldier’s funeral procession in New Orleans.

During the Civil War, women in the South contributed on many levels to the cause through volunteer work, as war supply collectors, sewing circles, and nursing, but the far more committed chose to rebel against the Union officials. Many Southern women took advantage of the new politicizing position the war granted women by demonstrating their loyalty to the South through fiercer methods, often through illegal means including, smuggling, espionage, and belligerency. Phoebe Pember summed up Southern women’s devotion best when she wrote, “women of the South had been openly and violently rebellious from the moment they thought their states’ rights touched. They incited the men to struggle in support of their views, and whether right or wrong, sustained them nobly to the end. They were the first to rebel – and the last to succumb.” (Rosen, 44)

The South’s small Jewish population adamantly sided with their Southern neighbors and so did their women. The majority of these Jewish women were not recent immigrants, but American born and shared the lifestyle and values of their Christian counterparts. As Hasia Diner and Beryl Lieff Benderly write “Rosana [Osterman], the Levy sisters, and the Natchez M[a]yer daughters were not, of course, recent immigrants but rather the American-born descendants of earlier migrant generations. But they, like Jews throughout the country, both newly arrived and long established, saw themselves as wholehearted Americans and fashioned their lives and identities in response to an American reality quite unlike anything Jews had ever experienced elsewhere.” (Diner and Benderly, 106) These women were Jewish southern belles and lived their lives accordingly.

These Southern Jewish women were integrated in Southern society, and were attached to lifestyle they had become accustomed to, and as the war demonstrated Southerners and the Confederacy were more tolerant of Jews than the Union army that ravaged the South, Southern Jewish recognized this and devotedly aligned themselves with their beloved South at all costs. As the doyen of American Jewish history Jacob Rader Marcus writes, “The Southern Jewesses were fanatically, almost hysterically, passionate in their sympathies for their new regime. Were they trying to prove that they were more ardent than their neighbors? Why?” (Marcus, 31)

The Levys were a prominent Southern Jewish family and once the Civil War broke-out; they were loyal to the Confederate cause. Two of the sisters, Eugenia Levy Phillips and her younger sister Phoebe Yates Levy Pember would be remembered in history as ardent Confederates, expressing their devotion at opposite extremes. Phoebe Pember took up nursing the wounded confederates; one of the more common and respectable ways Southern women showed their devotion. She was one of the South’s most remembered female hospital matrons and nurse in the largest military hospital in Confederacy during the Civil War. Pember was the chief matron at Hospital Number Two at Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, from 1862 to 1865. Pember’s older sister Eugenia however, was such an ardent Confederate that her devotion to the cause showed no boundaries, and she is remembered for supposedly being a Confederate spy and for rebelling against the one of the Union’s fiercest generals, Benjamin Butler, who was as known for his hatred of Confederacy as much as his anti-Semitic attitudes.

Eugenia Levy Phillips was born in Charleston in 1819, and was the daughter of Jacob Clavius Levy, a merchant, and Fanny Yates Levy, an actress. She married U.S. Congressman Philip Phillips of Mobile, Alabama when she was 16, and went on to have nine children. Phillips was a leading figure in Alabama politics from the 1830s to the 1850s when he was elected to the United States Congress in 1852. After one term in Congress, he established a law practice in Washington, D.C. where the Phillips remained in Washington throughout the Southern states secession from the Union. Eugenia and her husband differed greatly in their political beliefs; Phillips was a Unionist, while Eugenia was probably one of the fiercest secessionists in the District of Columbia. Eugenia also socialized with other secessionists and women suspected of spying on the Union for the Confederacy, particularly Rose O’Neal Greenhow, well-known Confederate spy. Eugenia Phillips writing in journal claimed, “American women knew nothing of war, believed less in the cruelties and fearful vindictiveness of the Federal governm[en]t. Thus the Southern women gave free expression to the feelings which habit had made but second nature, and spoke of their hatred and determination to sustain their rights by encouraging in their husbands, sons, and fathers every resistance to tyranny exhibited by the Republicans.” (Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862)

Eugenia’s associations and excessive antagonism toward the Union made her a target for government surveillance. On August 24, 1861, Federal officers came into Eugenia and Phillip Phillips home arresting the both of them. Phillip remained under house arrest for a week, but Eugenia and two of their daughters, Fanny and Caroline as well as Eugenia’s sister Martha Levy where taken to Rose Greenhow’s house to be imprisoned. The Union arrested Greenhow the previous day for relaying to Confederate General McDowell plans for the first Manassas Campaign. There all five women remained imprisoned in two rooms in Greenhow’s attic with hardly any amenities. Eugenia Phillips described it in her journal, “The stove (broken) served us for table and washstand, while a punch bowl grew into a washbasin. Two filthy straw mattresses kept us warm, and Yankee soldiers were placed at our bedroom door to prevent our escape.” (Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862)

Despite the fact that Union officers had no evidence to charge her and her family they for a crime, they still kept them imprisoned occasionally allowing Phillip Phillips who had since been released to visit and bring food baskets, albeit under strict Union supervision. Eugenia believed her loyalty to her country should not be considered a crime to imprison her for, writing in her memoir she claimed; “Again I ask what is my crime? If an ardent attachment to the land of my birth and expression of deepest sympathy with relatives and friends in the South constitute treason -than I am indeed a traitor. If hostility towards black Republicanism, its sentiment and policy-it is a crime-and I am self-condemned…!”  Rosen, 288

Southern women were outraged at the North’s treatment of women with no reason, especially the imprisonment of Eugenia’s two daughters. Phillips had to use his influence with Edward Stanton, Senator Reverdy Johnson from Maryland, and Supreme Court Justice James M. Wayne who was the former mayor of Savannah to secure his family’s release. However, the Union exiled the Phillips family from the nation’s capital and forced them to relocate to the Southern states. The whole family was also required to take an oath as a condition of their parole to “not to take illegal actions against the Union”

It would not very long for Eugenia to again to make a breech of that agreement, after leaving Washington, to they first traveled to Norfolk, Virginia and then on to Richmond through Savannah and eventually settled in New Orleans in the closing weeks of 1861. Although conditions were unfavorable for Phillip to create a law practice, the family settled there because the Phillips believed they were safe from the Union army invasion in the Deep South, and therefore Eugenia would be safe from suspicion. By April however, the Union army was closing in on the Mississippi River, and News Orleans surrendered on April 29, 1862.

By May 1, 1862, Major General Benjamin F. Butler of Massachusetts took over command of the city. Butler tried to control the city with an iron fist, known as “beast” Butler’s barbaric behavior proceeded him and the historian Bertram Wallace Korn describes Butler as a “conniving careerist and political opportunist of major proportions, who was given the title of “Beast” by the Confederacy for his severity during the early military occupation of New Orleans.” (Korn, 164) While historian Robert Rosen writes, “‘Beast’ Butler was the worst, the Union Army had to offer. He was nicknamed spoons for thiefery of spoons and silverware imputed to him and his soldiers.” (Rosen, 290)

In addition to this reputation as a beast, Butler was also a known anti-Semite, who throughout the war openly expressed his hatred for Jews, and he let out most this aggression on Southern Jewry. Korn transcribes Butler’s sentiments towards Jews, “They were a tightly-knit and highly-organized nation who set themselves apart and defended themselves against others even when one of their group was wrong. They were all ‘traders, merchants, and bankers.’ He said that the only Jews he ever knew had ‘been principally engaged in the occupations [i.e. smuggling] which caused the capture which has occasioned this correspondence.’ They were supporting the Confederacy with whole heart – ‘two of them certainly are in the Confederate Cabinet.'” (Korn, 164)

When General Butler occupied New Orleans in May 1862, the Southern population treated the Yankees with such contempt that they refused to comply with Federal orders. Southerners formed mobs to attack Union soldiers; they refused to serve Yankees in their businesses; priests refused to pray for the President of the United States, and one man was even sentenced to be hung for burning the Union flag. Despite the harsh punishments the Yankee soldiers issued to New Orleans’ men, the women of New Orleans believed these rules did not apply to them, that they were exempt from all harsh treatments because of their gender. Many of New Orleans’ women ran amuck being extremely belligerent to Union officials.

The majority of the women who acted in this manner were upper class. As historian Drew Gilpin Faust writes, Butler “recognized that the perpetrators were generally young, often ‘pretty and interesting,’ and frequently socially prominent, the kind of individuals who would attract both attention and sympathy if harsh measures turned them into martyrs. (Faust, 209) At the same time, however, Butler knew he had to control their actions, for as Butler recalled in his memoir, “a city could hardly be said to be under good government where such things were permitted.” (Butler, 417) On May 15 in retaliation to the women’s disrespectful behavior Butler issued his infamous General Order No. 28, known as the “Women order.” Butler designed the order to force the women of New Orleans to practice restraint and avoid having hostile outbursts towards Yankee soldiers, or they would face dire consequences:

General Order No. 28. As the officers and soldiers of the United States have been subject to repeated insults from the women (calling themselves ladies) of New Orleans . . . it is ordered that hereafter when any female shall, by word, gesture, or movement, insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States, she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation. (Butler, 421, 418; Faust, 210).

The order put Eugenia Phillips in danger of yet again being imprisoned because of her fierce loyalty to the Confederacy, and her utter disregard and respect for the Union. Phillips was vulnerable to Butler’s wrath, because she was Jewish and a member of the city’s Confederate aristocracy, both of which Butler despised. In attempt to avoid Butler’s anger Eugenia and the Phillips family remained for the most part at home. However, Eugenia still managed to fall into Butler’s fury. The Phillips’ house was situated next to the city hall, and the day of Union Officer Lieutenant DeKay’s funeral procession passed by the street, Butler caught Eugenia blurting out in laughter and cheering on the terrace of her home. As Benjamin Butler biographer Hans L. Trefousse writes “High spirited and intensely loyal to the Confederacy, she had been in trouble before when she was apprehended for espionage in Washington. This time, not espionage but merriment was to prove her undoing.” (Trefousse, 118)

Although Eugenia denied she laughed because or at of the funeral procession. There have been two accounts explaining why she was laughing. First Eugenia’s daughter Caroline claims it was because Eugenia heard of a Confederate victory and was in a celebratory mood, while other accounts including Eugenia’s own excuse, claim she was laughing at the antics of her younger children at a children’s party. At first when Butler called her to the Customs House, as Rosen writes, “Eugenia, active in raising money for the widow of a man executed by Butler for having hauled down the flag from the federal mint, believed she was being prosecuted for her pro-Southern beliefs.” (Rosen, 291) At the Customs House Butler screamed at Eugenia, “You are seen laughing and mocking at the remains of a Federal officer. I do not call you a common woman of the town, but an uncommonly vulgar one, and I sentence you to Ship Island for the War.” Eugenia reply further angered Butler as she wrote “Again my insolence aroused this son of liberty, particularly as in reply to his accusation I had said: ‘I was in good spirits the day of the funeral.'” (Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862)

Eugenia’s response and her refusal to plead and beg Butler led to her harsh punishment rather than her original crime. As she explained in her journal, “I noted that he took a mighty long time to write my sentence, and I suspected that he hoped by delay I would throw myself on his mercy, or beg his pardon, or promise never to do so again. Nothing of this kind ever crossed my brain, and, full of holy indignation and determination to meet with silent contempt this outrageous insult, I quietly folded my arms and looked on him while he wrote. Not a word of appeal or explanation broke the ominous silence. My accuser had made the charge and sentenced me without judge or jury.” (Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862)

Butler wrote in Special Order No. 150 delineating Eugenia Phillips’ sentence, “…having been once imprisoned for her traitorous proclivities and acts at Washington, and released by the clemency of the Government, and having been found training her children to spit on officers of the United States, for which act of one of those children both her husband and herself apologized and were again forgiven, [she] is now found on the balcony of her house during the passage of the funeral procession of Lieut. DeKay, laughing and mocking at his remains, and upon being inquired of by the Commanding General if this fact were so, contemptuously replies, “I was in good spirits that day.” Korn, 164; Special Order No. 150

Trefousse believes Eugenia’s punishment was a result of Butler’s anti-Semitism “It is possible that Butler’s severity toward the lady had something to do with the fact that she was Jewish while he was anti-Semitic.” However, Eugenia’s reactions were not only pro-Confederate but she also personally resented Butler, and his disregard and disrespect for Southern white womanhood. Thomas Cooper DeLeon a friend of the Phillips family described Eugenia’s resentment in his memoir, Belles, Beaux, and Brains of the 60’s: “But in truth it was Mrs. Phillips’s contempt of the general and her cool sarcasm that caused her imprisonment. Haled before him, she laughed equally at the charge and at his authority to war on women.”  Rosen, 88

Butler ordered Eugenia to remain on Ship Island situated off the Mississippi coast and a known yellow fever quarantine station; the island was a mosquito filled placed. In the summer, the heat could be fatal while hygiene and proper food was hard to come by. Eugenia described what her sentence and life imprisoned would be like; “I listened in respectful attention to my banishment to Ship Island, to be fed on soldiers’ rations, to be denied communication with everyone, to be allowed one servant to cook my rations, and a few other humane emanations.” (Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862) Butler allowed Eugenia to have one servant to accompany and attend to her during her imprisonment, and she took her loyal servant Phebe with her. She was also not allowed to communicate with anyone but Butler and her maid, any letters she wrote her family were reviewed by Union guards, and only after she was freed did her family truly learn about her living conditions on the island.

On June 30, 1862 Eugenia commenced her imprisonment, first living in a former railroad boxcar and then in an abandoned post office building. Butler allowed Mr. Phillips to send Eugenia some food mostly beans and spoiled beef, and she would not have survived with Phebe’s assistance. The harsh conditions took a heavy toll on Eugenia Phillips; the rotten conditions including the deprivation of food nearly destroyed her health, and Eugenia suffered from brain fever, which was considered nervous exhaustion. Her continued pride and loyalty to the Confederacy was the main reason Butler did not released Eugenia earlier. As she writes in her journal, “The “great” Gen. Butler sent once a week to inquire after my health. He, no doubt, hoped I would at last cringe and beg. Thank God, who gave me strength and patience to keep me from this black stain.” (Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862)

September 11, 1862, after nearly three months on Ship Island, Butler finally released Eugenia. When she arrived home when her husband opened the door for her , and believed as Eugenia later wrote, Phillip “thought it was my ghost,” he was not certain she was still alive by that point. (Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862) Publicly while she was imprisoned her whereabouts were vague, as Eugenia explains, “Butler gave out the idea that I had been “released after a few days’ confinement,” so that everyone, including my family in Georgia, believed that I was safe.” (Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862)

Throughout her time there, Eugenia was able to send out a few letters to her family, which described the “gruesome” and inhuman conditions she was forced to live in; these letters according to George Rable “made her imprisonment a cause célèbre.” Eugenia’s imprisonment caused uproar from Southerners, those who knew Eugenia and those who did not. The press throughout the country carried the story. Most people believed the sentence was too harsh for the crime. Korn explains, “The war which Butler waged upon this Jewess and other Southern women made him the Confederacy’s “Public Enemy Number One,” with a price upon his head.” (Korn, 164) The citizens of New Orleans visited the Phillips’ family home as a sign of support.

The Jewish community and other Southern women abhorred the treatment that Eugenia was receiving at the hands of Butler. Mary Chesnut, a Christian friend of Eugenia Phillips wrote in A Diary from Dixie, “Mrs. Phillips, another beautiful and clever Jewess, has been put in prison again by “Beast” Butler for laughing as a Yankee funeral procession went by.” (Chesnut, 266) There was even talk of Southerners planning to rescue Eugenia. According to Trefousse “It was a sentence as harsh as it was sensational. Southerners talked of rescuing the lady, but they lacked the necessary ships and found it impossible to carry out their chivalrous plan. Butler pardoned her in September, two and a half months after her arrest, but this action did not dispel the popular belief that he was a cruel tyrant.” Trefousse, 118

Butler regretted that Eugenia’s imprisonment had the opposite affect than he wanted to project. He wanted to make Eugenia’s treasonous behavior towards the Union an example of what happened to women who display such behavior just because they are women and believed they were beyond punishment. Instead, as Rable writes Butler turned “an irksome rebel into a martyr,” which was the main reason he chose to release her from Ship Island. Eugenia Phillips according to Rable “had shown considerable public relations acumen, and her prison journal reveals an ironic sense of humor, especially in her wry proposal to use a steam device to pump moisture into the rock-hard bread. Though not exactly besting Butler, she had played the wily Massachusetts politician to a draw.” (Clinton, 142) Despite the cruel punishment that awaited her, Eugenia remained loyal to the Confederacy. As William Garett noted “her proud Southern spirit never quailed and she remained firm to the last in the opinions she had expressed.” (Rosen, 293)

Eugenia Levy Phillips’ devotion to the Confederacy appeared “unquestionable,” as Lauren Winner describes, Eugenia’s actions were beyond what was required of any Southern women supporting the war. Although Eugenia was Jewish and a practicing Jew, she saw herself especially during the war as primarily a Southerner who would support her country at all costs, which she did. As a white Southern women fully integrated in Southern society, and acquainted with the Christian elite of Confederate society including Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ wife, she did not believe the imprisonments she endured was too much, because it was all done for her country. Eugenia Phillips as Winner explains, “was so unswerving in her devotion to the Confederate cause that the Union suspected her of being a spy.” (Clinton, 195) Eugenia Phillips and her sister Phoebe Pember have been the Southern Jewish women most remembered by historians, and their devotion has been elevated beyond their religion, which was the hope of most of the Southern Jewish women that volunteered in support of the cause.

Sources and Further Reading

Benjamin F. Butler, Autobiography and Personal Reminiscences of Major-General Benjamin F. Butler, (Thayer, 1892).

Mary Boykin Miller Chestnut, Ben Williams Ames, ed., A Diary from Dixie, (Harvard University Press, 1980).

Catherine Clinton, Nina Silber, eds., Divided Houses: Gender and the Civil War, (Oxford University Press, 1992).

Drew Gilpin Faust, Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War, (University of North Carolina Press, 1996).

Bertram Wallace Korn, American Jewry and the Civil War, (Jewish Publication Society, 1951).

Jacob R. Marcus, The American Jewish Woman: A Documentary History, (Ktav Pub. House; American Jewish Archives, 1981).

Eugenia Phillips, Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862.

Samuel Proctor, et al., eds., Jews of the South: Selected Essays from the Southern Jewish Historical Society, (Mercer University Press, 1984).

Robert Rosen, The Jewish Confederates, (University of South Carolina Press, 2000.)

Special Order No. 150, Headquarters Department of the Gulf, June 30, 1862.

Hans L. Trefousse, Ben Butler: The South Called Him Beast!, (Twayne Publishers, 1957).

Tulane: Caught in the Middle of a Disaster

HISTORY ARTICLES

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HNN, 9-02-05

Tulane: Caught in the Middle of a Disaster

By Bonnie Goodman

Ms. Goodman is a graduate student at Concordia University and an Assistant Editor at HNN.

This past week hurricane Katrina ripped through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama with New Orleans suffering some of the worst devastation as water levels rose throughout the city, leading to an unprecedented peace-time order to evacuate the entire area.. Students at Tulane University were set to start classes this week. At first the university was hopeful that it would be possible to resume classes on September 1. Soon that date was pushed back to September 7, but with 80 percent of the city flooded the university is uncertain now when the school will reopen. However, with the entire city being evacuated hope seems gone for this semester, if not longer.

Presently the university has relocated, and is now making its administrative headquarters in Houston, Texas. The university’s regular web server is down but Tulane University president Scott Cowan has been managing an emergency page on the Tulane site updating the university community and the public on the school’s status.

Starting last Saturday Tulane officials ordered students to evacuate the university. Tulane arranged for twelve buses to take students to nearby Jackson State University in Mississippi, where it was believed they would be safe. Students had just arrived for the academic year and were reluctant to leave; only 700 of the university’s 13,000 students chose to evacuate. Most stayed on campus never believing the magnitude of the disaster about to befall the city. The situation was no better at Jackson State where the Associated Press reported on August 31 that the university “suffered power outages, darkening the wood-floored gymnasium where the Tulane students were staying. On Tuesday, the gym’s bathrooms went out of service.” Students relocated again on Wednesday to Atlanta’s Georgia Tech University and Dallas’s Southern Methodist University; universities in the two closest cities not affected by Katrina.

University President Cowan reported on September 1, 2005 that there were faculty and staff who remained on campus, living in unsatisfactory conditions. The entire uptown campus was evacuated with only a “core team of public safety and facilities personnel” remaining. Cowan reported that “All of the students who were evacuated to Jackson State University in Mississippi have returned to their homes or are in the process of returning to their homes.”

Campus buildings themselves survived the storm nearly intact, accordimng to the president:”The campus did sustain some damage, though it generally fared very well during the storm. There are many downed trees, some buildings sustained water damage, and some roofing tiles were damaged. The necessary repairs are manageable. The dorms are intact and students’ belongings are safe.”

HNN has been paying special attention to the situation for students and faculty of Tulane’s history department. HNN has set up the Katrina Blog for Tulane History Students & Faculty to help students and professors to communicate. Lists of missing professors and students have been posted along with offers from volunteers ready to offer assistance and housing.

History Department chairman Jim Boyden, safe in Baton Rouge, notified HNN about the history department’s current status. Boyden sadly confessed that he has ” no two-way communication with Tulane administrators,” but added, “I’m very confident that we’ll have answers to basic questions and be able to begin reconstituting the department soon.”

With Tulane’s undergraduate and graduate students having no place to attend classes and with faculty having nowhere to teach; universities across the country are offering to take in Tulane students and faculty for the fall semester, and perhaps the rest of the academic year if need be. Many of these universities will be waiving tuition for the fall semester, while others are offering in-state tuition rates. Early offers were from Atlanta’s Georgia Tech and Dallas’s Southern Methodist University. Approximately 275 Tulane students chose to go to Atlanta, and another 140 went to Dallas including the football team, coaches and training staff. According to the AP “Georgia Tech and Southern Methodist were providing rooms, food, telephones, computer access and free airport shuttle services to the Tulane students and staff.”

Both Cornell University in New York and Texas A&M University have notified HNN via the blog of their offers to admit Tulane students. Cornell University President Hunter R. Rawlings announced that the university will take in some of Tulane’s undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and will possibly allow Tulane faculty to teach as visiting professors. Cornell has set up a site with more information. Texas A&M will let in students from Tulane and surrounding universities in New Orleans including Dillard, Southern, Xavier, and Loyola Universities and the University of New Orleans. Additional universities extending offers include: Yale University in Connecticut; Loyola University in Chicago, Syracuse University in New York; Rice University in Texas; Boston University in Massachusetts; and McGill University in Montreal, Canada among others.

In his most recent post on the Tulane site University President Cowan expressed his gratitude for exterior support for the university writing “When possible, I’ve been trying to scan the student web blogs and am deeply touched beyond words by your support and passion. Your loyalty to Tulane University is touching and vital to our recovery plan.”

Related Links

HNN Katrina Blog for Tulane History Students & Faculty
Hot Topics: Katrina
Tulane University Emergency Information
Cornell Special Katrina Admission Information

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