August 30, 2010: Obama & Katrina 5 Years Later, John McCain wins Arizona Primary

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

President Obama at Xavier University in New Orleans, La.
President Obama at Xavier University in New Orleans, La., White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/29/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Election 2010 map: Track House, Senate and governor racesUSA Today
  • Poll: Six in 10 say Sarah Palin would be ineffective as president: She has been helping to drive conservative candidates to victory in GOP primaries across the country, but six in 10 Americans say Sarah Palin would not be an effective president, according to a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll released today. Palin, the former Republican governor of Alaska, did better among GOP voters. Forty-seven percent of Republicans say she could be an effective president, compared with 12% of Democrats and 21% of independents, according to the poll…. – NY Daily News, 8-30-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Baghdad; will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: Biden’s back in Baghdad. The vice president landed in Iraq on Monday in a surprise visit to mark the end of combat operations in the war-torn nation. The last American combat troops left Iraq earlier this month, and the White House says the number of U.S. troops in Iraq is now the lowest since the beginning of the conflict in 2003. A ceremony on Wednesday will signal the beginning of a new phase of the ongoing mission to establish a democratic government there, with the U.S. moving away from military operations and toward a largely diplomatic one.
    Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will “discuss the political situation and withdrawal, and Iraqis taking over responsibility for security,” the prime minister’s adviser, Yasin Majeed, told The Associated Press…. – NY Daily News , 8-30-10
  • Obama Pledges Commitment to New Orleans: Speaking at Xavier University on the fifth anniversary of the hurricane that took 1,800 lives, Mr. Obama emphasized the resilience of New Orleans residents.
    The legacy of Katrina, Mr. Obama said, must be “not one of neglect, but of action; not one of indifference, but of empathy; not of abandonment, but of a community working together to meet shared challenges.” “There are some wounds that do not heal,” the president acknowledged. “There are some losses that cannot be repaid. And for many who lived through those harrowing days five years ago, there is a searing memory that time will not erase.”… – NYT, 8-29-10
  • Obama, in New Orleans, promises to ‘fight alongside’ Gulf Coast: In New Orleans, the president talks Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, pointing up post-Katrina aid improvements and work on shoring up levees…. – LAT, 8-29-10
  • President Obama hails New Orleans’ comeback; samples local seafood: President Obama visited New Orleans Sunday on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to hail the storied city’s return from the dead and promise to keep it safe from new monsters whirling offshore.
    “Five years ago, many questioned whether people could ever return to this city. Today, New Orleans is one of the fastest-growing cities in America, with a big surge in new small businesses,” Obama said. “You’re not only rebuilding; you’re rebuilding stronger than before,” Obama said. “My administration is going to stand with you, and fight alongside you, until the job is done.”… – NY Daily News, 8-29-10
  • Glenn Beck and Al Sharpton: The rallies of 8/28WaPo
  • Glenn Beck rally: A warning to Obama and Democrats?: There may have been some Democrats at the Glenn Beck rally Saturday, but even many of them aren’t happy with the country’s direction. Does the large turnout portend trouble for Democrats? One hundred to two hundred thousand people attended a rally organized by Fox TV commentator, Glenn Beck, at the foot of the Lincoln memorial. Although it was avowedly “non-political,” Sarah Palin was one of the main speakers and the crowd resembled very much the Tea Party crowd…. – CS Monitor, 8-29-10
  • Sharpton’s ‘Reclaim the Dream’ event brings thousands to honor MLK Sharpton: ‘The dream has not been achieved’: Thousands of people joined the Rev. Al Sharpton and other leaders Saturday in a counter-protest to the rally called by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. The event, billed as “Reclaim the Dream,” included a march that culminated at the Mall, the site of Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally.
    In an interview before the rally began at Dunbar High School in Northwest Washington, Sharpton said he called the event to show respect for the dream of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech 47 years ago at the March on Washington near where Beck spoke to thousands Saturday.
    “People are clear in what Dr. King’s dream was about, and we will not react to those who try to distort that dream,” Sharpton said. He was one of several prominent leaders who condemned Beck’s rally, despite cries from organizers that “Restoring Honor” was not intended to dishonor King or his work…. – WaPo, 8-28-10
  • Beck says US has ‘wandered in darkness’ too long: From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck told the tens of thousands of activists he drew from around the nation Saturday that the U.S. has too long “wandered in darkness.”
    At an event billed as nonpolitical but reflecting the mood of a sizable number in the country, the rally’s marquee speaker, Sarah Palin, praised “patriots” in the audience for “knowing never to retreat.”
    “Something beyond imagination is happening,” he said. “America today begins to turn back to God.” “For too long, this country has wandered in darkness,” said Beck, a Fox News host. He said it was now time to “concentrate on the good things in America, the things we have accomplished and the things we can do tomorrow.”… – AP, 8-28-10
  • Glenn Beck rally: Sarah Palin and President Obama agree on one thing: President Obama and Sarah Palin disagreed sharply on the war in Iraq. But in Obama’s radio address Saturday and Palin’s speech at Glenn Beck’s ‘Restoring Honor’ rally, they agreed on the need to honor and support the troops…. – CS Monitor, 8-28-10
  • Family Feud Erupts Over Martin Luther King’s Legacy Martin Luther King’s son, Martin Luther King III, and King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, found themselves on opposing sides when it came to the Glenn Beck rally: A day of activism and protest in the nation’s Capitol today featured two prominent members of the King family laying very different claims on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.
    Addressing a massive crowd gathered at the Lincoln Memorial for Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally, King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, tied the civil rights icon’s legacy to the featured themes of honor, patriotism, service and faith that were highlighted at the gathering.
    “Today, we are here to honor special men and women, who like my uncle Martin are blessed with servant’s hearts” said King. “Though they gave their service in ways very different from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., like him they are people who are not afraid to give their lives for the freedom of other. If uncle Martin could be here today, he would surely commend them.”
    But Martin Luther King II, King’s son, seemed not to share that belief, instead joining civil rights leaders in a counter protest. “This is not about a left side or a right side,” he said. “This is about God’s side in terms of doing what’s right for all of America. That’s what Martin Luther King’s dream is about.” AOL News, 8-28-10
  • Carter and Former Prisoner Return to U.S.: Mr. Gomes, 31, stepped off a private plane at Logan International Airport about 2 p.m. on Friday, a day after Mr. Carter secured his release in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. He was immediately surrounded by more than a dozen relatives who enveloped him in a group hug. Neither Mr. Gomes (pronounced GOHMZ) nor Mr. Carter spoke with reporters upon their arrival, and it was unclear if or when either man would share details of Mr. Gomes’s detainment and release. Mr. Gomes quickly left the airport with his family and stayed out of the public eye for the rest of the day. But Mr. McCarthy later said that Mr. Gomes appeared in good health and that Mr. Carter had told the family that “the Koreans had taken good care of him.”… – NYT, 8-27-10
  • US implores Americans not to visit NKorea: The State Department on Friday urged Americans to respect its warning against traveling to North Korea, saying in a cheeky Twitter message that there are not too many former U.S. presidents left available for rescue missions. In a Tweet posted shortly after former President Jimmy Carter arrived in Boston from North Korea with American Aijalon Gomes who had been detained in the communist country for seven months, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said: “Americans should heed our travel warning and avoid North Korea. We only have a handful of former presidents.”
    His message referred to the fact that Carter was the second former U.S. president to travel to North Korea in the past year to win the release of American citizens imprisoned there. Last August, former President Bill Clinton secured the release of two television reporters who had been arrested for illegally entering North Korea…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • Sharpton: Beck rally goes against King’s vision: Broadcaster Glenn Beck and tea party activists have a right to rally in the nation’s capital but not to distort Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision, the Rev. Al Sharpton said Friday.
    Sharpton described the demonstration planned for Saturday by Beck and his supporters as an anti-government rally advocating states’ rights. And he said that goes against the message in King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, in which the civil rights leader appealed to the federal government to ensure equality.
    Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally will be held at the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his speech exactly 47 years earlier. Beck and other organizers say the aim is to pay tribute to America’s military personnel and others “who embody our nation’s founding principles of integrity, truth and honor.” The broadcaster toured the site Friday as supporters cheered…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • Obama to commemorate Katrina on 5th anniversary: President Barack Obama will use the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to reaffirm his commitment to the Gulf Coast amid lingering questions over his administration’s response to the BP oil spill.
    Obama ends his Martha’s Vineyard vacation Sunday and heads to New Orleans, five years to the day from when Hurricane Katrina raged ashore, busting through crumbling levees and flooding 80 percent of the city, killing more than 1,600 people. Then-President George W. Bush was harshly criticized in many quarters for not responding aggressively enough to the disaster.
    The unfinished business of helping make New Orleans whole is Obama’s responsibility now. On Sunday, he will have the delicate task of commemorating the ravaging storm while reassuring residents who may still believe the government has failed them — both when it comes to Katrina and to the BP spill…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • On Martha’s Vineyard, Obamas savor local produce: For a vacationing President Barack Obama, it seems all produce — like politics — is local. So far, in their only dinner outings since arriving on Martha’s Vineyard last week, the president and his wife have twice eaten at restaurants that feature locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs. And the White House has let it be known that the meals being cooked at their rented vacation compound feature all manner of things from farms and gardens on this island off Cape Cod. It seems the passion for freshness behind first lady Michelle Obama’s backyard garden at the White House hasn’t taken a holiday during her family’s stay here…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • Obama Hits Fairway With UBS’s Wolf, Lawyer Jordan During Vineyard Vacation: The biggest names on the links this week aren’t all teeing off at the PGA tournament in Paramus, New Jersey. The power foursomes are on Martha’s Vineyard, where President Barack Obama is spending a chunk of his vacation playing golf with partners who have included Robert Wolf, chairman and chief executive officer of UBS Americas, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Vernon Jordan, Lazard Ltd. senior managing director and a longtime Democratic Party supporter.
    Obama had a 15-minute discussion with Bloomberg about the economy in the clubhouse before heading out to the fairways yesterday, Reid Cherlin, an administration spokesman, said…. – Bloomberg, 8-27-10
  • Rain lifts, vacationing Obamas dine out for lunch: Emerging from semi-seclusion after four days of drenching rain, a cheery President Barack Obama lunched with his wife and daughters at a wharfside restaurant Wednesday and mingled with fellow vacationers. It was the family’s first public appearance together since beginning their Martha’s Vineyard stay.
    “Good to see you guys, you doing alright?” the smiling president asked a crowd that cheered his arrival at Nancy’s, an eatery well known for its fried local seafood. First lady Michelle Obama commiserated with the onlookers over the lousy weather. “You dried off finally?” she asked…. – AP, 8-26-10
  • U.S. deficit panel chair stirs uproar over remark: The co-chairman of a commission on the U.S. budget deficit came under fire on Wednesday after an off-color remark that likened the payment of government retirement benefits to milking cows. Women’s groups and some lawmakers called for the resignation of Alan Simpson, a Republican who serves on the bipartisan deficit panel created by President Barack Obama. Simpson wrote this week in an email to one of his critics the Social Security retirement program has reached the point “where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits.” He later issued an apology for the comment…. – Reuters, 8-26-10
  • Glenn Beck supporters head for Washington, D.C., rally: Glenn Beck’s supporters started boarding buses days ago in cities as far from the nation’s capital as Sacramento, Salt Lake City and Houston. Heading east for a grass-roots show of force on Saturday, they will join the conservative icon for a rally that he says is aimed at “restoring honor” to a troubled nation.
    “People are upset with the direction of the country,” says Patti Weaver, head of the Pittsburgh Tea Party, who is bringing 900 people on 16 buses to the event at the Lincoln Memorial. The rally will “continue to unite people who are upset with our government. … We can take our country back.”
    Beck has been criticized by civil rights groups such as the National Urban League for holding the rally at the site of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on racial equality and on its 47th anniversary. The Fox News and radio talk-show host insists that his rally is about supporting the nation’s troops — not about politics…. – USA Today, 8-26-10
  • David & Charles Koch: Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama: …One dignitary was conspicuously absent from the gala: the event’s third honorary co-chair, Michelle Obama. Her office said that a scheduling conflict had prevented her from attending. Yet had the First Lady shared the stage with Koch it might have created an awkward tableau. In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular…. – New Yorker, 8-30-10
  • Jimmy Carter: Can Obama trust him in North Korea talks?: Jimmy Carter gained a reputation as an independent actor when President Clinton sent him to North Korea in 1994. President Obama will hope Carter – on a mission to bring back a jailed American – does not stray into talks about North Korea’s nuclear program…. – Cs Monitor, 8-25-10
  • US general: Afghan deadline ‘giving enemy sustenance’: General James Conway said troops in southern Afghanistan were likely to have to remain for a few years. A senior US general has warned President Barack Obama’s deadline to begin pulling troops out of Afghanistan is encouraging the Taliban. US General James Conway, head of the US Marine Corps, said the deadline was “giving our enemy sustenance”. Gen Conway warned that US forces in southern Afghanistan will likely have to stay in place for several years. His comments are likely to fuel debate over US strategy in Afghanistan and Mr Obama’s July 2011 withdrawal date… – BBC, 8-24-10
  • Stem cell ruling to be appealed, some work to stop: The government will quickly appeal a court ruling that undercut federally funded embryonic stem cell research, the Obama administration declared Tuesday, but dozens of experiments aimed at fighting spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and other ailments probably will stop in the meantime.
    The White House and scientists said Monday’s court ruling was broader than first thought because it would prohibit even the more restricted stem cell research allowed for the past decade under President George W. Bush’s rules.
    The Justice Department said an appeal is expected this week of the federal judge’s preliminary injunction that disrupted an entire field of science…. – Boston Globe, 8-24-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

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  • ‘World News’ Political Insights — Tea Party’s Boil Still Singing Republicans: Movement Continues as Mixed Blessing for GOP, as More Primaries Loom… – ABC News, 8-29-10
  • Dems’ bright spots in foreboding election year: John Carney of Delaware is a rarity in a campaign season of foreboding for Democrats, a practicing politician with a strong chance of winning a Republican-held seat in Congress. Not that Carney is interested in attaching any national significance to his race. “I’ll support (President Barack Obama) when I think he’s right and I won’t when I think he proposes something that isn’t in the best interests of Delaware,” he says…. – AP, 8-29-10
  • W.Va. Gov. Manchin wins Dem primary for US Senate: Popular Gov. Joe Manchin won the Democratic nomination Saturday and will face GOP primary winner and wealthy businessman John Raese in the race to fill the Senate seat vacated by the late Robert C. Byrd. Raese defeated a crowded field of Republicans and becomes part of the GOP quest to dismantle the Democratic Senate majority as high unemployment and the slow economic recovery take a toll on their political prospects this fall…. – AP, 8-29-10
  • Crist, Meek tout plans to stimulate economy: Two of Florida’s U.S. Senate hopefuls, Gov. Charlie Crist and Congressman Kendrick Meek, on Sunday touted their plans to stimulate the lagging economy…. – AP, 8-29-10
  • Tweet by AK Senate candidate’s staffer causes stir: Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Joe Miller apologized on Twitter and a campaign staffer was told to exercise more caution Friday after someone in Miller’s campaign sent a tweet that appeared to liken a possible party switch by Sen. Lisa Murkowski to prostitution. The item posted on Miller’s Twitter account Friday said, “What’s the difference b/n selling out your party’s values and the oldest profession?” The tweet linked to an online article speculating on whether Murkowski would run on the Libertarian Party ticket if she loses the GOP primary to Miller. Murkowski’s campaign responded by calling the tweet “disgusting” and demanding an apology, after which Miller issued another tweet that said: “Please accept my apologies. Staffer trying to encourage Libertarians not to sell out.”… – AP, 8-28-10
  • Democratic Campaign Chief Says Tea Party Will Hurt Republicans: Victories of “extreme right” Tea Party-backed congressional candidates in Republican primaries will help the Democratic Party retain control of the House by alienating independent voters who will determine the November election outcome, the House Democrats’ campaign chief said.
    Many Republican candidates “emerging from the primaries are on the far right of the political spectrum, and many are driven by the Tea Party movement,” Representative Chris Van Hollen told reporters in Washington…. – Bloomberg, 8-27-10
  • Low-Profile Alaskan Swaps Law Court for the Limelight: This time last year, Joe Miller was augmenting his income from his private legal practice by working as a part-time attorney for the borough here, and had to put in for leave to take an elk-hunting trip with two of his sons.
    Now, the 43-year-old Mr. Miller stands on the brink of what would be one of this year’s biggest political upsets. If his slim lead in last Tuesday’s GOP primary holds, he will oust Sen. Lisa Murkowski from a seat she and her father, Frank, have held for 30 years.
    The final vote tally is expected within two weeks, after the state finishes counting 11,266 absentee ballots. With 100% of precincts counted, Mr. Miller currently leads by 1,668 votes. Most political watchers expect a Miller victory, and observers in Alaska and across the U.S. are taking a closer look at a man who, even in Fairbanks, maintained a low profile before he jumped into the race against Ms. Murkowski last April…. – WSJ, 5-27-10
  • Harry Reid vs. Sharron Angle: this season’s must-see political slugfest: The US Senate race between Harry Reid and Sharron Angle in Nevada is so close and the stakes are so high that the political world is riveted…. – CS Monitor, 8-27-10
  • John McCain survives Tea Party challenge at US primaries John McCain wins in Arizona after Sarah Palin endorsement, Tea Party’s Joe Miller set for surprise defeat of Alaska senator: Tea Party activists were on the verge of achieving one of the biggest upsets of the year by ousting the sitting Republican senator for Alaska, a scalp that would compensate for their failure earlier in the day to defeat the former presidential candidate John McCain.
    With 98% (91,000) of the votes counted in Alaska, the senator, Lisa Murkowski, was trailing Joe Miller on 51%. Miller has a lead of 1,190 votes, but still with 16,000 absentee ballots to be counted. Although Murkowski has been the senator since 2002 and polls suggested an easy win, Miller enjoyed Tea Party support, including one of its unofficial figureheads, the former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
    In a year that has seen establishment candidates beaten by outsiders in Republican primaries across the country, Alaska could be added to a list of Tea Party battle honours that already include Kentucky, Florida, Nevada and Utah.
    Miller’s surprise success suggests nationwide resentment over lack of jobs and the slowness of economic recovery remains as strong as ever, with voters blaming Washington…. – Guardian UK, 8-25-10
  • As GOP civil war rages, Democrats look to benefit: A Republican civil war is raging, with righter-than-thou conservatives dominating ever more primaries in a fight for the party’s soul. And the Democrats hope to benefit. The latest examples of conservative insurgents’ clout came Tuesday at opposite ends of the country. In Florida, political newcomer Rick Scott beat longtime congressman and state Attorney General Bill McCollum for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. And in Alaska, tea party activists and Sarah Palin pushed Sen. Lisa Murkowski to the brink of defeat, depending on absentee ballot counts in her race against outsider Joe Miller…. – AP, 8-26-10
  • McCain, Murkowski Primary Results Send Mixed Messages Incumbents McCain and Meek win, while Palin, Tea Party flex their Alaska muscle: Tuesday’s Senate primaries in Arizona, Florida, and Alaska were a test for the major players in the 2010 primaries: the establishment, wealthy political newcomers, and the Tea Party movement. Two establishment candidates prevailed, GOP Sen. John McCain in Arizona and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek in Florida. And the fate of a third hangs in the balance in Alaska, where officials determined that the race between eight-year incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sarah Palin-backed candidate Joe Miller is too close to call. The Alaska outcome will be decided by the 16,000 absentee ballots, and officials said it could take a week to determine the final results. Murkowski, the fifth ranking Republican in the Senate, said she will not concede the race in which she was about 2,000 votes behind Miller as of Wednesday morning. If Murkowski loses, she will be the seventh incumbent, and fourth Republican, taken down by voters this primary season. A Miller win would be seen as a substantial victory for Palin in her home state and for the Tea Party movement nationally, though a high-profile Tea Party candidate, J.D. Hayworth, lost to McCain in Arizona…. – US News, 8-25-10
  • In Alaska, Doubts About Climate Change Rise With a New Politician: Alaska’s cliffhanger primary is poised to propel a climate skeptic toward the U.S. Senate, observers say, likely bolstering the number of nominations achieved by conservative candidates who challenge manmade global warming. Republican Joe Miller, a former judge with a Yale law degree, showcased Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s past support for climate legislation, among other things, before slipping by her at the voting stations Tuesday to capture a 1,900 vote lead with several thousand absentee ballots still being counted…. – NYT, 8-26-10
  • Where GOP’s Lisa Murkowski went wrong and John McCain went right: Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska didn’t open her war chest in time, and it may have cost her the GOP primary. Arizona’s Sen. John McCain, by contrast, spent early and often… – CS Monitor, 8-25-10
  • Murkowski Counts on History Lesson to Remain Confident in Alaska: Sen. Lisa Murkowski declared Wednesday that “it ain’t over yet, folks” as she faced the prospect of being ousted by a conservative challenger backed by Sarah Palin amid widespread anti-incumbent rage this year. Joe Miller leads Murkowski by about 2,000 votes with several thousand absentee ballots still to be counted, putting him in position to potentially be the latest political newcomer to defeat a well-known incumbent.
    At a news conference in Anchorage, Murkowski mentioned that then-Sen. Ted Stevens in 2008 went to bed one night in the lead and learned later he had lost his Senate seat of 40 years to Mark Begich. She said U.S. Rep. Don Young also reminded her of a race he had won after going into the election thinking he would be the clear loser. “There is much, much yet to be counted,” she said.
    Regardless of who prevails, the Republican primary is a sign of Palin’s clout in her home state after the former governor and vice presidential candidate had suffered a string of loses recently in endorsing other candidates nationally…. – AP, 8-25-10
  • Arizona primary: Why McCain is set to beat the anti-incumbent backlash: Polls suggest Sen. John McCain is set to win his primary Tuesday. Some voters have been turned off by his attack ads and big spending in the race against J.D. Hayworth. But it has worked…. – CS Monitor, 8-24-10
  • Establishment vs. outsiders in primaries: It’s the political establishment vs. the outsiders in Tuesday’s primaries. And the establishment has the better odds.
    Republican Sens. John McCain and Lisa Murkowski were poised to win bitter primaries in Arizona and Alaska against tea-party-backed candidates.
    In Florida, boatloads of cash may not be enough to propel former health care executive Rick Scott and real estate businessman Jeff Greene to victory in gubernatorial and Senate primaries.
    “I think the voters have figured out that no matter how much money some guy spends, just because he’s wealthy and can run ads that slam the other guy doesn’t make him the right person to govern Florida,” said state Attorney General Bill McCollum, who is locked in a bruising Republican gubernatorial campaign against Scott…. – AP, 8-24-10
  • Republican Chuck Hagel backs Democrat in Pa. Senate race: Republican Chuck Hagel, the former Nebraska senator, will endorse Democrat Rep. Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania’s competitive U.S. Senate race…. – USA Today, 8-23-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson

  • Remarks by the President on the Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana Xavier University New Orleans, Louisiana: … Now, even as we continue our recovery efforts, we’re also focusing on preparing for future threats so that there is never another disaster like Katrina. The largest civil works project in American history is underway to build a fortified levee system. And as I — just as I pledged as a candidate, we’re going to finish this system by next year so that this city is protected against a 100-year storm. We should not be playing Russian roulette every hurricane season. (Applause.) And we’re also working to restore protective wetlands and natural barriers that were not only damaged by Katrina — were not just damaged by Katrina but had been rapidly disappearing for decades.
    And when I came here four years ago, one thing I found striking was all the greenery that had begun to come back. And I was reminded of a passage from the book of Job. “There is hope for a tree if it be cut down that it will sprout again, and that its tender branch will not cease.” The work ahead will not be easy, and there will be setbacks. There will be challenges along the way. But thanks to you, thanks to the great people of this great city, New Orleans is blossoming again. – WH, 8-29-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama: As the Combat Mission in Iraq Ends, We Must Pay Tribute to Those Who Have Served: Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House August 28, 2010: On Tuesday, after more than seven years, the United States of America will end its combat mission in Iraq and take an important step forward in responsibly ending the Iraq war.
    As a candidate for this office, I pledged I would end this war. As President, that is what I am doing. We have brought home more than 90,000 troops since I took office. We have closed or turned over to Iraq hundreds of bases. In many parts of the country, Iraqis have already taken the lead for security.
    In the months ahead, our troops will continue to support and train Iraqi forces, partner with Iraqis in counterterrorism missions, and protect our civilian and military efforts. But the bottom line is this: the war is ending. Like any sovereign, independent nation, Iraq is free to chart its own course. And by the end of next year, all of our troops will be home.
    As we mark the end of America’s combat mission in Iraq, a grateful nation must pay tribute to all who have served there. Because part of responsibly ending this war is meeting our responsibility to those who have fought it.
    The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now make up America’s longest continuous combat engagement. For the better part of a decade, our troops and their families have served tour after tour with honor and heroism, risking and often giving their lives for the defense of our freedom and security. More than one million Americans in uniform have served in Iraq – far more than any conflict since Vietnam. And more than one million who have served in both wars have now finished their service and joined the proud ranks of America’s veterans.
    What this new generation of veterans must know is this: our nation’s commitment to all who wear its uniform is a sacred trust that is as old as our republic itself. It is one that, as President, I consider a moral obligation to uphold.
    At the same time, these are new wars; with new missions, new methods, and new perils. And what today’s veterans have earned – what they have every right to expect – is new care, new opportunity, and a new commitment to their service when they come home…. – WH, 8-28-10
  • Hurricane Katrina: Five Years of Remembering & RebuildingWH, 8-25-10
  • Vice President Biden on Iraq and Our Veterans: “These Homecomings Are Something I Have Long Looked Forward To…”: These homecomings are something I have long looked forward to, and I know many of you have as well. The day my son Beau returned from a yearlong tour in Iraq, and I watched him embrace his wife and children, was one of the proudest and happiest moments of my life. By the end of next year—2011—our remaining troops in Iraq will have come home to their families and a grateful nation. This is only possible because of the extraordinary progress our military—the finest fighting force this planet has ever seen—has brought about, led by the great General Ray Odierno…. – WH, 8-24-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Time for Obama to put cards on table: If current polls are a guide, the midterm elections probably won’t be good for President Obama and his party. The Democrats are in danger of losing control of the House of Representatives and of seeing their majority in the Senate diminish.
    With Obama’s approval rating sagging to 45 percent according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll, even his most ardent supporters admit that he will need a stimulus act for his presidency before 2012 comes around.
    One of Obama’s biggest challenges has been his reticence about defining a clear agenda and a set of governing principles. Doing so has been at odds with his legislative strategy, which has hinged on avoiding big proclamations to give himself wiggle room with Congress….
    But Obama must also do a better job at telling voters what he is about. While the president has a large legislative record to boast of, it remains unclear to many voters, including Democrats who support much of the record, what it all adds up to.
    It’s time for Obama to state his agenda and lay out a set of governing principles that will guide him in his next two years as president. It’s likely that the pressure of the 2010 midterm elections will compel Obama to present an argument to the public to build a case for his presidency. – CNN, 8-30-10
  • PETER BERKOWITZ: The Death of Conservatism Was Greatly Exaggerated In 2008 liberals proclaimed the collapse of Reaganism. Two years later the idea of limited government is back in vogue: Last August left little doubt that a conservative revival was underway. Constituents packed town-hall meetings across the country to confront Democratic House members and senators ill-prepared to explain why, in the teeth of a historic economic downturn and nearly 10% employment, President Obama and his party were pressing ahead with costly health-care legislation instead of reining in spending, cutting the deficit and spurring economic growth.
    Still, whether that revival would have staying power was very much open to question. A year later—and notwithstanding the Democrats’ steadily declining poll numbers and the mounting electoral momentum that could well produce a Republican majority in the House and a substantial swing in the Senate—it still is.
    Sustaining the revival depends on the ability of GOP leaders, office-holders and candidates to harness the extraordinary upsurge of popular opposition to Mr. Obama’s aggressive progressivism. Our constitutional tradition provides enduring principles that should guide them…. – WSJ, 8-28-10
  • PEGGY NOONAN: We Just Don’t Understand Americans look at the president and see a stranger: All presidents take vacations, and all are criticized for it. It’s never the right place, the right time. Ronald Reagan went to the ranch, George W. Bush to Crawford, both got knocked. Bill Clinton even poll-tested a vacation site and still was criticized. But Martha’s Vineyard—elite, upscale—can’t have done President Obama any good, especially following the first lady’s foray in Spain. The general feeling this week was summed up by David Letterman: “He’ll have plenty of time for vacations when his one term is up. Plenty of time.”… – WSJ, 8-27-10
  • E.J. Dionne Jr.: Tuesday’s tutorial: a GOP too far right: Republicans are in the midst of an insurrection. Democrats are not. This vast gulf between the situations of the two parties — not some grand revolt against “the establishment” or “incumbents” — explains the year’s primary results, including Tuesday’s jarring outcomes in Florida and Alaska.
    The agitation among Republicans is not surprising, given the trauma of the final years of George W. Bush’s presidency. After heavy losses in 2006 and 2008, it was natural that GOP loyalists would seek a new direction.
    Liberals who saw Bush’s presidency as a failed right-wing experiment thought Republicans would search for more moderate ground, much as Britain’s Tories turned to the soothing leadership of David Cameron to organize their comeback. But this expectation overlooked the exodus of moderates over the past decade, which has shifted the balance of power in Republican primaries far to the right. As a result, the main critique of Bush in Republican ranks casts him as insufficiently conservative — too inclined to support federal action on education and in expanding prescription drug assistance to the elderly, and too ready to run up the deficit…. – WaPo, 8-26-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: GOP needs a Reagan to unite its factions: The debate over the construction of an Islamic center and mosque in New York exploded into a fierce national controversy. President Obama was unable to contain the issue, and his comments only added fuel to the fire. Polls show that his approval ratings continue to fall.
    But the debate over the Islamic center and mosque tells us as much about the tensions that are brewing within the Republican Party as it does about the challenges facing the White House. It is unclear whether any Republican has the capacity to unite the party and help repair the damage inflicted by the final year of President George W. Bush’s presidency.
    The same week that many conservatives were laser-focused on Muslims and the mosque, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed published in The Boston Globe criticizing the administration’s economic policies. Romney argued that Obama’s policies have been hampering, not helping, economic recovery and outlined as an alternative a package of tax cuts that he believes would generate growth.
    If Republicans can’t find a unifying figure like Reagan, and instead move toward one of the candidates who leans heavily toward one of these factions, the party won’t be able to prevent the contradictions and internal tensions from drowning any effort to challenge Obama. – CNN, 8-24-10
  • Joe Klein: Dems Depressed and Disheartened: The lead item on Politico–titled “Dems Urge Obama to Take a Stand”–is almost surrealistic. Take a stand? The guy passed health care, a stimulus bill that helped avoid a Depression, a groundbreaking financial reform bill that is too complicated to be popularly described, a bailout that enabled General Motors and Chrysler to survive. He nominated two estimable women to the Supreme Court. He restored America’s image in the world. I can go on…
    But Dems are distressed? He’s not populist or ideological enough? Oh please. There are several ways to go about the presidency. Ronald Reagan chose one way: he said one thing and did another. He was for cutting back the size of government, but didn’t. He was for lowering taxes and he did, but then he raised taxes–two of the laegest percentage increases in American history–when his supply-side “philosophy” proved a phony. He confronted the Soviet Union, but he also would have agreed to massive reductions in nuclear arsenals if the Soviets had allowed him to pursue his Star Wars fantasy…. – Times, 8-23-10

History Buzz August 16-30, 2010: Hurricane Katrina 5 Years Later

HISTORY BUZZ:

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor/Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Her blog is History Musings

RELATED LINKS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

IN FOCUS: KATRINA 5 YEARS LATERS

  • Douglas Brinkley: What Happened To Our National Conversation On Race And Poverty?: Later Brian Williams asked historian Douglas Brinkley “what happened to that national conversation we were all supposed to have about what was exposed by Katrina?” Brinkley says we “got amnesia” and “forget quickly.” One might suggest the country would be less apt to get “amnesia” and “forget” if powerful media folks like NBC and it’s uber popular anchors were more apt to shine a consistent light on the problem in the intervening years between big anniversaries. One might also suggest that we are in fact embroiled in a national conversation about race, it just simply does not look like what anyone imagined or hoped it would five years ago…. – mediaite.com, 8-29-10
  • Edward Kohn: Before Katrina, There Was New York’s 1896 Heat Wave What the government can learn from perhaps America’s most forgotten natural disaster: Long before Americans could retreat into air conditioning to escape the worst of the summer, a 10-day heat wave claimed the lives of about 1,300 New Yorkers in “the deadliest, urban heat disaster in American history,” writes historian Edward Kohn. The year was 1896, when poor laborers living in crowded tenements had few options for relief from the heat. In Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt, Kohn recounts how Roosevelt, then New York City police commissioner, came to the aid of the working masses. Kohn, an assistant professor of American history at Bilkent University in Turkey, recently spoke with U.S. News. Excerpts…. – US News, 8-27-10

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Carlos E. Cortes: ‘Dora The Explorer’ may change a whole generation: So producers turned to such experts as historian Carlos E. Cortes, author of “The Children Are Watching” and “The Making — and Remaking — of a Multiculturalist.” “He was absolutely instrumental in helping us find the best way to put Dora forward in terms of culture,” said Gifford. Cortes advised that Dora should always be inclusive, so producers decided not to give her a particular country of origin.
    “I am delighted with the way ‘Dora’ has come out, particularly the impact it seems to be having in young people,” said Cortes, professor emeritus of history at the University of California, Riverside. “The Latino kids take pride having Dora as a lead character and non-Latino kids can embrace someone different.”… – AP, 8-27-10
  • Harold Seymour, Dorothy Jane Mills: Author Credit for Widow of Baseball Historian: In baseball terms you might describe it as a walk-off hit deep into extra innings. Dorothy Jane Mills, the widow of the revered baseball historian Harold Seymour, has been belatedly recognized by Oxford University Press as co-author, along with Mr. Seymour, of three landmark scholarly works on the history of baseball, Publishers Weekly reported. Tim Bent, Oxford’s executive editor, said that Ms. Mills, 81, formerly Dorothy Z. Seymour, would be given formal credit and that her name would now accompany her late husband’s on the covers and title pages of “Baseball: The Early Years” (1960); “Baseball: The Golden Age,” (1971); and “Baseball: The People’s Game” (1991)…. = NYT (8-22-10)
  • New OAH Membership Dues Structure Adopted: In conjunction with the recently adopted strategic plan, the Executive Board of the Organization of American Historians has enacted a simplified dues structure for individual members. After studying the dues structures of other learned societies, the Board concluded that the organization needed fewer membership categories. The new structure is not only simpler, but creates a lower-priced membership category for professional historians who are in the first three years of their careers. In addition, the revised structure will reduce paperwork in the OAH office, and it will allow staff to concentrate on improving member service, develop new member benefits, and better promote the organization…. – OAH (8-12-10)
  • Darrell Lewis: Historian writes about Leichhardt findings: A historian studying the life of Ludwig Leichhardt has begun collating findings about the famous explorer. National Museum of Australia spokesman Dr Darrell Lewis has been tracking Leichhardt’s trail through Queensland and central Australia. Leichhardt and his expedition party disappeared in 1848 and Dr Lewis has been looking for trees marked with an “L” to trace the journey…. – abc.net.au (8-17-10)
  • Katherine Rowe, Dan Cohen: Scholars Test Web Alternative to Peer Review: For professors, publishing in elite journals is an unavoidable part of university life. The grueling process of subjecting work to the up-or-down judgment of credentialed scholarly peers has been a cornerstone of academic culture since at least the mid-20th century. Now some humanities scholars have begun to challenge the monopoly that peer review has on admission to career- making journals and, as a consequence, to the charmed circle of tenured academe. They argue that in an era of digital media there is a better way to assess the quality of work. Instead of relying on a few experts selected by leading publications, they advocate using the Internet to expose scholarly thinking to the swift collective judgment of a much broader interested audience…. – NYT (8-23-10)
  • Historians Join Effort To Preserve Federal K-12 History Education Funding: In July, the National Coalition for History (NCH), and ten other NCH members joined forces with over 20 educational organizations representing other K-12 academic disciplines in issuing a statement to Congress and the Administration calling for the continued robust funding of core academic subjects including history. This includes maintenance of discrete budget lines—such as the Teaching American History grants—for each discipline…. – Lee White at the National Coalition for History (8-6-10)

OP-EDs:

  • John B. Judis: Defending ‘The Unnecessary Fall of Barack Obama’: In the week since my story on “the unnecessary fall of Barack Obama” came out, I have been accused of being “hysterical” and “ahistorical,” of glorifying Ronald Reagan, of “moving away from” my “previously clear-eyed stance on the primary source of Obama’s troubles,” and of relying on the same “white-working-class Theory of Everything” I have been “peddling … ever since summer 2008.” And that’s just in public. Privately, the criticism has been far more withering and has included words far too incendiary to print in a family magazine. But I’ve spent a lot of time considering some of the (quite thought-provoking and reasonable) counter-arguments to my piece, and I’d like to take the opportunity to respond to them here…. – The New Republic (8-25-10)
  • John B. Judis: The Unnecessary Fall of Barack Obama: On April 14, 2009, as Barack Obama’s standing in the polls was beginning to slip, and as Tea Party demonstrators were amassing in Washington for tax day protests, the president gave a lengthy address at Georgetown University explaining the “five pillars” of his economic policies. The speech was intended to promote a memorable slogan for Obama’s program that would evoke comparisons with Theodore Roosevelt’s Square Deal, Franklin Rooseveltind’s New Deal, and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society…. – The New Republic (8-12-10)
  • Alan Brinkley: ‘Mad Men’: A Conversation (Season 4, Episode 5): Much of episode 5 was about competition — a particularly deceitful kind of competition that manipulated what was supposed to be a strictly regimented process of finding an advertiser for Honda. After Roger’s implausible explosion of anti-Japanese bigotry (20 years after the end of World War II), Don tricks his competitors to violate the rules of the competition — leaving Don (and Cooper, Sterling, Draper, Pryce) one of the only competitors still standing. Don recognizes the damage done to their bid by Roger’s explosion, but he also knows that the Japanese will respond to presenting himself as the honorable man as opposed to the cheating of his rivals, which Don had tricked them into doing. (In the end, Draper’s deceit is outdone by the Japanese, who apparently never had any intention of changing agencies.) This was a clever plot line, despite Roger’s ugliness, and it revives our image of Don as the man who can always find a way out of a dilemma — a talent he seemed to have lost in the last few episodes…. – WSJ, 8-23-10
  • Daniel J. Flynn: An FBI History of Howard Zinn: In the late 1940s and early 1950s, as Joseph Stalin entered the final years of his reign of terror in the Soviet Union, twentysomething Howard Zinn served as a foot soldier in the Communist Party of the United States of America—this according to recently declassified FBI files. Zinn, the Marxist historian and progressive hero who died in January, may also have lied to the FBI about his Communist Party membership. Is it at all surprising that someone who got history so wrong stood on the wrong side of history?…. – City Journal (8-19-10)

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Of Thee He Sings Historian Sean Wilentz claims Bob Dylan as one of his own: Sean Wilentz, a Princeton history professor and author of Bob Dylan in America, has agreed to lead a tour of Dylan’s Greenwich Village, a place he knows better than any other. We visit the singer’s former apartment on West 4th Street, above what’s now a sex shop; the clubs he played along Macdougal Street; the building where he first encountered Allen Ginsberg. “This whole neighborhood has such a long history that there is a sense—for some of us, anyway—of revenants, of ghosts,” says Wilentz, better-heeled than your average tour guide, in Brooks Brothers and custom-made shoes. “Dylan talks about walking around here and thinking that it really is 1880. I don’t mean to be mystical or spooky, but if you know what’s going on, you can’t help but feel it.” Although Wilentz has done plenty of journalism, the Dylan book is a departure from his hardbound oeuvre, which includes a 1,100-page tome on American democracy and biographies of Andrew Jackson and Ronald Reagan. Bob Dylan in America may be an unusually rigorous Dylan book, but “it was easier to do than the others,” he says, “because in effect I’ve been doing the research all my life.”… – NY Mag, 8-22-10
  • Alex Heard: Where Hatred Ruled: THE EYES OF WILLIE MCGEE A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in the Jim Crow South First, the facts. Willie McGee, an African-American driver of a ­grocery-delivery truck, was accused of raping a white woman, Willette Hawkins, in November 1945 in Laurel, Miss. After deliberating for less than three minutes, an all-white jury sentenced him to death, and the “small-town crime,” as Alex Heard writes, “became famous around the world.” Bella Abzug, long before she became a congress­woman, served as McGee’s defense lawyer during the appeals process, working on a case that today evokes the story line of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Albert Einstein, Norman Mailer and Paul Robeson supported McGee, and left-wing journalists ranted about the trial in The Daily Worker. In contrast to their reports, “The Eyes of Willie McGee” does not crackle with rage, despite its horrific ending: on May 8, 1951, McGee was electrocuted in the local courthouse, leaving an odor of burned flesh in the room…. – NYT, 8-29-10
  • Richard Rhodes: Nuclear Family: THE TWILIGHT OF THE BOMBS Recent Challenges, New Dangers, and the Prospects for a World Without Nuclear Weapons …So ends the first paragraph of the first book in Richard Rhodes’s four-volume epic. In that book, “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988, Rhodes explained how exactly the United States came to build atomic weapons. His next volume, “Dark Sun,” traced the early years of the cold war. “Arsenals of Folly” told the story of its end. And now “The Twilight of the Bombs” describes the fate of nuclear weapons since the Soviet Union ­collapsed…. – NYT, 8-29-10
  • Alex Butterworth’s “The World That Never Was,” a history of anarchism: THE WORLD THAT NEVER WAS A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists and Secret Agents Arguably, no single act produces a more immediate and lasting effect on history than a political assassination. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, such deeds were frequently the work of the anarchist movement, which rose from the anger and frustration of the working class. However, as British historian Alex Butterworth demonstrates in “The World That Never Was,” too seldom was it acknowledged that these killers were also moved by the highest ideals and dreams of utopia…. – WaPo, 8-27-10
  • Carolyn Warner: Review of “The Words of Extraordinary Women,” a book of quotations: THE WORDS OF EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN Selected and Introduced Perhaps Shirley Temple Black said it best: “Nothing crushes freedom as substantially as a tank.”
    Or maybe Lady Bird Johnson said it best: “The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom.”
    So many women have said it so well on so many subjects — politics, the arts, humor, success, family, faith, education — that businesswoman Carolyn Warner has collected their pithy thoughts and compiled them in a slim, useful volume, “The Words of Extraordinary Women.” Useful because as Warner, founder of Corporate Education Consulting, says, the right quotation can nail home your point in just about any setting…. – WaPo, 8-27-10
  • Kevin Starr: The Building of a Symbol: How It Got There, and Why It’s Orange: GOLDEN GATE The Life and Times of America’s Greatest Bridge …Despite the many existing odes to the Golden Gate Bridge, Kevin Starr seems particularly well equipped to write a biography of that famous orange bridge. The author of more than half a dozen histories of California, Mr. Starr — a professor of history at the University of Southern California and state librarian of California emeritus — has written frequently about the myths and metaphors that festoon the Golden State, and he seems to instinctively understand the place that the Golden Gate Bridge has come to occupy in the national imagination as a symbol of American enterprise and the gateway to the Pacific…. – NYT, 8-24-10
  • TOM SEGEV on Jonathan Schneer: ‘View With Favor’: THE BALFOUR DECLARATION The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict In this comprehensive study, richly documented by diplomatic correspondence, Jonathan Schneer concludes that the famous declaration seems to have just missed the sidetrack of history: in contrast to a common myth, Britain’s support for Zionism was not the result of an inevitable process. In fact, as Schneer reveals, shortly after Balfour’s promise to the Jews, the British government offered the Ottoman Empire the opportunity to keep Palestine and to continue to fly the Turkish flag over it. Schneer, a professor at Georgia Tech’s School of History, Technology and Society, is a talented writer…. – NYT, 8-22-10
  • Richard Rhodes: The unmaking of the atomic bomb: THE TWILIGHT OF THE BOMBS Recent Challenges, New Dangers, and the Prospects for a World Without Nuclear Weapons No one writes better about nuclear history than Rhodes does, ably combining a scholar’s attention to detail with a novelist’s devotion to character and pacing. He began his exploration in 1987 with “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He also earned praise for “Dark Sun,” the story of the hydrogen bomb’s creation. “Arsenals of Folly” tackled the beginning of U.S. and Soviet cooperation to end the arms race.
    In “The Twilight of the Bombs,” Rhodes documents events from the end of the Cold War to 2003 that, he believes, point toward the feasibility of eradicating nuclear weapons. He chronicles the underpublicized drama of the era: the efforts to contain the spread of nuclear weapons after the Soviet Union’s collapse, the nuclear disarmament of South Africa, the fallout from India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear tests, and the negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear ambitions. In Rhodes’s telling, big personalities clash and cooperate, jokes and epiphanies punctuate the debate, and offbeat details energize the narrative…. – WaPo, 8-20-10
  • Ilyon Woo’s ‘The Great Divorce: A 19th-Century Mother’s Extraordinary Fight’: THE GREAT DIVORCE A Nineteenth-Century Mother’s Extraordinary Fight Against Her Husband, the Shakers, and Her Times The title of historian Ilyon Woo’s provocative book certainly sparks curiosity and debate. Which of our many American divorces merits the epithet “great”? In this case, it’s the legislative decree won in New York by Eunice Chapman in 1818, a victory for maternal custody rights in an era when children legally belonged to their fathers. And what about the challenging subtitle?.. – WaPo, 8-20-10
  • Lucy Worsley’s “The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue at Kensington Palace” As inspiration for this account of life in the 18th-century Georgian court, Lucy Worsley takes the “portraits of forty-five royal servants that look down upon palace visitors from the walls and ceiling of the King’s Grand Staircase” in Kensington Palace, best known today as the final residence of Princess Diana. This palace was “the one royal home that George I and his son [George II] really transformed and made their own,” a place where the servants “witnessed romance and violence, intrigue and infighting, and almost unimaginable acts of hatred and cruelty between members of the same family.”… – WaPo, 8-20-10
  • Diane Ravitch reviews Three books about education reformWaPo, 8-20-10
  • Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus: Why Johnny’s College Isn’t What It Used to Be: HIGHER EDUCATION? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — and What We Can Do About It Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus have written a lucid, passionate and wide-ranging book on the state of American higher education and what they perceive as its increasing betrayal of its primary mission — for them, the teaching of undergraduates. That both are academics — one a well-known professor (Mr. Hacker) and the other consigned to the adjunct, or what they call “contingent,” faculty (Ms. Dreifus, who is also a frequent contributor to The New York Times) — provides them with memorable, often acerbic anecdotes that neatly offset their citations of statistics and (it must be said) their sometimes rather sweeping generalizations… – NYT, 8-19-10
  • Andrew Pettegree: Start the Presses: THE BOOK IN THE RENAISSANCE “The humanist mythology of print.” With this phrase the British scholar Andrew Pettegree indicates the cultural story his book amends, and to some extent transforms. In an understated, judicious manner, he offers a radically new understanding of printing in the years of its birth and youth. Print, in Pettegree’s account, was never as dignified or lofty a medium as that “humanist mythology” of disseminated classics would suggest…. – NYT, 8-15-10
  • Richard Toye: The Two Churchills: CHURCHILL’S EMPIRE The World That Made Him and the World He Made Winston Churchill is remembered for leading Britain through her finest hour — but what if he also led the country through her most shameful one? What if, in addition to rousing a nation to save the world from the Nazis, he fought for a raw white supremacy and a concentration camp network of his own? This question burns through Richard Toye’s superb, unsettling new history, “Churchill’s Empire” — and is even seeping into the Oval Office…. – NYT, 8-15-10Excerpt

FEATURES:

  • Bryan McNerney: Historian uses ancient maps to block ramblers: Bryan McNerney, who presented several successful history series on ITV, has been accused of blocking a footpath through the grounds of his country home. But the 57-year-old insists that a mistake by a map maker half a century ago wrongly showed the right of way through the property – ironically called “Garden of Eden”…. – Telegraph (UK) (8-24-10)
  • Old Irish bones may yield murderous secrets in Pa.: Young and strapping, the 57 Irish immigrants began grueling work in the summer of 1832 on the Philadelphia and Columbia railroad. Within weeks, all were dead of cholera. Or were they murdered? Two skulls unearthed at a probable mass grave near Philadelphia this month showed signs of violence, including a possible bullet hole. Another pair of skulls found earlier at the woodsy site also displayed traumas, seeming to confirm the suspicions of two historians leading the archaeological dig…. – Washington Times (8-16-10)

PROFILES:

  • Forever Young: Staughton Lynd at 80: Suddenly Staughton Lynd is all the rage. Again. In the last 18 months, Lynd has published two new books, a third that’s a reprint of an earlier work, plus a memoir co-authored with his wife Alice. In addition, a portrait of his life as an activist through 1970 by Carl Mirra of Adelphi University has been published, with another book about his work after 1970 by Mark Weber of Kent State University due soon…. – Center for Labor Renewal (8-25-10)

QUOTES:

  • Jonathan Sarna: Black and Jewish, and Seeing No Contradiction: “Everyone agrees that the numbers have grown, and they should be noticed,” said Jonathan D. Sarna of Brandeis University, a pre-eminent historian of American Jewry. “Once, there was a sense that ‘so-and-so looked Jewish.’ Today, because of conversion and intermarriage and patrilineal descent, that’s less and less true. The average synagogue looks more like America. “Even in an Orthodox synagogue, there’s likely to be a few people who look different,” Professor Sarna said, “and everybody assumes that will grow.”… – NYT, 8-28-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Pressure mounts for ‘Sheriff’ Elizabeth Warren: “The administration is hesitating because they’re faced with the traditional problem that Obama has faced,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. If the White House passes Warren over, Zelizer says, they disappoint liberals whose support has been key throughout the administration. If Warren gets the nod, the White House must deal with “political difficulties on Capitol Hill where centrists have quite a lot of power and Republicans are becoming quite obstinate,” Zelizer said. – CNN.com (8-26-10)
  • David A. Moss: Income inequality may contribute to financial crises, says Harvard economic historian: David A. Moss, an economic and policy historian at the Harvard Business School, has spent years studying income inequality. While he has long believed that the growing disparity between the rich and poor was harmful to the people on the bottom, he says he hadn’t seen the risks to the world of finance, where many of the richest earn their great fortunes. Now, as he studies the financial crisis of 2008, Mr. Moss says that even Wall Street may have something serious to fear from inequality — namely, another crisis….
    “I could hardly believe how tight the fit was — it was a stunning correlation,” he said. “And it began to raise the question of whether there are causal links between financial deregulation, economic inequality and instability in the financial sector. Are all of these things connected?”… – NYT (8-21-10)
  • Julian Zelizer: Obama Just Like Jimmy Carter: Is Barack Obama really like Jimmy Carter? Julian Zelizer, author of the forthcoming Jimmy Carter, part of Henry Holt & Co.’s American Presidents series, thinks so. Both are smart, both promised reform, and both, he adds, “entered office at a time Republicans were in bad condition as a result of previous presidents … and found it difficult to capitalize on this situation.” Other similarities: “There was a sense, that became worse over time, that Carter was cold and distant, and not very personable,” Zelizer told our Suzi Parker. Also, the right succeeded in demonizing Carter’s successes. And Obama should heed this Carter lesson: “Being straight with voters and telling them the reality of a situation is fine, but voters also need to know how you will make things better.” – US News, 8-18-10
  • David Kennedy: Happy 75th Birthday, Social Security: Social Security was a centerpiece of FDR’s New Deal reforms that helped this country recover from the Great Depression. These programs provided Americans a measure of dignity and hope and lasting security against the vicissitudes of the market and life. FDR therefore accomplished what the venerable New Deal historian David Kennedy says is the challenge now facing President Obama—a rescue from the current economic crisis which will also make us “more resilient to face those future crises that inevitably await us.”…. – The Nation, 8-13-10

INTERVIEWS:

  • Red Menace: David Gentilcore Talks the Tasty History of the Tomato: In his new book, “Pomodoro! A History of the Tomato in Italy,” Gentilcore traces the tomato from its origins in the New World, where it was domesticated by the Maya, then cultivated by the Aztecs. It likely entered Europe via Spain, after conquistador Hernan Cortes’s conquest of Mexico. When it arrived on the scene in Italy, it was strictly a curiosity for those who studied plants — not something anyone faint of heart would consider eating. In 1628, Paduan physician Giovanni Domenico Sala called tomatoes “strange and horrible things” in a discussion that included the consumption of locusts, crickets, and worms. When people ate tomatoes, it was as a novelty. “People were curious about new foods, the way gourmets are today with new combinations and new uses of high technology in preparation,” Gentilcore said. Yesterday’s tomato is today’s molecular gastronomy…. Boston Globe (8-15-10)
  • William Jelani Cobb: The Root Interview: William Jelani Cobb on Obama and Black Leadership: William Jelani Cobb: Initially they made it more difficult because I’m accustomed to writing about things that are more static. This was an attempt to place the election into a context in terms of history, and in some ways in terms of irony. But this was also a rapidly changing subject. The result was that I wrote about three-quarters of the book and then threw it all out and started again from scratch. It was much more difficult to decide what story I wanted to tell…. – The Root (8-19-10)
  • Obama’s Teachable Mosque Moment: FrontPage Interviews Victor Davis Hanson: Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author, most recently, of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern…. – FrontPageMag (8-23-10)
  • Talking About Brazil with Lilia Schwarcz: On a recent trip to Brazil, I struck up a conversation with Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, one of Brazil’s finest historians and anthropologists. The talk turned to the two subjects she has studied most—racism and national identity…. – NYRBlog (8-17-10)
  • Q. & A.: Sean Wilentz on Bob Dylan: The historian Sean Wilentz, the author of “The Rise of American Democracy” and “The Age of Reagan,” has a long-standing interest in the songs of Bob Dylan, going back to his childhood in Greenwich Village. His father and uncle ran the Eighth Street Bookshop, an important gathering place for the Beats and other downtown literary spirits; it was in his uncle’s apartment, above the store, that Dylan first met Allen Ginsberg. Wilentz has synthesized his memories, musical impressions, and historical analysis in a striking new book entitled “Bob Dylan in America,” which Doubleday will publish next month; newyorker.com runs an excerpt this week. As a sometime Dylan obsessive—in 1999 I wrote a long piece about Dylan, which will reappear in my forthcoming book “Listen to This”—I approached Wilentz with some questions about his latest work…. – New Yorker (8-16-10)

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • Kenneth M. LudmererWash U professor receives honor: Kenneth M. Ludmerer, MD, has been named the Mabel Dorn Reeder Distinguished Professor in the History of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Ludmerer, a renowned medical historian and educator, is professor of medicine at the School of Medicine and professor of history in the College of Arts & Sciences…. – Globe Democrat, 8-25-10
  • Elaine Chalus: Bath historian finds diaries of woman who nursed Nelson: A Bath historian is hoping to give an admiral’s wife – who tended to a wounded Lord Nelson – “her rightful place in history”. Dr Elaine Chalus has won a major research grant of more than £100,000 to investigate diaries kept by Elizabeth Wynne…. – BBC News (8-24-10)

SPOTTED:

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • September 17-18, 2010 at Notre Dame University: Conference aims to bring medieval, early modern and Latin American historians together: An interdisciplinary conference to be held at the University of Notre Dame this fall is making a final call for papers to explore the issue surrounding similarities between late-medieval Iberia and its colonies in the New World. “From Iberian Kingdoms to Atlantic Empires: Spain, Portugal, and the New World, 1250-1700” is being hosted by the university’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies and will take place on September 17-18, 2010. Medieval News, 4-29-10
  • Thousands of Studs Terkel interviews going online: The Library of Congress will digitize the Studs Terkel Oral History Archive, according to the agreement, while the museum will retain ownership of the roughly 5,500 interviews in the archive and the copyrights to the content. Project officials expect digitizing the collection to take more than two years…. – NYT, 5-13-10
  • Digital Southern Historical Collection: The 41,626 scans reproduce diaries, letters, business records, and photographs that provide a window into the lives of Americans in the South from the 18th through mid-20th centuries.

ON TV:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • Christopher Tomlins, Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580-1865 (Paperback and Hardcover), September 1, 2010
  • Holger Hoock: Empires of the Imagination: Politics, War, and the Arts in the British World, 1750-1850, (Hardcover), September 1, 2010
  • Anna Whitelock: Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen, (Hardcover), September 7, 2010
  • James L. Swanson: Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln’s Corpse, (Hardcover), September 28, 2010
  • Timothy Snyder: The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke (First Trade Paper Edition), (Paperback), September 28, 2010
  • Ron Chernow: Washington: A Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
  • George William Van Cleve: A Slaveholders’ Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic, (Hardcover), October 1, 2010.
  • John Keegan: The American Civil War: A Military History, (Paperback), October 5, 2010
  • Bill Bryson: At Home: A Short History of Private Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
  • Robert M. Poole: On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Robert Leckie: Challenge for the Pacific: Guadalcanal: The Turning Point of the War, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Manning Marable: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, (Hardcover), November 9, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
  • G. J. Barker-Benfield: Abigail and John Adams: The Americanization of Sensibility, (Hardcover), November 15, 2010
  • Edmund Morris: Colonel Roosevelt, (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
  • Michael Goldfarb: Emancipation: How Liberating Europe’s Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance, (Paperback), November 23, 2010

DEPARTED:

  • David Weber, Southwest Expert, Dies at 69: David J. Weber, whose groundbreaking works on the American Southwest under Spain and Mexico opened new territory for historians, died on Aug. 20 in Gallup, N.M. He was 69 and lived in Dallas and Ramah, N.M. The cause was complications from multiple myeloma, said his wife, Carol…. – NYT (8-27-10)
  • David Weber, Vice-president of the AHA’s Professional Division, Dies at 69: David J. Weber, historian of the Borderlands, the American West, and Latin America and vice-president of the American Historical Association’s Professional Division, died on Friday, August 20, after a long struggle with multiple myeloma…. – Debbie Ann Doyle at the AHA Blog (8-23-10)
  • Bernard Knox, distinguished classicist, dies at 95: Bernard M. W. Knox, an authority on the works of Sophocles, a prolific scholar and the founding director of Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies, died July 22 at his home in Bethesda, Md. He was 95. The cause was a heart attack, said his son, MacGregor…. – NYT (8-17-10)
  • Professor Ray Beachey, 94, of Makerere University: Professor Ray Beachey, who died on July 10 aged 94, encouraged the hopes of a generation of East African leaders as head of History at Makerere University in Uganda during the 1950s and early 1960s…. – Telegraph (UK) (8-13-10)

August 23 2010: Last American Combat Troops Leave Iraq, Americans see Obama as a Muslim

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Poll: Nearly 6 in 10 oppose war in Afghanistan: A majority of Americans see no end in sight in Afghanistan, and nearly six in 10 oppose the nine-year-old war as President Barack Obama sends tens of thousands more troops to the fight, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.
    With just over 10 weeks before nationwide elections that could define the remainder of Obama’s first term, only 38 percent say they support his expanded war effort in Afghanistan — a drop from 46 percent in March. Just 19 percent expect the situation to improve during the next year, while 29 percent think it will get worse. Some 49 percent think it will remain the same…. – AP, 8-20-10
  • Faith and Reason: A conversation about religion, spirituality and ethics The “M-word’: Is “Muslim” political code for ‘I don’t like you!’ Evangelist leads ‘disinformation campaign’ on Obama: Religion professor: Who, exactly, is “Christian”? Or Christian enough? Or the right variation of Christian — i.e. probably the one you are or you like.
    With all the hoohah over the 18% of folks who told a Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey that President Obama is Muslim and 34% who said Obama is Christian, the 43% who are unsure what he believes have gotten less attention…. – USA Today, 8-20-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama, daughters go book shopping in Martha’s Vineyard: President Barack Obama and his two daughters went book shopping Friday on the first outing of their 10-day vacation in Massachusetts’ upscale Martha’s Vineyard, witnesses said. Obama, wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses and sandals, arrived at the “Bunch of Grapes” bookstore in central Vineyard Haven aboard an SUV along with daughters Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9…. – AFP, 8-20-10
  • Clinton announces direct talks to resume on Sept. 2: Washington to invite Israel and Palestinians to peace negotiations; Netanyahu welcomes decision saying reaching an agreement is ‘difficult challenge but possible.’… – JPost, 8-20-10
  • Obama Faces Middle East ‘Train Wreck’ as Iran Builds Nuclear Program: This is the last article of a three-part series on Iran’s entry into the world’s “nuclear club” as it begins fueling its nuclear reactor in Bushehr.
    Oil prices spike. Shipping routes come under attack. Mideast peace talks collapse. Progress in Afghanistan is shattered. President Obama finds himself caught in a shouting match between Israel’s supporters in America and critics abroad. And so much for restoring ties with the Muslim world.
    That’s just a sampling of what could happen if Israel or the United States launches an attack on Iran to halt what some see as its otherwise inexorable march toward developing a nuclear weapon. It sounds bad … but Israel has vowed to forbid a nuclear-armed Iran, and the consequences of its bold words could be severe.
    Anyone who thinks the president of the United States has it easy needs only to consider his predicament…. – Fox News, 8-20-10Part 1Part 2
  • Obama to GOP: Stop blocking small business bill: President Barack Obama is urging Republican congressional leaders to stop blocking a bill aimed at helping small businesses hire more people. Speaking at the White House, Obama said there would be plenty of time for politics but that the bill should not fall victim to partisanship…. – AP, 8-19-10
  • Blagojevich is campaign distraction for Ill. Dems: Alexi Giannoulias had planned to talk jobs. The Democrat in a tight race for President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat wanted to take the opportunity to say his Republican opponent had helped wreck the nation’s economy. Reporters, though, only wanted to talk about the ousted Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, a newly convicted felon who prosecutors plan to retry on some counts.
    The unfinished business of the Blagojevich trial poses a major new hurdle for Illinois Democrats, who are already facing a difficult election season. After hoping Blagojevich’s trial would wrap up well before the November vote, a retrial could begin as soon as this fall, in the final weeks of campaigning.
    Blagojevich’s saga will keep diverting attention away from the pocketbook issues Democrats want to talk about as they try to keep Obama’s old seat, hold on to the governor’s mansion and maintain their lock on the state Legislature… – AP, 8-19-10
  • From shock and awe to a quiet exit – US troops pull out of Iraq: It began with shock and awe and ended with a silent trickle across the border in the dead of night. As the 4th Stryker Brigade, Second Infantry division, arrived at their staging post in the sands of Kuwait, Sergeant Donald Wilms got out of his battle truck and high-fived friends in his platoon. A few hours earlier they had rumbled across the dusty border, becoming the last US combat unit to leave Iraq.
    “We knew we were going to make history,” he said. “The whole platoon is extremely proud of the difference they were able to make.”
    Two trucks in front of him, Staff Sergeant Wiley Baker also had a sense of the moment. “Any time in a war, whether it be world war two or Vietnam, the first and the last in are setting the agenda,” he said. “We were glad to be a part of it.”
    For the men and women of the division, seven years and five months of war in Iraq is now over. As soon as they had crossed the border after a three-day drive along the spine of central Iraq, US commanders announced that the overall American combat mission in the country was also complete – 12 days earlier than the official end of operations and with doubts about the continuing US role in Iraq lingering…. – Guardian UK, 8-19-10
  • Obama Is Questioned on Economy: President Barack Obama gestures during a backyard gathering to talk about the economy at the home of Rhonda and Joe Weithman in Clintonville, Ohio. President Barack Obama, at a summit of sorts in an Ohio family’s backyard, sought to reassure citizens Wednesday that the economy is on track and that his administration’s legislative victories will benefit voters.
    “Slowly, but surely, we are moving in the right direction. We’re on the right track. The economy is getting stronger,” Mr. Obama said at the beginning of a question-and-answer session with Columbus, Ohio, residents at the home of Rhonda and Joe Weithman.
    The summit comes as a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows American citizens have their dimmest view yet of how Obama is handling the economy. It also comes a few months ahead of midterm elections, in which the economy is expected to play a vital role in whether Democrats hold onto their majority in Congress…. – AP, 8-18-10
  • Obama on mosque: ‘The answer is no regrets’: President Obama has made his first public comment on the mosque controversy since Saturday — a very short comment. It came when a television reporter in Ohio asked Obama if he had any regrets about weighing in. “The answer is no regrets,” Obama said…. – USA Today, 8-18-10
  • Some Muslims question mosque near ground zero: American Muslims who support the proposed mosque and Islamic center near ground zero are facing skeptics within their own faith — those who argue that the project is insensitive to Sept. 11 victims and needlessly provocative at a time when Muslims are pressing for wider acceptance in the U.S. “For most Americans, 9/11 remains as an open wound, and anything associated with Islam, even for Americans who want to understand Islam — to have an Islamic center with so much publicity is like rubbing salt in open wounds,” said Akbar Ahmed, professor of Islamic studies at American University, a former Pakistani ambassador to Britain and author of “Journey Into America, The Challenge of Islam.” He said the space should include a synagogue and a church so it will truly be interfaith…. – AP, 8-18-10
  • Blagojevich jurors ask for advice on verdict form: A two-part note on Tuesday from deliberating jurors in the corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich suggests they may be in the process of filling out verdict forms in the case — or are thinking about doing so soon. The jurors asked Judge James B. Zagel how they should mark the verdict form if they can’t reach a decision on a count. In the first part of the note, they also asked for a copy of the oath they took before deliberating. Zagel said in his response that they shouldn’t mark the form if they haven’t been able to reach an agreement on a count but should write a statement saying they couldn’t agree. He also said he would provide a copy of the oath, in which jurors pledge to do their best to reach a verdict…. – AP, 8-17-10
  • California gay marriage case hangs on technicality: The next stage of California’s gay marriage court battle rests on a procedural issue that could halt the case, leaving same-sex unions legal in California without a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to guide the country…. – Reuters, 8-17-10
  • Mama Grizzlies Beware: Liberal PAC Launches Campaign Against Sarah Palin’s Candidates: ABC News’ Huma Khan reports: Sarah Palin is firing up conservative women with her “mama grizzlies” campaign, but liberal women are showing they have a roar in them too. Emily’s List, one of the largest political action committees dedicated to electing pro-choice female Democrats, today unveiled its “Sarah Doesn’t Speak For Me” campaign, designed to counter Sarah Palin’s influence in the mid-term elections. The highlight of the campaign is a video ad mocking Palin’s “mama grizzlies.” “We call upon women and men to let their voices be heard and to reject Palin’s reactionary candidates and backwards- looking agenda. We created this campaign because Sarah Palin and her endorsed candidates are extreme and bad for America, because women voters are key to this election and our country,” Emily’s List president Stephanie Schriock said at a news conference today. “We created this campaign because we didn’t want women across the country to think that there’s only one voice for women and we didn’t want Sarah Palin’s voice to go unchallenged.”…. – ABC News, 8-17-10
  • Obama says GOP hindering efforts to help business: President Barack Obama is accusing Republicans of thwarting efforts to help small business owners by blocking legislation containing tax breaks and other incentives. He made the charges, a familiar theme for him, in the midst of a three-day fundraising outing on behalf of besieged Democratic candidates. He was in Seattle to help Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, whose re-election bid is closely watched by Democrats across the nation. Obama spoke on the day of Washington’s primary. Murray is on the ballot and was expected to advance. The president met with a group of small business owners and told reporters afterward that Congress needs to act on the small business legislation. He said Republicans “won’t even let it go to a vote.”…. – AP, 8-17-10
  • Obama launches 3 days of fundraising travel: President Barack Obama, embarking on a three-day tour to raise money for Democrats, said Monday that a rising homegrown clean energy industry can help reverse years of manufacturing job losses overseas and help heal a still- ailing economy. “We can’t turn back, we’ve got keep going forward,” Obama told a group of workers at the ZBB Energy Corp, underscoring what he said was his lasting commitment to a clean energy future. Later, Obama portrayed Republicans as a party of naysayers, opposing nearly all of his domestic initiatives from clean-energy incentives to his landmark health care and financial overhaul legislation. In a play on his 2008 campaign slogan of “Yes we can,” Obama told a Democratic fundraiser in Milwaukee, “These guys’ slogan is ‘no we can’t.'”… – AP, 8-16-10
  • Obama Asks Hollywood For Campaign Cash At LA Fundraiser: Streisand, Spielberg Listed As Hosts, Pelosi Will Also Attend Party At ER Producer’s Mansion… – ABC News, 8-16-10
  • Gates plans to retire next year: Defense Secretary Robert Gates plans to leave his job next year. A Republican and holdover from the Bush administration, Gates had agreed to stay on at the request of President Barack Obama. The move was intended to maintain stability at a time of two wars, although Gates has been open about his desire to return to civilian life in his home state of Washington. In an interview published Monday, Gates told Foreign Policy magazine that leaving in 2011 makes sense. It would give him time to oversee the major offensive under way in Afghanistan but bow out before the 2012 presidential elections. Gates has been defense secretary since December 2006. Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell confirmed Monday that Gates has set his sights on leaving next year…. – AP, 8-16-10
  • Tom DeLay cleared in federal probe, but Texas charges loom: Former House majority leader Tom DeLay was not charged in a federal investigation into ties with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But he faces a Texas indictment for violating campaign-finance laws…. – CS Monitor, 8-16-10
  • Analysis: Mosque talk another hurdle for Dems: Add another election-year hurdle for Democrats: President Barack Obama’s forceful defense of the right of Muslims to build a mosque near the World Trade Center site. His comments are giving Republicans a campaign-year cudgel and forcing Democrats to address a divisive issue within weeks of midterm contests that will decide the balance of power in Washington. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in a competitive re-election fight, was the highest profile Democrat to move away from Obama on the matter. “The First Amendment protects freedom of religion,” Reid’s spokesman Jim Manley said in a statement Monday. “Senator Reid respects that but thinks that the mosque should be built some place else.”… – AP, 8-16-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Kendrick Meek: The White House Has My Back: On a campaign stop in Florida Wednesday, President Obama said Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Kendrick Meek is the “kind of fighter” that “we need” in the Senate. The “campaigner-in-chief” made the comment on his first trip down to Florida, only a week before the August 24th primary. The president’s previous absence in the race, where Meek is the underdog, had left many wondering whether the Democratic candidate was essentially on his own.
    Meek, however, insisted on “Washington Unplugged” Thursday that “The White House has answered the question constantly,” arguing to CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer that he has the full backing of the administration…. – CBS News, 8-19-10
  • Primaries being decided in 3 states: Democratic Sen. Patty Murray looked to move a step closer toward a fourth term Tuesday in a race that Republicans believe they can win in an election year when antiestablishment sentiment is running high. Murray and Republican challenger Dino Rossi are heavily favored to win Washington’s primary and face off in November, in what could be a crucial election in the battle for control of the Senate. They already have been campaigning against each other in anticipation of a fall matchup, and President Barack Obama came to the state Tuesday to raise money for Murray. Washington is one of three states holding primaries Tuesday. Wyoming was deciding a gubernatorial primary in the race to replace popular Democratic Gov. Dave Freudenthal, and Democrats in a legislative district along the California coast were hoping to lock up a state Senate seat in a closely watched special election that has attracted the interest of the president…. – AP, 8-17-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Weekly Address: President Obama Challenges Politicians Benefiting from Citizens United Ruling to Defend Corporate Influence in Our Elections: Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address August 21, 2010: …You would think that making these reforms would be a matter of common sense. You’d think that reducing corporate and even foreign influence over our elections wouldn’t be a partisan issue.
    But the Republican leaders in Congress said no. In fact, they used their power to block the issue from even coming up for a vote.
    This can only mean that the leaders of the other party want to keep the public in the dark. They don’t want you to know which interests are paying for the ads. The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide.
    Well, we cannot allow the corporate takeover of our democracy. So we’re going to continue to fight for reform and transparency. And I urge all of you to take up the same fight. Let’s challenge every elected official who benefits from these ads to defend this practice or join us in stopping it.
    At a time of such challenge for America, we can’t afford these political games. Millions of Americans are struggling to get by, and their voices shouldn’t be drowned out by millions of dollars in secret, special interest advertising. Their voices should be heard…. – WH, 8-21-10
  • Obama challenges GOP on campaign finance ruling: President Barack Obama says Republicans should join him in opposing a Supreme Court ruling that vastly increased how much corporations and unions can spend on campaign ads. Instead, the GOP wants to “keep the public in the dark” about who’s behind the expenditures, Obama charged in his weekly radio and Internet address, released Saturday as he vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard.
    “You’d think that reducing corporate and even foreign influence over our elections wouldn’t be a partisan issue,” said Obama. “But the Republican leaders in Congress said no. In fact,they used their power to block the issue from even coming up for a vote.
    “This can only mean that the leaders of the other party want to keep the public in the dark,” said the president. “They don’t want you to know which interests are paying for the ads. The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide.”… – AP, 8-21-10
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., scoffed at the president’s message: “Americans want us to focus on jobs, but by focusing on an election bill, Democrats are sending a clear message to the American people that their jobs aren’t as important as the jobs of embattled Democrat politicians,” McConnell said. “The president says this bill is about transparency. It’s transparent all right. It’s a transparent effort to rig the fall elections.”… – AP, 8-21-10
  • The Rev. Franklin Graham Says President Obama was ‘Born a Muslim’ Comments Come As Poll Shows One in Five Americans Wrongly Believes Obama Is Muslim: On the heels of a new poll suggesting that nearly one in five Americans incorrectly believes that President Obama is a Muslim, one of the nation’s most prominent evangelical leaders has weighed in with a seemingly lukewarm endorsement of the president’s Christian faith. Why do 18 percent of Americans believe the president is a Muslim?
    The Rev. Franklin Graham waded into the discussion with his own controversial explanation of why people wrongly believe the president is a Muslim. Graham, who prayed with Obama in a session with his father, Billy Graham, earlier this year, was asked whether he has any doubts about Obama’s self-avowed Christian faith.
    “I think the president’s problem is that he was born a Muslim, his father was a Muslim. The seed of Islam is passed through the father like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother. He was born a Muslim, his father gave him an Islamic name,” Graham told CNN’s John King in a televised interview that aired Thursday night…. – ABC News, 8-20-10
  • Bush comments on end of combat: Seven years after declaring the end of “major combat operations in Iraq,” former President George W. Bush Thursday commented on the departure of the last U.S. combat troops from the country by expressing his gratitude to members of the U.S. military.
    “President Bush is always proud of our troops,” Bush spokesman David Sherzer said in a statement to POLITICO. “Like all Americans, he is deeply grateful for all they do to defend our country and help make the world a freer and more peaceful place.”…
    Bush has rarely spoken about the war since leaving office, even as violence in the country has decreased and the United States prepares for a full withdrawal next summer. But in a tweet late Wednesday night as the last U.S. combat troops crossed the Iraqi border into Kuwait, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) noted the former president’s role: “Last American combat troops leave Iraq. I think President George W. Bush deserves some credit for victory.” – Politico, 8-19-10
  • Ending the War in Iraq:
    Good afternoon,
    Shortly after taking office, I put forward a plan to end the war in Iraq responsibly. Today, I’m pleased to report that — thanks to the extraordinary service of our troops and civilians in Iraq — our combat mission will end this month, and we will complete a substantial drawdown of our troops.
    Over the last 18 months, over 90,000 U.S. troops have left Iraq. By the end of this month, 50,000 troops will be serving in Iraq. As Iraqi Security Forces take responsibility for securing their country, our troops will move to an advise-and-assist role. And, consistent with our agreement with the Iraqi government, all of our troops will be out of Iraq by the end of next year. Meanwhile, we will continue to build a strong partnership with the Iraqi people with an increased civilian commitment and diplomatic effort.
    A few weeks ago, men and women from one of the most deployed brigades in the U.S. Army, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, returned home from Iraq. The Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden were at Fort Drum to welcome the veterans home and spoke about their personal experiences as a military family:
    Our commitment to our troops doesn’t end once they come home — it’s only the beginning. Part of ending a war responsibly is meeting our responsibility to the men and women who have fought it. Our troops and their families have made tremendous sacrifices to keep our nation safe and secure, and as a nation we have a moral obligation to serve our veterans as well as they have served us.
    That’s why we’re building a 21st century Department of Veterans Affairs. We’ve made one of the largest percentage increase in the VA’s budget in 30 years, and we’re dramatically increasing funding for veterans’ health across the board. In particular, we’re delivering unprecedented resources to treat signature wounds of today’s wars—Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
    Our sacred trust to take care of our veterans goes beyond simply healing the wounds incurred in battle. We must ensure that when our veterans leave the Armed Forces, they have the opportunities they need to further their education and support their families. Through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, some 300,000 veterans and families members have pursued a college degree. Others are taking advantage of job training and placement programs.
    My Administration will continue to do our part to support the brave men and women in uniform that have sacrificed so much. But supporting our troops and their families is not just the job of the Federal Government; it’s the responsibility of all Americans.
    As we mark this milestone in the Iraq war and our troops continue to move out of Iraq, I hope you’ll join me in thanking them, and all of our troops and military families, for their service.
    Sincerely,
    President Barack Obama
    WH, 8-19-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Andrew Bacevich: OBAMA AND THE MISSION: “If we can’t have a victory parade, we at least ought to be able to make some definitive conclusions,” said Andrew Bacevich, a military specialist at Boston University who lost a son in Iraq and has written a new book, “Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War.” “And it just doesn’t seem that we are going to do so. We want to just move on, sadly.”… – NYT, 8-21-10
  • Judy Chu: pposing view on Iraq endgame: U.S. deadline improved Iraq: Last Thursday, the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, crossed the border out of Iraq. With this exit, two weeks ahead of schedule, our military met the timeline to withdraw combat troops that President Obama first proposed 16 months ago. For that, every American should feel reassured.
    The president’s withdrawal timeline produced a more orderly transition and reduced violence.
    According to the Iraq Body Count project, civilian deaths caused by coalition troops, paramilitary forces, or criminal attacks averaged 1,390 each month from the beginning of the war in March 2003 through February of last year. But after the president officially announced a timetable, that average fell to 364 monthly casualties.
    During the past year and a half, our troops curbed Iraq’s civil war, restrained the insurgency and transitioned into a peacekeeping, advisory force…. – USA Today, 8-23-10
  • Why doesn’t Obama wear his religion on his sleeve?: What will it take for Obama to convince the world that he’s a Christian, or at least not a Muslim? Teaching Baptist Sunday School like Jimmy Carter? Putting a ‘My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter’ bumper sticker on Air Force One?… – CS Monitor, 8-21-10

August 16, 2010: Former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens Dies in Plane Crash & Robert Gibb’s “Professional Left”

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President signs help for states
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/10/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • First Lady’s Poll Numbers Drop After Spain Vacation: Michelle Obama may think twice before vacationing in Europe again. While the first lady may have enjoyed her recent luxury trip to the south of Spain with 9-year-old daughter Sasha, it may be the reason her popularity rating has plummeted, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
    The survey found that just 50 percent of Americans now have a positive opinion of her, compared to the 64 percent who gave her a thumbs up in a similar April 2009 survey. The First Lady’s positive rating is just a few points ahead of her husband’s approval figure, which stands at 46 percent.
    Much of the drop is thought to be down to her five-day shopping and sightseeing tour of Andalucía, from which she returned last Sunday. That foreign fiesta — during which she stayed in a five star Costa del Sol hotel, where rooms cost up to $7,000 a night — provoked considerable anger back home, even though White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the Obamas had paid for all of their personal expenses…. – AOL News, 8-16-10
  • Fox News Poll: Wrong to Pass Legislation in Lame-Duck Session: A Fox News poll released Thursday also found that Republican voters remain much more interested than Democrats in this year’s elections, and GOP candidates continue to have the edge in the generic ballot test.
    By a wide 64-25 percent margin, most voters think it would be inappropriate for “current lawmakers to push through legislation on major issues that likely wouldn’t pass once the new House and Senate members take office.” Most Republicans (77 percent) and independents (68 percent) think it would be wrong, as do a plurality of Democrats (49 percent).
    If the election were held today, 44 percent of voters say they would back the Republican candidate in their congressional district and 37 percent the Democratic candidate. A month ago, the Republican candidate had a slim 4 percentage point edge (41-37 percent, July 13-14). Fox News, 8-12-10
  • Why GOP’s predicted gains in midterm elections might be short-lived: A new poll suggests that the Republican Party is actually viewed less positively than the Democratic Party. That doesn’t mean the GOP won’t make gains in midterm elections. But it does mean Americans will likely give Republicans little time to make an impact…. – CS Monitor, 8-12-10
  • On the Issues, Obama Finds Majority Approval Elusive Scores best on race relations, education: Barack Obama’s 52% approval rating for handling race relations is the only issue among 13 tested in two recent Gallup polls for which the president receives majority-level approval. In fact, a majority disapprove of the job the president is doing on eight of these issues, with his worst scores for his handling of immigration and the federal budget deficit….
    These results are based on a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted July 27-Aug. 1 and a separate Gallup poll conducted Aug. 5-8, which asked Americans to say whether they approve or disapprove of the way the president is dealing with each of several issues. Both polls measured Obama’s handling of the economy, which Americans rated essentially the same in each (39% and 38%, respectively).
    Obama’s generally tepid evaluations on issues are not surprising considering his overall job approval rating has consistently been below 50%…. – Gallop, 8-11-10
  • Unhappy birthday? President Barack Obama spends 49th bday without family, public support wanes: President Obama has made few statements about his birthday. And he doesn’t seem too excited. “I will be 49 this week,” Obama said on Monday, ABC News reported. “I have a lot more gray hair than I did last year.”
    Obama’s poll numbers have slipped to all-time lows. According to a USA/Gallup poll released Tuesday, only 36% backed Obama’s war policies, down from 48% in February…. – NY Daily News, 8-4-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obamas make quick trip to promote Gulf Coast: With a quick family trip to the Gulf Coast, President Barack Obama is offering his personal assurance that the region is a safe, clean vacation destination despite the massive oil spill. Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, daughter Sasha and family dog Bo arrived Saturday for a 27-hour stop in the Florida Panhandle. As many residents here had hoped, Obama took Sasha for a swim in the Gulf waters that have absorbed 200 million gallons of oil since an offshore rig exploded in April. The Obamas’ other daughter, Malia, is at summer camp. “Beaches all along the Gulf Coast are clean, they are safe, and they are open for business,” said Obama. The president’s dip happened away from the media. The White House released an official photo, but The Associated Press does not publish such handout images. According to the White House, the Obamas swam off Alligator Point, which is in Saint Andrew Bay, not the Gulf…. – AP, 8-15-10
  • Cornyn: Obama out of touch over N.Y. mosque: A top Republican senator said Sunday that President Obama’s comments about a proposed mosque near New York’s ground zero will escalate into a campaign issue leading into the November midterm elections. Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” said that Mr. Obama’s response to the issue shows he “seems disconnected from mainstream America” and “that’s one of the reasons people are so frustrated.”
    “We all respect the right of anyone to worship according to the dictates of their conscience,” he said. “But I do think it’s unwise . . . to build a mosque at the site where 3,000 Americans lost their lives as a result of a terrorist attack.” Mr. Cornyn added that while the issue “is going to be a local decision,” the “American people will render their verdict.”… – The Washington Times, 8-15-10
  • Administration’s Muddled Response on Mosque Creates New Election Year Debate: The site of a planned mosque is shown two blocks from the World Trade Center, Friday, Aug. 13, 2010 in New York. President Barack Obama on Friday will speak up for religious freedom at a dinner celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, emphasizing that point just as New York City is immersed in a deeply sensitive debate about whether a mosque should be built near ground zero. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
    President Obama’s seemingly conflicting responses over the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero demonstrate another example of the tone-deaf nature of the White House, politicians on both sides of the aisle are suggesting as the remark raises the prospect of another sticky election issue for lawmakers this November.
    The issue of whether to build the thirteen-story Park 51 mosque and Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan — two blocks from where the Twin Towers fell — is one that Democrats don’t need on their plates right now as they try to defend their economic policies and the new health care law ahead of what is expected to be pivotal a midterm election. Republicans, however, see the opening and are ready to pounce…. – Fox News, 8-15-10
  • Gruesome Details of Alaska Plane Crash Emerge: Former Sen. Ted Stevens lay dead in the mangled fuselage of the plane. A 13-year-old boy escaped death but watched his father die a few feet away. Medical workers spent the miserable night tending to survivors’ broken bones amid a huge slick of fuel that coated a muddy mountainside. The gruesome details of the plane crash that killed Stevens and four others emerged as investigators tried to figure out how the float plane crashed into a mountain during a fishing trip. Three teenagers and their parents were on the plane, including the former head of NASA… – AOL News, 8-11-10
  • Petraeus Opposes a Rapid Pullout in Afghanistan: Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander of American and NATO forces, began a campaign on Sunday to convince an increasingly skeptical public that the American-led coalition can still succeed here despite months of setbacks, saying he had not come to Afghanistan to preside over a “graceful exit.”
    In an hourlong interview with The New York Times, the general argued against any precipitous withdrawal of forces in July 2011, the date set by President Obama to begin at least a gradual reduction of the 100,000 troops on the ground. General Petraeus said that it was only in the last few weeks that the war plan had been fine-tuned and given the resources that it required. “For the first time,” he said, “we will have what we have been working to put in place for the last year and a half.”… – NYT, 8-16-10
  • Obama declares Gulf Coast ‘open for business’: President Barack Obama declared Gulf Coast beaches clean, safe and open for business Saturday as he brought his family to the Florida Panhandle and promised residents that the government wouldn’t forget them once efforts to stop the leak are finished.
    On a warm and muggy day, Obama pledged to “keep up our efforts until the environment is cleaned, polluters are held accountable, businesses and communities are made whole, and the people of the Gulf Coast are back on their feet.”
    Obama is in the region for a brief weekend trip with first lady Michelle Obama, daughter Sasha (her sister Malia is at summer camp) and the family dog, Bo. Their 27-hour stop in the Sunshine State is as much a family vacation as it is an attempt by the president to convince Americans that this region, so dependent on tourism revenue, is safe for travel — and that its surf is clean…. – Boston Globe, 8-14-10
  • Obama Enters Debate With Mosque Remarks: Faced with withering Republican criticism of his defense of the right of Muslims to build a community center and mosque near ground zero, President Obama quickly recalibrated his remarks on Saturday, a sign that he has waded into even more treacherous political waters than the White House had at first realized. In brief comments during a family trip to the Gulf of Mexico, Mr. Obama said he was not endorsing the New York project, but simply trying to uphold the broader principle that government should “treat everybody equally,” regardless of religion.
    “I was not commenting, and I will not comment, on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there,” Mr. Obama said. “I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about.”… – NYT, 8-15-10
  • Obama’s Florida trip: With BP oil spill receding, time for a swim?: Obama is feeling pressure to take his shirt off and show the world that the Gulf Coast is safe for swimming after the April 20 BP oil spill…. – CS Monitor, 8-14-10
  • Obama signs $600M border security bill into law: President Barack Obama on Friday signed a bill directing $600 million more to securing the U.S.-Mexico border, a modest election-year victory that underscores his failure so far to deliver an overhaul of immigration law. The new law will pay for the hiring of 1,000 more Border Patrol agents to be deployed at critical areas, as well as more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. It provides for new communications equipment and greater use of unmanned surveillance drones. The Justice Department gets more money to help catch drug dealers and human traffickers….
    “Our borders are just too vast for us to be able to solve the problem only with fences and border patrols,” the president said then. “It won’t work.”… – AP, 8-13-10
  • Democrat quits NH House over anti-Palin remark: A New Hampshire Democrat has quit the state legislature after cracking a joke on Facebook about Sarah Palin’s death. Rep. Timothy Horrigan of Durham posted a comment Wednesday that a “dead Palin wd be even more dangerous than a live one” and she “is all about her myth & if she was dead she cdn’t commit any more gaffes.” Horrigan apologized Thursday and resigned. He is also discontinuing his re-election campaign…. – AP, 8-12-10
  • Obama gets blasted as ‘worst president’ ever — by Dan Quayle’s son: Well, we wondered who would be the first public figure to call Barack Obama “the worst president in history” — an appellation applied to most White House occupants at one time or another. We just didn’t think it would be Dan Quayle’s son. Ben Quayle, 33, who is seeking the Republican nomination for a U.S. House seat in Arizona, has cut a commercial denouncing Obama, as well as “drug cartels in Mexico” and “tax cartels in D.C.”… – USA Today, 8-12-10
  • Jury in Blagojevich corruption trial only agrees on 2 counts out of 24: Judge says keep deliberating: Elvis look-alike Rod Blagojevich may sooy 12 of deliberations announced they have hit a wall and can agree on only two out of 24 counts against him. That translates to “very good news for the defenn have a message for the jury in his corruption trial: Thank you. Thank you very much. The former Illinois governor was all smiles Thursday as jurors on dase so far,” legal analyst Terry Sullivan told The Associated Press…. – NY Daily News, 8-12-10
  • Sen. Durbin of Ill. has stomach tumor removed: Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois has had a stomach tumor removed and is recovering at the University of Chicago Medical Center… – AP, 8-12-10
  • Judge keeps California gay marriage ruling on hold: The federal judge who last week overturned the state’s gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, agreed to a continued hold on his ruling while foes appeal…. – LAT, 8-13-10
  • Ted Stevens plane crash: why it’s so dangerous to fly in Alaska: The Ted Stevens plane crash points to the challenges of flying in Alaska, where the accident rate is more than two times worse than it is in the US as a whole…. – CS Monitor, 8-12-10
  • Washington vs. Paul Ryan What happens when a politician is more honest than his critics: The immune system of the modern body politic is nothing if not resilient, and this summer all of its antibodies seem to be trained on heretofore little known Congressman Paul Ryan. That makes this a particularly instructive moment, because the attacks on the Wisconsin Republican show how deeply his radical honesty is subverting Washington’s flim-flam—to borrow a phrase. “The flim-flam man” is what Paul Krugman called Mr. Ryan in a New York Times column last week that set a spleen-to- substance record even for him. Amid drive-by attacks on the Congressman’s ethics and integrity, Mr. Krugman savaged Mr. Ryan’s “roadmap”—his detailed, long-range proposal to equalize taxes and the size of government—as “a fraud that makes no useful contribution to the debate over America’s fiscal future.”… – WSJ, 8-12-10
  • Former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens dies in plane crash: A float plane carrying former Sen. Ted Stevens and ex-NASA chief Sean O’Keefe crashed into a remote mountainside in Alaska, killing the longtime senator and four others, authorities said Tuesday. O’Keefe and his teenage son survived the crash with broken bones and other injuries, said former NASA spokesman Glenn Mahone. The O’Keefes spent Monday night on the mountain with several volunteers who discovered the wreckage and tended to the injured until rescuers arrived Tuesday morning…. – AP, 8-10-10
  • Cold night crept by after crash killed Stevens: Former Sen. Ted Stevens lay dead in the mangled fuselage of the plane. A 13-year-old boy escaped death but watched his father die a few feet away. Medical workers spent the miserable night tending to survivors’ broken bones amid a huge slick of fuel that coated a muddy mountainside. The gruesome details of the plane crash that killed Stevens and four others emerged as investigators tried to figure out how the float plane crashed into a mountain during a fishing trip. Three teenagers and their parents were on the plane, including the former head of NASA…. – AP, 8-11-10
  • Robert Gibbs on flak from the left: ‘No inflatable exit’ from his office: At Wednesday’s White House briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs came prepared to field questions concerning his recent complaint about the ‘professional left.’… – CS Monitor, 8-11-10
  • Gibbs stands by remarks on liberals _ sort of: White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday he might have said things differently when he lashed out at liberals he called the “professional left” and suggested some of them should be drug tested. But he told his daily White house briefing that he’s certainly not leaving his job over the remark, as at least one Democratic congressman has suggested. And he stuck to his line that President Barack Obama has accomplished or made great strides on key goals and promises despite criticism from some liberals that he has not done enough…. – AP, 8-11-10
  • White House in dispute with ‘professional left’: The White House was on the defensive Tuesday after press secretary Robert Gibbs lashed out at liberals he dubbed the “professional left,” saying some of them should be drug-tested. Gibbs contended that some progressives critical of President Barack Obama wouldn’t be satisfied until the Pentagon was eliminated and Canadian-style health care ushered into the U.S. Some of them wouldn’t even be happy if anti-war congressman Dennis Kucinich were president, according to Gibbs. His comments appeared Tuesday in “The Hill” newspaper…. – AP, 8-10-10
  • White House unloads anger over criticism from ‘professional left’: The White House is simmering with anger at criticism from liberals who say President Obama is more concerned with deal-making than ideological purity. During an interview with The Hill in his West Wing office, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs blasted liberal naysayers, whom he said would never regard anything the president did as good enough.
    “I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.” The press secretary dismissed the “professional left” in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.” Of those who complain that Obama caved to centrists on issues such as healthcare reform, Gibbs said: “They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.” – The Hill, 8-10-10
  • Robert Gibbs, putting things a little too plainly: The president has succeeded in passing the bulk of his agenda over the strenuous objections of a resurgent Republican minority. But his critics, particularly those on the left, are still grumbling and unsatisfied. They say the president is not moving fast enough. Some have even compared him to former president George W. Bush.
    That last was enough to send press secretary Robert Gibbs over the edge Tuesday. In a rant that he later described as “inartful,” Gibbs unloaded on what he called the “professional left” and said they were out of touch with reality. “I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug-tested,” Gibbs told The Hill’s Sam Youngman in an interview. “I mean, it’s crazy.”
    In his apology, Gibbs offered a peek inside the current mental state at the White House: “Day after day, it gets frustrating,” he wrote. – (Gibbs’s comments about the Democratic base) The Hill InterviewWaPo, 8-11-10
  • Gibbs condemns criticism from ‘professional left’: Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) says Gibbs should resign. “This is not the first time that Mr. Gibbs has made untoward and inflammatory comments and I certainly hope that people in the White House don’t share his view that the left is unimportant to the president,” he said. “I understand him having some loyalty to the president who employs him, but I think he’s walking over the line.”… White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters, “I don’t think there’s any danger of that happening.”…. – WaPo, 8-11-10
  • Seeking Prompt Hearing, Rangel Vows to Stay Put: Facing serious accusations of violating House rules, Representative Charles B. Rangel offered an extended defense of his conduct on the House floor on Tuesday. He demanded a prompt ethics committee hearing and vowed to remain in office
    “I am not going away,” said Mr. Rangel, who asserted his right to take the floor between votes on other issues and drew applause from some Democratic colleagues when he pledged to fight on. “I am here.”… “I’m 80 years old,” Mr. Rangel said, arguing that his constituents deserved to know whether he had done anything wrong. “I don’t want to die before the hearing.” At another point, he said, “Don’t leave me swinging in the wind until November.”… – NYT, 8-11-10
  • House approves jobs bill: Do states deserve $26 billion more stimulus?: The House of Representatives cut short its August recess to return to Washington and pass a state jobs bill Tuesday. Supporters say the bill is much-needed additional stimulus; detractors argue that it has too little money to really make a dent in states’ budget problems. CS Monitor, 8-10-10
  • Rangel: ‘Don’t leave me swinging in the wind’: A combative Rep. Charles Rangel told the House on Tuesday he’s not resigning despite 13 charges of wrongdoing and demanded the ethics committee not leave him “swinging in the wind.” Rangel, who is 80, spoke without notes in an extraordinary, often emotional 37-minute speech that defied his lawyers’ advice to keep quiet about his case. The New York Democrat and 40-year House veteran had a sharp message in dismissing fellow Democrats who, worried about election losses, want him to quit: “If I can’t get my dignity back here, then fire your best shot in getting rid of me through expulsion.”… – AP, 8-10-10
  • Why Obama is not first ‘imposter’ president and won’t be the last: A recent CNN poll revealed that one out of four Americans doubt that President Obama is a citizen. Many are “birthers” who believe he is an illegitimate president because he wasn’t born in this country. But historians say Americans have long accused their presidents of being illegitimate officeholders for all sorts of dark, and bizarre, reasons…. – CNN, 8-9-10
  • Obama on the road to promote higher-ed, raise cash: President Barack Obama’s late-summer dash for campaign cash is picking up with two high-dollar fundraisers in Texas for the Democratic Party. His other business Monday will be a speech underscoring his commitment to higher education, although no new policy announcements are expected. From Washington to New York City to Atlanta to Chicago, Obama has headlined events to raise millions of dollars in recent days for his party. The push comes as looming midterm congressional elections in November will determine whether his party can maintain its grip on power in the House and the Senate…. – AP, 8-9-10
  • House ethics panel outlines charges against Waters: The House ethics committee on Monday announced three counts of alleged ethics violations against California Democrat Maxine Waters, including a charge that she requested federal help for a bank where her husband owned stock and had served on its board. Waters, a 10-term representative from Los Angeles, has denied any wrongdoing and had urged the committee to come forth with details of the charges so that she can defend herself in a trial expected to take place this fall. That trial would be the second handled by the ethics committee this fall. Another senior Democrat, former Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, faces 13 counts, including failing to disclose assets and income and delayed payment of federal taxes. With the election just three months away, Republicans have pounced on the two cases as indications of Democrats failing to live up to promises to end corruption in Washington…. – AP, 8-9-10
  • BP pays three billion dollars into oil spill fund: BP said Monday it had made its initial deposit of 3.0 billion dollars into a 20-billion-dollar US-managed fund to compensate victims of the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill. “The purpose of the escrow account was to assure those adversely affected by the spill that we indeed intend to stand behind our commitment to them and to the American taxpayers,” BP’s incoming chief executive Bob Dudley said in a statement. “Establishing this trust and making the initial deposit ahead of schedule further demonstrates our commitment to making it right in the Gulf Coast,” he said. President Barack Obama’s administration earned commitments from BP to pay into the account in mid-June, nearly two months after the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and triggering what has become the world’s largest unintentional oil spill…. – AFP, 8-9-10
  • Making a Supreme Court Case for Gay Marriage: Attorney David Boies knows what it’s like to argue a historic case before the U.S. Supreme Court, and he knows what it’s like to lose. A decade ago, he squared off against Republican stalwart Theodore Olson before the Justices in Bush v. Gore, the case that narrowly decided the 2000 presidential election in Bush’s favor and quickly earned a place in the minds of some legal scholars as one of the high court’s most nakedly partisan decisions of all time. Now, thanks to last week’s ruling in favor of gay marriage before a federal judge in California, Boies and Olson are working together on a case many feel is as important — and no less political — than Bush v. Gore, and one that is on a collision course with a court that has grown only more conservative over the intervening 10 years.
    If the Supreme Court decides to hear their case, Boies and Olson must persuade at least five of its Justices that the decision laid down last week in San Francisco presents the basis for a decision both sides say would be a landmark ruling on one of the fundamental rights in American jurisprudence: the right to marriage. As he awaited the California decision earlier this year, Boies told TIME that no matter what the law says, Justices bring their own perspectives to play as they confront cases that deal with vital questions of public life. “There isn’t any doubt,” Boies said, “that Justices’ private views play a role in how these cases are decided.”… – Time, 8-9-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • USA TODAY’s interactive political map – Election 2010
  • Bill Clinton back on the campaign trail stumping for others: Former President Bill Clinton hits the campaign trail Monday with three rallies for Rep. Kendrick Meek as the latter makes a bid for Florida’s Democratic Senate nomination. Last month, CNN learned that President Barack Obama’s aides were putting together an aggressive schedule to deploy Clinton at campaign and fundraising events in key states around the country in the weeks ahead. According to Democratic officials familiar with the plans, the White House specifically wants to use Clinton in key swing states where Obama is not particularly popular, such as Arkansas and Kentucky…. – CNN, 8-16-10
  • Desperate Democrats pin their hopes on scary Republicans: Democrats have no illusions about what they’re up against this fall: a terrible economic climate, a sour electorate and a sizable enthusiasm gap. There’s little that President Obama and other Democrats can do between now and November to change the economy’s trajectory, other than hope for better job numbers in September and October — a dubious proposition given assessments about the sluggishness of the recovery.
    Absent economic changes, the public’s mood isn’t likely to brighten much over the next few months. The latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll found that almost two-thirds of Americans believe that the economy has not hit bottom. Gallup found that 58 percent say the economy, jobs and unemployment are the major problems facing the country. No other issues come close…. – WaPo, 8-14-10
  • Dem. Party ad targets Toomey in Pa. Senate race: The first negative TV ad of the general election campaign against Pennsylvania Senate candidate Pat Toomey is going on the air. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said the ad begins airing Friday and portrays the Republican as a champion of Wall Street and the financial instruments that toppled some financial institutions. Toomey is in a close race against Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak. They are seeking the seat held by Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter…. – AP, 8-14-10
  • Pelosi stumps for Democrats as GOP fires away: The big political bull’s-eye on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s back isn’t keeping her from campaigning for Democratic candidates in several states, even if she avoids some of the most conservative regions. Pelosi will attend fundraisers this month in Houston and Dallas, plus make a joint appearance Aug. 16 with President Barack Obama in Los Angeles. She recently headlined a fundraiser in Santa Fe for New Mexico’s three House Democrats, two of whom face tough Republican challengers who criticize their ties to the speaker. That Aug. 3 event underscored the double-edged nature of Pelosi visit. No Democrat except Obama raises more money, say party officials, who credit Pelosi with pulling in $189 million since 2003. But she also is the GOP’s favorite target this year, eclipsing even the president in the guilt-by- association tactic that Republicans are using in dozens of races…. – AP, 8-13-10
  • Longshot US Senate candidate from SC indicted: Longshot Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene was indicted Friday on two charges, including a felony charge of showing pornography to a teenage student in a South Carolina college computer lab. Greene surprised the party establishment with his primary victory in June. His arrest in November was first reported by The Associated Press the day after he won the nomination. Authorities said he approached a student in a University of South Carolina computer lab, showed her obscene photos online, then talked about going to her dorm room. A Richland County grand jury indicted Greene, 32, for disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity — a felony — as well as a misdemeanor charge of communicating obscene materials to a person without consent…. – AP, 8-13-10
  • Ben Quayle’s new ad: Obama worst president ever: The son of former Vice President Dan Quayle unveiled a TV campaign ad Wednesday in his bid for Congress in which he calls President Barack Obama “the worst president in history” and tells Arizona voters that he wants to “knock the hell” out of Washington.
    Ben Quayle’s provocative ad, aimed at voters in Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District ahead of the Aug. 24 GOP primary, was released amid allegations that he posted items under an alias for a racy social website a few years ago. In the campaign ad, the 33-year-old Quayle faces the camera directly and begins by saying, “Barack Obama is the worst president in history.” Quayle’s generation will “inherit a weakened country,” he says. He goes on to implore voters to send him to Congress: “I love Arizona. I was raised right. Somebody has to go to Washington and knock the hell out of the place.”…. – AP, 8-12-10
  • For Some Democrats, Clinton Is Campaigner-In-Chief: Former President Bill Clinton has done a lot more this summer than watch his daughter get married. He’s been busy raising money for Democratic candidates, recording robocalls and radio ads, and appearing at campaign rallies. In Colorado, that campaigning rekindled an old rivalry: In the state’s Democratic Senate race, President Obama endorsed the incumbent senator, Michael Bennet, early on, while Clinton backed Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff, who lost in Tuesday’s voting. That split was unusual. For the most part, the two presidents have found themselves in the same camp. But in some parts of the country, Clinton is proving to be a more popular campaigner than Obama…. – NPR, 8-11-10
  • Primary winners highlight political inexperience: All hail inexperience — the less familiarity with politics the better, no matter the party or state. “The support of the voters of Connecticut isn’t bestowed by the establishment or the pundits or the media. It isn’t a birthright,” former World Wrestling Entertainment executive Linda McMahon said after winning the GOP senatorial nomination in her first run for office.
    Two mountain ranges away, appointed Sen. Michael Bennett of Colorado, tried to express the same sentiment after dispatching his rival, a former state house speaker. “This election is the first time my name has ever been on the ballot,” said Bennett, who enjoyed President Barrack Obama’s support in the bitter Democratic primary…. – AP, 8-11-10
  • Incumbent Backed by Obama Wins Colorado Primary: The predictions of doom for incumbents and establishment candidates this campaign season are proving to be more complex in the real world. On Tuesday, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, a Democrat who had hitched his star to the fortunes of President Obama, survived a bitter primary challenge.
    But in this state’s Republican primary, a Tea Party-backed insurgent, Ken Buck, upended the candidate endorsed by Washington Republicans, Jane Norton, a former lieutenant governor.
    The two victories suggested that the anticipated wrath of the American voter might not be quite ready to sweep away all before its path — but the tide is still strong…. – NYT, 8-11-10
  • Ex-senator earns comeback bid in Minnesota: With ex-Sen. Mark Dayton’s wee-hours win in Minnesota’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, we can declare a trend: In this week’s big primary races, Democrats tended to stick with establishment candidates while Republicans preferred the insurgents…. – USA Today, 8-11-10
  • Clinton stumps for Dem in close Senate race in Pa.: Former President Bill Clinton characterized Pennsylvania’s close and competitive U.S. Senate race on Tuesday as a choice between disastrous Reagan-Bush economic policies and the ability of Democrats to fix the damage they inflicted….
    “You ought to say to people, ‘Sestak’s the best candidate and give this deal two more years,'” Clinton told the crowd. “We were in a deep hole, a year and a half wasn’t enough to dig us out of it.”… – AP, 8-10-10
  • Michael Bennet faces insurgent uprising in Colorado Senate primary: Polls show both establishment candidates in the Colorado Senate race – Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet and Republican Jane Norton – trailing opponents ahead of Tuesday’s primary….. – CS Monitor, 8-10-10
  • In Connecticut, McMahon Poised to Win Intrigue-Filled Primary: With one day to go before the Connecticut Republican Senate primary, former WWE CEO Linda McMahon leads former Congressman Rob Simmons handily enough in polls that it appears she’ll win without much trouble… – The Atlantic, 8-9-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Weekly Address: President Obama Promises to Protect Social Security from Republican Plans to Privatize It: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery August 14, 2010 Washington, DC: …A few years ago, we had a debate about privatizing Social Security. And I’d have thought that debate would’ve been put to rest once and for all by the financial crisis we’ve just experienced. I’d have thought, after being reminded how quickly the stock market can tumble, after seeing the wealth people worked a lifetime to earn wiped out in a matter of days, that no one would want to place bets with Social Security on Wall Street; that everyone would understand why we need to be prudent about investing the retirement money of tens of millions of Americans.
    But some Republican leaders in Congress don’t seem to have learned any lessons from the past few years. They’re pushing to make privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda if they win a majority in Congress this fall. It’s right up there on their to-do list with repealing some of the Medicare benefits and reforms that are adding at least a dozen years to the fiscal health of Medicare – the single longest extension in history.
    That agenda is wrong for seniors, it’s wrong for America, and I won’t let it happen. Not while I’m President. I’ll fight with everything I’ve got to stop those who would gamble your Social Security on Wall Street. Because you shouldn’t be worried that a sudden downturn in the stock market will put all you’ve worked so hard for – all you’ve earned – at risk. You should have the peace of mind of knowing that after meeting your responsibilities and paying into the system all your lives, you’ll get the benefits you deserve.
    Seventy-five years ago today, Franklin Roosevelt made a promise. He promised that from that day forward, we’d offer – quote – “some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against poverty-stricken old age.” That’s a promise each generation of Americans has kept. And it’s a promise America will continue to keep so long as I have the honor of serving as President. – WH, 8-14-10
  • Obama spokesman: No need to ‘turn back’ on ending combat mission in Iraq: Let me give you a quick readout of the president’s meeting this morning with his national security team. They met today, as you know, to discuss Iraq. The president heard directly from General (Ray) Odierno who said that we were on target to complete our drawdown by the end of August. Already we have removed over 80,000 troops from Iraq since President Obama took office.
    General Odierno also reported that the security situation has retained the significant improvements made over the last couple of years and that Iraqi security forces are fully prepared to be in the lead when we end their combat mission later this month.
    The president also received an update from Vice President Biden and Ambassador Hill on our efforts to support Iraq’s leaders as they form a new government and to transition to civilian lead within Iraq…. – USA Today, 8-11-10
  • Reagan insider: ‘GOP destroyed U.S. economy’ Commentary: How: Gold. Tax cuts. Debts. Wars. Fat Cats. Class gap. No fiscal discipline: “How my G.O.P. destroyed the U.S. economy.” Yes, that is exactly what David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed piece, “Four Deformations of the Apocalypse.” Get it? Not “destroying.” The GOP has already “destroyed” the U.S. economy, setting up an “American Apocalypse.”… – CBS News, 8-10-10
  • Obama stresses education Perry greets commander in chief at airport and delivers letter on security along border: President Barack Obama mocked Republicans as devoid of new economic ideas at a Democratic fundraiser Monday, then pounded his message that education “is the economic issue of our time” before a cheering crowd at the University of Texas.
    “I mean, it would be one thing if having run the economy into the ground, having taken record surpluses and turned them into record deficits, if having presided over the meltdown of our financial system, that they had gone off into the desert for a while and reflected and said, ‘Boy, we really screwed up,'” Obama said at the Democratic National Committee fundraiser.
    “But that’s not what’s happening. Instead, they are trotting out the exact same ideas that got us into this mess in the first place. Their big economic plan is to renew the tax cuts that helped to turn surpluses into deficits – tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans,” Obama said. “And once you get past that, they don’t have another new idea.”…
    “Michelle and I – we had big loans to pay off when we graduated – and I remember what that felt like. That’s why I’m absolutely committed to making sure that here in America, nobody is denied a college education, nobody is denied a chance to pursue their dreams, nobody is denied a chance to make the most of their lives just because they can’t afford it,” Obama said. “We are a better country than that, and we need to act like we’re a better country than that.”…. – Houston Chronicle, 8-10-10
  • Levi Johnston to run for mayor of Wasilla in reality-show pitch: Levi Johnston, Sarah Palin’s on-again, off-again possible son-in-law, is shooting the pilot for a proposed reality show in which he runs for the former Alaska governor’s old job as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Variety reports.
    “It’s hard to figure me out,” Levi tells Variety. “You’ve got to follow me around. I’m very different. I lead a crazy life. But it will basically be both worlds, my life in Hollywood and back home, the real country boy that I am.”
    Variety says the project, being pitched by Stone and Co., is titled “Loving Levi: The Road to the Mayor’s Office.”
    Johnston admits he was initially lukewarm about the idea, as pitched by the production company, but now says of his political prospects: “I think there’s a possibility we can make it happen.”… – USA Today, 8-10-10
  • Boehner Targets ‘Anchor Babies,’ McConnell Highlights ‘Birth Tourism’: House Minority Leader John Boehner entered the 14th Amendment fray Sunday, telling “Meet the Press” Sunday that granting automatic citizenship to babies born in the U.S. is “an incentive for illegal immigrants to come here.” He did not say whether he would back a change, but argued birthright citizenship draws illegal immigrants to the country and burdens schools… – The Washington Independent, 8-9-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: It’s Obama’s White House, but it’s still Bush’s world: When conservatives brand President Obama a socialist or a foreigner, his aides laugh it off. When critics disparage him as arrogant or aloof, they roll their eyes. But if liberals dare compare Obama to his predecessor in the Oval Office, the gloves come off….
    In a host of arenas, Obama is holding on to the Bush administration’s policies and practices, even some that he decried during his presidential campaign and vowed to undo. From the wars we fight to the oil we drill for, we’re still living in the Bush era — like it or not.
    First, consider the strengthening of presidential power. Every president since Richard Nixon has fought to restore the authority of the executive branch that was diminished as a result of Watergate. No chief executive was as successful as Bush, especially since he had the help of Vice President Dick Cheney, who had dedicated much of his career to criticizing the 1970s reforms that he thought had emasculated the White House. Bush relied on signing statements and executive orders to implement initiatives such as warrantless wiretapping without having to get approval from Congress.
    Obama has not done much to reverse the trend…. – WaPo, 8-12-10
  • KARL ROVE: The Blame Bush Strategy Won’t Work Polls reveal voters are receptive to GOP ideas: To save themselves in the midterm elections, Democrats are counting on selling two themes: The state of the economy is all George W. Bush’s fault, and Republican policies will take us backwards. President Obama relished going to Texas this week to blame his predecessor for the current bad economy.
    Nice try, but it won’t work. Don’t take my word. This is what Mr. Obama’s pollster, Joel Benenson, has found. The Benenson Strategy Group wasn’t exactly quite this blunt in its report for the “Third Way,” a centrist Democratic organization. But its data was.
    In its poll released in July, Benenson asked, “Generally speaking, who is more responsible for the recent economic recession—President Barack Obama or President George W. Bush?” The answer was Mr. Bush 53%, Mr. Obama 26%, and “Don’t know” 21%…. – WSJ, 8-12-10
  • U.S. House Set to Pass State Aid as Lawmakers Return From Break: The vote is an opportunity for Democrats to say “Look, we stepped up to the plate. We interrupted our campaign to come back to Washington just for one vote,” said Ross Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey…. – Bloomberg, 8-10-10
  • David Crockett: Why Obama is not first ‘imposter’ president and won’t be the last: “Heavens, where do I start?” says David Crockett, an associate professor of political science at Trinity University in Texas. “No one wants to admit that they got spanked in an election contest. It’s always nicer to think the opponent somehow cheated the system. So yes — Obama wasn’t born here, Bush stole the election, Clinton won only because Ross Perot screwed up Bush’s [the elder’s] chances, Bush the elder won only because he demagogued Willie Horton. … I could go back further.” – CNN, 8-9-10
  • Thomas Alan Schwartz: Why Obama is not first ‘imposter’ president and won’t be the last: You can go back to the 19th century, where calling a president illegitimate was a common — and often nasty — practice, says Thomas Alan Schwartz, a presidential historian at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Though questioning a president’s legitimacy is common, it can turn dangerous, Schwartz says. “On the extreme side, it encourages nut cases to take the law in their own hand.”…
    “Nixon didn’t challenge the election of 1960, though he had a very good case,” says Schwartz, the Vanderbilt University historian. Schwartz says Nixon didn’t protest because he didn’t want to spark a political crisis during the Cold War…. – CNN, 8-9-10
  • Randall Miller: Why Obama is not first ‘imposter’ president and won’t be the last: Andrew Johnson, Abraham Lincoln’s successor, was deemed unqualified because of his personality and his policies, says Randall Miller, a history professor at St. Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania… “Johnson took everything personal,” Miller says. “He would respond to hecklers. He became engaged in these back- and-forth shouting matches, and that contributed to the idea that he was illegitimate.”…
    The Internet and the 24-hours news cycle feed into claims of presidential illegitimacy, says Randall Miller, a history professor at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “The charges against a president are so constant and pervasive,” he says. “You just pound away, and the capacity for people to step back and ask if this makes sense is almost gone.”
    “It’s in our political DNA to want to believe in conspiracy theories,” he says. “That contributes to the mind-set that people in power are illegitimate.” Our love of Oval Office conspiracies and illegitimate presidents covers up a deeper fear — of change, he says. “As life becomes more complicated and you feel alienated, you look for things to make sense out of a world that’s a swirl,” Miller says. “You can comprehend these simpler explanations.”… – CNN, 8-9-10
  • Kevin Gutzman: Why Obama is not first ‘imposter’ president and won’t be the last: “It goes back to the assassination of John Kennedy and people’s feelings that they weren’t getting the straight story about really happened,” says Kevin Gutzman, a history professor at Western Connecticut State University. “People were predisposed to think of conspiracy at the highest levels.”… – CNN, 8-9-10

Political Shorts: Robert Gibbs & The “Profession Left” Controversy

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs briefs reporters at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 11.

Charles Dharapak/AP

  • Robert Gibbs on flak from the left: ‘No inflatable exit’ from his office: At Wednesday’s White House briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs came prepared to field questions concerning his recent complaint about the ‘professional left.’… – CS Monitor, 8-11-10
  • Gibbs stands by remarks on liberals _ sort of: White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday he might have said things differently when he lashed out at liberals he called the “professional left” and suggested some of them should be drug tested. But he told his daily White house briefing that he’s certainly not leaving his job over the remark, as at least one Democratic congressman has suggested. And he stuck to his line that President Barack Obama has accomplished or made great strides on key goals and promises despite criticism from some liberals that he has not done enough…. – AP, 8-11-10
  • White House in dispute with ‘professional left’: The White House was on the defensive Tuesday after press secretary Robert Gibbs lashed out at liberals he dubbed the “professional left,” saying some of them should be drug-tested. Gibbs contended that some progressives critical of President Barack Obama wouldn’t be satisfied until the Pentagon was eliminated and Canadian-style health care ushered into the U.S. Some of them wouldn’t even be happy if anti-war congressman Dennis Kucinich were president, according to Gibbs. His comments appeared Tuesday in “The Hill” newspaper…. – AP, 8-10-10
  • White House unloads anger over criticism from ‘professional left’: The White House is simmering with anger at criticism from liberals who say President Obama is more concerned with deal-making than ideological purity. During an interview with The Hill in his West Wing office, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs blasted liberal naysayers, whom he said would never regard anything the president did as good enough.
    “I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.” The press secretary dismissed the “professional left” in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.” Of those who complain that Obama caved to centrists on issues such as healthcare reform, Gibbs said: “They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.” – The Hill, 8-10-10
  • Robert Gibbs, putting things a little too plainly: The president has succeeded in passing the bulk of his agenda over the strenuous objections of a resurgent Republican minority. But his critics, particularly those on the left, are still grumbling and unsatisfied. They say the president is not moving fast enough. Some have even compared him to former president George W. Bush.
    That last was enough to send press secretary Robert Gibbs over the edge Tuesday. In a rant that he later described as “inartful,” Gibbs unloaded on what he called the “professional left” and said they were out of touch with reality. “I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug-tested,” Gibbs told The Hill’s Sam Youngman in an interview. “I mean, it’s crazy.”
    In his apology, Gibbs offered a peek inside the current mental state at the White House: “Day after day, it gets frustrating,” he wrote. – (Gibbs’s comments about the Democratic base) The Hill InterviewWaPo, 8-11-10
  • Gibbs condemns criticism from ‘professional left’: Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) says Gibbs should resign. “This is not the first time that Mr. Gibbs has made untoward and inflammatory comments and I certainly hope that people in the White House don’t share his view that the left is unimportant to the president,” he said. “I understand him having some loyalty to the president who employs him, but I think he’s walking over the line.”… White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters, “I don’t think there’s any danger of that happening.”…. – WaPo, 8-11-10
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