October 2009: President Obama, Health Care Bill Passes Senate, Troop Surge in Afghanistan?

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

Jewel Samad/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Hillary Clinton beats Obama in new Gallup poll: Barack Obama may have beaten Hillary Rodham Clinton in the presidential primaries last year, but she’s ahead of him in a new popularity poll. The Gallup survey conducted Oct. 1-4, and released Thursday, shows Clinton’s favorable ratings at 62 percent and Obama’s at 56 percent.
    Gallup said the juxtaposition is due more to Obama’s declining popularity than any rise in Clinton’s favorable numbers, which have changed little since January. Then, 78 percent saw Obama favorably, compared with 65 percent for Clinton. Gallup noted Obama’s decline has come after nearly nine months in office in which he’s confronted such issues as the auto industry bailout and the economic crisis. As Obama’s secretary of state, Clinton “has helped advance Obama’s foreign policy around the world, but in a far less prominent role than the president’s,” Gallup said. “Now operating in a much less bright spotlight than Obama does,” the former first lady and U.S. senator from New York has been able to retain her “strong” favorable rating…. – Newsday, 10-15-09
  • Off the Charts The Divided States of Health Care: The Census Bureau sought to find that out, for the first time, in a survey taken last year and released in September. Over all, it found that 9.9 percent of children lack any health insurance, half the rate for adults under 65.
    Those who lack health insurance now are far more likely to live in states that usually vote Republican — the states whose senators and representatives are least likely to support a law to extend coverage…. – NYT, 10-10-09

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama Lifts Ban on Visitors With H.I.V.: President Obama said on Friday that the United States would do away with a government ban prohibiting foreign nationals who are H.I.V. positive from entering the country, lifting a 22-year-old “decision rooted in fear rather than fact” that he said had added to a stigma of the disease.
    “If we want to be the global leader in combating H.I.V./AIDS, we need to act like it,” Mr. Obama said, speaking in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House…. “We talk about reducing the stigma of this disease, yet we’ve treated a visitor living with it as a threat,” Mr. Obama said. “We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the AIDS pandemic, yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people with H.I.V. from entering our own country…. Congress and President Bush began this process last year, and they ought to be commended for it. We are finishing the job. It’s a step that will encourage people to get tested and get treatment, it’s a step that will keep families together, and it’s a step that will save lives.” – NYT, 10-30-09
  • Stimulus saved, created 650,000 jobs, gov’t claims: Nearly 650,000 jobs have been saved or created under President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan, the government said Friday, and the White House declared the nation on track to meet the president’s goal of 3.5 million by the end of next year.
    New job numbers from businesses, contractors, state and local governments, nonprofit groups and universities were released, showing 640,329 positions credited to the stimulus, according to the independent federal board monitoring the program’s progress…. – AP, 10-30-09
  • Path clearing for House to pass health bill: They may not like it, but many House liberals look ready to accept a compromise health care bill, putting Democratic leaders well on the way to delivering on President Barack Obama’s call for overhaul. After claiming for months they couldn’t vote for a bill without the strongest possible government-run insurance option, liberals are putting aside their disappointment over the weaker version in the legislation for a historic chance to remake America’s medical system.
    “The current language is far weaker than what I would have preferred, and I think that is also true of the Progressive Caucus,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Friday. “But because I did not come up here to participate in gridlock and acrimony, I have told leadership that I am willing to compromise.” – AP, 10-30-09
  • Obama inks defense bill with hate crimes provision: Trumpeting a victory against careless spending, President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed a defense bill that kills some costly weapons projects and expands war efforts. In a major civil rights change, the law also makes it a federal hate crime to assault people based on sexual orientation.
    The $680 billion bill authorizes spending but doesn’t provide any actual dollars. Rather, it sets guidance that is typically followed by congressional committees that decide appropriations. Obama hailed it as a step toward ending needless military spending that he called “an affront to the American people and to our troops.”
    “When Secretary Gates and I first proposed going after some of these wasteful projects, there were a lot of people who didn’t think it was possible, who were certain we were going to lose, who were certain that we were going to get steamrolled,” Obama said. “Today, we have proven them wrong.” – AP, 10-29-09
  • Obama seeks new powers to dismantle nonbank firms: A year after Lehman Brothers collapsed, helping to trigger the worst financial crisis in seven decades, the Obama administration is pressing Congress for the power to dismantle other nonbank firms considered so large and influential that they could bring down the entire economy. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was asking a House panel on Thursday to pass legislation that would enable federal regulators to identify and monitor big financial firms and step in to wind them down before they collapse… – AP, 10-29-09
  • Pelosi hopes new health plan is poised to pass: After months of contentious negotiating, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi prepared to unveil a retooled health care overhaul plan intended to bridge differences among Democrats and open a history-making floor debate on extending health insurance to nearly all Americans.
    Pelosi, D-Calif., wants to have the legislation on the floor next week, with a final vote before Veterans Day, Nov. 11, that would give President Barack Obama a bill to sign by year’s end, numerous Democratic officials said. She planned a formal announcement of the bill Thursday in front of the Capitol.
    The bill would require nearly everyone by 2013 to sign up through their employer, a government program or a new kind of purchasing pool called an exchange. Tax credits would be available for most of those buying coverage through the exchange. They would have the option of picking a new government plan or private insurance…. – AP, 10-29-09
  • Senate Leader Blasts Holdup on Obama’s Nominees: Senator Harry Reid denounces the slow pace of reaching a consensus on some critical Obama nominees…. – NYT, 10-29-09
  • Obama Signs Hate Crimes Bill: The expansion protects people who are victims of crime because of their sexual orientation… – NYT, 10-28-09
  • Tracking the White House Energy Forum: The White House energy and climate team held a forum Wednesday morning on rebuilding the economy around non-polluting energy technologies…. – NYT, 10-28-09
  • Next Up, a Classical White House Night: The Obamas continue their series of musical events, with award-winning artists holding a workshop for students in the afternoon and performing in the evening…. – NYT, 10-28-09
  • House Democrats prepare to unveil health bill: House Democrats reached agreement Wednesday on key elements of a health care bill that would vastly alter America’s medical landscape, requiring virtually universal sign-ups and establishing a new government-run insurance option for millions. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi planned a formal announcement Thursday morning in front of the Capitol. Lawmakers said the legislation could be up for a vote on the House floor next week. The rollout will cap months of arduous negotiations to bridge differences between liberal and moderate Democrats and blend health care overhaul bills passed by three separate committees over the summer. The developments in the House came as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., tried to round up support among moderate Democrats for his bill, which includes a modified government insurance option that states could opt out of…. – AP, 10-28-09
  • Long-term care insurance program gains in House: House health care legislation expected within days is likely to include a new long-term care insurance program to help seniors and disabled people stay out of nursing homes, senior Democrats say. The voluntary program would begin to close a gap in the social safety net overlooked in the broader health care debate, but it must overcome objections from insurance companies that sell long-term care coverage and from fiscal conservatives. “I’m pretty confident that it will be in there,” Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., a leading sponsor, said of the provision…. – AP, 10-27-09
  • Gov’t may say recession over but not job losses: It’s about to become official: The recession is over — but not the pain. The government will release figures this week expected to show that the economy has awakened from its deepest slump since the 1930s and is in the early stages of a recovery. But the following week, the government will issue another set of figures expected to show unemployment continuing to rise toward and possibly above a clearly recessionary 10 percent. How can both be possible? The government releases third-quarter Gross Domestic Product figures on Thursday. Many forecasters say they will show GDP growing at an annual rate of about 3 percent, validating a widely held belief among economists that the recession ended in June or July. But try telling that to the more than 15 million still unemployed, the small businesses and individuals who can’t get loans and the people whose homes are worth less than their mortgages…. – AP, 10-27-09
  • Obama says he will not rush Afghanistan decision: President Barack Obama mourned 14 Americans killed Monday in helicopter crashes in Afghanistan and told a military audience he will not be hurried as he evaluates whether to alter U.S. strategy in the war. “I will never rush the solemn decision of sending you into harm’s way. I won’t risk your lives unless it is absolutely necessary,” Obama said during a visit to Naval Air Station Jacksonville…. – AP, 10-26-09
  • AP sources: Health bill may cut employer mandate: Businesses would not be required to provide health insurance under legislation being readied for Senate debate, but large firms would owe significant penalties if any worker needed government subsidies to buy coverage on their own, according to Democratic officials familiar with talks on the bill… – AP, 10-25-09
  • Obama declares swine flu a national emergency: President Barack Obama declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency, giving his health chief the power to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite to speed treatment and protect noninfected patients…. – AP, 10-24-09
  • Obama Plans Speech to Jewish Group: With his unpopular insistence that Israelis freeze settlements in the West Bank, the president will address a Jewish organization in Boston for the first time in his presidency…. – NYT, 10-23-09
  • Senate bill may have public insurance plan: The Senate has long been seen as opposed to the federal government selling health insurance in competition with private industry, but now senior Senate Democrats and White House officials are strongly considering including such a measure in health care overhaul legislation, officials say…. – AP, 10-23-09
  • Negotiators mull public option in health care bill: Senior Senate Democrats at work with White House officials on health care legislation are strongly considering a requirement for the federal government to sell insurance in direct competition with private industry, officials said Thursday, with individual states permitted to drop out of the system. – AP, 10-23-09
  • White House rejects Cheney’s Afghanistan criticismAP, 10-23-09
  • The Early Word: The Public Option Rises: The Senate majority leader considers including the public insurance option into health care legislation. NYT, 10-23-09
  • Key senators may rebuff Obama on health care: The Democrats’ control of a hefty majority in the Senate — plus the House — would suggest that President Barack Obama is within reach of overhauling the nation’s health care system this fall. Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., is interviewed by the Associated Press in his Capitol Hill office in Washington. Obama and other top Democrats sharply criticized his appointment to the Senate in December by an ethically tainted governor, Illinois’ Rod Blagojevich, and they forced Burris to abandon hopes of winning electionin 2010 by making it clear they would not back him. Burris, 72, has virtually nothing to lose by defying his party’s leaders and voting as he pleases on overhauling the nation’s health care system this fall… – AP, 10-22-09
  • US signals Afghan coalition government is possible: The United States built pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday, signaling that a troop increase could hinge on a successful runoff election and that the Obama administration would be receptive to a power-sharing deal between Karzai and his chief rival… – AP, 10-22-09
  • Afghan president’s rival accepts Nov. 7 runoff: Afghanistan’s election commission Tuesday ordered a Nov. 7 runoff in the disputed presidential poll after a fraud investigation dropped incumbent Hamid Karzai’s votes below 50 percent of the total. Karzai accepted the finding and agreed to a second round vote. President Hamid Karzai’s chief political rival agreed Wednesday to take part in the Nov. 7 runoff election, cementing the stage for a high-stakes showdown in the face of Taliban threats and approaching winter snows. AP, 10-21-09
  • Obama cites higher hope for Afghanistan democracy AP, 10-21-09
  • Senate OKs transfer of Gitmo prisoners for trialsAP, 10-21-09
  • Plans to Slash Pay of Bailout Executives: The administration is said to have plans that would cut by 95 percent over last year the cash compensation of top executives heading companies receiving the largest bailouts…. – NYT, 10-21-09
  • AP sources: House Dems trim health bill to $871B: House Democrats are aiming to scale back the cost of their health care bill to well below President Barack Obama’s preferred price tag by giving the government a strong hand in selling insurance in competition with the private market… – AP, 10-21-09
  • Reuters Summit-McCain says Republicans need positive agenda: Republican Senator John McCain said on Wednesday his party needed a positive agenda to better attract those Americans who are disenchanted with Democratic policies.
    McCain said he sensed “a lot of anger and a lot of frustration” among Americans over taxpayer-backed bailouts of banks and auto companies while they cope with a persistently high U.S. jobless rate of 9.8 percent and see bank executives get “obscene” bonuses.
    “There’s something going on out there. And I’d love to sit here and tell you that we Republicans are attracting all of those unhappy people, but we’re not. They’re out there kind of in the middle and they haven’t found a home. And in fact they haven’t even channeled their anger yet,” he said…. – Reuters, 10-21-09
  • Kerry Becomes All-Around Adviser To Obama: He’s not president, a Cabinet member or ambassador, but Senator John Kerry has ascended to the unofficial role of President Barack Obama’s global adviser on key issues that could reshape the nation’s image around the world. Mediating Afghanistan’s presidential election vaulted Kerry from the already prominent chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee into the most exclusive circle around a new president who is juggling but has not resolved a variety of domestic and foreign policy matters. Beyond policy, Kerry knows how Washington works. “Obviously, Sen. Kerry is somebody who has a broad range of experience and an in-depth knowledge of issues, ranging form energy and climate change to health care to foreign policy,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. “I think it’s that experience and insight that (Obama) certainly greatly values.”…. – AP, 10-21-09
  • Obama to meet with Iraqi leader, honor vetsAP, 10-20-09
  • Gates: War strategy shouldn’t depend on result of Afghan election: Afghan election commission orders runoff: Afghanistan’s election commission has ordered a runoff election for Nov. 7 after a fraud investigation dropped President Hamid Karzai’s votes below 50 percent of the total. – AP, 10-20-09
  • U.S. to end war on medical marijuana in legal states: A new Obama administration policy loosening guidelines on federal prosecution of medical marijuana on Monday signaled to users that they had less to fear from federal agents but still left their suppliers to contend with a tangled mesh of state laws and regulations…. – AP, 10-20-09
  • Adviser: Obama awaiting finished health care billAP, 10-19-09
  • Obama looking at all options for creating jobsAP, 10-19-09
  • School Day for Obama: President Obama popped in on third and fourth-graders at a Silver Spring, Md. elementary school Monday, to tout the benefits of reading for youngsters, just as they were having lunch. The First Reader stopped by the cafeteria at Viers Mill School, where Mr. Obama admitted to having read Harry Potter books (with his daughter, Malia), but not the Goosebumps series of children’s horror books that are apparently a favorite of many of the kids at the school… – NYT, 10-19-09
  • White House pushes to shape health bill: Proponents of revamping the nation’s health care system will hold phone-bank events in 50 states today. Here in the nation’s capital, a coalition of more than 100 liberal interest groups will convene its weekly meeting, with health care atop the agenda. Congressional leaders will seek to meld five health care bills into two for House and Senate votes. Beyond the topic, all the public and private meetings will have one other thing in common: White House involvement. President Obama will speak from New York City by video hookup to hundreds of small gatherings sponsored by Organizing for America, a spinoff of his 2008 campaign. Top White House aides will attend the regular strategy session of the Common Purpose Project, a coalition headed by former Obama campaign officials to advance his agenda. And when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gather committee leaders to write the legislation, Obama’s chief of staff and other aides are at the table…. – USA Today, 10-19-09
  • Kerry: too soon to send more troops to Afghanistan – AP, 10-18-09
  • Artist admits using key AP photo for ‘HOPE’ poster AP, 10-18-09
  • Obama administration shifting policy on SudanAP, 10-17-09
  • Bipartisan Spirit, at Least for a Moment, in Bush Country: President Obama ventured deep into Bush territory, joining the first President George Bush to promote volunteerism, a favorite theme of both men…. NYT, 10-17-09
  • Obama honors Bush’s service; At an event in Texas, the president also calls for cooperation between Republicans and Democrats. In a glowing tribute to a Republican predecessor, President Obama on Friday praised President George H.W. Bush as an example of someone who eschewed “a life of comfort and privilege” and instead devoted himself to public service — inside government and out. LAT, 10-17-09
  • Obama praises Senate committee’s health care vote – AP, 10-17-09
  • Job Program Found to Miss Many States That Need It Most: Businesses with federal stimulus contracts have created few jobs in states with the worst unemployment rates, according to data released Thursday by the federal government. The new jobs reported Thursday come from a small slice of a sliver of the $787 billion stimulus program: the roughly $16 billion worth of stimulus contracts that were awarded directly by federal agencies, of which about $2.2 billion has been spent so far. But the preliminary data represented the first time that the federal government has reported actual job figures, and not just job estimates, and they provided the most complete snapshot yet of how one component of the sprawling program — direct federal contracts — was shaping up…. – NYT, 10-16-09
  • In Saying No, G.O.P. Sees More Pros Than Cons: The numbers are striking: Of the 217 Republicans in the House and the Senate, only one, Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, has publicly supported a health care overhaul along the lines President Obama seeks.
    The Republicans’ opposition is a remarkable display of the unity emerging against the broader Obama agenda as a dangerous expansion of government. That stance is popular with, even demanded by, the party’s narrowed conservative base.
    But it also exposes Republicans to criticism that they have become political obstructionists with no policy agenda of their own. And that could keep them from extending their appeal to the centrist voters who are essential to rebuilding the party’s strength nationally….. – NYT, 10-16-09
  • Obama and elder Bush team up on call to service 10-16-09
  • Baucus: All Senate Dems will support health billAP, 10-16-09
  • Obama defends himself against New Orleans critics AP, 10-16-09
  • President Obama makes first trip to New OrleansAP, 10-15-09
  • Obama calls for $250 payments to seniors AP, 10-15-09
  • Health care legislation back behind closed doors: Health care talks slip back behind closed doors Wednesday as Senate leaders start trying to merge two very different bills into a new version that can get the 60 votes needed to guarantee its passage… – AP, 10-14-09
  • House panel to begin push on financial overhaul – AP, 10-14-09
  • Health bill clears hurdle with support from Snowe: Historic legislation to expand U.S. health care and control costs won its first Republican supporter Tuesday and cleared a key Senate hurdle, a double-barreled triumph that propelled President Barack Obama’s signature issue toward votes this fall in both houses of Congress. Senate Finance Committee member Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, smiles as she looks towards the Democratic side of the dais on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009, after she spoke at the committee’s hearing on health care reform. Snowe says she will vote for a Democratic health care bill, breaking with her party on President Barack Obama’s top legislative priority. AP, 10-14-09
  • AP IMPACT: Obama’s travels carry a touch of blue – AP, 10-13-09
  • Vote set for health overhaul in Senate committee: President Barack Obama’s plan to remake the nation’s health care system is about to take its biggest step yet toward becoming reality. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. enters an elevator on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. announced that the Finance Committee will vote next week on the health care bill. AP, 10-13-09
  • Dems scramble after warning from health insurers: Insurance companies aren’t playing nice any more. Their dire message that health care legislation will drive up premiums for people who already have coverage comes as a warning shot at a crucial point in the debate, and threatens President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority… – AP, 10-12-09
  • McCain says Palin remains strong force in the GOP: Sen. John McCain says Sarah Palin remains a formidable force in the Republican Party despite widespread criticisms of his 2008 running mate. McCain says he still has great affection for the former Alaska governor…. – AP, 10-11-09
  • Gay rights advocates march on DC, divided on Obama: AP, 10-11-09
  • As Pressure Grows, Obama Addresses Gay Rights Group; He Promises to End ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ President Obama, struggling to keep promises he made during last year’s campaign, renewed his pledge to end the military’s ban on openly gay service members as he appeared at a fundraising dinner for the nation’s largest gay advocacy group on Saturday night. “I will end ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ ” Obama said at the Human Rights Campaign dinner. Recounting the ongoing effort to bring full civil rights to gays and lesbians, the president said: “I’m here with a simple message: I’m here with you in that fight. Obama did not offer specifics on how he would advance the cause of allowing gays to serve openly in the military, or of same-sex marriage, two areas where his inaction as president have disappointed many gay supporters. – WaPo, 10-11-09
  • Gays question Obama ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ pledge: President Barack Obama restated his campaign pledge to allow homosexual men and women to serve openly in the military, but left many in his audience of gay activists wondering when he would make good on the promise. AP, 10-11-09
  • DNC pulls health care ad after Dole objects: The Democratic National Committee is canceling a television ad touting GOP support for health care reform after protests from one of the Republicans mentioned, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole. The ad quotes a series of Republicans — including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson — saying the health care system needs to be reformed. Dole is quoted saying: “I want this to pass. … We’ve got to do something.” The ad then accuses current GOP congressional leaders as “siding with the insurance companies” to fight health care reform…. – AP, 10-11-09
  • If health care passes, subsidies will come later: Sixty years is how long Democrats say they’ve been pushing for legislation that provides health care access for all Americans. They’ll have to wait another three if President Barack Obama gets a bill to sign this year. Under the Democratic bills, federal tax credits to help make health insurance affordable for millions of low- and middle-income households won’t start flowing until 2013 — after the next presidential election. But Medicare cuts and a sizable chunk of the tax increases to pay for the overhaul kick in immediately…. – AP, 10-10-09
  • AP source: Obama focusing on al-Qaida, not Taliban: President Barack Obama is prepared to accept some Taliban involvement in Afghanistan’s political future and will determine how many more U.S. troops to send to the war based only on keeping al-Qaida at bay, a senior administration official said Thursday…. – AP, 10-9-09
  • Axelrod: Afghanistan plan deeper than troop surge: A senior White House adviser said Friday that President Barack Obama’s talks on Afghanistan with top national security advisers earlier in the day ran much deeper than the question of sending more troops into the war.
    Presidential adviser David Axelrod, in a speech at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said “a lot of different factors” are being considered in the internal discussions, including allegations of fraud in Afghanistan’s recent presidential election and America’s strained relationship with Pakistan.
    “Fundamentally, what we need to think through is what is the best way to achieve our goals, which is to disrupt and dismantle al-Qaida, so they can’t stage operations against the U.S. and our allies,” Axelrod said…. – AP, 10-9-09
  • Obama, advisers weigh Afghanistan shift, Pakistan – AP, 10-8-09
  • Health bill would cost $829B, cover 94 percent: Health care legislation drafted by a key Senate committee would expand coverage to 94 percent of all eligible Americans at a 10-year cost of $829 billion, congressional budget experts said Wednesday, a preliminary estimate trumpeted by the White House and likely to power the measure past a major hurdle within days…. – AP, 10-8-09
  • AP Poll: Health care overhaul has a pulse: The fever has broken. The patient is out of intensive care. But if you’re President Barack Obama, you can’t stop pacing the waiting room. Health care overhaul is still in guarded condition… – AP, 10-7-09
  • Clinton, Gates say US goals steady in Afghanistan: AP, 10-6-09
  • Obama pitches health care plan in front of doctors: AP, 10-6-09
  • WH says Obama won’t pull US out of Afghanistan: President Barack Obama won’t walk away from the flagging war in Afghanistan, the White House declared Monday as Obama faced tough decisions — and intense administration debate — over choices that could help define his presidency in his first year as commander in chief…. – AP, 10-5-09
  • Congress readies Iran sanctions if diplomacy fails: Congress is ready to act swiftly to impose tough new sanctions on Iran if international talks on Tehran’s nuclear program show signs of faltering. Already, some lawmakers are demanding that the United States strike immediately with new penalties rather than wait for an uncertain multinational consensus…. – AP, 10-3-09
  • Dems ease impact of health bill, big advance nears: Capping months of struggle, Democrats pushed health care legislation atop President Barack Obama’s agenda to the brink of a major Senate advance early Friday after last-minute changes to ease the impact on working-class families. The most far-reaching overhaul in decades aims to protect millions who have unreliable insurance coverage or none at all…. – AP, 10-2-09
  • Obama: Iran must follow through on nuke promises: President Barack Obama on Thursday called landmark nuclear talks with Iran a constructive beginning, then challenged Tehran to match words with deeds by giving international inspectors “unfettered access” to a previously secret uranium enrichment plant within two weeks…. AP, 10-1-09

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Obama Stumps for Deeds in Va.: The president makes a rare campaign appearance for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, in a very close race under very close scrutiny because Virginia went Democratic in the presidential campaign last year. NYT, 10-27-09
  • NY House race seen as test for GOP, Obama – AP, 10-18-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

resident Obama appeared with former President George H.W. Bush, center, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates at an event promoting community service at Texas A&M University on Friday.

Doug Mills/The New York Times President Obama appeared with former President George H.W. Bush, center, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates at an event promoting community service at Texas A&M University on Friday.

  • Weekly Address: “President Obama Says Recovery Act Creating Jobs and Strengthening Economy”: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address Saturday, October 31, 2009: Each week, I’ve spoken with you about the challenges we face as a nation and the path we must take to meet them. And the truth is, over the past ten months, I’ve often had to report distressing news during what has been a difficult time for our country. But today, I am pleased to offer some better news that – while not cause for celebration – is certainly reason to believe that we are moving in the right direction…
    Finally, the Recovery Act is saving and creating jobs all across the country. Just this week, we reached an important milestone. Based on reports coming in from across America – as shovels break ground, as needed public servants are rehired, and as factories whir to life – it is clear that the Recovery Act has now created and saved more than one million jobs. That’s more than a million people who might otherwise be out of work today – folks who can wake up each day knowing that they’ll be able to provide for themselves and their families…. – WH, 10-31-09
  • Obama honors fallen Americans at Dover: Standing in the pre-dawn darkness, President Barack Obama saw the real cost of the war in Afghanistan: The Americans who return in flag-covered cases while much of the nation sleeps in peace. In a surprise midnight dash to this Delaware base where U.S. forces killed overseas come home, Obama honored the return of 18 fallen Americans Thursday. All were killed in Afghanistan this week, a brutal stretch that turned October into the most deadly month for U.S. troops since the war began.
    “It was a sobering reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our young men and women in uniform are engaging in every single day, not only our troops but their families as well,” Obama said later Thursday, hours after his return to the White House. “The burden that both our troops and their families bear in any wartime situation is going to bear on how I see these conflicts, and it is something that I think about each and every day.”… – AP, 10-29-09
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Says Small Business Must be at the Forefront of the Recovery: Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address October 24, 2009 Washington, DC: Small businesses have always been the engine of our economy – creating 65 percent of all new jobs over the past decade and a half – and they must be at the forefront of our recovery. That’s why the Recovery Act was designed to help small businesses expand and create jobs. It’s provided $5 billion worth of tax relief, as well as temporarily reducing or eliminating fees on SBA loans and guaranteeing some of these loans up to 90 percent, which has supported nearly $13 billion in new lending to more than 33,000 businesses.
    In addition, our health reform plan will allow small businesses to buy insurance for their employees through an insurance exchange, which may offer better coverage at lower costs – and we’ll provide tax credits for those that choose to do so.
    And this past week, I called on Congress to increase the maximum size of various SBA loans, so that more small business owners can set up shop and grow their operations. I also announced that we’ll be taking additional steps through our Financial Stability plan to make more credit available to the small local and community banks that so many small businesses depend on – the banks who know their borrowers, who gave them their first loan and watched them grow…. – WH, 10-24-09
  • Cheney Slams Obama on Afghanistan Policy: The former vice president accused President Obama of “dithering” on strategies for the war in Afghanistan….
    “In the fall of 2008, fully aware of the need to meet new challenges being posed by the Taliban, we dug into every aspect of Afghanistan policy, assembling a team that repeatedly went into the country, reviewing options and recommendations, and briefing President-elect Obama’s team. They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed, giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt.”
    But on Sunday, Mr. Emanuel told CNN that “when you go though all the analysis, it’s clear that basically we had a war for eight years that was going on, that’s adrift, that we’re beginning at scratch, and just from the starting point, after eight years.” – NYT, 10-23-09
  • President Recognizes Vietnam Vets as Heroes: “We have an obligation to all who served in the jungles of Vietnam. Our Vietnam vets answered their country’s call and served with honor. But one of the saddest episodes in American history was the fact that these vets were often shunned and neglected, even demonized, when they came home. That was a national disgrace. And on days such as this, we resolve to never let it happen again.” NYT, 10-20-09
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Calls Hails Progress on Health Insurance Reform Despite Defenders of the Status Quo: Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address October 17, 2009: Now, as the debate draws to a close, we can point to a broad and growing coalition of doctors and nurses, workers and businesses, hospitals and even drug companies – folks who represent different parties and perspectives, including leading Democrats and many leading Republicans – who recognize the urgency of action. Just this week, the Senate Finance Committee approved a reform proposal that has both Democratic and Republican support. For the first time ever, all five committees in Congress responsible for health reform have passed a version of legislation. As I speak to you today, we are closer to reforming the health care system than we have ever been in history…. – WH, 10-16-09
  • The Saturday Word: Health Care Battles: “They’re filling the airwaves with deceptive and dishonest ads. They’re flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists and campaign contributions. And they’re funding studies designed to mislead the American people,” Mr. Obama said adding firepower to Congressional Democrats’ already hostile responses. “It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s bogus. And it’s all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, “Take one of these, and call us in a decade.” NYT, 10-17-09
  • The Saturday Word: Health Care Battles: “There are three big myths hurtling around Washington these days: no jobs equals an economic recovery, government-run health care will make it more affordable, and deficits don’t matter,” Representative Kevin Brady of Texas said in his party’s weekly address. “Liberal policies that will keep people out of work longer will only make the deficit worse. Americans know that deficits matter to our dollar, to our economy, to our future,” Mr. Brady said. – NYT, 10-17-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE’S VOTE TO APPROVE HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM Rose Garden: Today we reached a critical milestone in our effort to reform our health care system. After many months of thoughtful deliberation, the fifth and final committee responsible for health care reform has passed a proposal that has both Democratic and Republican support. This effort was made possible by the tireless efforts of Chairman Max Baucus and the other members of the Senate Finance Committee. It’s a product of vigorous debate and difficult negotiations.
    After the consideration of hundreds of amendments, it includes ideas from both Democrats and Republicans, which is why it enjoys the support of people from both parties. And I want to particularly thank Senator Olympia Snowe for both the political courage and the seriousness of purpose that she’s demonstrated throughout this process….. – WH, 10-13-09
  • Weekly Address: New Momentum for Health Reform:
    WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Praises Emerging Consensus on Health Insurance Reform East Room:
    The historic movement to bring real, meaningful health insurance reform to the American people gathered momentum this week as we approach the final days of this debate. Having worked on this issue for the better part of a year, the Senate Finance Committee is finishing deliberations on their version of a health insurance reform bill that will soon be merged with other reform bills produced by other Congressional committees….
    In fact, what’s remarkable is not that we’ve had a spirited debate about health insurance reform, but the unprecedented consensus that has come together behind it. This consensus encompasses everyone from doctors and nurses to hospitals and drug manufacturers…. – WH, 10-11-09 Transcript
  • Obama: One more push for health care cooperation: President Barack Obama sees both “unprecedented consensus” from outside Congress on his drive to remake the nation’s health care system and obstructionism by some on Capitol Hill. “The historic movement to bring real, meaningful health insurance reform to the American people gathered momentum this week as we approach the final days of this debate,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet video address.
    The consensus “includes everyone from doctors and nurses to hospitals and drug manufacturers” — even Republican governors and former GOP lawmakers, Obama said.
    “These distinguished leaders understand that health insurance reform isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but an American issue that demands a solution,” Obama said. AP, 10-10-09
  • Weekly Address: Health Reform Urgent for the Economy: WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Explains How Health Insurance Reform Will Strengthen America’s Small Businesses: When I took office eight months ago, our nation was in the midst of an economic crisis unlike any we’d seen in generations. While I was confident that our economy would recover, we know that employment is often the last thing to come back after a recession. Our task is to do everything we possibly can to accelerate that process.
    And we’ve certainly made progress on this front since the period last winter when we were losing an average of 700,000 jobs each month. But yesterday’s report on September job losses was a sobering reminder that progress comes in fits and starts, and that we will need to grind out this recovery step by step…. – 10-3-09 Transcript
  • McCain admits problems with Palin: John McCain admitted the obvious Sunday: His staff clashed with the staff of VP running mate Sarah Palin during their 2008 presidential campaign. Much of the tension involved McCain top aide Steve Schmidt — who recently said it would be “catastrophic” if Palin were the GOP’s 2012 presidential candidate. But McCain certainly wasn’t going to criticize Palin herself; she remains very popular with the ultra-conservative part of the Republican Party. Said McCain: “She still is a formidable force in the Republican Party….”And I have great affection for her.” – Kansas City Star, 10-11-09
  • DNC pulls health care ad after Dole objects: Dole told ABC News on Sunday that he objected to the ad’s criticism of the current Republican leadership. “I just didn’t think it was fair, when I’ve tried to be helpful in encouraging a bipartisan solution, for the DNC to run an ad that I interpreted and I know others did as a backhanded comment about Republicans,” Dole said…. – AP, 10-11-09

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Editorial: The Baucus Bill: The Senate Finance Committee may finally be ready to vote on its version of a health care reform bill. For months, its chairman, Max Baucus, and other members have struggled to produce legislation that could win significant Republican support. Fat chance. Only one Republican on the committee seems open to voting for the bill, and the entire Republican Congressional leadership seems determined — for ideological and partisan reasons — to torpedo the entire reform effort…. – NYT, 10-11-09
  • KARL ROVE: The GOP Is Winning the Health-Care Debate: Passing health-care reform could be harmful to the health of congressional Democrats. Just look at how President Barack Obama’s standing has fallen as he has pushed for reform. According to Fox News surveys, the number of independents who oppose health-care reform hit 57% at the end of September, up from 33% in July. Independents are generally a quarter of the vote in off-year congressional elections. Among college graduates, opposition to health-care reform is now 50%, while only 33% support it, according to Gallup’s Sept. 24 poll. College graduates are slightly more than a quarter of the off-year electorate…. – WSJ, 10-10-09
  • Richard Kohn: How Obama Compares To Other Wartime President : As President Obama weighs his military options in Afghanistan, how does his relationship to the military and his leadership style compare to other wartime presidents? Richard Kohn, a military historian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says President Obama’s frequency of contacts with Gen. Stanley McChrystal are typical. – NPR (All Things Considered) (10-5-09)
  • Robert Dallek tells Obama “war kills off great reform movements”: At a White House dinner with a group of historians at the beginning of the summer, Robert Dallek, a shrewd student of both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, offered a chilling comment to President Obama. “In my judgment,” he recalls saying, “war kills off great reform movements.” The American record is pretty clear: World War I brought the Progressive Era to a close. When Franklin D. Roosevelt was waging World War II, he was candid in saying that “Dr. New Deal” had given way to “Dr. Win the War.” Korea ended Harry Truman’s Fair Deal, and Vietnam brought Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society to an abrupt halt…. – The Washington Post (10-5-09)
  • Julian Zelizer: Commentary: Obama’s mistakes are a warning sign: During the past few months, two events have revealed a side of President Obama that we knew little about. First came his remark in July when he said at a press conference that the police who arrested Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates had acted “stupidly.”
    The unrehearsed remark triggered controversy right at a time when Democrats needed to focus public attention on health care.
    And last week, at a climactic moment for the health care debate in the Senate, Obama suddenly went to make a personal pitch for holding the 2016 Summer Olympics in Chicago, Illinois.
    When the International Olympic Committee said no to the president’s hometown in the first round of voting, and then gave the event to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Obama suffered an embarrassing defeat. The late-night comedians and his political foes were predictably chomping at the bit.
    These events contrast sharply with the other Barack Obama that most of us have come to know since 2007, a study in cool and deliberative decision-making. During the Democratic primaries, nothing seemed to shake Obama….
    In the end, two issues will shape this presidency much more than the Olympics: the outcome of the health care debate and the decision over whether to send troops to Afghanistan.
    Nonetheless, the incident should serve as a warning to the president and his staff. This is the kind of action they should not repeat. While Obama has thus far avoided making mistakes on the big issues of the day, this kind of slip-up would be devastating in a different context. And over time, too many of them, on issues large and small, will undermine the positive impression most Americans still have of his leadership abilities. – CNN, 10-5-09
  • Obama Researcher Reveals How She Found President’s Irish Roots: Chief Family Historian for Ancestry.com Megan Smolenyak got the assignment of a lifetime when it was discovered in 2007 that future President of the U.S. Barack Obama had Irish roots. Smolenyak’s job? To find out where in Ireland Obama’s family came from. Ancestry.com had established that Obama was part Irish, and that his third great-grandfather on his mother’s side, Fulmoth Kearney, is his most recent connection to the Emerald Isle…. – ABC News (10-3-09)
  • Obama and McChrystal Don’t Talk? Good, Says Army Historian: President Obama is about to convene his war cabinet, to discuss the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. It’ll be only the second time Obama has spoken directly with Gen. Stanley McChrystal since he became the top commander for coalition forces there – a fact that’s earning Obama a lot of grief in national security circles. But a leading Army War College historian says the critics are off-base… – Wired (9-30-09)

The Obama family portrait, released by the White House.

Annie Leibovitz, via the White House The Obama family portrait, released by the White House.

    October 2009 Buzz Roundup: Taylor Branch’s The Clinton Tapes, Niall Ferguson & the Economy

    HISTORY BUZZ:

    POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

    BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

    • Scholars comment on Taylor Branch’s work: The second forum in this issue looks back upon a notable achievement in the writing of recent American history, America during the King Years, by Taylor Branch…. – AHA Blog–what’s in the October issue of the AHR (10-28-09)
    • AHR Forum: Truth and Reconciliation in History: The forum “Truth and Reconciliation in History” deals with a global experience that both calls history into question and calls upon the participation of historians. Especially since the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa in 1995, after the ending of apartheid, several nations and groups have attempted to confront and possibly come to terms with their fractious and traumatic pasts…. – AHA Blog–what’s in the October issue of the AHR (10-28-09)
    • Accusation: Secret tapes say more about Taylor Branch than Clinton: I stopped cold on page 263 of Taylor Branch’s “The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President.” Try as I might, I haven’t been able to get past the revealing story the author tells about himself on that page. By now, everyone in political circles has heard about Branch’s book and the historical taping project this Pulitzer Prize-winning author and President Bill Clinton embarked upon in 1993. History will honor Clinton for caring enough about historiography that he allowed a professional to question him about events and policies during his presidency. Other presidential libraries are filled with oral histories undertaken years after an administration leaves office. And as valuable as they are, they lack the contemporaneous quality that only interviews given in the heat of governing and political battle can provide…. – The Buffalo News (10-11-09)
    • Bill Clinton’s Story, With a Few Pages Missing (book review): Jack Germond, for many years an insightful political reporter (and author of a memorable memoir, “Fat Man in a Middle Seat”), once expressed to me his regret that prominent elected officials were no longer willing to go out drinking with journalists. The words “off the record” had lost their meaning in post-Watergate Washington, Germond explained, and a politician could not take the chance of truly opening up with a reporter. As a result, journalists and, by extension, voters had less chance to really get to know the men and women in office…. – The Washington Post (10-4-09)

    THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

      On This Day in History….This Week in History….

    • Steven Mintz: 150 years after his death, abolitionist still a hero to some, lunatic to others: John Brown has spent 150 years locked in our national attic, the mad uncle no one wanted to acknowledge but over whose corpse soldiers would sing praises during the war he triggered….
      “Normal people don’t produce social change,” said Steven Mintz, a historian at Columbia University and an expert on pre-Civil War reformers. “Well-adjusted people who see trade-offs in life, they don’t make social change happen. It’s often people like Brown.”… – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (10-18-09)
    • James Loewen battles over the Christopher Columbus legacy: James Loewen said Christopher Columbus discovered America the way the speaker discovered oregano. The historian and author of the book, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, came to the Stamp Student Union yesterday for a different sort of Columbus Day celebration. His lecture, titled “Columbus Didn’t Discover Us,” revolved around what Loewen sees as lies and misinformation ingrained in U.S. history textbooks. The event echoed sentiments of one side of an ongoing debate over the legacy of Christopher Columbus…. – Diamondback Online: The University of Maryland’s Independent Daily Student Newsletter (10-13-09)
    • 1937 – the year that gives economists nightmares: What is the year haunting economists; the one they fear politicians are about to repeat? Not 1929 – we’ve already had our great crash. Nor 1933 – all those bank rescues, interest-rate cuts and emergency spending have staved off a depression. No, the year economic historians are talking about is 1937, when Washington declared the crisis over, began cutting spending and raising interest rates – and pushed the still- fragile US economy into a severe relapse… – guardian.co.uk (10-6-09)

    IN THE NEWS:

    • Diaspora Armenian scholars on the historical commision – Armenian Weekly (10-30-09)
    • South Korea and Japan consider history textbook with China: … “It is a leap that Japan started talking about this issue publicly,” said Yang Mi-gang, who worked on a privately published Korea-Japan-China history book available in each of the countries. The book, “History That Opens the Future,” was written by several dozen scholars from China, South Korea and Japan in 2005, and revised in 2006…. – LA Times (10-30-09)
    • AHA reports a surplus of $431,861 in the operational account – AHA Blog (10-5-09)
    • History vanishes from one in 20 English secondary schools: Official figures show that in 131 state schools, not a single pupil sat GCSE history last year… – Telegraph (UK) (10-27-09)
    • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Gives Major Gift to National Museum of African American History and Culture – Smithsonian (10-15-09)
    • British army ‘did not gas Iraqis in 1920s’ says historian – Source: inthenews.co.uk (10-22-09)
    • Frank Pearce: War historian celebrates 100 years (UK) – Herald Express (10-22-09)
    • Field Study: Just How Relevant Is Political Science? NYT (10-19-09)
    • Jack Bohrer: Historian questions secret RFK-LBJ Vietnam huddle: “But a secret meeting never happened. Not in Kennedy’s book. Not in real life,” Bohrer writes. “In fact, the meeting the late Sen. Kennedy refers to in his memoir has been well-known, practically since the moment it happened.” – boston.com (10-20-09)
    • Susanne Muhle: Historian at WWU researches kidnappings by East German secret police – JuraForum (10-16-09)
    • Mikhail Suprun: Russian historian arrested in clampdown on Stalin era: A Russian historian investigating the fate of Germans imprisoned in the Soviet Union during the second world war has been arrested, in the latest apparent clampdown on historical research into the Stalin era by the Russian authorities. Mikhail Suprun was detained last month by officers from Russia’s security services. They searched his apartment and carried off his entire personal archive. He has now been charged with violating privacy laws and, if convicted, faces up to four years in jail. guardian.co.uk (10-15-09)
    • Mark Young: Mad Men nails its history with help from UH: Writers from the ultrastylish AMC series called the University of Houston historian in February, looking for specifics on Conrad Hilton and his hotel chain, circa 1963. “They wanted to know, was Connie Hilton a milquetoast, or was he charismatic and gregarious,” said Young, who runs the Hospitality Industry Archives at UH’s Hilton College of Hotel & Restaurant Management…. – < Chron (Houston Chronicle) (10-2-09)

    OP-EDs & BLOGS:

    • David Cesarani: history is too serious a matter to be left to comedians and politicians: We are going through another of those odd periods when corners of our daily newspapers look as if they are reporting things that happened over 65 years ago. There are rows over what the Latvians did or did not do in the second world war, arguments about why the German Luftwaffe bombed Coventry and, most recently, Stephen Fry has upset the Poles with a careless remark about Auschwitz. What all of these spats show is that history matters…. – guardian.co.uk (10-12-09)
    • Recession, You Look Familiar (book review of “This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly”) – NYT (10-3-09)

    REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

    • Roger Morris backs new book by Watergate revisionist Len Colodny in which Nixon comes off as a victim of neocons The Forty Years War: The Rise and Fall of Neocons, From Nixon to Obama Ryan Forman, HNN intern. (10-25-09)
    • Antony Beevor: Historian produces a new view of D-Day – thestar.com (10-20-09)

    PROFILED & FEATURED:

    • Joan Waugh: UCLA historian attempts to revive reputation of Union general, Reconstruction president: “What Grant accomplished with Lincoln was incredible,” said Waugh, author of “U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth,” which is slated for publication Nov. 15. “In 1860, 4 million people were enslaved. But by 1863, emancipation had occurred, and by 1870, all male former slaves had the vote. Grant oversaw a social revolution that was unprecedented.”… – EurekaAlert (10-26-09)
    • Deborah Harding: Research digs up history of ex-slave, educator, Willis Carter – newsleader.com (10-25-09)
    • Historians Reassess Battle of Agincourt: No one can ever take away the shocking victory by Henry and his “band of brothers,” as Shakespeare would famously call them, on St. Crispin’s Day, Oct. 25, 1415. They devastated a force of heavily armored French nobles who had gotten bogged down in the region’s sucking mud, riddled by thousands of arrows from English longbowmen and outmaneuvered by common soldiers with much lighter gear. It would become known as the Battle of Agincourt…. – NYT (10-24-09)
    • Amateur historian rescues D.C.’s Wikipedia page – The Washington Post (10-23-09)
    • Joseph Massad’s Warsaw Ghetto Complex: The October 2 death of Marek Edelman, the last surviving leader of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against the Nazis, is for Columbia University’s Joseph Massad yet another opportunity to equate Israelis with Nazis…. – Campus Watch Blog (10-12-09)
    • Sessions on great historian William Appleman Williams: William Appleman Williams, arguably the most influential historian ever to walk the halls of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s once-great history department, will be remembered at two events in Madison this week. Panels of former students and activist scholars will mark the 50th anniversary publication of his groundbreaking historical critique of U.S. foreign policy, “The Tragedy of American Diplomacy.” They’ll examine the impact of his career-long work exposing an often-avoided central element of U.S. history: the unfaltering quest for empire. The Cap Times (10-7-09)

    QUOTED:

    • Rocco Landesman: NEA Chief compares Obama to Caesar, historians calls speach “bizarre”, Richard Brookhiser’s Comments: “Julius Caesar is historically the last person in the world that American presidents would want to be compared to,” said historian Richard Brookhiser, who has written widely on the Founding Fathers. “He tried to subvert the republic — that’s why he was killed.” “Caesar … was certainly the symbol during the whole founding period of the despot, of the aspiring despot,” said Brookhiser. “The Founders insulted each other by calling each other Caesar.” – Fox News (10-28-09)
    • Jonathan Sarna: Web helps U.S. Jews lose that loving feeling, says historian: “Sasson maintains that what we have today is not as much tension between American Jewry and Israel, but American Jews reflecting some of the same opposition [to Israeli policies] that you find in Israel. Indeed, many of them are reading Israeli Web sites and are influenced by them,” Sarna told Anglo File Tuesday in his Jerusalem apartment. He referred specifically to Haaretz.com, which he says often publishes articles critical of Israeli policies.
      “The Internet has made it possible for multiple voices to be heard,” Sarna said. He says that in the days when their sole source of news was the local Jewish paper, the “Jews of America spoke with one voice, mainly [belonging to] the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish organizations – which basically followed the Israeli government’s line.” Aware today of the full range of views expressed in Israel, he says American Jews no longer buy into the notion that “in Israel we’re critical but out of Israel we’re supportive.” – Source: Haaretz (10-9-09)

    INTERVIEWED:

    • Joshua B. Freeman: Ask About the History of New York’s Working Class: This week, Joshua B. Freeman, a historian and the author of “Working-Class New York: Life and Labor Since World War II” (The New Press, 2000), will be responding to readers’ questions about the history of the city’s unions, labor politics and changing work force…. – NYT (10-19-09)
    • Interview with Shlomo Sand: The new history of the origins of the Jews – NYUnews.com (10-21-09)
    • Historian Taylor Branch: Interview transcript on the ‘Clinton Tapes’ – PBS (10-12-09)
    • Tamás Fedeles: Interview With Historian about the ‘Dracula House’: The Hungarian historian who was reported to have ‘discovered’ a house belonging to the real “Dracula,” says the claims were inaccurate. Dr Tamás Fedeles says the cellar can indeed be linked to Wallachian Duke Vlad III, but not with any certainty…. – Digital Journal (10-13-09)
    • Shalem College takes off: Martin Kramer spearheads the first liberal arts college in Israel – Sandbox (10-12-09)
    • An Interview with Albert Axell: Remembering Russia’s sacrifice in World War Two – Russian Now (10-9-09)
    • Interview With Historian Tony Judt: ‘Dreaming About Washington Is One Of East Europe’s Great Mistakes’ – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (10-3-09)

    HONORED, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

    • Obama archivist nominee on path to Senate approval: On October 28, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, by voice vote, approved the nomination of David S. Ferriero to be the next Archivist of the United States… – Lee White at the website of the National Coalition for History (NCH) (10-28-09)
    • Oral history center gets grant (S. Dakota): The South Dakota Oral History Center isn’t widely known outside of academia, but the center, located in a basement, contains eyewitness accounts of history that, in many cases, have remained undisturbed for decades…. – Rapid City Journal (10-25-09)
    • Laurel Thatcher Ulrich: MHS Presents Kennedy Medal to Noted Harvard Scholar: Approximately 100 guests were in attendance on the evening of 14 October as Prof. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich was honored as the 10th recipient of the John F. Kennedy Medal of the Massachusetts Historical Society at the Harvard Club of Boston. Ulrich, a Corresponding Fellow of the MHS since 1991 and 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard University, was presented with the medal as part of the Society’s 60th Annual Dinner. She addressed the Fellows and Members of the nation’s oldest historical society with a talk entitled “A Mormon Apostle in Boston: Sightseeing, Riot, and Martyrdom.” – The Massachusetts Historical Society (10-15-09)
    • Radoshes’ “A Safe Haven” Wins 2009 Washington Institute Book Prize: A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel,Allis and Ronald Radosh’s suspenseful, meticulously documented account of Truman’s controversial decision to recognize the new state of Israel, has won the Gold Prize — including a cash award of $30,000 — in The Washington Institute’s 2009 Book Prize competition, the research institution announced today… – The Washington Institute For Near East Policy (10-17-09)
    • Shortlist announced: Cundill International Prize in History at McGill – McGill Newsroom (10-19-09)
    • Neville Morley: University of Bristol professor awarded 450,000 pounds to study Greek historian Thucydides: Professor Neville Morley of the Department of Classics and Ancient History has been awarded around £450,000 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council for a four-year project on the Greek historian Thucydides (c.460BC – c.395 BC)…. – University of Bristol (10-9-09)
    • Edwin C. Bearss: Civil War historian to be honored in Miss.: A bust will be unveiled on Saturday to honor Edwin C. Bearss, a national historian who contributed to the restoration of the USS Cairo, a Civil War-era Union gunboat now preserved at the Vicksburg National Military Park…. – Miami Herald (10-2-09)

    SPOTTED:

    • David Hackett Fischer “Historian explores secrets of presidential success”: America’s top presidents exhibited a style of open leadership and fairness that left a lasting impact, says one Pulitzer Prize-winning historian. Many historians rank George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt as the top U.S. presidents for their ability to bring in rivals and use their own principles to be successful, said David Hackett Fischer. Fischer spoke Thursday night at Union University as part of the 13th annual Carls-Schwerdfeger History Lecture Series. The author and professor’s topic for the evening was “Leaders in an Open Society: The Presidencies of Washington, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama.”… – JacksonSun.com (10-30-09)
    • Tom Devine: Scots urged to face ‘slave past’, Did Slavery Make Scotland Great? – BBC (10-21-09)
    • Jonathan Spence, Yale historian delivers 6th installment of Chinese history lecture series: Jonathan Spence, Yale historian and leading authority on China, delivered the sixth annual W. Bruce Lincoln Lecture Monday. Northern Star (10-19-09)
    • John Reed: Historian says Iraq is a 3-in-1 country – Deseret News (Utah) (10-17-09)
    • Gary Gallagher: Civil War Historian Gary Gallagher on Robert E. Lee’s Duty After Appomattox: Gary Gallagher, author of “Lee and His General in War and Memory” along with numerous other Civil War studies, presented the lecture at the annual “Remembering Robert E. Lee” program on Monday, Oct., 11, the 139th anniversary of Lee’s death Presented by the Lee Chapel and Museum, Gallagher’s presented as titled “Robert E. Lee Confronts Defeat: Duty in the Wake of Appomattox.” – Washington and Lee University (10-12-09)
    • Niall Ferguson: Harvard historian: China will be next superpower: Speaking at the 30th annual Bancroft Lecture, economic historian Niall Ferguson warned that China is about to overtake the United States as the world’s superpower. “The U.S. has fatally underestimated its biggest rival,” Ferguson said… – Hometownannapolis.com (10-8-09)

    ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

    • New Founding Fathers Documents Available On-Line Through NHPRC Pilot Program: The ROTUNDA Founders Early Access project makes available for the first time letters and other papers penned by important figures such as James Madison, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. The Founders Early Access portion of the site allows users to read, search, and browse the newly transcribed documents, and is available at no cost to users. Lee White at the website of the National Coalition for History (NCH) (10-28-09)
    • William Cook: Historian examines de Tocqueville’s ‘Democracy in America’: Democracy springs from the deepest precept of diverse religions — that all are created equal before God — and is destined to prevail throughout the world but in its own good time, according to history professor William Cook, who will give a presentation tonight at Southern Oregon University…. – Mail Tribune (10-28-09)
    • Historian Mick Hardy unveils Ryton war website (UK) – chroniclelive.co.uk (10-16-09)

    ON TV:

    BEST SELLERS (NYT):

    COMING SOON BOOKS:

    • 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:

    • Swiss historian Jean-Francois Bergier, 77, passes away: Swiss historian Jean-Francois Bergier, who led a highly critical probe of Switzerland’s conduct during World War II, has died. He was 77. Bergier received wide renown for leading an international panel in a major study that in 2001 concluded Switzerland “got involved in (Nazi) crimes by abandoning refugees to their persecutors” even though the Swiss government knew by 1942 of the Nazis’ “final solution” and that rejected refugees would likely face deportation and death… – AP, 10-29-09
    • Ray Browne, 87, Founder of Pop-Culture Studies, Dies – NYT (10-27-09)
    • Obit on Merrill Peterson: Merrill D. Peterson, a historian who enlarged the scope of Jeffersonian scholarship with a pair of books, one tracing the various and often contradictory perceptions of Jefferson during the century and a quarter after his death and the other a magisterial biography, died Sept. 23 in Charlottesville, Va. He was 88…. – NYT paper edition (10-4-09)

    Bill Clinton receives honorary doctorate from McGill University

    BILL CLINTON AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY:

    https://i1.wp.com/hotink.theorem.ca/system/mcgilldaily/images/000/007/118/NEWSBI1_small.jpg

    THE HEADLINES….

    President Bill Clinton receives honorary doctorate from McGill University: Webcast

    • McGill University has granted honorary doctorate to Bill Clinton: The University has bestowed a Doctor of Laws degree on the 42nd president of the United States at a special private ceremony…
    • Bill Clinton receives honorary doctorate from McGill Former US President addresses crowd of 700 at private ceremony: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton addressed an invitation-only crowd of 700 as he received an honorary doctorate from McGill last Friday. The ceremony, which took place at the Centre Mont-Royal, was part of McGill’s two-day Leadership Summit…. – McGill Tribune, 10-20-09
    • Bill Clinton wows audience during Hon Doc ceremony: In a globe-trotting speech that touched upon everything from climate change in Afghanistan to linguistic demographics in Papua New Guinea, former U.S. President Bill Clinton accepted his honorary Doctor of Laws degree from McGill by urging his audience to tackle world issues by fostering a “communitarian consciousness.”…. – McGill Reporter 10-16-09
    • Clinton accepts McGill degree 800 attend private, off-campus event: Former United States president Bill Clinton spoke to a crowd of around 800 people on Friday when he accepted an honorary doctorate from McGill for “a lifetime of outstanding leadership” from McGill. The ceremony was held at the Centre Mont-Royal, a privately owned building off campus, as part of the University’s inaugural Leadership Summit. The event was a private, invitation-only ceremony. Attendees included McGill Senate members and active volunteers with the Campaign McGill fundraising initiative. Very few students were invited to the ceremony, but those who attended included student senators and students awarded the Clinton-Dahdaleh scholarship…. – McGill Daily, 10-19-09
    • Clinton praises Canadian unity: Unshackled from the restraints of presidential office, Bill Clinton dropped any pretence of neutrality on the national-unity file yesterday and bluntly welcomed an undivided Canada.
      Using the podium of an honorary-doctorate ceremony at McGill University, the former U.S. president seized on the august occasion to highlight Canada’s perennial national-unity debate…. Globe and Mail, 10-17-09
    • Clinton picks up honorary degree, feels the warmth: Bill Clinton’s honorary doctorate was the coup of McGill’s homecoming weekend, the jewel in a month when the university basked in the reflected glory of Nobel Prize-winning alumni and saw its fundraising campaign climb above the $500-million mark.
      And the former U.S. president proved yesterday he still has the star power to charm and inspire, summoning all of us to be better citizens of the world.
      “We are going to have to stumble into the future together,” Clinton told 700 guests – mostly donors, alumni and volunteers – taking part in a two-day leadership challenge, at the Centre Mont-Royal. By turns funny and self- deprecating, determined and serious, Clinton spent more than an hour chatting about everything from hunger on World Food Day to his long, happy relationship with Canada and its commitment to health care and communal values…. – Montreal Gazette, 10-17-09
    • Bill Clinton, McGill University Honorary Doctor of Law: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton brought his trademark plain-spoken and easy-going style to Montreal as he received McGill University’s highest honour. He joins the ranks of other honorary doctorate recipients such as fellow ex-U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt, British PM Winston Churchill, ex-Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau and Canadian folk icon Joni Mitchell.
      Ushered in by the traditional bagpiper and ceremonial procession, Clinton charmed the socks off the invitation-only audience of over 700 people, joking about his new red honorary doctor of law robe and hood. “I have been studying the robed men and wondering how they wear this without choking,” Clinton told the crowd. “And I learned that what they did was to put their ties through.”… – CJAD, 10-17-09
    • Bill Clinton to receive honorary doctorate Former U.S. President recognized for lifetime of outstanding leadership: During a private ceremony in Montreal on Oct. 16, Bill Clinton will become only the second U.S. president to be awarded an Honorary Degree by McGill, joining Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who received his in 1944. Clinton, who will speak at Development and Alumni Relation’s leadership summit that day, was the first Democratic president in six decades to be elected twice – first in 1992 and then in 1996. Under his leadership, the country enjoyed the strongest economy in a generation and the longest economic expansion in U.S. history, including the creation of more than 22 million jobs…. – McGill Reporter, 10–09

    QUOTES

    Bill Clinton, getting an honorary doctorate from McGill, said of the Quebec referendum: "I'm glad you didn't get a divorce."

    • “I am profoundly honoured to be here at this magnificent university and to be honoured in the way President [Franklyn Delano] Roosevelt was. I am particularly grateful for the priority that McGill has placed on making serious commitments to broadly shared prosperity, sustainability in the face of climate change, reaping the progress and promise of science and technology, promoting wellness and health, and trying to deal with the amazing array of diversity that exists in our countries and throughout the world that has to be both respected and reconciled….
      These challenges cannot be met unless we meet them together. We have to find a way to go forward together…. I’m not calling for world government, I’m just saying we have to have a world consciousness….
      There are always going to be gaps between where we are and where we want to be. In the last 20 years more than any time in history, non-governmental groups have arisen to try and fill those gaps. The NGO movement has run wild over the last 15 years and it’s one of the greatest things that have happened….
      “There were many occasions when leaders of the Republican Party suggested that I might want to move to Canada. And many when I thought it was not a bad idea… You have occasional votes about whether you ought not to be together. By the way, I’m glad you didn’t get a divorce. That’s the great thing about not being President any more – you can say whatever you want. Of course nobody cares what you have to say any more either….
      We simply have to understand that we are blessed to be alive. We should be proud of our own distinct differences, but our common humanity has got to drive every single important calculation of the 21st century. Because even the Nobel Prize winners – and I know McGill just produced two in science – are not nearly as smart as they think they are. Nobody is. So we are going to have to stumble into the future together.” — Former President Bill Clinton, Speech upon receiving an honorary degree from McGill University
    • “An exuberant American original… a global leader and human rights champion of extraordinary breadth and vision…. A simply brilliant communicator on the world stage, president Clinton has dedicated over 30 years to the highest form of public service, and to the advancement of social justice. He has advocated powerfully and compassionately for progressive education programs and universal access to health care, [and] he has fought to end poverty, disease, and racial discrimination.” Principal Heather Munroe-Blum in her introduction
    • “Both during his term in office and since leaving it [Clinton] has worked diligently, just as we do at McGill, to share knowledge and inspire others to achieve solutions to real world problems. Today he joins an outstanding roster of influential figures who have been recognized with honorary degrees from McGill.” — Chancellor Arnold Steinberg in his opening remarks
    • “While it is normally a custom of McGill University to confer honorary degrees at our spring and fall convocations, this special and unique event, as part of our leadership summit, allows us to – and we’re delighted to – award this degree today.” — Provost Anthony Masi
    • “Few individuals define the expression global leader as perfectly as Bill Clinton. During his presidency and in the years since, President Clinton has demonstrated an unyielding devotion to social justice in the world. His continued leadership inspires us all to do more, and we are honoured to have the opportunity to formally recognize his contributions.” — Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill

    HISTORIANS COMMENTS

    William Jeffesron Clinton, Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa. / Photo: Owen Egan

    • Gil Troy “Clinton accepts McGill degree 800 attend private, off-campus event”: Gil Troy, history professor at McGill who studies American politics, said that Clinton’s reputation has fluctuated with the current world financial situation. “Whats interesting with the [George W.] Bush debacle and the rise of Obama [is that] in some ways Clinton’s administration has been both enhanced and diminished. It was enhanced because the recession was the Republicans’ fault and now there’s a resurge for the Democrats,” Troy said. “[But] if we look closely at the causes of the recession, [we] have to link the eighties with the nineties. It’s very hard to take Clinton out of the narrative of Reagan and [George H.W.] Bush.” – McGill Daily, 10-19-09

    Reactions to President Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize

    THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

    THE HEADLINES….

    • Gasps as Obama awarded Nobel Peace Prize: The announcement drew gasps of surprise and cries of too much, too soon. Yet President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday because the judges found his promise of disarmament and diplomacy too good to ignore. The five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee — four of whom spoke to The Associated Press, said awarding Obama the peace prize could be seen as an early vote of confidence intended to build global support for the policies of his young administration… – AP, 10-10-09
    • After Nobel, Obama pressed to deliver on nuclear pledge: With a surprise Nobel Peace Prize in hand, President Barack Obama came under pressure Friday to make strides in his quest to rid the world of nuclear weapons, a goal experts said would be slow in coming. “It’s a long-term goal and a long voyage over a pretty big ocean of nuclear disarmament,” former United Nations nuclear weapons inspector David Albright told AFP. Obama is “trying to turn a big ship so it can become an important part of US policy,” he added…. Albright said an important “test” of that effort would be ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) or the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. But Obama may lack the necessary votes in the US Senate… – AFP, 10-09-09
    • News Analysis For Presidency in Search of Success, Nobel Adds a Twist: President Obama is given to big events at big moments, replete with stirring speeches, lofty backdrops and stadium-size crowds.
      But when Mr. Obama walked into the Rose Garden on Friday morning, having just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize — an honor that would normally be a moment of high celebration, if not the culmination of a life’s work — he was humble and self-deprecatory, popping a hole in the balloon of his own accomplishment. He talked about being congratulated by his daughter Malia, who proceeded to remind him that it was the family dog’s birthday, and he suggested that he was undeserving of the award.
      Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations,” he said…. – NYT, 10-10-09
    • From 205 Names, Panel Chose the Most Visible: Thorbjorn Jagland, the chairperson of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, announced on Friday in Oslo that the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize 2009 will be awarded to President Barack Obama.
      The five-member Norwegian Nobel committee spent seven months winnowing the dossiers on dissident monks, human rights advocates, field surgeons and other nominees — 205 names in all, most of them obscure — before deciding to give the Nobel Peace Prize to perhaps the most famous man on the planet, Barack Obama.
      While in recent decades the selection process has produced many winners better known for their suffering or their environmental zeal than for peacemaking, the panel’s new chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, said that members this year took a more practical approach in their unanimous vote for President Obama.
      “It’s important for the committee to recognize people who are struggling and idealistic,” Mr. Jagland said in an interview after the prize was announced, “but we cannot do that every year. We must from time to time go into the realm of realpolitik. It is always a mix of idealism and realpolitik that can change the world.” NYT, 10-10-09
    • President Obama Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Mixed Reviews: President Barack Obama was named this year’s Nobel Peace Prize honoree, becoming the third sitting president to win. Ray Suarez reports…. – PBS, 10-09-09
    • Obama Nobel Peace Prize: Obama wins, and partisan fighting continues Obama’s Nobel stirs right, left: President Barack Obama’s winning of the Nobel Peace Prize brought nothing of the sort at home, as political combatants were quick to assume their usual battlements: Democrats largely hailed the decision while Republicans and their allies ridiculed Obama and the Norwegian committee that awarded the prize.
      Within minutes of the announcement, a scorching debate broke out on TV airwaves, talk radio, the blogosphere and just about anywhere people of opposite political persuasions meet…. – Chicago Tribune, 10-11-09
    • Surprise Nobel for Obama Stirs Praise and Doubts: The choice of Barack Obama on Friday as the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, less than nine months into his eventful presidency, was an unexpected honor that elicited praise and puzzlement around the globe. Normally the prize has been presented, even controversially, for accomplishment. This prize, to a 48-year-old freshman president, for “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” seemed a kind of prayer and encouragement by the Nobel committee for future endeavor and more consensual American leadership…. – NYT, 10-9-09
    • Obama’s Nobel prize met with cheers, criticism: THE CHOICE of U.S. President Barack Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize was cheered Friday by a global chorus from European leaders to minibus passengers in Kenya — but it also elicited criticism over the decision to break with tradition and recognize hopeful promise over concrete achievement. Obama is seen as having changed the direction of U.S. foreign policy, reversing many of his predecessor’s unilateral policies and emphasizing the need for diplomacy, co-operation and mutual respect.
      Last year’s prize winner, former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, said the Nobel committee wants to encourage Obama to push harder for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Of course, this puts pressure on Obama,” he said. “The world expects that he will also achieve something.”… – AP London, 10-9-09
    • President Obama Joins Nobel Peace Laureates Talking Points Memo, 10-9-09
    • Letters: Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Laureate: Regarding the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama on Friday (The New York Times on the Web, Oct. 9)… – NYT, 10-10-09
    • Obama’s Nobel: The Last Thing He Needs: The last thing Barack Obama needed at this moment in his presidency and our politics is a prize for a promise. Inspirational words have brought him a long way — including to the night in Grant Park less than a year ago when he asked that we “join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.”
      By now there are surely more callouses on his lips than his hands. He, like every new President, has reckoned with both the power and the danger of words, dangers that are especially great for one who wields them as skillfully as he. A promise beautifully made raises hopes especially high: we will revive the economy while we rein in our spending; we will make health care simpler, safer, cheaper, fairer. We will rid the earth of its most lethal weapons. We will turn green and clean. We will all just get along…. – Time, 10-9-09
    • Kenyan grandmother is happy for Obama: President Barack Obama’s Kenyan step-grandmother on Saturday advised this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner to be of good character and continue to work for peace. Sitting on a plastic chair outside her compound in the quite village of Kogelo, Sarah Obama told The Associate Press she believes her step-grandson’s surprise win is a gift from God….
      The announcement was met with joy in Kenya, which has a special regard for Obama, the son of a Kenyan economist and an American anthropologist.
      Radio shows interrupted their programming Friday, and traders in the market huddled around hand-held radios and touts yelled the news to each other from the windows of local minibuses known as matatus. Many are already decorated with Obama’s picture. “I am happy for him,” the elderly Obama told the AP outside her compound in the village of tree-lined dirt roads and maize crops where Obama’s father grew up…. – AP, 10-9-09

    REACTIONS: QUOTES

    • President Barack Obama: Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.”
    • President Barack Obama: Building a World that “Gives Life to the Promise of Our Founding Documents” Well, this is not how I expected to wake up this morning. After I received the news, Malia walked in and said, “Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo’s birthday!” And then Sasha added, “Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up.” So it’s good to have kids to keep things in perspective.
      I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.
      To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize — men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.
      But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build — a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action — a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century…. WH, 10-9-09
    • The Nobel Peace Prize for 2009: The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.
      Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.
      Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.
      For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”
      Oslo, October 9, 2009 Nobel Prize.org
    • “What has President Obama actually accomplished? It is unfortunate that the president’s star power has outshined tireless advocates who made real achievements working toward peace and human rights.” Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee
    • “Whether it’s celebrating the nation’s loss of the Olympics, or attacking the recognition of American leadership today, Republicans time and again are proving that they’re putting politics ahead of patriotism.” Hari Sevugan, a Democratic Party spokesman
    • CBS Wonders: Will Nobel Prize Become Obama’s ‘Poison Chalice’?: Maggie Rodriguez and Bob Schieffer, CBS On Friday’s CBS Early Show, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer wondered about negative political fallout from President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize win: “one European commentator who said ‘will this become a poison chalice?’ In other words, is this going to hurt the President rather than help him?…is this going to widen the part of partisan divide rather than bring people together?”
      Schieffer spoke with Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez, who asked: “Clearly a surprise to everyone, including the White House, for the President to be awarded this less than nine months into his term. And already some people are questioning whether he deserves it.” Schieffer expressed that skepticism: “My first reaction was, ‘what?!….It’s almost as if they’re saying ‘we’re giving you the Nobel Peace Prize for winning the election.’…I can’t recall anybody who won this prize for his aspirations. People usually get it for results.”
      During 11AM CBS breaking news coverage of the President’s acceptance speech, anchor Jeff Glor got more Scheiffer reaction: “Is this more a commentary on the current administration and the current president or the previous administration, Bob?” Schieffer replied: “It’s almost as if the committee today was giving Barack Obama a prize for not being George Bush.”…. – Newsbusters.org, 10-9-09
    • Op-Ed Columnist: The Peace (Keepers) Prize: The Nobel committee did President Obama no favors by prematurely awarding him its peace prize. As he himself acknowledged, he has not done anything yet on the scale that would normally merit such an award — and it dismays me that the most important prize in the world has been devalued in this way.
      It is not the president’s fault, though, that the Europeans are so relieved at his style of leadership, in contrast to that of his predecessor, that they want to do all they can to validate and encourage it. I thought the president showed great grace in accepting the prize not for himself but “as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.”
      All that said, I hope Mr. Obama will take this instinct a step further when he travels to Oslo on Dec. 10 for the peace prize ceremony. Here is the speech I hope he will give…. – NYT, 10-11-09

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    • Fred Greenstein, author and professor of politics emeritus at Princeton University: “The jury is still out as to what his presidency is going to add up to. It’s more of an embarrassment to the Nobel process.” Greenstein said Obama is unlikely to gain any political advantage from the award, and it is unlikely to lead to any major policy changes. FOXNews.com, 10-9-09
    • Allan Lichtman, professor of history at American University “They’re not comparable,” Lichtman said. “[Roosevelt and Wilson] were six or seven years into two-term presidencies, and Obama has not completed a single year of his presidency, so it makes very little sense.” Obama possesses a great deal of “promise,” but the jury is still out, Lichtman said. “It remains to be seen what his foreign policy legacy will be,” he said. “It is premature. This was to encourage rather than to recognize an accomplished fact.” The award might even become a “political headache” for Obama, Lichtman said. “On the one hand, his liberal base will be pushing him to live up to this,” he said. “And his Republican critics will say a bunch of Scandinavians socialists have given this award to another socialist. You’ll hear quite a bit of criticism from the right.” FOXNews.com, 10-9-09
    • Stephen Wayne, professor of American government at Georgetown University “Praised Obama’s “good instincts” and strong belief in diplomacy, but said he failed to see accomplishments that merited the prize. “It does seem to me, at this point, that’s its premature,” Wayne said. “When I first saw it, I thought it was a joke. Obama may have been the first to get it for his rhetoric and his orientation.” Wayne said he was “startled” to learn Obama had been nominated for the award less than two weeks into his presidency. “What had he done by February? He had been the first African-American elected president and provided sawing rhetoric,” Wayne said. “In one sense, Obama has always been more popular in Europe than in the United States. That popularity is based in part on the contrast he provides to former President George W. Bush, who was not popular in Europe. I am very favorable toward President Obama, but this prize is a surprise to me.” FOXNews.com, 10-9-09
    • Gil Troy: Obama’s prize: Noble hopes in an ignoble world: As liberals rejoice in Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize and conservatives grumble, let’s be honest: It is too early too tell. Awarding this prize either may be prescient or premature. Regardless, the award reflects the noble aspirations of the award committee and the prize winner.
      The committee beautifully described Mr. Obama’s greatest accomplishment thus far. “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future,” the citation says. The fact that despite its racist past, despite the stains of slavery and Jim Crow, the United States sent a black man to the White House was a modern miracle. That this President was only 47 when elected, and had, by his own description, a “funny name,” is even more amazing especially following 9/11….

      The contrast between noble societies that invest in science and ignoble societies addicted to terror, between noble political cultures that produce hope-generators like Barack Obama and ignoble political cultures that produce mass killers, remains stunning – and daunting.
      Good people throughout the world should unite in hoping that the aspirations embedded in this award to a rookie President quickly transform into impressive achievements. Thus far, Mr. Obama has dazzled the world with his poetry. Let us hope that when we look back on this moment, his Nobel prize will be a milestone in his ability to turn his transcendent poetry into workable, governable prose, the hopes into feats, and, nations’ swords into plowshares. – Toronto Globe and Mail, 10-10-09

    • Peter J. Kastor, Ph.D., an associate professor of history and of American culture studies in Arts & Sciences Historian finds ‘profound’ difference between President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize and those awarded to Presidents Wilson and Roosevelt: “At the time Presidents Roosevelt and Wilson were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, both of them were trying to assert a leadership role for the United States on the world stage. They were trying to make the United States validate not only the country’s global power, but the country’s global interventionist pretensions.
      “Although Roosevelt and Wilson received the Peace Prize for their roles in ending wars (the Russo-Japanese War and World War I, respectively), they could use the prize as part of their larger argument that the United States — and especially American presidents — had a right to shape the world order.
      “Both presidents championed intervening in the domestic affairs of other countries,” says Kastor, whose most recent book, “America’s Struggle with Empire: A Documentary History,” chronicles how the United States has governed foreign territory and foreign peoples.
      “President Obama is trying to assert the United States into a different role,” continues Kastor, who teaches a course titled “Americans and Their Presidents,” which examines the intersection of politics and culture as it revolves around the presidency.
      “More importantly, he’s operating in a profoundly different international context. The United States is no longer a nation asserting its role on the world stage, but rather it’s a dominant world power now engaged in defending and rethinking its actions in the midst of a global debate about the appropriate role of world powers.
      “Like Roosevelt and Wilson, Obama has also stated that the United States can and should be a force for good in world affairs. Unlike Roosevelt and Wilson, however, he has publicly questioned the right of the United States to inject itself into the domestic affairs of foreign countries, even as he is forced to take charge of governing two foreign countries, Iraq and Afghanistan.
      “He’s trying to say that the U.S. will take the moral higher ground. In some ways, his Peace Prize selection is closer to Jimmy Carter’s in that President Carter was brokering for world diplomacy where no one country can dictate to another.
      “Obama is rethinking both globalization and intervention. No one denies that intervention and interceding in other countries is being very hotly debated throughout America. It appears that it is a hot topic among members of the Nobel Prize Committee as well.” WUSTL, 10-9-09
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