February 22, 2010: Obama & Health Care – CPAC, Conservative Policy Action Conference

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President delivers the Weekly Address

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Majority of Americans say President Obama doesn’t deserve 2nd term: poll: President Obama’s new jobs plan may include finding one, a new survey suggests. A majority of Americans think Obama should be a one-term president, the CNN / Opinion Research Corp. poll says, with 52% saying he is undeserving of a second term in office. 44% of respondents answered that Obama deserves reelection, with 4% saying they had no opinion…. – NY Daily News, 2-17-10
  • Congress poll is Capitol hell Voters’ support for incumbents hits historic low: Just when you thought Congress couldn’t reach a new low, it did. Only a third of US voters think their Congress members have earned the right to get sent back next year — a record-low number, a poll released yesterday shows. Thirty-four percent of voters queried think members of the House and the Senate ought to be re-elected — while an astonishing 63 percent were in favor of throwing the bums out, the new CNN poll showed….. – NY Post, 2-17-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama plan would curb health insurers on rate hikes: The proposal would give the Health and Human Services secretary power to block premium increases deemed excessive…. – LAT, 2-21-10
  • White House adjusts strategy on Republicans: The Obama administration aims to put members of the GOP on the spot, forcing them to compromise on issues or be portrayed as obstructionists…. – LAT, 2-20-10
  • Michelle Obama thinks doubts about her have eased: Michelle Obama wears blinders, of sorts. That helps her to see the real America. As the first lady put it in an interview Saturday, the people she’s met and the causes she’s taken up have put her in touch with a side of the country far removed from the tempest of attack politics and nasty commentary, which she tries her best to shut out. “Most of America isn’t like that and they’re tired of that,” she said. “You know, they want folks to get stuff done. The beauty of my job is that I get to see more of that America. And that feeds me.”… – AP, 2-20-10
  • Conservatives Help Fuel Primary Challenges to Some Republicans: Before the activists at this week’s Conservative Action Political Conference battle Democratic candidates in the fall election, they’re first helping challenge some Republican officeholders. Insurgents such as former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, former Representative J.D. Hayworth of Arizona and Utah lawyer Mike Lee — all running against well-established Republicans in party primaries — have found receptive audiences among those attending the annual gathering sponsored by the American Conservative Union in Washington. “I’d rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate who believe in the principles of freedom than 60 who don’t believe in anything,” Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina told the conference. “I believe in holding incumbent Republican senators accountable.”… – Bloomberg
  • On Reid turf, Obama plugs his agenda: Days before hosting a potentially intensive health care summit with Republicans and Democrats, President Obama made a fervent push yesterday for his overhaul, calling it critical not just for the millions without insurance but also for the entire country’s economic well-being. “It is vital for our economy to change how health care works in this country,” Obama said at a town hall meeting in a high school gym. “Don’t let the American people go another year, another 10 years, another 20 years without health insurance reform in this country.”… – Boston Globe, 2-20-10
  • Obama sets record straight: ‘I love Vegas’: President Barack Obama is setting the record straight – he loves Las Vegas. And Las Vegas was glad to hear it. Obama had irked Nevada officials by using Las Vegas as an example of how people should not spend irresponsibly in tough times. But during an overnight visit to the city, Obama made it clear he meant no harm. “I love Vegas,” Obama told an audience of 650 business and tourism leaders Friday at a resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip…. – AP, 2-19-10
  • Obama to Offer Health Bill to Ease Impasse as Bipartisan Meeting Approaches: President Obama will put forward comprehensive health care legislation intended to bridge differences between Senate and House Democrats ahead of a summit meeting with Republicans next week, senior administration officials and Congressional aides said Thursday. Democratic officials said the president’s proposal was being written so that it could be attached to a budget bill as a way of averting a Republican filibuster in the Senate. The procedure, known as budget reconciliation, would let Democrats advance the bill with a simple majority rather than a 60-vote supermajority. Congressional Democrats, however, have not yet seen the proposal or signed on…. – NYT, 2-19-10
  • How the GOP Sees It What Republicans would do if given carte blanche to run the country: “We’ve offered to work with the president all year. We’ve been shut out, shut out, and shut out.” —House GOP leader John Boehner Such is the lament of the party out of power in Washington. Republicans on Capitol Hill say they have many good ideas and want to join with President Obama and the Democrats to alleviate the country’s problems. They want to collaborate on a health-care bill, a jobs bill, a clean-energy bill. But they can’t, because the Democrats—intent on pushing through a radical agenda that is out of touch with real Americans—won’t listen to them. Republicans want to help the president succeed, but he won’t let them. This isn’t true, of course—any more than it was true when the Democrats said the same thing as they dedicated themselves to thwarting George W. Bush. In zero-sum Washington, members of the opposition party have little incentive to help the president, especially if it means the credit for their actions could accrue to him and not them. If politics is the art of compromise, then politics as practiced in the capital is the art of preventing compromise at all costs. This is why, infuriatingly, our elected officials spend so much time plotting ways to stick it to the other side with “filibuster-proof super-majorities” and “nuclear options,” while the unemployment rate hovers in the double digits and 46 million Americans go without health insurance. It is why not a single GOP senator voted for the health-care bill now stalled in Congress, and why Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell turned against a GOP-inspired plan for a deficit commission once Obama endorsed the idea…. – Newsweek, 3-1-10
  • Obama tries to rally his party in Colorado visit: At a fundraiser for Sen. Michael Bennet, the president has tough words for Republicans. He’ll next take his message to Nevada to help out another embattled Democratic senator: Harry Reid.
    “A lot of these guys when it comes to the ribbon-cuttings for the projects, they show up,” Obama told a packed concert hall. “They’re holding up those big checks: ‘Look what I did for you!’ “I’m not going to give ’em hell,” the president continued. “I’m going to tell the truth and they’ll think it’s hell. That’s what Harry Truman said.”… – LAT, 2-18-10
  • Romney courts the right with jabs at Obama Crowd reserves fervor for new faces: Sounding like a potential rival for President Obama in 2012, Mitt Romney delivered a brutal critique yesterday of what he called American liberal “neo-monarchists” as he sought the favor of traditional conservatives and insurgent tea party activists at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. While Romney received several standing ovations in the packed ballroom, his reception did not have the same feverish enthusiasm awarded to such new faces as Marco Rubio, a conservative US Senate candidate from Florida, and Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, who, in a surprise appearance, introduced Romney.,… – Boston Globe, 2-19-10
  • GOP leaders agree to panel on federal deficit: With the national debt soaring, Republican leaders reluctantly consented Thursday to join Democrats on a bipartisan commission to address the government’s budget problems. But they continued to reject any solution that involves higher taxes, and analysts in both parties said the effort faces a dauntingly poisoned political atmosphere…. – WaPo, 2-18-10
  • Energized conservatives pound on Democrats at CPAC: A newly muscular “tea party” movement dominated an old-line conservative conclave Thursday, depicting Democrats as destroying America’s freedoms and warning Republicans not to take their support for granted. President Obama and congressional Democrats “are using this downturn as cover, not to fix America but to try to change America, to fundamentally re-define the role of government in our lives and the role of America in the world,” Marco Rubio said in the opening address at the annual Conservative Policy Action Conference (CPAC). The rising conservative star, who is seeking the GOP Senate nomination in Florida, said, “The good news is it didn’t take long for the American people to figure this out.”… – USA Today, 2-18-10
  • Dick Cheney’s bold proclamation: Barack Obama’s ‘a one-term president’: Former Vice President Dick Cheney made a surprise appearance this afternoon at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference gathering in Washington after a speech by his daughter, Liz Cheney. And a surprise proclamation. He was greeted by cheers and chants of “Run, Cheney, Run!” To which Cheney responded: “A welcome like that almost makes me want to run for office — but I am not going to do it.”… – LAT, 2-18-10
  • GOP sees possible upside in health care summit: Congressional Republicans see a chance for political gain in President Barack Obama’s televised health care summit next week, even though the president will be running the show. Obama and the Democrats are certain to highlight a crucial element of their health care plan — extending coverage to more than 30 million Americans — at the one-of-a-kind event. By comparison, a Republican plan would only help 3 million more. But during a time of ballooning deficits, the GOP figures reining in rising medical costs — not coverage — could resonate with voters in an election year…. – AP, 2-18-10
  • Obama says stimulus bill averted deeper economic crisis A year later, he repudiates GOP criticism: President Obama hailed the success of his much-debated $787 billion stimulus legislation yesterday, saying the one-year-old program has created or saved 2 million jobs and helped prevent a second Great Depression.
    “No large expenditure is ever that popular, particularly at a time when we are also facing a massive deficit,” the president said. “Our work is far from over, but we have rescued this economy from the worst of this crisis. The American people are rebuilding a better future. We will continue to support their efforts.”
    And he made fun of GOP lawmakers who he said were unsure whether to clap last month when, during his State of the Union speech, Obama recounted the tax cuts in the act. “They were all kind of squirming in their seats,” he said…. – Boston Globe, 2-17-10
  • Second Tea Party Convention Planned for Vegas in July: Fresh off a convention just a few weeks ago, Tea Party organizers on Wednesday announced another national convention, and this time they’re going to invade Las Vegas from July 15-17 with their message of lower taxes and smaller government…. – Fox News, 2-17-10
  • Stimulus funds going to slashed programs: More than $3.5 billion in economic stimulus funds are going to programs that President Obama wants to eliminate or trim in his new budget. The president’s budget released this month recommends getting rid of Army Corps of Engineers’ drinking-water projects, which got $200 million in stimulus funds, and a U.S. Department of Agriculture flood-prevention program, which received $290 million from the stimulus, a USA TODAY review of stimulus spending reports show…. – USA Today, 2-17-10
  • Obama pledges $8 billion for new nuclear reactors: The move represents a new federal commitment to the low-carbon-emitting, but highly controversial, sector long championed by Republicans. Environmentalists voice concern…. – LAT, 2-16-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Illinois Republicans see unique chance for victory: The last decade was lousy for Illinois Republicans. They lost a Senate seat, their party’s last governor went to prison and they were shut out of every statewide office. But the recent surprise win by Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race and a string of setbacks for Illinois Democrats have Republicans giddy about their chances to claim the next big election prizes: President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat and ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s old job. Republicans have reason to feel confident. This year’s races are likely to be fought against the backdrop of Blagojevich’s corruption trial — a point Republicans are sure to belabor — and Illinois’ finances are in shambles, with the state deficit likely to reach $13 billion this year…. – AP, 2-17-10
  • Elections’ Stakes: Control of Senate Retirements, Voter Ire Make GOP Majority a Possibility: Lawmakers in both parties are contemplating for the first time the possibility that the Republicans might recapture the Senate this year, though it’s an uphill climb in which the GOP would have to win states that have recently been inhospitable to the party. Republicans’ prospects are surging, driven by an electorate deeply dissatisfied with Washington, the economy and incumbents. And the surprise retirement announcement from Sen. Evan Bayh (D., Ind.) Monday on the heels of a host of other bad news for Democrats is prompting party leaders to take a fresh look at the Senate landscape. Because Democrats hold a 59-41 voting majority in the Senate, Republicans would have to gain 10 new seats and retain all of their own to gain control…. – WSJ, 2-16-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Powell: We Are Not Less Safe Under Obama Disputes Critics’ Charges That Current Admin’s Actions Compromise National Security, But Says U.S. “Still at Risk”: Claims that the United States is less safe under President Obama are not credible, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said on “Face the Nation” Sunday.
    “The point is made, ‘We don’t waterboard anymore or use extreme interrogation techniques.’ Most of those extreme interrogation techniques and waterboarding were done away with in the Bush administration,” Powell said. “They’ve been made officially done away with in this current administration.”
    “The Transportation Security Administration created by George Bush is still in action working in our airports; they take care of me every day that I go to an airport,” Powell told moderator Bob Schieffer.
    The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was also created under President Bush, “and it is still under President Obama working hard,” he said. “Our counterterrorism authorities and forces are hard at work. Our law enforcement officials are hard at work. We have gone after the enemy in Afghanistan with 50,000 more troops, more predators are striking al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in Pakistan. We have continued the policies that President Bush put in place with respect to Iraq.
    “The bottom line answer is the nation is still at risk. Terrorists are out there. They’re trying to get through. But to suggest that somehow we have become much less safer because of the actions of the administration, I don’t think that’s borne out by the facts,” Powell said. CBS, 2-21-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Says it is Time to Move Forward on Health Care Reform Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address February 20, 2010:
    And as bad as things are today, they’ll only get worse if we fail to act. We’ll see more and more Americans go without the coverage they need. We’ll see exploding premiums and out-of-pocket costs burn through more and more family budgets. We’ll see more and more small businesses scale back benefits, drop coverage, or close down because they can’t keep up with rising rates. And in time, we’ll see these skyrocketing health care costs become the single largest driver of our federal deficits.
    That’s what the future is on track to look like. But it’s not what the future has to look like. The question, then, is whether we will do what it takes, all of us – Democrats and Republicans – to build a better future for ourselves, our children, and our country.
    That’s why, next week, I am inviting members of both parties to take part in a bipartisan health care meeting, and I hope they come in a spirit of good faith. I don’t want to see this meeting turn into political theater, with each side simply reciting talking points and trying to score political points. Instead, I ask members of both parties to seek common ground in an effort to solve a problem that’s been with us for generations…. – WH, 2-20-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Historians say that Obama’s chance to be next FDR or Reagan fading fast: “He’s tried, but to this point, he’s failed,” said George Edwards, a scholar of the presidency at Texas A&M University. “He got things done, but they’re not the historic things that are transformational.”…
    “I wouldn’t call it transformative because it’s short-term,” said Edwards. “It’s ephemeral and it’s designed to be ephemeral. And, there’s no support for doing it again.”… – McClatchy Newspapers (2-16-10)
  • Historians say that Obama’s chance to be next FDR or Reagan fading fast: “If he doesn’t get significant health care reform, it’s going to be very difficult to accomplish much domestically in the remaining three years of his term,” said Richard Shenkman, an historian at George Mason University in Virginia.
    “He’ll have the Carter problem. Members of Congress will have taken very hard votes on this, and if there’s no payoff, they’re going to look out for themselves and abandon him and his leadership.”
    Said Shenkman: “If I were making bets at this point, aside from his election, I would very much doubt that he’s going to be much of a transformative figure.”…. – McClatchy Newspapers (2-16-10)
  • Julian Zelizer: Obama can model Ike in fighting off GOP hawks: …When Obama campaigned, he emphasized the importance of diplomacy and multilateralism — working through international alliances and institutions — as well as the need to re-establish stronger respect for civil liberties in counterterrorism policy.
    He has also called for more investment in domestic programs to prevent bioterrorism and to improve intelligence officials’ foreign language skills, particularly in Arabic. Unless he has drastically changed his positions, there is a path for sticking with his principles. As a model, President Obama could turn to a Republican predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower, who served in the White House from 1953 to 1961. Nicknamed Ike, he remains one of the most popular presidents in American history…. – CNN, 2-16-10
  • Obama as campaigner in chief: Will his record improve?: On the road in Colorado and Nevada, Obama looks to boost embattled Democrats after similar bids failed in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts. “He has to pick his spots,” says Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “He can’t afford that many campaigns where he’s not seen as having clout, because that just resonates toward the Republicans.”…. – CS Monitor, 2-20-10
  • Obama and Reid forge bond beyond politics as usual: Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University professor who writes about U.S. politics, sees a bleak landscape ahead. “The honeymoon is over, and it is possible the divorce is about to begin,” Zelizer said. “This has been an incredibly strained relationship. In general, there is a perception that the Senate has not delivered. President Obama has proposed, the House has passed and the Senate has stalled.” – Las Vegas Sun, 2-18-10

History Buzz, February 8-15, 2010: Presidents’ Day

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

IN FOCUS:

  • Books on Abraham Lincoln: Michael Burlingame offers a Presidents Day reading list: Distinctive personal portraits of Abraham Lincoln…. – 1. Honor’s Voice, By Douglas L. Wilson, Knopf, 1998
    2. The Young Eagle, By Kenneth J. Winkle, Taylor, 2001
    3. Lincoln’s Melancholy, By Joshua Wolf Shenk, Houghton Mifflin, 2005
    4. Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly, By Jennifer Fleischner, Broadway, 2003
    5. Herndon’s Lincoln, By William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik, University of Illinois, 2006 – WSJ, 2-13-10
  • Test your knowledge of presidential history: Ultimately, the Founding Fathers rejected the prevailing concept of governance at the time – a monarch – in setting up an infant nation, opting instead for someone a little closer to home. The President….
    And because we put so much faith in one man – no women, yet – we want to know as much about him as possible. So as we recognize Presidents Day today, it might be a good time to determine just what we do know about the presidents who’ve come and gone…. – The Gainsville Sun, 2-15-10

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Faulkner Link to Plantation Diary Discovered: The climactic moment in William Faulkner’s 1942 novel “Go Down, Moses” comes when Isaac McCaslin finally decides to open his grandfather’s leather farm ledgers with their “scarred and cracked backs” and “yellowed pages scrawled in fading ink” — proof of his family’s slave-owning past. Now, what appears to be the document on which Faulkner modeled that ledger as well as the source for myriad names, incidents and details that populate his fictionalized Yoknapatawpha County has been discovered…. – NYT, 2-11-10
  • Niall Ferguson: Sex and summitry: the rise of the raunchy summit: So now we know what it takes to remove leading public intellectuals from their studies and source-notes. Niall Ferguson, TV historian, neo-Conservative and heart-throb of the conference circuit, has left his wife for the terrifyingly glamorous feminist writer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali…. – UK Standard, 2-11-10
  • Snow Is No Longer a Joking Matter in Washington For what might be the first time ever, says Fred Beuttler, the House’s deputy historian, the chamber’s cafeteria was forced to close… – Time, 2-10-10

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Andrew Young’s Memoir of John Edwards: THE POLITICIAN An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down In “The Politician,” Young, a longtime aide to John Edwards, ventilates his abhorrence for former Senator Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, both of whom he seems to have undertaken Stakhanovite efforts to please…. – NYT, 2-12-10 Excerpt
  • Jerry Z. Muller: Jews and the Burden of Money: CAPITALISM AND THE JEWS – In his slim essay collection “Capitalism and the Jews,” Jerry Z. Muller presents a provocative and accessible survey of how Jewish culture and historical accident ripened Jews for commercial success and why that success has earned them so much misfortune. NYT, 2-12-10
  • James S. Hirsch: A Nice Guy in a Perfect Baseball World: WILLIE MAYS The Life, the Legend James S. Hirsch’s new book, “Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend,” is the first biography written with Mays’s participation. (Mr. Hirsch and Mays intend to split the book’s earnings.) The result is an authoritative if sometimes listless book, one that’s less “Say Hey” than so-so. Like a long out to center field that scores a runner, however, it’s a book that gets the job done… – NYT, 2-12-10 Excerpt
  • Michael Shelden: Books of The Times Mark Twain: A Public Image as Tailored as His Snow-White Suits: MARK TWAIN: MAN IN WHITE The Grand Adventure of His Final Years As Michael Shelden illustrates in his lively, star-struck and surprise-filled portrait of Twain the septuagenarian, this kind of behavior was carefully calculated. Twain made crucial, image-shaping decisions about how he would live his last years, and Mr. Shelden takes his book’s title from one of these choices… – NYT, 2-12-10 Excerpt
  • Kevin Boyle: Book review of ‘Root and Branch’ by Rawn James, Jr.: ROOT AND BRANCH Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and the Struggle to End Segregation In “Root and Branch,” Rawn James, Jr. isn’t trying to add to that imposing scholarship as much as he’s trying to give it a popular spin. A Washington lawyer, he moves nimbly through the complex legal issues Houston and his team raised. To add a poignant touch, he interweaves Houston’s and Marshall’s powerful personal stories. And he gives their campaign a stirringly triumphal arc, the story of a whole nation being forced — by the fierce will of two learned men — to overcome…. – WaPo, 2-12-10
  • PUBLIC POLICY Book review: ‘The Great American University,’ by Jonathan R. Cole: THE GREAT AMERICAN UNIVERSITY Its Rise to Preeminence, Its Indispensable National Role, Why It Must Be Protected Our high schools may be hurting, but the best U.S. universities — the Ivies, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, the select state universities (Virginia, California at Berkeley, Michigan and others) — are the envy of the world. In his new book, Jonathan R. Cole, a former provost and dean of faculties at Columbia, shows how our research universities in particular came to be what they are… – WaPo, 2-12-10
  • Book review: ‘Inside Obama’s Brain,’ by Sasha Abamsky: INSIDE OBAMA’S BRAIN – Sasha Abramsky promises us a glimpse in “Inside Obama’s Brain.” He tells us right away what his book is not: It’s not a biography, not political history, not inside-the-Beltway prattle. It is, he says, “a psychological profile writ large.”… – WaPo, 2-12-10
  • Bettye Collier-Thomas: Faith-Based Defiance: JESUS, JOBS, AND JUSTICE African American Women and Religion In “Jesus, Jobs, and Justice,” Bettye Collier-Thomas, a professor of history at Temple University, tells the untold stories of scores of religious and politically active black women, their organizations, informal gatherings and intellectual movements. For readers who imagine that the religious and political activism of Sojourner Truth, Mary McLeod Bethune and Rosa Parks is exceptional, the book will be a revelation…. – NYT, 2-5-10
  • SUSAN RUBIN SULEIMAN on Frederick Brown: French Contentions: FOR THE SOUL OF FRANCE Culture Wars in the Age of Dreyfus The real question for the opposing camps was not whether Alfred Dreyfus was guilty or innocent, but whether France itself was to be modern or traditional, cosmopolitan or nationalist, Catholic or secular, a republic or a monarchy. The struggle, as Frederick Brown puts it in “For the Soul of France,” his briskly paced and highly readable book, was between “champions and foes of the Enlightenment.” – NYT, 2-5-10
  • Rebecca Skloot: Eternal Life: THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS In “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” Rebecca Skloot introduces us to the “real live woman,” the children who survived her, and the interplay of race, poverty, science and one of the most important medical discoveries of the last 100 years. – NYT, 2-5-10Excerpt
  • Charles Pellegrino Book review: ‘The Last Train from Hiroshima’: THE LAST TRAIN FROM HIROSHIMA The Survivors Look Back But the tragedies and atrocities of World War II now belong to history, while Hiroshima is still part of our world, our continuing present, maybe our dreaded future. “The Last Train from Hiroshima” reminds us why this is so. Charles Pellegrino’s account of what it was actually like on the ground in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, culled from survivors’ memories and his own work in forensic archaeology, is the most powerful and detailed I have ever read. It puts flesh on the skeletons…. – WaPo, 2-7-10
  • Garry Wills: Book review: ‘Bomb Power’: BOMB POWER The Modern Presidency and the National Security State Gary Wills begins his provocative account of the atomic bomb’s impact on the republic with a high-detonation assertion…. The ensuing pages carry the reader through well-written, sometimes exciting vignettes of the bomb’s damage to liberty and constitutional checks and balances. WaPo, 2-7-10
  • Jonathan R. Cole: Tales Out of School: THE GREAT AMERICAN UNIVERSITY Its Rise to Preeminence, Its Indispensable National Role, Why It Must Be Protected As provost of Columbia University for 14 years and a professor of sociology and dean of faculties before that, Jonathan R. Cole is in an excellent position to write about the rise of the American research university and its special contribution to American life. In “The Great American University,”he makes a case for the extraordinary role such institutions play in improving our daily lives. He also argues that these “jewels in our nation’s crown” face a host of serious threats. NYT, 2-5-10

FEATURES:

  • Tomb May Hold Answer to How Much Shakespeare Actually Wrote: A sarcophagus in an English parish church built by the writer Fulke Greville, a Shakespeare contemporary, could contain clues about several works traditionally attributed to Shakespeare. St. Mary’s Church in Warwick, England, contains a tomb that parishioners believe may contain clues about Shakespeare’s work. The church was built by Fulke Greville, a “prominent 17th-century nobleman, … scholar, soldier, statesman,” spy, writer and Shakespeare contemporary who “some believe is the true author of several of the Bard’s works,” according to the Daily Telegraph. – Finding Dulcinea, 2-15-10
  • HOW CHRISTIAN WERE THE FOUNDERS? The Christian “truth” about America’s founding has long been taught in Christian schools, but not beyond. Recently, however — perhaps out of ire at what they see as an aggressive, secular, liberal agenda in Washington and perhaps also because they sense an opening in the battle, a sudden weakness in the lines of the secularists — some activists decided that the time was right to try to reshape the history that children in public schools study. Succeeding at this would help them toward their ultimate goal of reshaping American society. As Cynthia Dunbar, another Christian activist on the Texas board, put it, “The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.” – San Francisco Sentinel, 2-14-10
  • Changing History Four new ways to write the story of the world: The fame of Howard Zinn, who died a week and a half ago, rested on his long record of challenging the status quo. As a young professor, he was a leader of the civil rights and antiwar movements, and throughout his career he was an inveterate demonstrator and speaker at rallies and strikes. His writings brought formerly obscure events like Bacon’s Rebellion, the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, and the Philippine-American War into the light, arguing that such popular uprisings – and their brutal suppression – were central to the American story. It’s a vision that resonated with readers: Zinn’s 1980 book, “A People’s History of the United States,” has sold more than 2 million copies…. Boston Globe, 2-7-10
  • A Chronicler of the World Now Looks Inward: In one of the short personal reminiscences that the historian Tony Judt has been writing for The New York Review of Books he mentions that he was part of the “lucky generation” born in the affluent West after World War II, free to indulge in daydreams and passions. Mr. Judt’s world, sadly, has contracted considerably. Now 62, he learned about 16 months ago that he has a form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or A.L.S., commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and since then he has lost the ability to move nearly every muscle in his body, including those that help him breathe and swallow…. – NYT, 2-8-10

QUOTES:

  • Mark Dyreson “It’s a weird world of sports, but Winter Games have charms too”: “Part of the reason we don’t get the Winter Games is that we just don’t understand the sports — 300,000 Swedes lining a snow-covered path to watch people skiing strikes us as absurd,” said Mark Dyreson, sports historian and professor at Penn State. “But part of it is also bald nationalism. We don’t like it because we’re not top dog.” – LAT, 2-12-10
  • On Religion A Rare Blend, Pro Football and Hasidic Judaism: For Jews, abundant as fans but uncommon as top players, the visibility of a Shlomo Veingrad serves both reassuring and cathartic roles. Having a Jew to root for — whether Hank Greenberg, Sandy Koufax or the Israeli N.B.A. rookie Omri Casspi — “has a lot to do with our desire to define ourselves as Americans in the most American way, which is sports,” said Jeffrey S. Gurock, a history professor at Yeshiva University and the author of “Judaism’s Encounter With American Sports.” At a deeper and more anxious level, American Jews continue to grapple with the stereotypical view of the Jew as egghead, nerd, weakling. That dismissive portrayal was a staple not only of anti-Semites, but also of early Zionists, who envisioned their “new man” with his plow and rifle as the antidote to the “golus Yid,” the exilic Jew unable even to defend himself. “I don’t think those feelings are as conscious as in prior generations, but they still have some resonance,” Professor Gurock said in a telephone interview. “So there’s a residual pride of someone achieving in this very secular world of sports.” – NYT, 2-6-10

INTERVIEWS:

  • Michael Kazin: What’s Behind The New Populism?:
    In the year 2010, what is populism?
    It is as it has always been: the language of people who see ordinary people as a noble group and the elite class as self-serving. This year, the elites are perceived as Wall Street, the Obama administration and Democrats who want to increase the size of government. The left and right have been arguing in populist terms — whether the big evil is big government or big business — since the 1930s. NPR, 2-5-10
  • Brown’s Entry Ends Democrats’ Supermajority: Republican Scott Brown was sworn in Thursday as the 41st Republican in the U.S. Senate. His election ends the Democratic supermajority in the chamber. WELNA: Senate Historian Don Ritchie says years ago it was normal that Republicans and Democrats would cross the aisle on key votes. He says its lately become normal that they dont.
    Mr. DON RITCHIE (Senate Historian): The two parties are much more internally cohesive than they ever were before. The ideological spectrum inside the Democratic conference and inside the Republican conference is much narrower than it was before, and they tend to vote together. WBUR, NPR, 2-4-10

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • Michael Burlingame “UIS professor wins 2010 Lincoln Prize”: Authorities at the University of Illinois Springfield have announced two new honors for Professor Michael Burlingame, a noted Abraham Lincoln scholar. On Thursday, Burlingame was installed as holder of the Naomi Lynn Distinguished Chair of Lincoln Studies. On Friday, it was announced that Burlingame has won the 2010 Lincoln Prize for his two-volume “Abraham Lincoln: A Life,” published last year by Johns Hopkins University Press…. – Chicago Tribune, 2-12-10
  • Anna Pegler-Gordon: Professor wins book prize: Anna Pegler-Gordon, an associate professor in MSU’s James Madison College was awarded the 2009 Theodore Saloutos book prize of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society for her book. Pegler-Gordon, who also is acting director of the Asian Pacific American Studies Program, won the award for the book “In Sight of America: Photography and the Development of U.S. Immigration Policy.” – MSU State News, 2-9-10

SPOTTED:

  • How Dovid Katz Thirst For Jewish History Rabbi Dovid Katz’s unique perspectives bend minds and preconceived notions: On a cold and misty Saturday evening, the small sanctuary at Beth Abraham Congregation in Northwest Baltimore is packed to overflowing. Men and women, young and old, Orthodox and Conservative, Reform and non-affiliated, have all come to hear about modern Jewish history. The speaker is Dovid Katz, the rabbi of Beth Abraham (known widely as “Hertzberg’s Shul”), who also happens to hold a Ph.D. in Jewish history and is attracting large audiences to his current 12-part lecture series — most of whom find his talks entertaining, interesting and informative. That’s one reason why the program is underwritten by the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, and co-sponsored by a number of local businesses and individuals…. – Baltimore Jewish Times,

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • Noted historian to examine ‘grand strategy’: “The Nuts and Bolts of Grand Strategy” is the title of a lecture by Yale University historian Paul Kennedy set for 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, in 16 Robertson Hall. – Princeton, 2-15-10
  • Civil War Web site gears up State promoting events for war’s 150th anniversary: With just one year to go until the Civil War’s 150th anniversary, history lovers across Tennessee have taken their battle for the past to a new front – cyberspace. The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and the state Department of Tourist Development launched a new Web site this month to help promote events planned statewide for the war’s anniversary, which will stretch from 2011-2015. The Web site – http://www.tncivilwar150.com – remains a work in progress but has already drawn praise from East Tennessee historians and preservationists…. – Knox News, 2-8-10

ON TV:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • Jordan Goodman: The Devil and Mr. Casement: One Man’s Battle for Human Rights in South America’s Heart of Darkness, (Hardcover) February 16, 2010
  • Ken Gormley: The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr (Hardcover), February 16, 2010
  • Jeffrey Race: War Comes to Long An: Revolutionary Conflict in a Vietnamese Province (Updated), (Paperback) February 16, 2010
  • Patrick Tyler: World of Trouble: The White House and the Middle East–from the Cold War to the War on Terror, (Paperback) February 16, 2010
  • Susan Wise Bauer: The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade, (Hardcover) February 22, 2010
  • Richard J. Evans: The Third Reich at War (Paperback) February 23, 2010
  • Cliff Sloan: The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall, and the Battle for the Supreme Court, (Paperback) March 2, 2010
  • Hugh Ambrose: The Pacific, (Hardcover) March 2, 2010
  • Jonathan Phillips: Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades, (Hardcover) March 9, 2010
  • Thomas Asbridge: The Crusades, (Hardcover) March 9, 2010
  • Bryan D. Palmer: James P. Cannon and the Origins of the American Revolutionary Left, 1890-1928 (1st Edition), (Paperback) March 1, 2010
  • C. Brian Kelly: Best Little Stories from the Civil War, (Paperback) March 1, 2010
  • Nicholas Schou: Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World, (Hardcover) March 16, 2010
  • Timothy M. Gay: Satch, Dizzy, and Rapid Robert: The Wild Saga of Interracial Baseball Before Jackie Robinson, (Hardcover) March 16, 2010
  • Miranda Carter: George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I, (Hardcover) March 23, 2010
  • John W. Steinberg: All the Tsar’s Men: Russia’s General Staff and the Fate of the Empire, 1898-1914, (Hardcover) April 1, 2010
  • Simon Dixon: Catherine the Great, (Paperback) April 6, 2010
  • J. Todd Moye: Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, (Hardcover) April 12, 2010
  • Seth G. Jones: In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan (Paperback) April 12, 2010
  • Nick Bunker: Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History, (Hardcover) April 13, 2010
  • Dominic Lieven: Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace, (Hardcover), April 15, 2010
  • Timothy J. Henderson: The Mexican Wars for Independence, (Paperback) April 13, 2010
  • Hampton Sides: Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin, (Hardcover) April 27, 2010
  • Max Hastings: Winston’s War: Churchill, 1940-1945, (Hardcover) April 27, 2010
  • Bradley Gottfried: The Maps of Gettysburg: An Atlas of the Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 – July 13, 1863, (Hardcover) April 19, 2010
  • Kelly Hart: The Mistresses of Henry VIII, (Paperback) May 1, 2010
  • Mark Puls: Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution, (Paperback) May 11, 2010

DEPARTED:

  • Hawaii author and historian Bob Dye dead at 81: Honolulu author, historian and journalist Bob Dye died Friday following a long illness. He was 81. Dye wrote “Merchant Prince of the Sandalwood Mountains: Afong and the Chinese in Hawai’i,” about the first Chinese millionaire in Hawai’i, and he was the editor of “Hawai’i Chronicles II and III.”…. – Honolulu Advertiser, 2-6-10
  • Hans L. Trefousse, Historian and Author, Dies at 88: Sometimes the least prepossessing American presidents are the most enduringly interesting. That is certainly the case for Andrew Johnson. His impeachment trial of 1868 was in the news again in the late 1990s, during the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton…. – NYT, 2-4-10
  • Daniel Randall Beirne: Army officer who went on to become a history and sociology professor and expert on Baltimore history: Daniel Randall Beirne, a West Pointer and retired Army officer who later had a second career as a University of Baltimore professor of sociology and history and was considered an authority on Baltimore history, died Wednesday of heart failure at his East Lake Avenue home. He was 85…. – Baltimore Sun, 2-6-10

February 15, 2010: Michelle Obama Launches Let’s Move Campaign,

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President Signs a Memorandum Taking on Childhood Obesity

President Barack Obama signs a memorandum on childhood obesity in the Oval Office. From left are, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar February 9, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Partisan tensions continue to escalate: Poll shows that 93% of Americans thinks there is too much fighting between the parties, but a memo by Democrats seeking to increase political heat on GOP isn’t in line with president’s pleas…. – LAT, 2-15-10
  • Poll finds most Americans are unhappy with government: Two-thirds of Americans are “dissatisfied” or downright “angry” about the way the federal government is working, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. On average, the public estimates that 53 cents of every tax dollar they send to Washington is “wasted.” – WaPo, 2-10-10
  • Poll finds most Americans are unhappy with government: Although Palin is a tea party favorite, her potential as a presidential hopeful takes a severe hit in the survey. Fifty-five percent of Americans have unfavorable views of her, while the percentage holding favorable views has dipped to 37, a new low in Post-ABC polling.
    There is a growing sense that the former Alaska governor is not qualified to serve as president, with more than seven in 10 Americans now saying she is unqualified, up from 60 percent in a November survey. Even among Republicans, a majority now say Palin lacks the qualifications necessary for the White House.
    Palin has lost ground among conservative Republicans, who would be crucial to her hopes if she seeks the party’s presidential nomination in 2012. Forty-five percent of conservatives now consider her as qualified for the presidency, down sharply from 66 percent who said so last fall… – WaPo, 2-10-10
  • Voters Divided Over Obama vs. Republican Candidate in 2012 Republicans most often mention Romney, Palin as preferred candidate: These results are based on a Feb. 1-3 Gallup poll. Forty-four percent of U.S. registered voters say they are more likely to vote for Obama, 42% for the Republican candidate, and the remaining 14% are undecided or would vote for another candidate…. – Gallop, 2-11-10
  • Obama’s rating plunges underwater for first time in new poll as just 44% give him their approval: Just 44% of the country approve of the work Obama is doing, while 47% don’t like what they see.
    The tough reviews come as Americans still find the commander in chief likable, with 50% rating him favorably, and 44% viewing him negatively…. – NY Daily News, 2-8-10

THE HEADLINES….

The First Lady Announces "Let's Move"

  • Senate Woes Flag Wider Disease: On this much, just about everybody agrees: The U.S. Senate isn’t well….
    The common explanation for why the Senate doesn’t work better is that 60 has become the new 50. That is, it takes 60 votes, rather than a simple majority of 50 plus one, to break the nonstop debate of a filibuster and move to a vote on a bill. And it’s now become virtually routine for the Senate’s minority party—the Republicans today—to stop any meaningful legislation by threatening a filibuster…. – WSJ, 2-15-10
  • Joe The Plumber McCain and Tea Party Movement: Republican Sen. John McCain gets thrown under the bus by Joe The Plumber. Sam Wurzelbacher joins conservative Tea Party movement. Barack Obama on business taxes…. – News OXY, 2-16-10
  • Palin plays politician around Daytona 500: Sarah Palin took a break from the snow and played politician on stock car racing’s biggest stage. Pretty important place on the political landscape, too. The former vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor sped around Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, shaking hands and taking photos with drivers and fans alike before what she called the “all-Americana event.” Palin said she was “having fun and not thinking about the politics of this,” but didn’t miss the chance to energize her base in one of the most critical regions of the largest swing state. “This is awesome,” she said. “It’s all-Americana event. Good, patriotic, wonderful event that’s bringing a whole lot of people together. I think this is good for our country.”… – AP, 2-14-10
  • Cheney criticizes Obama on national security policy, and Biden fires back: Vice President Biden and his predecessor, Richard B. Cheney, engaged in a virtual debate Sunday that highlighted how little progress has been made over the past year — and across consecutive administrations — in resolving the central national security questions raised by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and their aftermath…. – WaPo, 2-14-10
  • Republican strategy: Filibuster everything, win in November: The Senate voted 60-39 Saturday to clear the way for consideration of historic legislation to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system, but reluctant Democratic moderates sent strong signals that the bill has an uncertain future. Senate Republicans are using the filibuster to limit and often derail Democrats’ initiatives, paralyzing the Senate and making it nearly impossible to accomplish even the most routine matters. The filibuster strategy “makes the Senate dysfunctional,” said Mark Strand, the president of the Congressional Institute, a nonpartisan research group. That, in turn, blocks the Obama administration’s agenda, but it also sours public opinion on Washington, with polls showing clear public disdain for Congress in particular. Republicans think voters will reward them for that in November. However disruptive it is to governance, their extensive use of the filibuster – extended debate to block a decisive vote – could prove to be a valuable campaign asset this fall. Democrats used similar tactics in 2006 and won enough seats to gain a Senate majority. Now Republicans hope it’s their turn. McClatchy Newspapers, 2-14-10
  • Failure of health care overhaul will add more woes: What could be worse than health care overhaul? No health care overhaul. It’s anybody’s guess whether President Barack Obama’s health remake will survive in Congress. But there’s no doubting the consequences if lawmakers fail to address the problems of costs, coverage and quality: surging insurance premiums, more working families without coverage, bigger out-of-pocket bills, a Medicare prescription gap that grows wider and deeper, and government programs that pay when people get sick but do little to keep them healthy…. – AP, 2-13-10
  • Obama names U.S. envoy to Islamic Conference: President Obama announced Saturday the appointment of Rashad Hussain, a White House lawyer, to be his special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference…. – WaPo, 2-14-10
  • Cheney keeps firing, and critics fire back: Former Vice President Cheney will appear on ABC’s “This Week” today, and it’s a safe bet what he will say: President Barack Obama projects weakness to terrorists and puts American lives at risk. It’s the kind of brutal charge — nuance-free and politically explosive — that has become a Cheney specialty since he left office 13 months ago. Cheney’s broadsides on Afghanistan policy, detention and surveillance policies and Obama’s general philosophy about the U.S. role in a dangerous world inevitably dominate the news. No other figure in Republican politics has equal ability to drive debate on national security, rally Obama critics and force the administration to respond. Vice President Joe Biden will be countering Cheney today on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS’s “Face the Nation.”… – Politico, 2-13-10
  • Michelle Obama “Let’s Move” Campaign and Childhood Obesity Rates: Michelle Obama “Let’s Move” campaign and childhood obesity rates. First Lady Michelle Obama is pushing the “Let’s move” campaign in order to fight childhood obesity. For the first time since in history, the life expectancy of our children could be less than our own life expectancies…. – CNM News Network, 2-14-10
  • McCain: Palin reading from hand no different than using teleprompter: Senator John McCain on Friday defended Sarah Palin’s use of her hand to help her remember some key points at last week’s Tea Party convention…. – CS Monitor, 2-12-10
  • Senate Confirms 2 Dozen Obama Nominees: Before leaving for the Presidents’ Day break, the Senate on Thursday night confirmed — by unanimous consent — more than two dozen of President Obama’s nominees to federal positions. Mr. Obama and Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, had warned this week that the president might use the weeklong holiday break to make recess appointments, a threat underscoring his frustration with months of delays in confirming some key nominees…. – NYT, 2-11-10
  • White House Sends out Invites for Health Summit White House announces format, guests for bipartisan health care summit: In a make or break move, President Barack Obama on Friday challenged three dozen Republicans and Democrats to participate in a one-of-a-kind televised summit this month to thrash out a deal on health care. House Republicans immediately greeted the invite to the Feb. 25 event with derision, casting doubt on whether it would yield any bipartisan agreement to extend coverage to millions of Americans and rein in medical costs. “We need answers before we know if the White House is more interested in partisan theater than in facilitating a productive dialogue about solutions,” said Kevin Smith, a spokesman for House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio…. – AP, 2-12-10
  • Deal on Jobs Shows Limits of Push for Bipartisanship: Key Democrats and Republicans in the Senate reached a rare bipartisan agreement on Thursday on steps to spur job creation. But Democratic leaders said they would move ahead on only some elements as the two parties maneuvered to address both the struggling economy and voter unrest over gridlock in Washington. Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and majority leader, said he would take four core job-creating initiatives from the bipartisan proposal — including tax breaks for businesses that hire unemployed workers and increased public works spending — and seek to move those rapidly through the Senate…. – NYT, 2-11-10
  • Bill Clinton gets stents in artery after having chest discomfort: The former president undergoes the relatively common procedure at a hospital in Manhattan. He had quadruple bypass surgery in 2004…. – LAT, 2-11-10
  • Obama Report: 95, 000 Jobs to Come Each Month: The United States is likely to average 95,000 more jobs each month this year, while personal savings will remain high as credit remains tight, according to a White House report released Thursday. “I can report that over the past year, this work has begun. In the coming year, this work continues,” Obama said in a letter he sent to the Capitol attached to his economic update to lawmakers. “But to understand where we must go in the next year and beyond, it is important to remember where we began one year ago.” Casting its first year as positive, the administration’s 462-page report served as a summary of its logic and a pitch for Obama’s future agenda…. – AP, 2-11-10
  • Charlie Wilson, Texas Congressman Linked to Foreign Intrigue, Dies at 76: Charlie Wilson, a 12-term Texas congressman who was best known for his playboy ways until he masterminded a covert effort to funnel billions of dollars in arms to Afghan rebels fighting the Soviets in the 1980s, died Wednesday in Lufkin, Tex. He was 76…. – NYT, 2-11-10
  • On Health Bill, G.O.P.’s Road Is a New Map: When Republicans take President Obama up on his invitation to hash out their differences over health care this month, they will carry with them a fairly well-developed set of ideas intended to make health insurance more widely available and affordable, by emphasizing tax incentives and state innovations, with no new federal mandates and only a modest expansion of the federal safety net…. – NYT, 2-8-10
  • To Ace This Interview, Palin Keeps Notes Close: Ask conservatives why they love Sarah Palin so and they will often say it is because she is so “authentic.” Photographs posted to blogs after Ms. Palin’s speech to the National Tea Party Convention on Saturday night captured several words scribbled seventh-grade style on her left palm: “energy,” “tax cuts” (with “budget” crossed out in front of cuts) and “lift American spirits.”… – NYT, 2-8-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Bayh exits Senate against backdrop of angry voters: The stunning announcement by centrist Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh that he’s retiring from a Congress he no longer loves adds yet another name to a list of lawmakers fleeing a town they say has become acidly partisan. And it gives Republicans a chance to pick up a seat. The decision by the Indiana Democrat, who was in strong position to win a third term in November in his GOP-leaning state, also compounds the problems facing Senate Democrats this fall as they cling to their majority in the chamber, where they now hold 59 of the 100 votes…. – AP, 2-15-10
  • Under campaign pressure, McCain makes U turns: Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain has undergone a transformation on significant issues since the failure of his presidential campaign, particularly since he has faced a challenge from a conservative rival in his Senate re-election campaign. A look at some of his changes in policy positions…GAYS IN THE MILITARY, CLIMATE CHANGE, FINANCING CAMPAIGNS, IMMIGRATION, CURBING THE NATIONAL DEBT – AP, 2-13-10
  • Sen. McCain faces toughest re-election challenge: Defeated just two years ago as the Republican presidential candidate and with his bonafides as a true conservative again being challenged, John McCain finds himself in a struggle to get even his party’s nomination for another term in the Senate. Many conservatives and Tea Party activists are lining up behind Republican challenger and former talk radio host J.D. Hayworth, reflecting a rising tide of voter frustration with incumbent politicians. Only 40 percent of Arizonans have a favorable view of McCain’s job performance. Faced with his toughest re-election battle ever, McCain has moved to the right on several hot-button issues, like gays in the military and climate change, and has built a campaign war chest of more than $5 million. Former running mate Sarah Palin and newly elected Republican Sen. Scott Brown, both popular with conservatives, are pitching in…. – AP, 2-13-10
  • Kennedy: ‘I will not be a candidate for reelection’: Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, the last member of his famous family still serving in elective office, has decided not to seek a ninth term in Congress. “I will not be a candidate for reelection this year,” the 42-year-old Kennedy says in an emotion-laden advertisement released by his office Thursday that will air Sunday night. Facing the camera in a blue suit and striped tie, the Rhode Island Democrat mentions his years of service and the death of his father, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, last summer. “We all know how difficult the last few years have been,” Kennedy begins. “Rhode Island families have struggled,” he adds, citing the bad economy and mortgage foreclosures. Then Kennedy says of his father, the longtime Democratic senator from Massachusetts: “Illness took the life of my most cherished mentor and confidant, my ultimate source of spirit and strength.” – Providence Jourbnal, 2-11-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President delivers the Weekly Address

  • Liz Cheney: Biden, Obama Administration Ignoring Al Qaeda Pursuit of WMD: Liz Cheney, Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter and a former Bush administration official, on Monday accused Vice President Biden of downplaying the threat from Al Qaeda and suggested the Obama administration isn’t doing everything in its power to stop terror….
    “There’s very strong concern that still remains that Al Qaeda is working very hard to try to obtain weapons of mass destruction and Al Qaeda armed with any nuclear or biological weapon is clearly one of the gravest threats we face,” Liz Cheney said.
    “The notion that this White House and this administration is minimizing that possibility makes you very concerned, I think has to make us very concerned about whether or not they are doing everything in their power to prevent it,” she added…. – FOX News, 2-15-10
  • Biden bickers with Cheney across TV airwaves: Vice President Biden said his predecessor, Dick Cheney, is either “misinformed or … misinforming” as the two sparred on separate Sunday news shows about Cheney’s continued criticism of the Obama administration’s handling of terror threats.
    Biden said that Cheney is off base criticizing Obama on fighting terrorists and noted that the administration has killed 12 of the 20 most wanted al-Qaeda operatives — and has “taken out 100 of their associates.”
    Cheney said he is a “supporter” of Obama’s policy in the Afghanistan war, including last year’s decision to deploy 30,000 more U.S. troops. But he said the administration has failed to take a wartime posture toward terror suspects.
    Cheney criticized Obama’s treatment of the Christmas Day airline bombing suspect as “an isolated extremist,” when it now is clear that he was trained by al-Qaeda. He said the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, should be tried by a military tribunal as an enemy combatant, instead of in federal court. He also criticized Obama’s order to outlaw “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including waterboarding, and said they should be “on the table” for Abdulmutallab… – USA Today, 2-14-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Praises Restoration of Pay-As-You-Go Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address February 13, 2010: But this isn’t a perfect world. This is Washington. And while in theory there is bipartisan agreement on moving on balanced budgets, in practice, this responsibility for the future is often overwhelmed by the politics of the moment. It falls prey to the pressure of special interests, to the pull of local concerns, and to a reality familiar to every single American – the fact that it is a lot easier to spend a dollar than save one.
    That is why this rule is necessary. And that is why I am pleased that Congress fulfilled my request to restore it. Last night, I signed the “pay as you go” rule into law. Now, Congress will have to pay for what it spends, just like everybody else.
    But that’s not all we must do. Even as we make critical investments to create jobs today and lay a foundation for growth tomorrow – by cutting taxes for small businesses, investing in education, promoting clean energy, and modernizing our roads and railways – we have to continue to go through the budget line by line, looking for ways to save. We have to cut where we can, to afford what we need… – WH, 2-13-10
  • President Obama’s Message to Team USA: I want to congratulate all the athletes here today for making the 2010 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams – you are truly the best of the best. All of us are incredibly proud of everything you’ve accomplished to get here, and we can’t wait to see what you’ll accomplish in Vancouver.
    The Olympics represent one of the greatest traditions in sports – a place where legends are born and history is made. And over the next two and a half weeks, each of you will have the experience of a lifetime – the culmination of years of hard work and endless sacrifice; dogged perseverance and unyielding determination.
    As Olympic and Paralympic athletes, you’ll be representing your coaches, family and friends who gave so much to help you get to where you are. You’ll be representing the hopes and dreams of millions of Americans watching at home and around the globe. And you’ll be serving as ambassadors for your country, both on and off the playing field – presenting the very best of America to the world.
    So congratulations again on making the team, and best of luck in Vancouver. Michelle, Malia, Sasha, Bo and I can’t wait to follow your journeys from here in Washington. I know you’ll all make America enormously proud. Thank you. WH, 2-12-10
  • Biden: Major terror attack on U.S. unlikely: “The idea of there being a massive attack in the United States like 9/11 is unlikely, in my opinion,” Biden said in an interview on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”
    Instead, groups such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula “have decided to move in the direction of much more small-bore but devastatingly frightening attacks,” such as the failed bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day. “I think there are going to be attempts,” Biden said, but he praised the successes of the U.S. security and intelligence apparatus in dealing with the threats. On other issues, Biden said he expected Congress to pass a jobs bill to stimulate employment growth, though it “will be probably less than is needed initially, but it will be very helpful.” “I think you’re going to see net creation of jobs every month” starting in the spring, Biden said, acknowledging the growth would begin slowly. – CNN, 2-11-10
  • Making Moves for a Healthier Generation: “It’s done, honey,” President Obama said to The First Lady earlier today as he signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing a task force on childhood obesity to address the growing health epidemic. “Now we work,” she responded.
    I am so proud of the work that the First Lady, along with the Cabinet Secretaries behind me, has done in trying to tackle one of the most urgent health issues that we face in this country, and that is the increase of childhood obesity. And because of the outstanding planning that they’ve done, they are going to be rolling out a terrific plan of action that involves the private sector as well as government agencies coordinating much more effectively a lot of public information out there to help parents make good decisions about allowing their children to be active and eating healthier….
    “These words – ‘overweight’ and ‘obese’ – they don’t tell the full story. This isn’t just about inches and pounds or how our kids look. It’s about how our kids feel, and how they feel about themselves. It’s about the impact we’re seeing on every aspect of their lives.” – WH, 2-9-10Let’s Move campaign

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

The President holds a bipartisan meeting on the economy

  • E.J. Dionne Jr.: What Bill Clinton could teach President Obama: When word went out that Bill Clinton had been rushed to the hospital, the prospect that he was in danger made me wish that President Obama had spent more time learning lessons that only Clinton can teach… – WaPo, 2-14-10
  • Obama as professor-in-chief: The history of “professor” as a term of derision: Thomas L. Haskell, a professor emeritus of history at Rice University, agrees that racial bias may be implicit in the attack on Obama’s professorial past. “For me and a lot of other academic types, we identify with Obama precisely because he is an intellectual,” Haskell says. “But what does that mean to John Q. Public? I don’t know. John Q. Public may be frightened of these people, especially because this particular intellectual is a black.” – Inside Higher Ed (2-10-10)
  • Obama as professor-in-chief: The history of “professor” as a term of derision: Attacks on the professoriate or intellectuals in general, however, are certainly not limited to African Americans. The late Richard Hofstadter, a historian at Columbia University, explored such attacks in his 1963 book, Anti- Intellectualism in American Life. David S. Brown, author of Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual Biography (University of Chicago Press, 2006), says Hofstadter would probably see shades of Barry Goldwater’s brand of conservatism among the Tea Party activists.
    It’s no surprise that the anti-intellectualism that Hofstadter wrote about has resonance among some Americans today, says Brown, a historian at Elizabethtown College. Higher education programs are increasingly moving toward the pre- professional variety, and students and parents are inclined to press colleges about how their programs will lead to jobs — not to intellectual growth, Brown says. In that context, the stereotypical liberal arts professor is ever more marginalized.
    “A traditional humanities professor is going to be engaged in criticism and speculative ideas, and will probably have more questions than answers,” says Brown. “But we’re a culture that wants answers.” – Inside Higher Ed (2-10-10)
  • Julian Zelizer: One year in, Obama must define himself: In his first year in the White House, President Obama has proved to be an elusive figure. This is ironic given that his campaign to win the Democratic primary in 2007 and 2008 had been premised on the idea that voters preferred a candidate who stood for something.
    For one thing, he distinguished himself from Sen. Hillary Clinton by highlighting the fact that he had been against the Iraq War from the start and never wavered in his position.
    Yet in 2010, many Democrats, as well as Republicans, are unsure of who President Obama is and what exactly he stands for….
    The president is still early in his presidency. He has time to correct his problems and to emerge stronger during year two. But time is slipping away. Many members of the administration must feel like athletes on the court, looking up at the game clock as the minutes fade away.
    The president must do better at explaining just what his presidency is about. This does not mean abandoning a strategy of negotiation and compromise and ideological flexibility, but it does mean better defining the person who will be at the negotiating table. Otherwise, everyone else in the room will do that job themselves…. – CNN, 2-9-10

Vice President Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, and Valerie JarrettWave During Olympics Opening Ceremonies

Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, Valerie Jarrett, and U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson wave to the U.S. Olympic team as they enter the arena for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada February 12, 2010. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

February 8, 2010: Sarah Palin at the Tea Party Convention

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

Sarah Palin

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin derided President Obama, saying, “How’s that hopey, changey stuff working out for you?” (Ed Reinke / Associated Press / February 6, 2010)

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Factbox: Democrats face battle for Senate majority: Republican Scott Brown’s formal arrival in the U.S. Senate on Thursday robbed Democrats of their crucial 60-vote supermajority and set the stage for a bitter November election fight for control of the 100-member chamber…. – Reuters, 2-4-10

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Speaks to Republicans

  • Sarah Palin won’t rule out 2012 run: In a ‘Fox News Sunday’ interview, the former Alaska governor says she’d consider running for president if it’s ‘the right thing to do for our country and for the Palin family.’ Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Palin was asked about a recent poll that showed her topping a field of potential Republican candidates by 5 percentage points. She told interviewer Chris Wallace that she would run for the 2012 GOP nomination “if I believed that that is the right thing to do for our country and for the Palin family.” “I think that it would be absurd to not consider what it is that I can potentially do to help our country,” she added…. – LAT, 2-7-10
  • Tea Party Plots Its Next Move Election Wins May Be Next Goal; Palin Deepens Ties, Ponders White House Run: Tea Party activists gathered in Tennessee this weekend grappled with a central question looming over the burgeoning political movement: Where does it go from here? Organizers here seek to shift the focus from staging political rallies to winning elections. “The Tea Party movement is growing up,” said Judson Phillips, a Nashville-based criminal-defense lawyer who organized the National Tea Party Convention. “If 2010 is another year of rallies, we’ve lost.”… – WSJ, 2-8-10
  • Obama invites Republicans to summit on health care: President Obama moved to jump-start the stalled health-care debate Sunday, inviting Republicans in Congress to participate in a bipartisan, half-day televised summit on the subject this month. The president made the offer in an interview with CBS News anchor Katie Couric hours before the network televised the Super Bowl. Obama challenged Republicans, who have been largely unified in opposing his proposals, to bring their best ideas for how to cover more Americans and fix the health insurance system to the public discussion. “I want to consult closely with our Republican colleagues,” Obama said. “What I want to do is to ask them to put their ideas on the table. . . . I want to come back and have a large meeting, Republicans and Democrats, to go through, systematically, all the best ideas that are out there and move it forward.” The invitation to meet together on Feb. 25 — and to do so live in front of the American public — represents an effort by Obama to hit the reset button on the top domestic priority of his first year in office. It also reflects a recognition that he must have at least some Republican support if he hopes to see health-care reform pass…. – WaPo, 2-7-10
  • Obama Challenges Terrorism Critics: The White House pushed back Sunday against Republican criticism of its approach to terrorism, calling it “not anchored in reality” as a national security debate that was largely muted in recent years roared back to center stage with an angry intensity.
    “The most important thing for the public to understand is we’re not handling any of these cases any different than the Bush administration handled them all through 9/11,” Mr. Obama told CBS News on Sunday. “They prosecuted 190 folks in these Article Three courts,” he added, referring to civilian courts. “Got convictions. And those folks are in maximum security prisons right now. And there have been no escapes.” – NYT, 2-7-10
  • Sarah Palin to Tea Party Convention: ‘This is about the people’: The former Alaska governor calls on the grass-roots movement to remain decentralized, saying it’s ‘bigger than any king or queen of the tea party.’ Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin derided President Obama, saying, “How’s that hopey, changey stuff working out for you?” – LAT, 2-7-10
  • Palin Assails Obama at Tea Party Meeting: Sarah Palin at the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville. Ms. Palin, while aligning herself firmly with the Tea Party, nevertheless urged the 1,100 delegates who had gathered in a hotel ballroom not to let the movement be defined by any one leader…. – NYT, 2-6-10
  • Tea Party Activists Ponder How to Win Elections: Tea Party activists gathered in Tennessee this weekend grappled with a central question looming over the burgeoning political movement: Where does it go from here? The early consensus suggests the those most associated with Tea-Party activism might change their focus from staging political rallies like the one held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. last September, to attempting to win elections. “The Tea Party movement is growing up,” said Judson Phillips, a Nashville-based criminal defense lawyer who organized the National Tea Party Convention. “If 2010 is another year of rallies, we’ve lost.”… – WSJ, 2-6-10
  • PERILS FOR THE PRESS Storm makes believers out of the media, and President Obama: A five-minute drive back to the White House from the Capital Hilton was a bit eventful for some of the media folks who accompanied President Obama to a speech before the Democratic National Committee… – WaPo, 2-6-10
  • Obama rallies Democrats to press forward against political headwinds: President Obama told those gathered at the Democratic National Committee’s winter meeting Saturday that party advocates should not simply “regroup, lick our wounds and try to hang on” during a challenging political season, but should press forward to deliver results on health-care and job-creation measures…. – Seattle Times, NYT, 2-6-10
  • Obama suggests extending debate as way to pass health reform: Speaking to members of the Democratic National Committee on Thursday night, Obama vowed to continue his year-long quest to overhaul the nation’s health-care system, to curb rising costs and extend coverage to millions of families and individuals who don’t have it. But he suggested a different way forward than the partisan, closed-door dealmaking underway between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.). “What I’d like to do is have a meeting whereby I’m sitting with the Republicans, sitting with the Democrats, sitting with health-care experts, and let’s just go through these bills — their ideas, our ideas — let’s walk through them in a methodical way so that the American people can see and compare what makes the most sense,” Obama told DNC members… – WaPo, 2-6-10
  • Tea party groups aim to form PAC: Organizers of the National Tea Party Convention said yesterday that participants would form a political action committee aimed at electing up to 20 candidates this fall who adhere to conservative principles embraced by the grass-roots movement. The PAC, Ensuring Liberty Corp., will give money and resources to candidates who advocate fiscal responsibility, less government, lower taxes, states’ rights, and strong national security, convention spokesman Mark Skoda said…. – Boston Globe, 2-6-10
  • E-mails detail Todd Palin’s role in Alaska decision-making: During the 2 1/2 years that his wife, Sarah, was governor of Alaska and then a vice presidential candidate, Todd Palin inserted himself into a host of state decisions, including judicial nominations and gas pipeline bids, according to e-mails released Friday. Before Sarah Palin resigned her office in July, the “First Dude,” as Todd Palin became known, weighed in on appointments to state boards, labor disputes and the use of government aircraft, according to the documents, which were obtained by MSNBC.com under Alaska’s public records law…. – WaPo, 2-5-10
  • Sarah Palin, Vocal and Ready … but for What?: Without leaving home, Sarah Palin will be able to reach much of her political base, courtesy of a soon-to-be-built television studio in her living room paid for by her newest media patron, Fox News. From her house in Wasilla, Alaska, Ms. Palin also sends missives to 1.3 million Facebook “fans,” writes newspaper columns, Tweets and signs copies of her book for donors. She reads daily e-mail briefings on domestic and foreign policy from a small group of advisers who remained loyal after her tumultuous vice presidential campaign in 2008. And though she has fashioned an image as an antiestablishment conservative, she also speaks regularly to a bipartisan nobility of Washington insiders who have helped enrich her financially and position her on the national political stage. Ms. Palin is becoming increasingly vocal and visible, with a series of events scheduled this weekend: delivering a paid speech to the Salina, Kan., Chamber of Commerce on Friday night, headlining a national Tea Party convention in Nashville on Saturday and appearing on behalf of the re-election campaign of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas in Houston on Sunday…. – NYT, 2-5-10
  • A Kennedy jab greets new senator Embattled R.I. Democrat says Brown is in lockstep with GOP: US Representative Patrick Kennedy – who faces a Republican challenger and slipping popularity, according to a new poll – threw the Kennedys’ first stone at newly elected US Senator Scott Brown, calling his candidacy “a joke.’’ The Rhode Island Democrat was the first of the Kennedy family to openly criticize the newly sworn in Brown, who succeeded the congressman’s father, US Senator Edward M. Kennedy. The younger Kennedy slammed Brown for pressing to be sworn in early, a move that Democrats believe was timed so that Brown could vote against President Obama’s nominee to the National Labor Relations Board. Boston Globe, 2-6-10
  • G.O.P. Senator Is Sworn In, and Democrats Regroup: President Obama and Congressional Democratic leaders sought to reset their agenda as they lost their 60th vote in the Senate on Thursday, trying to push ahead with measures to spur more job creation even as they grasped for ideas to keep alive their health care legislation. On the day Scott Brown of Massachusetts was sworn in as the 41st Republican senator, Democrats offered only the bare outlines of their approach to jobs legislation and met at the White House to hash out a strategy for their agenda…. – NYT, 2-4-10
  • Brown Is Sworn In as the 41st Republican: Scott Brown took his place in the Senate this evening, ending the 60-vote Democratic supermajority and placing a Republican in the seat that Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts – that most Democrat of Democrats – held for nearly half a century. The swearing-in of Mr. Brown held extra symbolism since his arrival brought to a close the Democratic ability to shut down Republican filibusters from solely within their own ranks as long as two independents voted with them. The Democratic majority shifted only by one, to 59-41, but it was a seismic shift nonetheless… – NYT, 2-4-10
  • New senator Scott Brown sure gets down to Republican business: Republican Scott Brown took over the seat of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy on Thursday, vowing to be an independent voice in a bitterly divided Senate.
    Brown, the surprise victor in last month’s special election, had raised no objection to taking his oath of office on Feb. 11. But then conservative commentators complained that he was dilly-dallying; the Boston Herald’s Howie Carr accused him on Wednesday of taking “a three-week victory lap.” So, in one of his first major decisions since winning election, the Republican made his choice: He would cave in to his conservative critics. He requested — no, demanded! — that he be seated promptly — no, immediately! — so that he could start to do the important work of being a senator. Democratic Senate leaders complied with his demand (they even let him have Ted Kennedy’s primo office suite), and Vice President Biden made time to swear in Brown on the Senate floor at 5 p.m. Thursday…. – Washington Post, 2-4-10
  • With Scott Brown sworn into Senate, parties shift strategies: Massachusetts’ Scott Brown was sworn into his Senate seat Thursday, giving Republicans the 41 votes needed to filibuster legislation… – CS Monitor, 2-4-10
  • Obama: ‘Take our time’ on finalizing health care: President Barack Obama says “we should take our time” getting to a final health care bill. He said Thursday he wants to go through the legislation in detail with Republicans to examine their ideas and Democratic ideas to see whether there are better ways to improve the nation’s health care system than have already been proposed…. – AP, 2-4-10
  • National Prayer Breakfast Draws Controversy: For more than 50 years, the National Prayer Breakfast has served as a prime networking event in Washington, bringing together the president, members of Congress, foreign diplomats and thousands of religious, business and military leaders for scrambled eggs and supplication…. The objections are focused on the sponsor of the breakfast, a secretive evangelical Christian network called The Fellowship, also known as The Family, and accusations that it has ties to legislation in Uganda that calls for the imprisonment and execution of homosexuals…. – NYT, 2-4-10
  • Orrin Hatch is red-faced at prayer breakfast: It was supposed to be a solemn moment. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden watched Thursday as Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was about to offer the prayer at the National Prayer Breakfast. Then it happened. Hatch’s cell phone rang just as he stepped up to the microphone. The audience, including the president and vice president, burst into laughter…. – Deseret News, 2-4-10
  • Records show that cabins on Sarah Palin’s Alaska properties weren’t noted in tax assessments: Records show that Sarah Palin hasn’t paid any property taxes on cabins that have been built on two backcountry plots partially owned by the former Alaska governor…. – LAT, 2-4-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Specter wins Pa. party backing: Democrats endorsed him over Sestak for Senate. For governor, Wagner led but fell short of endorsement…. – Philadelphia Inquirer, 2-7-10
  • Illinois Democrat Quits Race: The Democratic nominee for Illinois lieutenant governor has dropped out of the race amid a political uproar about his past less than a week after he won the nomination. The nominee, Scott Lee Cohen, announced his decision Sunday night at a Chicago bar. Mr. Cohen, a pawn broker and owner of a cleaning supplies company, won the nomination Tuesday. Since then, it has become widely known that he was accused of abusing his former wife and holding a knife to the throat of a girlfriend…. – NYT, 2-7-10
  • Illinois Democrats no cure for what ails Obama: Still reeling from the loss of the late Edward Kennedy’s Senate seat to Republicans in Massachusetts, Barack Obama’s Democrats now face the prospect of losing the president’s old Senate seat in Illinois. The Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias is trailing Republican Mark Kirk in opinion polls ahead of November’s election in which Republicans are aiming to erase Democratic majorities in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Giannoulias’s struggles come at a time when Illinois Democrats appear to be in disarray. Scott Cohen, a pawnbroker-turned-politician who won the Democratic nomination to run for lieutenant governor, is fending off accusations that he brutalized women…. – Reuters, 2-5-10
  • McCain war chest: $5 million and growing: Bracing for what could be his toughest re-election challenge in nearly 20 years, Sen. John McCain entered 2010 with more than $5 million in his campaign war chest…. – The Arizona Republic, 2-5-10
  • McCain Feeling Primary Heat From His Right Flank: Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republicans’ standard-bearer in 2008, is facing a surprisingly strong primary challenge from the right, evidence that even party leaders aren’t safe from the swell of conservative activism heading into the 2010 midterm elections. Mr. McCain hasn’t faced a serious challenge since joining the U.S. Senate in 1987. But seven months ahead of the primary, he is using tough-guy tactics and calling in conservative chits to fend off J.D. Hayworth, an ex-congressman and radio host. Mr. Hayworth, who lost his House seat in 2006 and who is best known in Arizona for his opposition to illegal immigration, has seized the Tea Party mantel of low taxes and small government…. – WSJ, 2-4-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President delivers the Weekly Address

  • Palin Goes After Obama at Tea Party Convention Sarah Palin goes after the Democratic agenda at the National Tea Party Convention: The Democratic agenda is “running out of time,” former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Saturday at the National Tea Party Convention, claiming that the conservative tea party movement is part of a brewing “revolution” that constitutes the “future of politics.” “This is the future of our country. The tea party movement is the future of politics,” she said. “If Scott Brown is any indication, it’s running out of time,” Palin said of the Democratic agenda. “It’s a ground-up call to action that is forcing both parties to change the way they do business, and that’s beautiful.” “America is ready for another revolution, and you are a part of this,” Palin said. “Treating this like a mere law enforcement matter places our country at great risk,” she said. “To win that war, we need a commander-in-chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern.” “It’s no wonder that our president only spent about 9 percent of his State of the Union address discussing national security, foreign policy, because there aren’t a whole lot of victories he can talk about,” she said. – Fox News, 2-6-10
  • Obama rallies Democrats to press forward against political headwinds: “I know we’ve gone through a tough year,” Obama told party advocates, “but we’ve gone through tougher years.” “It is good to be among friends who are so committed to the future of this party that you braved a blizzard,” Obama said. “Snowmageddon!” “We can’t return to the dereliction of duty that helped deliver this recession,” Obama said. “America can’t afford to wait, and we can’t look backward.” “Just in case there’s any confusion out there, I am not going to walk away from health-care reform,” Obama said, offering no specifics for how he intended to deliver on his pledge. “I’m not going to walk away on this challenge. I’m not going to walk away on any challenge. We’re moving forward.” – Seattle Times, NYT, 2-6-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Calls for New Steps to Support America’s Small Businesses Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address February 6, 2010: Even though our economy is growing again, these are still tough times for America. Too many businesses are still shuttered. Too many families can’t make ends meet. And while yesterday, we learned that the unemployment rate has dropped below ten percent for the first time since summer, it is still unacceptably high – and too many Americans still can’t find work. But what we must remember at a time like this is that we are not helpless in the face of our difficulties. As Americans, we make our own destiny. We forge our own path. And I am confident that if we come together and put aside the politics that keeps holding us back, we can do that again. We can rebuild this economy on a new, stronger foundation that leads to more jobs and greater prosperity. I believe a key part of that foundation is America’s small businesses – the places where most new jobs begin… – WH, 2-6-10
  • Brown’s remarks to the press following his swearing-in: It’s a great honor to stand before you as the new United States Senator from Massachusetts….
    People have asked me why I wanted to get sworn-in so quickly after the results had been certified. It’s because I want to get to work.
    There are a lot of votes pending that I would like to participate in.
    Even more importantly, these are urgent times for our nation. The President this week submitted a $3.8 trillion budget. We’ll have to borrow 40% of that amount because we don’t have the money to pay for all that spending. I’m concerned we’re living beyond our means. Also this week, the CIA director said there will be another al-Qaeda attack in the US in the next 3 to 6 months. This is frightening news, and we owe the people of America everything we can do to deter and prevent future attacks on our nation.
    So I’m glad to be fully able to participate in the affairs our nation at this critical time.
    I also want to extend my appreciation to all of you in the press. I see many familiar faces here and I want you to know how much I respect the work you do, and the patience and many kindnesses you have shown my family… – Boston Globe, 2-4-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Gil Troy: “Obama’s Siren Song of … Sacrifice?”: Calls to work together for the common good during the current crises have been emanating at breakneck pace from the Obama administration. Academics discuss how to get the results of a Roosevelt, and not a Carter.
    Historian Gil Troy of McGill University in Montreal also finds that instructive, noting that gearing people up for a metaphorical war can be an effective way of asking them to sacrifice.
    In recent decades, “We’ve had an unfortunate tradition for decades of presidents soothing us,” he said. “We have sort of an addiction to having our cake and eat it too. Clearly Bush missed the moment after 9/11. That was a time when Americans might have been willing to give something up. The nation was ready to take collective action.
    “Now, Obama has an opportunity to succeed where Bush failed. There’s nothing like a financial meltdown to sober people up! You don’t have an enemy like after 9/11, but you have more pinched circumstances. Obama’s sense prior to the crisis was that Americans were yearning for this sense of community, sense of engagement. Now he may have the conditions that will allow him to achieve that.
    “In Obama’s inaugural address, he said America is a place where people are willing to work fewer hours so their friend won’t lose their job. That was a very explicit call to sacrifice — much more explicit than Kennedy’s ‘Ask not what your country can do for you.’ We haven’t had that kind of specifics since Franklin Roosevelt.”
    Well, we did have Jimmy Carter, whose failed presidency coincides with Obama’s coming of age. Troy is convinced the new president has learned from his peanut-farming predecessor’s missteps.
    “Carter’s mistake was his rhetoric of sacrifice was disconnected from a sense of hope,” he says. “He allowed himself to be tagged as the man of malaise. He was preaching the gospel of limits. What FDR did that Carter missed was preach a gospel of self-sacrifice in the context of ultimate salvation.
    “FDR’s message was we’re rolling up our sleeves and making sacrifices because we’re going to have a better tomorrow. With Jimmy Carter, you got the sense that we were being asked to put on another sweater, but we would still be cold.”
    In contrast, Obama is overtly linking the need to sacrifice with the hope of a better future. If he can continue that balancing act, Troy believes people just may respond. “Americans don’t want to be told we are entering an age of limits,” he said. “We want to be a nation of limitless hope. That’s in the American DNA.” Miller McCune, 2-7-10
  • Will Scott Brown make the ‘party of no’ more obstructionist? Democrats say Republicans use petty tactics to block President Obama’s agenda. But Senate Democrats had a hard time passing legislation even when they had a filibuster-proof majority: Obstruction in the Senate is not new. :Obstruction has been a trend in the last 20 or 30 years,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. But it’s been tougher for Democrats, because of “heightened expectations about what was going to happen after the 2008 elections.” He adds: “The dysfunctions of Congress are amplified because of the contrast with all the excitement of 2008 and the reality we now see.” – CS Monitor, 2-2-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Americans want government reforms: Responding to President Obama’s State of the Union comments about the “deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that “the American people don’t care about process.”
    Yet Americans have indicated that they are quite unhappy with how their government is working. According to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, only 28 percent of those polled believe that the federal government is “working well,” while seven out of 10 believe that the “unhealthy” government is in need of reform. Almost 93 percent said there was too much partisanship; 84 percent said special interests had excessive power.
    We must always take these kinds of poll numbers with a grain of salt. Polls frequently show that Americans do not like how their government works, especially Congress. The U.S. is a country that has always expressed strong distrust of government….
    Although voters tend to be more interested in bread-and-butter issues, as well as questions about war and peace, there are a few exceptional moments when public anger about the political system becomes so intense that we enter into a period of substantive reform. We might be reaching one of those points, but in the end it will require the initiative of the president and congressional leaders to make sure that calls for reform are not just empty rhetoric. – CNN, 2-2-10

February 4, 2010: Scott Brown Sworn In as Massachusetts Senator

SCOTT BROWN SWORN IN:

Scott Brown, standing with his wife, Gail Huff, was sworn in to the Senate by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Stephen Crowley/The New York Times Scott Brown, standing with his wife, Gail Huff, during a reenactment of his swearing-in to the Senate by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. The actual ceremony took place moments earlier on the floor of the Senate where cameras are not allowed.

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Factbox: Democrats face battle for Senate majority: Republican Scott Brown’s formal arrival in the U.S. Senate on Thursday robbed Democrats of their crucial 60-vote supermajority and set the stage for a bitter November election fight for control of the 100-member chamber…. – Reuters, 2-4-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Brown sworn in as US senator from Massachusetts: Republican Scott Brown took over the seat of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy on Thursday, vowing to be an independent voice in a bitterly divided Senate. “I can’t promise I will be right in every vote I make. … I will do the very best job I can,” Brown told reporters. Brown was sworn-in by Vice President Joe Biden at a Capitol Hill ceremony a week earlier than he originally planned, and just in time to plunge into a partisan fight over President Barack Obama’s choice of a union attorney for a top labor job…. – AP, 2-4-10
  • After a dizzying ascent, Scott Brown sworn in as Mass. senator: Scott Philip Brown was sworn in to become the 50th US senator from Massachusetts this afternoon, completing a dizzying several weeks in state and national politics to assume a legendary seat and immediately rejigger the national political climate…. – Boston Globe, 2-4-10
  • G.O.P. Senator Is Sworn In, and Democrats Regroup: President Obama and Congressional Democratic leaders sought to reset their agenda as they lost their 60th vote in the Senate on Thursday, trying to push ahead with measures to spur more job creation even as they grasped for ideas to keep alive their health care legislation. On the day Scott Brown of Massachusetts was sworn in as the 41st Republican senator, Democrats offered only the bare outlines of their approach to jobs legislation and met at the White House to hash out a strategy for their agenda…. – NYT, 2-4-10
  • Brown Is Sworn In as the 41st Republican: Scott Brown took his place in the Senate this evening, ending the 60-vote Democratic supermajority and placing a Republican in the seat that Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts – that most Democrat of Democrats – held for nearly half a century. The swearing-in of Mr. Brown held extra symbolism since his arrival brought to a close the Democratic ability to shut down Republican filibusters from solely within their own ranks as long as two independents voted with them. The Democratic majority shifted only by one, to 59-41, but it was a seismic shift nonetheless… – NYT, 2-4-10
  • New senator Scott Brown sure gets down to Republican business: Republican Scott Brown took over the seat of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy on Thursday, vowing to be an independent voice in a bitterly divided Senate.
    Brown, the surprise victor in last month’s special election, had raised no objection to taking his oath of office on Feb. 11. But then conservative commentators complained that he was dilly-dallying; the Boston Herald’s Howie Carr accused him on Wednesday of taking “a three-week victory lap.” So, in one of his first major decisions since winning election, the Republican made his choice: He would cave in to his conservative critics. He requested — no, demanded! — that he be seated promptly — no, immediately! — so that he could start to do the important work of being a senator. Democratic Senate leaders complied with his demand (they even let him have Ted Kennedy’s primo office suite), and Vice President Biden made time to swear in Brown on the Senate floor at 5 p.m. Thursday…. – Washington Post, 2-4-10
  • With Scott Brown sworn into Senate, parties shift strategies: Massachusetts’ Scott Brown was sworn into his Senate seat Thursday, giving Republicans the 41 votes needed to filibuster legislation… – CS Monitor, 2-4-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Scott Brown after the oath of office was administered by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.: “I want to get work. I am glad to be able to finally fully participate in the affairs that effect of our nation.” –
  • Brown’s remarks to the press following his swearing-in: It’s a great honor to stand before you as the new United States Senator from Massachusetts.
    I want to express my gratitude and appreciation to many people, starting with my wife Gail, to Vice President Biden, to Senators Kerry and Kirk, to Leader McConnell, and to so many other people who have been generous with their time and their advice.
    I especially want to thank the people of Massachusetts who sent me here. I can’t promise I’ll be right in every vote I make. I’m sure I’ll make mistakes from time to time. But I will try to give them my level best every day.
    My daughters Ayla and Arianna could not be here, but I felt their presence. The bibles I used for today’s swearing-in belong to my daughters, and I stacked them one on top of the other and took my oath on them. So they were both with me in spirit.
    People have asked me why I wanted to get sworn-in so quickly after the results had been certified. It’s because I want to get to work.
    There are a lot of votes pending that I would like to participate in.
    Even more importantly, these are urgent times for our nation. The President this week submitted a $3.8 trillion budget. We’ll have to borrow 40% of that amount because we don’t have the money to pay for all that spending. I’m concerned we’re living beyond our means. Also this week, the CIA director said there will be another al-Qaeda attack in the US in the next 3 to 6 months. This is frightening news, and we owe the people of America everything we can do to deter and prevent future attacks on our nation.
    So I’m glad to be fully able to participate in the affairs our nation at this critical time.
    I also want to extend my appreciation to all of you in the press. I see many familiar faces here and I want you to know how much I respect the work you do, and the patience and many kindnesses you have shown my family… – Boston Globe, 2-4-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Will Scott Brown make the ‘party of no’ more obstructionist? Democrats say Republicans use petty tactics to block President Obama’s agenda. But Senate Democrats had a hard time passing legislation even when they had a filibuster-proof majority: Obstruction in the Senate is not new. :Obstruction has been a trend in the last 20 or 30 years,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. But it’s been tougher for Democrats, because of “heightened expectations about what was going to happen after the 2008 elections.” He adds: “The dysfunctions of Congress are amplified because of the contrast with all the excitement of 2008 and the reality we now see.” – CS Monitor, 2-2-10
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