December 6, 2009: President Obama Focuses on the Economy, Max Baucus Scandal and Sarah Palin at the Gridiron Dinner


The President at West Point


  • Unexpected drop in jobless rate sparks optimism: Two years of steep job cuts all but ended last month, unexpectedly pulling down the unemployment rate and raising hopes for a lasting economic recovery. Federal figures released Friday showed that the rate fell from 10.2 percent in October to 10 percent…. And the so-called underemployment rate, counting part-time workers who want full-time jobs and laid-off workers who have given up their job hunt, also fell, from 17.5 percent in October to 17.2 percent…. – AP, 12-4-09



  • Sarah Palin speech: The view’s better from inside the bus than under it: The lines began forming Saturday morning outside the Sioux Falls Barnes & Noble bookstore, fully 35 hours before former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was to arrive there to sign her new book, “Going Rogue.”… – LAT, 12-6-09
  • What Sarah Palin had to say at Saturday’s Gridiron dinner: Look at it this way, Sarah Palin told a Washington journalists’ dinner Saturday night: If Joe Biden had lost, he’d be peddling a book today titled, “Going Rogaine.” Biden, of course, is now vice president (and with a head of thinning hair), while Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, stopped in Washington Saturday to promote her book, “Going Rogue,” and entertain the Gridiron Club, a group of veteran Washington reporters and bureau chiefs at their annual winter dinner…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 12-6-09
  • Obama: Efforts aimed at economy’s long-term health: The U.S. is emerging from an “economic storm,” President Barack Obama says, pledging new ways to put people back on the payroll after a painful recession. Readying a job creation proposal he plans to send to Congress in the coming week, the president said in his radio and Internet address Saturday that he’s focused on building an economy “that continues to make real the promise of America for generations to come.”…
    In a Washington speech Tuesday, Obama is likely to endorse expanding a program that gives people cash incentives to fix up their homes with energy-saving materials, according to administration officials….
    “So that we don’t face another crisis like this again, I’m determined to meet our responsibility to do what we know will strengthen our economy in the long run,” Obama said in his address. AP, 12-5-09
  • Senate debates health care, rejects GOP amendment: Senate Republicans failed Saturday to eliminate $42.1 billion in cuts to Medicare home health care service in the health care bill. The 53-41 vote shot down a motion offered by Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Nebraska, that would have sent Majority Leader Harry Reid’s sweeping $848 billion reform plan back to committee with instructions to remove all home health care cuts. Johanns objected to the cuts, saying that the services “help some of the most vulnerable Americans.”… – CNN, 12-5-09
  • Baucus Nominated Girlfriend for Post, Aide Says: A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Max Baucus says the Montana Democrat was in a romantic relationship with the woman he nominated for U.S. attorney…. – AP/NYT, 12-5-09
  • Obama shifts Copenhagen travel plans to boost climate change deal: US president bows to international pressure to join other world leaders in crunch negotiating sessions. Barack Obama has bowed to international appeals for America to demonstrate commitment to action on global warming, and said he will join other world leaders for the crunch negotiating sessions of the Copenhagen climate change summit.
    The White House, in a statement from the press secretary, Robert Gibbs, last night said Obama would adjust his original travel schedule… “The president believes that continued US leadership can be most productive through his participation at the end of the Copenhagen conference on December 18th,” the statement said. “There are still outstanding issues that must be negotiated for an agreement to be reached, but this decision reflects the president’s commitment to doing all he can to pursue a positive outcome.”… – Guardian UK, 12-4-09
  • Climategate? What Climategate? Congressional Democrats are Climategate deniers: The scandal involving leaked or purloined emails from the Climatic Research Unit at Britain’s University of East Anglia finally reached Capitol Hill this week, but not in the way you’d expect. Democratic committee chairmen ignored the evidence of scientific skullduggery at the influential research unit, even as its head Phil Jones stepped aside this week to make way for an investigation.
    Senator Barbara Boxer, chair of the Environment Committee, did rouse herself to comment on the emails, saying their release should be treated as a criminal matter. “You call it ‘Climategate’; I call it ‘Email-theft-gate,'” she said. “Part of our looking at this will be looking at a criminal activity which could have well been coordinated.”… – WSJ, 12-4-09
  • Palin arrives to cheering crowd at Fort Hood: A cheering crowd has greeted former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin at Fort Hood in Texas. About 1,250 fans showed up to get signed copies of Palin’s book, “Going Rogue.” Because of limited space, only about 250 people were allowed in the food court building to see the former Alaska governor…. – AP, 12-4-09
  • Senate preserves long-term care program: The Senate on Friday turned back a Republican effort to eliminate a long-term care insurance program to help seniors and the disabled, saving the plan once championed by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in its health overhaul bill. But the vote exposed the difficulties Democratic leaders face in persuading their own moderates to remain united behind sweeping legislation they hope to deliver to President Barack Obama. Eleven Democrats voted with Republicans, who warned that the new program would turn into a drain on the federal budget. Republicans fell short in a bid to strike the long-term care plan on a 51-47 vote. They needed 60 votes to prevail…. – AP, 12-4-09
  • Obama, lawmakers target bailout fund for jobs bill: President Barack Obama’s options for spurring job growth may be limited by out-of-control budget deficits, but he is warming to moves by his congressional allies for a jobs-boosting bill. Taking his defense of the economy on the road, the president scheduled appearances Friday in Pennsylvania to showcase innovative businesses following Thursday’s White House jobs forum. That event combined cheerleading and brainstorming as Obama exhorted more than 100 CEOs, academics, small business and union leaders and local officials to focus on new ways to get businesses hiring again…. – AP, 12-4-09
  • Allegedly green Obama lights National Christmas Tree, leaves them on: It was Barack Obama’s first time. But tonight for the 86th year in a row, a U.S. president turned on the lights of the national Christmas tree, a 40-foot Colorado spruce near the White House. Claiming to be technologically challenged, the BlackBerry-loving, 48-year-old president asked his daughters, Sasha and Malia, to help press the ceremonial button that lit up the tree planted on the Ellipse way back in 1978. In those days Obama was only 17 and an aging Vice President Joe Biden was already in the second of a gazillion terms as a senator from Delaware. “Watson, come here!” the 44th president exclaimed. No, just kidding. He actually exclaimed, “It worked!”… – LAT, 12-3-09
  • Senate Democrats push ahead on health bill: They pass an amendment requiring insurers to cover women’s preventive care and screenings, and reject McCain’s bid to restore proposed cuts in what Medicare pays out… – LAT, 12-3-09
  • Senate Breaks Health Stalemate; First Votes Today: At the end of a third day of Senate debate over sweeping health care legislation, Democrats and Republicans said Wednesday night that they had broken an impasse over the seemingly simple question of how and when to vote on the first amendments. But even as lawmakers announced an agreement to begin voting Thursday, Democrats accused Republicans of stalling debate and obstructing the legislation…. – NYT, 12-2-09
  • Obama shifts White House spotlight to unemployment: President Barack Obama turns his attention on Thursday from Afghanistan to the battle against unemployment which has sapped his popularity and may shape his political future. Obama is hosting a forum with business leaders at the White House to discuss how to boost jobs after U.S. unemployment hit a 26-year peak of 10.2 percent in October. But the gathering has been dismissed by critics as a public relations exercise. The president’s public approval ratings have dipped as joblessness has grown, alarming members of his Democratic party who face congressional elections next year. Republicans say his economic recoveries policies have failed to deliver…. – Reuters, 12-2-09
  • Obama rejoining economic debate with jobs summit: Under pressure from Republicans and an impatient public to fix the sputtering economic recovery, President Barack Obama is refocusing on this politically potent issue by talking job creation with business and labor leaders at the White House…. Administration officials are hoping Thursday’s jobs forum, an Obama trip to Pennsylvania on Friday and a major economic speech on Tuesday will help counter Republican critics who contend the administration’s economic recovery efforts have failed and its oversight of the $787 billion stimulus package has been inadequate…. – AP, 12-3-09
  • Old Clemency May Be Issue for Huckabee: When Mike Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist minister then serving as governor of Arkansas, granted clemency to Maurice Clemmons nine years ago, he cited his age: Mr. Clemmons was 16 when he began the crime spree for which he was sentenced to more than 100 years in prison… – NYT, 12-1-09
  • Palin reaches the 1 million mark: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s memoir ‘Going Rogue’ has sold more than one million copies after debuting only two weeks ago, her publisher Harper Collins tells CNN….- CNN, 12-1-09
  • Tempers rise as Senate moves toward health vote: A Republican senator asserted Tuesday during a rancorous floor debate that President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul will shorten the lives of America’s seniors by cutting Medicare. “I have a message for you: You’re going to die sooner,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., an obstetrician- turned-lawmaker…. – AP, 12-1-09

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….


The President delivers the Weekly Address

  • Obama Pledges to Put More Americans Back to Work: In his weekly radio and Internet address, the U.S. president said Saturday he will ‘focus every single day’ on building the economy and getting people into productive jobs. VOA, 12-5-09
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Says Employment Trends Are Improving; But Remains Focused on Job Creation Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address Saturday, December 5, 2009: History tells us this is usually what happens with recessions – even as the economy grows, it takes time for jobs to follow. But the folks who have been looking for work without any luck for months and, in some cases, years, can’t wait any longer. For them, I’m determined to do everything I can to accelerate our progress so we’re actually adding jobs again….
    And that’s exactly what I’m working to give them. In the coming days, I’ll be unveiling additional ideas aimed at accelerating job growth and hiring as we emerge from this economic storm.
    And so that we don’t face another crisis like this again, I’m determined to meet our responsibility to do what we know will strengthen our economy in the long-run. That’s why I’m not going to let up in my efforts to reform our health care system; to give our children the best education in the world; to promote the jobs of tomorrow and energy independence by investing in a clean energy economy; and to deal with the mounting federal debt…. – WH, 12-5-09
  • President Obama’s remarks at National Christmas Tree, as provided by the White House: THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Washington, D.C. (Applause.) I want to, first of all, thank Secretary Salazar for not only the kind introduction, but the extraordinary work he is doing in preserving the incredible bounty and natural resources of this country. I want to thank all those involved in helping to organize this great event. Thank you to….
    …Randy Jackson, and all the performers putting on an incredible show. I told Sasha we’re not on American Idol — (laughter) — no singing. (Laughter.)
    I also want to thank Neal Mulholland, Jon Jarvis, and Peggy O’Dell from the National Park Service for being with us, and all the Park Service employees who’ve worked so hard to put this event together — give them a big round of applause. (Applause.) And I want to thank my outstanding Vice President and his gorgeous granddaughters — Joe Biden. Stand up, Joe. (Applause.)
    In 1923, the Washington, D.C. Public Schools wrote a letter to the White House asking if they could put up a Christmas tree on the South Lawn. And First Lady Grace Coolidge said they could use the Ellipse. (Laughter.) And in the eight decades since -– in times of war and peace, hardship and joy –- Americans from every corner of this nation have gathered here to share in the holiday spirit.
    Tonight, we celebrate a story that is as beautiful as it is simple. The story of a child born far from home to parents guided only by faith, but who would ultimately spread a message that has endured for more than 2,000 years -– that no matter who we are or where we are from, we are each called to love one another as brother and sister.
    While this story may be a Christian one, its lesson is universal. It speaks to the hope we share as a people. And it represents a tradition that we celebrate as a country –- a tradition that has come to represent more than any one holiday or religion, but a season of brotherhood and generosity to our fellow citizens.
    It’s that spirit of unity that we must remember as we light the National Christmas Tree –- a tree that will shine its light far beyond our city and our shores to every American around the world.
    And that’s why tonight our thoughts and prayers are with the men and women who will be spending this holiday far from home –- the mothers and fathers, the sons and daughters of our military who risk their lives every day to keep us safe. We will be thinking of you and praying for you during this holiday season.
    And let’s also remember our neighbors who are struggling here at home -– those who’ve lost a job or a home; a friend or a loved one — because even though it’s easy to focus on receiving at this time of year, it’s often in the simple act of giving that we find the greatest happiness.
    So on behalf of Michelle and Malia and Sasha and my mother-in-law, Mama Robinson — I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. May you go out with joy, and be led forth in peace.
    And now, to the serious business of pressing the button and lighting this beautiful tree. (Applause.) So, guys, come up here. I need some assistance. I’m technologically challenged and I might not get this right. So we’re going to do a countdown, starting from five. Everybody has got to help me out here. Five, four, three, two, one — ho! (Applause.) It worked! LAT, 12-3-09


  • Historians comment on Obama role as consoler in chief: In the days ahead, Obama must master those moments to sustain support for the war in Afghanistan, says Jerald Podair, a history professor at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. “Grief is the one part of a president’s job that cannot be spun. It must be personal and come from the heart,” Podair says. Yet the cool and cerebral Obama is not known for opening his heart, Podair says… … If Obama bungles a public occasion for mourning, he can permanently damage his ability to lead, some historians say…. – CNN (12-4-09)
  • Max Boot: Despite some questions, Obama’s Afghan policy is sound Given time, his strategy should work. But will there be time, and what about ‘winning’?: President Obama’s Afghanistan policy raises some serious questions (more on those in a moment), but to see why it has a decent chance of working, it helps to visit the town of Nawa in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand River Valley. I was there in October and found that 1,000 Marines who had arrived during the summer had already made substantial strides. When the Marines got there, Nawa was practically a ghost town…..
    At the same time, our troops must work to build up Afghanistan’s security forces. Yet another missing element in Obama’s speech was the lack of a specific commitment to expand the Afghan security forces, but there is little doubt that this is our only responsible exit strategy. Before the Afghans can take the lead, however, our troops must first reduce the enemy’s toughest strongholds. That process begins in Marjah. – LAT, 12-3-09
  • Andrew J. Bacevich: Obama’s folly: Rather than trying to salvage Bush’s policy in Afghanistan, the president should show real courage and just pull the plug. Which is the greater folly: To fancy that war offers an easy solution to vexing problems, or, knowing otherwise, to opt for war anyway?
    In the wake of 9/11, American statecraft emphasized the first approach: President George W. Bush embarked on a “global war” to eliminate violent jihadism. President Obama now seems intent on pursuing the second approach: Through military escalation in Afghanistan, he seeks to “finish the job” that Bush began there, then all but abandoned.
    Through war, Bush set out to transform the greater Middle East. Despite immense expenditures of blood and treasure, that effort failed. In choosing Obama rather than John McCain to succeed Bush, the American people acknowledged that failure as definitive. Obama’s election was to mark a new beginning, an opportunity to “reset” America’s approach to the world…. – LAT, 12-3-09
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