April 29, 2009: President Barack Obama’s 100 Days Press Conference

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

White House Photo collage

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • CNN Poll of Polls compiled early Wednesday: 63 percent say they approve of how Obama is handling his duties
  • Doing the math on Obama’s 100 daysAP, 4-29-09
  • Key events in Obama’s first 100 daysAP, 4-29-09
  • Delivering on Change, an Inside Look: Pete Souza and the White House Photo Office bring us an exclusive, massive, unique look at the President’s term so far. Take a few minutes to get a different perspective from the images on television every day.- WH, 4-28-09
  • Barack Obama’s First 100 DaysTime, 4-29-09
  • 100-Day Diary: Making New Policies, Reversing Old OnesNYT, 4-29-09
  • Photos: Behind the Scenes with Obama: TIME photographer Callie Shell documents the President’s historic start on the job – Time, 4-29-09
  • FACT CHECK: Obama disowns deficit he helped shape: “That wasn’t me,” President Barack Obama said on his 100th day in office, disclaiming responsibility for the huge budget deficit waiting for him on Day One. It actually was him _ and the other Democrats controlling Congress the previous two years _ who shaped a budget so out of balance…. – Rapid City Journal, 4-29-09

THE HEADLINES….

Jim Wilson/The New York Times President Obama conducted a prime-time news conference on his 100th day in office. More Photos >

The Headlines…

  • Live Blogging the President’s News ConferenceNYT, 4-29-09
  • Obama ‘Gravely Concerned’ About Pakistan: President Obama said Wednesday that he was “gravely concerned” about the stability of the Pakistani government but that he was confident Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal would not fall into the hands of Islamic militants…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Analysis: Obama channels FDR amid crises: Banks failing and the economy in shambles, the new U.S. president reassured a nationwide audience that his administration was putting America back on the right track. “It was the government’s job to straighten out this situation and do it as quickly as possible,” Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in the first of a series of radio addresses dubbed fireside chats, “and the job is being performed.”
    More than seven decades later, Barack Obama borrowed heavily from FDR’s playbook as he tried to slip as effortlessly into the role of comforter in chief. “Every American should know that their entire government is taking the utmost precautions and preparations,” Obama said of the flu outbreak Wednesday night…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • The President’s 100th Day: NYT, 4-29-09
  • 100 days of Obama: Turning peril into possibility: Barack Obama opened his presidency by drawing an unflinching portrait of the challenges. Then he set about turning those perils into possibilities.
    In a dizzying dash to the 100-day mark, Obama made a down payment on the changes he’d promised and delivered a trillion-dollar wallop to wake up the moribund economy. He put the country on track to end one war, reorient another and redefine what it means to be a superpower…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • Obama proud of his first 100 days: Though he will tell the nation he is ‘pleased with our progress,’ according to advance excerpts from the White House, he will acknowledge there are challenges ahead. – LAT, 4-29-09
  • Obama “Pleased” but “Not Satisfied” With Progress: President to Look Ahead to the Next 100 Days in his Prime Time News Conference – ABC News, 4-29-09
  • 100 days in, Obama is a man of many hats: From reluctant CEO to chief U.S. medical adviser, President Barack Obama showed how many hats he wears at a news conference marking his 100th day in office on Wednesday. Shrugging off critics who say he has taken on too many tasks in his young presidency, Obama said all the issues had landed in his lap at the same time and had to be dealt with simultaneously…. – Reuters, 4-29-09
  • Obama returns to theme of hope on 100th day of presidency: He says he is ‘pleased . . . but not satisfied’ with his administration’s progress in the face of major issues including the economy and swine flu…. – LAT, 4-29-09
  • Obama calls first 100 days tense but fruitful: Marking his symbolic 100th day in office, President Barack Obama told Midwesterners Wednesday: “I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made but I’m not satisfied.” “I’m confident in the future but I’m not content with the present,” the president told a town-hall style event in a St. Louis suburb… – AP, 4-29-09
  • Obama Marks First 100 Days, Defends Changes to Interrogation Policies: President Obama held the third prime-time press conference of his term after holding two other high-profile events, to mark the end of the opening phase of a presidency that has pressed an ambitious agenda even as it has been hit with mounting domestic and international challenges…. – Fox News, 4-29-09
  • Michelle Obama’s first 100 days: Michelle Obama’s first 100 days certainly seem to have been fun, be it spent opening the White House Easter egg hunt, or walking Bo the dog. Mrs Obama has played the role of the President’s wife in a traditional manner, accompanying him at state functions and, like many First Wives before, she has spoken out on issues she feels passionately about. But she has put her own twist on some of those moments; placing her arm affectionately around the Queen at a Buckingham Palace reception, and getting on her hands and knees to show her support for organic foods in a practical way, by planting vegetables in the White House garden…. – BBC News, 4-29-09
  • Congressional Spouses Join First Lady at Food Bank: First Lady Michelle Obama handed out packages of whole grain rotini to the eager volunteers while Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, passed out organic fruit snacks. They were joined by a veritable service brigade of Congressional spouses, more than 150 in all, who gathered on Wednesday to fill grocery bags with canned corn, canned chicken, granola cereal, spaghetti sauce and other items to help feed hundreds of hungry children in the Washington area. The human assembly line of service was organized by Mrs. Obama, who decided to spend her 100th day as first lady volunteering at the Capital Area Food Bank and got a little help from the wives and husbands of the nation’s lawmakers…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Jonathan Alter “Scoring Obama’s First 100 Days”: With all that the president has done, he’s in league, so far, with FDR and LBJ. But early success is just that…. – Newsweek, 4-29-09
  • Obama ‘hopeful’ for resolution for Chrysler: President Barack Obama says he is “very hopeful” for a resolution that keeps Chrysler a viable auto company. Chrysler has borrowed $4 billion from the government since the beginning of the year and could soon be in danger of running out of cash without more help. The government in March rejected Chrysler’s restructuring plan and gave it 30 days — until Thursday — to make another effort… – AP, 4-29-09
  • Obama says waterboarding was torture: President Barack Obama said Wednesday night that waterboarding authorized by former President George W. Bush was torture and that the information it gained from terror suspects could have been obtained by other means. “In some cases, it may be harder,” he conceded at a White House news conference capping a whirlwind first 100 days in office…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • Obama say tough economy means ‘more will be lost’: President Barack Obama is warning that “more will be lost” during a recession that has already cost millions of Americans their homes and their jobs…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • Congress adopts budget plan endorsing Obama goals: Democrats in Congress capped President Barack Obama’s 100th day in office by advancing a $3.4 trillion federal budget for next year — a third of it borrowed — that prevents Republicans from blocking his proposed trillion-dollar expansion of government-provided health care over the next decade….
    “It’s a budget that reduces taxes, lowers the deficit and creates jobs,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “It honors the three pillars of the Obama initiatives: energy, health care and education.” – AP, 4-29-09
  • Obama addresses town hall meeting on 100th day: “We’ve begun the work of remaking America,” he says in Missouri…. Obama warns that progress comes from “hard work, not miracles”…. He held a prime-time news conference later Wednesday…. – CNN, 4-29-09
  • In a Mo. school, Obama delivers 100-day report card: Visiting the only battleground state he lost on election day, President Obama told an adoring crowd in this St. Louis suburb that he was glad to be back in middle America “where common sense often reigns.” Obama held a town hall-style meeting in the gymnasium of Arnold’s Fox Senior High School. Several hundred supporters greeted him with ovations and cheered as he took questions, outlined his policies and joked with audience members…. – USA Today, 4-29-09
  • White House Welcomes Specter: Senator Arlen Specter, the Republican-turned-Democrat, received a hearty welcome at the White House on Wednesday morning, flanked by President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in a high-level show of unity for the newest member of their caucus. In an unexpected calendar moment on the 100th day of Mr. Obama’s administration, the three officials all reminisced about their work together in the Senate just a short while ago. The vice president opened the embrace, noting that he and Mr. Specter had long talked over issues while riding the Amtrak trains together in their commutes to and from their respective homes in Delaware and Pennsylvania…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Obama: The 99th Day: Welcome to The Oval. It’s Day 99 of the Obama presidency. Just a few days of 100-day stories left! This is also the birthday of former President James Monroe…. Obama — who on Wednesday’s 100th day holds a town hall in Missouri and a news conference at the White House — has a relatively low key agenda today, at least publicly… – USA Today 4-28-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President at a town hall in Missouri
(President Barack Obama addresses a town hall at Fox High School in Arnold, Missouri on April 29, 2009.
White House Photo, Pete Souza)

Political Quotes

  • “We are off to a good start. But it is just a start. I am proud of what we have achieved, but I am not content. I am pleased with our progress, but I am not satisfied.” — President Barack Obama, 4-29-09
  • “I have the best job being first lady. I think I have the best job in the White House because… I don’t have to deal with the hard problems everyday….but I get to do the fun stuff. And there’s so much fun to be had with service.” — Michelle Obama response to questions from the children of White House employees on what it is like to be the First Lady. BBC News, 4-29-09
  • Transcript President Obama’s 100th-Day Press Briefing: Following is a transcript of President Obama’s press briefing as he marks his 100th day in office, as transcribed by Federal News Service…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Text of Obama’s news conference Wednesday: Text of President Barack Obama’s news conference on Wednesday at the White House, as transcribed by CQ Transcriptions:
    OBAMA: Before we begin tonight, I just want to provide everyone with a few brief updates on some of the challenges w’re dealing with right now.
    First, we are continuing to closely monitor the emergency cases of the H1N1 flu virus throughout the United States. As I said this morning, this is obviously a very serious situation, and every American should know that their entire government is taking the utmost precautions and preparations.
    Our public health officials have recommended that schools with confirmed or suspected cases of this flu strongly consider temporarily closing. And if more schools are forced to close, we’ve recommended that both parents and businesses think about contingency plans if their children do have to stay home.
    I’ve requested an immediate $1.5 billion in emergency funding from Congress to support our ability to monitor and track this virus and to build our supply of antiviral drugs and other equipment. And we will also ensure that those materials get to where they need to be as quickly as possible.
    And, finally, I’ve asked every American to take the same steps you would take to prevent any other flu: Keep your hands washed; cover your mouth when you cough; stay home from work if you’re sick; and keep your children home from school if they’re sick.
    We’ll continue to provide regular updates to the American people as we receive more information. And everyone should rest assured that this government is prepared to do whatever it takes to control the impact of this virus.
    The second thing I’d like to mention is how gratified I am that the House and the Senate passed a budget resolution today that will serve as an economic blueprint for this nation’s future.
    I especially want to thank Leader Reid, Speaker Pelosi, all of the members of Congress who worked so quickly and effectively to make this blueprint a reality.
    This budget builds on the steps we’ve taken over the last 100 days to move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity.
    We began by passing a Recovery Act that has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs and provided a tax cut to 95 percent of all working families. We passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for 11 million American children whose parents work full time. And we launched a housing plan that has already contributed to a spike in the number of homeowners who are refinancing their mortgages, which is the equivalent of another tax cut.
    But even as we clear away the wreckage of this recession, I’ve also said that we can’t go back to an economy that’s built on a pile of sand, on inflated home prices and maxed-out credit cards, on overleveraged banks and outdated regulations that allow recklessness of a few to threaten the prosperity of all.
    We have to lay a new foundation for growth, a foundation that will strengthen our economy and help us compete in the 21st century. And that’s exactly what this budget begins to do.
    It contains new investments in education that will equip our workers with the right skills and training, new investments in renewable energy that will create millions of jobs and new industries, new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses, and new savings that will bring down our deficit.
    I also campaigned on the promise that I would change the direction of our nation’s foreign policy. And we’ve begun to do that, as well. We’ve begun to end the war in Iraq, and we forged with our NATO allies a new strategy to target al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    We have rejected the false choice between our security and our ideals by closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and banning torture without exception.
    And we’ve renewed our diplomatic efforts to deal with challenges ranging from the global economic crisis to the spread of nuclear weapons.
    So I think we’re off to a good start, but it’s just a start. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved, but I’m not content. I’m pleased with our progress, but I’m not satisfied.
    Millions of Americans are still without jobs and homes, and more will be lost before this recession is over. Credit is still not flowing nearly as freely as it should. Countless families and communities touched by our auto industry still face tough times ahead. Our projected long-term deficits are still too high, and government is still not as efficient as it needs to be.
    We still confront threats ranging from terrorism to nuclear proliferation, as well as pandemic flu. And all this means you can expect an unrelenting, unyielding effort from this administration to strengthen our prosperity and our security in the second hundred days, in the third hundred days and all of the days after that.
    You can expect us to work on health care reform that will bring down costs while maintaining quality, as well as energy legislation that will spark a clean-energy revolution. I expect to sign legislation by the end of this year that sets new rules of the road for Wall Street, rules that reward drive and innovation, as opposed to shortcuts and abuse.
    And we will also work to pass legislation that protects credit card users from unfair rate hikes and abusive fees and penalties. We’ll continue scouring the federal budget for savings and target more programs for elimination. And we will continue to pursue procurement reform that will greatly reduce the no-bid contracts that have wasted so many taxpayer dollars.
    So we have a lot of work left to do. It’s work that will take time, and it will take effort. But the United States of America, I believe, will see a better day.
    We will rebuild a stronger nation, and we will endure as a beacon for all of those weary travelers beyond our shores who still dream that there’s a place where all of this is possible.
    I want to thank the American people for their support and their patience during these trying times, and I look forward to working with you in the next hundred days, in the hundred days after that, all of the hundreds of days to follow to make sure that this country is what it can be.
    And with that, I will start taking some questions…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • Retrospective in Missouri: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN ARNOLD, MISSOURI TOWN HALL Today marks 100 days since I took the oath of office to be your President. (Applause.) One hundred days. It’s a good thing. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
    Now, back in November, some folks were surprised that we showed up in Springfield at the end of our campaign. But then again, some folks were surprised that we even started our campaign in the first place. (Laughter.) They didn’t give us much of a chance. They didn’t think we could do things differently. They didn’t know if this country was ready to move in a new direction.
    But here’s the thing — my campaign wasn’t born in Washington. My campaign was rooted in neighborhoods just like this one, in towns and cities all across America; rooted in folks who work hard and look after their families and seek a brighter children — future for their children and for their communities and for their country.
    “I want to warn you, there will be setbacks. It will take time. But I promise you I will always tell you the truth about the challenges that we face and the steps that we are taking to meet them.”… – WH Blog, 4-29-09
    Transcript: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN ARNOLD, MISSOURI TOWN HALL
  • Obama addresses town hall meeting on 100th day: “I’ve come back to report to you, the American people, that we have begun to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, and we’ve begun the work of remaking America…. I’m confident in the future, but not I’m not content with the present. You know the progress comes from hard choices and hard work, not miracles. I’m not a miracle worker.”
    Obama acknowledged challenges of “unprecedented size and scope,” including the recession. These challenges, he said, could not be met with “half measures.” “They demand action that is bold and sustained. They call on us to clear away the wreckage of a painful recession, But also, at the same time, lay the building blocks for a new prosperity. And that’s the work that we’ve begun over these first 100 days…. There’s no mystery to what we’ve done; the priorities that we’ve acted upon were the things that we said we’d do during the campaign.” – CNN, 4-29-09
  • NYT Interview with President Obama: After the Great Recession: This was the NYT third interview about the economy, the first two occurring during last year’s campaign. And while the setting was decidedly more formal this time — the Oval Office — the interview felt as conversational as those earlier ones. The NYT sat at the far end of the office from his desk and spoke for 50 minutes. None of his economic advisers were there. As the conversation progressed, Obama spoke in increasingly personal terms….. – NYT, 4-28-09
  • White House Welcomes Arlen Specter: “I was unwilling to subject my 29-year-record in the United States Senate to the Pennsylvania Republican electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania and I will continue to do just that.” – NYT, 4-29-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Michelle Obama and lawmakers' spouses pack bags of food for needy families.Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press Michelle Obama and lawmakers’ spouses pack bags of food for needy families.

Historians’ Comments

  • Anthony Badger: Why Use 100 Days to Evaluate a New President? From rescuing the U.S. from a deepening recession to re-examining U.S. strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Barack Obama has set a busy agenda — earning praise from some and questions from others on its ambitious scope: Anthony Badger, Paul Mellon professor of American History and master of Clare College at Cambridge University and author of “FDR: The First Hundred Days” expands on the importance of a president’s first few months in office.”The president has his greatest power coming out of his electoral mandate on day one. And how you establish priorities in those first few weeks are very important for your entire presidency,” Badger said…. – PBS Newshour, 4-29-09
  • David McCullough “Author warns against ‘instant history’ of Obama’s first 100 days during Drew U. speech”: If it takes at least 50 years to fully appraise history, as historian and author David McCullough told a classroom of Drew University students this morning, then using the first 100 days of a presidency as a benchmark for performance is futile. But even as McCullough, speaking on the 100th day of President Barack Obama’s term in office, called the 100-day assessment “contrived,” he had high praise for the commander-in-chief.
    “I think we have an extraordinary president. He has the makings of one of the most remarkable presidents ever,” said McCullough, 75, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for his books on American history. “The man is amazing… He has the capability to move people with words.” – The Star-Ledger, 4-29-09
  • Andrew Polsky “100 days of Obama: Turning peril into possibility”: “You’d be hard put to find another president facing those kinds of challenges who has acted as intelligently and aggressively to meet the challenges head on,” said presidential historian Andrew Polsky, a professor at Hunter College in New York. “He hasn’t pushed things to the back burner. Of course, whether any of this works is another question, and it’s too soon to know that.” – AP, 4-29-09
  • Julian E. Zelizer “Obama’s first 100 days So far, this president gets strong marks”: But you won’t hear much about race in the 100-day assessments even though that is what makes his presidency historic. “Americans of all colors can get used to an African-American president to the point where that is not what they are thinking about,” said Julian E. Zelizer, a presidential expert at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. “A Republican may hate him because he is a Democrat and too liberal. But it is not race that is the issue.”… “We’ve seen him maintain the tone and demeanor of his campaign,” said Zelizer. “Cool, collected and deliberative have remained pretty much what we’ve seen of him now that he is president.” Importantly, said Zelizer, “This is not a president struggling to find his way. . . . In general, he is in control of what is going on in the White House and in Washington.” – Sign on San Diego, 4-29-09
  • David Greenberg “Obama’s first 100 days So far, this president gets strong marks”: Historian David Greenberg of Rutgers said that “the real post-racial moment began on Jan. 20.” No one, he said, can contend it is racist to oppose Obama’s economic policies or appointments. Instead, those are being debated on their merits…. Most presidents have dreaded that first report card. Johnson, Nixon and Reagan were “obsessed by it,” said Greenberg. – Sign on San Diego, 4-29-09
  • Donald Ritchie “History’s Verdict: What 100 Days Can Reveal Past Presidents Have Veered From the Course They Set at the Start, but Their Early Days Still Provided Lasting Clues”: The idea that a president’s first 100 days are significant arose in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, as he pushed through a flurry of bills during the Great Depression. Ever since, presidents have been judged against that useful, if somewhat arbitrary, benchmark. Mr. Roosevelt “set an impossible standard,” says Donald Ritchie, a Senate historian and author of “Electing FDR.” “He was batting a thousand in his first 100 days.” – WSJ, 4-29-09
  • Richard Norton Smith “Obama Overthrows Reagan’s Government-Bad Dogma to Rescue Market “: “It’s profound,” says presidential historian Richard Norton Smith of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. “There are very clearly taking place some long-term, even transforming shifts in priorities and resources.”…. – Bloomberg, 4-29-09
  • Douglas Brinkley “Obama’s 100 Days: Start of a journey”: Obama is “unflappable no matter what static or noise seems to surround him. He stays in a Zenlike mode,” – presidential historian Doug Brinkley…. Chicago Sun-Times, 4-29-09
  • US media on Obama’s first 100 days: Nearly every newspaper columnist, blogger and feature writer has had something to say about Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office…. – BBC News, 4-29-09
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April 29, 2009: President Obama’s First 100 Days

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

White House Photo collage

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • Key events in Obama’s first 100 daysAP, 4-27-09
  • CBS Poll: Blacks support Obama 96-0: Not surprisingly, President Obama’s approval numbers on the 100th day are very high. At 68%, the latest CBS/NYT poll shows widespread support for President Obama as a person, and the job he is doing. When you remove the Rasmussen daily tracker, which skews negatively for Obama for some reason, Obama’s average job approval is in the high 60s. But the CBS poll also broke the numbers down by race. Obama’s 62 percent approval rate among whites is very impressive. Among blacks, Obama’s job approval number is 96 percent, with zero disapproving. Four percent register DK/NA. – Moderate Voice, 4-27-09 CBS News
  • Poll Suggests Obama’s Term Is Altering Views on Race: Barack Obama’s presidency seems to be altering the public perception of race relations in the United States. Two-thirds of Americans now say race relations are generally good, and the percentage of blacks who say so has doubled since last July, according to the latest New York Times/ CBS News poll. Despite that, half of blacks still say whites have a better chance of getting ahead in American society, the poll found. Black Americans remain among the president’s staunchest supporters; 70 percent of black respondents now say the country is headed in the right direction, compared with 34 percent of whites…. – NYT, 4-27-09
  • As Nation’s Mood Lifts, Can Obama Capitalize?: The most striking finding from the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll released today is the change in the public mood. Since Barack Obama was elected president in November, the pervasive gloom of 2008 has given way to a sense of hopefulness and considerably more optimism about the state of the country. How much of this change is directly attributable to Obama’s leadership rather than the nascent signs of improvement will become fodder for the cable shows as the president’s 100th day arrives this week. What’s important is that he now enjoys the power of public confidence. He will need all the backing he can muster as he moves into what is likely to be an even more difficult phase of his presidency…. Among Democrats, 71 percent say the country is going in the right direction — the first time since 1999 that figure has hit the 70 percent mark. Among independents, 44 percent are positive — the highest since the fall of Baghdad in the spring of 2003. Republicans are far more pessimistic, with 27 percent saying the country is going in the right direction — but that’s still double what it was in February. – WaPo, 4-25-09
  • Poll: Public thinks highly of Obama: His opening months in the Oval Office have fortified Barack Obama’s standing with the American public, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, giving him political capital for battles ahead. As his 100th day as president approaches next Wednesday, the survey shows Obama has not only maintained robust approval ratings but also bolstered the sense that he is a strong and decisive leader who can manage the government effectively during a time of economic crisis. Since October, the percentage who see Obama as a “strong and decisive leader” has jumped 12 percentage points, and his image as an effective manager has gone up 11 points. Now, 56% say he has done an “excellent” or “good” job as president vs. 20% who rate him as “poor” or “terrible.” An additional 23% say he has done “just OK.” His excellent/good rating on national security is 53%. On the economy, it is 48%. – USA Today, 4-23-09
  • RCP Poll: President Obama Job Approval: RCP Average: +30.3% Approve 60.8% Disapprove 30.5%
  • Congressional Job Approval: RCP Average: -25.5% Approve 33.8% Disapprove 59.3%
  • Direction of Country: RCP Average: -24.1% Right Direction 34.7% Wrong Track 58.8%
  • Adviser: Obama’s First 100 Days Most Productive Since FDR: Senior White House adviser says the president’s 100-day marker is not Biblical and the administration won’t rest after it’s reached the milestone. The Obama White House doesn’t “subscribe to the legitimacy” of the 100-day metric for presidential progress, but is mighty satisfied with the new president’s accomplishments. “This isn’t Biblical,” a senior White House adviser said of the 100-day marker. “You don’t do 100 days and rest.” Even so, this senior official, a long-time adviser to the president who spoke on the condition he not be quoted by name, said “you would be hard-pressed to find another administration that’s done so much in such a short period of time. It’s been a very productive 100 days.” For most of the 45-minute session the White House adviser spent with a small group of reporters, the suggestion that Obama had been more productive than Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his first 100 days (the president whose scale of activity first generated 100-day assessments of subsequent presidencies) was left on the table. When asked if that was the proper interpretation, the adviser said Obama’s had been the most productive since FDR…. – Fox News, 4-21-09

THE HEADLINES….

The Headlines…

  • The President’s 100th Day: NYT, 4-29-09
  • 100 days of Obama: Turning peril into possibility: Barack Obama opened his presidency by drawing an unflinching portrait of the challenges. Then he set about turning those perils into possibilities.
    In a dizzying dash to the 100-day mark, Obama made a down payment on the changes he’d promised and delivered a trillion-dollar wallop to wake up the moribund economy. He put the country on track to end one war, reorient another and redefine what it means to be a superpower…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • 100 days in, Obama is a man of many hats: From reluctant CEO to chief U.S. medical adviser, President Barack Obama showed how many hats he wears at a news conference marking his 100th day in office on Wednesday. Shrugging off critics who say he has taken on too many tasks in his young presidency, Obama said all the issues had landed in his lap at the same time and had to be dealt with simultaneously…. – Reuters, 4-29-09
  • Obama calls first 100 days tense but fruitful: Marking his symbolic 100th day in office, President Barack Obama told Midwesterners Wednesday: “I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made but I’m not satisfied.” “I’m confident in the future but I’m not content with the present,” the president told a town-hall style event in a St. Louis suburb… – AP, 4-29-09
  • Welcome to FOX News’ Review of the First 100 Days of the Obama Administration: FOXNews.com is offering a week-long series of stories leading up to President Obama’s 100th Day in office. – Fox News, 4-23-09
  • Sizing Up Obama’s First 100 Days: The most important thing we now know about Barack Obama, after nearly 100 days in office, is that he means to confront that way of life directly and profoundly, to exchange sand for rock if he can. Whether you agree with him or not — whether you think he is too ambitious or just plain wrong — his is as serious and challenging a presidency as we have had in quite some time…. Time, 4-23-09
  • For the Media, 100-Days Story Represents the Perfect Swarm: It is, says Joe Klein, a “flimsy journalistic conceit.” But that didn’t stop him from writing Time’s cover story on President Obama’s first 100 days, part of a vast wave of calendar-driven coverage washing over the media landscape. “One of the things I’ve been thinking about is the impatience of the press,” says Klein, who noted the conceit in his story. “People cast judgment too quickly on Obama. I’m remembering back to how impatient I was with Bill Clinton, in an unfair way.”… – WaPo, 4-27-09
  • 100 days: the test of a leader or a journalistic ‘Hallmark holiday’?: As President Obama prepares to mark his 100th day in the White House, he acknowledged Monday that the nation might not reach one of his major environmental goals for a while longer: 15,000 days, or 41 years. That’s how long it could take for the nation to cut its carbon emissions by 80%, Obama said during an appearance at the National Academy of Sciences. His caution plays into the administration’s efforts to deflate expectations about what he reasonably could have solved by Wednesday. The White House initially downplayed the 100-day benchmark — one of his senior advisors, David Axelrod, called it the “journalistic equivalent of a Hallmark holiday.” But now, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says, the administration is “playing along.” On Wednesday, Obama will take part in a town-hall-style event in St. Louis and a prime-time news conference from the East Room of the White House. Every major broadcast network but Fox will air the news conference live…. – LAT, 4-27-09
  • First 100 Days: Social Policy Takes a Left Turn Under Obama: During his first 100 days as president, Barack Obama’s reversal of contentious social regulations has garnered little attention — leaving many to wonder how much social issues matter to Americans amid two wars and an economic crisis…. – Fox News, 4-27-09
  • John King: Second 100 days will be bigger test for Obama: As introductions go, it has been a fast-paced, fascinating first 100 days: an ambitious domestic agenda aimed at reinvigorating the economy and the government’s reach into its workings, and several provocative steps on the world stage that, like at home, signal a clear break from the previous administration. It is the second 100 days that will give a much more comprehensive test of President Obama’s approach, his resilience — and his effectiveness…. – CNN, 4-24-09
  • Obama uses 100 days to build foundation: Barack Obama has used his first 100 days in office to set a foundation for the rest of his presidency. Time will be the judge of how successful his early months have been in resolving major U.S. challenges. Obama, whose move into the White House came with high expectations, has given hope to Americans that better days lie ahead, showing himself in command of the issues and displaying an easy-going maturity that many might not have expected from the 47-year-old. His supporters are ecstatic about him…. – Reuters, 4-26-09
  • In First 100 Days, Obama Flips Bush Admin’s Policies From Gitmo to Stem Cell Research, Obama Veers Away From His Predecessor’s Policies: As he approchaes his 100 days in office, President Obama has demonstrated a clear departure from his predecessor. From relaxing marijuana enforcement laws to releasing torture memos, the new administration has moved rapidly to revoke and alter policies that marked the legacy of the Bush team…. – ABC News, 4-25-09
  • Obama’s First 100 Days: Rising Hopes, Partisan Politics ABC News-Washington Post Poll: 50 Percent Say Country’s Headed in Right Direction: Barack Obama approaches the 100-day mark with rising economic hopes, the best job approval rating at this point in 20 years, the broadest personal popularity since Ronald Reagan and half of Americans now saying the country’s headed in the right direction. His problem: The other half don’t…. Click here for a PDF with charts and questionnaire.ABC News, 4-25-09
  • As 100th Day Nears, Obama Takes Hoopla and Runs With It: When it comes to the whole 100 Days hoopla, President Obama and his team were against it before they were for it. To hear the White House tell it, Mr. Obama never much cared for the idea of marking his 100th day in office, next Wednesday. A trumped-up journalistic convention, senior aides called it. (O.K., they have a point.) “Not a ton different than the 99th,” declared Mr. Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs. “A Hallmark holiday,” said a senior adviser, David Axelrod. But even as they professed their disdain for the pseudomilestone, Mr. Obama’s advisers have quietly embraced it. Through a meticulously planned schedule — a town-hall-style meeting in St. Louis on Wednesday, followed by a prime-time news conference — and sophisticated management of the news media, the White House is harnessing the insatiable public appetite for all things Obama and turning the 100 Days moment to the president’s advantage…. – NYT, 4-24-09
  • First Lady in Control of Building Her Image: Vogue magazine, the fashion world’s chronicler of first ladies, bedecked Hillary Rodham Clinton in black velvet and Laura Bush in blue silk. But not Michelle Obama. She insisted on choosing her own dress (a sleeveless, magenta silk number) and using her own hair and makeup stylists for the glossy photograph splashed across Vogue’s March cover. This was nothing new for Mrs. Obama, who has pointedly controlled her look on the covers of People, Essence, More and O, Oprah Winfrey’s magazine…. – NYT, 4-25-09
  • Fox sticking with schedule instead of Obama: Fox became the first broadcast network to turn down a request by President Barack Obama for time, opting to show its drama “Lie to Me” on Wednesday instead of the president’s prime-time news conference. Fox will direct viewers interested in the news conference to Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network, which will both carry it. ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and CNBC are all carrying the 8 p.m. EDT event, on Obama’s 100th day in office…. – AP,4-27-09
  • President Obama Requests May Sweeps Timeslot: President Barack Obama has asked to make a prime-time appearance during May sweeps. White House officials have requested up to an hour of airtime for Wednesday, April 29, according to TV Week. The press conference, which falls on the 100th day of Obama’s presidency, will probably air in the 8 o’clock hour and address questions of the president’s performance. Broadcast networks have not yet announced their response, but a source said that they will most likely agree to the administration’s request. Will you tune in to President Obama’s “100 Days” press conference? Or have there been too many already? – TV Guide, 4-23-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

Political Quotes

  • Transcript President Obama’s 100th-Day Press Briefing: Following is a transcript of President Obama’s press briefing as he marks his 100th day in office, as transcribed by Federal News Service…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Text of Obama’s news conference Wednesday: Text of President Barack Obama’s news conference on Wednesday at the White House, as transcribed by CQ Transcriptions:
    OBAMA: Before we begin tonight, I just want to provide everyone with a few brief updates on some of the challenges w’re dealing with right now.
    First, we are continuing to closely monitor the emergency cases of the H1N1 flu virus throughout the United States. As I said this morning, this is obviously a very serious situation, and every American should know that their entire government is taking the utmost precautions and preparations.
    Our public health officials have recommended that schools with confirmed or suspected cases of this flu strongly consider temporarily closing. And if more schools are forced to close, we’ve recommended that both parents and businesses think about contingency plans if their children do have to stay home.
    I’ve requested an immediate $1.5 billion in emergency funding from Congress to support our ability to monitor and track this virus and to build our supply of antiviral drugs and other equipment. And we will also ensure that those materials get to where they need to be as quickly as possible.
    And, finally, I’ve asked every American to take the same steps you would take to prevent any other flu: Keep your hands washed; cover your mouth when you cough; stay home from work if you’re sick; and keep your children home from school if they’re sick.
    We’ll continue to provide regular updates to the American people as we receive more information. And everyone should rest assured that this government is prepared to do whatever it takes to control the impact of this virus.
    The second thing I’d like to mention is how gratified I am that the House and the Senate passed a budget resolution today that will serve as an economic blueprint for this nation’s future.
    I especially want to thank Leader Reid, Speaker Pelosi, all of the members of Congress who worked so quickly and effectively to make this blueprint a reality.
    This budget builds on the steps we’ve taken over the last 100 days to move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity.
    We began by passing a Recovery Act that has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs and provided a tax cut to 95 percent of all working families. We passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for 11 million American children whose parents work full time. And we launched a housing plan that has already contributed to a spike in the number of homeowners who are refinancing their mortgages, which is the equivalent of another tax cut.
    But even as we clear away the wreckage of this recession, I’ve also said that we can’t go back to an economy that’s built on a pile of sand, on inflated home prices and maxed-out credit cards, on overleveraged banks and outdated regulations that allow recklessness of a few to threaten the prosperity of all.
    We have to lay a new foundation for growth, a foundation that will strengthen our economy and help us compete in the 21st century. And that’s exactly what this budget begins to do.
    It contains new investments in education that will equip our workers with the right skills and training, new investments in renewable energy that will create millions of jobs and new industries, new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses, and new savings that will bring down our deficit.
    I also campaigned on the promise that I would change the direction of our nation’s foreign policy. And we’ve begun to do that, as well. We’ve begun to end the war in Iraq, and we forged with our NATO allies a new strategy to target al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    We have rejected the false choice between our security and our ideals by closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and banning torture without exception.
    And we’ve renewed our diplomatic efforts to deal with challenges ranging from the global economic crisis to the spread of nuclear weapons.
    So I think we’re off to a good start, but it’s just a start. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved, but I’m not content. I’m pleased with our progress, but I’m not satisfied.
    Millions of Americans are still without jobs and homes, and more will be lost before this recession is over. Credit is still not flowing nearly as freely as it should. Countless families and communities touched by our auto industry still face tough times ahead. Our projected long-term deficits are still too high, and government is still not as efficient as it needs to be.
    We still confront threats ranging from terrorism to nuclear proliferation, as well as pandemic flu. And all this means you can expect an unrelenting, unyielding effort from this administration to strengthen our prosperity and our security in the second hundred days, in the third hundred days and all of the days after that.
    You can expect us to work on health care reform that will bring down costs while maintaining quality, as well as energy legislation that will spark a clean-energy revolution. I expect to sign legislation by the end of this year that sets new rules of the road for Wall Street, rules that reward drive and innovation, as opposed to shortcuts and abuse.
    And we will also work to pass legislation that protects credit card users from unfair rate hikes and abusive fees and penalties. We’ll continue scouring the federal budget for savings and target more programs for elimination. And we will continue to pursue procurement reform that will greatly reduce the no-bid contracts that have wasted so many taxpayer dollars.
    So we have a lot of work left to do. It’s work that will take time, and it will take effort. But the United States of America, I believe, will see a better day.
    We will rebuild a stronger nation, and we will endure as a beacon for all of those weary travelers beyond our shores who still dream that there’s a place where all of this is possible.
    I want to thank the American people for their support and their patience during these trying times, and I look forward to working with you in the next hundred days, in the hundred days after that, all of the hundreds of days to follow to make sure that this country is what it can be.
    And with that, I will start taking some questions…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • Retrospective in Missouri: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN ARNOLD, MISSOURI TOWN HALL Today marks 100 days since I took the oath of office to be your President. (Applause.) One hundred days. It’s a good thing. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
    Now, back in November, some folks were surprised that we showed up in Springfield at the end of our campaign. But then again, some folks were surprised that we even started our campaign in the first place. (Laughter.) They didn’t give us much of a chance. They didn’t think we could do things differently. They didn’t know if this country was ready to move in a new direction.
    But here’s the thing — my campaign wasn’t born in Washington. My campaign was rooted in neighborhoods just like this one, in towns and cities all across America; rooted in folks who work hard and look after their families and seek a brighter children — future for their children and for their communities and for their country.
    “I want to warn you, there will be setbacks. It will take time. But I promise you I will always tell you the truth about the challenges that we face and the steps that we are taking to meet them.”… – WH Blog, 4-29-09
    Transcript: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN ARNOLD, MISSOURI TOWN HALL
  • Obama addresses town hall meeting on 100th day: “I’ve come back to report to you, the American people, that we have begun to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, and we’ve begun the work of remaking America…. I’m confident in the future, but not I’m not content with the present. You know the progress comes from hard choices and hard work, not miracles. I’m not a miracle worker.”
    Obama acknowledged challenges of “unprecedented size and scope,” including the recession. These challenges, he said, could not be met with “half measures.” “They demand action that is bold and sustained. They call on us to clear away the wreckage of a painful recession, But also, at the same time, lay the building blocks for a new prosperity. And that’s the work that we’ve begun over these first 100 days…. There’s no mystery to what we’ve done; the priorities that we’ve acted upon were the things that we said we’d do during the campaign.” – CNN, 4-29-09

    HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

    Historians’ Comments

    • Larry Berman, Stephen Knott, Russell Riley, Al Felzenberg, Gerhard Peters: How Obama’s first 100 days stack up: Historians agree on one thing when it comes to evaluating a president’s first 100 days: The exercise is an artificial, often superficial construct. It’s too short of a time to seriously measure anything substantive about a presidency, and not an indicator of future success.”If the country is focused on the Bush torture program all summer it is going to be a huge distraction,” said Larry Berman, a professor of political science at UC Davis who teaches a course on Obama’s first 100 days. “The people who don’t realize this, I think, are the people who supported Obama from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.”… – SF Chronicle, 4-27-09
    • LOU CANNON, ROBERT DALLEK, ROGER MORRIS, JEAN EDWARD SMITH and RICHARD REEVES “Obama at 100 Days”: For three months, five presidential historians have been writing online columns comparing Barack Obama’s initial 100 days in office with those of some of his modern predecessors’. These are their final installments. The full series, along with an interactive timeline of presidential history can be found in the 100 Days blog. NYT, 4-25-09
    • LOU CANNON “In Reagan’s Debt”: Obama, too, is misunderstood by critics as an ideologue. – NYT, 4-25-09
    • ROBERT DALLEK “Think Big, Even in Defeat”: Memories of L.B.J. have faded, but his stamp on society remains. – NYT, 4-25-09
    • ROGER MORRIS “New Address, Same Politician”: Nixon was done in by character: his and that of those around him. – NYT, 4-25-09
    • JEAN EDWARD SMITH “Changing the American Mind”: President Obama has led people to re-think their assumptions. Just like F.D.R. – NYT, 4-25-09
    • RICHARD REEVES “Saved by the Cold War”: When it comes to mistakes, it’s hard to top J.F.K.’s early days. – NYT, 4-25-09
    • Julian Zelizer: “Obama dominates in first 100 days”: “It is clearly the most ambitious agenda at least since the 1960s,” said Princeton University historian and political scientist Julian Zelizer…. “He is going to have to deal with that ambitious agenda in the totally polarized domestic political environment,” said Zelizer. – AFP, 4-26-09
    • Julian E. Zelizer: What Obama Has Shown, So Far, About His Style of Governing”: The penchant for tightly concentrated executive-branch clout is in line with recent trends in the American presidency. “There’s been a fear of delegating too much to agencies that started during the conservative revolution and intensified after Hurricane Katrina,” said Julian E. Zelizer, a political historian at Princeton University. “Like his immediate predecessors, Obama wants decision-making focused on his inner circle. If he’s successful, he won’t change this pattern.”….”Obama’s campaign was idealistic and firmly rooted and made you lose sight of the fact he’s pragmatic and not stuck on one way to reach his objectives,” said Princeton’s Zelizer. “At times, he seems torn between what to do, and on foreign policy you see his approach is to feel his way around. But he’s not allowing advisers to dictate what he does at this point.” – CQ Politics, 4-26-09
    • Ivan Eland: Don’t judge Obama’s legacy on first 100 days: The media have been focusing, almost obsessively, on President Obama’s first 100 days. But it’s important to remember that the presidency is a marathon, not a sprint. Much could get done during the first 100 days, but more than 1,300 days will follow in a president’s first term. And what’s important is what the president does with all his days.If he establishes a legacy of peace, prosperity and liberty, he should be judged a success. If he pushes policies that flaunt the Constitution, expand government beyond its proper role, undermine our economic and individual liberties or lead us unnecessarily into conflict, he will have failed – no matter how charming he is, how effectively he leads or how many Facebook friends he has….

      Presidents should be judged on results. And results should be measured not by the number of new laws passed, the size of a stimulus bill or the number of jobs added or saved during the president’s term. Results should be measured by the degree to which his actions, or his deliberate inaction, contribute to peace, prosperity and liberty.

      Most Americans want Obama to succeed. But success involves more than just getting things enacted. We should expect Obama to stay true to the Constitution, protect the value of the dollar and see that our government lives within its means. Using the power of government to print and borrow hundreds of billions of dollars to lavish favors on selected companies, industries and special interests is not how you do this. – SF Chronicle, 4-25-09

    April 27, 2009: President Obama’s First Cabinet Meeting & Towards 100 Days

    THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

    The President Films the Weekly Address

    IN FOCUS: STATS

    In Focus: Stats

    • Democrat wins House race in New York: A Democrat has won a close U.S. congressional election in New York that had been seen by some as an early gauge of support for President Barack Obama. Republican Jim Tedisco conceded defeat on Friday to his Democratic rival Scott Murphy in a district of northeast New York state that has traditionally been Republican but has voted Democratic in recent years. “As a candidate, Scott courageously championed the economic plans we need to lift our nation and put it on a better path, and he will continue to do so in Congress,” Obama said in a statement…. – Reuters, 4-24-09
    • Poll: Public thinks highly of Obama: His opening months in the Oval Office have fortified Barack Obama’s standing with the American public, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, giving him political capital for battles ahead. As his 100th day as president approaches next Wednesday, the survey shows Obama has not only maintained robust approval ratings but also bolstered the sense that he is a strong and decisive leader who can manage the government effectively during a time of economic crisis.
      Since October, the percentage who see Obama as a “strong and decisive leader” has jumped 12 percentage points, and his image as an effective manager has gone up 11 points.
      Now, 56% say he has done an “excellent” or “good” job as president vs. 20% who rate him as “poor” or “terrible.” An additional 23% say he has done “just OK.”
      His excellent/good rating on national security is 53%. On the economy, it is 48%. – USA Today, 4-23-09
    • RCP Poll:
      President Obama Job Approval: RCP Average: +30.3% Approve 60.8% Disapprove 30.5%
      Congressional Job Approval: RCP Average: -25.5% Approve 33.8% Disapprove 59.3%
      Direction of Country: RCP Average: -24.1% Right Direction 34.7% Wrong Track 58.8%

    THE HEADLINES….

    The President meets with President Clinton and Senator Kennedy
    (President Barack Obama meets with Senator Kennedy and former President Clinton to discuss national service.  April 21, 2009.  White House Photo/ Chuck Kennedy.)

    The Headlines…

    • U.S. Plans Informal Meetings With Cuba: Seizing the momentum from recent meetings with Latin American leaders, the Obama administration is quietly pushing forward with efforts to reopen channels of communication with Cuba, according to White House and State Department officials. The officials said informal meetings were being planned between the State Department and Cuban diplomats in the United States to determine whether the two governments could open formal talks on a variety of issues, including migration, drug trafficking and other regional security matters…. – NYT, 4-26-09
    • GOP Seeks New Mexico Comeback Republicans Play Up Danger of One-Party Control, Hitting on National Theme: Republicans in New Mexico are maneuvering for a political comeback in a campaign that previews the themes the national GOP is likely to hit hard in 2010. The mantra: checks and balances Democrats control both houses of the New Mexico legislature, the governorship, all statewide offices and all the state’s congressional seats. But the party has been roiled by scandal in recent years, with a steady drumbeat of corruption investigations, indictments and convictions…. – WSJ, 4-26-09
    • Dick Cheney: The Visible Man: Dick Cheney became a one-of-a-kind vice president for two reasons: he cared deeply about governance, and not a bit about his future political standing. Those same factors, for better or worse, have turned him into a one-of-a-kind former vice president. In a sharp break with long-standing practice, Mr. Cheney has emerged as the highest-profile critic of the new administration…. – NYT, 4-26-09
    • Obama, Democrats Eye Tactic to Shield Health Care Plan From GOP Opposition: Republicans, who have been complaining furiously about the prospect of health care reform passing under fast-track rules, are not planning to go down without a fight. – Fox News, 4-25-09
    • Clinton: Bush’s Iran policy was a failure: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is criticizing the Bush administration for what she called a failed eight-year effort to isolate Iran. In congressional testimony Thursday, she said the approach of President Barack Obama’s predecessor did not deter Iran “one bit” in its ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons and support terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas. She said Iran’s nuclear program has continued unabated…. – AP, 4-22-09
    • Democrats may maneuver around GOP filibuster on healthcare legislation: Senior Democrats in Congress are said to have agreed on a plan to prevent Republicans from blocking Barack Obama’s healthcare bill. The legislation might not need a single GOP vote in either house… – LAT, 4-24-09
    • Senate to sink mortgage relief plan: The centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s plan to keep thousands of people from losing their homes amid the worst economic crisis in decades is headed for defeat next week in the Senate. Allowing people to seek mortgage relief in bankruptcy court is opposed by Republicans and enough Democrats to block it. They remain worried that the legislation would unleash a torrent of loan defaults, ultimately driving up mortgage rates and introducing fresh uncertainty to an already ailing economy. The rejection would deal a blow to the popular president pushing an ambitious agenda to stabilize the economy. AP, 4-24-09
    • Meghan McCain is moderately impressive on “the View”: Meghan McCain came off as slightly nervous, serious and likable Thursday while walking the fine line between guest and guest host on “The View. “We should become an umbrella party,” she said. “Stop telling me I don’t have a place.”…. “You’ve had your eight years,” she said. “Now go away.” – NY Daily News, 4-24-09
    • F-16 fighter jets take down lost plane (gently) – Obama relocated: It’s happened before, and it’ll happen again. A small plane went into restricted airspace in Washington, DC, today. This time though it got a little too close for comfort. So President Obama and Vice President Biden had to be briefly relocated to ensure their safety. And for a while the US Capitol was evacuated. Within minutes of the single-engine plane entering the restricted zone, it was over. Peacefully…. – LAT, 4-24-09
    • Cheney Requests Release of 2 CIA Reports on Interrogations: Former vice president Richard B. Cheney is asking for the release of two CIA reports in his bid to marshal evidence that coercive interrogation tactics such as waterboarding helped thwart terrorist plots, according to documents released yesterday by the National Archives and Records Administration. Cheney’s request was submitted March 31, more than two weeks before President Obama decided to release four “top secret” memos in which Bush administration lawyers sanctioned harsh tactics for questioning prisoners…. – WaPo, 4-24-09
    • President Obama Requests May Sweeps Timeslot: President Barack Obama has asked to make a prime-time appearance during May sweeps. White House officials have requested up to an hour of airtime for Wednesday, April 29, according to TV Week. The press conference, which falls on the 100th day of Obama’s presidency, will probably air in the 8 o’clock hour and address questions of the president’s performance. Broadcast networks have not yet announced their response, but a source said that they will most likely agree to the administration’s request. Will you tune in to President Obama’s “100 Days” press conference? Or have there been too many already? – TV Guide, 4-23-09
    • Analysis: Obama walks thin line on interrogations: Barack Obama, facing perhaps the trickiest political issue of his young presidency, is trying to appease his liberal base without losing control of a potentially volatile inquiry into George W. Bush administration’s use of harsh interrogation tactics against terrorism suspects. One step to the left or right could land him in political trouble. – AP, 4-23-09
    • Biden: States to use recovery money to manage aid: States responsible for more than a third of President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus program will be able to tap some of the recovery money to cover costs of managing the new spending, Vice President Joe Biden told Congress Thursday. Biden sent a letter to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee summarizing new rules that will, among other things, offer states flexibility to use stimulus money to cover the costs of handling their share of Obama’s spending program. Sen. Joe Lieberman, the committee chairman, welcomed the change, saying state and local governments have struggled to find ways to pay for the increased scrutiny and reporting required for the recovery money. “In this balance that we’re trying to strike, it seems to me that this makes a lot of sense,” the Connecticut independent said during a committee hearing Thursday. – AP, 4-23-09
    • Fidel Castro: Obama ‘misinterpreted’ Raul’s words: Fidel Castro says President Barack Obama “misinterpreted” his brother Raul’s remarks regarding the United States and bristled at the suggestion that Cuba should free political prisoners or cut taxes on dollars people send to the island. Raul Castro touched off a whirlwind of speculation last week that the U.S. and Cuba could be headed toward a thaw after nearly a half-century of chilly relations. The speculation began when the Cuban president said leaders would be willing to sit down with their U.S. counterparts and discuss “everything, everything, everything,” including human rights, freedom of the press and expression, and political prisoners…. – AP, 4-22-09
    • Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae sink into managerial turmoil: The death of Freddie Mac’s acting chief financial officer heightens the turmoil at Freddie (FRE) and Fannie Mae (FNM) at a critical time when the two housing-finance giants are assuming larger roles in the Obama administration’s housing rescue program…. – USA Today, 4-22-09
    • Taliban extend hold, advance near Pakistan capital: Taliban militants have extended their grip in northwestern Pakistan, pushing out from a valley where the government has agreed to impose Islamic law and patrolling villages as close as 60 miles from the capital. Police and officials appear to have fled as armed militants also broadcast radio sermons and spread fear in Buner district, just 60 miles from Islamabad, officials and witnesses said Wednesday…. – AP, 4-22-09
    • Obama calls for new era of energy exploration: President Barack Obama, standing Wednesday in the shell of a once-giant Maytag appliance factory that now houses a wind energy company, declared that a “new era of energy exploration in America” would be a crucial to leading the nation out of an economic crisis….
      “The nation that leads the world in creating new energy sources will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy,” Obama said in a state that launched him on the road to the White House with a surprise upset over one-time rival Hillary Rodham Clinton. “America can be that nation. America must be that nation. And while we seek new forms of fuel to power our homes and cars and businesses, we will rely on the same ingenuity — the same American spirit — that has always been a part of our American story.” – AP, 4-22-09
    • Torture Cases Would Face Legal Hurdles: Legal barriers to prosecuting Bush-era officials over alleged torture would be substantial, legal experts said Wednesday. But Democrats were seizing on the issue to score political points anyway, while some Republicans warned against opening a Pandora’s box of recrimination that could hit members of Congress, too. – WSJ, 4-22-09
    • As Bush adviser, Rice delivered OK to waterboard: Then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice verbally OK’d the CIA’s request to subject alleged al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah to waterboarding in July 2002, a decision memorialized a few days later in a secret memo that the Obama administration declassified last week. Rice’s role was detailed in a narrative released Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee. It provides the most detailed timeline yet for how the CIA’s harsh interrogation program was conceived and approved at the highest levels in the Bush White House. – AP, 4-22-09
    • Ellen Moran, White House Communications Director, Leaving For Commerce Post: White House communications director Ellen Moran is stepping down to be chief of staff to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, becoming the first senior adviser to President Barack Obama to leave the West Wing. The move, just three months into the new presidency, will take place over the next few weeks. “It has been a real honor to serve in this White House at the start of this historic administration. I am looking forward to working on critical economic issues with Secretary Locke,” Moran said Tuesday. – AP, 4-22-09
    • Obama Signs Volunteer Bill With Nod to Kennedy Era: President Obama on Tuesday became the latest Democratic president to emulate John F. Kennedy’s call for national service as he signed legislation to triple the size of the Americorps program and called on Americans to volunteer time to improve their communities. The latest on President Obama, the new administration and other news from Washington and around the nation. Join the discussion. Joined by Kennedy’s brother and daughter, Mr. Obama took his turn at the Peace Corps legacy by enacting a new law expanding the government’s role in promoting and paying for Americans to restore parks, tutor children and help communities struck by natural disasters…. – NYT, 4-22-09
    • Senator McConnell blasts plan to close Guantanamo: “The administration needs to tell the American people what it plans to do with these men if they close Guantanamo,” U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday. He pointed out that two years ago the Senate voted 94-3 against sending detainees to the U.S. McConnell opposes closing Guantanamo. “Foreign countries have thus far been unwilling to take them in any significant numbers. And even if countries were willing to take them, there’s an increasing probability that some of these murderers would return to the battlefield,” he said. AP, 4-21-09
    • Obama nudges Israel on Palestinian statehood: President Barack Obama nudged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday to accept the goal of a Palestinian state, as he pressed Israel and the Palestinians to “step back from the abyss.” Deepening his direct role in reviving stalled peace efforts, Obama met Jordan’s King Abdullah and invited Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for separate talks by early June…. – AP, 4-21-09
    • Obama open to torture memos probe, prosecution: Widening an explosive debate on torture, President Barack Obama on Tuesday opened the possibility of prosecution for Bush-era lawyers who authorized brutal interrogation of terror suspects and suggested Congress might order a full investigation. Less than a week after declaring it was time for the nation to move on rather than “laying blame for the past,” Obama found himself describing what might be done next to investigate what he called the loss of “our moral bearings.”… – AP, 4-20-09
    • San Fran Mayor Gavin Newsom running for governor: Mayor Gavin Newsom formally announced his candidacy for California governor Tuesday, offering himself as an heir to the same groundswell for generational change that helped send President Barack Obama to the White House. Entering a race that could see him competing against men 15 and 30 years his senior, the 41-year-old Democrat pointedly used YouTube and the social networking sites Twitter and Facebook to disclose that he would seek his party’s nomination to succeed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger…. – AP, 4-21-09
    • Minuteman founder to run for Senate against McCain: The founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps is expected to announce his intentions to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona next year. Chris Simcox is expected to make the announcement Wednesday. He already has a Web site promoting his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2010. – AP, 4-21-09
    • Obama holds first Cabinet meeting as cameras whirl: A president’s first Cabinet meeting, like the White House Easter Egg Roll, is a spring rite that’s more photo op than substantive event. Barack Obama gathered his Cabinet members around a White House table Monday and asked them collectively to find $100 million in cost cuts over the next three months. That’s a fraction of a fraction of the federal deficit, and it quickly drew ridicule from pundits and Republicans…. – AP, 4-20-09
    • Obama and CIA chief patch up rift: U.S. President Barack Obama and his CIA chief buried differences on Monday over the release of classified documents on waterboarding, even as former Vice President Dick Cheney kept the debate alive. Obama visited CIA headquarters and told agency employees that a fight against al Qaeda and other challenges, and foreign policy changes he is pursuing, make their expertise vital. He pledged his full support. “We live in dangerous times. I am going to need you more than ever,” Obama said. He counselled the employees not to be discouraged by public discussion of “mistakes.”… – Reuters, 4-20-09

    POLITICAL QUOTES

    The President speaks with credit card representatives

    Political Quotes

    • Weekly Address: Calling for Fiscal Discipline: This week the President reiterates a theme that has been a hallmark of his career, namely that “old habits and stale thinking” will simply not help us solve the new and immense problems our country faces. Listing off several specific changes he intends to bring, he describes his guiding principle: “To help build a new foundation for the 21st century, we need to reform our government so that it is more efficient, more transparent, and more creative. That will demand new thinking and a new sense of responsibility for every dollar that is spent.”… – WH Blog, 4-25-09Transcript: WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Announces Steps to Reform Government and Promote Fiscal Discipline
    • Clinton Says Moderation Is Lebanon’s Best Hope: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton touched down in Lebanon on Sunday for a lightning visit to express support for this fragile country, six weeks before crucial parliamentary elections in which the Islamic militant group Hezbollah is expected to make significant gains. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton signed a condolence book at the grave of slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, pictured in the background, in Beirut on Sunday.
      “It won’t surprise you to hear that I think moderation is important in the affairs of states,” Mrs. Clinton said after meeting the president, Michel Suleiman, a former chief of the armed forces who stays above the political fray. “We want to see a strong, independent, free and sovereign Lebanon,” she said, noting that President Obama had sent Mr. Suleiman a letter expressing those sentiments. “This election will be, obviously, an important milestone.”… Still, the United States “will never make any deal with Syria that sells out Lebanon and the Lebanese people,” Mrs. Clinton pledged. “You’ve been through too much.” – NYT, 4-26-09
    • Virginia’s gubernatorial race gets heated Funding accusations lead candidates to defend themselves: One of the three Democratic contenders for governor is accusing Republican candidate Bob McDonnell of using tax dollars to run his campaign. But the Republican’s campaign says the charge from former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe is just hyperbole from a candidate with his own fundraising ethics issues. The accusation, which came coupled with a swipe at Virginia Republican’s reluctance to accept $125 million in additional unemployment funds, was sent in an e-mail to McAuliffe supporters.
      “When the news broke about the millions of taxpayer-funded bonuses going to AIG executives, Bob McDonnell’s own campaign said they ‘should offend every taxpayer,'” McAuliffe wrote. “I agree.” “But it is every bit as offensive for companies like Citigroup — which participated in some of the worst excess that triggered this financial crisis — to use the money they’re getting from the federal government to make contributions to political candidates. And Bob McDonnell’s taken the cash with open arms,” he continued. – NV Daily, 4-26-09
    • Clinton says Iraq on right track: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says this week’s deadly suicide bombings in Iraq are a sign that extremists are afraid the Iraqi government is succeeding. Making her first trip to Iraq as America’s top diplomat, Clinton said the country has made great strides despite the recent violence that killed at least 148 people in Baghdad and outside on Thursday and Friday.
      “I think that these suicide bombings … are unfortunately, in a tragic way, a signal that the rejectionists fear that Iraq is going in the right direction,” Clinton told reporters traveling aboard her plane ahead of her unannounced Saturday visit to Baghdad. “I think in Iraq there will always be political conflicts, there will always be, as in any society, sides drawn between different factions, but I really believe Iraq as a whole is on the right track,” she said, citing “overwhelming evidence” of “really impressive” progress. “Are there going to be bad days? Yes, there are,” Clinton said. “But I don’t know of any difficult international situation anywhere in the world or history where there haven’t been bad days.” – AP, 4-24-09
    • Steve Schmidt McCain campaign chief gets candid: “When Lehman Brothers collapsed in the fall, I knew pretty much straight away the campaign was finished.” Schmidt also said that when polls showed that only 5 percent of the public believed the country was on the right track and the economy had soured, “I knew that was not going to be survivable for us.” He called Sarah Palin’s halting and damaging interview with Katie Couric, “one of the two most consequential interviews that a candidate for national office has given, in a negative way, the other being Roger Mudd’s interview of Ted Kennedy….when he couldn’t answer the question of why he wanted to be president.” Schmidt was equally candid about the Republican Party: “It is near-extinct in many ways in the Northeast, it is extinct in many ways on the West Coast, and it is endangered in the Mountain West, increasingly endangered in the Southwest…and if you look at the state of the party, it is a shrinking entity…..” “….the Republican Party as a matter of reality in (Obama’s) first 100 days has not done anything to improve its political condition.” – Kansas City Star, 4-24-09
    • Student Loans: Cutting Out the Middle Man: Now, some of you have probably seen how this proposal was greeted by the special interests. The banks and the lenders who have reaped a windfall from these subsidies have mobilized an army of lobbyists to try to keep things the way they are. They are gearing up for battle. So am I. They will fight for their special interests. I will fight for Stephanie, and other American students and their families. And for those who care about America’s future, this is a battle we can’t afford to lose.
      In the end, this is not about growing the size of government or relying on the free market — because it’s not a free market when we have a student loan system that’s rigged to reward private lenders without any risk. It’s about whether we want to give tens of billions of tax dollars to special interests or whether we want to make college more affordable for eight and a half million more students. I think most of us would agree on what the right answer is. – WH Blog, 4-24-09
    • Cracking Down on Credit Cards: There are going to be some core principles, though, that I want to adhere to, and I mentioned these to all the credit card issuers involved.
      First of all, I think that there has to be strong and reliable protections for consumers — protections that ban unfair rate increases and forbid abusive fees and penalties. The days of any time, any reason rate hikes and late fee traps have to end.
      Number two, all the forms and statements that credit card companies send out have to be written in plain language and be in plain sight. No more fine print, no more confusing terms and conditions. We want clarity and transparency from here on out.
      Number three, we have to make sure that people can comparison shop when it comes to credit cards without being afraid that they’re going to be taken advantage of. So we believe that it’s important to require firms to make all their contract terms easily accessible online in a fashion that allows people to shop for the best deal for their needs.
      Not every consumer is going to have the same needs. And some may want to take on a higher interest rate because it provides them more convenience or it provides them with a higher credit line. But we want to make sure that they can make those comparisons themselves easily. And we think that one of the things that needs to be explored is the possibility that every credit card issuer has to issue a plain vanilla, easy to understand, simplest terms possible credit card as a default credit card that the average user can feel comfortable with.
      Finally, we think we need more accountability in the system. And that means more effective oversight and more effective enforcement so that people who are issuing credit cards but violate law, they will feel the full weight of the law…. – WH Blog, 4-23-09Transcript: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AFTER MEETING WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CREDIT CARD INDUSTRY
    • The President Speaks at the Holocaust Days of Remembrance Ceremony: While the uniqueness of the Holocaust in scope and in method is truly astounding, the Holocaust was driven by many of the same forces that have fueled atrocities throughout history: the scapegoating that leads to hatred and blinds us to our common humanity; the justifications that replace conscience and allow cruelty to spread; the willingness of those who are neither perpetrators nor victims to accept the assigned role of bystander, believing the lie that good people are ever powerless or alone, the fiction that we do not have a choice.
      But while we are here today to bear witness to the human capacity to destroy, we are also here to pay tribute to the human impulse to save. In the moral accounting of the Holocaust, as we reckon with numbers like 6 million, as we recall the horror of numbers etched into arms, we also factor in numbers like these: 7,200 — the number of Danish Jews ferried to safety, many of whom later returned home to find the neighbors who rescued them had also faithfully tended their homes and businesses and belongings while they were gone.
      We remember the number five — the five righteous men and women who join us today from Poland. We are awed by your acts of courage and conscience. And your presence today compels each of us to ask ourselves whether we would have done what you did. We can only hope that the answer is yes.
      We also remember the number 5,000 — the number of Jews rescued by the villagers of Le Chambon, France — one life saved for each of its 5,000 residents. Not a single Jew who came there was turned away, or turned in. But it was not until decades later that the villagers spoke of what they had done — and even then, only reluctantly. The author of a book on the rescue found that those he interviewed were baffled by his interest. “How could you call us ‘good’?” they said. “We were doing what had to be done.”
      That is the question of the righteous — those who would do extraordinary good at extraordinary risk not for affirmation or acclaim or to advance their own interests, but because it is what must be done. They remind us that no one is born a savior or a murderer — these are choices we each have the power to make. They teach us that no one can make us into bystanders without our consent, and that we are never truly alone — that if we have the courage to heed that “still, small voice” within us, we can form a minyan for righteousness that can span a village, even a nation.
      Their legacy is our inheritance. And the question is, how do we honor and preserve it? How do we ensure that “never again” isn’t an empty slogan, or merely an aspiration, but also a call to action?
      I believe we start by doing what we are doing today — by bearing witness, by fighting the silence that is evil’s greatest co-conspirator…. – WH Blog, 4-23-09Trabscript: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE HOLOCAUST DAYS OF REMEMBRANCE CEREMONY
    • Remarks by President Obama at Clean Energy at Trinity Structural Towers, Newton, Iowa, April 22, 2009 Thank you all so much for that welcome. It’s a pleasure to be back in Newton and a privilege to be here at Trinity Structural Towers. I just had a terrific tour of this facility led by several of the workers who operate this plant.
      It wasn’t too long ago that Maytag closed its operations in Newton. Hundreds of jobs were lost. To have walked these floors then would have been to walk along empty corridors. The only signs of a once-thriving enterprise would have been the markings on cement in the shape of equipment that was boxed up and carted away.
      Today, this facility is alive again with new industry. This community continues to struggle, and not everyone has been so fortunate as to be rehired, but more than 100 people will now be….
      …employed at this plant, many the same folks who had lost their jobs when Maytag shut its doors.
      Now you’re using the materials behind me to build towers to support some of the most advanced wind turbines in the world. When completed, these structures will hold aloft blades that can generate as much as 2.5 megawatts of electricity – enough energy to power hundreds of homes.
      At Trinity, you are helping to lead the next energy revolution. And you are heirs to the last energy revolution…. – LAT, 4-22-09
    • Clinton says Cheney not a “reliable source”: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took aim on Wednesday at former Vice President Dick Cheney, telling lawmakers she did not view him as a “particularly reliable source” on issues of torture. Asked about Cheney’s request this week to declassify documents showing the “success” of some widely condemned, harsh interrogation techniques launched by ex-President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks, Clinton had a caustic reply. “It won’t surprise you that I don’t consider him (Cheney) a particularly reliable source,” Clinton told the House of Representatives foreign affairs committee. – Reuters, 4-22-09
    • Obama urges citizens to undertake national service: Calling on Americans to volunteer, President Barack Obama signed a $5.7 billion national service bill Tuesday that triples the size of the AmeriCorps service program over the next eight years and expands ways for students to earn money for college. “What this legislation does, then, is to help harness this patriotism and connect deeds to needs,” said Obama, a former community organizer in Chicago. “It creates opportunities to serve for students, seniors and everyone in between,” he said. “And it is just the beginning of a sustained, collaborative and focused effort to involve our greatest resource — our citizens — in the work of remaking this nation.” “I’m asking you to help change history’s course, put your shoulder up against the wheel,” Obama said. “And if you do, I promise you your life will be richer, our country will be stronger, and someday, years from now, you may remember it as the moment when your own story and the American story converged, when they came together, and we met the challenges of our new century.” “All that’s required on your part is a willingness to make a difference,” Obama said. “And that is, after all, the beauty of service: Anybody can do it.”
      Kennedy told the audience that included former President Bill Clinton, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former first lady Rosalyn Carter that Obama’s efforts echoed those of his late brother, President John F. Kennedy. “Today, another young president has challenged another generation to give back to their nation,” Kennedy said, citing his brother’s advocacy for the Peace Corps… – AP, 4-21-09
    • “What Makes the United States Special”: Now, I have put an end to the interrogation techniques described in those OLC memos, and I want to be very clear and very blunt. I’ve done so for a simple reason: because I believe that our nation is stronger and more secure when we deploy the full measure of both our power and the power of our values –- including the rule of law. I know I can count on you to do exactly that.
      There have been some conversations that I’ve had with senior folks here at Langley in which I think people have expressed understandable anxiety and concern. So I want to make a point that I just made in the smaller group. I understand that it’s hard when you are asked to protect the American people against people who have no scruples and would willingly and gladly kill innocents. Al Qaeda is not constrained by a constitution. Many of our adversaries are not constrained by a belief in freedom of speech, or representation in court, or rule of law. I’m sure that sometimes it seems as if that means we’re operating with one hand tied behind our back, or that those who would argue for a higher standard are naïve. I understand that. You know, I watch the cable shows once in a while. (Laughter.)
      What makes the United States special, and what makes you special, is precisely the fact that we are willing to uphold our values and our ideals even when it’s hard, not just when it’s easy; even when we are afraid and under threat, not just when it’s expedient to do so. That’s what makes us different.
      So, yes, you’ve got a harder job. And so do I. And that’s okay, because that’s why we can take such extraordinary pride in being Americans. And over the long term, that is why I believe we will defeat our enemies, because we’re on the better side of history. – WH Blog, 4-20-09Transcript: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT TO CIA EMPLOYEES
    • President Obama’s First Cabinet Meeting: $100 million there, $100 million here: Many of the agencies have already taken some extraordinary steps to consolidate, streamline, and improve their practices. Just a couple of examples: Veterans Affairs has cancelled or delayed 26 conferences, saving nearly $17.8 million, and they’re using less expensive alternatives like videoconferencing. The USDA, under Secretary Vilsack, is working to combine 1,500 employees from seven office locations into a single facility in 2011, which we estimate will save $62 million over a 15-year lease term. Janet Napolitano at the Department of Homeland Security estimates that they can save up to $52 million over five years just by purchasing office supplies in bulk.
      So there are a host of efficiencies that can be gained without increasing our personnel or our budget, but rather decreasing the amount of money that’s spent on unnecessary things in order to fund some of the critical initiatives that we’ve all talked about. Obviously, Bob Gates just came out with a historic budget proposal with respect to the Pentagon, and we expect to follow up with significant procurement reform that’s going to make an enormous difference.
      So one of the things that — messages that I delivered today to all members of the Cabinet was: As well as you’ve already done, you’re going to have to do more. I’m asking for all of them to identify at least $100 million in additional cuts to their administrative budgets, separate and apart from the work that Peter Orszag and the rest of our team are doing to go line by line with the budget and identify programmatic cuts that need to be made.
      And in the next few weeks we expect to cut at least 100 current programs in the federal budget so that we can free up those dollars in order to put them to use for critical areas like health care, education, energy, our foreign policy apparatus, which is so important… – WH Blog, 4-20-09Transcript: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AFTER MEETING WITH THE CABINET

    HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

    Earth Day

    Historians’ Comments

    • Doris Kearns Goodwin “Dick Cheney: The Visible Man”: But Mr. Cheney is an altogether different case. No one expects another campaign from him, freeing him to speak his mind. “If he were running for office he’d be tempered more by how it would appear,” the presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said. “His main constituency right now is history.” – NYT, 4-26-09
    • Rich Lowry: Obama’s serial apologies embolden our adversaries: The calendar says President Barack Obama took office in 2009, although that’s only a technicality. In his own mind, Obama ascended in Year Zero, a time of ritualistic cleansing in preparation for the relaunching of an America free from its past sins. Has an American president ever appeared less vested in his nation’s history than Barack Obama? He shrugged off a rancid attack on the United States by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega at the Summit of the Americas, including a rant on the Bay of Pigs operation in 1961, by saying he’d only been 3 months old at the time. Nothing to do with me. It’s Obama’s own personal new order of the ages. Or as an Obama official put it, “His expectation is that these debates of the past can remain that, debates of the past.” Obama’s theory is that “if we are practicing what we preach and if we occasionally confess to having strayed from our values and our ideals, that strengthens our hand.” This is an old strand in America foreign policy, associated with what the historian Walter Russell Mead calls “the Jeffersonian tradition.” It is characterized, Mead writes, by the belief that the U.S. can best serve “the cause of universal democracy by setting an example rather than imposing a model,” and by a diplomacy of “speak softly, and carry the smallest possible stick.”….
      Obama seems to take active pleasure in saying that there are no senior or junior partners on the international stage. The danger is that foreign governments will actually believe him. Obama may think he’s being magnanimous and admirably humble about his own country, but adversaries could be forgiven for detecting weakness. The nightmare scenario is that, while soaking up all the applause, Obama has had a Kennedy-Khrushchev moment. The young, well-intentioned American president got pushed around by the Soviet premier in summit meetings in Vienna. After taking Kennedy’s measure and finding him lacking, Khrushchev embarked on a campaign of international assertion that eventually led to the Cuban missile crisis. This is the risk in Obama’s showy pliability and detachment from his country circa 1776-2008. No president can be an island unto himself. It’s not Year Zero. History is still in full flower, for better or worse. – Salt Lake Tribune, 4-24-09
    • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Will Obama, GOP make a deal?”: President Obama could be opening up an important debate with the Republican Party on Monday by meeting with his Cabinet and instructing them to outline specific plans for cutting their budgets. “There will be no sacred cows, and no pet projects. All across America, families are making hard choices, and it’s time their government did the same,” Obama told Americans in his weekly radio address on Saturday….
      Though Monday’s meeting at the White House will draw most of the attention for the debates that will certainly unfold among Democrats about how far to go with these reductions, what is most important to look for is whether any Republicans step forward and start to offer the outline of viable compromise. Will they suggest measures the president could take if he wants to realistically expect more than three Republican votes on the bigger issues that he has put on the table? – CNN, 4-20-09
    • Paul Light “Obama holds first Cabinet meeting as cameras whirl”: “There is no Cabinet government here, and there’s not going to be,” said Paul Light, an authority on White House organizations at New York University. “We haven’t had real Cabinet government since, oh, I don’t know when.” – AP, 4-20-09

    The First Lady and Queen Rania

    The First Lady and Queen Rania of Jordan

    (First Lady Michelle Obama hosts Jordan’s Queen Rania in the Yellow Oval Room in the  White House Residence, April 23, 2009.  White House Photo/ Samantha Appleton)

    History Buzz April 27, 2009: Pulitzer Prize Winners Announced

    HISTORY BUZZ:

    POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

    BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

    THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

      On This Day in History….This Week in History…. April 27- May 3, 2009

    • 500 years on, England reconsiders Henry VIII: proclaimed king in April 1509: England’s King Henry VIII is known as a tyrant who killed two of his six wives, but a series of exhibitions marking 500 years since his coronation reveal he was also a romantic, a keen sportsman — and the country’s first eurosceptic. Henry, who was proclaimed king in April 1509, was “the most important king of England… we’re still at the tailend of the ruling of Henry,” explained David Starkey, a historian specialising in the Tudor period. Henry changed the course of history when he broke with Rome and founded the Church of England, following the refusal of pope Clement VII in 1530 to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could wed Anne Boleyn. In doing so, Henry (1491-1547) became “the first eurosceptic — he is the inventor of England,” Starkey told AFP. “When he came to the throne, Henry was the pious prince who ruled England at the heart of the Catholic Europe,” the historian explained in publicity for one of the exhibitions. “When he died, he was the great schismatic, who had created a national church and an insular, xenophobic politics that shaped the development of England for the next 500 years.”… – AFP, 4-26-09

    IN THE NEWS:

    OP-EDs & BLOGS:

    REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

    • James Mann: HISTORY Ronald Reagan, Revised THE REBELLION OF RONALD REAGAN A History of the End of the Cold WarWaPo, 4-26-09
    • Barbara Moran, Todd Tucker: HISTORY Secret Accidents and Lost Bombs THE DAY WE LOST THE H-BOMB Cold War, Hot Nukes, and the Worst Nuclear Weapons Disaster in History, ATOMIC AMERICA How a Deadly Explosion and a Feared Admiral Changed the Course of Nuclear HistoryWaPo, 4-26-09
    • Jay Taylor: The Final Triumph of Chiang Kai-shek THE GENERALISSIMO Chiang Kai-Shek and the Struggle for Modern ChinaWaPo, 4-26-09
    • Wendy Doniger: Another Incarnation THE HINDUS An Alternative HistoryNYT, 4-24-09
    • Jennifer Scanlon: Miniskirt Lib BAD GIRLS GO EVERYWHERE The Life of Helen Gurley BrownNYT, 4-24-09
    • Marcia Jo Zerivitz: Local historian’s book details early history of Jews in Miami A local expert on Jewish history discusses her first book, ‘Images of America: Jews of Greater Miami.’ – Miami Herald, 4-26-09
    • Margaret Macmillan: New Book about the uses and abuses of history The Uses and Abuses of HistorySource: John Gray in the Guardian (4-18-09)

    QUOTES:

    • David Starkey: TV historian sparks fury of a nation with ‘feeble little Scotland’ jibe: A LEADING historian was under pressure to apologise yesterday after he described Scotland as a “feeble little nation”. David Starkey also hit out at Robert Burns, describing him as a “boring provincial poet”, and dismissed bagpipes as “awful” on BBC’s Question Time. – Scotsman, 4-25-09

    PROFILES & FEATURES:

    • Amity Shlaes: Why GOP is devouring one book: Amity Shlaes’ “The Forgotten Man” like soccer moms before book club night: Shlaes’ 2007 take on the Great Depression questions the success of the New Deal and takes issue with the value of government intervention in a major economic crisis — red meat for a party hungry for empirical evidence that the Democrats’ spending plans won’t end the current recession… – Politico, 4-21-09
    • David Starkey: Henry VIII — Mind of a Tyrant was a Hello! history – Times Online UK, 4-26-09
    • Charles B. Dew “Hunger for history as Civil War’s 150th approaches”: Charles B. Dew, professor of American history at Williams College in Massachusetts, said southerners have been unwilling to confront a prewar economy based on slavery while northerners have sought to blot out memories of their own “profoundly racist” society.”Americans, like most people, want a usable past. They want it to make sense,” Dew said. The conference, he said, is an opportunity “for shining some light in some of the darker corners in Virginia, and by extension, Southern history in a very critical moment.” – AP, 4-24-09
    • Edward L. Ayers “Hunger for history as Civil War’s 150th approaches”: Edward L. Ayers, a pre-eminent Civil War historian who organized the inaugural conference, said the goal is “to put people in the moment” and set aside preconceived notions. He said voices overlooked in past war narratives are being welcomed and future conferences will probe the role of African-Americans, the home front and even a global view of the conflict. “We have the opportunity to look at this with a fresh eye,” said Ayers, president of the University of Richmond. “Let’s enter into a conversation with these people of the past and understand just what they were thinking. How was it they could end up killing people that were their neighbors?” AP, 4-24-09
    • “Hunger for history as Civil War’s 150th approaches”: AP, 4-24-09
    • Michael Oren: Speculation heats up as to who will fill US ambassador slot – Jerusalem Post, 4-23-09

    INTERVIEWS:

    HONORS, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

    • And the Pulitzer Prizes go to …: History – The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed, Biography – American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham, General Nonfiction – Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon – Source: http://www.pulitzer.org (4-20-09)

    SPOTTED:

    • Hannah Geffert: Blacks played a large part in John Brown’s historic raid: Hannah Geffert, a history professor at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown presented “John Brown and His Secret Alliance” Sunday as part of the West Virginia Humanities Council’s Little Lecture Series. – Sunday Gazette-Mail, 4-26-09
    • Dana Shoaf: Historian Articles should appeal to masses – Herald Mail, 4-20-09
    • Howard Zinn: “Americans Who Tell The Truth” Event Features Historian and Icon – Open Media Boston, 4-23-09

    EVENTS CALENDAR:

    • May 2, 2009 The War of 1812 Revisited at Conference: The Fort La Présentation Association of Ogdensburg, NY is sponsoring a War of 1812 War College Saturday, May 2, 2009 – Press Release, 4-1-09
    • June 11-14, 2009: The ninth annual “Reacting to the Past” Institute at Barnard College (New York), Annual summer history institute at Barnard College – Source: Press Release (4-21-09)

    ON TV:

    • PBS, Monday April 20, at 9pm: Seeing History Through Indians’ Eyes: “We Shall Remain” NYT, 4-12-09 (pbs.org/wgbh/amex/weshallremain)
    • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
    • PBS American Experience: Mondays at 9pm
    • History Channel: Weekly Schedule
    • History Channel: “Return of the Pirates”, “Shadow Force: Pirate Strike” – Monday, April 27, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Black Blizzard” – Tuesday, April 29, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Cities Of The Underworld: Under the Rock” – Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Life After People: Outbreak,” “Life After People: The Bodies Left Behind” – Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 9pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Decoding The Past: Cults: Dangerous Devotion ” – Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT

    BEST SELLERS (NYT):

    COMING SOON BOOKS:

    • Vincent Bzdek, Kennedy Legacy: Jack, Bobby and Ted and a Family Dream Fulfilled, April 27, 2009
    • Alex Storozynski, Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution, April 28, 2009
    • Thomas Childers: Soldier from the War Returning: The Greatest Generation’s Troubled Homecoming from World War II, May 13, 2009
    • Simon Schama, American Future: A History, May 19, 2009
    • Geoffrey Blainey, Sea of Dangers: Captain Cook and His Rivals in the South Pacific, May 25, 2009
    • Douglas Brinkley, Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, 1858-1919, June 30, 2009

    DEPARTED:

    April 20, 2009: President Obama at the Summit of the Americas

    THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY: 

    The President speaks at the Summit of the Americas

    IN FOCUS: STATS

    In Focus: Stats

    • President Barack Obama: First 100 Days PhotosCharlotte Observer
    • Poll shows 71% trust Obama to fix the economy: The Gallup survey also finds that 51% of respondents say they have confidence in Democratic congressional leaders when it comes to the economy. Thirty-eight percent felt that way about Republican leaders. That puts Obama ahead of some of the country’s leading economic experts: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke had a 49% rating in the poll and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner drew 47%…. – LAT, 4-14-09
    • Poll: Gov. Charlie Crist remains popular in state: Sixty-six percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Democrats and independents approve of the way he is handling his job, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. Crist is considering passing up a second term for the U.S. Senate seat held by Mel Martinez, who is stepping down… – Miami Herald, 4-15-09
    • Murphy on track to win special election: With all of the unchallenged absentee and overseas military ballots counted, Democrat Scott Murphy leads Republican Jim Tedisco by 273 votes and looks in extremely strong position to prevail in the New York special election. Murphy has 79,839 votes, while Tedisco has 79,566 votes. – Politico, 4-17-09
    • Murphy’s lead grows to 178 votes in House race: Democrat Scott Murphy widened his lead over Republican James Tedisco to 178 votes on Thursday in the too-close-to- call race for New York’s 20th Congressional District seat. The state Board of Elections reported that the latest unofficial tally showed Murphy with 79,452 votes to Tedisco’s 79,274. The lead has fluctuated almost daily since the special election was held on March 31, though Murphy has been ahead almost every day. On Wednesday, Murphy led by 86 votes. AP, 4-16-09

    THE HEADLINES….

    The Headlines…

    • White House: Obama to address credit card abuses: The White House says it will back congressional efforts to clamp down on credit card abuses. The House and Senate are considering legislation aimed at limiting credit card companies’ ability to raise interest rates on existing balances and require greater disclosure…. – AP, 4-19-09
    • Iran president urges full defense for US reporter: President Barack Obama said Sunday he was “gravely concerned” about Saberi’s safety and well-being and was confident she wasn’t involved in espionage. The U.S. has called the charges baseless and said Iran would gain U.S. goodwill if it “responded in a positive way” to the case. “She is an Iranian-American who was interested in the country which her family came from. And it is appropriate for her to be treated as such and to be released,” Obama said. Saberi’s case has been an irritant in U.S.-Iran relations at a time when Obama is offering to start a dialogue between the longtime adversaries. A few days before her sentence was announced, Ahmadinejad gave the clearest signal yet that Iran, too, was ready for a new relationship with the U.S. – AP, 4-19-09
    • Obama: Cuba has steps it can take right now: President Barack Obama says Cuba should release political prisoners, afford greater freedoms and reduce fees on money sent from the United States to Cuba…. – AP, 4-19-09
    • Obama defends greeting Hugo Chavez The president says Americans want him to interact with foreign leaders and that the U.S. has nothing to fear from Venezuela: Rebuffing criticism of the warm greetings he exchanged with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, President Obama said today that the United States, with its overwhelming military superiority and need to improve its global image, can afford to extend such diplomatic “courtesy.” Obama, in a news conference capping a three-day meeting of leaders from the Western Hemisphere, also said the U.S. must engage other countries through humanitarian gestures, not simply military intervention…. – LAT, 4-19-09
    • Chavez Vows To Restore Ambassador In U.S. At Summit, Venezuela Leader Sees “New Era” Of Relations; Ambassador Was Pulled In Sept.: Hugo Chavez said Saturday that he is restoring Venezuela’s ambassador in Washington, voicing hopes for a “new era” in U.S. relations after barely getting to know U.S. President Barack Obama at a regional summit. Venezuela’s socialist leader told reporters at the Summit of the Americas that he will propose Roy Chaderton, the South American nation’s current ambassador to The Organization of American States, as the new diplomat in Washington…. – CBS News, 4-18-09
    • Obama extends hands to Chavez, Ortega at summit: President Barack Obama offered a spirit of cooperation to America’s hemispheric neighbors at a summit Saturday, listening to complaints about past U.S. meddling and even reaching out to Venezuela’s leftist leader. While he worked to ease friction between the U.S. and their countries, Obama cautioned leaders at the Summit of the Americas to resist a temptation to blame all their problems on their behemoth neighbor to the north…. – AP, 4-18-09
    • What recession? Funds flow for Senate races: The recession shadowing the United States and draining Americans’ savings has hardly dented efforts by Senate candidates to raise cash for the 2010 elections, and Democrats appear ahead early in the game…. – Reuters, 4-18-09
    • Wanted: Computer hackers … to help government: Federal authorities aren’t looking to prosecute them, but to pay them to secure the nation’s networks. General Dynamics Information Technology put out an ad last month on behalf of the Homeland Security Department seeking someone who could “think like the bad guy.” Applicants, it said, must understand hackers’ tools and tactics and be able to analyze Internet traffic and identify vulnerabilities in the federal systems. – AP, 4-18-09
    • US to boycott United Nations racism meeting: The Obama administration will boycott “with regret” a U.N. conference on racism next week over objectionable language in the meeting’s final document that could single out Israel for criticism and restrict free speech, the State Department said Saturday. The decision follows weeks of furious internal debate and will likely please Israel and Jewish groups that lobbied against U.S. participation. But the move upset human rights advocates and some in the African-American community who had hoped that President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, would send an official delegation…. – AP, 4-18-09
    • Palin stands against abortion during Ind. speech: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, speaking at anti-abortion group’s dinner, criticized President Barack Obama for supporting abortion rights and challenged the idea that unplanned pregnancies are a nuisance that can be solved by abortion…. – AP, 4-17-09
    • Obama pledges help to slow US arms flow: Confronting a Mexican drug war that is “sowing chaos in our communities,” President Barack Obama signaled Thursday he will not seek renewal of a U.S. assault weapons ban but instead will step up enforcement of laws banning the transfer of such guns across the border…. – AP, 4-17-09
    • Obama Calls for Thaw in U.S. Relations With Cuba: President Obama, seeking to thaw long-frozen relations with Cuba, told a gathering of Western Hemisphere leaders on Friday that “the United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba,” and that he was willing to have his administration engage the Castro government on a wide array of issues….. “I know there is a longer journey that must be traveled in overcoming decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day,” Mr. Obama said, adding that he was “prepared to have my administration engage with the Cuban government on a wide range of issues — from human rights, free speech, and democratic reform to drugs, migration, and economic issues.” “Let me be clear,” Mr. Obama said. “I am not interested in talking for the sake of talking. But I do believe we can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction.” – NYT, 4-17-09
    • Obama ‘seeks a new beginning’ with Cuba, talks: Trading their warmest words in a half-century, the United States and Cuba built momentum toward renewed ties on Friday, with President Barack Obama declaring he “seeks a new beginning” — including direct talks — with the island’s communist regime. As leaders of the Americas gathered for a summit in this Caribbean nation, the head of the Organization of American States even said he’ll ask his group to invite Cuba back after 47 years. In remarks kicking off the weekend gathering of nations — of which Cuba was the only country in the region not represented — Obama repeated the kind of remarks toward the Castro regime that marked his campaign for the presidency. “The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba,” he said at the Summit of the Americas opening ceremony. “I know there is a longer journey that must be traveled to overcome decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day.”… – AP, 4-17-09
    • CIA objections slowed torture memos release: Four former CIA directors opposed releasing classified Bush-era interrogation memos, officials say, describing objections that went all the way to the White House and slowed release of the records…. – AP, 4-17-09
    • Obama won’t charge CIA officers for rough tactics: In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, CIA operatives were allowed to shackle, strip and waterboard terror suspects. Now, President Barack Obama has assured these operatives that they will not be prosecuted for their rough interrogation tactics…. – AP, 4-17-09
    • White House says Biden to speak at 3 graduations: Vice President Joe Biden will speak at graduations at Syracuse University, Wake Forest University and at the United States Air Force Academy…. – AP, 4-17-09
    • Pirate hostage captain praises SEAL ‘superheroes’: The unassuming ship captain who escaped the clutches of Somali pirates made a triumphant return home Friday, insisting he’s no hero, just an ordinary seaman. Richard Phillips said the U.S. Navy, which pulled off the daring high-seas rescue that ended his five-day captivity, deserves the credit. “They’re the superheroes,” a relaxed, hale-looking Phillips said upon his arrival at Burlington International Airport. “They’re the titans. They’re impossible men doing an impossible job, and they did the impossible with me. … They’re at the point of the sword every day, doing an impossible job every day.”… – AP, 4-17-09
    • US to fund research with some embryonic stem cells: When President Barack Obama eased limits on taxpayer-funded embryonic stem cell research, the big question became how far scientists could go. Friday, the government answered: They must use cells culled from fertility clinic embryos that otherwise would be thrown away. Draft guidelines released by the National Institutes of Health reflect rules with broad congressional support, excluding more controversial sources such as cells derived from embryos created just for experiments…. – AP, 4-17-09
    • Obama to Push to Ratify Treaty on Gun Trafficking: President Obama, vowing to confront drug cartels that are “sowing chaos in our communities,” called Thursday for the Senate to ratify a long-stalled treaty aimed at curbing illegal arms trafficking. But Mr. Obama also suggested that he would not press lawmakers to revive an expired ban on assault weapons. On the first day of a four-day swing through Latin America, Mr. Obama arrived here on Thursday afternoon for a visit that was intended to demonstrate what he called “a new era” in United States-Mexican relations and to show support for his Mexican counterpart, President Felipe Calderón. Stemming the rising tide of drug violence was the centerpiece of their agenda…. – NYT, 4-16-09
    • Obama outlines vision for high-speed rail network: President Barack Obama on Thursday outlined plans for a high-speed rail network he said would change the way Americans travel, drawing comparisons to the 1950s creation of the interstate highway system. Obama was careful to point out that his plan was only a down payment on an ambitious plan that, if realized, could connect Chicago and St. Louis, Orlando and Miami, Portland and Seattle and dozens of other metropolitan areas around the country with high-speed trains…. – AP, 4-16-09
    • Democrats: Texas gov should disavow secession talk: In a state that once was its own nation, a Republican governor who talked about secession without completely dismissing the idea has Democratic lawmakers in an uproar. Gov. Rick Perry, in comments following an anti-tax “tea party” Wednesday, never did advocate Texas breaking away from the United States but suggested that Texans might at some point get so fed up they would want to leave the union. That was enough to feed opinions for and against secession on Web sites, cable TV and talk radio across the nation….. – AP, 4-16-09
    • Obama to seek ratification of arms treaty: Confronting a security threat on the America’s doorstep, President Barack Obama arrived Thursday in Mexico for a swift diplomatic mission to show solidarity on drugs and guns with a troubled neighbor — and to prove the U.S. is serious about the battle against trafficking…. – AP, 4-16-09
    • Obama says Cuba should make next move on relations: President Barack Obama wants Havana to make the next move to improve U.S.-Cuba relations, saying Thursday that he needs to see signs of changes on the island before he makes any more overtures. Obama already has lifted restrictions on visits and money sent to Cuba by Americans with families there — steps he called “extraordinarily significant” for those families, and a show of good faith by the U.S. government that it wants to recast the relationship. But he reiterated that the U.S. won’t unilaterally end its trade embargo against Cuba, even though the policy is widely seen as a failure that has complicated U.S. relations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean…. – AP, 4-16-09
    • Vice president announces $4B in smart energy grid grants: Vice President Joe Biden used a visit to a mid-Missouri transformer factory Thursday to highlight how the federal economic stimulus package is propelling a new wind-energy project and spinning off jobs. Speaking from the factory floor of ABB Inc., Biden announced that the Department of Energy will award about $4 billion in grants under the stimulus package to improve the nation’s electric grid…. – AP, 4-16-09
    • For Gov. Palin, a Rough Return to the Day Job: Before Tina Fey and “Drill, baby, drill,” there was mud season here in the Alaskan capital. This soggy, socked-in spring has been no exception, but it sure has been different in other ways. For Gov. Sarah Palin, Republican meteor, getting back to governing has not been easy…. And then there is the pervasive sense among many lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, that a new political reality has overtaken this remote government seat. “The source of the greatest tension this year between the Legislature and the executive has been certainly the appearance that the executive is prioritizing her national image, her national brand, over the day-to-day operations of state government and the interests of the State of Alaska,” said Mike Hawker, the Republican co-chairman of the House Finance Committee…. – NYT, 4-16-09
    • McCain Criticized For Palin Snub: Mr. McCain is coming under fire for his conspicuous memory lapse when listing the names of Republican governors who could be the next in line to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012. Mrs. Palin did not make the cut. “We have, I’m happy to say, a lot of voices out there,” Mr. McCain told host Jay Leno before listing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Utah Gov. Jim Huntsman, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. “There are a lot of governors out there who are young and dynamic.” Recognizing his error, the Arizona senator added, “I’ve left out somebody’s name, and I’m going to hear about it.” That somebody was Mrs. Palin. By failing to mention Mrs. Palin’s name, some conservatives say Mr. McCain is fracturing a Republican Party that must start uniting now if it is going to topple Mr. Obama in 2012. – The Bulletin, 4-15-09
    • ‘Regular Joe’ plays a key White House role As vice president, Biden is yin to Obama’s yang. But he’s definitely no Cheney: Joe Biden leans into the microphone and tells the assembled Washington elites just how important he has become to his new boss, Barack Obama. “To give you an idea of how close we are,” the vice president says at the annual Gridiron dinner of journalists and politicos, “he told me that next year – maybe, just maybe – he’s going to give me his BlackBerry e-mail address.” Ba-da-boom. By many accounts, Vice President Biden is, in fact, a key player in the Obama White House, with a finger in most of the central issues of the day. Whether it’s going to Munich, Germany, to deliver the administration’s first major foreign-policy address or traveling around the country as head of the Middle Class Task Force and chief enforcer of stimulus spending or attending most of President Obama’s daily briefings, Mr. Biden appears to enjoy the confidence of the boss – and plenty of face time…. – CS Monitor, 4-15-09
    • Thousands rally with ‘tea parties’ on tax day: Whipped up by conservative commentators and bloggers, tens of thousands of protesters staged “tea parties” around the country Wednesday to tap into the collective angst stirred up by a bad economy, government spending and bailouts. The rallies were directed at President Barack Obama’s new administration on a symbolic day: the deadline to file income taxes. Protesters even threw what appeared to be a box of tea bags toward the White House, causing a brief lockdown at the compound…. – AP, 4-15-09
    • Tax Day Is Met With Tea Parties: Some people wore their tea bags hanging from umbrellas or eyeglasses. Others simply tossed them on the White House lawn. Wednesday’s deadline for filing income tax returns offered some Americans a timely excuse to vent their frustrations as demonstrators attended more than 750 Tax Day tea parties in cities like Boston, Washington, East Hampton, N.Y., and Yakima, Wash. The events were meant to protest government spending, particularly the Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus package and its $3.5 trillion budget…. – NYT, 4-15-09
    • Obamas report $2.7 million in income for 2008: President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, millionaires from his best-selling books, made $2.7 million last year and paid just under one-third of their adjusted income in federal taxes. While the income, mostly his, was far more than the U.S. median household income of about $50,000, it was quite a decrease from the $4.2 million the Obamas made in 2007…. –
    • Senator’s Ballot in Upstate Race Disputed: James N. Tedisco, the Republican candidate in the deadlocked race for Congress in New York’s 20th District, has been challenging absentee ballots right and left, his Democratic rival complains. But mostly left. On Tuesday, his lawyers challenged the ballot of one person they could be fairly certain had voted for Scott Murphy, Mr. Tedisco’s Democratic opponent: Kirsten E. Gillibrand, whose appointment to the Senate created the job opening. With Mr. Tedisco trailing Mr. Murphy by just 47 votes as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, every vote still up for grabs takes on heightened significance. But the move plays into Mr. Murphy’s accusations that Mr. Tedisco is systematically trying to disenfranchise Democratic voters. Mr. Murphy’s lawyers say Republicans have objected to hundreds of ballots mailed in from New York City or Florida, signed by voters with Jewish- or Hispanic-sounding surnames, or sent by students at Skidmore College…. – NYT, 4-15-09
    • Ruling Hampers Republican’s Chances in New York: A court ruling Wednesday on special election absentee ballot challenges dealt another setback to Republican Tedisco is counting on absentees to eke out a victory over Democrat Scott Murphy in New York’s 20th Congressional District. A justice in the Dutchess County branch of the Supreme Court ruled that some of the reasons the Tedisco camp has been using for for challenging absentee ballots are invalid…. – CQ Politics, 4-15-09
    • Obama tempers optimism with reality on economy: Aiming to assert control over the nation’s economic debate, President Barack Obama on Tuesday warned Americans eager for good news that “by no means are we out of the woods” and argued his broad domestic agenda is the path to recovery. In a speech at Georgetown University, Obama aimed to juggle his recent glass-half-full takes on the economy with a determination to not be stamped as naive in the face lingering problems. He summarized actions his administration has taken to steady the limping economy and coupled that with a fresh overview of his domestic goals…. – AP, 4-14-09
    • Republicans criticize report on right-wing groups: Republicans on Wednesday said a Homeland Security Department intelligence assessment unfairly characterizes military veterans as right-wing extremists. House Republican leader John Boehner described the report as offensive and called on the agency to apologize to veterans…. “To characterize men and women returning home after defending our country as potential terrorists is offensive and unacceptable,” said Boehner, R-Ohio. – AP, 4-15-09
    • Here’s Bo! Obamas show pooch with ‘star quality’: First pooch Bo got star treatment and his first backyard romp at the White House on Tuesday — and even presidential clearance to visit the Oval Office. But he better not get any inflated ideas about doggy sleeping arrangements. “Not in my bed,” declared Barack Obama. The nation got its long-awaited first look at Bo in action as the Obamas showed off the family’s new dog on the South Lawn. First lady Michelle Obama did most of the walking while the 6-month-old Portuguese water dog scampered about. Then daughter Malia took a turn, and Bo took off running…. – AP, 4-14-09 Bo’s First Day: WH Blog, 4-14-09
    • PROMISES, PROMISES: Is Obama dog a rescue or not?: Is Bo a rescued dog or not? Did President Obama keep or break a campaign promise in picking the purebred as the family’s new pet? The twists and turns of the Portuguese water dog’s route to the White House make for the kind of intrigue that political junkies and the highly opinionated dog world delight in…. – AP, 4-13-09 A page from Bo’s baby book: Baltimore Sun, 4-14-09
    • Ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich pleads not guilty: Ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich pleaded not guilty to racketeering and fraud charges Tuesday, defiantly embarking on a long journey to clear his name but facing serious money problems and without a team of lawyers in place. “I’m glad this process has finally begun,” the impeached former governor told the media throng that spilled into the street in front of the courthouse after he and his brother, Robert, were arraigned on corruption charges. “It’s the end of the beginning in one respect but it’s the beginning of another aspect” of the case, Blagojevich said. “That is the beginning of me being able to prove and clear my name and be vindicated of what are inaccurate allegations.”… – AP, 4-14-09
    • Report warns of rise of right-wing extremists: In a report made public today, the Department of Homeland Security warns that the recession and the election of President Obama are “fueling resurgence” of right-wing extremist groups that are seeking new recruits, especially returning veterans…. – USA Today, 4-14-09
    • Is the GOP Waving Bye-Bye to Sarah Palin?: Worse than Dan Quayle before her, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s bright star has fast faded in the eyes of Washington Republican officials and analysts, calling into question her efforts to become a national party figure ready to run for the White House. “She’s just not ready for prime time,” said a party strategist who has worked for former President Bush. “I mean, she’s starting to look like she’s having trouble being governor of Alaska.” At issue is her weak debut, hampered by the mishandling of her by Sen. John McCain’s campaign, and subsequent family issues such as the most recent tiff with Levi Johnston, the father of her first grandchild and ex-fiancé of her daughter Bristol…. – US News & World Report, 4-14-09
    • Coleman’s Senate appeal coming, but odds are long: Dealt a stinging loss in his election trial, Republican Norm Coleman must overcome some daunting challenges to find his way back to the U.S. Senate. He’ll have to convince the Minnesota Supreme Court that three veteran trial judges botched his lawsuit challenging Democrat Al Franken’s lead — now at 312 votes — and hope justices order more rejected absentee ballots to be counted. Then, Coleman needs those ballots to break disproportionately for him to vault him past Franken…. – AP, 4-14-09
    • Obamas host first White House egg roll: President Barack Obama welcomed thousands of children and families to the White House Easter Egg Roll Monday, calling it “one of the greatest White House traditions.” Obama and his wife, Michelle, appeared with on a balcony overlooking the South Lawn where thousands of children and families took a break from participating in the festivities to listen and cheer enthusiastically for the first family. The president’s daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama, were also there, along with his mother-in-law Marian Robinson. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, stood on the driveway beneath the balcony…. – Mrs. Obama reminded the participants of the event’s theme, “Let’s go play.” “Our goal today is just to have fun,” she said. “We want to focus on activity, healthy eating. We’ve got yoga, we’ve got dancing, we’ve got storytelling, we’ve got Easter Egg decorating; oh we’ve got basketball, a little soccer as well.” “We want everybody to think about moving their bodies,” she added. – AP, 4-13-09
    • Inside the Obamas’ Easter Egg Roll: The President and First Family welcome kids to the South Lawn of the White House for a day of play – People, 4-13-09
    • Dog-loving CEOs have a few tips for the Obamas and Bo: “They say, if you want a friend in Washington,” President Obama told Jay Leno, “get a dog.” The Obamas at last got theirs — a 6-month-old, black-and-white Portuguese water dog named Bo, expected to be officially introduced today — fulfilling the long-anticipated campaign promise to daughters Sasha and Malia…. – USA Today, 4-13-09
    • Murphy retains 20-vote lead over Tedisco: Democrat Scott Murphy leads by 20 votes over Republican James Tedisco in the 20th Congressional District race, according to the latest unofficial election results. As of Monday, Murphy had 77,944 votes and Tedisco had 77,924 votes in a race that has been a see-saw…. – Poughkeepsie Journal, 4-14-09
    • Minn. court declares Franken leading vote-getter: A Minnesota court confirmed Monday that Democrat Al Franken won the most votes in his 2008 Senate race against Republican Norm Coleman, who immediately announced plans to appeal the decision. Coleman has 10 days to appeal to the state Supreme Court. Once the petition is filed, it could further delay the seating of Minnesota’s second senator for weeks. “It’s time that Minnesota like every other state have two” senators, a jovial Franken said outside his Minneapolis townhouse with his wife Franni at his side. “I would call on Senator Coleman to allow me to get to work for the people of Minnesota as soon as possible.”… – AP, 4-13-09
    • Bush’s high road highlights contrasts with Cheney: When the most recent former president convenes 20 former aides for a brainstorming session today about the George W. Bush Policy Institute, one big figure will be missing, according to news reports. Former vice president Dick Cheney, the alleged Svengali of the eight-year Bush administration, will be absent, tending to his own affairs – which have recently included blistering attacks on the Obama administration for abandoning the interrogations of terrorism suspects that many people considered torture. Bush, by contrast, has taken the high road, refusing opportunities to criticize the new president even in the face of repeated jabs by members of the Obama administration, and Obama’s own frequent declarations about the sorry state of affairs he “inherited” from Bush. – Boston Globe, 4-13-09

    POLITICAL QUOTES

    The President's Weekly Address: Efficiency and Innovation

    Political Quotes

    • To Learn from History, Not Be Trapped by It: All of us must now renew the common stake that we have in one another. I know that promises of partnership have gone unfulfilled in the past, and that trust has to be earned over time. While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms. But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. (Applause.) There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations; there is simply engagement based on mutual respect and common interests and shared values. So I’m here to launch a new chapter of engagement that will be sustained throughout my administration…. – WH Blog, 4-18-09
    • Obama: Like families, govt to make hard choices: Families are making tough decisions about their money and so too will their government, President Barack Obama said Saturday, promising that spending cuts are coming — and soon. “If we’re going to rebuild our economy on a solid foundation, we need to change the way we do business in Washington. We need to restore the American people’s confidence in their government — that it is on their side, spending their money wisely, to meet their families’ needs,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address, released while he attended the Summit of the Americans in Trinidad. “In the coming weeks, I will be announcing the elimination of dozens of government programs shown to be wasteful or ineffective,” he said. “In this effort, there will be no sacred cows and no pet projects. All across America, families are making hard choices, and it’s time their government did the same.” “That is why I have assembled a team of management, technology and budget experts to guide us in this work,” he said, “leaders who will help us revamp government operations from top to bottom and ensure that the federal government is truly working for the American people.” AP, 4-18-09 Transcript: WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Discusses Efforts to Reform Spending, Government Waste; Names Chief Performance Officer and Chief Technology Office
    • Sarah Palin’s Indiana speech: “You can see Russia from Alaska”: “Alaska is the only state in the nation with a negative tax rate,” she said. “No income tax, no state sales tax, no state property tax and I want to keep it that way because I believe our families and small business can spend the money they earn better than government she can.” “There just for a fleeting moment I thought, I knew, nobody knows me here. Nobody would ever know. I thought, wow, it is easy. It could be easy to think maybe of trying to change the circumstances. No one would know. No one would ever know.” But it was time, she said, to “walk the walk” in regards to her long-standing pro-life convictions. “I had just enough faith to know that trying to change the circumstances wasn’t any answer,” she said. “The moment he was born, I knew that moment my prayers had been answered,” Palin said. “Trig is a miracle. He is the best thing that ever happened to me and I want other women to have that opportunity.”…  She criticized the economic stimulus package as giving her heartburn proclaiming that “this isn’t free money, folks.” “Yes, you can see Russia from Alaska,” she said to much laughter. – CS Monitor, 4-18-09
    • McCain picked Palin from 26 possible VPs in ‘high risk, high reward’ move: Ronald Reagan’s former counsel A.B. Culvahouse was in charge of the candidate partner vetting process and helped the Arizona senator pare down the list. But McCain, Culvahouse revealed Friday, was intrigued by Sarah Palin, the 44-year-old Alaska governor and mother of five. That was understandable, the former presidential aide said. Even the most cynical of his 30 Washington, D.C., attorney vetters were impressed by her presence. “She fills up a room,” Culvahouse told a Washington meeting of the Republican National Lawyers Assn. (See video below.) Even difficult questions, he said, she knocked “out of the park” during the vice president interview process… – LAT, 4-18-09
    • McCain Strategist Warns GOP Risks Becoming ‘Religious Party’ Steve Schmidt urges Republicans to begin voicing more support for civil unions and gay rights: “If you put public policy issues to a religious test, you risk becoming a religious party,” he said. “And in a free country a political party cannot be viable in the long-term if it is seen as a sectarian party.” “If the party is seen as anti-gay, then that is injurious to its candidates” in Democrat-leaning and competitive states, he said. “I believe Republicans should re-examine the extent that we are being defined by positions on issues that I don’t believe are among our core values,” he said, while still calling social conservatives an “indispensable part of the conservative coalition.” “The rapid growth of the Hispanic-American population for instance could soon cost Republicans the entire southwest if we don’t recover our previous share of the vote,” he said. – Fox, 4-17-09
    • US, Cuba advance dizzying thaw in relations: “The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba,” he said at the Summit of the Americas opening ceremony, according to his remarks released in advance by the White House. “I know there is a longer journey that must be traveled in overcoming decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day.” “Let me be clear: I am not interested in talking for the sake of talking,” the president said. “But I do believe that we can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction.” – AP, 4-17-09
    • Towards the Summit: As we approach the Summit of the Americas, our hemisphere is faced with a clear choice. We can overcome our shared challenges with a sense of common purpose, or we can stay mired in the old debates of the past. For the sake of all our people, we must choose the future. Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors. We have been too easily distracted by other priorities, and have failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas. My Administration is committed to the promise of a new day. We will renew and sustain a broader partnership between the United States and the hemisphere on behalf of our common prosperity and our common security…. – WH Blog, 4-16-09
    • Day 85: Obama Talks Economy, Unveils Bo: On his eight-fifth day in office, President Obama took his argument for ambitious agenda to Georgetown University, where he lauded economic “glimmers of hope” while also warning that “by no means are we out of the woods.” “I absolutely agree that our long-term deficit is a major problem that we have to fix,” he said. “But the fact is that this recovery plan represents only a tiny fraction of that long-term deficit…the key to dealing with our deficit and debt is to get a handle on out-of-control health care costs – not to stand idly by as the economy goes into free fall.” – CBS News, 4-14-09
    • Obama urges patience, lower expectations on economy: President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy, Tuesday, April 14, 2009, at Georgetown University in Washington. He said that, “One of my most frequent questions in the letters that I get from constituents is, ‘Where’s my bailout?’ And I understand the sentiment. “But the truth is that a dollar of capital in a bank can actually result in $8 or $10 of loans to families and businesses.” Rebutting critics who want him to nationalize failing banks rather than bail them out, he said that could undermine confidence and end up costing taxpayers even more. Obama spoke of Washington’s typical “impatience,” of the 24-hour news cycle and desire for “instant gratification” and said the economy can’t be fixed within those confines. “I know how difficult it is for members of Congress in both parties to grapple with some of the big decisions we face right now,” he said. “It’s more than most Congresses and most presidents have to deal with in a lifetime. But we have been called to govern in extraordinary times.” Obama told of the Sermon on the Mount, and the house built on sand versus rock. “We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand; we must build our house upon a rock,” he said. He acknowledged “a criticism out there that my administration has somehow been spending with reckless abandon, pushing a liberal social agenda while mortgaging our children’s future.” The president countered: “If we don’t invest now in renewable energy or a skilled work force or a more affordable health care system, this economy simply won’t grow at the pace it needs to in two or five or ten years” and that “it won’t be long before we are right back where we are today.”… – Miami Herald, 4-14-09
    • First Lady Visits Department of Homeland Security: It was Mrs. Obama’s ninth visit to a cabinet level agency and she thanked employees for working hard to keep the nation safe. “One of the president’s greatest concerns and priorities is the safety and security of the American people,” Mrs. Obama said. “He couldn’t do it without you.” “You are standing watch every day over our borders and our skies, our ports and our transportation system,” she said…. – NYT, 4-14-09
    • John McCain-Sarah Palin rift grows wider, as Sen. leaves former running mate off list of GOP stars: On Monday’s “Tonight Show,” Jay Leno asked the Arizona Senator to name the new guiding lights of the Republican party, and McCain was quick to rattle off a list of “young, dynamic” governors around the country. Palin wasn’t one of them. McCain singled out Lousisana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Florida Gov. Charlie Christ, Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney, McCain’s chief rival for the Republican presidential nod in 2008. In case anyone missed his conspicuous omission of Palin, McCain then added, “And I’ve left out somebody’s name, and I’m gonna hear about it.” – NY Daily News, 4-14-09

    HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

    The President Presents His Vision for High Speed Rail

    Historians’ Comments

    • Robert Dallek: Despite Major Plans, Obama Taking Softer Stands: “If Obama is too timid, if the White House is too cautious,” said Robert Dallek, a presidential historian, “it is going to make him look too opportunistic. He made all these promises during the campaign, he talked so boldly, he stirred all our hopes, and now he is not following through.” On complex issues like health care, Mr. Dallek said, there is advantage in angling for the final say. “It’s kind of a technique to keep power in your hands,” he said. “Let these guys in the House, let the folks in the Senate battle with one another, battle it out. They are going to have to come to the president and have him adjudicate.” – NYT, 4-19-09
    • Julian Zelizer: Obama’s raised expectations overseas like Woodrow Wilson. Uh oh: One of the most dramatic moments during the 2008 campaign occurred when then-candidate Barack Obama traveled to Germany and spoke before an estimated crowd of 200,000 adoring Europeans. The enthusiasm for Barack Obama and what he promised was overwhelming, and was palpable to anyone who was watching. On the night of the election, there were numerous stories of people waiting for the returns all over the world, from Europe to Africa, celebrating the promise of a new chapter in America’s relationship with the world. The reception during the president’s most recent trip overseas was equally positive….. If Obama, who is naturally now focused on the economy, does not follow through on his campaign promises, it would be a profound disappointment for many in the world who saw this election as a democratic decision to seek out a new relationship with the world and to support, through diplomacy and economic assistance, the progressive forces in volatile areas of the globe who are seeking stability and peace as opposed to terrorism and war…. – Huffington Post, 4-17-09
    • Robert Cruickshank: “How California Benefits from Obama High Speed Rail Plan”: …He nailed it. This quote has it all – energy independence, job creation and long-term economic growth, and relieving congested airports and freeways. That case is made strongly and powerfully in the HSR strategic plan document. It is one of the best arguments for HSR that I’ve ever seen. This administration is serious about HSR. The plan includes a good overview of the history of rail funding in America, explaining that we have spent over $1 trillion on roads and airports in the last 50 years but have starved rail – even though, as the report makes clear, high speed rail is one of the best methods to move people over distances from 100 to 600 miles….. – California Progress Report, 4-17-09
    • Doris Kearns Goodwin “First Dog” Bo Meets His New Family at the White House: Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin says despite being first pet, it’s easy for people to relate to the Obama’s situation. “I think there is something that so many American people so many people around the world love dogs as pets that they can really imagine what it’s like to have a puppy running around the White House.” – First Coast News, 4-14-09
    • Julian Zelizer: “Commentary: Four tough questions for Democrats”: This week, Jews will conclude the eight-day celebration of Passover, a holiday that has often found its way into the political realm. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. frequently invoked the story of the liberation of the Jewish people from the Egyptians in his struggle against white oppression. President Obama made headlines last week when he hosted a Passover Seder in the White House…. Democrats must keep getting together, asking their own version of the four questions and insisting on internal debates. Although the discussions can become uncomfortable (as most Jews will recall from their Seders), this is a formula for making the strongest party possible. – CNN, 4-13-09
    • Carl Sferrazza Anthony: White House garden will cut the first family’s food bill: “The president has always had to pay for his own food,” says Carl Sferrazza Anthony, historian of the National First Ladies’ Library. President Bush had to buy the pretzel on which he choked while watching football at home in 2002. President Clinton was billed (bonus bad pun) for Big Macs he ordered in…. That wasn’t always the case. Up until the administration of William Howard Taft, US chief executives footed their own entertainment bill, says Anthony of the First Ladies’ Library. That financially ruined some, including Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. – CS Monitor, 4-16-09
    • H.W. Brands “Texas historian: Can Obama enlist public?”: H.W. Brands, the UT historian who last year published a one-volume biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt, said that to understand how FDR won over the public, he listened to FDR’s first fireside chat. And he did it in a way that many Americans did, to save on fuel costs, on that cold Sunday night in March 1933: in bed. “It was very much like a favorite uncle or maybe your father telling you a bedtime story,” Brands told a Texas Lyceum audience today, in remarks comparing Barack Obama and FDR. “There is this comforting voice … telling you … that everything’s going to be OK.”… But with that first FDR radio talk, he said, “Overnight, Roosevelt had established a level of trust with the American people.” Brands clearly doesn’t think Obama’s quite gotten to the same place — yet. “I can guarantee you Barack Obama’s [first] 100 days will not match Franklin Roosevelt’s 100 days in either the ambition or the extent of the legislation,” Brands said “The example of Franklin Roosevelt does have lessons for Barack Obama but they’re probably more political lessons than economic lessons,” he said. “The first lesson: Connect to your audience. With Barack Obama, it means he’s going to have to find his equivalent of radio, his way of getting the message out, of reassuring Americans, of getting them on his side. Because as Roosevelt said in that first fireside chat, and I’ll sort of change the wording a little bit: Barack Obama, with the support of the American people, can accomplish just about anything. Without the support of the American people, he’ll accomplish next to nothing.” – Dallas Morning News, 4-3-09
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