June 22, 2009: President Obama’s Health Care Reform in Trouble? Poll Numbers Sliding


President Obama gives remarks to the Esperanza National Prayer Breakfast

(President Barack Obama gives remarks to the Esperanza National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.,  Friday, June 19, 2009. Official White House Photographer Samantha Appleton.)


In Focus: Stats

  • President Barack Obama’s poll numbers start to wilt: The good news for Obama is that his approval ratings — 57 percent in a Gallup tracking poll over the weekend — remain comfortably high by historical standards for presidents. Obama’s approval rating has dipped below 60 percent on other occasions, according to Gallup, but though those slumps lasted only a day, this one appears to be more persistent…. – Politico, 6-22-09
  • In Poll, Wide Support for Government-Run Health: Americans overwhelmingly support substantial changes to the health care system and are strongly behind one of the most contentious proposals Congress is considering, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll….
    Yet the survey also revealed considerable unease about the impact of heightened government involvement, on both the economy and the quality of the respondents’ own medical care. While 85 percent of respondents said the health care system needed to be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt, 77 percent said they were very or somewhat satisfied with the quality of their own care…. – NYT, 6-20-09
  • Obama change message resonates, poll finds: The Zogby-Scoop44 poll found nearly two-thirds of voters under 30 polled said Obama’s change message has matched his work in the White House, and among those 18-24, 70 percent said they believed this.
    Among voters over 30, slightly more than one in four said they don’t believe Obama’s campaign promises translated into action in office, the poll found. Only 18 percent of those younger than 30 and 5 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds said they shared that view.
    The poll found 43 percent of Republicans said they believe Obama’s actions are in keeping with his promised change. – UPI, 6-19-09
  • Analysis: Deficit could be chink in Obama’s armor: The nonpartisan Pew Research Center reported Thursday that a majority of Americans — 55 percent — are optimistic that Obama will eventually reduce the budget deficit. But that’s a smaller slice than the 61 percent of people who approve of him generally.
    And according to a new New York Times/CBS News poll, 60 percent of Americans don’t believe the president has a strategy for dealing with the deficit. Also, 58 percent in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll want Obama to make controlling the deficit a higher priority than a speedy economic recovery. And, nearly half expressed a “great deal” of concern about the increase of government intervention in American life that Obama has overseen, from taking over companies to influencing corporate bonuses and seeking to add government-sponsored insurance to the health care system…. – AP, 6-19-09
  • ABC News to air Obama interview on health care: ABC News will present a prime-time interview with President Barack Obama on health care issues next week. The special will air June 24 at 10 p.m. Eastern, on two-hour tape delay. Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer will moderate the White House discussion with a live audience, also taking questions submitted by viewers. After a break for local news, the discussion will continue on “Nightline.” That morning, Sawyer will interview Obama for “Good Morning America.” Gibson will anchor that evening’s edition of “World News” from the White House Blue Room…. – AP, 6-15-09


The President announces the agreement
(President Barack Obama speaks about the agreement to lower drug costs for seniors, Monday, June 22, 2009,
in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.   With the President are, from left,  CEO of AARP Barry Rand, Senator Max Bachaus (D-MT) and Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT). Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The Headlines…

  • Court upholds a voting rights measure by sidestepping issue: The Supreme Court on Monday left intact one of the signature legacies of the civil rights movement, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The court, in an 8-1 decision, ducked the central question in a case that was the most closely watched of the term. Most election law specialists had expected the court to rule on whether a core provision of the law was constitutional, and many of them were betting the answer would be no…. – NYT, 6-22-09
  • He’s out: LA mayor sidesteps 2010 governor’s race: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Monday he will not enter next year’s race for California governor, ending months of speculation about his ambitions and reordering the emerging contest to run the deeply troubled state. The 56-year-old mayor, once widely seen as a rising Democratic star, said months ago he would consider jumping into the 2010 campaign to replace Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican prevented by law from seeking a third consecutive term…. – AP, 6-22-09
  • Democrats getting bolder on gov’t insurance plan: Democrats are becoming bolder about their idea that middle-class familes get the option of joining a government insurance plan in any overhaul of the health care system. Their fervor carries a risk. Liberals, citing polls that show support for a public plan, say they are increasingly frustrated with negotiations to make the idea more palatable to Republicans. Moderates, however, warn that abandoning the talks could jeopardize efforts to draft a bill that can pass a closely divided Senate…. – AP, 6-22-09
  • Health-Care Reform Will Test Obama’s Resolve: As the legislative debate over health care intensifies on Capitol Hill, there is growing clamor for President Obama to step in. White House officials believe it’s wiser to wait, but at some point the president will have to make clear what he’ll accept and what he won’t. For Obama, a handful of big decisions awaits. They include cost and coverage, revenue and savings, a public option or not, and the cost vs. the desirability of bipartisan agreement. Those decisions, all inextricably linked, probably will determine whether he succeeds where other presidents have failed… – WaPo, 6-21-09
  • Obama may need firmer hand on health care debate: President Barack Obama is seeing the downside of his light touch on revamping the nation’s health care system. Congressional Democrats are off to a halting start, blindsided by a high cost estimate and divided over how to proceed. The confusion has emboldened Republican critics of the administration’s approach to its top domestic priority. While too early to rule out eventual success, it seems Obama will have to be more forceful and hands-on…. – AP, 6-21-09
  • Obama’s own party worried health plan lacks votes: A Republican senator seeking a bipartisan health deal spoke Sunday of “dialing down” expectations while one of President Barack Obama’s Democratic allies questioned whether the White House had the votes necessary for a such a costly and comprehensive plan during a recession. Obama’s proposal to provide health insurance for some 50 million Americans who lack it has become a contentious point for a Democratic-controlled House and Senate struggling to reach a consensus Obama desperately wants…. – AP, 6-21-09
  • Baucus, White House in deal with drug industry: The pharmaceutical industry agreed Saturday to spend $80 billion over the next decade improving drug benefits for seniors on Medicare and defraying the cost of President Barack Obama’s health care legislation, capping secretive negotiations involving key lawmakers and the White House. “This new coverage means affordable prices on prescription drugs when Medicare benefits don’t cover the cost of prescriptions,” Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement announcing the accord…. – AP, 6-21-09
  • Democrats fear Obama health care plan ‘on the rocks’: Several senior Democratic advisers to the White House are urging President Obama to further step up his personal involvement in the health care debate, as administration allies privately warn the president’s push for a major reform bill is hitting major roadblocks at a critical juncture on Capitol Hill…. – CNN, 6-19-09
  • GOP Complains About ABC’s Obama Health Care Special; Network Promises Fairness: ABC has rejected a request by a Republican group to rebut President Obama’s health care plans on an upcoming day of White House-themed news specials. In response, the network has stated that its coverage will nevertheless be balanced. The Republic National Committee referred questions to a fundraising letter posted on GOP.com that asks supporters for donations to buy air time during the ABC programs. “What are the Democrats and their media allies afraid of? T he truth?” RNC chairman Michael Steele said in the letter. “That is outrageous! And we will not take it!”… – TV Guide, 6-19-09
  • Dems’ health care plan stumbles but keeps moving: Democrats got a sobering glimpse of what it would look like if their ambitious health care overhaul ran into a wall — and they quickly pulled back to regroup and get moving again. Trying to regain the initiative, House Democrats on Friday unveiled draft legislation they said would cover virtually all of the nation’s nearly 50 million uninsured as President Barack Obama has promised. However, they offered few details on how to pay for it. The president welcomed their action as “a major step toward our goal of fixing what is broken about health care while building on what works.”… – AP, 6-19-09
  • Sotomayor quits women’s club after GOP criticism: Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor resigned Friday from an elite all-women’s club after Republicans questioned her participation in it. Sotomayor said she resigned from the Belizean Grove to prevent the issue from becoming a distraction in her confirmation hearings…. – AP, 6-19-09
  • Analysis: Deficit could be chink in Obama’s armor: The solid armor of President Barack Obama’s popularity may have a crack — a nearly $2 trillion-sized one.
    There’s continued and considerable public restiveness over eye-popping federal budget deficits, a potential danger for both Obama’s ambitious agenda and his political fortunes…. – AP, 6-19-09
  • Senate ethics committee next up for Roland Burris: U.S. Sen. Roland Burris won’t face a perjury charge over statements he made to state lawmakers investigating how he got his job, but the junior senator still faces the task of salvaging his political future and shaking the stigma of his link to the disgraced former governor who put him in office…. – AP, 6-19-09
  • House impeaches federal judge from Texas: The House on Friday impeached a federal judge imprisoned for lying about sexual assaults of two women in the first such vote since impeaching former President Bill Clinton a decade ago. The impeachment of U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of Texas sets up a trial in the Senate. Kent is the first federal judge impeached in 20 years. The House approved four articles of impeachment against Kent accusing him of sexually assaulting two female employees and lying to judicial investigators and Justice Department officials. All four articles passed unanimously…. – AP, 6-19-09


Political Quotes

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE SIGNING OF THE FAMILY SMOKING PREVENTION AND TOBACCO CONTROL ACT Rose Garden: I know — I was one of these teenagers, and so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it’s been with you for a long time. And I also know that kids today don’t just start smoking for no reason. They’re aggressively targeted as customers by the tobacco industry. They’re exposed to a constant and insidious barrage of advertising where they live, where they learn, and where they play. Most insidiously, they are offered products with flavorings that mask the taste of tobacco and make it even more tempting.
    We’ve known about this for decades, but despite the best efforts and good progress made by so many leaders and advocates with us today, the tobacco industry and its special interest lobbying have generally won the day up on the Hill. When Henry Waxman first brought tobacco CEOs before Congress in 1994, they famously denied that tobacco was deadly, nicotine was addictive, or that their companies marketed to children. And they spent millions upon millions in lobbying and advertising to fight back every attempt to expose these denials as lies.
    Fifteen years later, their campaign has finally failed. Today, thanks to the work of Democrats and Republicans, health care and consumer advocates, the decades-long effort to protect our children from the harmful effects of tobacco has emerged victorious. Today, change has come to Washington.
    This legislation will not ban all tobacco products, and it will allow adults to make their own choices. But it will also ban tobacco advertising within a thousand feet of schools and playgrounds. It will curb the ability of tobacco companies to market products to our children by using appealing flavors. It will force these companies to more clearly and publicly acknowledge the harmful and deadly effects of the products they sell. And it will allow the scientists at the FDA to take other common-sense steps to reduce the harmful effects of smoking.
  • This legislation is a victory for bipartisanship, and it was passed overwhelmingly in both Houses of Congress. It’s a victory for health care reform, as it will reduce some of the billions we spend on tobacco-related health care costs in this country. It’s a law that will reduce the number of American children who pick up a cigarette and become adult smokers. And most importantly, it is a law that will save American lives and make Americans healthier…. – White House, 6-22-09

<object width=”425″ height=”344″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/nu97EuxGAms&hl=en&fs=1″></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/nu97EuxGAms&hl=en&fs=1&#8243; type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”425″ height=”344″></embed></object>

  • Obama, citing his smoking woes, signs tobacco law: Lamenting his first teenage cigarette, President Barack Obama ruefully admitted on Monday that he’s spent his adult life fighting the habit. Then he signed the nation’s toughest anti-smoking law, aiming to keep thousands of other teens from getting hooked…. “I know. I was one of these teenagers,” he said. “And so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it’s been with you for a long time.” – AP, 6-22-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE MEDICARE PART D “DOUGHNUT HOLE” AND AARP ENDORSEMENT Diplomatic Reception Room: So as part of the health care reform I expect Congress to enact this year, Medicare beneficiaries whose spending falls within this gap will now receive a discount on prescription drugs of at least 50 percent from the negotiated price their plan pays. It’s a reform that will make prescription drugs more affordable for millions of seniors, and restore a measure of fairness to Medicare Part D. It’s a reflection of the importance of this single step for America’s seniors that it has earned the support of AARP, which has been fighting for years to address this anomaly in the system on behalf of older Americans. AARP is committed, as I am, to achieving health care reform by the end of this year. And I’m committed to continuing to work with AARP to ensure that any reforms we pursue are carried out in a way that protects America’s seniors, who know as well as anyone what’s wrong with our health care system and why it’s badly in need of reform.
    Our goal — our imperative — is to reduce the punishing inflation in health care costs while improving patient care. And to do that we’re going to have to work together to root out waste and inefficiencies that may pad the bottom line of the insurance industry, but add nothing to the health of our nation. To that end, the pharmaceutical industry has committed to reduce its draw on the health care system by $80 billion over the next 10 years as part of overall health care reform. … – White House, 6-22-09
  • Barack Obama: Responsible Fatherhood: In many ways, I came to understand the importance of fatherhood through its absence—both in my life and in the lives of others. I came to understand that the hole a man leaves when he abandons his responsibility to his children is one that no government can fill. We can do everything possible to provide good jobs and good schools and safe streets for our kids, but it will never be enough to fully make up the difference. That is why we need fathers to step up, to realize that their job does not end at conception; that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one…. – Parade, 6-21-09
  • Obama stays with careful response to Iran crisis: President Barack Obama says he does not want to become a scapegoat for Iran’s leadership as postelection upheaval continues, but Republicans are still saying the new president is being too cautious. “The last thing that I want to do is to have the United States be a foil for those forces inside Iran who would love nothing better than to make this an argument about the United States,” Obama said in an interview to be broadcast Monday. “We shouldn’t be playing into that.” The president spoke Friday during an interview with CBS News’ Harry Smith. The interview will be broadcast on “The Early Show.” – AP, 6-22-09
  • McCain: Obama has ‘done well’ as president so far Sen. John McCain says his opponent in last year’s presidential campaign, Barack Obama, has “done well” in his first five months in the White House…. On the down side, McCain says that Obama’s successes in Congress have come with little or no Republican support…. McCain appeared Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” – AP, 6-21-09
  • Transcript: Sens. Chris Dodd and Lindsey Graham: Exclusive “This Week” Interview with Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. – ABC News, 6-21-09
  • Statement from the President on Iran: The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.
    As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.
    Martin Luther King once said – “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness. – White House, 6-20-09
  • Bill Clinton says Barack Obama on right track: Former President Bill Clinton rallied Democrats on Saturday with a vigorous defense of President Barack Obama, saying that Obama has done what was needed to spark the economy. “I know we need to worry about this debt,” Clinton said. “First we’ve got to build a bridge over troubled waters and give the president’s economic reforms in the finance system time to take hold.” “We are now responsible and we need to get out of the blame business — we’re stuck with what we’ve got — and deal with these challenges,” Clinton said. “We will now be judged by what we do.” – AP, 6-20-09
  • GOP says Dems health overhaul would break the bank: Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky accused the Obama administration and congressional Democrats of rushing expensive and flawed plans that would result in rationing of care. McConnell’s criticism, in the weekly GOP radio and Internet address, came after a rocky start for legislation to revamp the system, with eye-popping cost estimates, partisan anger and divisions within the Democratic ranks.
    “Throughout this debate, the administration’s central argument has been that America needs health care reform for the sake of the economy,” McConnell said. “Yet according to independent estimates, every health care proposal Democrats on Capitol Hill have offered would only hurt the economy.”
    “They say a new government health plan will keep costs low. Well, expecting a government-run system to help the economy is like praying for rain in the middle of a flood,” McConnell said. “The thing you’re asking for is the last thing you need.”
    Even with trillion-dollar price tags, McConnell argued, “The total cost would be much higher, burying us in deeper and deeper debt.” “Against Republican advice, they rushed the stimulus. We shouldn’t rush again on something as important, and costly, as health care,” McConnell said. AP, 6-20-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Highlights Tough New Consumer Protections: As we continue to recover from an historic economic crisis, it is clear to everyone that one of its major causes was a breakdown in oversight that led to widespread abuses in the financial system. An epidemic of irresponsibility took hold from Wall Street to Washington to Main Street. And the consequences have been disastrous. Millions of Americans have seen their life savings erode; families have been devastated by job losses; businesses large and small have closed their doors.
    In response, this week, my administration proposed a set of major reforms to the rules that govern our financial system; to attack the causes of this crisis and to prevent future crises from taking place; to ensure that our markets can work fairly and freely for businesses and consumers alike…. – White House, 6-20-09

<object width=”425″ height=”344″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/gdm-pZm8hoA&hl=en&fs=1″></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/gdm-pZm8hoA&hl=en&fs=1&#8243; type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”425″ height=”344″></embed></object>

  • Obama ready for fight on financial overhaul: President Barack Obama said Saturday that current financial rules exploit consumers and he put critics of his proposed overhaul on notice: “While I’m not spoiling for a fight, I’m ready for one.”… “This is essential,” Obama said. “For this crisis may have started on Wall Street. But its impacts have been felt by ordinary Americans who rely on credit cards, home loans and other financial instruments.”
    “It will have the power to set tough new rules so that companies compete by offering innovative products that consumers actually want and actually understand,” Obama said. “Those ridiculous contracts — pages of fine print that no one can figure out — will be a thing of the past. You’ll be able to compare products, with descriptions in plain language, to see what is best for you.”
    “I welcome a debate about how we can make sure our regulations work for businesses and consumers,” Obama said. “But what I will not accept — what I will vigorously oppose — are those who do not argue in good faith.”
    “These are the interests that have benefited from a system which allowed ordinary Americans to be exploited,” Obama said. The president said he would stand up for his plans, saying: “While I’m not spoiling for a fight, I’m ready for one. The most important thing we can do to put this era of irresponsibility in the past is to take responsibility now.”… – AP, 6-20-09
  • Obama says immigration overhaul is essential: President Barack Obama said Friday he is committed to a comprehensive immigration overhaul that includes a way for illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens. Obama told the Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference that U.S. borders must be strengthened to thwart illegal immigration. But he also supports giving the millions of people now in the U.S. illegally the chance to become citizens.
    “That is the fair, practical, and promising way forward, and that’s what I’m committed to passing as president of the United States,” Obama said. He added: “The American people believe in immigration, but they also believe that we can’t tolerate a situation where people come to the United States in violation of the law, nor can we tolerate employers who exploit undocumented workers in order to drive down wages.”… – AP, 6-19-09
    <object width=”425″ height=”344″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/nu97EuxGAms&hl=en&fs=1″></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/nu97EuxGAms&hl=en&fs=1&#8243; type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”425″ height=”344″></embed></object>
  • Obama to fathers: Don’t be like my absent dad: Growing up without a father left a hole in his heart, President Barack Obama told boys at the White House Friday in a remarkably personal Father’s Day weekend message. He implored fathers everywhere — and the kids when they’re older — to be involved in the lives of their own children.
    “This isn’t an obligation,” said the father of two in a message to millions of wayward dads. “This is a privilege to be a father.”
    “I had a heroic mom and wonderful grandparents who helped raise me and my sister, and it’s because of them that I’m able to stand here today,” he told a throng of youngsters and leaders of community organizations. “But despite all their extraordinary love and attention, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel my father’s absence. That’s something that leaves a hole in a child’s heart that a government can’t fill.”
    “Just because your own father wasn’t there for you, that’s not an excuse for you to be absent also. It’s all the more reason for you to be present,” Obama told the young men in his audience.
    “You have an obligation to break the cycle and to learn from those mistakes, and to rise up where your own fathers fell short and to do better than they did with your own children,” Obama said. “That’s what I’ve tried to do in my life.”
    “I’ve been far from perfect,” Obama said in measuring himself as a father. “But in the end it’s not about being perfect. It’s not always about succeeding. It’s about always trying. And that’s something everybody can do. It’s about showing up and sticking with it.”

    “Now, my kids aren’t teenagers yet, so I don’t know whether that will maintain itself,” Obama said. “But right now the greatest joy I get is just hanging out with the girls and talking to them.” AP, 6-19-09

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE ESPERANZA NATIONAL HISPANIC PRAYER BREAKFAST J.W. Marriott Washington, D.C.: The American people — the American people believe in immigration, but they also believe that we can’t tolerate a situation where people come to the United States in violation of the law, nor can we tolerate employers who exploit undocumented workers in order to drive down wages. That’s why we’re taking steps to strengthen border security, and we must build on those efforts. We must also clarify the status of millions who are here illegally, many who have put down roots. For those who wish to become citizens, we should require them to pay a penalty and pay taxes, learn English, go to the back of the line behind those who played by the rules. That is the fair, practical, and promising way forward, and that’s what I’m committed to passing as President of the United States. (Applause.)
    We must never forget that time and again, the promise of America has been renewed by immigrants who make their story part of the American story. We see it in every state of our country. We see it in our families and in our neighborhoods. As President, I’ve been honored to see it demonstrated by the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States.
    Last month, I had the honor of welcoming a group of our service members as citizens for the very first time. In that crowd, there were faces from every corner of the world. And one man from Nicaragua — Jeonathan Zapata — had waited his whole life to serve our country even though he was not yet a citizen. “By serving in the military,” he said, “I can also give back to the United States.” He’s done so in Afghanistan, and he even helped man the 400,000th aircraft landing aboard the USS Kitty Hawk.
    And Jeonathan’s story is not unique either. He’s part of a proud legacy of service. For generations, Hispanic Americans have served with great commitment and valor, and there are now nearly 150,000 Hispanic Americans serving under our flag. And today we are proud — (applause) — today we are proud to welcome several of them who are wounded warriors recovering at Walter Reed. Please join me in honoring their service, and in keeping them and all of our troops in our thoughts and prayers — please. – White House, 6-19-09
  • Obama pokes fun at broadcasters’ annual dinner: President Barack Obama knows a little something about catching flies — knowledge he says he’s using to help win over groups in solving the nation’s health care crisis. “I’m pleased that in our quest to reform the health care system, I have gained the support of the American Medical Association,” Obama told the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association dinner Friday night. “It proves true the old expression that it’s easier to catch flies with honey. And if honey doesn’t work, feel free to use an open palm and a swift, downward wrist motion.”…
    Obama told the crowd he is working to repair the financial institutions and auto companies. “But you probably wouldn’t understand the concept of troubled industries,” he said, “working as you do in radio and television.”
    “Why hang out with celebrities when I can spend time with people who make me one?” Obama said.
    “I’m sure you’ve all seen the pictures of Rahm on that camel,” Obama said. “I admit, I was a little nervous about the whole situation. I said at the time, ‘This is a wild animal known to bite, kick and spit. And who knows what the camel could do?'”… – AP, 6-19-09
    <object width=”425″ height=”344″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/QQ7smJ_gjns&hl=en&fs=1″></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/QQ7smJ_gjns&hl=en&fs=1&#8243; type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”425″ height=”344″></embed></object>
  • Bush takes swipes at Obama policies: “I know it’s going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we’re in,” the former president said to applause from members of a local business group. “You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money.”…
    “Government does not create wealth. The major role for the government is to create an environment where people take risks to expand the job rate in the United States,” he said to huge cheers….
    “The way I decided to address the problem was twofold: One, use every technique and tool within the law to bring terrorists to justice before they strike again,” he said, adding that the country needs to stay on offense, not defense. On Guantanamo, which while in office Mr. Bush said he wanted to close, the former president was diplomatic.
    “I told you I’m not going to criticize my successor,” he said. “I’ll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don’t believe that — persuasion isn’t going to work. Therapy isn’t going to cause terrorists to change their mind.”…
    “Clearly, there’s a level of frustration on the Iranian streets,” Mr. Bush said. “It looks like it’s not a very fair election.”….
    “I am told, ‘If you do not move strongly, Mr. President, you will be a president overseeing a depression that will ultimately be greater than the Great Depression,'” Mr. Bush said. “I firmly believe it was necessary to put money in our banks to make sure our financial system did not collapse. … I did not want there to be bread lines, to be a great depression.”….
    He said his administration sought to address the “housing bubble” before the system broke down. “We tried to reform” mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, “but couldn’t get it through the vested interests on Capitol Hill.” Still, Mr. Bush was optimistic, pressing, as he did as president, free trade, open markets and the free enterprise system. “We’ll come out of this better than before,” he said to more applause.
    But he was less than convinced about Mr. Obama’s move to overhaul the health care system.
    “There are a lot of ways to remedy the situation without nationalizing health care,” Mr. Bush said. “I worry about encouraging the government to replace the private sector when it comes to providing insurance for health care.”
    Asked by the evening emcee at the 104th annual Manufacturer and Business Association meeting if he finds the new president’s policies “socialist,” Mr. Bush started — then stopped.
    “I hear a lot of those words, but it depends on –” he said, breaking off. He later offered a more diplomatic assessment: “We’ll see.” Washington Times, 6-18-09


Historians’ Comments

  • Victor Davis Hanson: Understanding Obamaworld: Are you confused by all that has changed since President Barack Obama took office in January? If so, you’re not alone. Perhaps, though, this handy guide to Age of Obama “logic” might be of some assistance.
    1. The Budget. Wanting to cut $17 billion from the budget, as President Obama has promised, is proof of financial responsibility. Borrowing $1.84 trillion this year for new programs is “stimulus.” The old phrase “out-of-control spending” is inoperative.
    2. Unemployment. The number of jobs theoretically saved, or created, by new government policies — not the actual percentage of Americans out of work, or the total number of jobs lost — is now the far better indicator of unemployment.
    3. The Private Sector. Nationalizing much of the auto and financial industries, while regulating executive compensation, is an indication of our new government’s repeatedly stated reluctance to interfere in the private sector. …
    6. Terrorism. Acts of terror disappeared about six months ago. Thankfully, we live now in an age where there will be — in the new vocabulary of the Obama administration — only occasional “overseas contingency operations” in which we may be forced to hold a few “detainees.” At the same time, ongoing military tribunals, renditions, wiretaps, phone intercepts and predator-drone assassinations are no longer threats to the Constitution. And just saying you’re going to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay is proof that it is almost closed. …
    9. Media. The media are disinterested and professional observers of the present administration. When television anchormen and senior magazine editors bow to the president, proclaim him a god or feel tingling in the legs when he speaks, it is quite normal.
    10. George W. Bush. Former President Bush did all sorts of bad things to the United States that only now we are learning will take at least eight years to sort out. “Bush did it” for the next decade will continue to explain the growing unemployment rate, the most recent deficit, the new round of tensions with Iran and North Korea, and the growing global unrest from the Middle East to South America. Once we remember and accept the logic of the above, then almost everything about this Age of Obama begins to make perfect sense. The Union, 6-19-09
  • Morgan State University historian Lawrence A. Peskin: Viewpoint Rewriting the history of America and Islam: President Barack Obama went to Egypt this month to create common ground between America and Islam. In the process, he whitewashed America’s early, troubled history with the Islamic world.In his speech at Cairo University, the president noted that “Islam has always been a part of America’s story.”
    He cited Morocco’s early recognition of American independence in 1778. He also reminded his audience of the U.S.-Tripoli treaty of 1796-97, which denied that the United States bore any “enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity” of Muslims.
    In so doing, the president created a mythic tale of longstanding friendship and understanding on the part of Americans and Islamic North Africans. Although it may have diplomatic uses, this tale has little historical basis.
    President Obama correctly stated that Morocco was the first nation to recognize American independence. However, he omitted the fact that shortly thereafter, Moroccans captured an American ship and its crew to force the United States to sign a pay-for-peace treaty with Morocco’s ruler.
    The payment did stop Morocco from capturing more Americans, but soon its next-door neighbor, Algeria, began capturing American ships. Ultimately it held more than 100 American crew members for ransom, some for a dozen years. Nor did a similar arrangement with Tripoli stop that country from capturing more Americans…. – Baltimore Sun, 6-18-09
  • Julian Zelizer: Congressional Budget Office is threat to health care reform: The most potent threat to the Obama administration’s fledgling health care plan may come not from the insurance industry or skeptical doctors but from the Congressional Budget Office.
    Earlier this week, CBO released preliminary estimates suggesting that the health care proposals — the most ambitious currently under discussion — from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee would cost $1 trillion and trim the number of uninsured by only 16 million.
    With a few more reports like this, CBO could quickly prove more damaging to the administration’s health care efforts than could Republican attacks about “socialized medicine.”… – Politico, 6-18-09
  • Robert Dallek: Obama Seeks Counsel From Ex-Presidents The president has said he wants to reach out to all of his predecessors: Two other former presidents re-entered the spotlight. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush recently held a joint appearance in Toronto. It was a polite affair that generated little news, suggesting that both men are trying to finally put aside their differences, which former presidents tend to do. “They see themselves as part of a distinct club,” says historian Robert Dallek. “The passions fade away, and they tend to come together and consider themselves as elder statesmen.”… – US News & World Report, 6-18-09
  • Donald Ritchie “Biggest Shift in U.S. Health Care Needs 45-Day Sprint”: The packed schedule will be a particular challenge for the slower, more deliberate Senate. Democrats, who control 59 votes, must be able to secure the backing of 60 senators to overcome the possibility of a filibuster. The fast pace also may be an asset, said Senate historian Donald Ritchie. “Sometimes there’s an advantage in setting a short schedule,” Ritchie said. “That gets people responding to the bill, it’s easier to schedule votes, people are more willing to cut a deal and compromise. Leadership around here often gets their best work done here before a recess when everyone has a plane ticket in their pocket.” – Bloomberg, 6-17-09
  • John Steele Gordon “Financial crisis shifts balance toward regulation”: “In theory, regulation and markets should evolve together. In fact, almost always, regulation comes after disasters” and it isn’t always for the better, said John Steele Gordon, an economic historian and author of the book “The Great Game: The Emergence of Wall Street as a World Power.” “Disasters teach us how to prevent the last disaster,” he said…. – AP, 6-17-09
  • Julian Zelizer & Melissa Lerner: Commentary: Obama can succeed in Mideast: At a time when the Obama administration is dealing with a barely stable economy while trying to address long-term health care, two wars, the environment and the threat of terrorism, many ask whether it is wise for President Obama to try to resolve a problem that has frustrated so many presidents before him.
    With the latest events in Iran, there is even more reason for skepticism that progress towards Arab-Israeli peace is possible.
    Despite conventional wisdom, when presidents have become personally active in shaping American policy in the region and resolved to make the Mideast conflict a top priority, they’ve often succeeded in improving Arab-Israeli relations….
    At the same time, Obama will have to work with the Israeli government — without antagonizing it — in order to gain support for a settlement freeze during the negotiations and to push forward Netanyahu’s promise to make progress towards a viable Palestinian state.
    Finally, Obama can’t take his eye off the domestic front. He must continue to engage the domestic coalitions who are most interested in these policies and ensure they are brought into the deliberations.
    The key will be balance. Obama should take this opportunity to embrace a strategy that is truly even-handed and does not let either side avoid its responsibilities. – CNN, 6-16-09
  • Clive Crook: Is this leadership on health care?: Obama’s hands-off approach to health care reform looks ever more questionable. I’m getting tired of listening to speeches that state uncontroversial goals–widen coverage, curb costs, free doctors from useless paperwork, improve medical outcomes–but have little or nothing to say on how these things might actually be done. It’s one thing to refrain from ramming a fully worked-out blueprint down the throat of a skeptical Congress, another entirely to step back altogether from fundamental questions of design and cost recovery…. – The Atlantic, 6-16-09

1 Comment

  1. nirumi

     /  June 27, 2009

    Good blog! I

%d bloggers like this: