The Backlash Against Obama: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s Arrest, Racism, and a Meeting over Beer

HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR.’S ARREST AND RACE IN AMERICA:

“We hit it off right from the beginning. When he’s not arresting you, Sgt Crowley is a really likable guy” — PROF. HENRY LOUIS GATES JR.

President Barack Obama, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sergeant James Crowley walk from the Oval Office to the Rose Garden
(President Barack Obama, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sergeant James Crowley walk from the Oval Office to the Rose Garden of the White House, July 30, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

THE HEADLINES:

  • Poll: Obama mishandled comments on race – AP, 7-30-09
  • Obama’s Handling of Gates Flap Seems To Have Hurt Public Image, Poll Finds: The intriguing possibility comes from a Pew Research Center analysis released Thursday: The poll finds that Obama’s overall approval rating among whites tumbled seven percentage points from just after his July 22 news conference through last weekend, as the focus turned increasingly to his handling of the situation. The percentage of whites who “like” the kind of person he is fell by six points. In a callback survey Monday evening, more than twice as many whites disapproved than approved of how Obama was dealing with the matter (45 percent disapproved, 22 approved and 33 percent said they did not know)…. – WaPo, 7-30-09
  • Cold beer, calm words from Obama, prof and cop: Said Obama after the highly anticipated, 40-minute chat on the Rose Garden patio: “I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart.” “I am confident that has happened here tonight, and I am hopeful that all of us are able to draw this positive lesson from this episode,” said the nation’s first black president…. – AP, 7-30-09
  • Obama More Bartender Than Mediator At Beer Summit: U.S. President Barack Obama played bartender-in-chief on Thursday at a “beer summit” of the main players in a racially charged case that he hoped would be a “positive lesson” in a national dialogue on race.
    Obama, the first black U.S. president, said it was a “friendly, thoughtful” conversation over beer at the White House with prominent Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, who is black, and police Sergeant James Crowley, who is white…. – Reuters, 7-30-09
  • Julian Zelizer says the beer summit is unprecedented: …However, “that was a much more explosive issue than this,” said Zelizer, a Princeton University professor. By getting involved, he said, Kennedy tacitly showed support for the civil rights movement and followed up with White House policies that helped bring about racial equality.
    While Obama may be sincere about using the “teachable moment” of the Gates case to launch a positive discussion about race, “part of it was about him, rather than the situation,” Zelizer said. “This is a way for him to quasi- apologize for what he said.” “I think that some part of him genuinely believes that dialogue can be helpful,” he added. “It’s also clearly partially a political response to stop a story that’s getting out of control.”
    “I’m not a big fan of this beer at the White House,” Zelizer said. “It turns this into a media moment, rather than a serious moment.” “It can kind of trivialize the matter,” he said, instead of tackling the deep-seated racial problem underlying the confrontation between Gates, who is black, and police Sergeant James Crowley. The officer, who is white, was called to Gates’ home when a neighbor reported a burglary, but Gates had forced open the jammed front door.
    “If this is all we see from the president, there will be some people that will be disappointed” Zelizer said. “The danger of a hearts-and-minds approach is it never gets to the underlying problem If there’s no policy on the table — no serious proposal on the table — it’s hard to see how these discussions can really result in long-term change.”… – Boston Globe, 7-30-09
  • 911 caller in Gates case says she’d make call againUSA Today, 7-29-09
  • The Gates of Political Distraction Obama’s mistake was falling for a culture war diversion: The essential point about Gates-gate, or the tempest over last week’s arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., is this: Most liberal commentary on the subject has taken race as its theme. Conservative commentators, by contrast, have furiously hit the class button…. – WSJ, 7-28-09
  • Beer diplomacy: Obama aims for calm and comity: Three guys, sitting around a picnic table, having a cold one. Beer diplomacy? The “teachable moment” the president promised? Or just a way for the White House to get people to quit talking about the president’s comments on a racial brouhaha in Massachusetts?
    When Barack Obama meets Thursday with the black professor and white policeman at the center of a national uproar over race relations, he is aiming for a show that will get positive news coverage and then go away….
    The broader point: The White House wants to show Obama as a reconciliatory force and then try to get people focused back on his plans for health care overhaul…. – AP, 7-28-09
  • Gates 911 call: Witness not sure she sees crime: The 911 caller who reported two men possibly breaking into the home of black Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. did not describe their race, acknowledged they might just be having a hard time with the door and said she saw two suitcases on the porch.
    Cambridge police on Monday released the 911 recording and radio transmissions from the scene in an effort to show they had nothing to hide, but the tapes raised new questions about how and why the situation escalated….
    In her 911 call, Lucia Whalen, who works at the Harvard alumni magazine, repeatedly tells the operator she is not sure what is happening…. – AP, 7-27-09


President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sergeant James Crowley meet in the Rose Garden

(President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sergeant James Crowley meet in the Rose Garden of the White House, July 30, 2009. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
  • Obama Tries to Move Past Gates Furor: The White House expressed hope that it has put behind it a controversy surrounding President Barack Obama’s remarks on the arrest of African-American scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. But the incident highlights the challenge facing Mr. Obama in addressing the issue of race and in keeping the debate focused on his broader agenda.
    David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Obama, said Sunday that he believed the president’s expression of regret for his initial statement that the police “acted stupidly” was having “the desired effect.”
    “People are talking more constructively now,” Mr. Axelrod said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.” “The steam has gone out of this. Instead of heat being generated, more light is being generated.”
    The incident highlighted social divisions that Mr. Obama hoped had been eased by his election as the nation’s first African-American president. The emotions triggered by his comments on the Gates arrest suggest that the issue of race continues to hang over his presidency….. – WSJ, 7-26-09
  • Obama, Gates and the American Black Man: NYT, 7-25-09
  • Gates Says ‘Yes’ to Beer With Crowley: “It was very kind of the President to phone me today. Vernon Jordan is absolutely correct: my unfortunate experience will only have a larger meaning if we can all use this to diminish racial profiling and to enhance fairness and equity in the criminal justice system for poor people and for people of color.
    And to that end, I look forward to studying the history of racial profiling in a new documentary for PBS. I told the President that my principal regret was that all of the attention paid to his deeply supportive remarks during his press conference had distracted attention from his health care initiative. I am pleased that he, too, is eager to use my experience as a teaching moment, and if meeting Sgt. [James] Crowley for a beer with the President will further that end, then I would be happy to oblige.
    After all, I first proposed that Sgt. Crowley and I meet as early as last Monday. If my experience leads to the lessening of the occurrence of racial profiling, then I would find that enormously gratifying. Because, in the end, this is not about me at all; it is about the creation of a society in which ‘equal justice before law’ is a lived reality.” – Henry Louis Gates in The Root (edited by Henry Louis Gates) (7-24-09)
  • Black males’ fear of racial profiling very real, regardless of class: Several African American professionals find professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s recent encounter with police all too easy to relate to. Their lingering question is when to speak up…. Lawrence Otis Graham, the author of books about affluent African Americans, says wealthy blacks may actually be subjected to more racial profiling than other African Americans…. – LAT, 7-24-09
  • Case Recalls Tightrope Blacks Walk With Police: ….Like countless other blacks around the country, Mr. Medley was revisiting his encounters with the police as a national discussion about race and law enforcement unfolded after the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard’s prominent scholar of African-American history. Professor Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct last Thursday at his home in Cambridge, Mass., while the police investigated a report of a possible break-in there. The charge was later dropped, and the Cambridge Police Department said the incident was “regrettable and unfortunate.”
    In interviews here and in Atlanta, in Web postings and on television talk shows, blacks and others said that what happened to Professor Gates is a common, if unacknowledged, reality for many people of color. They also said that beyond race, the ego of the police officer probably played a role…. NYT, 7-23-09
  • Obama doesn’t regret ‘acted stupidly’ remark about Henry Gates Jr. arrest: What’s everyone so upset about?
    That was President Obama’s response Thursday night during an ABC News interview when asked if he regretted his “acted stupidly” comment during Wednesday night’s press conference.
    “I am suprised by the controversy,” Obama told ABC’s Terry Moran. “I think it was [a] pretty straightforward comment that you probably don’t need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who’s in his own home.” – NY Daily News, 7-23-09
  • Cop who arrested black scholar is profiling expert: The white police sergeant accused of racial profiling after he arrested renowned black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his home was hand-picked by a black police commissioner to teach recruits about avoiding racial profiling.
    Friends and fellow officers — black and white — say Sgt. James Crowley is a principled police officer and family man who is being unfairly described as racist.
    “If people are looking for a guy who’s abusive or arrogant, they got the wrong guy,” said Andy Meyer, of Natick, who has vacationed with Crowley, coached youth sports with him and is his teammate on a men’s softball team. “This is not a racist, rogue cop. This is a fine, upstanding man. And if every cop in the world were like him, it would be a better place.”
    Gates accused the 11-year department veteran of being an unyielding, race-baiting authoritarian after Crowley arrested and charged him with disorderly conduct last week…. – AP, 7-23-09
  • Police Chief Responds to Obama’s Remarks: The top police official here defended the officer who arrested Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., and said his department was “deeply pained” by President Barack Obama’s remark that Cambridge police “acted stupidly” in the case.
    Commissioner Robert Haas called Sgt. James Crowley “a stellar member of this department” who properly followed police procedure and had no racial motivation in arresting the 58-year-old African-American scholar at his home last week. Authorities dropped the disorderly conduct charge this week.
    But Mr. Haas said he would convene a panel to examine the incident and ways to avoid such incidents, which he said “we deeply regret.”… – WSJ, 7-23-09
  • Obama Criticizes Arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates : President Obama bluntly accused the police of acting “stupidly” by arresting the Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. last week after an officer had established that Mr. Gates had not broken into his own home in Cambridge, Mass. Mr. Obama stopped short of accusing the police department of racial profiling, as Mr. Gates has done. But during a prime-time White House news conference that was otherwise largely devoted to health care, Mr. Obama weighed in full bore on the Gates case and suggested that the police should never have arrested him.
    “There’s a long history in this country of African-Americans being stopped disproportionately by the police,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s a sign of how race remains a factor in this society.” – NYT, 7-22-09
  • “The good news about the Henry Louis Gates fiasco”: When I heard that prominent black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested for breaking into his own home in Cambridge, Mass., it made me proud of America. It may seem paradoxical to focus on the positive side of the preeminent scholar’s public humiliation. This is, after all, a distinguished staff writer for the New Yorker, the man who helped Oprah find her roots. It may seem that there’s no positive side at all. (His own neighbor, a Harvard magazine employee, didn’t recognize him and called the cops. How pathetic is that?)
    But last night I happened to be reading a book that put the whole incident into context, a volume that never fails to chill me: “We Charge Genocide,” a petition brought before the U.N. in 1951 that makes a very convincing case for defining the treatment of African-Americans in the U.S. as a genocide. This remarkable book consists, in part, of a litany of shocking bias crimes committed against black citizens across the country — and only documented ones occurring between 1945 to 1950. A typical entry reads: “February 13 — ISAAC WOODWARD, JR., discharged from the Army only a few hours, was on his way home when he had his eyes gouged out in Batesburg, South Carolina, by the town chief of police, Linwood Shull … [A]n all-white jury acquitted Shull after being out for 15 minutes.” And so on, for 50-odd hair-raising pages. Believe me, Toni Morrison couldn’t top it…. – James Hannaham at Salon.com, 7-22-09
  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and the Police in “Post-Racial” America: This past Thursday, the renowned Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., author of Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man, was reminded that sometimes, there’s just one.
    It is the way that his white neighbor, Lucia Whalen, looked at him as he stood on his porch with his luggage, attempting to nudge his jammed front door open. That look that somehow confuses a nearly sixty year old bespectacled professor with a blue blazer who cannot walk without the aid of a cane, as a crafty black burglar practicing his illicit deeds at 12:30 PM in the afternoon. Likely imagining herself as some courageous vigilante protecting the sanctity of her exclusive neighborhood to the unending praise of her grateful neighbors, she instead must bear the ignominious title of “the white lady who called the cops on ‘Skip’ Gates'” from dinner party to dinner party like a Scarlet K-K-K .
    It is the way that Officer James Crowley, who responded to Ms. Whalen’s misguided vigilance, looked at the MacArthur fellowship winner standing in his own foyer, as if to make humiliatingly literal the W.E.B. Du Bois lament from The Souls of Black Folk, “Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in mine own house?” Gates, understandably exhausted from the return flight from China he had just taken, responded to the officer’s insistent questioning of his identity with frustration — but did indeed prove his ownership of the residence and right to be there…. – Brandon M. Terry at the Huffington Post, 7-22-09
  • If it can happen to Skip Gates …: For many, it was a startling portrait: the normally reserved Harvard University professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr., standing on his front porch in handcuffs, appearing to yell as police officers surrounded him. Yet those were the images that circulated Tuesday, as news of Gates’ controversial arrest – and the subsequent dropping of charges against him – circulated on Web sites and television.
    Stephen L. Carter, a Yale University law professor and novelist, felt like he was watching a scene unfold from one of his own books. Carter has written scholarly works along with bestsellers about the lives of upper-class African Americans, including those in academe, and his fiction often illustrates how wealthy blacks draw suspicion in posh environs like private beaches or Ivy League campuses.
    “If it can happen to Henry Louis Gates, possibly the most prominent black scholar in the country, and in his home town, then it can indeed happen to any of us,” Carter, author of The Emperor of Ocean Park, wrote in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed.
    “Odd, isn’t it? Here we are in the age of Obama, and some things haven’t changed. Blackness is associated in the public mind with wrongdoing; if we are spotted in an unexpected locale, we must be up to something.”… – Inside Higher Ed, 7-22-09
  • Skip Gates and the Post-Racial Project: Over the past several days a strange characterization of Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has emerged. Many are portraying him as a radical who easily and inappropriately appeals to race as an excuse and explanation. This image of Gates is inaccurate. In fact, more than any other black intellectual in the country Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was an apolitical figure. This is neither a criticism nor an accolade, simply an observation…. – Melissa Harris-Lacewell in The Nation, 7-21-09
  • The Root Editor-in-Chief Henry Louis Gates Jr. talks about his arrest and the outrage of racial profiling in America: I’m saying ‘You need to send someone to fix my lock.’ All of a sudden, there was a policeman on my porch. And I thought, ‘This is strange.’ So I went over to the front porch still holding the phone, and I said ‘Officer, can I help you?’ And he said, ‘Would you step outside onto the porch.’ And the way he said it, I knew he wasn’t canvassing for the police benevolent association. All the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and I realized that I was in danger. And I said to him no, out of instinct. I said, ‘No, I will not.’…. – Henry Louis Gates Jr. in The Root, 7-21-09

Henry_Gates_Porch_072109.jpg

(Bill Carter/Demotix Images) Police led Henry Louis Gates Jr. away in handcuffs after his arrest on Thursday at his home in Cambridge.

  • Police Drop Charges Against Black Scholar: Authorities agreed to drop a disorderly-conduct charge against renowned Harvard University African-American studies scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., who had been arrested at his own home last week after police answered a call about a suspected break-in there.
    The arrest had sparked concern that Mr. Gates was a victim of racial profiling, a controversial practice in which police allegedly use race as a factor in identifying criminal suspects.
    In a joint statement, Mr. Gates’ lawyer, the City of Cambridge, Mass., its police department and the county district attorney’s office called the July 16 incident “regrettable and unfortunate.” The statement added that “this incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of Professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department” and that “all parties agree this is a just resolution to an unfortunate set of circumstances.”
    In an interview Tuesday, Mr. Gates said the situation “shows our vulnerability to the caprices of individual police officers who for whatever reason are free to arrest you on outrageous charges like disorderly conduct.” Mr. Gates called a police report alleging he yelled at an officer and was uncooperative “a work of sheer fantasy.”
    Mr. Gates, a Harvard professor and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, said he hadn’t decided whether to pursue any legal action. He said if the officer who arrested him, Sgt. James Crowley, “sincerely apologized, I would be willing to forgive him.”… – WSJ, 7-21-09
  • Gates chastises officer after authorities agree to drop criminal charge: Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. chastised a Cambridge police officer today and demanded an apology after authorities agreed to drop a disorderly conduct charge against the renowned African-American scholar.
    Gates accused the officer who arrested him at his Cambridge home of having a “broad imagination” when he summarized last Thursday’s confrontation in police reports, and he denied making several inflammatory remarks.
    “I believe the police officer should apologize to me for what he knows he did that was wrong,” Gates said in a phone interview from his other home in Martha’s Vineyard. “If he apologizes sincerely, I am willing to forgive him. And if he admits his error, I am willing to educate him about the history of racism in America and the issue of racial profiling … That’s what I do for a living.”
    Gates, 58, was handcuffed and booked last Thursday following a police investigation into a suspected burglary at his Ware Street home near Harvard Square. A passerby spotted Gates and his driver, who had dropped him off from the airport, trying to push the front door open and called the police. The door had been jammed. Police responded and arrested Gates after they said he became belligerent.
    Earlier today, the Middlesex district attorney’s office announced plans to drop criminal charges against Gates. The City of Cambridge and the police department recommended today that prosecutors not pursue charges in a joint statement from authorities and Gates that called the confrontation “regrettable and unfortunate.”
    “This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department,” the statement said. “All parties agree that this is a just resolution to an unfortunate set of circumstances.”
    Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons said in a statement that the controversy illustrated “that Cambridge must continue finding ways to address matters of race and class in a frank, honest, and productive manner.”… – Boston Globe, 7-21-09
  • Henry Louis Gates Jr. Arrested: Colleagues of Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard’s most prominent scholar of African-American history, are accusing the police here of racism after he was arrested at his home last week by an officer investigating a report of a robbery in progress.
    Professor Gates, who has taught at Harvard for nearly two decades, arrived home on Thursday from a trip to China to find his front door jammed, said Charles J. Ogletree, a law professor at Harvard who is representing him.
    He forced the door open with the help of his cab driver, Professor Ogletree said, and had been inside for a few minutes when Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department appeared at his door and asked him to step outside.
    Professor Gates, 58, refused to do so, Professor Ogletree said. From that point, the account of the professor and the police began to differ…. – NYT, 7-21-09
  • Black scholar’s arrest raises profiling questions: Henry Louis Gates Jr., the nation’s pre-eminent black scholar, was arrested at his home near Harvard University after forcing his way through his front door because it was jammed. Gates was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge last Thursday after police said he “exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior.” He was released later that day on his own recognizance. An arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 26. Police refused to comment on the arrest Monday…. – AP, 7-21-09
  • Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. arrested outside his home, calls Cambridge police ‘racist’: A distinguished black Harvard University professor was handcuffed and dragged off his porch to jail after Massachusetts cops mistook him for a burglar. Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation’s most renowned scholars of African-American history, was busted when he repeatedly accused a cop of racism for confronting him, police said. “Why, because I’m a black man in America?” Gates, 58, demanded, the police report said…. – NY Daily News, 7-21-09
  • Harvard professor arrested, racism accusations: An acclaimed black US scholar accused a police officer in Cambridge, Massachusetts of racism for investigating reports of a break-in as he entered his own house, after which he was arrested, police records have shown.
    Henry Louis Gates, 58, considered a preeminent professor of African American studies at the prestigious Harvard University, was charged with disorderly conduct. Police cited his “loud and tumultuous behavior.”
    Gates was seen by a passing woman to be attempting entry to the front door of his house — which was damaged — along with another black man, according to the police report from July 16.
    The woman alerted the police and by the time a uniformed officer arrived Gates was inside his home and reporting the faulty door to the Harvard Real Estate office, said a statement later released by Gates’ lawyer, Charles Ogletree.
    The other man at the scene was Gates’ hired driver.
    “Professor Gates informed the officer that he lived there and was a faculty member at Harvard University,” Ogletree said.
    According to the police report, Gates repeatedly told officers at the scene that “this is what happens to black men in America.”…. – AFP, 7-20-09
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July 31, 2009: Obama’s Poll Numbers Fall, Sarah Palin Resigns & Health Care Reform

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

(President Barack Obama delivers remarks on “Race To the Top” at the Department of Education with Secretary  of Education Arne Duncan, left, in Washington, D.C.  Friday,  July 24, 2009. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • New Obama poll: Honeymoon over?: According to a new CNN Poll of Polls, 54 percent of Americans approve of how Obama is handling his duties in the White House. That’s down 7 points from late June, when the president’s approval rating stood at 61 percent. The latest approval rating is the lowest for Obama in his young presidency. The CNN Poll of Polls, compiled and released Thursday, is an average of seven national surveys conducted over the past nine days…. – CNN, 7-30-09
  • Poll: Obama mishandled comments on race – AP, 7-30-09
  • Obama’s Handling of Gates Flap Seems To Have Hurt Public Image, Poll Finds: The intriguing possibility comes from a Pew Research Center analysis released Thursday: The poll finds that Obama’s overall approval rating among whites tumbled seven percentage points from just after his July 22 news conference through last weekend, as the focus turned increasingly to his handling of the situation. The percentage of whites who “like” the kind of person he is fell by six points. In a callback survey Monday evening, more than twice as many whites disapproved than approved of how Obama was dealing with the matter (45 percent disapproved, 22 approved and 33 percent said they did not know)…. – WaPo, 7-30-09
  • Poll: Obama’s Disapproval Rises To 50 Percent: Yesterday’s Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll has the president’s approval rating among likely voters at 49 percent and his disapproval rating at 50 percent. A reported 72 percent of Republicans “strongly disapprove” of Mr. Obama’s job performance while a relatively low 56 percent of Democrats “strongly approve” of it…. – Philadelphia Bulletin, 7-27-09
  • Poll: President’s popularity suffers in health reform push: The survey showed 49 percent of likely voters approved of Mr. Obama’s job performance and 51 percent disapproved. It reflects a steady decline from a high job-approval rating of 60 percent immediately following his inauguration Jan. 20…. – Washington Times, 7-26-09
  • FACT CHECK: Obama’s health care claims adrift? President Barack Obama’s assertion Wednesday that government will stay out of health care decisions in an overhauled system is hard to square with the proposals coming out of Congress and with his own rhetoric. Even now, nearly half the costs of health care in the U.S. are paid for by government at all levels. Federal authority would only grow under any proposal in play…. – AP, 7-22-09
  • AP-GfK Poll: Great hopes for Obama fade to reality: An Associated Press-GfK Poll shows that a majority of Americans are back to thinking that the country is headed in the wrong direction after a fleeting period in which more thought it was on the right track. Obama still has a solid 55 percent approval rating — better than Bill Clinton and about even with George W. Bush six months into their presidencies — but there are growing doubts about whether he can succeed at some of the biggest items on his to-do list. And there is a growing sense that he is trying to tackle too much too soon…. – AP, 7-22-09
  • Obama’s Sinking Approval Ratings Are Even Worse Than They Look: Having come into office with an ambitious agenda to remake America, Barack Obama is discovering that time is not his friend. According to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, Obama’s approval rating has dropped by nine points, down to 55 percent from where it was when he first entered the White House six months ago….
    The decline in Obama’s job approval number is matched, overmatched really, by a significant increase in the number of people who disapprove of the job he is doing as president. That number is up 16 points—to 41 percent—from the first time the survey was taken during the Obama presidency. – US News, 7-21-09
  • Minorities, youth showed some gains in 2008 vote: The bureau’s survey found that about 131 million people reported voting in the 2008 presidential election – a turnout of 64 percent, the same percentage as 2004. Of the 5 million additional voters in 2008, 2 million were black, 2 million Hispanic and 600,000 Asian…. – Newsday, 7-20-09
  • The Ultimate Obama Insider – NYT Magazine, 7-26-09

THE HEADLINES….

President Barack Obama addresses the opening session of the first U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue
(President Barack Obama addresses the opening session of the first U.S.-China Strategic and Economic  Dialogue at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, Monday,  July 27, 2009.  Listening at left are Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, center, and Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, left.   Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
  • Obama, Cabinet meet for mid-year assessment: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, senior officials and Cabinet members were gathering away from the White House this weekend to discuss administration progress at the six-month mark and plot a course ahead…. – AP, 7-31-09
  • Final House Panel Approves Health Reform Bill: The vote was made possible by a deal brokered earlier this week between Democratic leaders and conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats, though health reform legislation still is being held up in one Senate committee…. – Fox News, 7-31-09
  • House votes to clamp limits on Wall Street bonuses: Bowing to populist anger, the House voted Friday to prohibit pay and bonus packages that encourage bankers and traders to take risks so big they could bring down the entire economy. Passage of the bill on a 237-185 vote followed the disclosure a day earlier that nine of the nation’s biggest banks, which are receiving billions of dollars in federal bailout aid, paid individual bonuses of $1 million or more to nearly 5,000 employees…. – AP, 7-31-09
  • Liberal Democrats threaten to reject House healthcare deal: Dozens say they’ll vote against a plan that includes concessions to Blue Dogs. The dispute could jeopardize a long-held goal of progressives…. – LAT, 7-30-09
  • Health bill inches forward in House: House Democrats methodically pushed ahead with a compromise health overhaul Thursday over liberals’ complaints, intent on achieving tangible — if modest — success on President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority ahead of a monthlong summer recess…. “We’ve got to pass the bill. Not only do we have to, but we’re going to,” said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the last of three House committees to act on the sweeping legislation…. – AP, 7-30-09
  • Obama to award Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16: President Barack Obama is awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16 people, including political ally Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, tennis legend Billie Jean King and retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa….
    Other names on the list are: Race for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker, physicist Stephen Hawking, civil rights activist Rev. Joseph Lowery, and entertainers Sidney Poitier and Chita Rivera. Former Rep. Jack Kemp, who died in May, and gay rights activist Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in 1978, will receive posthumous awards…. – AP, 7-30-09
  • A look at the deal worked out on health care: The White House, Democratic leaders and four fiscally conservative House lawmakers worked out a deal Wednesday to move ahead on sweeping health care legislation. The agreement would allow a committee vote, preserving momentum on President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority. The deal calls for exempting more small businesses from a requirement to offer coverage, trimming subsidies to help people buy health insurance, and making any government-sponsored insurance plan negotiate payment rates with medical providers — instead of dictating them…. – AP, 7-29-09
  • House Democrats make a healthcare deal: An agreement that saves $100 billion and addresses ‘Blue Dog’ and business concerns could lead to a vote in September. But now some angry liberal Democrats will have to be mollified…. – LAT, 7-29-09
  • Judiciary Committee OKs Sotomayor for high court: Pushing toward a historic Supreme Court confirmation vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the first Hispanic justice, over nearly solid Republican opposition. The panel’s 13-6 vote for Sotomayor masked deep political divisions within GOP ranks about confirming President Barack Obama’s first high court nominee…. – AP, 7-29-09
  • House Republicans unveil $700B health care plan: House Republicans on Wednesday unveiled a $700 billion health care plan that would offer tax credits to help people buy insurance, yet unlike Democratic proposals, wouldn’t require either individuals or employers to get coverage…. – AP, 7-29-09
  • Karl Rove: Obama’s Great Health Scare The president resorts to the politics of fear:
    On the campaign trail last year, Barack Obama promised to end the “politics of fear and cynicism.” Yet he is now trying to sell his health-care proposals on fear…. – WSJ, 7-29-09
  • Food safety bill defeated in House: The House defeated a far-reaching food safety bill Wednesday after farm-state lawmakers complained it would be too invasive and others said it was pushed to the floor too quickly…. – AP, 7-29-09
  • Analysis: Obama facing tough choice on health care: After months of talk, decision time is nearing for President Barack Obama on health care. Bipartisan Senate negotiators are weakening some of his top priorities, leaving the president with a difficult choice: He can give ground, and implore disappointed liberals to go along with him. Or he can try to ram through a Democratic bill with his wishes intact, infuriating Republicans. His eventual decision could be a pivotal moment in his presidency. Remaking health care is Obama’s top domestic priority. He wants to expand coverage, contain costs, make insurance more competitive and change the way doctors and hospitals are compensated…. – AP, 7-28-09
  • Obama Works to Reassure Seniors: Cutting Medicare Spending Won’t Hurt Retirees’ Benefits, He Tells AARP Forum WSJ, 7-28-09
  • US, China pledge closer cooperation: The United States and China on Tuesday pledged closer cooperation to deal with global hot spots such as Iran and the worst financial crisis since the 1930s…. – AP, 7-28-09
  • Schwarzenegger signs budget with more welfare cuts: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a revised $85 billion budget Tuesday that he said contained “the good, the bad and the ugly,” including additional cuts to child welfare programs, health care for the poor and AIDS prevention efforts…. – AP, 7-28-09
  • Senators Progress as House Delays Again on Health Bill: Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that the House would vote on health care after learning more about the Senate version. “We’re on schedule either to do it now or to do it whenever,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had hoped to win approval in the full House by the end of this week…. – NYT, 7-27-09
  • Obama admin looks to many small cost-cutting tactics – Reuters, 7-27-09
  • Sotomayor roundup: How Republicans will vote: Five GOP senators have announced their intentions ahead of Tuesday’s Judiciary Committee vote on the Supreme Court nominee…. – CS Monitor, 7-27-09
  • Clinton plans to visit 7 nations in Africa: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to travel to Africa next week on a seven-nation tour aimed at highlighting the Obama administration’s commitment to the continent. Clinton is to begin her trip on Aug. 5 in Kenya, the State Department said Monday…. – AP, 7-27-09
  • Sarah Palin steps down as Alaska governor: At times, it seemed like a flashback to the 2008 presidential campaign. Sarah Palin stepped down as Alaska governor on Sunday with a fiery speech reminiscent of her days as running mate to Republican John McCain — when she frequently revved up crowds while attacking Democrats and the news media…. – AP, 7-27-09
  • Palin’s Formal Farewell Includes Parting Shots: Sarah Palin stepped down Sunday as Alaska governor to write a book and build a right-of-center coalition, but she left her long-term political plans unclear and refused to address speculation she would seek a 2012 presidential bid…. – AP, 7-26-09
  • Obama Tries to Move Past Gates Furor: The White House expressed hope that it has put behind it a controversy surrounding President Barack Obama’s remarks on the arrest of African-American scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. But the incident highlights the challenge facing Mr. Obama in addressing the issue of race and in keeping the debate focused on his broader agenda.
    David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Obama, said Sunday that he believed the president’s expression of regret for his initial statement that the police “acted stupidly” was having “the desired effect.”
    “People are talking more constructively now,” Mr. Axelrod said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.” “The steam has gone out of this. Instead of heat being generated, more light is being generated.”
    The incident highlighted social divisions that Mr. Obama hoped had been eased by his election as the nation’s first African-American president. The emotions triggered by his comments on the Gates arrest suggest that the issue of race continues to hang over his presidency….. – WSJ, 7-26-09
  • Democrats: We will move forward on health overhaul: Sen. Kent Conrad, a key Democratic senator says his party doesn’t have enough votes to pass an overhaul of the nation’s health care system without Republican backing, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has the votes in her chamber…. – AP, 7-26-09
  • U.S. tries to spur Middle East peace talks: Settlement issue obstacle to renewing peace talks… Washington seeking comprehensive peace, envoy says… Netanyahu says U.S.-Israeli relations still strong…. – Reuters, 7-26-09
  • Obama, Gates and the American Black Man: NYT, 7-25-09
  • US-POLITICS Summary: Obama touts healthcare plan for small businesses…. U.S. defense chief heads to Israel, Jordan…. Obama unveils $4 billion school improvement plan…. Alaska Gov. Palin to leave office with cloudy future… WaPo, 7-25-09
  • GOP, in Attack Mode, Tries to Avoid Obstructionist Label – WSJ, 7-25-09
  • Are lobbyists silver lining in health care storm?: A strong force, perhaps as powerful in Congress as President Barack Obama, is keeping the drive for health care going even as lawmakers seem hopelessly at odds. Lobbyists…. – AP, 7-25-09
  • Obama pressures states to embrace schools overhaul: Dangling the promise of $5 billion in grants, President Barack Obama pressured states to embrace his ideas for overhauling the nation’s schools, ideas that include performance pay for teachers and charter schools….
    “Not every state will win, and not every school district will be happy with the results,” the president said Friday. “But America’s children, America’s economy, America itself will be better for it.” – AP, 7-24-09
  • Palin picnic in Alaska hometown draws big crowd: More than a thousand people showed up Friday for Gov. Sarah Palin’s annual picnic held in her hometown of Wasilla. Palin, who is resigning and leaves office on Sunday, used the occasion to sign autographs and hand out hot dogs…. – AP, 7-24-09
  • Grassley, Ross Say Passage of Health-Care Bill Likely This Year: The top Senate Republican drafting health-care legislation and a leader of House Democrats balking at the plan said they don’t expect committee and floor-vote delays to keep a bill from passing this year. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said “it’s going to be difficult” for his panel to approve legislation in the next two weeks. Beyond that, the odds of Congress enacting an overhaul later this year are “very, very good,” the Iowa senator said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend…. – Bloomberg, 7-24-09
  • Obama’s ‘rock star’ persona boosts U.S.: President Obama’s soaring popularity has significantly boosted attitudes toward the United States in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia, surveys in 24 countries by the Pew Research Center finds. But animosity toward the U.S. in some predominantly Muslim nations remains deep and strong…. – USA Today, 7-23-09
  • Obama: ‘Victory’ not right word for Afghanistan: He says the U.S. fight there is against broader terrorism and not a nation…. – AP, 7-23-09
  • Analysis: Obama putting more emphasis on restraint: At a critical moment in his presidency, Barack Obama finds increasing need to talk about taming federal deficits as he struggles with a dour economy…. – AP, 7-23-09
  • Obama Complains About the News Cycle but Manipulates It: It has become his common lament. Challenged about difficulties with his economic or legislative programs, President Obama complains about the tyranny of “the news cycle,” pronouncing the words with an air of above-it-all disdain for the impatience and fecklessness of today’s media culture…. – AP, 7-23-09
  • Health Reform’s Hidden Victims: He insisted he “won’t reduce Medicare benefits” but instead would “make delivery more efficient.” The most Mr. Obama would concede is that some people will have to “give up paying for things that don’t make you healthier.” That is simply not credible…. – WSJ, 7-23-09
  • Obama Moves to Reclaim the Debate on Health Care: President Obama tried on Wednesday to rally public support for overhauling the nation’s health care system and said for the first time that he would be willing to help pay for the plan by raising income taxes on families earning more than $1 million a year…. – NYT, 7-22-09
  • Live Blogging Obama’s News ConferenceNYT, 7-22-09
  • Obama rallies support for struggling health revamp: Six months in office, President Barack Obama sought Wednesday night to rally support for sweeping health care legislation he’s struggling to push through Congress, expressing support for a surtax on families making more than $1 million a year to help pay for it. Under pressure from Democrats to weigh in personally on the details of legislation, Obama also vowed at a prime-time news conference to reject any measure “primarily funded through taxing middle-class families.”… – AP, 7-22-09
  • Conservative Democrat says US health bill not ready: A stalled healthcare overhaul bill in the House of Representative should not move forward without firm numbers on cost savings, and it is unlikely to win enough votes to pass in current form, the leader of a group of conservative Democrats said on Wednesday. – Reuters, 7-22-09
  • Pelosi: House Dems have the votes on health care: Democrats command the votes needed to pass a sweeping health care bill through the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday, an unexpected statement that quickly drew a biting response from conservative members of the party’s rank-and-file demanding changes in President Barack Obama’s trademark legislation…. – AP, 7-22-09
  • Obama presses Iraqi leader on reconciliation: Vowing to hold to agreements to pull all U.S. forces out of Iraq by the end of 2011, Obama said he and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki realized violence had not ended and there “will be some tough days ahead.” – AP, 7-22-09
  • GOP Sen. Graham says he will vote for Sotomayor – AP, 7-22-09
  • Clinton offers North Korea the carrot or the stick: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to tell North Korea that it can avoid “unrelenting” sanctions and win normalized relations with the U.S. by completely scrapping its nuclear program…. – AP, 7-22-09
  • Bernanke resists plan for consumer-products agency: Ben Bernanke put himself at odds with the Obama administration Wednesday by resisting its plan to create a consumer protection agency for risky financial products. The Federal Reserve chief said those responsibilities should stay with the central bank. – AP, 7-22-09
  • Concealed guns law rejected in close Senate vote – AP, 7-22-09
  • Obama: No time for delay on health care: President Barack Obama remained on the offensive Tuesday on the pace and shape of legislation reinventing health care, against stiffening opposition from Republicans and growing wariness among rank-and-file congressional Democrats…. – AP, 7-21-09
  • Obama wins fight to limit fighter jets: The 58-40 vote to cut the money from a $680 billion defense bill was a hard-fought victory for Obama, who had threatened to veto defense spending legislation if it included funds for more F-22s. – AP, 7-21-09
  • Investigator rules against Palin in ethics probe: An independent investigator has found evidence that Gov. Sarah Palin may have violated ethics laws by trading on her position in seeking money for legal fees, in the latest legal distraction for the former vice presidential candidate as she prepares to leave office this week…. – AP, 7-21-09
  • Democrats irked by Obama signing statement: President Barack Obama has irked close allies in Congress by declaring he has the right to ignore legislation on constitutional grounds after having criticized George W. Bush for doing the same. Four senior House Democrats on Tuesday said they were “surprised” and “chagrined” by Obama’s declaration in June that he doesn’t have to comply with provisions in a war spending bill that puts conditions on aid provided to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund…. – AP, 7-21-09
  • Abortion Compromise Considered For US House Health-Care Bill: An anti-abortion Democrat on Monday said he is negotiating a compromise aimed at resolving concerns that House health-care legislation would allow federal funding of abortions…. – WSJ, 7-20-09

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Va. Race Acquires Washington Backdrop: McDonnell Taps Anxiety Over National Issues to Woo Moderates Away From Deeds…. – WaPo, 7-26-09
  • Some incumbent senators seem to get no respect: When it comes to next year’s primaries, three senators probably are feeling a lot like Rodney Dangerfield: They can’t get any respect. As veteran lawmakers, Sens. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., and Jim Bunning, R-Ky., should be coasting, under normal circumstances, to the general election. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., appointed in January as Hillary Rodham Clinton’s successor, has the White House’s backing…. – AP, 7-26-09
  • Obama raises millions for Democrats: President Barack Obama raised millions of dollars Thursday for Democratic candidates in next year’s elections, making a side trip to his hometown of Chicago after pushing for health care changes in Cleveland…. – AP, 7-23-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

Palin’s Farewell Includes Parting Shots

  • Obama: Stimulus Helping ‘Put The Brakes On Recession’: “This and other difficult but important steps that we have taken over the last six months have helped us put the brakes on the recession.”… “This means that eventually, businesses will start growing and they will start hiring again. And that is when it will truly feel like a recovery to the American people.”… “It is working so well that there are legitimate concerns that the funds in this program might soon be exhausted. So we are now working with Congress on a bipartisan solution to ensure that the program can continue for everyone out there who is still looking to make a trade.” – VOA, 7-31-09
  • Minn. Gov: GOP must welcome others, broaden base: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Thursday urged fellow Republicans to welcome outsiders into the party ranks, not scorn them, as the GOP rebuilds from defeats that left the White House and Congress in Democratic hands…. To move forward at a time when Republican numbers are shrinking in many states, the party should show “respect of those who don’t agree with us,” Pawlenty said. “Let’s make sure that we welcome others who are not yet Republicans.”… – AP, 7-30-09
  • Gov. Pawlenty: Current Health Care Plan Not Reform, Builds Upon Broken System – Fox News, 7-29-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE U.S./CHINA STRATEGIC AND ECONOMIC DIALOGUE Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center Washington, D.C. – WH, 7-28-09
  • Hawaii: Obama birth certificate is real: “I, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawai’i State Department of Health verifying Barrack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen. I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008 over eight months ago….” – USA Today, 7-27-09
  • Palin steps down as Alaska governor: “Now people who know me, they know how much I love this state … I feel it is my duty to avoid the unproductive, typical, politics-as-usual, lame-duck session in one’s last year in office,” Palin said, just moments before Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell was sworn in as governor. “With this decision, now I will be able to fight even harder for you, for what is right and for the truth,” Palin continued. “And I have never felt you need a title to do that.” “What I promised, we accomplished,” she told the mostly supportive crowd…. – CNN, 7-26-09
  • CQ Transcript: White House Adviser Axelrod on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’CQ, 7-26-09
  • Pelosi Says She Will Pass U.S. Health-Care Overhaul: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will pass legislation to overhaul the U.S. health-care system through her chamber even as members of her own Democratic Party expressed skepticism after days of discord and delays.
    “When I take this bill to the floor, it will win,” Pelosi said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” program that aired today. “This will happen.”… – Bloomberg, 7-26-09
  • Clinton hopes for female president in her lifetime: “It will take the right woman who can make the case and win the votes and get elected. I am certainly hoping it will happen in my lifetime,” she told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program…. “I do want to see a woman elected. I hope it is a Democratic woman who represents the type of approach that I happen to favor.”… – Reuters, 7-26-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama: Health Insurance Reform Will Strengthen Small Businesses: It has taken months to reach this point, and once this legislation passes, we’ll need to move thoughtfully and deliberately to implement these reforms over a period of several years. That is why I feel such a sense of urgency about moving this process forward.
    Now I know there are those who are urging us to delay reform. And some of them have actually admitted that this is a tactic designed to stop any reform at all. Some have even suggested that, regardless of its merits, health care reform should be stopped as a way to inflict political damage on my Administration. I’ll leave it to them to explain that to the American people….
    This debate is not a political game for these Americans, and they cannot afford to keep waiting for reform. We owe it to them to finally get it done – and to get it done this year. – WH, 7-25-09
  • Text: Obama’s Remarks on Health Care: Following is a text of President Obama’s remarks on health care, delivered on Thursday in Shaker Heights, Ohio, as released by the White House. The president answered questions from the public immediately following his remarks.
    “…What we’re talking about is not completely scrapping the existing health care system. All we’re saying is if you’ve got health insurance, you can keep it. If you don’t have health insurance, you can now afford to buy it with some help. If you have health insurance, we’re going to reform the insurance industry so that it can still make a profit, it can still offer good services to its patients — or to its customers; it just can’t engage in some of these rules that basically have them collecting a lot of premiums but not wanting to pay out when people really need it and when people get sick….” – NYT, 7-23-09
  • The President’s Press Conference – Full VideoWhite House, 7-22-09
  • Obama Makes Fresh Appeal on Health Care at Prime-time News Conference: This debate is not a game for these Americans, and they cannot afford to wait for reform any longer. They are counting on us to get this done. They are looking to us for leadership. And we must not let them down. We will pass reform that lowers cost, promotes choice, and provides coverage that every American can count on. And we will do it this year. And with that, I’ll take your questions…. – PBS Newshour, 7-22-09
  • Excerpts of Obama’s Remarks Released – NYT, 7-22-09
  • Obama says healthcare overhaul needed to curb deficits: “If we do not control these costs, we will not be able to control our deficit,” he said after another day when leaders in Congress struggled to find common ground on the cost and scope of a healthcare plan, Obama’s top legislative priority.
    “We are now seeing broad agreement thanks to the work that was done over the last few days. So even though we still have a few issues to work out, what’s remarkable at this point is not how far we have left to go — it’s how far we have already come,” he said. – Reuters, 7-22-09
  • “If they try to fix our healthcare system like they’ve tried to rescue our economy, I think we’re in really, really big trouble,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner. – Reuters, 7-22-09
  • Inside Blue Dogs’ W.H. meeting: Following their meeting with POTUS Tuesday afternoon, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee … … and Blue Dog Coalition spoke with reporters at the White House. “We had a very constructive meeting,” Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said. “Members of our Energy and Commerce Committee who are also members of the Blue Dogs had great concern on cost of the legislation … it’s not just theirs but ours as well.” – Politico, 7-21-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON HEALTH CARE AND THE SENATE VOTE ON F-22 FUNDING Rose Garden: But I reject the notion that we have to waste billions of taxpayer dollars on outdated and unnecessary defense projects to keep this nation secure. That’s why I’ve taken steps to greatly reduce no-bid defense contracts. That’s why I’ve signed overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation to limit cost overruns on weapons systems before they spiral out of control. And that’s why I’m grateful that the Senate just voted against an additional $1.75 billion to buy F-22 fighter jets that military experts and members of both parties say we do not need….
    We’ve agreed that our health reform bill will extend coverage and include unprecedented insurance protections for the American people. Under each of these bills, you won’t be denied coverage if you’ve got a preexisting medical condition. You won’t lose your health care if you change jobs, if you lose your job, or if you start a business. And you won’t lose your insurance if you get sick…. – White House, 7-21-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON HEALTH CARE Children’s Hospital Washington, D.C.: …And we can’t afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care. Not this time. Not now. There are too many lives and livelihoods at stake. There are too many families who will be crushed if insurance premiums continue to rise three times as fast as wages. There are too many businesses that will be forced to shed workers, scale back benefits, or drop coverage unless we get spiraling health care costs under control. – White House, 7-20-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President records the Weekly Address White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy

  • Julian Zelizer Commentary: Why be afraid of government?: Health care reform has gotten off track. The president’s news conference fell flat. Polls show growing unease with the proposals currently in play. And Congress will not meet the deadline that President Obama imposed.
    The status quo, as the president correctly explained to reporters, is not sustainable. Our health care system is not working. Millions of people lack insurance, costs are out of control, businesses and workers are struggling to keep up with premiums, and there are tremendous inefficiencies plaguing many parts of the system.
    Conditions will only become worse in coming years. Our health care system brings to mind the economist Herbert Stein’s famous maxim: “When something can’t go on forever, it will stop.”… – CNN, 7-27-09
  • JAMES MORONE, Brown University “As Deadline Nears, Obama Steps Up Health Care Push”: With the days ticking down until President Obama’s target date for a deal on health care reform, the White House is pushing to convince the public and Congress that swift action is necessary
    We’ve been doing this since 1935. Harry Truman ran on this in 1948, that great come-from-behind victory, and he encountered the exact same thing. We always have these enormous problems. And what’s so striking is how similar the kinds of debates are. Just one quick example: In every scene in this movie, we’ve had the same idea of people coming in and saying, “Look, we just cannot afford this.” So that’s a very old story. Lyndon Johnson, when he passed Medicare, we just found some newly released tapes of him complaining to newly elected Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts that those fools in the budget office went and projected the costs of Medicare six years down the line. “I’m losing votes.” Bottom line: If we had had good cost projections for Medicare, we believe it would never have won…. Accurate projections. Actually, accurate projections for the costs down the line. LBJ might have known, but he managed to hide them….
    It’s hard for a number of different reasons. For the profession itself, what we’re doing is taking — every year, we’re spending a little bit more of our economy to health care. Anything that threatens to stop that is going to gore an awful lot of sacred cows. Secondly, this is a major battle for control of the high ground in American politics, and everybody in Washington knows that. If Obama gets this through, Roosevelt fails, Truman failed, Carter, Clinton, they all failed. If Obama wins, he’s on an extraordinary roll. If he’s defeated, this is a major defeat for him and a victory for the Republicans. Combine the sheer difficulty and the politics, and you’ve got a recipe for trouble….
    Yes, there are many lessons, and one goes directly to what Amy just said, and that’s the lesson of speed. Lyndon Johnson gathered all of his advisers in a room after his huge 1964 landslide victory — second largest in Democratic Party history — and he said, “Look, every day I lose power. Every day I lose votes. You’ve got to get Medicare fast.” In that sense, Obama has learned an important lesson from history when he says, “Do it by August.” …Eevery day, he loses a little bit of the luster. And six months from now, you know what “Nightline’s” going to be covering: the midterm elections. That’s going to make it almost impossible. One lesson: speed….
    What he needs, what he has to find a way to get is a movement going. Look, this is very scary for Congress… for a lot of congresspeople, particularly in swing districts. If they don’t get a whole lot of Tweets, a whole lot of e-mails, a whole lot of phone calls, this isn’t going to go anywhere. So what Obama needs to do more than getting into the weeds or answering critics is generating excitement that translates into stuff in congressional in-boxes. Without that, it’s never going to win. – PBS Newshour, 7-22-09
  • Julian Zelizer “LBJ Arm-Twisting? Not Really Obama’s Style”: Obama, says Julian Zelizer, a political historian who teaches at Princeton University, “does need a little LBJ in him.”…
    Roosevelt was masterful, Zelizer says, at “living with what was possible instead of what was perfect. For many liberals, this was frustrating.” By using that strategy of relentlessness and occasional compromise, Zelizer says, Roosevelt was able to push through social safety-net legislation. “It paled in compared to Europe’s social security plan,” he says. But it was pretty progressive for the American system at the time.
    Zelizer does say that Obama needs to avoid the pitfalls of Johnson. And of Jimmy Carter. “President Carter had more trouble working with Congress,” Zelizer says. “He had no relationship with Capitol Hill.”
    In the end, Zelizer says, Carter was “too esoteric.” He had great vision when it came to a national energy policy or the SALT II nuclear arms talks. “But he just couldn’t put it together for legislation or the treaty,” Zelizer says. “He just couldn’t articulate his vision.”
    Using his own methods, relying on his own political personality, will Obama be able to sway enough people to get the necessary votes to achieve 1965-style results with 2009 technology? “The jury,” Zelizer says, “is still out.” – NPR, 7-21-09
  • Ted Widmer “LBJ Arm-Twisting? Not Really Obama’s Style”: Plus, the two men “are pretty far apart in most people’s minds, and certainly in [Obama’s],” says Ted Widmer, a fellow at the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank. Between 1997 and 2001, Widmer served in the Clinton White House as a foreign policy speechwriter and senior adviser to the president.
    “There have never been stories of personal intimidation from Obama,” Widmer says, “and most of the persuasion arts that are used at the moment deploy indirect forms — texting, e-mail, phone messages — rather than in-your-face, LBJ-style orders from on high.” – NPR, 7-21-09
  • Allan Lichtman “LBJ Arm-Twisting? Not Really Obama’s Style”: Johnson as role model for Obama poses other problems, as well. Presidential historian Allan Lichtman, who teaches at American University, points out that “despite his mastery of the legislative process and enormous harvest of domestic legislation,” Johnson is “a tainted example because of Vietnam.”
    Lichtman and others also suggest alternative role models for Obama — former presidents who knew how to negotiate the shoals of Congress yet didn’t get mired in bad choices.
    Perhaps the best beacon would be Woodrow Wilson, Lichtman says. “Wilson was a major legislative craftsman, with deep knowledge of how Congress worked from his studies as a political scientist. He revived the tradition, dormant since Jefferson, of giving the State of the Union speech in person to Congress as another means of outlining and pushing his agenda.”
    During this first two years, Lichtman says, “Wilson succeeded in reforming the protective tariff, establishing the Federal Reserve System. He gained passing major antitrust legislation, a graduated income tax, and limitations on the use of court injunctions against labor unions.” – NPR, 7-21-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Let’s keep an eye on the spies”: In response to the growing pressure for an investigation into potential abuses by the CIA and former Bush administration officials, Republican Sen. John Cornyn warned: “This is high-risk stuff. Because if we chill the ability or the willingness of our intelligence operatives and others to get information that’s necessary to protect America, there could be disastrous consequences.”
    But Cornyn has it wrong. What chills our national security operations is not the discovery of wrongdoing. Rather, what chills our national security operations is tolerating programs that undermine the credibility of our institutions. When Americans are asked to go to war or are warned of dangerous threats, they must be able to believe the people they are hearing from.
    Following the most recent revelations about the CIA, we have reached a tipping point where it is becoming impossible to continue dismissing these allegations as part of the past….
    President Obama has thus far tried to avoid an investigation on the grounds that he wants to focus on the future, not the past.
    But Obama’s formulation, just like Cornyn’s, is wrong. The president must support these investigations. This is not just about investigating the past. If our national security institutions are unaccountable, they will not be able to command the kind of public credibility they need in coming years. – CNN, 7-22-09

History Buzz July 27, 2009: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s Arrest, President Obama and Race in America

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

  • Obama Tries to Move Past Gates Furor: The White House expressed hope that it has put behind it a controversy surrounding President Barack Obama’s remarks on the arrest of African-American scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. But the incident highlights the challenge facing Mr. Obama in addressing the issue of race and in keeping the debate focused on his broader agenda.
    David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Obama, said Sunday that he believed the president’s expression of regret for his initial statement that the police “acted stupidly” was having “the desired effect.”
    “People are talking more constructively now,” Mr. Axelrod said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.” “The steam has gone out of this. Instead of heat being generated, more light is being generated.”
    The incident highlighted social divisions that Mr. Obama hoped had been eased by his election as the nation’s first African-American president. The emotions triggered by his comments on the Gates arrest suggest that the issue of race continues to hang over his presidency….. – WSJ, 7-26-09
  • Obama, Gates and the American Black Man: NYT, 7-25-09
  • Gates Says ‘Yes’ to Beer With Crowley: “It was very kind of the President to phone me today. Vernon Jordan is absolutely correct: my unfortunate experience will only have a larger meaning if we can all use this to diminish racial profiling and to enhance fairness and equity in the criminal justice system for poor people and for people of color.
    And to that end, I look forward to studying the history of racial profiling in a new documentary for PBS. I told the President that my principal regret was that all of the attention paid to his deeply supportive remarks during his press conference had distracted attention from his health care initiative. I am pleased that he, too, is eager to use my experience as a teaching moment, and if meeting Sgt. [James] Crowley for a beer with the President will further that end, then I would be happy to oblige.
    After all, I first proposed that Sgt. Crowley and I meet as early as last Monday. If my experience leads to the lessening of the occurrence of racial profiling, then I would find that enormously gratifying. Because, in the end, this is not about me at all; it is about the creation of a society in which ‘equal justice before law’ is a lived reality.” – Henry Louis Gates in The Root (edited by Henry Louis Gates) (7-24-09)
  • Black males’ fear of racial profiling very real, regardless of class: Several African American professionals find professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s recent encounter with police all too easy to relate to. Their lingering question is when to speak up…. Lawrence Otis Graham, the author of books about affluent African Americans, says wealthy blacks may actually be subjected to more racial profiling than other African Americans…. – LAT, 7-24-09
  • Case Recalls Tightrope Blacks Walk With Police: ….Like countless other blacks around the country, Mr. Medley was revisiting his encounters with the police as a national discussion about race and law enforcement unfolded after the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard’s prominent scholar of African-American history. Professor Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct last Thursday at his home in Cambridge, Mass., while the police investigated a report of a possible break-in there. The charge was later dropped, and the Cambridge Police Department said the incident was “regrettable and unfortunate.”
    In interviews here and in Atlanta, in Web postings and on television talk shows, blacks and others said that what happened to Professor Gates is a common, if unacknowledged, reality for many people of color. They also said that beyond race, the ego of the police officer probably played a role…. NYT, 7-23-09
  • Obama doesn’t regret ‘acted stupidly’ remark about Henry Gates Jr. arrest: What’s everyone so upset about?
    That was President Obama’s response Thursday night during an ABC News interview when asked if he regretted his “acted stupidly” comment during Wednesday night’s press conference.
    “I am suprised by the controversy,” Obama told ABC’s Terry Moran. “I think it was [a] pretty straightforward comment that you probably don’t need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who’s in his own home.” – NY Daily News, 7-23-09
  • Cop who arrested black scholar is profiling expert: The white police sergeant accused of racial profiling after he arrested renowned black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his home was hand-picked by a black police commissioner to teach recruits about avoiding racial profiling.
    Friends and fellow officers — black and white — say Sgt. James Crowley is a principled police officer and family man who is being unfairly described as racist.
    “If people are looking for a guy who’s abusive or arrogant, they got the wrong guy,” said Andy Meyer, of Natick, who has vacationed with Crowley, coached youth sports with him and is his teammate on a men’s softball team. “This is not a racist, rogue cop. This is a fine, upstanding man. And if every cop in the world were like him, it would be a better place.”
    Gates accused the 11-year department veteran of being an unyielding, race-baiting authoritarian after Crowley arrested and charged him with disorderly conduct last week…. – AP, 7-23-09
  • Police Chief Responds to Obama’s Remarks: The top police official here defended the officer who arrested Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., and said his department was “deeply pained” by President Barack Obama’s remark that Cambridge police “acted stupidly” in the case.
    Commissioner Robert Haas called Sgt. James Crowley “a stellar member of this department” who properly followed police procedure and had no racial motivation in arresting the 58-year-old African-American scholar at his home last week. Authorities dropped the disorderly conduct charge this week.
    But Mr. Haas said he would convene a panel to examine the incident and ways to avoid such incidents, which he said “we deeply regret.”… – WSJ, 7-23-09
  • “The good news about the Henry Louis Gates fiasco”: When I heard that prominent black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested for breaking into his own home in Cambridge, Mass., it made me proud of America. It may seem paradoxical to focus on the positive side of the preeminent scholar’s public humiliation. This is, after all, a distinguished staff writer for the New Yorker, the man who helped Oprah find her roots. It may seem that there’s no positive side at all. (His own neighbor, a Harvard magazine employee, didn’t recognize him and called the cops. How pathetic is that?)
    But last night I happened to be reading a book that put the whole incident into context, a volume that never fails to chill me: “We Charge Genocide,” a petition brought before the U.N. in 1951 that makes a very convincing case for defining the treatment of African-Americans in the U.S. as a genocide. This remarkable book consists, in part, of a litany of shocking bias crimes committed against black citizens across the country — and only documented ones occurring between 1945 to 1950. A typical entry reads: “February 13 — ISAAC WOODWARD, JR., discharged from the Army only a few hours, was on his way home when he had his eyes gouged out in Batesburg, South Carolina, by the town chief of police, Linwood Shull … [A]n all-white jury acquitted Shull after being out for 15 minutes.” And so on, for 50-odd hair-raising pages. Believe me, Toni Morrison couldn’t top it…. – James Hannaham at Salon.com, 7-22-09
  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and the Police in “Post-Racial” America: This past Thursday, the renowned Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., author of Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man, was reminded that sometimes, there’s just one.
    It is the way that his white neighbor, Lucia Whalen, looked at him as he stood on his porch with his luggage, attempting to nudge his jammed front door open. That look that somehow confuses a nearly sixty year old bespectacled professor with a blue blazer who cannot walk without the aid of a cane, as a crafty black burglar practicing his illicit deeds at 12:30 PM in the afternoon. Likely imagining herself as some courageous vigilante protecting the sanctity of her exclusive neighborhood to the unending praise of her grateful neighbors, she instead must bear the ignominious title of “the white lady who called the cops on ‘Skip’ Gates'” from dinner party to dinner party like a Scarlet K-K-K .
    It is the way that Officer James Crowley, who responded to Ms. Whalen’s misguided vigilance, looked at the MacArthur fellowship winner standing in his own foyer, as if to make humiliatingly literal the W.E.B. Du Bois lament from The Souls of Black Folk, “Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in mine own house?” Gates, understandably exhausted from the return flight from China he had just taken, responded to the officer’s insistent questioning of his identity with frustration — but did indeed prove his ownership of the residence and right to be there…. – Brandon M. Terry at the Huffington Post, 7-22-09
  • If it can happen to Skip Gates …: For many, it was a startling portrait: the normally reserved Harvard University professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr., standing on his front porch in handcuffs, appearing to yell as police officers surrounded him. Yet those were the images that circulated Tuesday, as news of Gates’ controversial arrest – and the subsequent dropping of charges against him – circulated on Web sites and television.
    Stephen L. Carter, a Yale University law professor and novelist, felt like he was watching a scene unfold from one of his own books. Carter has written scholarly works along with bestsellers about the lives of upper-class African Americans, including those in academe, and his fiction often illustrates how wealthy blacks draw suspicion in posh environs like private beaches or Ivy League campuses.
    “If it can happen to Henry Louis Gates, possibly the most prominent black scholar in the country, and in his home town, then it can indeed happen to any of us,” Carter, author of The Emperor of Ocean Park, wrote in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed.
    “Odd, isn’t it? Here we are in the age of Obama, and some things haven’t changed. Blackness is associated in the public mind with wrongdoing; if we are spotted in an unexpected locale, we must be up to something.”… – Inside Higher Ed, 7-22-09
  • Skip Gates and the Post-Racial Project: Over the past several days a strange characterization of Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has emerged. Many are portraying him as a radical who easily and inappropriately appeals to race as an excuse and explanation. This image of Gates is inaccurate. In fact, more than any other black intellectual in the country Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was an apolitical figure. This is neither a criticism nor an accolade, simply an observation…. – Melissa Harris-Lacewell in The Nation, 7-21-09
  • The Root Editor-in-Chief Henry Louis Gates Jr. talks about his arrest and the outrage of racial profiling in America: I’m saying ‘You need to send someone to fix my lock.’ All of a sudden, there was a policeman on my porch. And I thought, ‘This is strange.’ So I went over to the front porch still holding the phone, and I said ‘Officer, can I help you?’ And he said, ‘Would you step outside onto the porch.’ And the way he said it, I knew he wasn’t canvassing for the police benevolent association. All the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and I realized that I was in danger. And I said to him no, out of instinct. I said, ‘No, I will not.’…. – Henry Louis Gates Jr. in The Root, 7-21-09
  • Police Drop Charges Against Black Scholar: Authorities agreed to drop a disorderly-conduct charge against renowned Harvard University African-American studies scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., who had been arrested at his own home last week after police answered a call about a suspected break-in there.
    The arrest had sparked concern that Mr. Gates was a victim of racial profiling, a controversial practice in which police allegedly use race as a factor in identifying criminal suspects.
    In a joint statement, Mr. Gates’ lawyer, the City of Cambridge, Mass., its police department and the county district attorney’s office called the July 16 incident “regrettable and unfortunate.” The statement added that “this incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of Professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department” and that “all parties agree this is a just resolution to an unfortunate set of circumstances.”
    In an interview Tuesday, Mr. Gates said the situation “shows our vulnerability to the caprices of individual police officers who for whatever reason are free to arrest you on outrageous charges like disorderly conduct.” Mr. Gates called a police report alleging he yelled at an officer and was uncooperative “a work of sheer fantasy.”
    Mr. Gates, a Harvard professor and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, said he hadn’t decided whether to pursue any legal action. He said if the officer who arrested him, Sgt. James Crowley, “sincerely apologized, I would be willing to forgive him.”… – WSJ, 7-21-09
  • Gates chastises officer after authorities agree to drop criminal charge: Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. chastised a Cambridge police officer today and demanded an apology after authorities agreed to drop a disorderly conduct charge against the renowned African-American scholar.
    Gates accused the officer who arrested him at his Cambridge home of having a “broad imagination” when he summarized last Thursday’s confrontation in police reports, and he denied making several inflammatory remarks.
    “I believe the police officer should apologize to me for what he knows he did that was wrong,” Gates said in a phone interview from his other home in Martha’s Vineyard. “If he apologizes sincerely, I am willing to forgive him. And if he admits his error, I am willing to educate him about the history of racism in America and the issue of racial profiling … That’s what I do for a living.”
    Gates, 58, was handcuffed and booked last Thursday following a police investigation into a suspected burglary at his Ware Street home near Harvard Square. A passerby spotted Gates and his driver, who had dropped him off from the airport, trying to push the front door open and called the police. The door had been jammed. Police responded and arrested Gates after they said he became belligerent.
    Earlier today, the Middlesex district attorney’s office announced plans to drop criminal charges against Gates. The City of Cambridge and the police department recommended today that prosecutors not pursue charges in a joint statement from authorities and Gates that called the confrontation “regrettable and unfortunate.”
    “This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department,” the statement said. “All parties agree that this is a just resolution to an unfortunate set of circumstances.”
    Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons said in a statement that the controversy illustrated “that Cambridge must continue finding ways to address matters of race and class in a frank, honest, and productive manner.”… – Boston Globe, 7-21-09
  • Henry Louis Gates Jr. Arrested: Colleagues of Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard’s most prominent scholar of African-American history, are accusing the police here of racism after he was arrested at his home last week by an officer investigating a report of a robbery in progress.
    Professor Gates, who has taught at Harvard for nearly two decades, arrived home on Thursday from a trip to China to find his front door jammed, said Charles J. Ogletree, a law professor at Harvard who is representing him.
    He forced the door open with the help of his cab driver, Professor Ogletree said, and had been inside for a few minutes when Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department appeared at his door and asked him to step outside.
    Professor Gates, 58, refused to do so, Professor Ogletree said. From that point, the account of the professor and the police began to differ…. – NYT, 7-21-09
  • Black scholar’s arrest raises profiling questions: Henry Louis Gates Jr., the nation’s pre-eminent black scholar, was arrested at his home near Harvard University after forcing his way through his front door because it was jammed. Gates was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge last Thursday after police said he “exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior.” He was released later that day on his own recognizance. An arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 26. Police refused to comment on the arrest Monday…. – AP, 7-21-09
  • Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. arrested outside his home, calls Cambridge police ‘racist’: A distinguished black Harvard University professor was handcuffed and dragged off his porch to jail after Massachusetts cops mistook him for a burglar. Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation’s most renowned scholars of African-American history, was busted when he repeatedly accused a cop of racism for confronting him, police said. “Why, because I’m a black man in America?” Gates, 58, demanded, the police report said…. – NY Daily News, 7-21-09
  • Harvard professor arrested, racism accusations: An acclaimed black US scholar accused a police officer in Cambridge, Massachusetts of racism for investigating reports of a break-in as he entered his own house, after which he was arrested, police records have shown.
    Henry Louis Gates, 58, considered a preeminent professor of African American studies at the prestigious Harvard University, was charged with disorderly conduct. Police cited his “loud and tumultuous behavior.”
    Gates was seen by a passing woman to be attempting entry to the front door of his house — which was damaged — along with another black man, according to the police report from July 16.
    The woman alerted the police and by the time a uniformed officer arrived Gates was inside his home and reporting the faulty door to the Harvard Real Estate office, said a statement later released by Gates’ lawyer, Charles Ogletree.
    The other man at the scene was Gates’ hired driver.
    “Professor Gates informed the officer that he lived there and was a faculty member at Harvard University,” Ogletree said.
    According to the police report, Gates repeatedly told officers at the scene that “this is what happens to black men in America.”…. – AFP, 7-20-09

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

IN THE NEWS:

OP-EDs & BLOGS:

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • James MacGregor Burns: Judicial Roulette PACKING THE COURT The Rise of Judicial Power and the Coming Crisis of the Supreme Court NYT, 7-26-09
  • James MacGregor Burns: PACKING THE COURT The Rise of Judicial Power and the Coming Crisis of the Supreme Court , Excerpt – NYT, 7-26-09
  • Rich Cohen: A Land and a People ISRAEL IS REAL An Obsessive Quest to Understand the Jewish Nation and Its History NYT, 7-26-09
  • Allis Radosh and Ronald Radosh: Zionist in the White House A SAFE HAVEN Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel – NYT, 7-26-09
  • Richard Brookhiser: MEMOIR Conservatively Speaking RIGHT TIME, RIGHT PLACE Coming of Age with William F. Buckley Jr. and the Conservative Movement WaPo, 7-26-09
  • Bradley Graham: MILITARY HISTORY A Warrior Fighting the Wrong War BY HIS OWN RULES The Ambitions, Successes and Ultimate Failures of Donald Rumsfeld WaPo, 7-26-09
  • Art Historian Anthony Blunt: Memoirs of British Spy Offer No Apology – NYT (7-23-09)

PROFILED & FEATURED:

  • Andrew Roberts: The history man who loves to party – U.tv.news (7-26-09)
  • 10 Reasons Why Apollo 11 Moon Landing Was Awesome: Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Forty years ago mission commander Neil A. Armstrong and lunar module pilot Edwin Eugene ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, Jr. walked on the moon while command module pilot Michael Collins orbited above. Today however, marks the 40th anniversary of the day people really reacted to what just happened. As with all major events in time, there is always a day of reflection…. – Wired, 7-21-09
  • Ehud Netzer: An Israeli archaeologist is certain he has solved the mystery of the biblical figure’s final resting place – Barbara Kreiger in Smithsonian Magazine (7-1-09)

QUOTED:

INTERVIEWED:

  • Reinhard Siegmund-Schultze: Historian discusses new book on an academic exodus that saved lives and changed mathematics Mathematicians Fleeing from Nazi Germany: Individual Fates and Global Impact Inside Higher Ed (7-27-09)
  • Robin Hood Discovery: An Interview with Julian Luxford – www.medievalists.net, 3-25-09

HONORED, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

  • Marvin Dunn: Historian digs for stories of black settlement and its massacre (Rosewood) – Miami Herald (7-24-09)

SPOTTED:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • Woodrow Wilson Center Holding Summer Institutes for High School Teachers: U.S. and the Cold War: THE UNITED STATES AND THE COLD WAR July 26-July 31, 2009 – Press Release (7-25-09)
  • Woodrow Wilson Center Holding Summer Institutes for High School Teachers: U.S.-China Relations U.S.-China Relations July 26-July 31, 2009 – Press Release (7-25-09)
  • August 1, 2009: An Evening with Ken Burns: Kens Burns has been making documentary films for more than 30 years. Since the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, he has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made. The late historian Stephen Ambrose said of Burns’ films, “More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.” This evening will afford Chautauqua an opportunity to hear one of the most influential documentary makers of all time. Chautauqua Institutition. For more info 716-357-6200. – Jamestown Post-Journal, 5-21-09
  • Inaugural Semester-long seminar on Constitutional History offered at N-Y Historical Society this fall: Lincoln’s Constitution will be taught at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, on Thursday afternoons from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The seminar will be held on September 17 and 24 and on October 1, 15, 22, and 29, 2009. NYHS Press Release (7-20-09)

ON TV:

  • BBC to launch new series on history of Christianity – Religious Intelligence, 6-19-09
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS History Detectives: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule
  • History Channel: “Hippies” – Monday, July 27, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Sex in ’69: Sexual Revolution in America” – Monday, July 27, 2009 at 9pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Return of the Pirates” – Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Life After People & That’s Impossible: Eternal Life” – Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Moonshot” – Saturday, August 1, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Art of War” – Saturday, August 1, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

COMING SOON BOOKS:

  • Gil Troy: Reagan Revolution : A Very Short Introduction, July 30, 2009
  • Constance Rosenblum: Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak, and Hope along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, August 1, 2009
  • David Freeland: Automats, Taxi Dances, and Vaudeville: Excavating Manhattans Lost Places of Leisure, August 1, 2009
  • William A. DeGregorio: The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, Seventh Edition, August 15, 2009
  • Brooks D. Simpson: The Reconstruction Presidents (Paperback), August 18, 2009
  • Richard C. Hoagland: Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA (Revised), September 1, 2009
  • Douglas Hunter: Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage That Redrew the Map of the New World, September 1, 2009
  • Noah Andre Trudeau: Robert E. Lee: Lessons in Leadership, September 1, 2009
  • Annette Gordon-Reed: The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (Paperback), September 8, 2009
  • Jon Krakauer: Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, September 15, 2009
  • Dean C. Jessee (Editor): The Joseph Smith Papers: Revelations and Translations, Volume 1: Manuscript Revelation Books, September 2009
  • James Patterson: The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King – A Nonfiction Thriller, September 28, 2009
  • Timothy Egan: The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America, October 19, 2009
  • Gil Troy, Vincent J. Cannato, eds.: Living in the Eighties, October 23, 2009
  • L. Fletcher Prouty: JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy, (Paperback), November 1, 2009
  • Edward Kritzler: Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for Treasure, Religious Freedom–and Revenge, (Paperback), November 3, 2009
  • Anthony Haden-guest: Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night (Paperback), December 8, 2009

DEPARTED:

  • Lionel Casson: Who Wrote of Ancient Maritime History, Dies at 94 – NYT (7-24-09)

July 22, 2009: President Obama’s Press Conference on Health Care Reform

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

President Obama held a prime-time news conference on health care reform More Photos >

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • FACT CHECK: Obama’s health care claims adrift? President Barack Obama’s assertion Wednesday that government will stay out of health care decisions in an overhauled system is hard to square with the proposals coming out of Congress and with his own rhetoric. Even now, nearly half the costs of health care in the U.S. are paid for by government at all levels. Federal authority would only grow under any proposal in play…. – AP, 7-22-09
  • AP-GfK Poll: Great hopes for Obama fade to reality: An Associated Press-GfK Poll shows that a majority of Americans are back to thinking that the country is headed in the wrong direction after a fleeting period in which more thought it was on the right track. Obama still has a solid 55 percent approval rating — better than Bill Clinton and about even with George W. Bush six months into their presidencies — but there are growing doubts about whether he can succeed at some of the biggest items on his to-do list. And there is a growing sense that he is trying to tackle too much too soon…. – AP, 7-22-09
  • Obama’s Sinking Approval Ratings Are Even Worse Than They Look: Having come into office with an ambitious agenda to remake America, Barack Obama is discovering that time is not his friend. According to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, Obama’s approval rating has dropped by nine points, down to 55 percent from where it was when he first entered the White House six months ago….
    The decline in Obama’s job approval number is matched, overmatched really, by a significant increase in the number of people who disapprove of the job he is doing as president. That number is up 16 points—to 41 percent—from the first time the survey was taken during the Obama presidency. – US News, 7-21-09

THE HEADLINES….

The news conference was held in the East Room of the White House.
Stephen Crowley/The New York Times The news conference was held in the East Room of the White House.
  • Obama Moves to Reclaim the Debate on Health Care: President Obama tried on Wednesday to rally public support for overhauling the nation’s health care system and said for the first time that he would be willing to help pay for the plan by raising income taxes on families earning more than $1 million a year…. – NYT, 7-22-09
  • Live Blogging Obama’s News ConferenceNYT, 7-22-09
  • Obama rallies support for struggling health revamp: Six months in office, President Barack Obama sought Wednesday night to rally support for sweeping health care legislation he’s struggling to push through Congress, expressing support for a surtax on families making more than $1 million a year to help pay for it. Under pressure from Democrats to weigh in personally on the details of legislation, Obama also vowed at a prime-time news conference to reject any measure “primarily funded through taxing middle-class families.”… – AP, 7-22-09
  • Pelosi: House Dems have the votes on health care: Democrats command the votes needed to pass a sweeping health care bill through the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday, an unexpected statement that quickly drew a biting response from conservative members of the party’s rank-and-file demanding changes in President Barack Obama’s trademark legislation…. – AP, 7-22-09
  • Conservative Democrat says US health bill not ready: A stalled healthcare overhaul bill in the House of Representative should not move forward without firm numbers on cost savings, and it is unlikely to win enough votes to pass in current form, the leader of a group of conservative Democrats said on Wednesday. – Reuters, 7-22-09
  • Obama’s Policy Hurdles Rise After Six Months of Record Spending: President Barack Obama in his first six months got a $787 billion economic stimulus package and asked Congress for $750 billion for the financial crisis along with a down payment on a $1 trillion overhaul of U.S. health care. The next six months may be more difficult…. – Bloomberg, 7-22-09
  • Obama: No time for delay on health care: President Barack Obama remained on the offensive Tuesday on the pace and shape of legislation reinventing health care, against stiffening opposition from Republicans and growing wariness among rank-and-file congressional Democrats…. – AP, 7-21-09
  • Democrats irked by Obama signing statement: President Barack Obama has irked close allies in Congress by declaring he has the right to ignore legislation on constitutional grounds after having criticized George W. Bush for doing the same. Four senior House Democrats on Tuesday said they were “surprised” and “chagrined” by Obama’s declaration in June that he doesn’t have to comply with provisions in a war spending bill that puts conditions on aid provided to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund…. – AP, 7-21-09
  • Abortion Compromise Considered For US House Health-Care Bill: An anti-abortion Democrat on Monday said he is negotiating a compromise aimed at resolving concerns that House health-care legislation would allow federal funding of abortions…. – WSJ, 7-20-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

DESCRIPTION
Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times The news conference on Wednesday night was the president’s fifth in total and the fourth held in prime-time.
  • Obama Makes Fresh Appeal on Health Care at Prime-time News Conference: …Six months ago, I took office amid the worst recession in half a century. We were losing an average of 700,000 jobs per month and our financial system was on the verge of collapse.
    As a result of the action we took in those first weeks, we have been able to pull our economy back from the brink. We took steps to stabilize our financial institutions and our housing market. And we passed a Recovery Act that has already saved jobs and created new ones; delivered billions in tax relief to families and small businesses; and extended unemployment insurance and health insurance to those who have been laid off.
    Of course, we still have a long way to go. And the Recovery Act will continue to save and create more jobs over the next two years – just like it was designed to do. I realize this is little comfort to those Americans who are currently out of work, and I’ll be honest with you – new hiring is always one of the last things to bounce back after a recession….
    That is why I’ve said that even as we rescue this economy from a full-blown crisis, we must rebuild it stronger than before. And health insurance reform is central to that effort.
    This is not just about the 47 million Americans who have no health insurance. Reform is about every American who has ever feared that they may lose their coverage if they become too sick, or lose their job, or change their job. It’s about every small business that has been forced to lay off employees or cut back on their coverage because it became too expensive. And it’s about the fact that the biggest driving force behind our federal deficit is the skyrocketing cost of Medicare and Medicaid.
    So let me be clear: if we do not control these costs, we will not be able to control our deficit. If we do not reform health care, your premiums and out-of-pocket costs will continue to skyrocket. If we do not act, 14,000 Americans will continue to lose their health insurance every single day. These are the consequences of inaction. These are the stakes of the debate we’re having right now.
    I realize that with all the charges and criticisms being thrown around in Washington, many Americans may be wondering, “What’s in this for me? How does my family stand to benefit from health insurance reform?”
    Tonight I want to answer those questions. Because even though Congress is still working through a few key issues, we already have agreement on the following areas:
    If you already have health insurance, the reform we’re proposing will provide you with more security and more stability. It will keep government out of health care decisions, giving you the option to keep your insurance if you’re happy with it. It will prevent insurance companies from dropping your coverage if you get too sick. It will give you the security of knowing that if you lose your job, move, or change your job, you will still be able to have coverage. It will limit the amount your insurance company can force you to pay for your medical costs out of your own pocket. And it will cover preventive care like check-ups and mammograms that save lives and money.
    If you don’t have health insurance, or are a small business looking to cover your employees, you’ll be able to choose a quality, affordable health plan through a health insurance exchange – a marketplace that promotes choice and competition Finally, no insurance company will be allowed to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition.
    I have also pledged that health insurance reform will not add to our deficit over the next decade – and I mean it. In the past eight years, we saw the enactment of two tax cuts, primarily for the wealthiest Americans, and a Medicare prescription program, none of which were paid for. This is partly why I inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit.
    That will not happen with health insurance reform. It will be paid for. Already, we have estimated that two-thirds of the cost of reform can be paid for by reallocating money that is simply being wasted in federal health care programs. This includes over one hundred billion dollars in unwarranted subsidies that go to insurance companies as part of Medicare – subsidies that do nothing to improve care for our seniors. And I’m pleased that Congress has already embraced these proposals. While they are currently working through proposals to finance the remaining costs, I continue to insist that health reform not be paid for on the backs of middle-class families.
    In addition to making sure that this plan doesn’t add to the deficit in the short-term, the bill I sign must also slow the growth of health care costs in the long run. Our proposals would change incentives so that doctors and nurses are free to give patients the best care, not just the most expensive care. That’s why the nation’s largest organizations representing doctors and nurses have embraced our plan.
    We also want to create an independent group of doctors and medical experts who are empowered to eliminate waste and inefficiency in Medicare on an annual basis – a proposal that could save even more money and ensure the long-term financial health of Medicare. Overall, our proposals will improve the quality of care for our seniors and save them thousands of dollars on prescription drugs, which is why the AARP has endorsed our reform efforts.
    Not all of the cost savings measures I just mentioned were contained in Congress’s draft legislation, but we are now seeing broad agreement thanks to the work that was done over the last few days. So even though we still have a few issues to work out, what’s remarkable at this point is not how far we have left to go – it’s how far we have already come.
    I understand how easy it is for this town to become consumed in the game of politics – to turn every issue into running tally of who’s up and who’s down. I’ve heard that one Republican strategist told his party that even though they may want to compromise, it’s better politics to “go for the kill.” Another Republican Senator said that defeating health reform is about “breaking” me.
    So let me be clear: This isn’t about me. I have great health insurance, and so does every Member of Congress. This debate is about the letters I read when I sit in the Oval Office every day, and the stories I hear at town hall meetings. This is about the woman in Colorado who paid $700 a month to her insurance company only to find out that they wouldn’t pay a dime for her cancer treatment – who had to use up her retirement funds to save her own life. This is about the middle-class college graduate from Maryland whose health insurance expired when he changed jobs, and woke up from emergency surgery with $10,000 in debt. This is about every family, every business, and every taxpayer who continues to shoulder the burden of a problem that Washington has failed to solve for decades.
    This debate is not a game for these Americans, and they cannot afford to wait for reform any longer. They are counting on us to get this done. They are looking to us for leadership. And we must not let them down. We will pass reform that lowers cost, promotes choice, and provides coverage that every American can count on. And we will do it this year. And with that, I’ll take your questions…. – PBS Newshour, 7-22-09
  • Excerpts of Obama’s Remarks Released – NYT, 7-22-09
  • Obama says healthcare overhaul needed to curb deficits: “If we do not control these costs, we will not be able to control our deficit,” he said after another day when leaders in Congress struggled to find common ground on the cost and scope of a healthcare plan, Obama’s top legislative priority.
    “We are now seeing broad agreement thanks to the work that was done over the last few days. So even though we still have a few issues to work out, what’s remarkable at this point is not how far we have left to go — it’s how far we have already come,” he said. – Reuters, 7-22-09
  • Obama Criticizes Arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates : President Obama bluntly accused the police of acting “stupidly” by arresting the Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. last week after an officer had established that Mr. Gates had not broken into his own home in Cambridge, Mass. Mr. Obama stopped short of accusing the police department of racial profiling, as Mr. Gates has done. But during a prime-time White House news conference that was otherwise largely devoted to health care, Mr. Obama weighed in full bore on the Gates case and suggested that the police should never have arrested him. “There’s a long history in this country of African-Americans being stopped disproportionately by the police,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s a sign of how race remains a factor in this society.” – NYT, 7-22-09
  • “If they try to fix our healthcare system like they’ve tried to rescue our economy, I think we’re in really, really big trouble,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner. – Reuters, 7-22-09
  • Inside Blue Dogs’ W.H. meeting: Following their meeting with POTUS Tuesday afternoon, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee … … and Blue Dog Coalition spoke with reporters at the White House. “We had a very constructive meeting,” Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said. “Members of our Energy and Commerce Committee who are also members of the Blue Dogs had great concern on cost of the legislation … it’s not just theirs but ours as well.” – Politico, 7-21-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON HEALTH CARE AND THE SENATE VOTE ON F-22 FUNDING Rose Garden: But I reject the notion that we have to waste billions of taxpayer dollars on outdated and unnecessary defense projects to keep this nation secure. That’s why I’ve taken steps to greatly reduce no-bid defense contracts. That’s why I’ve signed overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation to limit cost overruns on weapons systems before they spiral out of control. And that’s why I’m grateful that the Senate just voted against an additional $1.75 billion to buy F-22 fighter jets that military experts and members of both parties say we do not need….
    We’ve agreed that our health reform bill will extend coverage and include unprecedented insurance protections for the American people. Under each of these bills, you won’t be denied coverage if you’ve got a preexisting medical condition. You won’t lose your health care if you change jobs, if you lose your job, or if you start a business. And you won’t lose your insurance if you get sick…. – White House, 7-21-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON HEALTH CARE Children’s Hospital Washington, D.C.: …And we can’t afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care. Not this time. Not now. There are too many lives and livelihoods at stake. There are too many families who will be crushed if insurance premiums continue to rise three times as fast as wages. There are too many businesses that will be forced to shed workers, scale back benefits, or drop coverage unless we get spiraling health care costs under control. – White House, 7-20-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President speaks on health reform

  • JAMES MORONE, Brown University “As Deadline Nears, Obama Steps Up Health Care Push”: With the days ticking down until President Obama’s target date for a deal on health care reform, the White House is pushing to convince the public and Congress that swift action is necessary
    We’ve been doing this since 1935. Harry Truman ran on this in 1948, that great come-from-behind victory, and he encountered the exact same thing. We always have these enormous problems. And what’s so striking is how similar the kinds of debates are. Just one quick example: In every scene in this movie, we’ve had the same idea of people coming in and saying, “Look, we just cannot afford this.” So that’s a very old story. Lyndon Johnson, when he passed Medicare, we just found some newly released tapes of him complaining to newly elected Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts that those fools in the budget office went and projected the costs of Medicare six years down the line. “I’m losing votes.” Bottom line: If we had had good cost projections for Medicare, we believe it would never have won…. Accurate projections. Actually, accurate projections for the costs down the line. LBJ might have known, but he managed to hide them….
    It’s hard for a number of different reasons. For the profession itself, what we’re doing is taking — every year, we’re spending a little bit more of our economy to health care. Anything that threatens to stop that is going to gore an awful lot of sacred cows. Secondly, this is a major battle for control of the high ground in American politics, and everybody in Washington knows that. If Obama gets this through, Roosevelt fails, Truman failed, Carter, Clinton, they all failed. If Obama wins, he’s on an extraordinary roll. If he’s defeated, this is a major defeat for him and a victory for the Republicans. Combine the sheer difficulty and the politics, and you’ve got a recipe for trouble….
    Yes, there are many lessons, and one goes directly to what Amy just said, and that’s the lesson of speed. Lyndon Johnson gathered all of his advisers in a room after his huge 1964 landslide victory — second largest in Democratic Party history — and he said, “Look, every day I lose power. Every day I lose votes. You’ve got to get Medicare fast.” In that sense, Obama has learned an important lesson from history when he says, “Do it by August.” …Eevery day, he loses a little bit of the luster. And six months from now, you know what “Nightline’s” going to be covering: the midterm elections. That’s going to make it almost impossible. One lesson: speed….
    What he needs, what he has to find a way to get is a movement going. Look, this is very scary for Congress… for a lot of congresspeople, particularly in swing districts. If they don’t get a whole lot of Tweets, a whole lot of e-mails, a whole lot of phone calls, this isn’t going to go anywhere. So what Obama needs to do more than getting into the weeds or answering critics is generating excitement that translates into stuff in congressional in-boxes. Without that, it’s never going to win. – PBS Newshour, 7-22-09
  • Julian Zelizer “LBJ Arm-Twisting? Not Really Obama’s Style”: Obama, says Julian Zelizer, a political historian who teaches at Princeton University, “does need a little LBJ in him.”…
    Roosevelt was masterful, Zelizer says, at “living with what was possible instead of what was perfect. For many liberals, this was frustrating.” By using that strategy of relentlessness and occasional compromise, Zelizer says, Roosevelt was able to push through social safety-net legislation. “It paled in compared to Europe’s social security plan,” he says. But it was pretty progressive for the American system at the time.
    Zelizer does say that Obama needs to avoid the pitfalls of Johnson. And of Jimmy Carter. “President Carter had more trouble working with Congress,” Zelizer says. “He had no relationship with Capitol Hill.”
    In the end, Zelizer says, Carter was “too esoteric.” He had great vision when it came to a national energy policy or the SALT II nuclear arms talks. “But he just couldn’t put it together for legislation or the treaty,” Zelizer says. “He just couldn’t articulate his vision.”
    Using his own methods, relying on his own political personality, will Obama be able to sway enough people to get the necessary votes to achieve 1965-style results with 2009 technology? “The jury,” Zelizer says, “is still out.” – NPR, 7-21-09
  • Ted Widmer “LBJ Arm-Twisting? Not Really Obama’s Style”: Plus, the two men “are pretty far apart in most people’s minds, and certainly in [Obama’s],” says Ted Widmer, a fellow at the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank. Between 1997 and 2001, Widmer served in the Clinton White House as a foreign policy speechwriter and senior adviser to the president.
    “There have never been stories of personal intimidation from Obama,” Widmer says, “and most of the persuasion arts that are used at the moment deploy indirect forms — texting, e-mail, phone messages — rather than in-your-face, LBJ-style orders from on high.” – NPR, 7-21-09
  • Allan Lichtman “LBJ Arm-Twisting? Not Really Obama’s Style”: Johnson as role model for Obama poses other problems, as well. Presidential historian Allan Lichtman, who teaches at American University, points out that “despite his mastery of the legislative process and enormous harvest of domestic legislation,” Johnson is “a tainted example because of Vietnam.”
    Lichtman and others also suggest alternative role models for Obama — former presidents who knew how to negotiate the shoals of Congress yet didn’t get mired in bad choices.
    Perhaps the best beacon would be Woodrow Wilson, Lichtman says. “Wilson was a major legislative craftsman, with deep knowledge of how Congress worked from his studies as a political scientist. He revived the tradition, dormant since Jefferson, of giving the State of the Union speech in person to Congress as another means of outlining and pushing his agenda.”
    During this first two years, Lichtman says, “Wilson succeeded in reforming the protective tariff, establishing the Federal Reserve System. He gained passing major antitrust legislation, a graduated income tax, and limitations on the use of court injunctions against labor unions.” – NPR, 7-21-09

July 20, 2009: Obama Honors NAACP’s 100th and the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

(President Barack Obama makes remarks at the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP in New York, Thursday, July 16, 2009. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Is Obama losing his Midas touch among Dems?: Could it be that President Barack Obama’s Midas touch is starting to dull a bit, even among members of his own party? Conservative House Democrats are balking at the cost and direction of Obama’s top priority, an overhaul of the nation’s health care system…. – AP, 7-19-09
  • Poll: Obama approval rating dips under 60 percent – CNN, 7-17-09
  • Romney is GOP Favorite in new Gallup Poll: According to a new Gallup poll amongst GOP voters, Mitt Romney is the new front-runner for the 2012 presidential nominee. According to the poll of Republicans and Republican leaning independents, Romney garners about 26%, Palin gets 21% and Huckabee comes in a close third at 19%. What is also interesting about this poll is that Gallup also asked the same folks about favorable ratings. Here there is no contest, Palin enjoys a 72% favorable rating, Huckabee is at 59% and Romney comes in at 56%. A very revealing dichotomy. – Right Pundits,
  • Palin: Voters may not care she quit: It’s 43 percent favorable, 45 percent unfavorable, according to a Gallup poll taken from July 10-12. – CS Monitor, 7-16-09
  • Obama Makes Speech Number 200: The Economy & Stimulus Program – 48 speeches
    Revamping Health Care Coverage – 16
    Government Reform & Regulation – 11
    Energy and Climate Change – 10 – CBS, 7-13-09
  • Barack Obama’s Honeymoon Period May Be Nearing its End: Barack Obama’s job approval rating in Gallup’s latest three day rolling average is 57%. Approval has dropped among Independents and Republicans. Sean Hannity of Fox News says “Obama’s approval rating is now in a freefall”.
  • New Polls Reveal Big Problems for Obama: And recent polling in swing states like Ohio and Virginia also indicate that Americans are fed up with the direction that this country is headed in. As you can see on your screen, Mr. Obama’s approval has dropped almost 20 points in only five months.
    And the new Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll, presidential tracking poll, now shows that only 30 percent of those polled strongly approve of the president’s job performance. Now that is the lowest since he took office while 38 percent of those polled strongly disapprove, which is the highest that that has been since January 21st. – Fox News, 7-10-09
  • Q+A: Obama’s legislative agenda suffering setbacks: President Barack Obama’s core legislative agenda — overhauling healthcare and addressing climate change — has hit some stumbling blocks in the U.S. Congress…. – Reuters, 7-10-09
  • Obama Popularity Dropping – People Waking Up: Polling data show that Mr. Obama’s approval rating is dropping and is below where George W. Bush was in an analogous period in 2001. Rasmussen Reports data shows that Mr. Obama’s net presidential approval rating — which is calculated by subtracting the number who strongly disapprove from the number who strongly approve — is just six, his lowest rating to date.
    Overall, Rasmussen Reports shows a 56%-43% approval, with a third strongly disapproving of the president’s performance. This is a substantial degree of polarization so early in the administration. Mr. Obama has lost virtually all of his Republican support and a good part of his Independent support, and the trend is decidedly negative…. – Auburn Journal, 7-10-09
  • Voters’ Remorse — Is Baracklash on the Horizon? Since January Obama has failed to help many of his core supporters. Will they soon turn against him?: Call it Baracklash: so far, Barack Obama isn’t helping many people who voted for him in high percentages when he was elected president eight months ago…. – Fox News, 7-9-09

THE HEADLINES….

(President Barack Obama poses with Apollo 11 astronauts, from left, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, and Neil Armstrong, Monday, July 20, 2009, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

  • Many legal issues left out of hearings – USA Today, 7-19-09
  • Hatch: Too Rushed On Health Care GOP Senator Says Democrats’ Proposals Will “Kill a Lot of Jobs” CBS News, 7-19-09
  • First Lady Steps Into Policy Spotlight in Debate on Health Care – NYT, 7-18-09
  • Swaying court may be tougher than confimation: Sonia Sotomayor might find it was easier to disarm Republican senators who have one eye on Hispanic voters than to sway Supreme Court justices who have lifetime appointments. – AP, 7-18-09
  • Obama no longer stressing August deadline for passing health reform bill – Politico, 7-18-09
  • Obama pushes healthcare reform, critics slam cost: President Barack Obama’s far-reaching plan to guarantee all Americans healthcare ran into trouble on Friday over its more than $1 trillion price tag, forcing Democrats to look for ways to reduce costs as they moved the bill forward…. – Reuters, 7-17-09
  • Sotomayor wins GOP backers after smooth hearings: Three centrist Republicans announced they’d support Sotomayor even as the Senate’s minority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said he’d vote no. – AP, 7-17-09
  • Republicans Are Splitting on Sotomayor Confirmation: Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, announced Friday that he would oppose the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court even as new backing from other Republicans showed that her seat on the court was secured…. – NYT, 7-17-09
  • US House launches investigation into CIA program – Reuters, 7-17-09
  • Budget umpire: Health care bills would raise costs: Democrats’ health care bills won’t meet President Barack Obama’s goal of slowing the ruinous rise of medical costs, Congress’ budget umpire warned on Thursday, giving weight to critics who say the legislation could break the bank…. – AP, 7-16-09
  • Kennedy’s Absent Voice on Health Bill Resonates – NYT, 7-16-09
  • House Democrats muzzle GOP on sensitive issues: In their zeal to protect their members from politically hazardous votes on issues such as gay marriage and gun control, Democrats running the House of Representatives are taking extraordinary steps to muzzle Republicans in this summer’s debates on spending bills…. – AP, 7-16-09
  • Hillary Clinton rejects notion of diminished role: “I really stay focused on the work that I do. I broke my elbow, not my larynx. I have been deeply involved in the shaping and implementation of our foreign policy,” she told reporters. – – Reuters, 7-16-09
  • For Clinton, ’09 Campaign Is for Her Turf: When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stepped back to center stage here on Wednesday to present an ambitious blueprint for America’s role in the world, the State Department billed it as a major foreign policy address…. – NYT, 7-15-09
  • Sotomayor sidesteps on abortion, guns in grilling: Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor determinedly sidestepped volleys of Republican questions on abortion and gun rights Wednesday, keeping her demeanor cool and her opinions mostly private as she neared the end of a marathon Senate grilling on the road to all but sure confirmation…. – AP, 7-15-09
  • Senate panel OKs plan to revamp health care system: President Barack Obama achieved a milestone Wednesday when a Senate committee approved a plan to revamp the U.S. health care system. The Senate panel’s action, which attracted no Republican votes, came as the president’s campaign organization rolled out television ads to build support for his top domestic priority…. – AP, 7-15-09
  • SC gov’s official e-mails detail man of few words: Office e-mails from South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford show a man of few words, a stark contrast to the intensely personal messages he sent his Argentine mistress…. – AP, 7-15-09
  • Pitcher-in-chief gets sage advice from a pro: “Follow through”: Barack Obama made his presidential pitching debut on Tuesday at the All-Star Game in St. Louis, but not before getting a little practice and a bit of advice. “I’m telling him, ‘Follow through,'” said Willie Mays…. – Reuters, 7-14-09
  • Pressure grows for Obama to leap into healthcare fray: Largely avoids volatile debate on plan’s costs Even while delivering impassioned speeches and trying to light a rhetorical fire under Congress, President Obama has stayed away from the politically treacherous question of how to pay the nearly trillion-dollar cost of healthcare overhaul…. – Boston Globe, 7-14-09
  • Obama: Unemployment Rate Likely to Rise: President Says Job Loss Will Continue as the Economy Recovers – CBS, 7-14-09
  • GOP aims to paint Sotomayor as biased: The Supreme Court nominee’s confirmation hearing opens. Republicans acknowledge that she’s almost certain to win confirmation, but they hope to shape the public’s perception of her…. – LAT, 7-13-09
  • Obama’s teleprompter breaks in mid-speech: President Barack Obama had just started a spirited defense of his economic stimulus plan on Monday when one of his teleprompter screens came loose, crashed to the floor and shattered into pieces…. – AP, 7-13-09
  • McCain looks to cut funding for more F-22 jets: Sen. John McCain, in an unusual alliance with the Obama administration, moved Monday to eliminate $1.75 billion recently inserted into the proposed 2010 defense budget for more fighter jets from Lockheed Martin…. – AP, 7-13-09
  • From storm-tossed Ala. clinic to top doctor post, Obama Nominates Dr. Regina Benjamin for Surgeon General: “For all the tremendous obstacles that she has overcome, Regina Benjamin also represents what’s best about health care in America, doctors and nurses who give and care and sacrifice for the sake of their patients,” Obama said in the White House Rose Garden. – AP, 7-13-09
  • McCain opposes probe of interrogation practices: Sen. John McCain says he’s against opening a criminal investigation into whether CIA officers tortured detainees during the Bush administration. The Arizona Republican and former presidential candidate suggested that the fallout from embarking on a criminal investigation would provide a recruiting tool to terrorists…. – AP, 7-12-09
  • Obama Faces a New Push to Look Back: President Obama is facing new pressure to reverse himself and to ramp up investigations into the Bush-era security programs, despite the political risks. Leading Democrats on Sunday demanded investigations of how a highly classified counterterrorism program was kept secret from the Congressional leadership on the orders of Vice President Dick Cheney…. – NYT, 7-12-09
  • HBO’s ‘Teddy: In His Own Words’ The documentary is more a tribute than analysis: Produced by Peter Kunhardt and Sheila Nevins, HBO’s “Teddy: In His Own Words” is much more tribute than analysis, the sort of film that frankly most often shows up posthumously. (Kunhardt produced similarly named documentaries on Jack and Bobby Kennedy.) The “Own Words” are pulled from various interviews and speeches rather than any looking-back-type interview…. – LAT, 7-12-09
  • Republican pundits open fire on Sarah Palin: Their harsh views conflict with those of grass-roots GOP voters, revealing a serious split within the party…. – LAT, 7-12-09
  • She Broke the G.O.P. and Now She Owns It: In the aftermath of her decision to drop out and cash in, Palin’s standing in the G.O.P. actually rose in the USA Today/Gallup poll. No less than 71 percent of Republicans said they would vote for her for president. That overwhelming majority isn’t just the “base” of the Republican Party that liberals and conservatives alike tend to ghettoize as a rump backwater minority. It is the party, or pretty much what remains of it in the Barack Obama era…. – NYT, 7-12-09
  • Retracing Palin’s Long March to a Short-Notice Resignation – NYT, 7-12-09
  • Obama in Africa: Welcome Back, Son. Now Don’t Forget Us: On Friday, when President Obama stepped off Air Force One in Ghana for his first presidential visit to sub-Saharan Africa, it was clear he was stepping onto a continent of stratospheric expectations. He was mobbed at the airport by drummers and dancers and seemingly the entire Ghanaian government, as if his arrival were a long- awaited homecoming… – NYT, 7-11-09
  • Cheney linked to secrecy of CIA program: At the direction of the then-vice president, Congress was not notified of a highly classified counter-terrorism program for eight years, sources say…. – LAT, 7-11-09
  • AP source: Holder considering torture probe: Attorney General Eric Holder is considering whether to appoint a criminal prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration’s interrogation practices, a controversial move that would run counter to President Barack Obama’s wishes to leave the issue in the past…. – AP, 7-11-09
  • Have Palin and Sanford damaged the GOP brand?: Have episodes such as the recent ones with Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford affected the public image of the GOP? Or is the damage more likely to be local?… – LAT, 7-10-09
  • Obama’s Ghana Visit Highlights Scarce Stability in Africa: Mr. Obama says he chose Ghana to “highlight” its adherence to democratic principles and institutions, ensuring the kind of stability that brings prosperity. “This isn’t just some abstract notion that we’re trying to impose on Africa,” he told AllAfrica.com. He added: “The African continent is a place of extraordinary promise as well as challenges. We’re not going to be able to fulfill those promises unless we see better governance.” – NYT, 7-10-09
  • Obama set for emotional visits to Vatican, Ghana: President Barack Obama is ending three days of often-wonkish policy discussions with fellow world leaders to embark on two of the most photogenic and emotional events of his young presidency: meeting the pope at the Vatican and becoming the first black American president to visit a mostly black African country. He was throwing in a televised news conference from Italy for good measure…. – AP, 7-10-09
  • Presidential records a time capsule of Bush years: The gifts, documents and electronic records accumulated during Bush’s two terms have gone from the White House to a warehouse in suburban Dallas, just a few miles north of a turnpike named for his father. They will remain there until Bush’s $300 million presidential library — the nation’s 13th and the third in Texas — opens in 2013 on the Southern Methodist University campus near downtown Dallas. “It’s a wonderful eight-year time capsule,” said Jennifer M. Schulle, the registrar for the Bush library. “It’s everything that was going on — politically, personally and socially.”… – AP, 7-9-09

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Gillibrand raises $1M more than likely challenger: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., raised nearly $1 million more than her likely Democratic primary challenger in the recent fundraising quarter…. – AP, 7-15-09
  • Kirk to run for Obama’s old Ill. Senate seat: Republican Rep. Mark Kirk will announce Monday he’s running for the Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama that has been mired in controversy since Illinois’ former governor was accused of trying to sell it, an Illinois Republican told The Associated Press on Wednesday…. – AP, 7-15-09
  • Specter outraises likely Democratic challenger: During the fundraising quarter in which Sen. Arlen Specter switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, he raised about $1.7 million, his campaign said Tuesday. The five-term Specter now has about $7.5 million to spend. In comparison, his likely 2010 Democratic primary challenger, Rep. Joe Sestak from suburban Philadelphia, raised more than $1 million during the same period and has $4.2 million in cash…. – AP, 7-14-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President gives the Weekly Address

  • Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Man’s First Steps on the Moon: I also know that, as a consequence of the extraordinary work of NASA generally, that you inspired an entire generation of scientists and engineers that ended up really sparking the innovation, the drive, the entrepreneurship, the creativity back here on Earth. And I think it’s very important for us to constantly remember that NASA was not only about feeding our curiosity, that sense of wonder, but also had extraordinary practical applications. And one of the things that I’ve committed to doing as President is making sure that math and science are cool again, and that we once again keep the goal by 2020 of having the highest college graduation rates of any country on Earth, especially in the maths and science fields.
    So I think on this 40th anniversary, we are — all of us thank and grateful to all of you for what you’ve done, and we expect that there’s, as we speak, another generation of kids out there who are looking up at the sky and are going to be the next Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrins. And we want to make sure that NASA is going to be there for them when they want to take their journey. – White House, 7-20-09
  • Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address Saturday, July 18th, 2009: Right now in Washington, our Senate and House of Representatives are both debating proposals for health insurance reform. Today, I want to speak with you about the stakes of this debate, for our people and for the future of our nation.
    This is an issue that affects the health and financial well-being of every single American and the stability of our entire economy…. – White House, 7-18-09
  • Obama: Now is time to change health care: “I want to be very clear: I will not sign on to any health plan that adds to our deficits over the next decade,” the president said in his weekly address. “And by helping improve quality and efficiency, the reforms we make will help bring our deficits under control in the long-term,” he added…. – AP, 7-18-09
  • Barack Obama hails Walter Cronkite as an ‘icon’: “That’s why we loved Walter, because in an era before blogs and email, cellphones and cable, he was the news,” Obama said. “Walter invited us to believe in him and he never let us down. This country has lost an icon and a dear friend and he will be truly missed.” – CTV, 7-18-09
  • Obama to Congress: Don’t lose heart on health care: “Now, I realize that the last few miles of any race are the hardest to run, but I have to say now is not the time to slow down, and now is certainly not the time to lose heart,” he declared. – AP, 7-17-09

President Obama on Health Reform: We are Going to Get this Done

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE NAACP CENTENNIAL CONVENTION: …And yet, even as we celebrate the remarkable achievements of the past 100 years; even as we inherit extraordinary progress that cannot be denied; even as we marvel at the courage and determination of so many plain folk — we know that too many barriers still remain…. – White House, 7-16-09
  • Obama Tells Fellow Blacks: ‘No Excuses’ for Any Failure: “No one has written your destiny for you,” he said, directing his remarks to “all the other Barack Obamas out there” who might one day grow up to be president. “Your destiny is in your hands, and don’t you forget that. That’s what we have to teach all of our children! No excuses! No excuses!” – NYT, 7-16-09
  • Obama: Civil rights leaders paved way for him: “Make no mistake: The pain of discrimination is still felt in America,” the president said in honoring the organization’s 100th convention. – AP, 7-16-09
  • Biden challenges GOP on stimulus on Eric Cantor’s turf: “The very guys who are saying this is a terrible act want me to make sure you get high-speed rail. Isn’t that kind of funny,” he said…. – AP, 7-16-09
  • Obama says without action, health costs will rise: “The fact is, health care affects the financial security and well-being of every American, even those who have health insurance,” Obama said. “It affects the stability of our entire economy.”… “We have finally reached a point when inaction is no longer an option,” Obama said, his hoarse voice rising in volume and anger. “I will not defend the status quo.”…. It’s a path where our health care costs keep rising. … That’s not a future I accept,” Obama told the friendly audience. – AP, 7-16-09
  • Secretary Clinton: “A New Era of Engagement”: The question is not whether our nation can or should lead, but how it will lead in the 21st century. Rigid ideologies and old formulas don’t apply. We need a new mindset about how America will use its power to safeguard our nation, expand shared prosperity, and help more people in more places live up to their God-given potential…. – White House, 7-15-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE AMERICAN GRADUATION INITIATIVE Macomb Community College Warren, Michigan: But today I’m announcing the most significant down payment yet on reaching the goal of having the highest college graduation rate of any nation in the world. We’re going to achieve this in the next 10 years. (Applause.) And it’s called the American Graduation Initiative. It will reform and strengthen community colleges like this one from coast to coast so they get the resources that students and schools need — and the results workers and businesses demand. Through this plan, we seek to help an additional 5 million Americans earn degrees and certificates in the next decade — 5 million…. – White House, 7-14-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT URBAN AND METROPOLITAN POLICY ROUNDTABLE – White House, 7-13-09
  • Obama Prods Top Democrats to Pass Health-Care as Momentum Slows: “For those naysayers and cynics who think that this is not going to happen, don’t bet against us,” he said at the White House. “We are going to make this thing happen because the American people desperately need it.” – Bloomberg, 7-13-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN ANNOUNCEMENT OF U.S. SURGEON GENERAL Rose Garden: But for all that she’s seen and all the tremendous obstacles that she has overcome, Regina Benjamin also represents what’s best about health care in America — doctors and nurses who give and care and sacrifice for the sake of their patients; those Americans who would do anything to heal a fellow citizen. – White House, 7-13-09
  • Palin says Alaska needs new ethics policy: “The only saving grace in this recent episode is that it proves beyond any doubt the significance of the problem Alaska faces in the ‘new normal’ of political discourse,” Palin said in a release that was posted online through her Twitter account.
    “I hope this will be a wake-up call — to legislators, to commentators and to citizens generally — that we need a much more civil and respectful dialogue that focuses on the best interests of the state, rather than the petty resentments of a few,” Palin said. – AP, 7-11-09
  • AP Interview: Former CIA Director Gen. Michae Hayden denies Congress not informed: “One of the points I had in every one of the briefings was to make sure they understood the scope of our activity ‘They’ve got to know this is bigger than a bread box,’ I said,” said Hayden, who also previously headed the National Security Agency. “At the political level this had support,” said the one-time CIA chief, jumping foursquare into an escalating controversy that has caused deep political divisions and lingering debate on the counterterrorism policies of an administration now out of power…. – AP, 7-11-09
  • …I can promise you this: America will be with you. As a partner. As a friend. Freedom is your inheritance. Now, it is your responsibility to build upon freedom’s foundation. – White House, 7-11-09

President Obama’s Visit to Ghana

  • Text of Obama’s news conference on Friday Text of President Barack Obama’s news conference on Friday in L’Aquila, Italy, as provided by the White House:
    So right now, at this defining moment, we face a choice. We can either shape our future or let events shape it for us. We can let the stale debates and old disagreements of the past divide us, or we can recognize our shared interests and shared aspirations and work together to create a safer and cleaner and more prosperous world for future generations…..
    None of this will be easy. As we worked this week to find common ground, we have not solved all our problems. And we’ve not agreed on every point. But we’ve shown that it is possible to move forward and make real and unprecedented progress together. And I’m confident we’ll continue to do so in the months and years ahead…. – AP, 7-10-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President in Ghana

  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Stimulus is too low, too slow”: Vice President Joseph Biden has acknowledged that the $787 billion economic stimulus program has not yet had the impact that the White House was looking for.
    “We misread how bad the economy was,” Biden said during an interview.
    But Biden’s account downplays the damaging compromises that the administration made on the stimulus package back in February, as well as the problems that have emerged in implementing the program….
    Today, the Obama administration cannot afford to stand still on the stimulus. The time has come to correct what’s gone wrong with the existing program by speeding up spending and to consider the possibility of making a politically difficult request for more. – CNN, 7-14-09
  • Bob Hayden “Obama watch on Martha’s Vineyard”: “History is always being made on the island, and it will be again,” said Bob Hayden, a historian and author who leads the African American History Tour. “It’s going to be a spectacular summer.” – Boston Herald, 7-12-09
  • R. Scott Appleby “Ailing Kennedy sends letter to pope Obama hand-delivers missive to the Vatican”: Catholicism runs deep in the Kennedy clan, “as a cultural and ethnic identity,” said R. Scott Appleby, a historian at the University of Notre Dame, said, “Among individual members, the depth of commitment to the church itself varies, as with many Catholic families. It seems clear, and it is poignant and instructive, that Senator Kennedy seeks peace and reconciliation with ‘Holy Mother Church’ as he nears the end of his earthly life.” – Boston Globe, 7-11-09
  • Obama’s Secret Meeting With Historians: The president held a dinner at the White House for leading presidential scholars
    Obama held a dinner at the White House residence with nine such scholars on June 30, and it turned out to be what one participant described as a “history book club, with the president as the inquisitor.” Among those attending were Michael Beschloss, H. W. Brands, Douglas Brinkley, Robert Dallek, and Doris Kearns Goodwin. Obama asked the guests to discuss the presidencies that they were most familiar with and to give him insights into what remains relevant to the problems of today. – Kenneth T. Walsh in US News & World Report (7-10-09)
  • David Kennedy “FDR’s Lessons for Obama”: Alas for countless pundits and inspirational speakers, it is apparently not the case that the Chinese word for crisis is spelled by joining the characters for danger and opportunity. But that common fallacy nevertheless captures an important metaphorical truth: whatever the perils it brings with it, a crisis can be a grand opportunity. Among those who have understood that truth was Franklin D. Roosevelt…. – Time, 6-24-09

President Obama at the MLB All-Star Game

The President and Willie Mays

President Obama and Willie Mays on Air Force One

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