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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