Political Highlights November 15, 2010: Obama’s Asia Trip, Possible Deal with Israel, Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Run, and Nancy Pelosi Retains Democratic Leadership

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 & MIDTERM ELECTIONS 2010:

The President speaks at the University of Indonesia
White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 11/10/10

STATS & POLLS

  • Better News For Palin: PPP’s newest batch of 2012 Republican primary polls conducted right before last week’s election finds Mitt Romney ahead in the critical early state of Florida, Tim Pawlenty surprisingly weak in his home state of Minnesota, and Sarah Palin posting leads in Texas, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Maine…. – NYT, 11-12-10
  • Republican election win fails to excite public: poll: The Republican Party may have excited conservatives when it recaptured the House of Representatives in last week’s midterm elections but a recession-jilted public is less than enthused, according to a poll released on Thursday by the Pew Research Center.
    The survey found that 48 percent of those polled were happy with the Republican victory.
    This compared to 60 percent who said they were happy in 2006 when the Democrats regained majorities in both branches of Congress and the 57 percent who applauded the historic 1994 midterm gains for the Republican Party that saw them take control of the legislature for the first time in 40 years.
    “The nature of the victory itself is a little different because the Republicans this time only captured one chamber as opposed to the whole Congress,” said Carroll Doherty, associate director of the Pew Research Center. “One of the things that you see here is that we have seen these transitions of power before and they are happening more frequently and so it is not so novel,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview…. – Reuters, 11-11-10
  • Poll: 77% say elections more negative than 2006 campaign: Americans believe the midterm elections were more negative than the 2006 campaign, a new Pew Research Center poll says. Nearly 8 in 10 voters, or 77%, say there was more mudslinging and negative campaigning than in previous elections. That compares with 69% after the elections four years ago.
    The 2010 elections may be remembered in history for these images: attacks on President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, voters clamoring for less government and taxes participating in Tea Party rallies, and people railing against “Obamacare” and the new health insurance law. Most important, this election was about the economy. So maybe it’s not surprising that the low grades for Campaign 2010 weren’t partisan: 70% of Republicans, 79% of Democrats and 81% of independents said this political season was more negative than in 2006… – USA Today, 11-11-10
  • Nine Congress and governor races not yet decided: Here are the congressional and gubernatorial races that remain uncalled after Tuesday’s election… – WaPo, 11-10-10
  • AP-GfK Poll: Palin most polarizing of 2012 crowd: Sarah Palin is the most polarizing of the potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates, while impressions of Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney lean more positive, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. As for the rest — Pawlenty, Barbour, Thune, Daniels — most Americans say, “Who?”
    Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee, is the best-known and most divisive of the bunch. In the wake of her high-profile role in endorsing candidates all over the country, 46 percent of Americans view her favorably, 49 percent unfavorably, and 5 percent don’t know enough about her to form an opinion.
    Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who won the 2008 GOP Iowa caucus, received the highest favorability rating, 49 percent. About one in four people has no opinion of him, and 27 percent view him unfavorably.
    Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who ran in 2008, had similar results. Nearly a quarter of all Americans have no opinion about him, while 46 percent view him favorably, and 31 percent unfavorably.
    In terms of winning the 2012 nomination, the question is how Republican-leaning Americans view the contenders. Palin comes out on top. Among adults who identify themselves as Republicans or GOP-leaning independents, 79 percent view her favorably, and 17 percent unfavorably.
    These findings worry many Republican officials. The poll suggests Palin might be able to win the nomination. But among independents_they could be the deciding factor in the general election — just 43 percent hold a favorable view of Palin, compared with 61 percent with a positive view of Obama…. – AP, 11-10-10
  • 2010: An Aligning Election: Elections with results as dramatic as those of Tuesday night are sometimes referred to as “realigning elections.” The term — although somewhat ambiguous and overused — usually refers to a case in which one or another party not only gains a significant amount of power, but also, in which coalitions are shifted, the signature of which is usually that the rising party performs particularly well in certain geographic regions or among certain demographic groups.
    The 1980 election, for instance, arguably marked the beginning of a long-term shift toward Republicans in America’s suburbs, with Jimmy Carter’s share of the suburban vote dropping from 53 percent in 1976 to 37 percent in 1980: the 16-point swing against Mr. Carter was about twice the one he suffered in cities or rural areas. Likewise, in 1994, the shift against Democrats was particularly sharp in the South: 19 of the 52 representatives which they lost having come from that part of the country.
    The 2010 elections, by contrast, were remarkable for their orderliness — and they tended to reinforce, to an almost uncanny degree, existing political coalitions.
    Below is a chart that arranges America’s 435 congressional districts from those (on the left) which gave the highest percentage of their vote to Barack Obama in 2008 to those (on the right) which gave the highest share to John McCain; the chart then compares which party each district had elected to the House before and after Tuesday night…. – NYT, 11-8-10

THE HEADLINES….

President Barack Obama at a Press Conference at the G20 Summit at   Coex Center in Seoul, South Korea

President Barack Obama answers questions during a press conference at the G20 Summit at Coex Center in Seoul, South Korea, November 12, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Netanyahu Backs U.S. Proposal for Freeze: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will ask cabinet ministers to support a U.S. proposal to extend restrictions on building in Jewish settlements for 90 days in exchange for a package of incentives from Washington, according to Israeli officials. If approved by the Israeli government, the deal could help revive peace talks with the Palestinians, which collapsed at the end of September when a 10-month period of building restrictions expired and Israel refused to extend it. Also Sunday, one of Israel’s most senior intelligence officials issued a stark warning that without immediate and meaningful progress toward peace, the Palestinian security services, which have earned consistent Israeli praise in recent months, could rapidly start to unravel. In a rare briefing to a small group of journalists, the intelligence official said there was a window of between three months and a year to show progress toward peace. “If there will not be real progress, I believe we can find that sometime within three months, six months or one year from now, that the functioning of the Palestinian security system is in a very different place,” the intelligence official said. “In order to keep the legitimacy and functioning of the Palestinian security system we need real progress in the peace process.”… – WSJ, 11-14-10
  • Obama calls latest Israeli plan promising: President Barack Obama on Sunday hailed the prospect of a new settlement freeze in the disputed West Bank as a promising step toward peace, urging Israelis and Palestinians to get back into serious negotiations quickly. An upbeat president also pledged to return to the basic principles that drove his thinking when he first came to the White House, including sticking to a more bipartisan tone and better explaining his decisions to the American people. He spoke of moving from an “obsessive focus” on policy and making changes to his approach after a humbling midterm election.
    “The fact that we are out of crisis — although still obviously in a difficult time — I think will give me the capacity,” Obama told reporters aboard Air Force One at the end of long Asia trip.
    On the Mideast, Washington’s new proposal for reviving peace talks includes a 90-day ban on housing starts in West Bank settlements — but not in east Jerusalem, the Palestinians’ hoped-for capital. The goal is to give the two sides a three-month period to shape borders of side-by-side states, a daunting, elusive mission.
    Obama commended Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for making a “very constructive step” toward creating an environment for peace. “I think it’s a signal that he’s serious,” Obama said…. – AP, 11-14-10
  • White House, GOP look for middle ground on taxes: The White House and Republican lawmakers set the terms for a looming tax debate Sunday, coalescing around a possible temporary extension of existing income tax rates that would protect middle class and wealthy Americans from sharp tax increases next year. Top White House adviser David Axelrod stressed that President Barack Obama opposes a “permanent” extension of current tax rates for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and married couples making more than $250,000. But Axelrod, appearing on two Sunday television talk shows, was carefully silent on the possibility of extending current tax rates for the short term. He said he wants to leave negotiations to Obama and members of Congress. “The bottom line is he wants to sit down and talk about this,” Axelrod said. “There is no bend on the permanent extension of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.”… – AP, 11-14-10
  • US asks Israel for 90-day settlement building moratorium: Netanyahu discusses possibility of halting building with septet; in exchange, US would support Israel in the UN and give 20 fighter jets; request does not include e. Jerusalem. The US asked Israel to freeze all new settlement construction begun after September 26th for a 90-day period in exchange for support in the United Nations and 20 additional advanced fighter planes worth $3 billion, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The principles of this agreement designed to restart peace talks with the Palestinians, were relayed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to his inner cabinet, a forum of seven ministers, on Saturday night and will be explained to the full cabinet on Sunday. The US said that if the deal was accepted it would not request an additional settlement freeze. The request does not include east Jerusalem…. – Jpost, 11-13-10
  • Obama and Republicans find common ground on ‘earmarks’: The president and GOP House leaders agree that curtailing or eliminating the provisions would be a step toward restoring fiscal responsibility.
    “I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who’ve recently said that, in these challenging days, we can’t afford what are called ‘earmarks,'” Obama said. “We can’t afford ‘Bridges to Nowhere,’ like the one that was planned a few years back in Alaska.”
    In his radio address Saturday, Obama said that curtailing or eliminating earmarks would be a first step toward restoring fiscal responsibility.
    “I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who’ve recently said that, in these challenging days, we can’t afford what are called ‘earmarks,'” Obama said. “We can’t afford ‘Bridges to Nowhere,’ like the one that was planned a few years back in Alaska.”
    “Earmarks have become a symbol of a dysfunctional Congress and serve as a fuel line for the culture of spending that has dominated Washington for too long,” said Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), the presumptive incoming House speaker, and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), likely the next majority whip. “We welcome President Obama’s remarks on earmark reform, and we call upon him to urge congressional Democrats to vote on a similar measure next week,” they said…. – LAT, 11-13-10
  • Justices Leave Military Gay Ban in Place: The military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy restricting openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people from serving will remain in force while a legal challenge is considered by a federal appeals court, the United States Supreme Court declared Friday. In an unsigned, two-paragraph order, the justices denied a request by the Log Cabin Republicans, the group trying to overturn the law, to reinstate an order by a federal district judge in California, Virginia A. Phillips, that prohibited enforcement during the appeal. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had ruled, however, that the military could continue enforcement during the appeal, and on Friday the Supreme Court agreed. The decision did not address the merits of the case.
    The Supreme Court order noted that the newest justice, Elena Kagan, “took no part in the consideration or decision” of the application; she may have recused herself because she was involved in the case as solicitor general, the position she held before President Obama nominated her to the court…. – NYT, 11-12-10
  • Obama Tells Business Leaders That U.S. Is `Here to Stay’ in Asian Markets: President Barack Obama told Japanese business leaders that the U.S. is “here to stay” in Asia as he neared the end of a 10-day trip across the region. Speaking to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s CEO Business Summit in Yokohama, Japan, Obama said engagement with Asia is a “jobs strategy,” important to his goal of increasing U.S. exports and spurring economic growth around the world.
    “We don’t want to lose the opportunity to sell our goods and services in fast-growing markets. We don’t want to lose the opportunity to create new jobs back home,” he said according to the prepared text of the speech. “When it comes to this growing, sprawling region of the world, the United States is here to stay.”
    Obama is in Japan for the APEC leaders meeting on a trip that has taken him to India, Indonesia and South Korea. At each stop he’s highlighted the need to boost exports in Asia’s rapidly growing economies in order to create jobs at home, where the unemployment rate has been 9.5 percent or higher for the last 14 months.
    Obama told the hundreds of Japanese chief executives gathered at the conference that he makes “no apologies” for trying to bring jobs to the U.S. through trade, but that economic growth in any country is good for others.
    “There’s no need to view trade, commerce, or economic growth as zero sum games, where one country always has to prosper at the expense of another,” he said. “If we work together, and act together, strengthening our economic ties can be a win-win for all of our nations.”… – Bloomberg, 11-12-10
  • Obama seeking compromise on Bush tax cuts: With tax breaks for millions of Americans set to expire Dec. 31, President Obama has opened the door to a compromise with Republicans, signaling a new willingness to accept tax breaks for the wealthy to avoid immediate tax hikes across the board. But as lawmakers head back to town next week for their first battle since this month’s congressional elections, no one is sure just how far Obama is willing to go.
    In recent days, the White House has appeared to vacillate on the expiring tax cuts, swerving from a humble tone of capitulation back to one of defiance. On Wednesday, White House senior adviser David Axelrod seemed to suggest in an interview with the Huffington Post that Obama was poised to acquiesce to GOP demands to extend all the tax cuts in tandem, saying “we have to deal with the world as we find it.”
    On Friday, Obama pushed back, telling reporters with him on a trip to South Korea that “that is the wrong interpretation.” “Here’s the right interpretation: I want to make sure that taxes don’t go up for middle-class families starting on January 1,” Obama said. “That’s my number one priority for those families and for our economy.”…. – WaPo, 11-12-10
  • Obama, GOP could meet halfway on foreign policy: Voters gave no clear direction to U.S. foreign policy in this month’s congressional elections, leaving President Barack Obama and his strengthened Republican opponents plenty of room in which to find common ground — or duke it out over pressing international challenges. Senior GOP lawmakers say Republicans will challenge Obama over his approach to Iran’s nuclear program, and are balking at Senate approval of a new nuclear arms control accord with Moscow. They’ll help cushion Obama, however, against criticism of his Afghanistan war strategy from his own Democratic Party’s liberal wing. Afghanistan “is one area where Republicans feel comfortable standing with the president,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the Halifax International Security Forum, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Nov. 6… – Miami Herald, 11-12-10
  • After G20, Obama says his global influence is intact: President Obama asserted Friday that the punishment his party took in midterm elections has not damaged his ability to advance U.S. interests overseas, saying his Asia trip has shown that many countries still want to work with the United States. In a news conference following the Group of 20 summit, Obama said the United States, while still the world’s most powerful economy, can no longer dictate the terms of how the world does business, especially after a global economic turndown that many blame on American policies. But he said his relationships with fellow heads of state have evolved during his two years in office – relying less on the novelty of his election and the enthusiasm it generated than on a shared view of where the global economy should be heading…. – WaPo, 11-12-10
  • Deficit report favors ‘do-nothing Congress’ Debt-to-GDP ratio benefits from inaction: Buried inside the wide-ranging blueprint put out this week by the respected co-chairmen of President Obama’s bipartisan commission to slash the federal deficit is a powerful argument for doing nothing. The commission’s recipe of tax increases, spending cuts, elimination of popular tax breaks and reductions in Social Security and Medicare benefits continued to roil Washington on Thursday, as both liberals and conservatives condemned some of the painful steps contained in the draft proposal to reduce federal red ink over the coming decades. But the report, offered by Democrat Erskine Bowles and former Wyoming Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, also demonstrates that Congress and Mr. Obama can take a major chunk out of the deficit without passing a single bill or issuing a single veto…. – The Washington Times, 11-11-10
  • Action, not talk: Deficit panel pushes Dems, GOP: The leaders of the deficit commission are baldly calling out the budget myths of both political parties, challenging lawmakers to engage in the “adult conversation” they say they want. Their plan — mixing painful cuts to Social Security and Medicare with big tax increases — has no chance of enactment as written, certainly not as a whole. But the commission’s high profile will make it harder for Republicans and Democrats to simply keep reciting their tax and spending talking points without acknowledging the real sacrifices that progress against government deficits would demand. It’s time for both conservatives and liberals to “put up or shut up,” says Jon Cowan, head of the centrist-Democratic group Third Way, which praised the bold new proposals and urged politicians to show courage. Republicans failed to produce their often-promised deficit reductions when they controlled the government, Cowan said, and Democrats refuse to acknowledge that entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare must be trimmed…. – AP, 11-11-10
  • Clinton offers Netanyahu security pledge on peace talks: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that Israel’s security requirements would be fully taken into account in any peace deal with the Palestinians. In a move that could allow Netanyahu to persuade his governing coalition to back a new freeze on Israeli settlement construction, Clinton and the visiting Israeli leader ended a marathon round of talks in New York with a strong declaration of Washington’s “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security and to peace in the region.”
    “The prime minister and the secretary agreed on the importance of continuing direct negotiations to achieve our goals,” the two sides said in a joint statement, which did not mention the settlement issue directly. But Clinton repeated that the peace talks — which have hit an impasse over the settlement issue — could yet yield an independent Palestine living next to Israel “with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.”
    “Those requirements will be fully taken into account in any future peace agreement,” the joint statement said…. – Reuters, 11-11-10
  • As G-20 begins, Obama gets few concessions from other leaders: Obama predicts that leaders will reach ‘a broad-based consensus’ on trade and currency issues, but the opening session of the summit offers little evidence that other nations are willing to help the U.S…. – LAT, 11-11-10
  • SKorea-US trade chiefs end talks as Obama arrives: South Korea and the United States ended a third day of talks aimed at jump-starting a long-stalled trade agreement, offering no clues on progress a day before their presidents meet. Washington and Seoul have been holding what are seen as make-or-break negotiations to infuse new life into the deal to slash tariffs and other barriers to trade that was signed in 2007 when previous administrations were in power. It remains unratified by lawmakers in both countries…. – Business Week, 11-10-10
  • Netanyahu defiantly answers Obama’s warning over construction in East Jerusalem: The Israeli leader’s sharp words come hours after Obama, in Indonesia, said new construction could harm a renewed Mideast peace effort. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clashed publicly with President Obama on Tuesday over Israeli construction in disputed East Jerusalem, throwing a teetering Mideast peace effort deeper in doubt. Responding to criticism from Obama, Netanyahu struck a defiant tone in commenting on plans to build 1,300 more Jewish housing units in East Jerusalem, saying his government had never agreed to limit construction in the city. “Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is the capital of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “Israel sees no connection between the diplomatic process and the planning and building policy in Jerusalem.”
    Netanyahu’s statement came hours after Obama warned that the new construction, announced by Israel on Monday, could harm a renewed Mideast peace effort began in early September. Obama made the remarks a few hours after arriving in Indonesia, his boyhood home for four years, where he was set to deliver the second major speech Wednesday in his outreach to the Muslim world.
    “This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations, and I’m concerned that we’re not seeing each side make that extra effort involved to get a breakthrough,” Obama said. “Each of these incremental steps end up breaking trust.”
    Israel also is moving ahead with 800 units in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, Israeli news reports said Tuesday. Netanyahu’s pronouncement was consistent with Israeli policy, yet his sharp tone may embarrass Obama at a moment of vulnerability. Obama is visiting the world’s largest Muslim country, and the rebuke may again raise questions in the Muslim world about how much influence the American leader really has on a priority issue. The disagreement also comes a week after Obama suffered a setback in the midterm elections, which gave Republicans, who are likely to be sympathetic to Netanyahu’s point of view, majority control of the House of Representatives. Some Israeli officials and U.S. analysts had predicted before the election that Netanyahu might feel emboldened to push back on Obama if the Democrats fared poorly…. – LAT, 11-9-10
  • No Charges in Destruction of C.I.A. Interrogation Tapes: Central Intelligence Agency officials will not face criminal charges for the destruction of dozens of videotapes depicting the brutal interrogation of terrorism suspects, the Justice Department said Tuesday. After a closely watched investigation of nearly three years, the decision by a special federal prosecutor is the latest example of Justice Department officials’ declining to seek criminal penalties for some of the controversial episodes in the C.I.A.’s now defunct detention and interrogation program. The destruction of the tapes, in particular, was seen as so striking that the Bush administration itself launched the special investigation after the action was publicly disclosed…. – NYT, 11-9-10
  • Obama trip welcomes India to high table of global influence: President Obama left India with reassurances of his strong support for a ‘strategic partnership’ – as well as strong words about his commitment to free trade…. – CS Monitor, 11-9-10
  • Fed Global Backlash Grows China and Russia Join Germany in Scolding; Obama Defends Move as Pro-Growth: Global controversy mounted over the Federal Reserve’s decision to pump billions of dollars into the U.S. economy, with President Barack Obama defending the move as China, Russia and the euro zone added to a chorus of criticism. Mr. Obama returned fire in the growing confrontation over trade and currencies Monday in a joint news conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, taking the unusual step of publicly backing the Fed’s decision to buy $600 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds—a move that has come under withering international criticism for weakening the U.S. dollar…. – WSJ, 11-8-10
  • Obama heads to Indonesia, finally: President Barack Obama finally heads to Jakarta on Tuesday for a visit during which he will seek to boost U.S. security and trade ties with Indonesia, and also reach out to the larger Islamic world. His visit to a country where he spent four years of his childhood comes after two previously scheduled trips were put off because of problems at home — in March as he fought to pass his healthcare overhaul law and in June as he faced the cleanup of the massive BP oil spill. The delays disappointed and angered some Indonesians, and even this visit had been in some doubt because of concerns about volcanic ash from repeated eruptions of Mount Merapi volcano. Indonesia is important destination for Obama for a variety of strategic and personal reasons, aides said. Its importance as a U.S. ally is on the rise, even if the joy over Obama’s election has faded since he became president almost two years ago. Indonesia is an emerging economy, a democracy, a member of the G20 and the world’s most populous Muslim country…. – Reuters, 11-8-10
  • Obama boosts India for ‘rightful place in world’: Deepening America’s stake in Asian power politics, President Barack Obama on Monday endorsed India’s bid to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, hoping to elevate the nation of a billion people to “its rightful place in the world” alongside an assertive China.
    Obama’s declaration, delivered to the pounding applause of India’s parliament members, spoke to a mission broader than the makeup of one global institution. By spending three packed days in India, announcing trade deals, dismissing job-outsourcing gripes and admonishing India’s rival Pakistan, Obama went all in for an ally whose support he hopes to bank on for years.
    “I want every Indian citizen to know: The United States of America will not simply be cheering you on from the sidelines,” Obama said inside the soaring legislative chamber of the capital city. “We will be right there with you, shoulder to shoulder, because we believe in the promise of India.”… – AP, 11-8-10
  • Diplomacy, Diwali, dinner on Obama’s agenda in India: A female tribal leader working to get more girls into classrooms, in a rural society that places boys first. A former civil servant running a website to battle corruption. Schoolchildren who got the first couple dancing for the Hindu festival Diwali.
    These were some of the Indians whom President Obama met Sunday on the second day of his four-nation Asia tour. The issues raised highlight the massive challenges facing this poor but fast-growing nation of 1.1 billion people, to whom Obama promised he would elevate the U.S.-India partnership “to an entirely new level.”
    He also faced the sensitive question of Pakistan-based terrorism, when asked, at a town-hall-style meeting with students, the question on many Indians’ minds: Why hasn’t the USA declared Pakistan a terrorist state? Obama stressed the need to work with Islamabad “to eradicate this extremism that we consider a cancer within the country that can potentially engulf the country.”… – 11-7-10
  • Fresh Slate at the Pentagon Lies Ahead for Obama: With critical decisions ahead on the war in Afghanistan, President Obama is about to receive an unusual opportunity to reshape the Pentagon’s leadership, naming a new defense secretary as well as several top generals and admirals in the next several months…. – NYT, 11-7-10
  • Obama calls India creator, not poacher, of US jobs: Searching for help half a world away, President Barack Obama on Saturday embraced India as the next jobs-creating giant for hurting Americans, not a cheap-labor rival that outsources opportunity from the United States. “For America, this is a jobs strategy,” Obama said of his emphasis on trade, although it could stand as a motto for his 10-day trip. He is spending Sunday with young people in Mumbai and then heading onto meetings in New Delhi, the capital, before shifting later in the week ahead to Indonesia and economic talks in South Korea and Japan…. – AP, 11-6-10
  • Obama Invokes Gandhi, Whose Ideal Eludes Modern India: President Obama and his wife, Michelle, with Usha Thakkar, director of Mani Bhavan, the Gandhi Museum in Mumbai, “He is a hero not just to India, but to the world,” the president wrote in a guest book on Saturday in Gandhi’s modest former home in Mumbai, now the Mani Bhavan museum. Yet if paying homage to Gandhi is expected of visiting dignitaries, Mr. Obama’s more personal identification with the Gandhian legacy — the president once named him the person he would most like to dine with — places him on complicated terrain…. – NYT, 11-7-10

112TH CONGRESS

  • Democrats avoid House leadership battle Nancy Pelosi helps craft an accord with potential rivals that will make her the minority leader: House Democrats, already hurting from their election shellacking, averted a potentially ugly leadership fight Saturday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco helped broker an agreement that paves the way for her to remain Democratic leader, Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland to remain in the party’s second-ranking position of minority whip, and James E. Clyburn of South Carolina to take the new title of assistant leader. Democrats who will serve in the new Congress will vote on their leaders Wednesday. The arrangement, which Pelosi announced in a letter to her party’s rank and file, averts a clash between Hoyer, whose appeal to more conservative Democrats is seen as crucial to helping the Democrats win back control of the House in 2012, and Clyburn, a black member who is popular with the liberal base…. – LAT, 11-13-10
  • House Democrats Avoid Fight on No. 2 Position: Updated: Shuler Considers Run Top House Democrats said late Friday night that they had settled on an arrangement that avoided a divisive fight for the No. 2 position in the party when it reverts to the minority in January. In a statement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would nominate Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina to be the No. 3 Democrat when the party holds an internal party election on Wednesday. “Over the past four years, Congressman Clyburn’s effective leadership in the whip’s office was crucial to our passage of historic legislation on jobs, health care, veterans and Wall Street reform on behalf of the American people,” Ms. Pelosi said…. – NYT, 11-13-10
  • Ambition is curbed, but Democrats still have a lame-duck agenda: With a few weeks left in control of both houses of Congress, Democrats are pressing a scaled-back agenda that would extend middle-class tax cuts, fund the government and possibly repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Lawmakers return to the Capitol on Monday to begin a complicated lame-duck session that will mark the last time Democrats will be in control of Congress for the foreseeable future….
    Despite electoral losses that handed control of the House to Republicans and diminished Democrats’ majority in the Senate, Democratic leaders are pressing an agenda that would extend middle-class tax cuts, fund the government and perhaps repeal the ban on openly gay men and women serving inthe military.
    Yet nothing is certain in the new political climate. As many as 80 incoming House Republicans elected two weeks ago will arrive in town for freshman orientation in advance of their January swearing-in ceremony, and some plan to join a rally Monday to protest the Democrats’ plans.
    In addition, lawmakers who will be members of the 112th Congress will vote for their leaders next week. Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to become the next House speaker, while Democrats will decide whether to retain the outgoing speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as their leader. In the Senate, Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to remain majority leader, with Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to continue leading the GOP…. – LAT, 11-13-10
  • Rahm: It’s on Presumptive front-runner makes official entry into race for mayor: As Rahm Emanuel made his entry into Chicago’s mayoral race official Saturday, a major theme of his campaign echoed off the school gymnasium walls: He is the tenacious leader Chicago needs during tough times. The former North Side congressman and White House chief of staff laid out a broad agenda, declaring he’d work to help generate jobs, improve education and decrease crime at a juncture in the city’s history when all three need to be addressed.
    “The choices we make in the next few years will define Chicago for future generations. They will determine whether we remain a world-class city — or fall back,” he told 250 supporters jammed in the gym at Coonley Elementary School. “The question in this election is who has the experience, imagination and strength to see a better future for Chicago? And who has the determination to see that vision through the end?” While providing few specifics in an 18-minute speech, Emanuel did say increasing taxes to address the city’s continued budget woes isn’t on the table. Still, Emanuel hinted at service cuts by promising that “necessary changes” and “tough choices” will be made and residents will “share in the sacrifices.”… – Chicago Tribune, 11-13-10
  • Recount Could Trap Pawlenty in Governor’s Mansion: Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota has been gearing up for a bid for the Republican presidential nomination for months. He chose not to run for re-election as governor. He has hit the early-state circuit. Everything is ready once he leaves office on Jan. 3. Except for this: He may not be able to leave. Under Minnesota law, the governor’s term extends as long as it takes to swear in a successor, even if a recount takes months. And that could just happen.
    The race to replace Mr. Pawlenty between the Democrat Mark Dayton and the Republican Tom Emmer ended last Tuesday in what is becoming a regular outcome in the North Star state — a virtual tie. Out of about 2.1 million votes cast, Mr. Dayton leads Mr. Emmer by about 8,500 votes, less than the half-percentage point margin that mandates an automatic recount.
    That recount will start on Nov. 27 and is scheduled to last until early December, at which point the trailing candidate could choose to challenge the recount by filing a lawsuit. Mr. Emmer’s advisers and state Republicans have made it clear they will do so if they feel they have a legitimate case.
    “If we are behind and we think that there are issues with the recount, we could file a contest,” said Tony Sutton, the chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota. “We’re not looking to kick this past the first of the year. We are not going to do things to throw stuff against the law and see what sticks.”… – NYT, 11-13-10
  • No. 2 House Democrat Will Try to Retain Post: Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said Monday that he would try to hold on to that position when his party slips into the minority next year as the leadership of House Democrats remained in turmoil one week after devastating election losses…. – NYT, 11-8-10
  • Hoyer collecting liberal support in whip bid: Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) continued Tuesday to collect high-profile endorsements from his party’s liberal wing in his bid to become House minority whip, trying to counter the impression that his candidacy is built around support from moderate-to-conservative Democrats. Seven Democratic committee chairmen issued a letter Tuesday endorsing Hoyer’s candidacy for the No. 2 post in the House leadership, including a trio of the leading legislative liberals: Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.), Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.).
    Hoyer, currently the majority leader, has publicly touted his momentum in his campaign against Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), unveiling a string of key endorsements. With Tuesday’s rollout – first reported by Politico – Hoyer now has nearly 50 public endorsements, almost halfway to the roughly 95 or so supporters he will need to win the secret ballot later next week.
    Clyburn, currently the majority whip, the No. 3 post in the majority, has about 10 public endorsements but is also expected to collect the lion’s share of the roughly 40 members of the Congressional Black Caucus. He has won some key backing, including Monday’s endorsement by Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), who is the highest-ranking Latino member of congressional leadership…. – WaPo, 11-9-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Congressman Danny Davis announces bid for Chicago mayor: U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, a veteran Chicago politician, struck populist tones as he declared his candidacy for mayor today, saying he will bridge the gap between wealthy and struggling communities.
    “Notwithstanding the economic climate, we the people, we the grassroots, everyday people, we the policeman, we the postman, we the clerks. . . can exercise our God-given rights to participate, be involved and make decisions about ourselves and our city,” Davis said at a rally held in a ballroom of the Hotel Allegro downtown.
    The announcement felt a little like a church service. Davis started with an invocation, and some of his 200 supporters gathered in the ballroom engaged in a call and response as Davis and others spoke.
    While Davis offered few policy details, he said he would create jobs and economic development opportunities and attempt to “save our children from lifetimes of drug use, abuse, (and) incarceration.”
    “I know that everyone in our city is concerned about balancing the budget and finding ways to keep our city solvent,” he said. “I don’t pretend at the moment to have the answers to all of our financial problems. . . but I can assure you that we have a team of researchers and experts looking at the issues and preparing recommendations.” … – Chicago Tribune, 11-14-10
  • Miller: Ballot fight unlikely if math doesn’t work: Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller is watching absentee ballots from military voters as he takes his next steps in Alaska’s still-undecided Senate race….
    The state has so far recorded more than 98,500 write-in ballots cast. Saturday marked the fourth day of a write-in ballot hand count that could stretch well into next week, with thousands of absentee and questioned ballots yet to be combed through.
    The count Saturday showed Murkowski with 74,449 votes, or 89.6 percent of the write-in vote undisputedly — a trend that has largely held throughout the process. Another 7.9 percent was credited to her tally over challenges by Miller observers, generally for things like misspellings of her name or penmanship. Murkowski’s campaign believes it needs to win at least 90 percent of the unchallenged vote to declare victory. Miller’s vote total, as of Friday night, was 87,517…. – AP, 11-14-10
  • Paging Jeb Bush — for 2012: In fact, some folks in the GOP are so convinced that there is a Bush renaissance in the offing that they’re hoping to turn that wave into another White House victory for the Bush family. That’s right. If the era of Bush fatigue is really over, then here comes baby brother. Jeb Bush, the popular former two-term governor of Florida, is being mentioned as a viable Republican candidate for the presidency in 2012, although he has denied having an interest in running.
    (Both Bush brothers will be guests on a special edition of State of the Union with Candy Crowley, Sunday at 8 and 11 p.m. ET.)
    While Jeb has his share of detractors, he also seems to have the same knack for bringing people together that his big brother had for driving them apart. And, with the Tea Party ready to go to war with the GOP establishment in the political equivalent of a cage match for control of the Republican Party, that skill set could come in handy…. – CNN, 11-12-10
  • Murkowski confident in re-election chances: If wrestling with a variety of spellings for write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s name isn’t enough, officials counting ballots in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race are also dealing with such oddball entries as “Donald Duck,” ”Elmo” and “Revolt.”
    Those ballots were quickly tossed Friday even as a count showed the Republican incumbent maintaining a healthy 90 percent of the write-in vote.
    Saying she feels “pretty good about the direction” the tally is headed, Murkowski expressed confidence that she’ll pull off an improbable write-in victory over Republican nominee Joe Miller.
    So far, the state has recorded 98,565 write-in votes and 87,517 votes for Miller. Murkowski has been getting about 90 percent of write-in votes. Another 7.6 percent have been apparent votes for Murkowski that have been challenged, generally by observers for Miller for things like penmanship issues and misspellings.
    The hand count is scheduled to go through the weekend and run well into next week to determine if Murkowski got enough write-in votes to win…. – AP, 11-13-10
  • Michigan Republican Anuzis to challenge RNC’s Michael Steele: Former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis announced Friday that he will run for chairman of the Republican National Committee, making him the first official challenge to current leader Michael Steele. Anuzis said in a statement that the decision for him was not easy, since he regards Steele as a “friend and colleague.” “As someone who believes in loyalty, my natural instinct would be to sit this out,” Anuzis wrote. “But the simple fact is that the overriding challenge we face is winning back the Presidency in 2012 and we will not accomplish that objective unless there is dramatic change in the way the RNC does business.”… – Yahoo News, 11-12-10
  • Reagan Library to Host First Republican Debate for 2012 Primary: What took so long? It’s been over a week since the 2010 vote and debate plans are finally being made for the presidential election in two years. The first Republican primary debate is set for spring 2011 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Southern California, The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
    “Ronnie would be thrilled that the road to the White House will begin at his Presidential Library,” former first lady Nancy Reagan said in a press release. “I look forward to welcoming and watching the top candidates debate the issues next spring.” NBC News and Politico will be the event’s media partners. No Republicans have announced their intentions to challenge President Obama. Among names being floated are Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.
    “The fact that we are already talking about the 2012 presidential race only foreshadows how invested and deeply rooted America will be in the political discussion come next spring,” NBC News President Steve Capus…. – Politics Daily, 11-11-10
  • Nancy Reagan to host debate for 2012 GOP hopefuls: Republicans hoping to take back the White House in 2012 will have an audition of sorts at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Former first lady Nancy Reagan announced today she will invite the leading 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls to a debate at the library in spring 2011. The debate will be co-hosted by NBC News and Politico. “Ronnie would be thrilled that the road to the White House will begin at his presidential library,” Mrs. Reagan said in a statement. A second Republican debate will be held at the library before the Super Tuesday primaries….. – USA Today, 11-11-10
  • Murkowski returning to Alaska amid ballot count: U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is returning to Alaska as election workers continue tabulating write-in ballots that will help determine whether she wins re-election. Anchorge Daily News, 11-11-10
  • Nurkowski? Makowski? Murckoski? Counting the Write-In Votes in Alaska: “Liza Makowski?” “Challenge.” So said Terry Campo, an observer working on behalf of Joe Miller, the Republican Senate candidate, as he hovered over a table where two election workers on Wednesday helped sift through more than 230,000 ballots cast in the Alaska Senate race. The question looming over the warehouse in this remote state capital: will Senator Lisa Murkowski become the first write-in candidate elected to the Senate since 1954? Write-in votes have a clear lead over Mr. Miller, but the process of actually seeing whose name is on them did not begin until Wednesday. The count is expected to last until at least Friday – but a court fight could last much longer…. – NYT, 11-10-10
  • 2012 Senate races pose challenge to President Obama: The votes are still being counted in some states for this year’s congressional elections, but already some political types are sweating the 2012 contests in the Senate. An analysis by The National Journal discusses a “civil war” brewing for Republicans in 2012, since the anti-tax, small-government Tea Party movement roiled the GOP this year.
    There’s also been some sniping between Rep. Spencer Bachus and former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin about the Tea Party’s role in the 2010 elections. Palin has pushed back on the Alabama Republican’s comment that “Palin cost us control of the Senate” with her support of candidates such as Christine O’Donnell, who was defeated in her bid for a Delaware Senate seat. But some 2012 Senate races aren’t just interesting for Republicans. The contests also pose a challenge to Democrats and President Obama, especially in some of the states he won in 2008. In all, Democrats will have to defend 23 Senate seats including the two held by independents who vote with them. Republicans hold 10 Senate seats up for grabs in two years…. – USA Today, 11-10-10
  • Republicans Maneuver to Oust Their Leader: Turning their attention to the 2012 presidential election, Republican leaders are digging in for a battle over control of the Republican National Committee, judging that its role in fund-raising, get-out-the-vote operations and other tasks will be critical to the effort to topple President Obama. Some senior party officials are maneuvering to put pressure on Michael Steele, the controversial party chairman, not to seek re-election when his term ends in January or, failing that, to encourage a challenger to step forward to take him on…. – NYT, 11-9-10
  • GOP lawmaker: Palin cost party control of Senate: Questioned about those comments on Tuesday, a spokesman for Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama said the remarks had been taken out of context but didn’t retract them. Bachus, in line to become chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, initially blamed Palin last week at a local Chamber of Commerce luncheon. According to the Shelby County Reporter, he said the Senate would be in Republican hands if not for losses by tea party candidates endorsed by the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee.
    “Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. He added that while tea party candidates did well in House races, “they didn’t do well at all” in Senate contests.
    In a statement Tuesday, Bachus spokesman Tim Johnson said the congressman was expressing a widely held belief that stronger Republican candidates could have won in states such as Delaware and Nevada, where Republicans Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle lost. “That’s a lesson going forward,” Johnson said. “As the article noted, (Bachus) was extremely complimentary of the tea party movement and Governor Palin in crediting them with the great turnout of conservatives that led to many of the successes on Tuesday.” “He said that the tea party, rather than being criticized, is on the same page as many in the country, including independents, in cutting spending, lowering taxes and limiting the size of government,” Johnson added…. – WaPo, 11-9-10
  • Joe Miller: Cautiously optimistic on prospects: Alaska Senate hopeful Joe Miller says he’s cautiously optimistic about his prospects for winning on the eve of the absentee ballot count. Election workers plan to begin tallying more than 30,000 absentee ballots Tuesday; the counting of write-in ballots will begin Wednesday. Initial returns from last week’s election showed Miller trailing write-ins by more than 13,000 votes. Sen. Lisa Murkowski ran as a write-in following her loss in the GOP primary to Miller. It’s not clear how many of those votes are for her or how many for her were properly cast. Murkowski has sounded confident, telling supporters they’d “made history.” But Miller tells The Associated Press this is premature, and says her hiring of a “high-power” legal team suggests she’s nervous. – WaPo, 11-9-10
  • 12 in 2012: Jim DeMint Earns His Stripes as Tea Party Power Broker: Senator Tea Party, as Jim DeMint is sometimes known, is a moniker the first-term senator began wearing before the Tea Party became a household name. It’s also a description that has pushed the South Carolina Republican out of the shadows and into the forefront of electoral politics.
    “I’m proud to be called Senator Tea Party. I feel like I’m giving a voice to people who are very frustrated that Washington’s not listening,” DeMint told Fox News.
    This fall, DeMint, who was just re-elected to his second term in the Senate, took his commitment to making Washington listen out on the campaign trail – and not merely in his own race. He endorsed high-profile conservatives and donated millions from his political action committee to failed Senate candidates Ken Buck of Colorado, Sharron Angle of Nevada and Christine O’Donnell of Delaware as well as successful contestants Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky…. – Fox News, 11-9-10
  • Clyburn: Pelosi has a role in House leadership: Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a place in the Democratic leadership after Republicans take control next year. The South Carolina Democrat is downplaying the emerging contest between himself and Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer for the No. 2 spot when Democrats become the minority party. Clyburn says he plans to keep his current job as whip…. – AP, 11-7-10
  • Pence, Pawlenty Still Weigh 2012 Bids: Rep. Mike Pence (R., Ind.) and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said they were still weighing whether to run for president in 2012, but decisions could be coming shortly. Mr. Pence, in an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” said he was “intent on taking the coming weeks to really prayerfully consider that, to wait on the Lord, to seek counsel. And after the first of the year, we’ll make a decision.”
    “Well, I don’t know for sure what I’m going to do after I’m done being governor,” Mr. Pawlenty told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “I’ll decide that early next year.”
    Sen. Jim DeMint (R. S.C.) had some advice for whoever wants to win the Republican nomination. “I think the next Republican running for president needs to run on complete repeal” of the new health care law, he in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, said he “absolutely” was not running for president in 2012. Or vice president, for that matter.
    “Can you see me as somebody who’s a vice president?” he said on “Meet the Press.” “After that question about ‘Governor Wrecking Ball?’ I would feel bad for that poor man or woman.” – WSJ, 11-7-10

QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address

For this edition of West Wing Week, walk step by step with the President as he travels through Asia.

  • President Obama at the G-20 in Seoul: “Focusing on Growth”WH, 11-12-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Calls for Earmark Reform Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address November 13, 2010: This weekend, I’m concluding a trip to Asia whose purpose was to open new markets for American products in this fast-growing part of the world. The economic battle for these markets is fierce, and we’re up against strong competitors. But as I’ve said many times, America doesn’t play for second place. The future we’re fighting for isn’t as the world’s largest importer, consuming products made elsewhere, but as the world’s largest manufacturer of ideas and goods sold around the world.
    Opening new markets will not only help America’s businesses create new jobs for American workers. It will also help us reduce our deficits – because the single greatest tool for getting our fiscal house in order is robust economic growth. That kind of growth will require ensuring that our students are getting the best education possible; that we’re on the cutting edge of research and development; and that we’re rebuilding our roads and railways, runways and ports – so our infrastructure is up to the challenges of the 21st century.
    Given the deficits that have mounted up over the past decade, we can’t afford to make these investments unless we’re also willing to cut what we don’t need. That’s why I’ve submitted to Congress a plan for a three-year budget freeze, and I’m prepared to offer additional savings. But as we work to reform our budget, Congress should also put some skin in the game. I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who’ve recently said that in these challenging days, we can’t afford what are called earmarks. These are items inserted into spending bills by members of Congress without adequate review….
    As a Senator, I helped eliminate anonymous earmarks and created new measures of transparency so Americans can better follow how their tax dollars are being spent. As President, time and again, I’ve called for new limitations on earmarks. We’ve reduced the cost of earmarks by over $3 billion. And we’ve put in place higher standards of transparency by putting as much information as possible on earmarks.gov. In fact, this week, we updated the site with more information about where last year’s earmarks were actually spent, and made it easier to look up Members of Congress and the earmarks they fought for.
    Today, we have a chance to go further. We have a chance to not only shine a light on a bad Washington habit that wastes billions of taxpayer dollars, but take a step towards restoring public trust. We have a chance to advance the interests not of Republicans or Democrats, but of the American people; to put our country on the path of fiscal discipline and responsibility that will lead to a brighter economic future for all. And that’s a future I hope we can reach across party lines to build together. – WH, 11-13-10
  • President Obama in Jakarta: “Indonesia’s Example To the World”: I first came to this country when my mother married an Indonesian named Lolo Soetoro. And as a young boy I was — as a young boy I was coming to a different world. But the people of Indonesia quickly made me feel at home.
    And we lived in a small house. We had a mango tree out front. And I learned to love Indonesia while flying kites and running along the paddy fields and catching dragonflies, buying satay and baso from the street vendors. (Applause.) I still remember the call of the vendors. Satay! (Laughter.) I remember that. Baso! (Laughter.) But most of all, I remember the people — the old men and women who welcomed us with smiles; the children who made a foreign child feel like a neighbor and a friend; and the teachers who helped me learn about this country.
    In the years since then, Indonesia has charted its own course through an extraordinary democratic transformation — from the rule of an iron fist to the rule of the people. In recent years, the world has watched with hope and admiration as Indonesians embraced the peaceful transfer of power and the direct election of leaders. And just as your democracy is symbolized by your elected President and legislature, your democracy is sustained and fortified by its checks and balances: a dynamic civil society; political parties and unions; a vibrant media and engaged citizens who have ensured that — in Indonesia — there will be no turning back from democracy.
    But even as this land of my youth has changed in so many ways, those things that I learned to love about Indonesia — that spirit of tolerance that is written into your Constitution; symbolized in mosques and churches and temples standing alongside each other; that spirit that’s embodied in your people — that still lives on. (Applause.) Bhinneka Tunggal Ika — unity in diversity. (Applause.) This is the foundation of Indonesia’s example to the world, and this is why Indonesia will play such an important part in the 21st century.
    When I moved to Indonesia, it would have been hard to imagine a future in which the prosperity of families in Chicago and Jakarta would be connected. But our economies are now global, and Indonesians have experienced both the promise and the perils of globalization: from the shock of the Asian financial crisis in the ‘90s, to the millions lifted out of poverty because of increased trade and commerce. What that means — and what we learned in the recent economic crisis — is that we have a stake in each other’s success.
    America has a stake in Indonesia growing and developing, with prosperity that is broadly shared among the Indonesian people — because a rising middle class here in Indonesia means new markets for our goods, just as America is a market for goods coming from Indonesia. So we are investing more in Indonesia, and our exports have grown by nearly 50 percent, and we are opening doors for Americans and Indonesians to do business with one another.
    These are the issues that really matter in our daily lives. Development, after all, is not simply about growth rates and numbers on a balance sheet. It’s about whether a child can learn the skills they need to make it in a changing world. It’s about whether a good idea is allowed to grow into a business, and not suffocated by corruption. It’s about whether those forces that have transformed the Jakarta I once knew — technology and trade and the flow of people and goods — can translate into a better life for all Indonesians, for all human beings, a life marked by dignity and opportunity.
    Now, this kind of development is inseparable from the role of democracy.
    Today, we sometimes hear that democracy stands in the way of economic progress. This is not a new argument. Particularly in times of change and economic uncertainty, some will say that it is easier to take a shortcut to development by trading away the right of human beings for the power of the state. But that’s not what I saw on my trip to India, and that is not what I see here in Indonesia. Your achievements demonstrate that democracy and development reinforce one another.
    I said then, and I will repeat now, that no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust. But I believed then, and I believe today, that we do have a choice. We can choose to be defined by our differences, and give in to a future of suspicion and mistrust. Or we can choose to do the hard work of forging common ground, and commit ourselves to the steady pursuit of progress. And I can promise you — no matter what setbacks may come, the United States is committed to human progress. That is who we are. That is what we’ve done. And that is what we will do. (Applause.)
    Now, we know well the issues that have caused tensions for many years — and these are issues that I addressed in Cairo. In the 17 months that have passed since that speech, we have made some progress, but we have much more work to do.
    Innocent civilians in America, in Indonesia and across the world are still targeted by violent extremism. I made clear that America is not, and never will be, at war with Islam. Instead, all of us must work together to defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates, who have no claim to be leaders of any religion –– certainly not a great, world religion like Islam. But those who want to build must not cede ground to terrorists who seek to destroy. And this is not a task for America alone. Indeed, here in Indonesia, you’ve made progress in rooting out extremists and combating such violence.
    That spark of the divine lives within each of us. We cannot give in to doubt or cynicism or despair. The stories of Indonesia and America should make us optimistic, because it tells us that history is on the side of human progress; that unity is more powerful than division; and that the people of this world can live together in peace. May our two nations, working together, with faith and determination, share these truths with all mankind. WH, 11-10-10
  • Palin calls Obama ‘most pro-abortion president’: Sarah Palin attacked President Barack Obama on Wednesday for his support of abortion rights and for the federal health care overhaul as the former Alaska governor appeared in Texas with another tea party favorte, Gov. Rick Perry. Palin described Obama as “the most pro-abortion president to occupy the White House” at the Dallas event, which was sponsored by a nonprofit organization that promotes an anti-abortion message. The 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee also said the federal health care law is the “mother of all unfunded mandates” and means federal funding will go toward abortions…. – AP, 11-11-10
  • Obama says Indonesia, U.S. ‘on right path’: President Obama on Tuesday said his efforts to find ways to cooperate with Indonesia were “direct results of my call … for a new beginning between the United States and Muslim communities.” “Our efforts have been earnest, sustained,” Obama said. “We don’t expect that we are going to completely eliminate some of the misunderstandings and mistrust that have developed … but we do think that we’re on the right path.” “I have made it clear that America is not, and never will be, at war with Islam,” he said in remarks prepared prior to the speech and distributed to the news media. “Instead, all of us must defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates, who have no claim to be leaders of any religion — certainly not a great, world religion like Islam.”
    Most of Indonesia’s 240 million people follow a moderate form of Islam…. – USA Today, 11-9-10
  • Peggy Noonan: Sarah Palin A ‘Nincompoop’ For Reagan Reduction: Excuse me, but this was ignorant even for Mrs. Palin. Reagan people quietly flipped their lids, but I’ll voice their consternation to make a larger point. Ronald Reagan was an artist who willed himself into leadership as president of a major American labor union (Screen Actors Guild, seven terms, 1947-59.) He led that union successfully through major upheavals (the Hollywood communist wars, labor-management struggles); discovered and honed his ability to speak persuasively by talking to workers on the line at General Electric for eight years; was elected to and completed two full terms as governor of California; challenged and almost unseated an incumbent president of his own party; and went on to popularize modern conservative political philosophy without the help of a conservative infrastructure. Then he was elected president…. – WSJ, 11-6-10
  • Obama: US elections force ‘midcourse corrections’: Hampered by heavy election losses at home, President Barack Obama promised on Sunday from Indian to make “midcourse corrections” to reinvigorate his embattled domestic agenda in the face of a testier American public and more combative Congress….
    The president agreed that people vented their frustration about the economy by sacking many incumbents. A “healthy thing,” he said, even though his Democratic Party suffered, losing control of one of the chambers in Congress. He said he would not retreat on spending money for energy and education, and offered no specific policy changes.
    But then he added that the election “requires me to make some midcourse corrections and adjustments. And how those play themselves out over the next several months will be a matter of me being in discussions with the Republican Party.”… – AP, 11-7-10
  • Obama Says Vote Turned on Economy: President Obama said in an interview broadcast Sunday night that he views last week’s mid-term Congressional elections as “a referendum on the economy” rather than a referendum on him, his policies or the Democratic Party.
    While he said he should be held accountable for the economy as the nation’s leader, he did not accept the suggestion that he pursued the wrong agenda over the last two years, and he focused blame on his failure to build public support for what he was doing or to change the way Washington works.
    In a session taped for CBS’s “60 Minutes” before Mr. Obama left for Asia, the correspondent Steve Kroft pointed out to the president that Republicans view the election as a referendum on him and the Democrats, and asked if he agreed. “I think first and foremost it was a referendum on the economy,” Mr. Obama said. “And the party in power was held responsible for an economy that is still underperforming.”… – NYT, 11-10-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Calls for Compromise and Explains his Priorities on Taxes Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House November 6, 2010: This week, Americans across the country cast their votes and made their voices heard. And your message was clear.
    You’re rightly frustrated with the pace of our economic recovery. So am I.
    You’re fed up with partisan politics and want results. I do too.
    So I congratulate all of this week’s winners – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. But now, the campaign season is over. And it’s time to focus on our shared responsibilities to work together and deliver those results: speeding up our economic recovery, creating jobs, and strengthening the middle class so that the American Dream feels like it’s back within reach….
    Here’s why this lame duck session is so important. Early in the last decade, President Bush and Congress enacted a series of tax cuts that were designed to expire at the end of this year.
    What that means is, if Congress doesn’t act by New Year’s Eve, middle-class families will see their taxes go up starting on New Year’s Day.
    But the last thing we should do is raise taxes on middle-class families. For the past decade, they saw their costs rise, their incomes fall, and too many jobs go overseas. They’re the ones bearing the brunt of the recession. They’re the ones having trouble making ends meet. They are the ones who need relief right now.
    So something’s got to be done. And I believe there’s room for us to compromise and get it done together.
    But at a time when we are going to ask folks across the board to make such difficult sacrifices, I don’t see how we can afford to borrow an additional $700 billion from other countries to make all the Bush tax cuts permanent, even for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. We’d be digging ourselves into an even deeper fiscal hole and passing the burden on to our children.
    I recognize that both parties are going to have to work together and compromise to get something done here. But I want to make my priorities clear from the start. One: middle class families need permanent tax relief. And two: I believe we can’t afford to borrow and spend another $700 billion on permanent tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.
    There are new public servants in Washington, but we still face the same challenges. And you made it clear that it’s time for results. This a great opportunity to show everyone that we got the message and that we’re willing, in this post-election season, to come together and do what’s best for the country we all love. – WH, 11-6-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

President Barack Obama places a wreath at the base of the Yongsan   War Memorial
The President places a wreath at the base of the Yongsan War Memorial, White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 11/11/10
  • Lawrence Goodwyn: The Great Predicament Facing Obama: What happened to the dream of Barack Obama’s transformational politics? There’s been very little deviation from the disastrous Bush years on the key issues of war, empire and the distribution of wealth in the country. I turned to Lawrence Goodwyn, historian of social movements whose books and methods of explaining history have had a profound influence on many of the best known authors, activists and social theorists of our time. Goodwyn’s account of the Populist movement, Democratic Promise, is quoted extensively by Howard Zinn in People’s History of the United States, and also in William Greider’s masterpiece on the Federal Reserve, Secrets of the Temple. You can find Goodwyn quoted in the first paragraph of Bill Moyers’ recent book, On Democracy, and cited in just the same way in countless other books and essays.
    I interviewed Goodwyn from his home in Durham, North Carolina about the pitfalls of recording American history, Obama’s presidency in light of previous presidents, and portents of change in our political culture…. – Alternet (10-30-10)
  • Can the Tea Party endure? CNN asks Michael Kazin: The midterm elections dealt a powerful blow to President Obama and the Democratic Party as the country appeared to shift decisively to the right, moved by mass anger, “due to a combination of two kinds of fear,” historian Michael Kazin told CNN…. Kazin, a professor of history at Georgetown University, editor of The Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History and author of “A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan” and other books, spoke to CNN last week.
    CNN: Would Republicans have captured the House without the Tea Party?
    Michael Kazin: We historians hate counterfactual questions! But clearly, the aura of a grass-roots rebellion helped to obscure the fact that most of corporate America was rooting for the GOP and helping finance Republican campaigns. The specific policy ideas of the Tea Partiers mattered less than did their anger at the perceived sins of “big government” and of President Obama. As [political writer] Kevin Phillips once wrote, much of political conflict comes down to the question of “who hates whom.”… – CNN.com (11-7-10)
  • Julian Zelizer: GOP leaders, beware the newcomers John Boehner has a huge problem on his hands. Now that the elections are over, and Republicans were victorious, he will need to tame the passions of the GOP freshmen who are coming to town determined to change everything about the way that Washington works.
    If he does not, the Republicans could divide among themselves, thereby undercutting their ability to push forward legislation and giving President Obama an opportunity to challenge their competence….
    Just as Democrats would do well to remember that life wasn’t so great for Clinton after 1994, even with his high approval rates, Republicans would do the same to recall how a massive opportunity was wasted and ultimately consumed some of its own leaders. – CNN, 11-8-1
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Top Newsmakers: This Week… Julian Zelizer: Assessing the Bush Presidency & “Decision Points” in the Media

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

This past week President George W. Bush released his highly anticipated memoirs, “Decision Points.” To coincide with the release of Bush’s memoirs, Julian Zelizer, Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University has edited “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment,” (Princeton University Press, 2010). Zelizer’s book released last month is the first scholarly work that attempts to analyze and place Bush’s presidency and legacy into historical perspective. Zelizer this past week has also been the media’s number one scholarly source as they attempt to put Bush’s memoirs into a broader context. He has given a live chat on the Washington Post’s website, has given radio interviews, was interviewed by BBC and the Danish media, been quoted on MTV, has hosted a book signing of his own book, and has analyzed Decision Points in an TV interview on PBS’s Newshour.

BASIC FACTS

Teaching Position: Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton University, 2007-Present. Faculty Associate, Center for the Study for the Study of Democratic Politics, 2007-Present.
Area of Research: American political history
Education: Ph.D., Department of History, The Johns Hopkins University, 1996;
M.A., with four Distinctions, Department of History, The Johns Hopkins University, 1993;
B.A., Summa Cum Laude with Highest Honors in History, Brandeis University, 1991.
Major Publications: Zelizer is the author of Jimmy Carter (New York: Times Books, 2010); Conservatives in Power: The Reagan Years, 1981-1989 (Boston: Bedford, 2010); Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security–From World War II to the War on Terrorism (New York: Basic Books, 2010); On Capitol Hill: The Struggle to Reform Congress and its Consequences, 1948-2000 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004; paperback edition 2006). The book was featured on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal and Comcast’s Books of Our Times. Taxing America: Wilbur D. Mills, Congress, and the State, 1945-1975 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998; paperback edition 2000). Winner of the Organization of American Historians 2000 Ellis Hawley Prize for Best Book on the Political Economy, Politics, and Institutions of the United States and the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation’s 1998 D.B. Hardeman Prize for Best Publication on Congress.
Julian E. Zelizer JPG Zelizer is the editor of The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment (Princeton University Press, 2010); Co-Editor, The Constitution and Public Policy in U.S. History. Co-editor with Bruce Schulman (University Park: Penn State Press, 2009). This book was previously published as a special issue of the Journal of Policy History; Co-Editor, Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s. Co-editor with Bruce Schulman (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008); Editor, New Directions in Policy History (University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 2005). This book was previously published as a special issue of the Journal of Policy History. Editor, The American Congress: The Building of Democracy (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004). This book was named as a 2005 Choice Outstanding Academic Title. Co-Editor, The Democratic Experiment: New Directions in American Political History. Coedited with Meg Jacobs and William Novak (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003).
Zelizer holds editor positions, as the Co-Editor, Politics and Society in Twentieth Century America book series, Princeton University Press, 2002-Present, and is part of the Editorial Board, The Journal of Policy History, 2002-Present.
Zelizer is currently working on the following book projects: What’s Good for Business. Co-Editor with Kimberly Phillips-Fein. Under contract with Oxford University Press; Building a Great Society: LBJ, Congress, and the Transformation of American Government. Under contract with Penguin Press.
Zelizer is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews; for a full listing of publications see CV
Awards: Zelizer is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Featured on Emmy Award Winner, Great Moments from the Campaign Trail, History Channel, 2008;
Member, PEN American Center, 2006-Present;
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, 2006-2007;
Named as one of the “Top Young Historians” by the History News Network, 2005;
Telly Award. The Telly Award, which is the premier award honoring outstanding cable Programs, was given to the program Books of Our Time for the episode that Focused on my book, On Capitol Hill, 2005;
The Harry Middleton Fellowship in Presidential Studies, Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation, 2005;
Moody Grant, Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation, 2004;
Mellon Visiting Senior Scholar, University of Cambridge, 2004;
Dirksen Congressional Center Special Projects Research Grant, 2001;
Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Research Fellowship, 2000;
National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Research Stipend Award, 2000;
Harvard University Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, Goldsmith Research Award, 1999;
Dirksen Congressional Center Research Grant, 1999;
The Carl Albert Center, University of Oklahoma, Visiting Scholars Grant, 1999;
University at Albany, Support Grant for the Journal of MultiMedia History, 1999;
Student Choice Award, Enthusiasm in Teaching, University at Albany Student Association, 1999;
United University Professions Professional Development Program Grant, 1998;
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute Grant, 1997;
Hagley Museum and Library, Grant-in-Aid, 1997;
Finalist, Distinguished Dissertation Award in the Field of Humanities and Fine Arts 1996 Council of Graduate Schools/University Microfilms International.
Additional Info:
Formerly Professor of History, Boston University, 2004-2007;
Faculty Associate, Center for American Political Studies, Harvard University, 2004-2007; Associate Professor, Department of Public Administration and Policy, State University of New York at Albany, 2002-2004. Joint appointment with the Department of Political Science;
Affiliated Faculty, Center of Policy Research, State University of New York at Albany, 2002- 2004;
Associate Professor, Department of History, State University of New York at Albany, 1999- 2002. Joint Appointment with Department of Public Administration and Policy, 1999-2002;
Assistant Professor, Department of History, State University of New York at Albany, 1996- 1999.
Professor Zelizer is a well-known commentator in the national and international television, radio, and print media. He was featured on a show by the History Channel, Great Moments on the Campaign Trail, which was awarded an Emmy in 2008.
He is a regular contributor to CNN.Com and Politico. He has also published articles in Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and The American Prospect, among many other media appearances and commentaries in print, radio, and television.

COMMENTS/ANECDOTES

“I’m a true historian, but I never like to be confined by boundaries. I’ve learned from social science, political science, social history. To do it right, it has to be done without any rigid disciplinary boundaries.”…

“It’s nice to teach at the same institution as a parent; it doesn’t happen very often. Given how small Princeton is, we already have many connections of similar friends.”

“Both my parents contributed to my interest in education, creating a culture where learning and knowledge is a valuable commodity. I remember my grandfather, who also was a rabbi, used to say that being a professor and a rabbi is basically the same thing in terms of learning and teaching.”…

“Political policymakers are constantly looking to questions or lessons from the past. Instead of trying to understand the last two years, let’s understand the last 200 or 300 years. You can’t understand what’s going on today if you don’t look at it historically.”… “Whether you are going to work in welfare or foreign policy, it teaches you how to think about the past in ways that actually offer help as you develop proposals in the present.”

“It was kind of an odd way to learn, but doing a live radio show every week was really helpful. I learned the medium quickly and became comfortable with going live on the air not really knowing what we were going to talk about…. Public intellectuals comment on issues of the day using what they study, and I think a professor can contribute to that even if it’s in a sound bite. It’s a different way to get my ideas out there.” –

Originally published as part of Political scholar Zelizer goes beyond disciplinary, academic boundaries, News at Princeton, 3-8-08

Viviana and Julian Zelizer JPG

“What policy history does nicely is to look back to alternatives that were not taken. We can look at the New Deal to understand current economic policy. Decisions that weren’t taken might offer guidance to where we should be looking now.”…

“If we look at the Jimmy Carter era, there was a sweeping set of energy policies that were discussed, from nuclear power to increased conservation – most of which were defeated. Looking back at that brings us to ideas that have currency today.”…

“Most historians have not focused on public policy until recently. The history profession was much more concerned with social and political issues, not policy issues. As policy schools developed, historians were not really interested in becoming part of them.”

“In the past five or six years that’s started to change. A growing number of historians have become interested in the study of policy history.”
“It’s useful to convey the historical context in the classroom when they’re trying to understand long-term patterns, developments over decades. In dealing with a particular question of leadership or finance, it’s useful to see that issues have been playing out for a long time, to see how previous policymakers got around them – or did not get around them. It’s also useful for students understand the people who have had the jobs that they want to have someday,” he said.

“Many of the problems we have today are shaped by decisions that were taken years ago. We’re inheriting problems of structure that were built into the legislation.”

“It’s kind of an open-ended question. Do they just tell stories? An interdisciplinary environment offers the chance to work together with historians, political scientists and writers. In all my classes, we read a lot of work from other disciplines. There are opportunities for exciting writing and collaboration.” — Originally published as part of WWS Increases Faculty Specializing in Policy History, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs

QUOTES

By Julian E. Zelizer

  • It is impossible to tell how history will judge President Bush, given that interpretations of his tenure in office will change many times and be open to ongoing debate. Some historians who have weighed in point to decisions such as the surge of U.S. troops in Iraq, which stabilized conditions, as evidence of successful presidential leadership. Donald Critchlow has argued that “Bush’s remaking of the Republican party was a major achievement. By strengthening party organization at the national and state levels, Bush . . . enabled the GOP to harness grassroots activism to win control of Congress and the White House.” Yet a majority of professional historians (who do tend to come from the liberal side of the political spectrum) have been less sanguine. For a cover story in Rolling Stone, “The Worst President in History?,” Sean Wilentz began by saying, “Bush’s presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace.”The historians whose essays appear in this book do not attempt to resolve this debate. The chapters catalogue some of the successes of the administration, ranging from counterterrorism efforts against al Qaeda between 2001 and The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment   JPG 2003 through AIDS policy in Africa to the appointment of minorities to prominent government positions. They also examine some of the failures, including the damage caused by the war in Iraq, the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina, and the devastating collapse of financial markets following years of deregulation in the fall of 2008. Rather than speculate whether he was the worst or the best president in U.S. history, the contributors have attempted to place the Bush White House in a broader historical perspective by understanding his presidency in relationship to the conservative movement.The authors of the essays in this book are trying to write a first take on the history of this period, but one that builds on the rich literature on the history of conservatism in modern America. We hope the essays provoke further investigation. Since this is an early effort to write the history of the George W. Bush presidency, the work is necessarily incomplete. We do not yet have access to some archival materials that will become available in the future. Yet, in addition to the substantial documentation instantaneously available in the age of the Internet, the contributors also have the advantage of producing this interpretation at a time when the emotions and sentiment and context of President Bush’s actions are still vivid. We hope these essays offer the opening to a conversation that will continue for centuries. — Julian E. Zelizer in “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment”
  • Any surprises in the book?: One of the authors wrote about Bush’s Texas origins and how Bush was legitimately interested in broadening the GOP, bringing in Latinos. This was the America Bush knew in Texas, and it’s what he wanted.As a historian, what’s your opinion of Bush?: My opinion is that he will go down as a transformative president. He was saddled with the image of an accidental president, the son of a president, someone not who’s serious. But when you start looking back at his tax policies, his war policies, his counter-terror policies, he’s enormously consequential … Right now, as Obama is struggling with each item on his agenda, we’re starting to appreciate the scale of what happened under Bush, whether you agree or disagree with his polices. Obama is living and dealing with what a lot of Bush did. Afghanistan, Iraq, tax cuts … a lot of Obama’s time in the White House has been defined as a response to what Bush did … Bush was a serious political player and was not taken seriously to the mistake of many people.So what’s going to be Bush’s legacy?: He was very successful in terms of shaping public policy. He’s got a pretty big record. There were failures; Iraq really didn’t work out the way he thought, and some would argue his tax polices caused the meltdown. But every president goes through tons of revisions. Truman was seen as a failure when he left office, now he’s the architect of the Cold War. Reagan was seen as a bumbling figure, now he’s seen as a shrewd leader who helped end Communism … Bush had the ability to move Washington and to move public policy, and it’s hard to deny that he did that and did it dramatically.So. The reason for the book?: Bush still looms large. He’s so polarizing, so controversial. Been a few quiet years, but people are thinking about him again. It’s fun for people to look back on a period they lived through and to start to think about it as a moment in history. — LOOK WHO’S TALKING Interview: Julian Zelizer, professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University Discussing “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment,” The Trentonian, 9-13-10
  • We hear about some of the regrets that he had about his presidency, how he handled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, some discussion of the WMDs that were not found in Iraq, and some acknowledgment by the president that this was, you know, unfortunate and saddened him. But, in general, this is the same President Bush who we heard when he left office. He defends much of his record, and he’s pretty resolute about the decisions that he made.Of all the facts, this is one we didn’t know about, that there was some discussion and consideration of replacing Vice President Cheney with Senator Bill Frist to be the vice presidential candidate. Part of the reason he wanted to do it was to demonstrate to the public that he was, in fact, in charge of the White House and that Vice President Cheney didn’t run the show behind the scenes. So, this is a revelation. Again, it’s not uncommon for people to talk about changes in the tickets behind the scenes, but it still is some news.I think, the more we learn from journalists and from historians about what went on in the White House, and from what we’re learning about people who left the administration, most don’t agree with that assessment. Whether you disagree or agree with his policies, this is someone who is intelligent and who was capable and who could be politically skillful at various times. I imagine there will be a bit of a revision, like you had with Ronald Reagan, who originally was thought to be not very intelligent, more an actor than a policy-maker. But the more we learned, we learned there was someone pretty cunning in the White House.I do think, like many presidents, he wants to get a first cut of the history. He knows that historians are coming. He knows that the historians are going to start investigating what went on. I think this is his effort to offer a defense and an explanation of what he did during his administration. And even on controversial issues like Iraq, where he acknowledges his regrets, he still stands by the decision. So, this is his kind of last argument before the historians start the debate.I would disagree only in that there really never is a final verdict. First of all, the historians have already started to write about him. And what will happen is, there will be multiple interpretations. There will be cycles of when people are negative or — about his policies, when they see more accomplishments than we noticed at the time. You know, a president like Ronald Reagan has gone through many ups and downs in terms of how we view his character, his skills, and the record and legacy of his policies. So — so, it’s an unending debate that is about to start. And I don’t think there will be any point in time where anyone issues a verdict. And I think that’s a healthy way to treat a presidency. — JULIAN ZELIZER, Editor, “The Presidency of GEORGE W. BUSH: A First Historical Assessment”, in “Bush Releases Memoir: ‘He Knows the Historians Are Coming’” Interview with PBS Newshour, 11-9-10Mp3
  • WTop.com Interview: President Bush Offers Some Apologies, Some Regret: Julian Zelizer, Presidential Historian and Editor of, “The Presidency of George W. Bush”… – Mp3
  • Julian Zelizer: Former President George W Bush defends policies in memoirs: “Extremely difficult. There are few of these memoirs that has a big role in changing how people hink of who a president is.” — BBC, 10-9-10
  • September 11. Katrina. Iraq. These events will be forever linked with the presidency of George W. Bush. Now, with the release of his memoir, “Decision Points,” the former president has the chance to defend his record and explain his actions. But as historians and the public alike look back on the Bush White House, will we be able to move past the persistent myths that endure about those tumultuous eight years?…
    1. George W. Bush was an uninformed Texas cowboy….
    2. Compassionate conservatism was just a campaign slogan….
    3. Bush committed America to nation-building projects in Iraq and Afghanistan….
    4. Dick Cheney ran the Bush White House….
    5. Bush left conservatism in ruins.
    Julian Zelizer, “5 myths about George W. Bush,” WaPo, 11-3-10
  • I am very much looking forward to this chat about President George W. Bush and his legacy. In several of my recent publications, including an article in the Washington Post yesterday and a new book that I edited, The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment, I have tried to move beyond some of the existing debate. Rather than answer whether Bush is the “best or worst” president or to repeat discussions about why people hated or loved him, the time has come to start understanding what actually happened when he was in office, to place these events and personalities in broader context, and to start understanding his presidency in relationship to President Obama’s.
    Besides some of the more familiar issues that shaped his presidency, such as 9/11 and the war on terrorism, looking back from 2010 raises new kinds of questions that might not have been as obvious at the time that his term ended: What impact did Bush have on the conservative movement? What was the relationship between deregulation during these years and the economic collapse in 2008? How did the economic policies of the period influence economic inequality? What was the relationship between President Bush and congressional Republicans? How did Bush overcome some of the obstacles that Obama has struggled in the political process? Did the Bush Doctrine really constitute as much as a turning point in U.S. foreign policy as it seemed at the time? How do we evaluate the impact of the Surge–and what did the decision-making behind that policy tell us about how the White House worked? How did President Bush come to push for a substantial expansion of government–through TARP–in the middle of the economic crisis? What impact did the 2006 elections have on the politics of his presidency? Which policies will outlast his presidency and why?
    Obviously these are just a few questions and there are many more to discuss. But the time has come to start thinking more seriously about this two-term president and the impact that he had on the nation. It is also to start developing a more sophisticated understanding of the roots of this administration rather than writing about these years as if everything started in 2001…. – Julian Zelizer: Five myths about George W. Bush Live-Chat, WaPo, 11-8-10
  • About Julian E. Zelizer

  • “Julian is a gifted communicator who can translate his scholarship into terms accessible to journalists and the general public. He injects needed historical perspective into contemporary political debate.” — Bruce Schulman, a professor of history at Boston University
  • “An all-star cast of historians examines the perplexing presidency of George W. Bush–the ‘compassionate conservative’ who frequently ended up allied with the hard right, the ‘uniter’ who presided over one of the nation’s most divisive political eras, the advocate of ‘humility’ on the world stage who fiercely championed unilateral presidential powers. After the journalists and pundits have had their say, the historians are here to put Bush’s tumultuous tenure in historical perspective. An essential resource for anyone seeking to understand contemporary American politics.” — Jacob S. Hacker, coauthor of Winner-Take-All Politics and Off Center
  • “With clarity and precision, some of America’s most prominent historians of politics, law, and international relations examine the controversial presidency of George W. Bush. Their assessments of Bush’s administration are sober, rigorous, and eye-opening. Together these essays will provide a foundation for the next generation of scholarship on early twenty-first-century America.” — Thomas J. Sugrue, author of Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race
  • “George W. Bush once stated that ‘we’ll all be dead’ by the time history casts its judgment on his presidency. Instead, in this engaging and timely portrait of the Bush era, eleven leading scholars assess the ‘war on terror,’ the resurrection of the imperial presidency, the effects of tax cuts and corporate deregulation, and other foreign and domestic policies promoted by big-government conservatism. While acknowledging the administration’s political accomplishments, the contributors to this volume emphasize the ultimate failures of the Bush presidency and the conservative movement’s strategies of governance.” — Matthew D. Lassiter, University of Michigan
  • “Analytically shrewd and historically rich, this harvest of a book convenes a group of leading historians to assess the country’s recent past. Ranging from tax cuts to terrorism, and encompassing questions of ideology, multiculturalism, and presidential capacity, the contributions to this volume establish the scope and agenda for future studies of George W. Bush’s tumultuous presidency.” — Ira Katznelson, Columbia University
  • “This impressive collection features brilliant essays by some of America’s best historians on the presidency of George W. Bush. It’s all here–from the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court decision that sealed Bush’s first-term victory to the stunning financial crisis that closed his tenure in office. This stimulating and highly accessible volume is must reading for scholars, journalists, and concerned citizens.” — Eric M. Patashnik, author of Reforms at Risk
  • “This is a superb collection of essays. I am impressed with the range of issues they cover and the lucidity with which each essay illuminates a particular topic. Their interleaved and overlapping evidence reminds a general reader of the layers of meaning embedded in every political decision taken by the Bush administration–and the sometimes unfortunate consequences. This is an important and timely book.” — Alice Kessler-Harris, author of In Pursuit of Equity
  • Zelizer (history & public affairs, Princeton Univ.; Jimmy Carter) has gathered an A-list of American historians who present a detailed analysis of the presidency of George W. Bush. Each essay examines a particular facet of Bush’s two terms, including such topics as terrorism, faith-based initiatives, energy policy, education, and the war in Iraq. Most of the 12 contributions are scholarly assessments without the partisan political rhetoric found on newspaper op-ed pages or cable TV news shows. Some of the essays, particularly those on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, go over territory that will be familiar to most readers. The more interesting chapters, one by Zelizer, delve into Bush’s place in the American conservative movement. Another thought-provoking treatise is David Greenberg’s (history, journalism, & media studies, Rutgers Univ.) study of the Bush administration’s denigration of professional expertise on subjects such as global warming, judicial nominations, and evolution. VERDICT It may be too soon for many readers to consider a historical analysis of the George W. Bush presidency. But Zelizer’s work provides a valuable benchmark for historians to build upon. — Robert Bruce Slater, Stroudsburg, PA, Library Journal, Oct. 15, 2010
  • Shrub Studies: Next week, Crown Publishers will issue President George W. Bush’s memoir Decision Points, covering what the former president calls “eight of the most consequential years in American history,” which seems like a fair description. They were plenty consequential. To judge from the promotional video, Bush will plumb the depths of his insight that it is the role of a president to be “the decider.” Again, it’s hard to argue with his point — though you have to wonder if he shouldn’t let his accumulated wisdom ripen and mellow for a while before serving it.
    Princeton University Press has already beat him into print with The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment, edited by Julian E. Zelizer, who is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton. The other 10 contributors are professors of history, international relations, law, and political science, and they cover the expected bases — the “War on Terror,” the invasion of Iraq, social and economic policy, religion and race. It is a scholarly book, which means that it is bound to make everybody mad. People on the left get angry at remembering the Bush years, while those on the right grow indignant that anyone still wants to talk about them. So the notion that they were consequential is perhaps not totally uncontroversial after all.
    The contributors make three points about the Bush administration’s place in the history of American conservatism that it may be timely to sum up, just now…. – Inside Higher Ed, 11-3-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer, an academic from Princeton and political commentator for CNN and The New York Times, has endeavoured to telescope the assessment of George W. Bush’s presidency. Indeed, Zelizer and his distinguished fellow contributors, all senior academics from prestigious institutions ranging from Georgetown’s Michael Kazin to Brown’s James T. Patterson, make a virtue of their early conclusions about the 43rd president by highlighting that this is a first historical assessment. By and large they have written a critical but penetrating analysis of the years 2001 to 2009.
    A strength of this book is that it seeks to place the Bush presidency in the context of earlier Republican administrations. There is a peculiar conservative American perspective on the exercise of presidential power and the limits that should apply to the government….
    The Bush presidency is entitled to the passage of time and the scholarship of a generation….
    Truman now rests easy; his reputation polished. For Bush, despite Zelizer’s early conclusions, authoritative judgment is still some distance away. — The Australian, “A legacy in progress,” 10-9-10

  • RELATED LINKS

    Julian Zelizer: Top Young Historian Profile, 12-4-05

    Julian Zelizer, Website, Princeton University

    The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment Edited by Julian E. Zelizer, Princeton University Press, 2010

    Examining the Bush Legacy: George W. Bush’s “Decision Points” & Julian Zelizer’s “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment” By Bonnie K. Goodman, HNN, 11-8-10

    Posted on Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 7:59 PM

    Examining the Bush Legacy: George W. Bush’s “Decision Points” & Julian Zelizer’s “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment”

    THE BUSH PRESIDENCY: GEORGE W. BUSH’S “DECISION POINTS”:

    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.

    George W. Bush JPG

    DECISION POINTS by GEORGE W. BUSH, Crown, 2010

    The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment Edited by Julian E. Zelizer, Princeton University Press, 2010

    INTRO:

    President George W. Bush’s awaited memoirs Decision Points will be released on this Tuesday, November 9th from Crown, an imprint of Random House. The book is being shielded from the public until its release date however; a few copies have been released to the press. The New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, and USA Today are among the media who received advanced copies, and are leaking excerpts from the memoirs.

    Early reviews have ranged widely from the lukewarm reception in the Washington Post, ‘Competent, readable and flat’ Decision Points JPG to the Washington Times glowing comments calling it it as ‘strikingly personal’, while Time has ranked Decision Points as the #2 political memoir of all time. As the publishing date gets closer, more news sources are releasing reviews of Decision Point, most are positive and some rather enthusiastic; the Christian Science Monitor hails “It’s a page- turner.”

    One of the major evaluating points has been how personal Bush gets in recounting events of his presidency; the NYT claims that Bush was not one for introspection, writing; “”Decision Points” lacks the emotional precision and evocative power of his wife Laura’s book, “Spoken From the Heart,” published earlier this year, though it’s a considerably more substantial effort than Mr. Bush’s perfunctory 1999 campaign memoir, “A Charge to Keep.”” While north of the border the Montreal Gazette headlines “Dubya gets personal in memoirs.”

    Crown is expecting a huge demand for the memoirs, and has ordered an initial first printing of 1.5 million copies. The book is being released in a plentitude of formats, including a deluxe multimedia e-book, which includes audio, video, letters and speeches. It is an unprecedented e-book publication, and will only be available in Amazon.com’s Kindle format. A deluxe hardcover version will be released later on November 30th.

    Decision Points is divided into 14 chapters. Each chapter examines a particular defining moment in Bush’s life and presidency, including “Day of Fire” about 9/11, “Stem Cells”, “Katrina” and “Financial Crisis.” Bush opens his memoirs with the chapter “Quitting”, and the words, “It was a simple question, ‘Can you remember the last day you didn’t have a drink?'” discussing his decision to stop drinking.

    Some of the previews of the memoir appearing in the media range from revelations about Bush’s reaction to 9/11, consideration to drop his Vice President, Richard Cheney from the ticket in his 2004 re-election bid, regret over the release of the photo showing him flying over New Orleans in Air Force One after Hurricane Katrina to resoluteness concerning his decisions with Iraq, stem cell research, and the financial crisis. Bush has emphasized the lowest point of his presidency was when rapper Kayne West called Bush a racist, because he deemed the President was being indifferent to black New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and it’s aftermath.

    This upcoming week Bush will be taking to the road to promote Decision Points, signing books in Miami and Dallas and making high profile appearances on a special interview with Matt Lauer on NBC, Monday at 8pm, and then Oprah on Tuesday. Other stops on the publicity rounds include interviews with Jay Leno, Candy Crowley on CNN on TV and with Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on the radio. Bush will also appear on Fox News. Bush is also including his family when he is interviewed; wife Laura Bush, and his parents Barbara Bush and former President George H. W. Bush, and brother former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will appear alongside him at various points this week. Early clips and excerpts show Oprah attempting to get Bush to give his opinions on President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin however, Bush wants to stay out of the political fray.

    Coinciding with the publication of Decision Points, Princeton University Press released last month Princeton University Professor Julian E. Zelizer’s edited book The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment. The scholarly work attempts to begin the historical examination of Bush’s presidency and legacy by examining in twelve essays every facet of Bush’s two terms in office, and examine the Bush presidency in relations to Obama’s Presidency. It looks not to take sides about Bush, but to look at his presidency through the prism of historical perspective.

    The following includes some of the articles and excerpts released from the press about President Bush’s Decision Points and Julian Zelizer’s The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment:

    COMMENTS & REVIEWS

       

    • Book review: ‘Decision Points’ by George W. Bush: The former president delivers an unexpectedly engrossing rehash of what he considers to be the pivotal moments of his eight years in office. The first great American autobiographies both appeared in the 19th century, were born of conflict and written by public men — “The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass” and “The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.” Since then, what we might call the publishing-industrial complex has turned the reminiscences of our public men and women into a never-ending stream. As former President George W. Bush — barely two years out of office — points out in the acknowledgement of his memoir, “Decision Points,” virtually every member of his extended, very political family has published a bestseller, including his parents’ dogs. Where does Bush’s account of his astonishingly eventful eight years rank in such company? Probably far higher than many of his detractors expected. As Bush writes in “Decision Points,” he enjoys surprising those who underestimate him. As the title suggests, the former chief executive elected to abandon the usual chronological approach to these volumes (except for a brief, obligatory foray into childhood and school years) in favor of his recollection of his presidency’s key choices and the personal decisions that Bush says prepared him to make them…. – LAT, 11-9-10
    • Global reaction to Bush’s ‘Decision Points’ memoir: It’s a page-turner: George W. Bush’s ‘Decision Points’ memoir is attracting global scrutiny for its views on everything from the Abu Ghraib scandal to Israel’s bombing of Syria to rapper Kanye West…. – CS Monitor, 11-8-10
    • Dubya gets personal in memoirs: Almost two years after leaving the White House as one of the most polarizing presidents in American history, Bush returns to the public arena Tuesday with the publication of a candid memoir, Decision Points, that recounts everything from his personal struggles with alcohol to an admission of failure in his leadership after Hurricane Katrina.
      Through a steady stream of publicity leaks and pre-publication interview excerpts, Americans already know many of the book’s highlights — including Bush’s revelation that he considered dropping Dick Cheney from the 2004 Republican ticket and his disgust with rapper Kanye West’s post-Katrina accusation that he didn’t care about black people. Almost two years after leaving the White House as one of the most polarizing presidents in history, Bush returns to the public arena Tuesday with the publication of a candid memoir, Decision Points, that reveals everything from his personal struggles with alcohol to his disappointment in having failed to capture Osama bin Laden…. – Montreal Gazette
    • Personality Intersects With Policy: George W. Bush’s memoir “Decision Points” could well have been titled “The Decider Decides”: it’s an autobiography focused around “the most consequential decisions” of his presidency and his personal life from his decision to give up drinking in 1986 to his decision to invade Iraq in 2003 to his decisions regarding the financial crisis of 2008. It is a book that is part spin, part mea culpa, part family scrapbook, part self-conscious effort to (re)shape his political legacy.
      A dogged work of reminiscence by an author not naturally given to introspection, “Decision Points” lacks the emotional precision and evocative power of his wife, Laura’s, book, “Spoken From the Heart,” published earlier this year, though it’s a considerably more substantial effort than Mr. Bush’s perfunctory 1999 campaign memoir, “A Charge to Keep.”… – NYT, 11-4-10
    • Top 10 Political Memoirs: While George W. Bush’s new memoir Decision Points doesn’t hit bookshelves until Nov. 9, it has already managed to make waves. TIME takes a look at other memorable political autobiographies… 2. George W. Bush, Decision Points, 2010: The Decider has written a book called Decision Points. George W. Bush’s presidential memoir — which covers key decisions he made from 1986 (when he vowed to stop drinking) to 2008 (when he found himself faced with the start of the financial crisis) — seems to be more honest than anyone expected. Bush still defends the Iraq war, yet describes a “sickening feeling” whenever he thinks about the absence of weapons of mass destruction. He talks about wishing he had handled Hurricane Katrina better. He refers to Dick Cheney as “the Darth Vader of the administration” and says he considered dropping him from the 2004 presidential ticket. And he relates a strange anecdote about Vladimir Putin’s assertion that his pet Labrador was “bigger, stronger, faster” than Bush’s Scottish terrier, Barney. “You’re lucky he only showed you his dog,” quipped Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper upon hearing the story. Time, 11-6-10
    • George W. Bush’s ‘Decision Points’: ‘Competent, readable and flat’: All is sweet reason in “Decision Points,” George W. Bush’s account of his eight-year presidency and some of the events — quitting drinking, serving as governor of Texas — that preceded it. To be sure there are a few hints of the pugnacity Americans came to know so well — barbs directed at the press, the professoriate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a few other sitting ducks — but Bush as he presents himself here is calm, deliberative, reasonable, open-minded, God-fearing, loyal, trustworthy, patriotic.
      This should come as no surprise. The presidential memoir as it has evolved, especially in the wake of recent presidencies, is not a memoir as the term is commonly understood — an attempt to examine and interpret the writer’s life — but an attempt to write history before the historians get their hands on it. Yes, from time to time mistakes must be acknowledged — on the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, for instance, “I had sent American troops into combat based in large part on intelligence that proved false,” or on Katrina, “The problem was not that I made the wrong decisions. It was that I took too long to decide” — but the clear purpose of these non-apologies is to humanize the person making them, and to make us like him better for making them…. – WaPo, 11-6-10
    • Leaked Bush memoir ‘strikingly personal’: An anonymous source on Thursday leaked former President George W. Bush’s memoir to the Drudge Report 11 days before its scheduled publication. Excerpts from “Decision Points” have put Mr. Bush back on public radar after a long absence; the 14-chapter book is deemed a “strikingly personal” look at the president’s challenges, personal convictions and faith, and it takes few shots at his critics…. – The Washington Times, 10-29-10

    THE HEADLINES….

       

    • Bush memoir ‘Decision Points’ sells 220,000 copies on first day: Former President George W. Bush’s memoir “Decision Points” sold at least 220,000 copies through its first day of release, with more than 20 per cent generated by e-book purchases.
      Random House Inc. announced Wednesday that opening-day sales, which include preorders and represent 95 per cent of accounts reporting, was the publisher’s highest for nonfiction since former President Clinton’s “My Life” debuted with 400,000 in 2004. Bush’s book came out Tuesday with an announced first printing of 1.5 million copies, the same as Clinton’s did.
      Random House said that e-sales were 50,000 so far, a number unthinkable when “My Life” was published…. – CP, 11-10-10
    • Bush to speak in Chicago Thursday: Former president George W. Bush will speak at the Union League Club in downtown Chicago as part of his “Decision Points” book tour Thursday. The event will takes place at 8:45 a.m…. – ABC Local, 11-10-10
    • George Bush ‘Decision Points’ – how many books will he sell?: Publishers of President Bush’s ‘Decision Points’ have printed up 1.5 million copies. President Bill Clinton’s ‘My Life’ sold 606,000 in its first week, and has totaled 2.2 million since…. – CS Monitor, 11-10-10
    • Room for forgiveness on Bush book tour: Former President George W. Bush’s media blitz to sell his new book seems carefully designed to minimize surprises, although he got one Wednesday in a surprise rapprochement with Kanye West. The rapper says now that he “didn’t have the grounds” to call Bush a racist after Hurricane Katrina. The former president was shown tape of West’s comments in a live “Today” show interview and said he appreciated West’s regret.
      Bush has primarily favored the leaders of their respective fields in an effort to spread his salesmanship as wide as possible: NBC News, Fox News Channel, Rush Limbaugh, Oprah Winfrey and Jay Leno. ABC, CBS and CNN were deemphasized or left behind entirely.
      In an earlier media era, Matt Lauer’s one-hour taped interview with Bush would have been jealously guarded until airtime, said Jim Bell, executive producer of the “Today” show. Instead, it was sliced and diced and spread around various outlets: clips aired on “Today” last Thursday and Friday and on “Nightly News.” A business-oriented response was sent to CNBC, and political comments to MSNBC and further quotes out to local NBC affiliates. MSNBC is airing an expanded, two-hour version of the interview this weekend.
      Monday’s prime-time special wasn’t a big seller, finishing fourth in its time slot with more than 7 million viewers, the Nielsen Co. said. That’s generally a tough night for NBC, and the interview did slightly better than “Chuck” usually does in the time slot…. – AP, 11-10-10
    • Former President Bush Uses New Book, Media Tour to Defend His Legacy: Tuesday marks the official release of former President George W. Bush’s memoir, “Decision Points,” in which he reflects on the most significant decisions he made as president, as well as in his personal life. Mr. Bush’s media blitz to promote the book began Monday night in a taped interview with Matt Lauer of NBC News that saw the former president accept blame for some controversial decisions while giving a forceful defense of others…. – PBS Newshour, 11-9-10
    • Decision Points, the George W. Bush memoir, released: George W. Bush is on a book tour to promote his memoir “Decision Points.”… – WaPo, 11-9-10
    • In memoir, Bush defends waterboarding, admits mistakes: After staying largely mum on the political scene since leaving office almost two years ago, former President George W. Bush will reveal his thoughts on the most historic — and controversial — parts of his presidency with the release of his memoir Tuesday. In the 481-page book, Bush shares his thoughts on the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina and what he calls the “worst moment” of his presidency…. – CNN, 11-9-10
    • Bush book praised in Dallas, criticized overseas: Autograph-seekers descended on a Dallas shopping center Tuesday as former President George W. Bush officially kicked off the release of his new memoir, receiving praise for his candor at a hometown bookstore even as his renewed defense of waterboarding as an interrogation tactic was greeted with derision overseas. First in line at the Borders store about a mile from Bush’s Dallas home were Terry and Tammy Jones of suburban Justin, who camped out overnight. They said when they told Bush of their wait, he said he’d sign their books “with admiration,” shaking 53-year-old Terry Jones’ hand and kissing his wife’s. “Eighteen hours for two seconds and a kiss on the hand,” Tammy Jones, 52, said with a smile. Terry Jones said he admired Bush because “when he makes a decision, he sticks with it.”
      But such steadfastness also prompted criticism Tuesday in Europe, where reports about Bush’s memoir “Decision Points” focused on waterboarding…. – AP, 11-9-10
    • George W. Bush Begins Publicity Tour: President George W. Bush is starting to do the rounds promoting his new book “Decision Points.” He spoke with NBC’s Matt Lauer on the Today Show. In the book and in the interview he defended the decision to invade Iraq, even though the casus belli, weapons of mass destruction, was a mirage.
      “Was there ever any consideration of apologizing to the American people?” Lauer asked. 

      “I mean, apologizing would basically say the decision was a wrong decision,” Bush replied. “And I don’t believe it was the wrong decision. I thought the best way to handle this was to find out why. And what went wrong. And to remedy it.”
      In his book, Bush writes, “There were things we got wrong in Iraq, but that cause is eternally right.”
      Bush also spoke with the Times of London. Both in the book and the interview he strongly defended the use of waterboarding.(yes, they have a pay wall)
      In an interview with The Times, the former US President offered a vigorous defence of the coercive interrogation technique: “Three people were waterboarded and I believe that decision saved lives.” He denied that waterboarding, which simulates drowning, amounted to torture.
      Asked if he authorised the use of waterboarding to get information from the captured al-Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he was unequivocal: “Damn right!” In his new book he writes: “Their interrogations helped break up plots to attack American diplomatic facilities abroad, Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf in London, and multiple targets in the United States.” – NPR, 11-9-10

    • Was George W. Bush Willing to Endorse Barack Obama?: He called himself The Decider, but as former president George W. Bush emerges from his self-imposed exile to promote his new book, he’s become The Denier. Specifically, he’s been busy denying rumors about his contempt for John McCain. On Friday, the Daily News quoted a “Republican official familiar with Bush’s thinking” who claimed that Bush thought McCain “destroyed any chance of winning by picking Palin” and was “less of a man” for doing so. He wouldn’t be the first one to think that, but on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show yesterday, Bush insisted, “I never said that, never would have said that.”
      Yesterday, an even more intriguing story appeared on a blog of the Financial Times. Alex Barker writes of his “favourite Bush anecdote,” which “some of the witnesses still dine out on”:
      The venue was the Oval Office. A group of British dignitaries, including Gordon Brown, were paying a visit. It was at the height of the 2008 presidential election campaign, not long after Bush publicly endorsed John McCain as his successor.
      Naturally the election came up in conversation. Trying to be even-handed and polite, the Brits said something diplomatic about McCain’s campaign, expecting Bush to express some warm words of support for the Republican candidate.
      Not a chance. “I probably won’t even vote for the guy,” Bush told the group, according to two people present. “I had to endorse him. But I’d have endorsed Obama if they’d asked me.” Now, Bush not voting for McCain and giving him a forced endorsement, sure, we can buy that. The two never had a great relationship following their bitter primary battle in 2000, and in Decision Points, Bush laments that McCain kept his distance in the 2008 campaign. He also writes that McCain was unimpressive in their meeting during the financial crisis.
      But endorsing Obama?… A Bush spokesman says, “This is ridiculous and untrue. President Bush proudly supported John McCain in the election and voted for him.” – NY Mag, 11-10-10
    • 2,500 show up for Bush book signing in Dallas: An estimated 2,500 people showed up at a North Dallas Borders bookstore to get an autographed copy of George W. Bush’s first memoir, the bookseller reports. But the former president could put his John Hancock on only 1,300 copies of Decision Points and on 500 bookplates for the legion of unlucky buyers. In a news release, Borders noted that Bush signed 500 copies more than expected (800) and that hundreds of others in line would receive a signed bookplate later. First in line were Terry and Tammy Jones of Justin, Texas, who camped out overnight after arriving at the store yesterday about 2 p.m. They bought four books Bush autographed, met him briefly, and beamed, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. “I waited 18 hours for two seconds and a kiss on my hand. I’m never washing this hand again,” Tammy Jones said…. – USA Today, 11-9-10
    • Bush is back, and eager to help history judge him: George W. Bush knows that history will shape his legacy more than anything he can say. But that’s not gonna stop a guy from trying. After two years of near silence, Bush is back.
      With his new memoir, “Decision Points,” and a promotion tour, the president who in cockier times could not think of a single mistake he had made, lists many. He counts the years without a post-9/11 attack as his transcendent achievement. He says the economic calamity he handed off to Barack Obama was “one ugly way to end a presidency.”… – AP, 11-8-10
    • “Decision Points”: George Bush’s view of his presidency: In his new memoir “Decision Points,” George W. Bush weighs in on the Iraq war, the financial crisis, Hurricane Katrina, John McCain’s 2008 campaign, and other episodes in his presidency…. – CS Monitor, 11-7-10
    • Busy week awaits author George W. Bush: Former President George W. Bush will be highly visible next week when his memoir, Decision Points, goes on sale. According to reports from copies that were leaked this week, Bush writes that he considered replacing Vice President Dick Cheney, that he personally signed off on water-boarding as an interrogation technique and that he considers it a mistake to have flown over – but not landed near – the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The book release comes a week ahead of the groundbreaking for Bush’s presidential library at Southern Methodist University on Nov. 16…. – The Dallas Morning News, 11-6-10
    • John McCain looks bad in George W. Bush’s book: Sen. John McCain never asked then-President George W. Bush to campaign for him in 2008, though Bush thinks he could have helped the Arizona senator. In his forthcoming memoir, “Decision Points,” Bush explores his “complex relationship” with McCain. “I understood he had to establish his independence,” Bush wrote. “I thought it looked defensive for John to distance himself from me. I was confident I could have helped him make his case. But the decision was his. I was disappointed I couldn’t do more to help him.” The 43rd president suggests his opponent for the Republican nomination in 2000 blew an opportunity to capitalize politically on the financial crisis eight years later. Without saying it explicitly, Bush portrays then-Sen. Barack Obama as more presidential than McCain in his handling of the financial crisis…. – Politico, 11-6-10
    • George W Bush says he was ‘blindsided’ by financial crisis: George W Bush, the former US president, has said that he was “blindsided” by the financial crisis that began at the end of his final term in office…. – Telegragh UK, 11-9-10
    • George W Bush memoir ‘Decision Points’ to go on sale: George W Bush will on Monday begin a media blitz that will thrust him back into the lives of Americans after two years of near silent retirement. The former US president campaign to rehabilitate his reputation in multiple interviews and television appearances to publicise the memoir, which is published this week both in the US and UK.
      He will be on screens and the airwaves every day for a week, conducting interviews with giants of American broadcasting such as Oprah Winfrey and Jay Leno. On Winfrey’s show he will be accompanied by his parents, former President George Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush, while his wife Laura will join him on a breakfast television appearance…. – Telegraph (UK), 11-7-10
    • George Bush: I was not in shock on 9/11 In memoirs and TV interview, George Bush says he wanted to project calm after 9/11 attacks: They were the seven minutes that, for some, came to define a presidency. On one side of the TV screen, a New York landmark was in flames after hijacked planes smashed into the World Trade Centre. On the other, George Bush sat before a group of children looking like a startled rabbit, conveying a sense of paralysis, if not panic, after an aide told him of the attacks.
      But Bush says that anyone who thinks he was in shock has got it wrong. He was trying not to create panic. “My first reaction was anger. How dare they do this to America?” Bush told NBC News in an interview to be broadcast on Monday to coincide with the release of his memoirs.
      “I made the decision not to jump up and create a chaotic scene, because right after … These are quick reflections, anger, duty to protect the country, and then all of a sudden the cellphones are ringing. Now, the noise [from reporters receiving calls about the attacks],” he said. “But it clarified to me that people were going to be watching my reaction. And I’d had enough experience as governor of Texas during some disasters to know that the reaction of the leader is essential in the first stage of any crisis.”
      Pressed on whether he was paralysed into inaction, Bush was dismissive. “I’m not going to debate the critics as to whether or not I was in shock or not. I wasn’t. And they can read the book, and they can draw their own conclusion,” he said.
      Bush’s book, Decision Points, offers insights into his beliefs, including a vigorous defence of the death penalty in an argument over dinner with Cherie Blair. Much of it is dedicated to justifying what some consider to be indefensible, not least his invasion of Iraq on what proved to be the spurious pretext of hunting for weapons of mass destruction. The former president acknowledges there were dissenters on the question of whether to go to war. He claims he was among them.
      “I was a dissenting voice. I didn’t want to use force. I mean force is the last option for a president,” he said. But he told NBC there was no need for an apology. “I mean apologising would basically say the decision was a wrong decision. And I don’t believe it was the wrong decision,” he said…. – Guardian UK, 11-3-10
    • In memoir, Bush says he considered dropping Cheney from 2004 ticket: Former president George W. Bush once considered replacing his vice president, Richard B. Cheney, Bush says in a revealing memoir in which he offers advice on the U.S. economy and admits mistakes on Iraq and Hurricane Katrina. Bush’s book, “Decision Points,” is full of anecdotes and behind-the-scenes details of eight eventful years that began with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and ended with an economic meltdown in which “I felt like the captain of a sinking ship.”
      “No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons. I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do,” Bush writes.
      Bush writes that he considered the offer, adding that although Cheney “helped with important parts of our base, he had become a lightning rod for criticism from the media and the left.”
      Although Bush did not like Cheney’s image as described by critics, accepting his resignation offer would help “demonstrate that I was in charge,” he writes…. – WaPo, 11-3-10
    • In book, Bush strongly defends use of waterboarding: When then-President George W. Bush was asked to approve a tough interrogation technique known as waterboarding on September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he wasted little time in deciding. “Damn right,” he said. Bush’s approval of waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning condemned by human rights activists as torture, to try to wrench information from captured al Qaeda operatives was among the most controversial decisions he made during eight years in the White House.
      In his memoir, “Decision Points,” Bush strongly defends the use of waterboarding as critical to his efforts to prevent a repeat of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. He says waterboarding was limited to three detainees and led to intelligence breakthroughs that thwarted attacks. The book, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, is to hit bookstores on Tuesday. He writes that his ability to prevent another September 11 attack on U.S. soil was “my most meaningful accomplishment.”… – Reuters, 11-4-10
    • Bush rejects accusations of racism over Katrina: Former President George W. Bush says criticism from some, including prominent rapper Kanye West, that his handling of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina showed he did not care about black people represented “an all-time low.” In his memoir, “Decision Points,” to be released next Tuesday, Bush writes that charges flung at him that he was a racist during the Katrina crisis “was the worst moment of my presidency.”
      In excerpts of an interview of Bush by NBC’s “Today” show to be aired next Monday, the former president was asked about West’s comment that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
      “And I didn’t appreciate it then. I don’t appreciate it now. It’s one thing to say, ‘I don’t appreciate the way he’s handled his business.’ It’s another thing to say, ‘this man’s a racist,'” Bush said. “I resent it, it’s not true,” Bush said. “And it was one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency.” He said his record was strong “when it came to race relations and giving people a chance.”
      Bush writes in his book, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, that his initial mistake on Katrina was failing to communicate his concern for the storm’s victims. He said he should not have done an Air Force One flyover of New Orleans while much of the city was under water. “The photo of my hovering over the damage suggested I was detached from the suffering on the ground. That wasn’t how I felt. But once the public impression was formed, I couldn’t change it,” he writes…. – Reuters, 11-3-10
    • Ex-President George W. Bush rips wisdom of Barack Obama, Sarah Palin and John McCain to friends: “Naming Palin makes Bush think less of McCain as a man,” a Republican official familiar with Bush’s thinking told the Daily News. “He thinks McCain ran a lousy campaign with an unqualified running mate and destroyed any chance of winning by picking Palin.” “I want my President to succeed because if my President succeeds my country succeeds, and I want my country to succeed,” Bush typically says when asked about Obama.
      “He won’t call Obama by name but he won’t trash him,” a confidant noted, referring to Bush’s comments in post- presidency speaking appearances, which have netted him millions, often at $100,000 or more a pop. Still, he thinks Obama has failed as a President – a judgment supported by this week’s robust Republican gains. “He thinks the policy is adrift,” one insider reported. NY Daily News, 11-5-10
    • Bush’s memoir explains: U.S. can’t appear to be doing Israel’s bidding: In excerpts released from soon-to-be-published book, ex-president says was asked by then PM Olmert to strike Syria’s nuclear reactor…. – Haaretz, 11-7-10
    • Bush/Nixon: The early reviews of George W. Bush’s memoir “Decision Points” are already out, even though the book is under a sales embargo until next Tuesday. If you want to read one of the book’s “deluxe” copies — the hand-numbered, hand- signed edition that comes with a slipcase, a “special color photo frontispiecE” and a $350 price tag — you’ll have to wait even longer, until Nov. 30. Bush may have left office with rock-bottom approval ratings. But if the experience of another unpopular ex-president is any guide, both editions of his book may do surprisingly well…. – NY, 11-6-10
    • Bush memoir coming with huge first printing: We’re one month and a day away from the launch of George W. Bush’s presidential memoir “Decision Points.” The former president’s book, which goes on sale on Nov. 9, will have a huge first printing of 1.5 million copies, Crown Publishers said in a statement on Thursday.
      Bush writes about crucial points in his life and presidency including his decision to run for the highest office in the country; 9/11; the decisions to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq; his response to Hurricane Katrina; and his relationship with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, Crown said.
      But there’s so much more than just a book (and book tour) coming next month. The publishers are simultaneously rolling out the whole kit and caboodle — across multiple platforms — with the hardcover version, an e-book edition, a Deluxe e-book edition and an audiobook (from RandomHouse), read by the author himself… – Reuters, 10-8-10
    • George W. Bush starting to emerge from cone of silence: President No. 43 gave a lecture at the University of Texas in Tyler, Texas, on Tuesday and spoke before a sold-out crowd of 2,000 people. All this is according to the Tyler newspaper. Bush talked up a book he has written about major decisions he made as president, “Decision Points,” which is to be published on Nov. 9. The author will be doing a number of major interviews surrounding the publication of his memoir, including with a Facebook fan.
      “This will come as a shock to some people in our country who didn’t think I could read a book, much less write one,” he joked… “I miss being pampered. I miss Air Force One. I miss being commander-in-chief of an awesome group of (people),” he said.
      Bush said Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told him, “If you don’t do something significant, you’re likely to see a depression greater than the Great Depression.”… “Depression, no depression,” Bush said. “It wasn’t that hard for me, just so you know. I made the decision to use your money to prevent the collapse from happening.”
      Bush also said he read a dozen biographies of Abraham Lincoln while in office, and, “I think he’s the country’s greatest president.” Reuters, 10-20-10

    EXCERPTS

       

    • Excerpt: President Bush in his own words on 9/11, Iraq In ‘Decision Points,’ he describes moments of high emotion, prayer:
      “While my emotions might have been similar to those of most Americans, my duties were not,” President Bush writes of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “There would be time later to mourn. … But first I had to manage the crisis.”
      In his new memoir “Decision Points,” President George W. Bush shares candid, never-before-heard details about his presidency. This excerpt conveys the emotions Bush felt in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the decision to go to war in Iraq.
      The Secret Service wanted to get me to Air Force One, and fast. As the motorcade charged down Florida Route 41, I called Condi from the secure phone in the limo. She told me there had been a third plane crash, this one into the Pentagon. I sat back in my seat and absorbed her words. My thoughts clarified: The first plane could have been an accident. The second was definitely an attack. The third was a declaration of war.
      My blood was boiling. We were going to find out who did this, and kick their ass. …
      … I stepped into the presidential cabin and asked to be alone. I thought about the fear that must have seized the passengers on those planes and the grief that would grip the families of the dead. So many people had lost their loved ones with no warning. I prayed that God would comfort the suffering and guide the country through this trial. I thought of the lyrics from one of my favorite hymns, “God of Grace and God of Glory”: “Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour.”
      While my emotions might have been similar to those of most Americans, my duties were not. There would be time later to mourn. There would be an opportunity to seek justice. But first I had to manage the crisis. We had suffered the most devastating surprise attack since Pearl Harbor. An enemy had struck our capital for the first time since the War of 1812. In a single morning, the purpose of my presidency had grown clear: to protect our people and defend our freedom that had come under attack …
      … The collapse of the towers magnified the catastrophe. Fifty thousand people worked in the buildings on a typical business day. Some had been evacuated, but I wondered how many were left. Thousands? Tens of thousands? I had no idea. But I was certain that I had just watched more Americans die than any president in history.
      I kept up-to-date on the latest developments by calling Dick and Condi in the PEOC (Presidential Emergency Operations Center). We tried to establish an open line, but it kept dropping. …
      … When we did receive information, it was often contradictory and sometimes downright wrong. I was experiencing the fog of war. There were reports of a bomb at the State Department, a fire on the National Mall, a hijacked Korean airliner bound for the United States, and a call-in threat to Air Force One. The caller had used the plane’s code name, Angel, which few people knew. The most bizarre report came when I was informed of a high-speed object flying toward our ranch in Crawford. All of this information later proved to be false. But given the circumstances, we took every report seriously.
      One report I received proved true. A fourth plane had gone down somewhere in Pennsylvania. “Did we shoot it down, or did it crash?” I asked Dick Cheney. Nobody knew. I felt sick to my stomach. Had I ordered the death of those innocent Americans? 

      On Wednesday, March 19, 2003, I walked into a meeting I had hoped would not be necessary.
      The National Security Council had gathered in the White House Situation Room, a nerve center of communications equipment and duty officers on the ground floor of the West Wing. The top center square of the secure video screen showed General Tommy Franks sitting with his senior deputies at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. In the other five boxes were our lead Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Special Operations commanders. Their counterparts from the British Armed Forces and Australian Defense Forces joined as well.
      I asked each man two questions: Do you have everything you need to win? And are you comfortable with the strategy?
      Each commander answered affirmatively.
      Tommy spoke last. “Mr. President,” the commanding general said, “this force is ready.”
      I turned to Don Rumsfeld. “Mr. Secretary,” I said, “for the peace of the world and the benefit and freedom of the Iraqi people, I hereby give the order to execute Operation Iraqi Freedom. May God bless the troops.”
      Tommy snapped a salute. “Mr. President,” he said, “may God bless America.”
      As I saluted back, the gravity of the moment hit me. For more than a year, I had tried to address the threat from Saddam Hussein without war. We had rallied an international coalition to pressure him to come clean about his weapons of mass destruction programs. We had obtained a unanimous United Nations Security Council resolution making clear there would be serious consequences for continued defiance. We had reached out to Arab nations about taking Saddam into exile. I had given Saddam and his sons a final forty-eight hours to avoid war. The dictator rejected every opportunity. The only logical conclusion was that he had something to hide, something so important that he was willing to go to war for it.
      I knew the consequences my order would bring. I had wept with widows of troops lost in Afghanistan. I had hugged children who no longer had a mom or a dad. I did not want to send Americans into combat again. But after the nightmare of 9/11, I had vowed to do what was necessary to protect the country. Letting a sworn enemy of America refuse to account for his weapons of mass destruction was a risk I could not afford to take.
      I needed time to absorb the emotions of the moment. I left the Situation Room, walked up the stairs and through the Oval Office, and took a slow, silent lap around the South Lawn. I prayed for our troops, for the safety of the country, and for strength in the days ahead. Spot, our springer spaniel, bounded out of the White House toward me. It was comforting to see a friend. Her happiness contrasted with the heaviness in my heart.
      There was one man who understood what I was feeling. I sat down at my desk in the Treaty Room and scrawled out a letter:
      Dear Dad, …
      At around 9:30 a.m., I gave the order to SecDef to execute the war plan for Operation Iraqi Freedom. In spite of the fact that I had decided a few months ago to use force, if need be, to liberate Iraq and rid the country of WMD, the decision was an emotional one. …
      I know I have taken the right action and do pray few will lose life. Iraq will be free, the world will be safer. The emotion of the moment has passed and now I wait word on the covert action that is taking place.
      I know what you went through.
      Love,
      George
      MSNBC, 11-8-10

    • “Decision Points”: Other revelations from the new George W. Bush memoir: Was banned from the Princeton campus after a game where he led fellow Yalie undergrads to tear down the goalposts. (“All these years later I still haven’t been back.”) Yeah, he had been drinking.
      Climbed onstage at a 1976 Willie Nelson concert in Odessa, Tex. (“I looked like a fool up there.”) Yeah, he had been drinking.
      After he gave up drinking at 40, got seriously into running. And chocolate. “My body was screaming for sugar.”
      He and Laura were close to adopting when they found out she was pregnant with twins.
      The twins’ reaction to his presidential bid: “Dad, you’re going to lose. You’re not as cool as you think you are,” and “Why do you want to ruin our lives?”
      Knew he was going to get along with Tony and Cherie Blair when, during their first meeting at Camp David, the Brits picked “Meet the Parents” as an after-dinner movie. (“There was no stuffiness.”)
      Totally pulled Josh Bolten’s leg just before his first meeting with Bono: “Used to be married to Cher, didn’t he?”
      Vladimir Putin made a point of introducing his big black Labrador during a visit to Russia. “Bigger, stronger, and faster than Barney,” Putin smirked. Later, Canadian PM Stephen Harper told Bush, “You’re lucky he only showed you his dog.” – WaPo, 11-8-10
    • Inside Bush’s White House: A preview of W.’s memoir: Former U.S. president George W. Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, is due to be released next Tuesday, but excerpts are already circulating.
      Outside observers might pick his decision to go to war in Iraq, based on the non-evidence of weapons of mass destructions. But although Mr. Bush admits to “a sickening feeling” about being proved wrong, it was Kanye West’s description of him as racist that really hit home. “George W. Bush doesn’t care about black people” the rapper said during a post-Katrina telethon. Mr. Bush calls the incident “one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency.”… “Damn right,” Mr. Bush said when asked by the Central Intelligence Agency whether agents should employ the coercive and controversial interrogation technique against the terror suspect. “Had I not authorized waterboarding on senior al-Qaeda leaders, I would have had to accept a greater risk that the country would be attacked.”… 

      Says he felt “blindsided” over the Abu Ghraib scandal Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, “had told me the military was investigating reports of abuse at the prison, but I had no idea how graphic or grotesque the photos would be,” he writes. “The first time I saw them was the day they were aired on 60 Minutes II.”
      … “We were blindsided by a financial crisis that had been more than a decade in the making.” His focus, he writes, “had been kitchen-table economic issues like jobs and inflation. I assumed any major credit troubles would have been flagged by the regulators or rating agencies.”…
      Detainees were given “a personal copy of the Koran” and access to a library among whose popular offerings was “an Arabic translation of Harry Potter.”…
      “There was no way I was going to let a group of retired officers bully me into pushing out the civilian secretary of defense. It would have looked like a military coup and would have set a disastrous precedent.”… “Why hadn’t I thought of Bob?” Mr. Bush wonders….
      “While Dick helped with important parts of our base, he had become a lightning rod for criticism from the media and the left. He was seen as dark and heartless – the Darth Vader of the administration.”… “Accepting Dick’s offer would be one way to demonstrate that I was in charge.”… Mr. Cheney pushed Mr. Bush to pardon Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice-president’s former chief of staff who was convicted of lying in the CIA leak case. Mr. Bush wrestled with the decision in his final weekend at Camp David so much his wife, Laura, finally told him, “Just make up your mind. You’re ruining this for everyone.” When he decided against a pardon, Mr. Cheney was bitter: “I can’t believe you’re going to leave a soldier on the battlefield,” he said. “The comment stung,” Mr. Bush writes. “In eight years, I had never seen Dick like this, or even close to it.” – National Post, 11-5-10

    • George W. Bush on Alcohol: ‘It Became a Love’: “It became a love and, therefore, began to compete for my love with my wife and my daughters,” he said, according to People.com. “I wasn’t a knee-walkin’ drunk,” Bush said in his interview with Lauer. “I could easily have a beer or two, or a martini, before dinner, bourbons, B&Bs. I was a drinker.”
      In an interview promoting his memoir, “Decision Points,” the 43rd president said he got caught driving drunk on Labor Day weekend in 1976 after a night of “drinking no hands at a bar” — meaning he picked up and tossed back a drink using only his mouth. Bush didn’t discuss the DUI until days before the 2000 election, when it became a scandal. Trying to keep the story under wraps for so long is a choice that Bush considers “one of the top stupidest decisions I made.” “Was really a bad choice. And if I had to do it — look, you don’t get to do it over again. But if I had to do it over again, of course I would have disclosed. I mean there was nothing to hide. I — yeah, I drank too much. I had been pulled over. And I quit. It was a good story with a good ending, poorly timed.”
      “So I’m drunk at the dinner table at Mother and Dad’s house in Maine. And my brothers and sister are there, Laura’s there. And I’m sitting next to a beautiful woman, friend of Mother and Dad’s,” he said, according to the magazine. “And I said to her out loud, ‘What is sex like after 50?'” The room went silent, and Bush said his wife and mother gave him “serious daggers.” Bush said he later apologized to the woman. Though drinking took its toll, Bush says his inebriation came to an end years before his inauguration. The former president noted that he gave up drinking cold turkey on his 40th birthday in 1986 and hasn’t had a sip since…. – AOL News, 11-5-10
    • Putin to Bush: My dog bigger than yours: Russian leader Vladimir Putin once boasted to then-President George W. Bush about the size of his dog, in the ultimate of “mine-is-bigger-than-yours” stories. Former President Bush writes about the episode in his memoir, “Decision Points,” which hits book stores next Tuesday. Bush says he had introduced then-Russian President Putin to his Scottish terrier, Barney, on a visit to the U.S. presidential retreat, Camp David. Putin returned the favour when Bush visited Russia and Putin was giving him a tour of the grounds of his dacha. “A big black Labrador came charging across the lawn. With a twinkle in his eye, Vladimir said, ‘Bigger, stronger, faster than Barney,'” Bush writes. A copy of the book was obtained by Reuters. Bush says he later told the story to the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, who replied: “You’re lucky he only showed you his dog.”… – Times Live, 11-6-10
    • Drudge Report: Decision Points Excerpts & Preview: BUSH MAKES PEACE: BOOK REVEALED “It was a simple question, ‘Can you remember the last day you didn’t have a drink?'” So begins President George W. Bush in the opening chapter [“Quitting”] from the most anticipated book of the season, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal. With DECISION POINTS, set for release November 9, Bush pulls back the curtain with a strikingly personal work that takes very few shots at his critics. The former president even stays clear of Obama! – Drudge Report, 10-28-10

    INTERVIEWS

       

    • West, Bush and “Today” Show Spar Over “Racist” Remark: The three-way verbal sparring began when Bush hit the promotional circuit for “Decision Points” and was asked about passages that address comments West made on a television fund-raiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina. On the program West said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” In the book and in his own interview earlier this week on “Today,” Bush told Lauer the comment upset him. “He called me a racist…I didn’t appreciate it then. I don’t appreciate it now.”
      “Today” then pursued an interview with West, which will air on Thursday, November 11. When asked by Lauer about those past comments, West seemed to soften his stance about the former president.
      “I would tell George Bush in my moment of frustration that I didn’t have the grounds to call him a racist. But I believe that in a situation of high emotion, like that, we as human beings don’t always choose the right words,” he said.
      On Wednesday, Bush responded by saying, “I appreciate that. It wasn’t just Kanye West who was talking like that during Katrina. I cited him as an example. I cited others as an example as well. And, I appreciate that.”… – ABC News, 11-10-10
    • UPDATED: Kanye West Criticizes ‘Today’ Show for ‘Brutal’ Interview: One of several messages posted by Kanye West on his Twitter account after he taped an interview with the “Today” show. An occasionally contentious interview between Kanye West and Matt Lauer taped for NBC’s “Today” show in some ways conforms with a preemptive critique that Mr. West posted on his Twitter account, but at times appears to contradict the rapper’s fiery recollection of it.
      On Tuesday night, Mr. West wrote of an interview he recorded that morning with Mr. Lauer, a “Today” co-host. Mr. West said he intended to respond to remarks by former President George W. Bush, who has said that Mr. West’s criticism that he did not care about black people after Hurricane Katrina was “one of the most disgusting moments” of his presidency.
      Mr. West wrote on his Twitter feed, “I went up there to express how I was empathetic to Bush because I labeled him a racist and years later I got labeled as a racist.” Instead, Mr. West said, “While I was trying to give the interview they started playing the ‘MTV’ under me with audio,” referring to the incident in which Mr. West interrupted an acceptance speech by Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. In an all-caps message, Mr. West wrote that Mr. Lauer “tried to force my answers,” adding, “It was very brutal and I came there only with positive intent.”… – NYT, 11-10-10
    • Kanye called in to a Houston radio station the next day and apologized for the comments, saying, “I definitely can understand the way he feels to be accused of being a racist in any way, because the same thing happened to me,” he said, referring to criticism he got following his 2009 bum-rush of Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards. “I got accused of being a racist, and …… with both situations it was a lack of compassion that America… — Kanye West – MTV
    • Unusually reflective Bush gives his side of the story: This isn’t the George W. Bush who couldn’t come up with an answer when he was asked during a 2004 White House news conference to name his biggest mistake. Almost two years after leaving office, the former president readily lists his mistakes. He recites a litany of errors in an interview and in his new book, Decision Points: He didn’t act swiftly enough after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He should not have drawn down U.S. troops from Iraq so quickly. He wishes he had focused first on immigration instead of an unsuccessful overhaul of Social Security during his second term.
      “I readily concede I could have done things better,” he says in his first newspaper interview since leaving the presidency. To document his administration for future historians, “I had to concede that I did make mistakes, and there was no question I did.”
      Bush says he was “blindsided” by the financial meltdown that shook the nation during his final year in office, but he shares blame with Congress and defends his decisions when asked about the role of his policies in the recession.
      Bush is unusually introspective as he speaks about his administration, his feelings about being the target of mockery and the shape of his post-presidency. He makes it clear that after he promotes his book with a round of media appearances, he will step out of the spotlight again. During an hour-long interview, he never mentions President Obama’s name…. – USA Today, 11-9-10
    • Oprah Fails to Question Bush on Important Aspects of His Legacy: Former president George W. Bush being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on Nov. 11, 2010. If someone were to ask you what the dominant political issue is at the moment, you’d probably say the national debt or extension of the Bush tax cuts. The most controversial political fight of the last two years? Surely health-care reform. So, when former president George W. Bush granted a long televised interview to promote his new memoir—which is to say, as Bush attempts to polish his tarnished reputation—you’d think he would be asked about his budget- busting tax cuts and the creation of a Medicare prescription-drug benefit. You would be wrong. Like Matt Lauer Monday night, Oprah Winfrey, in her gauzy interview with Bush on Tuesday afternoon, did not ask a single question about those policies…. – Newsweek, 11-10-10
    • Bush admits mistakes, defends decisions In memoir, he candidly writes about professional, personal regrets: President George W. Bush will join Matt Lauer for a live sit-down interview on TODAY on Wednesday, Nov. 10. Former President George W. Bush admits in his memoir “Decision Points” that his 2003 “Mission Accomplished” speech and his demeanor in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were some of the professional and personal mistakes that he made. In his first one-on-one television interview since leaving the White House, the former president sat down with Matt Lauer and opened up about his regrets…. – MSNBC, 11-8-10
    • Bush recounts Katrina, WMD mistakes on talk show: George W. Bush recounted the mistakes of his presidency on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show as he launched a book tour to promote his just-released memoir “Decision Points.”
      The former president said he still feels “sick about” the fact no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. His response to Hurricane Katrina could have been quicker, he said, and he should have landed Air Force One two days after the storm instead of viewing the destruction through the plane’s window. And he said he didn’t see the financial meltdown coming.
      The former president appeared Tuesday in a taped episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Writing the memoir, he said, “was an easy process” that has kept him busy. “A lot of people don’t think I can read, much less write,” Bush joked on the program…. – AP, 11-9-10
    • George W. Bush calls Katrina photo a ‘huge mistake’: “Let’s get to the picture that we may have seen more of you in the last couple years of your presidency than any other picture,” Lauer said. “You’re sitting in Air Force One, flying back toward Washington. You fly right over New Orleans and you look out the window.”
      “Yes,” Bush responded. “Huge mistake.”
      LAUER: Yeah. And in comes the press and they take that picture. And it made you look so out of touch.
      BUSH: Detached and uncaring. No question about it.
      LAUER: Whose fault was it?
      BUSH: It’s always my fault. I mean I was the one who should have said, A, don’t take my picture, B, let’s land in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, C, let’s don’t even come close to the area. Let’s — the next place to be seen is in Washington at a command center. I mean, it was my fault.
      LAUER: When the picture’s released you write, “I immediately knew it was a problem.”
      BUSH: Of course. I’d been around long enough to know that when it was released. And the reason why we didn’t land in Louisiana is because I was concerned that first responders would be pulled off their task and I’d be criticized. In retrospect, however, I should have touched down in Baton Rouge, met with the governor and walked out and said, “I hear you. We understand. And we’re going to help the state and help the local governments with as much resources as needed.” And then got back on a flight up to Washington. I did not do that. And paid a price for it. – Yahoo News, 11-5-10
    • Cheney angered by Bush decision on Scooter Libby pardon: Mr Bush told NBC News his decision at the end of his presidency merely to spare Libby a prison sentence rather than pardon him angered Mr Cheney. But, in a interview to promote a book, he said the friendship had recovered.
      “We are friends today,” Mr Bush said. “I was a little concerned at the time. It was a hard decision at the time but that’s what you do when you’re president, you make hard decisions.”
      Lewis Libby, also known by his nickname, “Scooter” Libby, was found guilty in March 2007 in the case connected to Mr Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Mr Bush said the prison sentence was excessive and commuted it…. – BBC News, 11-8-10
    • Bush: Mother’s miscarriage shaped pro-life views In memoir, he recalls driving her to hospital with fetus in jar: Bush writes about the miscarriage in his book, “Decision Points,” publicly disclosing it for the first time after receiving permission from his mother to do so. He sat down with Matt Lauer for his first one-on-one television interview since leaving the White House. When Barbara Bush miscarried at home, she had young George drive her to the hospital. In her lap, Barbara Bush held a jar containing the remains of the fetus, George Bush said. 0 “She says to her teenage kid, “Here’s a fetus,'” the former president told Lauer. “No question it — that affected me — my philosophy that we should respect life.” Recalling what he saw in the jar, Bush wrote, “There was a human life, a little brother or sister.”… – MSNBC, 11-8-10
    • A Content Man: In an interview with Matt Lauer, Bush describes himself as “a content man.”
      No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons. I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do.
      I mean, apologizing would basically say the decision was a wrong decision… And I don’t believe it was the wrong decision.
      It’s one thing to say, ‘I don’t appreciate the way he’s handled his business.’ It’s another thing to say, ‘This man’s a racist.’ I resent it. It’s not true. And it was one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency.
      I made an additional mistake by failing to adequately communicate my concern for the victims of Katrina. This was a problem of perception, not reality. My heart broke at the sight of helpless people trapped on their rooftops waiting to be rescued.
      If I invoked the Insurrection Act against [Governor Kathleen Blanco’s] wishes, the world would see a male Republican president usurping the authority of a female Democratic governor by declaring an insurrection in a largely African- American city. … I was as frustrated as I had been at any point in my presidency…. – New Yorker, 11-3-10
    • Bush won’t critique Obama (or Palin): “I want to treat my successor the way I’d like to have been treated,” Bush tells Oprah Winfrey in an interview tied to release of his memoirs, Decision Points. “I don’t think it’s good for a former president to be out there opining on every darned issue,” Bush adds. “He’s got a plenty tough job. Trust me. And there’s gonna be plenty of critics and he doesn’t need me criticizing him. And I don’t think it’s good for the presidency. Other people have a different point of view.”
      The Oprah interview airs Nov. 9, the day of the book’s official release.
      Here, according to a transcript provided by Oprah’s people, Winfrey tries to draw out Bush on Sarah Palin: OPRAH: So your brother Jeb was recently asked by CNN if he would support Sarah Palin for president. Did you hear that? In 2012. PRES. BUSH: Yeah.
      OPRAH: And he responded, “You betcha.” Do you think that Sarah Palin is the one for the Republican party in 2012?
      PRES. BUSH: You know, I am not a political pundit. I’m really not. And secondly, a lot is gonna happen between now and the nominating process. I — I have no clue.
      OPRAH: I’m not asking you to pundit.
      PRES. BUSH: Yeah, you are.
      OPRAH: I’m just asking you your opinion.
      PRES. BUSH: You’re asking me to wade back into the swamp.
      OPRAH: Come on in. Come on in.
      USA Topday, 11-6-10

    THE PRESIDENCY OF GEORGE W. BUSH: A FIRST HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT

       

    • The historians whose essays appear in this book do not attempt to resolve this debate. The chapters catalogue some of the successes of the administration, ranging from counterterrorism efforts against al Qaeda between 2001 and The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment JPG 2003 through AIDS policy in Africa to the appointment of minorities to prominent government positions. They also examine some of the failures, including the damage caused by the war in Iraq, the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina, and the devastating collapse of financial markets following years of deregulation in the fall of 2008. Rather than speculate whether he was the worst or the best president in U.S. history, the contributors have attempted to place the Bush White House in a broader historical perspective by understanding his presidency in relationship to the conservative movement.The authors of the essays in this book are trying to write a first take on the history of this period, but one that builds on the rich literature on the history of conservatism in modern America. We hope the essays provoke further investigation. Since this is an early effort to write the history of the George W. Bush presidency, the work is necessarily incomplete. We do not yet have access to some archival materials that will become available in the future. Yet, in addition to the substantial documentation instantaneously available in the age of the Internet, the contributors also have the advantage of producing this interpretation at a time when the emotions and sentiment and context of President Bush’s actions are still vivid. We hope these essays offer the opening to a conversation that will continue for centuries. — Julian E. Zelizer in “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment”
    • Julian Zelizer: Five myths about George W. Bush: I am very much looking forward to this chat about President George W. Bush and his legacy. In several of my recent publications, including an article in the Washington Post yesterday and a new book that I edited, The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment, I have tried to move beyond some of the existing debate. Rather than answer whether Bush is the “best or worst” president or to repeat discussions about why people hated or loved him, the time has come to start understanding what actually happened when he was in office, to place these events and personalities in broader context, and to start understanding his presidency in relationship to President Obama’s.
      Besides some of the more familiar issues that shaped his presidency, such as 9/11 and the war on terrorism, looking back from 2010 raises new kinds of questions that might not have been as obvious at the time that his term ended: What impact did Bush have on the conservative movement? What was the relationship between deregulation during these years and the economic collapse in 2008? How did the economic policies of the period influence economic inequality? What was the relationship between President Bush and congressional Republicans? How did Bush overcome some of the obstacles that Obama has struggled in the political process? Did the Bush Doctrine really constitute as much as a turning point in U.S. foreign policy as it seemed at the time? How do we evaluate the impact of the Surge–and what did the decision-making behind that policy tell us about how the White House worked? How did President Bush come to push for a substantial expansion of government–through TARP–in the middle of the economic crisis? What impact did the 2006 elections have on the politics of his presidency? Which policies will outlast his presidency and why?
      Obviously these are just a few questions and there are many more to discuss. But the time has come to start thinking more seriously about this two-term president and the impact that he had on the nation. It is also to start developing a more sophisticated understanding of the roots of this administration rather than writing about these years as if everything started in 2001…. – WaPo, 11-8-10
    • “An all-star cast of historians examines the perplexing presidency of George W. Bush–the ‘compassionate conservative’ who frequently ended up allied with the hard right, the ‘uniter’ who presided over one of the nation’s most divisive political eras, the advocate of ‘humility’ on the world stage who fiercely championed unilateral presidential powers. After the journalists and pundits have had their say, the historians are here to put Bush’s tumultuous tenure in historical perspective. An essential resource for anyone seeking to understand contemporary American politics.” — Jacob S. Hacker, coauthor of Winner-Take-All Politics and Off Center
    • “With clarity and precision, some of America’s most prominent historians of politics, law, and international relations examine the controversial presidency of George W. Bush. Their assessments of Bush’s administration are sober, rigorous, and eye-opening. Together these essays will provide a foundation for the next generation of scholarship on early twenty-first-century America.” — Thomas J. Sugrue, author of Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race
    • “George W. Bush once stated that ‘we’ll all be dead’ by the time history casts its judgment on his presidency. Instead, in this engaging and timely portrait of the Bush era, eleven leading scholars assess the ‘war on terror,’ the resurrection of the imperial presidency, the effects of tax cuts and corporate deregulation, and other foreign and domestic policies promoted by big-government conservatism. While acknowledging the administration’s political accomplishments, the contributors to this volume emphasize the ultimate failures of the Bush presidency and the conservative movement’s strategies of governance.” — Matthew D. Lassiter, University of Michigan
    • “Analytically shrewd and historically rich, this harvest of a book convenes a group of leading historians to assess the country’s recent past. Ranging from tax cuts to terrorism, and encompassing questions of ideology, multiculturalism, and presidential capacity, the contributions to this volume establish the scope and agenda for future studies of George W. Bush’s tumultuous presidency.” — Ira Katznelson, Columbia University
    • “This impressive collection features brilliant essays by some of America’s best historians on the presidency of George W. Bush. It’s all here–from the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court decision that sealed Bush’s first-term victory to the stunning financial crisis that closed his tenure in office. This stimulating and highly accessible volume is must reading for scholars, journalists, and concerned citizens.” — Eric M. Patashnik, author of Reforms at Risk
    • “This is a superb collection of essays. I am impressed with the range of issues they cover and the lucidity with which each essay illuminates a particular topic. Their interleaved and overlapping evidence reminds a general reader of the layers of meaning embedded in every political decision taken by the Bush administration–and the sometimes unfortunate consequences. This is an important and timely book.” — Alice Kessler-Harris, author of In Pursuit of Equity

    HISTORIANS’ VIEW

       

    • Bush Releases Memoir: ‘He Knows the Historians Are Coming’: In his new memoir “Decision Points,” former President George W. Bush explains some of the tough decisions he made while in office, including how he dealt with 9/11, the lack of weapons of mass destruction and Hurricane Katrina. Historians Michael Beschloss and Julian Zelizer give perspective on presidential memoirs…. – PBS Newshour, 11-10-10
    • Kanye West, George W. Bush Clash Doesn’t Surprise Historian: Bush is ‘trying to show he’s not coming out of a racist tradition,’ political author says….
      “For the last 40 years, pop culture has become much more important in politics,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and a leading figure in the field of American political history. “[It’s become about] how a president fits into pop culture and his relationship to some stars, whose political activism has increased over the past 40 years. … I do think the lines between celebrity culture and political culture have thinned.”…
      Zelizer — author of books about the presidencies of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush — said Bush’s revelation that West’s remark hurt his feelings is a remarkable moment in the confluence of West Wing and pop culture.
      “That it elicited the kind of emotion that nothing else does, even criticism about torture … part of it is a celebrity attacking him, but it’s also a bigger issue that bothers [Bush]. This idea that he’s trying to show he’s not coming out of a racist tradition and distinguish himself, that shows a broader frustration about how he’s perceived,” Zelizer said… But when they clash with pop-culture figures, Zelizer said, it’s a testament to the power of both players. “It’s not beneath the president” to beef with a star, he said. Whereas in the past presidents might not have bothered to respond to such slights, or would have ignored them, some modern Oval Office residents have weighed in, even when they’re not the subject of the dis….
      “The reality is, like it or not, that celebrities have lots of influence in contemporary life,” he said. “In theory, it might be beneath them [to respond to stars’ attacks] because there are other things they should be worried about, but presidents will take it personally. It will get to them, maybe more by being attacked by Kanye West than a member of Congress because of the reality of the world we live in.” – MTV, 11-10-10
    • Julian Zelizer: 5 myths about George W. Bush: September 11. Katrina. Iraq. These events will be forever linked with the presidency of George W. Bush. Now, with the release of his memoir, “Decision Points,” the former president has the chance to defend his record and explain his actions. But as historians and the public alike look back on the Bush White House, will we be able to move past the persistent myths that endure about those tumultuous eight years?…
      1. George W. Bush was an uninformed Texas cowboy….
      2. Compassionate conservatism was just a campaign slogan….
      3. Bush committed America to nation-building projects in Iraq and Afghanistan….
      4. Dick Cheney ran the Bush White House….
      5. Bush left conservatism in ruins.
      WaPo, 11-3-10
    • Shrub Studies: Next week, Crown Publishers will issue President George W. Bush’s memoir Decision Points, covering what the former president calls “eight of the most consequential years in American history,” which seems like a fair description. They were plenty consequential. To judge from the promotional video, Bush will plumb the depths of his insight that it is the role of a president to be “the decider.” Again, it’s hard to argue with his point — though you have to wonder if he shouldn’t let his accumulated wisdom ripen and mellow for a while before serving it.
      Princeton University Press has already beat him into print with The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment, edited by Julian E. Zelizer, who is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton. The other 10 contributors are professors of history, international relations, law, and political science, and they cover the expected bases — the “War on Terror,” the invasion of Iraq, social and economic policy, religion and race. It is a scholarly book, which means that it is bound to make everybody mad. People on the left get angry at remembering the Bush years, while those on the right grow indignant that anyone still wants to talk about them. So the notion that they were consequential is perhaps not totally uncontroversial after all.
      The contributors make three points about the Bush administration’s place in the history of American conservatism that it may be timely to sum up, just now…. – Inside Higher Ed, 11-3-10

    History Buzz November 1, 8, 2010: Historians Assess Midterm Elections

    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

    IN FOCUS: TED SORENSON

    • Theodore Sorensen, top JFK aide, dies at 82 in NY: Theodore C. Sorensen, the studious, star-struck aide to President John F. Kennedy whose crisp, poetic turns of phrase helped idealize and immortalize a tragically brief administration, died Sunday. He was 82. He died at noon at Manhattan’s New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center from complications of a stroke, his widow, Gillian Sorensen, said. Sorensen had been in poor health in recent years and a stroke in 2001 left him with such poor eyesight that he was unable to write his memoir, “Counselor,” published in 2008. Instead, he had to dictate it to an assistant. President Barack Obama issued a statement saying he was saddened to learn of Sorensen’s death.
      “I know his legacy will live on in the words he wrote, the causes he advanced, and the hearts of anyone who is inspired by the promise of a new frontier,” Obama said.
      Hours after his death, Gillian Sorensen told The Associated Press that although a first stroke nine years ago robbed him of much of his sight, “he managed to get back up and going.” She said he continued to give speeches and traveled, and just two weeks ago, he collaborated on the lyrics to music to be performed in January at the Kennedy Center in Washington — a symphony commemorating a half-century since Kennedy took office. “I can really say he lived to be 82 and he lived to the fullest and to the last — with vigor and pleasure and engagement,” said Gillian Sorensen, who was at his side to the last. “His mind, his memory, his speech were unaffected.” Her husband was hospitalized Oct. 22 after a second stroke that was “devastating,” she said…. – AP, 10-31-10
    • Theodore C. Sorensen, Kennedy Counselor and Wordsmith, Dies at 82: Theodore C. Sorensen, one of the last living links to John F. Kennedy’s administration, who did much to shape the president’s narrative, image and legacy, died Sunday in Manhattan. He was 82.
      He died in NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital from complications of a stroke he suffered a week ago, his wife, Gillian Sorensen, said. A previous stroke, in 2001, had taken away much of his eyesight, but in its aftermath “he led a very full life, speaking, writing, creating new enterprises and mentoring many young people,” she added.
      Mr. Sorensen once said he suspected the headline on his obituary would read: “Theodore Sorenson, Kennedy Speechwriter,” misspelling his name and misjudging his work, but he was much more. He was a political strategist and a trusted adviser on everything from election tactics to foreign policy.
      “You need a mind like Sorensen’s around you that’s clicking and clicking all the time,” President Kennedy’s archrival, Richard M. Nixon, said in 1962. He said Mr. Sorensen had “a rare gift”: the knack of finding phrases that penetrated the American psyche.
      He was best known for working with Mr. Kennedy on passages of soaring rhetoric, including the 1961 inaugural address proclaiming that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans” and challenging citizens: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Mr. Sorensen drew on the Bible, the Gettysburg Address and the words of Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill as he helped hone and polish that speech…. – NYT, 10-31-10
    • JFK Adviser Theodore Sorensen (1928-2010): A Remembrance: When I first told my Uncle Ted that I was engaged, he asked without hesitation, “Is she a Democrat?” He was only half joking. It’s not that Theodore C. Sorensen, my father’s brother and the man known as the “intellectual blood bank” of President John F. Kennedy was an ideologue; he merely believed to his core that the vision of his party was crucial to the future of his family, his country and his world. And well he should — it was he, through his collaboration with Kennedy, that most elegantly and timelessly gave voice to the Democratic ideals that have come to shape modern American politics. The last of the Kennedy old guard, Sorensen was a tireless defender of his legacy. Never, privately or publicly in the years since, did he take credit for the words or actions that made the 35th President an icon of the office. The many accounts of his intimacy with the political, personal and policy decisions of Kennedy’s tenure are a testament both to the humility of the man, and his unwavering belief that what he accomplished was far more than professional triumph…. – Time, 10-31-10
    • What Ted Sorensen Taught Me About Writing: He was Kennedy’s celebrated speechwriter, but mere mortals (like me) still find him inspiring. Ted Sorensen was a hero of mine before I knew who he was. Sorensen, who died on Sunday at the age of 82 from complications following a stroke, was the primary speechwriter for John F. Kennedy. He was also an aide, a confidant, an “intellectual blood bank” (as the president once called him)—and a lawyer, a memoirist, a failed Senate candidate, among other things, though history will not remember him for them. It will remember him because he had a hand—impossible to identify, impossible to deny—in some of the most famous speeches in American history.
      I will remember him, though, because of Latin class. We were studying rhetorical devices used in Latin epics and lyric poetry. English examples were discussed: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” (chiasmus). “I speak of peace … I speak of peace … I speak of peace …” (anaphora). “We choose to go to the moon” (assonance). The words came from Kennedy—or his speechwriter, my Latin teacher offhandedly said. The word “speechwriter” itself seemed an example of a rhetorical device, a paradox. Yet the word illuminated what I loved about those lines: they were intended for the ear, not the eye. I knew then that to learn to write, I was going to have to learn to listen…. – Newsweek, 11-2-10

    IN FOCUS: HALLOWEEN

    • Nicholas Rogers: The dull-ification of Halloween: Fifteen years ago, a Canadian cultural historian named published an essay in the journal Social History entitled “Halloween in Urban North America: Liminality and Hyperreality.” Sound boring? Just the opposite. Rogers, a professor of history at Toronto’s York University, spoke truth to power about All Hallows’ Eve: Stop trying to transform one of the few remaining cultural events that’s actually fun into yet another politically correct, risk-averse, religiously sanitized festival of yawns. “Halloween constitutes a time of transition when orthodox social constraints are lifted, a moment of status ambiguity and indeterminacy when ritual subjects can act out their individual or collective fantasies, hopes or anxieties.”… – Magic Valley Times-News (10-31-10)
    • Halloween ghost hunters seek old soldiers in Gettysburg: Days before Halloween on a darkened street Dwight Stoutzenberger aimed his digital camera at a wall not far from where a guide was telling ghost stories to a group of tourists. Gettysburg, a historic Civil War town, is famous for ghosts and reportedly haunted sites where uniformed soldiers mysteriously walk through closed doors, or ornaments shift positions on a mantelpiece. As Stoutzenberger scrolled through his photos he found several exposures showing a bright light amid a fuzzy white oval shape apparently hovering near the wall down the street. Tour guide Ann Griffith, who has been doing ghost tours in Gettysburg for 16 years, speculated that it could be an orb — a point of light that she says is commonly seen around haunted sites…. – Reuters, 10-29-10
    • Is Candy Evil or Just Misunderstood?: FOR Samira Kawash, a writer who lives in Brooklyn, the Jelly Bean Incident provided the spark. Five years ago, her daughter, then 3, was invited to play at the home of a new friend. At snack time, having noted the presence of sugar (in the form of juice boxes and cookies) in the kitchen, Dr. Kawash, then a Rutgers professor, brought out a few jelly beans…. – NYT (10-27-10)

    HISTORY NEWS:

    • Scholars Reconsidering Italy’s Treatment of Jews in the Nazi Era: …[N]ew findings contradict the conventional belief that Italians began to enforce anti-Semitic laws only after German troops occupied the country in 1943, and then reluctantly. In a spate of studies, many of them based on a little-publicized Italian government report commissioned in 1999, researchers have uncovered a vast wartime record detailing a systematic disenfranchisement of Italy’s Jews, beginning in the summer of 1938, shortly before the Kristallnacht attacks in November…. Ilaria Pavan, a scholar at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, said a series of incrementally more onerous laws in 1939 and 1940 revoked peddlers’ permits and shopkeepers’ licenses, and required Jewish owners of businesses — as well as stock or bond holders — to sell those assets to “Aryans.” Bank accounts were ordered turned over to government authorities, ostensibly to prevent the transfer of money out of the country…. – NYT (11-5-10)
    • Righteous Among the Nations: Muslims Who Saved Jews from Holocaust: In 2003, Norman Gershman was looking for some of the righteous. What he found astonished the investment banker-turned-photographer, and led him toward a project now on display in a St. Louis synagogue…. During the years of occupation, 10 times as many Jews streamed into Albania to escape persecution from Poland, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Greece and Italy. Gershman says it was the only country in Europe where the Jewish population grew by the end of the war…. All of them were motivated by an Albanian code of honor called “besa,” a concept that can be translated into “keeping the promise,” Gershman says. The Albanian villagers were motivated to risk their lives by the simple concept of helping one’s neighbor…. Ahmet Karamustafa, professor of history and religious studies at Washington University, said saving a life is a universally acknowledged Muslim value. Protecting a life, Karamustafa said, “has always ranked at the very top of moral and legal categories articulated by legal and theological scholars in Islam.”… St. Louis Post-Dispatch (11-1-10)
    • Rise of paganism in Britain linked to discrimination against women, says historian: …Ronald Hutton, Professor of History at Bristol University, says Paganism is partly a reaction to a perceived discrimination against women, practised by mainstream religions. He says: “It’s feminist. Women have an automatic place… and in some areas of Paganism they are actually in charge. And they’re working with a goddess or goddesses who are just as powerful as gods, if not more so.”… – BBC News (10-30-10)
    • Matthew Hyland: Nazis killed ‘good feelings’ associated with 3,000-year-old emblem: Matthew Hyland, professor of history at Duquesne University, said the symbol dates to Neolithic times — as far back as 3,000 years — and mainly was a symbol of good luck. “Essentially, it’s like a good luck charm, sort of a portentous symbol of good feelings,” he said. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (10-31-10)
    • Labor law has been ‘turned inside out to help the powerful,’ James A. Gross says: U.S. labor law “has been turned inside out, protecting the powerful rather than the powerless” in the 75 years since the National Labor Relations Act was enacted, a top labor historian says. “And by that standard, it’s a failure,” adds James A. Gross of the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Gross was the most provocative of many speakers at the opening Oct. 27 session of a day-and-a-half conference commemorating the 75th anniversary of the NLRA, which President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed on July 5, 1935…. – Workday Minnesota (10-31-10)

    OP-EDs:

    • Rick Perlstein: How Obama Enables Rush: We live in a mendocracy. As in: rule by liars. Political scientists are going crazy crunching the numbers to uncover the skeleton key to understanding the Republican victory last Tuesday. – The Daily Beast (11-6-10)
    • Allan Lichtman: The Joyless Election: …[N]ever before in the history of the United States has such a sweeping victory by one political party elicited so little joy and such minimal expectations. The American voters rejected the leadership of the Democratic Party that controlled the presidency and both Houses of Congress…. Above all, this year voters repudiated the government of the United States. This is the third consecutive election in which the voters ousted the party in power. However, dissatisfaction with government extends more deeply into the American past…. – Gazette.net (MD) (11-5-10)
    • David M. Kennedy: Throwing the Bums Out for 140 Years: SO we have had three “wave” elections in a row: control of both chambers of Congress changed hands in 2006, as did the presidency in 2008, and the House flipped back to Republican domination last week. All this apparently incoherent back-and-forth has left the political class reeling and set the commentariat aflutter. Explanations for our current political volatility abound: toxic partisanship, the ever more fragmented and strident news media, high unemployment, economic upheaval and the clamorous upwelling of inchoate populist angst. But the political instability of our own time pales when compared with the late 19th century. In the Gilded Age the American ship of state pitched and yawed on a howling sea of electoral turbulence. For decades on end, “divided government” was the norm. In only 12 of the 30 years after 1870 did the same party control the House, the Senate and the White House…. – NYT (11-7-10)
    • Daniel K. Williams: A Victory for the Christian Right: Immediately after the 2010 midterm elections, the National Right to Life Committee declared the results a victory for the pro-life cause, claiming that 65 seats in Congress had switched from pro-choice to pro-life. The Family Research Council likewise declared that voters had soundly rejected President Barack Obama’s efforts to allow gays to serve openly in the military. Voters in Iowa recalled three state Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. Across the nation, Christian conservatives claimed victories for their cultural causes after seeing Tuesday’s election results. Why, then, did most of the media—and the Republican Party leadership—say so little about religion in the election analysis?…. – PBS (11-5-10)
    • Robert Dallek: The Long View of the Tea Party: Regardless of how many seats change hands in the election, one result is already clear: The tea party movement will, for the immediate future, influence the direction of the Republican Party…. – Politico (11-4-10)
    • Alan Brinkley: Obama vs. Tea Party: Think FDR vs. Huey Long: In the aftermath of the massive Democratic losses on Election Day, the tea party movements have proved that their efforts made a significant contribution to the Republican victories. Though only a few true tea party candidates were actually elected — most prominently Rand Paul in Kentucky and Marco Rubio in Florida — there can be no doubt that the movement’s energy and anger were perhaps the crucial factor…. – Politico (11-4-10)
    • Steven M. Gillon: The Lessons of 1994: Democrats are still absorbing the electoral drubbing they suffered at the polls this week. As the New York Times reported, nearly every congressional district in America voted more Republican in 2010 than in 2008. Republicans rode a wave of well-financed and carefully orchestrated (but no less genuine) public anger at a struggling economy that shows little signs of improving. Gleeful conservative pundits are already predicting that the election marked the beginning of the end of the Obama presidency. Dispirited Democrats worry they may be right. But are they?… – Huffington Post (11-4-10)
    • Victor Davis Hanson: America Just Checked into Rehab: On Tuesday, voters rejected President Obama’s attempt to remake America in the image of an imploding Europe — not just by overwhelmingly electing Republican candidates to the House, but by preferring dozens of maverick conservatives who ran against the establishment. Why the near-historic rebuke? Out-of-control spending, unchecked borrowing, vast new entitlements, and unsustainable debt — all at a time of economic stagnation. So what is next? Like the recovering addict who checks himself into rehab, a debt-addicted America just snapped out of its borrowing binge, is waking up with the shakes, and hopes there is still a chance of recovery…. – National Review (11-4-10)

    REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

    • Stacy Schiff: Femme Fatale: CLEOPATRA A Life “Mostly,” Schiff says of “Cleopatra: A Life,” “I have restored context.” The claim stops sounding humble when we understand what it entails. Although it’s not Schiff’s purpose to present us with a feminist revision of a life plucked from antiquity, in order to “restore” Cleopatra — to see her at all — one must strip away an “encrusted myth” created by those for whom “citing her sexual prowess was evidently less discomfiting than acknowledging her intellectual gifts.” Lucan, Appian, Josephus, Dio, Suetonius, Plutarch — the poets, historians and biographers who initially depicted Cleopatra were mostly Roman and all male, writing, for the most part, a century or more after her death with the intent to portray her reign as little more than a sustained striptease…. – NYT, 11-4-10 Excerpt Books of The Times: ‘Cleopatra: A Life’, 11-2-10
    • Joseph J. Ellis: A World Unto Themselves: FIRST FAMILY Abigail and John That the Adamses succeeded both in helping to shape the American Republic and in securing for themselves a striking measure of domestic bliss was, as Joseph J. Ellis shows in “First Family: Abigail and John,” a testament to the exceptional strength and vitality of their marriage. Although beset by myriad “twitches, traumas, throbbings and tribulations” (Ellis’s purple-prosy terms) in politics and at home, John and Abigail remained passionately devoted to each other, to their family and to their country. “As I see it,” Ellis explains, “Abigail and John have much to teach us about both the reasons for that improbable success called the American Revolution and the equally startling capacity for a man and woman — husband and wife — to sustain their love over a lifetime filled with daunting challenges.”
      As one of today’s leading historians of the Revolutionary era (his books include a biography of John Adams, a National Book Award-winning biography of Thomas Jefferson and a Pulitzer Prize-winning group portrait of the founders), Ellis is more qualified than most to tell this engaging tale. Yet his reasons for doing so — and for doing so now — are less clear than his credentials…. – NYT, 11-7-10 Excerpt
    • TIM REDMAN: Book review: ‘Washington: A Life’ by Ron Chernow: In times of crisis, nations and religions often return to their origins for guidance. This fine biography represents an attempt to recover those virtues that led to our founding. Nowhere are they better seen than in George Washington. Nearly every adult American carries his portrait with them wherever they go, but the man painted by Gilbert Stuart remains enigmatic. Ron Chernow, a renowned biographer and historian, looks beyond the myths to reveal a man much greater than all of the myths combined. For 20 years, George Washington was America…. – The Dallas Morning News, 11-7-10
    • Engagements With History Punctuate Garry Wills’s life: OUTSIDE LOOKING IN Adventures of an Observer “Square,” “colorless,” “stodgy,” “unthreatening.” Those are some of the adjectives that the prolific journalist and historian Garry Wills uses to describe himself in “Outside Looking In,” his pointillistic new memoir. Off the page, all those things may (or may not) be true. On it, as countless politicians and writers have learned, having Mr. Wills sternly contemplate your work can be like having the Red Baron on your tail. “Unthreatening” is hardly the word. Writing in The New York Review of Books and other journals, he’s sent entire squadrons of shoddy works and ideas down in flames…. – NYT (11-3-10) Excerpt Interview
    • Jules Witcover’s biography of Joe Biden, reviewed by Matthew Dallek: JOE BIDEN A Life of Trial and Redemption Veteran Washington columnist Jules Witcover has published a biography of Biden that amounts to a celebratory recitation of the major private and public moments of the sitting vice president’s life. Biden’s rich and sometimes controversial career mirrors the policy achievements and political failures of the Democratic Party in modern times, and “Joe Biden” can also be read as a meditation on his Party’s troubled and occasionally triumphant trajectory since the 1960s. WaPo, 11-5-10
    • Stacy Schiff’s new biography of “Cleopatra,” reviewed by Marie Arana: CLEOPATRA A Life If you think two millennia of dusty research and hoary legend have told us all we need to know about this woman, you’re in for a surprise. Stacy Schiff, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of three highly praised biographies — of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Véra Nabokov and Benjamin Franklin — has dug through the earliest sources on Cleopatra, sorted through myth and misapprehension, tossed out the chaff of gossip, and delivered up a spirited life…. – WaPo, 11-1-10
    • A new biography of Simon Wiesenthal, by Tom Segev: SIMON WIESENTHAL The Life and Legends Plenty, as it turns out in “Simon Wiesenthal,” by Israeli journalist Tom Segev. A columnist for the newspaper Ha’aretz and the author of numerous books, Segev is one of the world’s great investigative reporters – in a class with bloodhounds like Seymour Hersh and the late David Halberstam. In this biography, the subject is not only Wiesenthal but the shifting relationship since the end of World War II of American, Israeli and European culture to what is now known as the Holocaust but was never called that in the first two decades after the war. Segev places Wiesenthal’s life within a context almost unthinkable to Americans under 50 today, for whom Holocaust memorialization is a given. That the singular fate of European Jews under the Nazis was downplayed for many years after the war and that the U.S. government was none too eager to pursue Nazi war criminals who had taken refuge here is not widely known (even among young Jews). Segev notes that the Holocaust was also “wrapped in silence” in the young state of Israel and that many Israelis who had emigrated to Palestine before the war had denigrated survivors for “remaining in Europe instead and waiting to be slaughtered without doing anything to prevent it.”… – WaPo, 11-29-10
    • Review of “OK,” a history of a favorite American expression, by Allan Metcalf: OK The Improbable History of America’s Greatest Word Probably there are as many theories about the origins of “OK” as there are theorists to expound them, but Allan Metcalf is satisfied that he knows the only one that really holds water. Relying on the work in the early 1960s of a “professor at Columbia University, scholar without equal of American English,” Metcalf reports as follows…. – WaP0, 10-29-10
    • James Kloppenberg: In Writings of Obama, a Philosophy Is Unearthed: When the Harvard historian James T. Kloppenberg decided to write about the influences that shaped President Obama’s view of the world, he interviewed the president’s former professors and classmates, combed through his books, essays, and speeches, and even read every article published during the three years Mr. Obama was involved with the Harvard Law Review (“a superb cure for insomnia,” Mr. Kloppenberg said). What he did not do was speak to President Obama. “He would have had to deny every word,” Mr. Kloppenberg said with a smile. The reason, he explained, is his conclusion that President Obama is a true intellectual — a word that is frequently considered an epithet among populists with a robust suspicion of Ivy League elites…. – NYT (10-27-10)

    FEATURES:

    • Racism seen in interracial town’s fall by historical archaelogist: A 19th-century railroad doomed a black-founded western Illinois town by diverting routes around it, an archaeologist who studied its history says. New Philadelphia, Ill., was “the first town in the United States planned and legally registered by an African- American,” writes University of Illinois Professor Chris Fennell in the journal Historical Archaeology…. – UPI (11-1-10)
    • Resourceful Amish adapt as farming declines, says Indiana historian: …Once known for their strictly agricultural lifestyle and rejection of modernity — including electricity, cars and telephones — the Amish increasingly are turning away from the farm, accepting technology and opting for nontraditional jobs, academic researchers and church members say…. The shift from farmer to entrepreneur began decades ago, according to Kraybill and Steven Nolt, a professor of history at Goshen College in Indiana…. – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (11-7-10)

    PROFILES:

    • Carlos Eire, Yale historian, comes out with second memoir: Now 59, Eire is not dying, nor does he live in Miami. He is a professor of history and religious studies at Yale University. But he views boarding a KLM flight from Havana to Florida in 1962 as a death — the end of Carlos and his rebirth as Charles, a boy desperate to assimilate into American life…. – Spicezee (11-7-10)

    QUOTES:

    • Voters impatient with Washington enabled by technology, says Miami University historian: …The impatience narrative is compelling because the world is in a constant state of change and the public expects speedy action. Yet lack of patience isn’t anything new, says Andrew Cayton, a distinguished professor of history at Miami University. What’s new is the ability to grouse about it, en masse and instantly.
      “Now, because of cable TV and phones and the Internet, it’s much easier for that to get momentum across a wide group of people,” Cayton said. What once might have been tribal or local dissatisfaction now becomes “a global phenomenon, almost overnight.” And that hampers public officials’ ability to deal with tough issues in a deliberative manner, he says…. – Cleveland Plains Dealer (11-7-10)
    • Tea Party Rooted in Religious Fervor for Constitution, say Norton, Butler, and Greenberg: …”There’s a strong strand of divine-guidance thinking, thinking about American exceptionalism,” said Mary Beth Norton, a professor of early American history at Cornell University. “People have certainly seen the texts of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as the equivalent of a secular religion, with the idea then that you can’t challenge these texts.”…
      If anything, the Constitution is especially vulnerable to literalism. “There is a major translation problem for literalism in relation to Christian doctrine,” said Jon Butler, a professor of the history of religion in America at Yale. “And there’s the matter of the age of the texts. But there is no translation issue with the Constitution, and it’s only a couple of centuries old. So that makes it so much more susceptible. There it is. You can find it on the Internet.”
      And from there, it is a short trip indeed to the engaged, enraged Tea Party of 2010, and a campaign that charged Democrats with a kind of Constitutional heresy. “The Constitution has always been the trump card, the ultimate political weapon,” noted David Greenberg, a professor of history and presidential biographer at Rutgers University. “If you don’t like what the other side is doing, you say it’s unconstitutional.” NYT (11-5-10)

    INTERVIEWS:

    • Q+A: Interview with Professor Simon Schama: Paul Holmes interviews Professor Simon Schama. PAUL Welcome back to Professor Simon Schama, one of the world’s most widely read historians. An Englishman who lives in New York, he is Professor of History and the History of Art at Columbia University, he’s also a writer and television presenter. He’s responsible for the books and the TV series Obama’s America and The American Future. Professor Schama is a political commentator for the BBC and CNN, amongst others, and so he’s got tremendous insight into President Obama and how and why America voted as it did last week. Obama himself described the Democrats’ loss last week as ‘a shellacking’, so I asked Professor Schama when I spoke to him exactly how big a thumping it was…. – TVNZ (New Zealand) (11-7-10)
    • NYT interviews Garry Wills: As a presidential historian and emeritus professor at Northwestern, you’re well aware that the Democrats are facing the likelihood of an electoral setback this Tuesday. Yet President Obama continues to be the object of scathing criticism among Democrats, including yourself. Why won’t you give him credit for getting things done? He gets things done in a very crippled way. The health care plan and the finance plan — he made so many bargains along the way…. – NYT (10-29-10)

    AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

    • Carney, Kara, and Rosomoff to Share 2010 Frederick Douglass Book Prize: Judith Carney, Siddharth Kara, and Richard Rosomoff to Share $25,000 Frederick Douglass Book Prize Judith A. Carney, Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, Siddharth Kara, an anti-slavery researcher and advocate and correspondent for CNN.com, and Richard Nicholas Rosomoff, an independent writer, have been selected as the co-winners of the 2010 Frederick Douglass Book Prize, awarded for the best book written in English on slavery or abolition. Carney and Rosomoff won for their book Inside the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World (University of California Press), and Kara won for his book, Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery (Columbia University Press).
    • Cape Breton University to honour rights icon with named chair: Nova Scotia rights icon Viola Desmond is being honoured by Cape Breton University,+ which is creating a chair in her name — the Viola Desmond chair in social justice. Desmond, a black woman, was convicted in 1946 for sitting in the whites-only section of a movie theatre in New Glasgow. She was pardoned by the province earlier this year. History professor Graham Reynolds will be the first holder of the chair…. CBC News (11-5-10)
    • McGill University Professor Desmond Morton Wins 2010 Pierre Berton Award: Steady scholarship, dry wit and an appetite for public debate are the qualities that have made Professor Desmond Morton this year’s winner of the Pierre Berton Award, Canada’s History Society announced today. Desmond Morton’s incisive analysis and quiet chuckle have raised interest in and knowledge of Canadian history from coast-to-coast…. – Newswire Canada (11-3-10)
    • Pelosi Appoints Dr. Matthew Wasniewski as New House Historian: On October 20, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the appointment of Dr. Matthew Wasniewski as the new Historian of the House of Representatives. Dr. Wasniewski, who currently serves as the historian in the House Clerk’s Office of History and Preservation, received the unanimous recommendation of the House Historian Search Committee appointed by Speaker Pelosi with the input of House Republican Leader John Boehner who concurred on the appointment…. – Lee White at the National Coalition for History (10-22-10)

    ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

    • Toronto’s 30th anniversary of Holocaust Education Week: The 30th anniversary of Holocaust Education Week will take place in Toronto and the surrounding region, from November 1 to November 9. This year more than 30,000 participants are expected to attend over 150 educational and cultural programmes. The central theme for 2010 is “We Who Survived.”… – Jewish Info News (10-24-10)
    • THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY MAKES ITS MOST IMPORTANT COLLECTIONS RELATING TO SLAVERY AVAILABLE ONLINE: Rich trove of material becomes easily accessible at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollection The New-York Historical Society is proud to announce the launch of a new online portal to nearly 12,000 pages of source materials documenting the history of slavery in the United States, the Atlantic slave trade and the abolitionist movement. Made readily accessible to the general public for the first time at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollections, these documents from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries represent fourteen of the most important collections in the library’s Manuscript Department….
    • Understanding the Iran-Contra Affairs,” is the only comprehensive website on the famous Reagan-era government scandal, which stemmed from the U.S. government’s policies toward two seemingly unrelated countries, Nicaragua and Iran. Despite stated and repeated denials to Congress and to the public, Reagan Administration officials supported the militant contra rebels in Nicaragua and sold arms to a hostile Iranian government. These events have led to questions about the appropriateness of covert operations, congressional oversight, and even the presidential power to pardon…. – irancontra.org
    • 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.

    SPOTTED:

    • Ripping the USA: Revising History Dismally: It happened in July. A group of 25 selected professor historians met in Hawaii at a workshop sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). They were to present and hear scholarly papers on the history of these United States in World War II. It was to be a high-level intellectual rendering of that war receding now into history…. – American Thinker (11-6-10)
    • Almost 50 history teachers get lesson at Teddy Roosevelt home: “He wasn’t just the 26th president of the United States, but a real man with many exciting sides to his life,” said Eileen McGaghran, who teaches history at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua. “For history teachers, seeing all this, getting this in-depth content, the detail, the stories, will really help in the classroom to get kids’ attention. That’s what we want.” McGaghran was one of close to 50 history teachers from Westchester and Putnam who visited Sagamore Hill on Thursday as part of a special program to breathe life into history for normally classroom-bound teachers, so they can, in turn, excite students about days gone by…. – LoHud.com (11-1-10)
    • Tea Party’s impact studied on eve of election: Deputy director Tim Rives put together a program to discuss “The Tea Party and the Future of American Politics.” “The Tea Party is one of the most important political developments of modern times,” said Karl Wesissenbach, director of the Eisenhower Center, about the forum which is part of the Kansas Town Hall Forum series…. – Abilene Reflector-Chronicle (10-31-10)
    • Jan T. Gross building new history of the Holocaust: The overflow audience at Yad Vashem listens intently to Gross’s lecture, entitled “Opportunistic Killings and Plunder of Jews By Their Neighbors – A Norm or an Exception in German-Occupied Europe?” while distracted by the image…. – Jerusalem Post (10-31-10)

    ON TV:

    BEST SELLERS (NYT):

    BOOKS COMING SOON:

    • Helen J. Burn: Betsy Bonaparte, (Hardcover), November 1, 2010
    • Noah Feldman: Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices, (Hardcover), November 2010
    • Gerald Blaine: The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
    • Greg Farrell: Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch, and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
    • Charles Rappleye: Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
    • Karl Rove: Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight, (Paperback), November 2, 2010
    • Charles HRH The Prince of Wales: Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
    • Simon Winchester: Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
    • Steven E. Woodworth: Manifest Destinies: America’s Westward Expansion and the Road to the Civil War, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
    • Manning Marable: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, (Hardcover), November 9, 2010
    • Adam Richman: America the Edible: A Hungry History From Sea to Dining Sea, (Hardcover), November 9, 2010
    • Rodney Stark: God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades, (Paperback), November 9, 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
    • Laura Hillenbrand: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, (Hardcover), November 16, 2010
    • Mike Huckabee: A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories that Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit, (Hardcover), November 16, 2010
    • Gary Ecelbarger: The Day Dixie Died: The Battle of Atlanta, (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
    • Michael Goldfarb: Emancipation: How Liberating Europe’s Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance, (Paperback), November 23, 2010
    • Edmund Morris: Colonel Roosevelt, (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
    • Linda Porter: Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII (First Edition), (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
    • Alison Weir: The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, (Paperback), December 28, 2010
    • Donald Rumsfeld: Known and Unknown: A Memoir, (Hardcover), January 25, 2011

    DEPARTED:

    • Susanna Barrows, scholar of modern French history, dies at 65: Susanna I. Barrows, a professor emerita of history at the UC Berkeley, and an authority on modern French history, died at her home in Berkeley on Wednesday, Oct. 27, after a suspected heart attack. She was 65…. – UC Berkeley News (11-2-10)
    • Korean historian and archaelogist who proved Korean Old Stone Age dies: Sohn Pow-key, an archeologist who proved humans were living on the Korean Peninsula during the Paleolithic Age by excavating related artifacts, died in Seoul on Sunday. He was 88…. From 1964 to 1974 when he was professor of history at Yonsei University and head of the university’s museum, Sohn excavated Paleolithic tools at Seokjang-ri in Gongju, South Chungcheong Province…. – Korea Herald (11-1-10)

    Midterm Elections 2010: Results & Reactions, Roundup; Republican Sweep

    MIDTERM ELECTIONS 2010:

    https://bonniekaryn.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/midterm_elections.jpg

    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.

    Getty

    STATS & RESULTS

      2010 Election: Live results (USA Today):  

      U.S. House RESULTS: D 187 – R 239
      CURRENT: D 256 – R 179

      U.S. Senate RESULTS: D 53 R 46 CURRENT: D 57 – R 41

      Governor RESULTS: D 17 – R 29 I – 3
      CURRENT: D 26 – R 24

      Washington Post:
      Senate: D 53 – R 46
      House: D 186 – R 239
      Governor: D 18 – R 29 – I 1

      NYT: House Map
      Senate Map

      HNN Hot Topics: Midterm Elections

    • Live Blogging Election Night – NYT, The Caucus, 11-2-10
    • Midterm elections live blog 2010 – Yahoo News, 11-2-10
    • Steny Hoyer mulls bid for minority whip
    • Nancy Pelosi announces she will run for minority leader: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) has tweeted that she will run to lead Democrats in the House of Representatives.
    • Unemployment rate holds at 9.6 percent: The U.S. economy added 151,000 jobs in October, as the unemployment rate held at 9.6 percent.
    • A.P. Projects Democrat Patty Murray Will Hold Washington Senate Seat: The Associated Press is projecting that Senator Patty Murray, a powerful member of the Democratic leadership, will defeat her Republican opponent, Dino Rossi, in Washington State.
    • Democrat Wins Illinois Governor Race: Gov. Patrick J. Quinn was declared the winner of the race for governor of Illinois by The Associated Press this afternoon…. – NYT, 11-4-10
    • In Connecticut, Two Men Prepare to Be Governor: Thursday was the first full day of work for the transition team of Dannel P. Malloy, the Democrat who was certain he was the winner in the race for governor of Connecticut. Dannel P. Malloy, the former Democratic mayor of Stamford, was declared the unofficial winner. It was also the first full day of work for the transition team of Thomas C. Foley, the Republican who was equally sure he was the victor. Clearly, one of these men was going to be terribly disappointed. But when and how was still, well, unclear…. – NYT, 11-4-10
    • Oregon: Democrat wins historic 3rd term as governor: Democrat John Kitzhaber and Republican Chris Dudley are locked in a tight race for governor in Oregon after a big- spending campaign that… AP, 11-4-10
    • Murkowski acts like victor but questions linger: Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is acting as though she already has pulled off an improbable victory after her write-in candidacy, enthusiastically thanking supporters and telling them they’ve made history. She may have won. Or she may be overly optimistic. The race is far from over…. – wApO, 11-4-10
    • In state capitols, GOP engineers historic shift: Republicans scored huge and historic successes in state legislative elections Tuesday, exceeding even the great performance the party had in congressional races. GOP candidates picked up about 650 Democratic-held seats, the most in nearly half a century. Republicans now control more legislative seats than at any time since 1928.
      “To describe this as a Republican wave would be a vast understatement,” says elections expert Tim Storey of the National Conference of State Legislatures. “They won in places where we didn’t see it coming, and they won in places where we did see it coming,” he says. The shift will have a big effect on spending, taxes, public education and how political districts are drawn…. – USA TODAY, 11-4-10
    • Revolution in the States The GOP also made history down ballot on Tuesday: Here’s a prediction: Democrats and liberals will soon preach the virtues of Congressional redistricting reform. The reason is the historic losses Democrats suffered on Tuesday at the state level that have set Republicans up to dominate the post-2000 Census process of rewriting district lines.
      The GOP’s failure to take over the U.S. Senate has masked the arguably more important story that Republicans picked up at least a record 680 state legislative seats nationwide. That’s more than even the 472 seat gain in 1994, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council, and more than the previous record of 628 seats by … – WSJ, 11-4-10
    • Poll: GOP candidates top Obama in hypothetical 2012 race: President Obama trails some top GOP contenders in a hypothetical 2012 matchup.
      Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is the favorite for the GOP 2012 presidential nomination
      Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is a close second
      Nearly three-quarters of Democrats say they want to see the party renominate Barack Obama in 2012… – CNN, 11-4-10
    • Poll: Obama Would Beat Palin in 2012: The midterm elections are so yesterday. The eyes of many political insiders are already turning to 2012. President Obama would handily beat Sarah Palin in the next presidential election, despite strong anti-incumbent feelings and the Democrats losing the House to the GOP this week, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll indicates.
      And while Obama would win against the Tea Party favorite, 52% to 44% among registered voters, pit the President against Mike Huckabee and it’s an entirely different story.
      The former Arkansas Governor and 2008 GOP White House candidate would beat Obama 52% to 44% in a hypothetical matchup, the survey reveals.
      While there’s no clear GOP frontrunner, 21% Republicans said they’re most likely to back Huckabee, 20% said they’d support former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 14% said they’d back Palin and 12% were for ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
      Romney would also beat Obama 50 % to 45%, but Obama would beat Gingrich 49% to 47%…. – US News, 11-4-10
    • Sarah Palin’s ‘Take Back the 20’ PAC scores a bull’s-eye: During the 2010 midterm elections, Sarah Palin went hunting for Democrats and nearly bagged her limit. “Take Back the 20,” Palin’s political action committee, targeted 20 congressional districts across the country that John McCain carried in 2008 but had Democratic representatives in Congress.
      The results are eye-opening. Palin succeeded in 18 of 20 districts, losing in West Virginia’s 3rd House District. At this time, the race in Arizona’s 8th House District is too close to call.
      The 18 Republican winners unseated freshman politicians, congressional veterans and even House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt…. – AP, 11-4-10
    • Religion’s role in the November 2010 election: It may surprise some, but here are two typical pre-election statements made at churches and synagogues. From first-hand experience interviewing people in America’s two largest religions — Christianity and Judaism — about 50 percent of Bible and Torah believers often don’t let their faith influence their voting. It’s more about party affiliation and the economy…. – Yahoo News, 11-4-10
    • Parsing the Myths of the Midterm Election: Every election develops its own mythology, usually before the official results are even certified, and this week’s was no different. And like all mythology, the narrative that is being woven around the midterm elections by Bulfinches from both parties is a blend of history, facts and, yes, myths. Before it hardens into accepted fact, some of the new conventional wisdom might benefit from one more spin on the potter’s wheel: The Mandate Myth
      The Return to the Republican Fold
      The Lost Youth Vote
      Disaster for the President
      Mythmakers, or Debunkers, Know What They’re Talking About – NYT, 11-5-10
    • Snapshot: Election night at Fox News: After all the drumming for conservative candidates, you’d think the network’s talking heads would be crowing over Republican gains. But things were surprisingly subdued…. – LAT, 11-7-10
    • GOP regains control of House in historic elections: Republicans have seized control of the House for the first time since 2006, riding a wave of voter discontent and economic woes to directly challenge President Barack Obama’s agenda.
      House Republicans have captured 220 seats and were leading in 20 other races. Only 218 seats are needed for control of the House.
      Republicans have picked up a net gain of 53 seats and were leading for another 13 Democratic-held seats. If current trend holds, Republicans could record their largest gains in the House in more than 70 years.
      In 1938, the party gained 80 seats during the second term of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt…. – AP, 11-3-10
    • Republicans Will Take Control of the House: John A. Boehner, the House Republican leader, in an emotional moment during a victory gathering for the National Republican Congressional Committee in Washington. More Photos »
      Republicans captured control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday and expanded their voice in the Senate, riding a wave of voter discontent as they dealt a setback to President Obama just two years after his triumphal victory.
      A Republican resurgence, propelled by deep economic worries and a forceful opposition to the Democratic agenda of health care and government spending, delivered defeats to Democrats from the Northeast to the South and across the Midwest. The tide swept aside dozens of Democratic lawmakers, regardless of their seniority or their voting records, upending the balance of power for the second half of Mr. Obama’s term…. –
    • Republicans Will Win Control of House: The New York Times is projecting that Republicans will win the 218 seats necessary for control of the House of Representatives after four years of Democratic control of the chamber.
    • Democrats keep control of the U.S. Senate: Democrats retain enough seats to hold on to the U.S. Senate, The Washington Post projects.
    • As CNN, ABC, MSNBC and other networks are now projecting, though, even if the Democrats lose all 4 of those races, they will still have 50 seats. According to Senate rules, the Vice President breaks a tie, which means Democrats will keep control.
    • GOP to grab U.S. House majority; Democrats poised to retain Senate: Republicans rode a wave of voter dissatisfaction with the state of the economy to win majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday’s midterm elections, while Democrats were poised to retain their majority in the Senate. With results still coming in and voting continuing in Western states, the extent of the Republican takeover of the 435-member House was still to be determined. But CNN projected that Republicans would win at least 52 more House seats than they currently hold to wipe out the Democratic majority of the past four years…. – CNN, 11-2-10
    • 2010 election results: media coverage in portions for every appetite: Coverage of the 2010 election results will be provided in more ways than ever before – from centuries-old delivery methods like newspapers to ABC News’s iPad application…. – CS Monitor, 11-2-10
    • Exit poll: Economy dominates voters’ worries: Voters were intensely worried about the future of the economy Tuesday and unhappy with the way President Barack Obama and Congress have been running things. They didn’t hold a favorable view of either the Republican or Democratic parties, according to an Associated Press analysis of preliminary exit poll results and pre-election polls. Overwhelmingly, people at the polls were dissatisfied with the way the federal government is working, and a fourth said they’re angry about it…. – AP, 11-2-10

    THE HEADLINES….

    Presumptive next Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner
    • Republicans in charge take aim at health overhaul: Resurgent Republicans rallied Sunday behind an agenda based on unwavering opposition to the Obama White House and federal spending, laying the groundwork for gridlock until their 2012 goal: a new president, a “better Senate” and ridding the country of that demonized health care law. Republicans said they were willing to work with President Barack Obama but also signaled it would be only on their terms. With control of the White House and the Senate, Democrats showed no sign they were conceding the final two years of Obama’s term to Republican lawmakers who claimed the majority in the House.
      Voters on Tuesday punished Democrats from New Hampshire to California, giving Republicans at least 60 new seats in the House. Republicans picked up 10 governorships; the GOP also gained control of 19 state legislative chambers and now holds the highest level of state legislative seats since 1928…. – AP, 11-7-10
    • ‘Obama Comes Across as Cold, Arrogant and Elitist’: Tea Party Activists display a US Flag in front of the Capitol Building in Washington. It was a failure of historic proportions. With US President Barack Obama’s Democrats having lost control of the House, there seems little hope for progress during his two remaining years, say German commentators. Obama himself, they say, bears much of the blame. On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama and his Democratic party were issued a stinging defeat in the mid-term elections as the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives and installed themselves in 22 governor’s mansions. Though the Democrats narrowly were able to keep control of the Senate, the Republicans, who rode the wave of anti- incumbent sentiment and populist anger over the economy into office, now have the power to determine the House’s legislative agenda — and to block Obama proposals. Indeed, Republican leaders in the House have already promised that their first order of business will be to repeal Obama’s health care reform — his signature achievement…. – Spiegal, 11-4-10
    • Republican establishment takes on Sarah Palin: Senior officials from former president Bush on down say she’s not ready for the presidency, and some are questioning her recent decisions and pronouncements…. – Cs Monirtor, 11-6-10
    • G.O.P. Plans to Use Purse Strings to Fight Health Law: As they seek to make good on their campaign promise to roll back President Obama’s health care overhaul, the incoming Republican leaders in the House say they intend to use their new muscle to cut off money for the law, setting up a series of partisan clashes and testing Democratic commitment to the legislation…. – NYT, 11-7-10
    • How Pelosi’s determination could hamper Obama: Just when President Obama thought he had all the problems he could handle, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might have handed him another. Pelosi stunned many Democrats on Friday with the announcement that she will run for leader of the new Democratic minority in the House. If her colleagues and the smart money in Washington thought she would retreat and resign after the Democrats’ 60-seat loss Tuesday, Pelosi reminded them that she didn’t become the first female speaker in history through timidity. The question is whether she has significantly complicated life for Obama as he prepares to deal with the Republican majority in the House and Senate Republicans led by someone who spent the week hurling thunderbolts at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. From outside reports, the White House was conflicted about whether it wanted her to stay or go, torn between loyalty to the speaker for all she did during the past two years and its own political needs in the wake of Tuesday’s loss…. – WaPo, 11-6-10
    • GOP deciding which direction to go with new authority after midterm victory: Jubilant over their landslide victory in the House and their pickup of six Senate seats, Republican leaders nevertheless face a dilemma as they debate how to exert their new authority. Their energetic conservative base is eager to thwart President Obama’s every move, and if Republicans fail at doing so, they risk disappointing the supporters who turned out in vast numbers for Tuesday’s midterm elections. But if Republicans overreach, and ultimately deliver very little, independents could return to the Democratic fold in time to reelect Obama…. – WaPo, 11-4-10
    • Jim DeMint basks in election afterglow, but did he cost GOP the Senate?: Even as Sen. Jim DeMint emerges from the elections with widespread recognition as leader of a resurgent conservative force in Congress, he faces criticism that the millions he spent on hard-right candidates cost Republicans control of the Senate.
      Five DeMint-backed candidates were elected to the Senate, but five were defeated — with a sixth, Joe Miller of Alaska, trailing incumbent GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski in her historic write-in bid as an independent to keep her seat…. – Boston Herald, 11-6-10
    • Are GOP leaders going too far with their criticism of Obama?: The president certainly has been getting it from GOP leaders the past few days. But the real question regarding Obama, the Republicans say, is: ‘Is he getting it?’…. – CS Monitor, 11-5-10
    • Obama Says Jobs Report Is Encouraging for Recovery: President Barack Obama said today’s employment report is a sign that the economy is recovering from the “terrible damage” caused by the worst recession since the Great Depression. Still, recent increases in private sector employment are “not good enough,” Obama said at the White House. “The unemployment rate is still unacceptably high.” Obama spoke before leaving for a 10-day trip through Asia that is focused on trade and expanding U.S. exports. In remarks directed at Congress, he said the U.S. can’t afford to get “mired” in partisan battles over policy while countries such as China move forward to expand their economies…. – Bloomberg, 11-5-10
    • Obama admits failing to sell successes to Americans: US President Barack Obama acknowledged he had failed to persuade Americans of his administration’s successes, following an election hammering which saw his party lose control of the House of Representatives.
      “We were so busy and so focused on getting a bunch of stuff done that we stopped paying attention to the fact that leadership isn’t just legislation, that it’s a matter of persuading people,” Obama told CBS show “60 Minutes” in excerpts released Friday. “We haven’t always been successful at that,” the president added. “I take personal responsibility for that, and it’s something that I’ve got to examine carefully as I go forward.”… – AFP, 11-5-10
    • It’s Reaction Day, which is like Election Day but lazier: The New York Post: “HUMBLED” reads the main hed; “My fault, pres says day after Dems lose 61 seats in House.” The picture is worth a few more words: eyes downturned and closed, his mouth in a pout that gathers more flesh under his lower lip than you probably thought he had on his whole head.
      Daily News: “WOE BAMA!” is the News’ slightly less serious wood for the Obama shellacking story, advertising four pages of coverage of Reaction Day. It’s a similar, but more close-cropped pouty Obama we get here. But it’s time to move on, right?… – Capital New York, 11-4-10
    • GOP asserts new strength, targets Obama programs: Victorious at the polls, congressional Republicans asserted their newfound political strength on Thursday, vowing to seek a quick $100 billion in federal spending cuts and force repeated votes on the repeal of President Barack Obama’s prized health care overhaul.
      At the White Houses, Obama said his administration was ready to work across party lines in a fresh attempt to “focus on the economy and jobs” as well as attack waste in government. In a show of bipartisanship, he invited top lawmakers to the White House at mid-month, and the nation’s newly elected governors two weeks later…. – AP, 11-4-10
    • US president Barack Obama’s torment at election ‘shellacking’: President Barack Obama’s rivals did cartwheels of jubilation yesterday after seizing control of the US Congress. Victorious congressman Ed Perlmutter’s extravagant acrobatics marked the Republicans’ biggest win in the mid-term elections since the Great Depression of 1938. But their capture of the House of Representatives left American politics in paralysis last night as the right-wingers looked set to hamper a major economic stimulus plan by Obama’s Democrats.
      In a White House press conference yesterday, the humbled President sighed: “I am not recommending for every future president that they take a shellacking like I did last night. I am sure there are easier ways to learn these lessons. “It feels bad. It’s hard. I take responsibility. I’ve got to do a better job.” The man who swept to the White House two years ago conceded: “Some election nights are more fun than others.”… – Mirror UK, 11-4-10
    • Election doesn’t end major discord for GOP, Obama: Barely an hour after President Barack Obama invited congressional Republicans to post-election talks on Nov. 18 to work together on major issues, the Senate’s GOP leader had a blunt message: His party’s main goal is denying Obama re-election.
      “The only way to do all these things it is to put someone in the White House who won’t veto any of these things,” Sen. Mitch McConnell said in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation.
      “I want us to talk substantively about how we can move the American people’s agenda forward,” Obama said of the upcoming meeting with lawmakers. “It’s not just going to be a photo op.”… – AP, 11-4-10
    • Democrats Outrun by a 2-Year G.O.P. Comeback Plan: “If the goal of the majority is to govern, what is the purpose of the minority?” one slide asked. “The purpose of the minority,” came the answer, “is to become the majority.” The presentation was the product of a strategy session held 11 days before Mr. Obama’s inauguration, when top Republican leaders in the House of Representatives began devising an early blueprint for what they would accomplish in Tuesday’s election: their comeback.
      How they did it is the story of one of the most remarkable Congressional campaigns in more than a half-century, characterized by careful plotting by Republicans, miscalculations by Democrats and a new political dynamic with forces out of both parties’ control. The unpredictable Tea Party movement, the torrent of corporate money from outside interests and an electorate with deep discontent helped shift the balance of power in Washington. The White House struggled to keep Democrats in line, with a misplaced confidence in the power of the coalition that propelled Mr. Obama into office. Republicans capitalized on backlash to the ambitious agenda Mr. Obama and his party pursued, which fueled unrestricted and often anonymous contributions to conservative groups, some advised by a nemesis Democrats thought they had shaken, Karl Rove. That money so strengthened the Republican assault across the country that an exasperated Democratic party strategist likened it to “nuclear Whac-a-Mole.”… – NYT, 11-4-10
    • Voters to Republicans: Don’t Get Too Comfortable: The power shift may not last with Tea Partiers looking to disrupt their own leaders…. – Business Week, 11-4-10
    • Rivalry Tests Tea-Party Clout: House Republicans are embroiled in a leadership struggle just days after their sweeping electoral victory, testing how much influence tea-party passions will have on how lawmakers run the chamber. Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, who raised money for many House candidates and was deeply involved in the Republicans’ campaign efforts, is running for chairman of the House Republican Conference, the No. 4 position in the House GOP, with the backing of party leaders. His opponent is Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a favorite of tea-party activists who is known for her colorful statements. Some GOP leaders believe she would be less effective, but many tea-party activists see this as a test of whether Republicans are listening to them…. – WaPo, 11-4-10
    • In state capitols, GOP engineers historic shift: Republicans scored historic successes in state legislative elections Tuesday, exceeding even their performances in congressional races…. – USA Today, 11-4-10
    • Survivors’ scenarios could help in 2012: Figuring out why 29 vulnerable Democrats won while others lost could help leaders of both parties as they prepare for the 2012 elections…. – USA TODAY, 11-4-10
    • Boost for Keeping All Bush Tax Cuts: President Barack Obama is open to considering the extension of all Bush-era tax cuts for a year or two, the White House confirmed Thursday, putting to a likely end any debate over whether to extend the breaks for high-income families. Instead, Congress is poised to grapple with a different set of questions when it returns this month for a final session of the current term: How and for how long should lawmakers grant an extension?…. – WSJ, 11-4-10
    • White House Pushes Back on Tax Cuts for Wealthy: While President Obama again signaled interest in finding common ground with Republicans in the wake of their electoral triumph, the White House on Thursday drew a firmer line against making permanent Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Mr. Obama and Republicans agree on extending the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush for the vast majority of Americans, but the president has opposed making them permanent for income over $200,000 for individuals or $250,000 for households, essentially the richest 2 percent of Americans. The tax cuts expire at the end of the year…. – NYT, 11-4-10
    • Health-Care Industry Still Braces for Change: Repeal of the federal health-care overhaul was central to many Republican campaigns this season. But even with the House changing hands, health insurers, drug companies and hospitals said they were planning as if the law will stick…. – WSJ, 11-4-10
    • Palin’s Endorsements Lay Base for a 2012 Run: If Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor, decides to run for president in 2012, she will now have plenty of help. In New Hampshire, which holds the first presidential primary in the nation, Ms. Palin can count on the support of its newly elected senator, Kelly Ayotte. When the presidential campaign moves to South Carolina, the state’s new governor, Nikki Haley, will owe her one. And out West, Susana Martinez, who will take office as New Mexico’s governor, will be ready to help during a potential general election matchup with President Obama as the two parties battle over the growing number of Hispanic voters in the Southwest. Ms. Palin was not on any ballot. But the self-described “Mama Grizzly” had plenty at stake on Tuesday night as she sought to bolster her credentials as the Republican Party’s most powerful kingmaker and the voice of the newly empowered Tea Party movement. Ms. Palin had endorsed dozens of candidates, including ones in some of the highest-profile races…. – NYT, 11-4-10
    • G.O.P Captures House, but Falls Short in Senate: “Republicans captured control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday and expanded their voice in the Senate, riding a wave of voter discontent as they dealt a setback to President Obama just two years after his triumphal victory,” writes Jeff Zeleny…. – New York Times
    • Republicans capture control of House; Dems to retain Senate: “Just four years after surrendering power, Republicans recaptured control of the House and made gains in the Senate on Tuesday night, in a major rebuff of President Obama and the Democrats by an electorate worried about the economy and the size of the government,” writes Dan Balz…. – Washington Post
    • GOP Wins House in Huge Swing: “Republicans won control of the House of Representatives as voters dealt a stiff rebuke to President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in a historic wave that swept the GOP to power in states and districts across the country,” write Laura Meckler and Jonathan Weisman…. – Wall Street Journal
    • Republicans win House, Democrats retain Senate: “Republicans, tapping into widespread anger over the ailing economy and disappointment with President Obama’s leadership, wrested control of the House of Representatives from Democrats in Tuesday’s midterm elections, but fell just short of winning the Senate,” writes Douglas Stanglin…. – USA Today
    • Republicans promise limited government: Emboldened by a commanding House majority and Senate gains, Republican leaders vowed Wednesday to roll back the size of government and, in time, the nation’s sweeping health care law. President Barack Obama, reflective after his party’s drubbing, accepted blame for failing to deliver the economic security Americans demand while saying of his health overhaul: “This was the right thing to do.” He called the election a “shellacking.”
      After two years with fellow Democrats leading Congress, Obama now must deal for the rest of his term with the jarring reality of Republican control of the House, a diminished Democratic majority in the Senate and a new flock of lawmakers sworn to downsize government at every chance.
      The capital awoke — if it ever slept — to a new political order. With their lopsided win, Republicans are ushering in a new era of divided government and dethroning Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a prime target of their campaign…. – AP, 11-3-10
    • Obama signals compromise with GOP on tax cuts: A chastened President Barack Obama signaled a willingness to compromise with Republicans on tax cuts and energy policy Wednesday, one day after his party lost control of the House and suffered deep Senate losses in midterm elections. Obama ruefully called the Republican victories “a shellacking.”
      At a White House news conference, the president said that when Congress returns, “my goal is to make sure we don’t have a huge spike in taxes for middle class families.” He made no mention of his campaign-long insistence that tax cuts be permitted to expire on upper-income families, a position he said would avoid swelling the deficit but put him in conflict with Republicans.
      He also virtually abandoned his legislation — hopelessly stalled in the Senate — featuring economic incentives to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, vehicles and other sources. “I’m going to be looking for other means of addressing this problem,” he said. “Cap and trade was just one way of skinning the cat,” he said, strongly implying there will be others…. – AP, 11-3-10
    • G.O.P. Leaders Vow to Repeal Health Care Law: At a news conference at the Capitol, the likely House speaker, Representative John A. Boehner, and the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, invited President Obama to work with them on these and other goals. But they also quickly adopted an aggressive posture on some issues certain to antagonize Democrats, including a vow to repeal the big new health care law.
      Mr. Obama, at his own news conference in the East Room of the White House, called the election results “humbling,” but he also attributed the far-reaching Republican victories largely to the public’s frustration over the slow economic recovery. “What they were expressing great frustration about is that we haven’t made enough progress on the economy,” he said.
      The president said he was “eager to hear good ideas wherever they come from” and expressed a willingness to work with Republicans. “We must find common ground,” he said, “in order to make progress on some uncommonly difficult challenges.” And he cited energy and education as two policy areas on which Republicans and Democrats could see eye to eye…. – NYT, 11-3-10
    • Obama Takes Responsibility for Voter Frustration: “Some election nights are more fun than others,” he told reporters in the East Room of the White House. “Some are exhilarating. Some are humbling.” He said that he had to take “direct responsibility” for the failure to repair the nation’s economic fortunes. But in his opening remarks and answers to early questions, Mr. Obama refused to say that the Republican wave that swept across the country was a fundamental rejection of his administration’s policies.
      “There is no doubt that people’s No. 1 concern is the economy,” he said. “What they were expressing great frustration about is that we haven’t made enough progress on the economy.” The president repeatedly said that he wanted to work with the newly empowered Republicans in Washington. But he also said more than once that there were some principles that both parties were going to be unwilling to compromise on…. – NYT, 11-3-10
    • House leaders begin outlining priorities: Republicans on Wednesday pointed to their House takeover as a mandate to “change course” on economic policy and key elements of President Obama’s agenda, including the health care overhaul he pushed through Congress this year…. – USA Today, 11-3-10
    • Pelosi Election Results: What It Mean’s for Health Care Champion: Nancy Pelosi may not have been up for election Tuesday night, but many Republicans felt her ideas were, chief amongst them strong support for Obama’s health care plan. Several big ticket conservatives as well as new members of Congress have pledged to roll back key pieces of Obamacare or repeal it entirely…. – CBS News, 11-3-10
    • Sarah Palin The Mama Grizzly Scorecard: She didn’t appear on any ballot yet one big question of the Tuesday night election was how well did Sarah Palin do? Palin will point to a positive win-loss record—49 of her 77 candidates triumphed, (6 races had yet to be called by Wednesday morning.) But many of the highest-profile races, where she had loudly interjected herself, her candidates— Sharron Angle in Nevada, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, and John Raese in West Virginia—lost.
      Even in her home state of Alaska, her help seems to have been less than helpful. Joe Miller, the GOP candidate and Palin protégée, ended up having to fight off the write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski, and even a last-minute bit of McMentum—when Democratic candidate, Scott McAdams suddenly seemed to rally. By late Tuesday night, that race had still not been called, but Murkowski was leading.
      If there was a silver lining for the former Alaska Governor, it came in the form of Nikki Haley in South Carolina, Susana Martinez in New Mexico, and Mary Fallin in Oklahoma—the first time women won governorships in those three states.
      The election may have been a vote on Obama and the Democrats. But for many watching, the most widely anticipated other referendum was how well Palin would do. Of her 77 candidates around the nation, 20 are women—in the Palin vernacular, her Mama Grizzlies who, she had predicted, would “rise up on their hind legs.”… – The Daily Beast, 11-3-10
    • Tea party-backed Rick Scott claims Fla. governor win: Tea party-backed Republican businessman Rick Scott, who ran as an outsider vowing to shake up the political establishment, claimed victory Wednesday as Florida’s next governor after Democrat Alex Sink conceded an extremely tight race…. – AP, 11-3-10
    • California Climate Law Survives Challenge at Polls: The defeat of Proposition 23 marked a big victory for Silicon Valley investors, who poured millions of dollars into defending California’s AB 32 law and protecting their massive investments in green technologies ranging from solar power to electric cars. – Reuters, 11-3-10
    • Boehner wants Bush tax cuts extended for all: U.S. House of Representatives Republican leader John Boehner said on Wednesday that extending the Bush tax cuts for all income groups is the right policy…. – Reuters, 11-3-10
    • Lengthy to-do list awaits lame duck session: Now that the elections are over, a lame-duck Congress comes back to work this month to deal with a pile of unfinished business: whether to extend Bush-era tax cuts due to expire, give seniors a $250 Social Security special payment and repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy against gays serving openly. It’s an open question how much they’ll get done. The current Congress returns Nov. 15 for a post-election session dominated by tax and spending issues. Rarely has such a big pile of work faced lawmakers when the party in power has suffered so much at the ballot box…. – AP, 11-3-10
    • Tea time: Republicans locking up House control: Republicans marched toward House control Tuesday night in midterm elections shadowed by recession, locking up enough Democratic seats to install a conservative majority certain to challenge President Barack Obama at virtually every turn. Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner, his voice breaking with emotion, declared to fellow Republicans, “I’ll never let you down.”…. – AP, 11-3-10
    • GOP takes the House, but fall short in Senate: Resurgent Republicans won control of the House early Wednesday in midterm elections shadowed by recession, promising a conservative majority certain to challenge President Barack Obama at every turn. Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner called the results “a repudiation of Washington, a repudiation of big government and a repudiation of politicians who refuse to listen to the people.”
      Republicans fell short in their effort to gain control of the Senate and take full command of Congress, although they picked up at least five seats. They also wrested at least eight governorships from Democrats.
      Obama telephoned Boehner shortly after midnight to congratulate him, a call that underscored the transition to divided government. – AP, 11-3-10
    • Democrats lose 6 Senate seats, but keep majority: Democrats retained their Senate majority Tuesday, losing five seats but winning key races in West Virginia and California. Republicans scored big gains, taking Senate seats from Democrats in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arkansas, North Dakota and Indiana. The net gain of 10 they needed for control of the chamber, however, eluded them.
      With Republicans taking over the House, President Barack Obama will need a Democratic-run Senate to champion his legislative agenda…. – AP, 11-3-10
    • GOP captures governorships in at least 10 states: Republicans on Tuesday captured from Democrats governorships in at least 10 states, including some prime presidential battlegrounds, and hoped for even more statehouse gains. The same tide sweeping Republicans into office in Congress was leaving its mark on governors’ mansions as well, especially in the nation’s industrial heartland.
      Lost in the GOP onslaught: governorships now held by Democrats in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Wyoming…. – AP, 11-3-10
    • In Republican Victories, Tide Turns Starkly: Somewhere along the way, the apostle of change became its target, engulfed by the same currents that swept him to the White House two years ago. Now, President Obama must find a way to recalibrate with nothing less than his presidency on the line.
      The verdict delivered by voters on Tuesday effectively put an end to his transformational ambitions and left him searching for a way forward with a more circumscribed horizon of possibilities. Facing a hostile House with subpoena power and a diminished majority in the Senate, he will have to figure out the right blend of conciliation and confrontation to reassert authority and avoid defeat in 2012.
      The most pressing question as Mr. Obama picks through the results on Wednesday morning will be what lessons he takes from the electoral reversals. Was this the natural and unavoidable backlash in a time of historic economic distress, or was it a repudiation of a big-spending activist government? Was it primarily a failure of communications as the White House has suggested lately, or was it a fundamental disconnect with the values and priorities of the American public?… – NYT, 11-3-10
    • How the tea party helped GOP find a path to Election Day successes: Victories for tea-party candidates Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Jim DeMint showed the impact of the nascent conservative movement on the GOP’s ability to project a winning posture…. – CS Monitor, 11-2-10
    • Republicans See Big Gains in House: The Tea Party captured its first big victories Tuesday when Marco Rubio won a United States Senate seat in Florida and Rand Paul won his Senate bid in Kentucky. The victories seemed to be a precursor of big gains in Congress for the Republican Party, as victories in several races suggesting the party could be poised to take control of the House of Representatives. The results, and surveys of voters outside polling places, signaled that the elections would recalibrate the balance of power in Washington and in state houses across the nation, as voters distressed over the lingering economic woes, seemed eager to rebuke President Obama and his fellow Democrats.
      The biggest gains for Republicans were expected in the House, where party leaders said they were confident of reclaiming the majority. Several incumbent Democrats were trailing on Ohio, a key indicator of trouble ahead for Democrats…. – NYT, 11-2-10
    • Tea Party Comes to Power on an Unclear Mandate: For all the ways its rank and file despises President Obama, the Tea Party’s powerful insurgency shares this with him: It has been a blank screen on which voters have projected all kinds of hopes and frustrations — not always compatible or realistic.
      As it tries to make the transition from a protest movement to a power on Capitol Hill, the Tea Party faces the challenge of channeling the energy it brought to the election into a governing agenda when it has no clear mandate, a stated distaste for the inevitable compromises of legislating and a wary relationship with Republican leaders in Congress.
      The Republican sweep looked to be largely a Tea Party sweep, with 4 in 10 voters in exit polls expressing support for the movement…. – NYT, 11-2-10
    • West Virginia Senate: a crucial but hollow victory for Democrats?: Gov. Joe Manchin has declared victory in the race for the open West Virginia Senate seat. His win makes it very unlikely that the GOP will control the Senate. But in Washington, Manchin might act more like a Republican than a Democrat…. – CS Monitor, 11-2-10
    • For Obama, perils and opportunities ahead: Facing what seems certain to be a vastly more Republican and hostile Congress, President Obama will begin a new chapter in his presidency following today’s midterm elections—one filled both with pitfalls and opportunities as he struggles to enact his policies and prepare to run for reelection in two years. These election results will likely leave Obama in a bind. Enacting measures that he hopes to get passed–such as an expansion of health care to include those left uncovered by last year’s landmark legislation or an increase in educational benefits through a plan to aid community colleges–will be more difficult. Those proposals will probably have to be re-crafted or abandoned altogether…. – National Journal, 11-2-10
    • Tea time: GOP nears House control, piling up wins: House control within reach, Republicans piled up gains Tuesday night in a drive to forge a new conservative majority midway through President Barack Obama’s term. They added Senate seats, as well, but seemed likely to fall short of taking over. “We’ve come to take our government back,” Sen.-elect Rand Paul declared to cheering supporters at a victory party in Bowling Green, Ky., an early Republican winner on a night filled with them. A Republican majority in the House would usher in a new era of divided government as the nation struggles to emerge from the shadow of the worst recession since the 1930s…. – AP, 11-2-10
    • GOP celebrates first fruits of expected big night: Republicans gained a Senate seat in Indiana, and tea party favorite Rand Paul coasted to victory in Kentucky in midterm elections Tuesday night, first fruits of a drive to break the Democrats’ grip on power in Congress. Republicans also led for four House seats in Democratic hands and projected confidence they would succeed in winning a majority and installing Rep. John Boehner of Ohio as speaker…. – AP, 11-2-10
    • Why Rand Paul’s victory is important: Rand Paul’s victory provides evidence that the tea party influence is real, and may hold lessons about negative campaigning…. – CS Monitor, 11-2-10
    • Long Wait Possible in Alaska: Alaska—The winner of Alaska’s Senate race might not be known for weeks, as election officials wrestle with complications created by incumbent Lisa Murkowski’s write-in effort as well as thousands of absentee ballots. Alaska voters on Tuesday were choosing among Ms. Murkowski, tea-party-favorite and Republican nominee Joe Miller, and Democrat Scott McAdams, a little-known former mayor. In addition to those votes and others cast early, there are at least 20,000 absentee ballots that won’t be counted Tuesday night. Election officials will first tally the number of votes for Mr. Miller and Mr. McAdams, and the number of voters who indicated a write-in choice. Alaskans voting for Ms. Murkowski must darken a bubble on the ballot and write her name on a line. If the number of votes with the write-in bubble filled is far lower than those for another candidate, a winner could become apparent Tuesday night. But if write-ins are in first place—or close to it, election officials must wait for laggard absentee ballots to arrive and be counted before moving beyond counting bubbles to actually tallying the names written in next to them. Any name-counting wouldn’t start until Nov. 18, and the election wouldn’t be certified until around Nov. 29. Only at that point could a candidate contest the results in court, said Gail Fenumiai, director of the state Division of Elections…. – WSJ, 11-2-10

    QUOTES

    • Cantor: Democrats ‘Didn’t Get the Message’ From Voters if Pelosi Stays Leader: “If Democratic members in the House elect Nancy Pelosi as their leader, it’s almost as if they just didn’t get the message from the voters this election. I mean, the voters outright rejected the agenda that she’s been about,” he said. “I mean this is the woman who really, I think, puts ideology first, and there have been no results for the American people. And that seems the direction they want to take again. It just doesn’t make sense.”
      “I don’t think there’s any question that this says to the voters, ‘We’re not listening to you. We think we’re right. We’re going to continue the same path,'” Cantor said….
      “You’re rightly frustrated with the pace of our economic recovery. So am I. You’re fed up with partisan politics and you want results. I do, too,” he said…. – Fox News, 11-7-10
    • Rep. Mike Pence, the Indiana Republican who is stepping down from his post in GOP leadership: “I think this week’s election was a historic rejection of American liberalism and the Obama and Pelosi agenda… The American people are tired of the borrowing, the spending, the bailouts, the takeovers.” – AP, 11-7-10
    • Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: “It was a very rough week, there’s no sugarcoating that…. I don’t see any sign of the president retreating from his principles, but I do see his willingness to reach out, and wherever reasonable and in the interests of moving the economy and jobs forward, he’s going to work with the Republicans, as are the Democrats,” Van Hollen said…. – AP, 11-7-10
    • Rep. Eric Cantor, the Virginia Republican who is in line to become majority leader: “The president did say this week he’s willing to work with us. Now listen, are we willing to work with him? First and foremost, we’re not going to be willing to work with him on the expansive liberal agenda he’s been about.”… – AP, 11-7-10
    • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky: “This was a huge, huge issue in the election last Tuesday. A vast majority of Americans feel very, very uncomfortable with this new bill. People who supported us, political independents, want it repealed and replaced with something else. I think we owe it to them to try.” … “Admittedly, it will be difficult with him in the White House,” McConnell said. “But if we can put a full repeal on his desk and replace it with the kind of commonsense forms that we were advocating during the debate to reduce spending, we owe it to the American people to do that.”… – AP, 11-7-10
    • Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who will take leadership of the House budget committee, said the GOP will reign in the overhaul through oversight hearings and cutting off money to implement the law, “but then again, the president has to sign those bills, so that is a challenge.” “You can’t fully repeal and replace this law until you have a new president and a better Senate. And that’s probably in 2013, but that’s before the law fully kicks in, in 2014,” Ryan said…. – AP, 11-7-10
    • ‘This Week’ Transcript: Rand Paul, Rep. Mike Pence and David StockmanABC News, 11-7-10
    • Transcript: McConnell on Face the Nation – Time, 11-7-10
    • Rand Paul, the tea party-backed winner in Kentucky’s Senate race: “We’re coming. We’re proud. We’re strong. We’re loud. And we’re going to co-opt. And, in fact, I think we’re already shaping the debate,” he said of his fellow tea party candidates…. – AP, 11-7-10
    • Pelosi Urges Unity and Says She Will Work Toward Democratic Rebound:
      November 6, 2010
      Dear Democratic Colleague:
      In the 24 hours since I wrote seeking your views and your vote for Democratic Leader, I have been very gratified by the extensive and enthusiastic support I have received. Many of our colleagues, from all areas of our diverse Caucus, have been generous with their ideas and their support. I am grateful for the confidence that has been placed in me to be House Democratic Leader.
      Our conversations have focused on the difficult challenges facing America’s working families and our important work on their behalf in the 112th Congress. Foremost is the need to create jobs and promote the economic security of the American middle class. In addition, we must build the capacity for effectively communicating our message of job creation and opportunity for all, while supporting our signature achievements of health care, Wall Street reform, and Social Security and Medicare.
      In the 2006 election with our “New Direction” and “6 for ’06? message, we spoke with great clarity and unity — and we won. Now we must further modernize not only that message but the way in which we communicate with constituents.
      While we are deeply affected personally and politically by the loss of excellent members of our Caucus, nevertheless we hope those colleagues will continue the fight and rejoin us again in two years. We will begin the 112th Congress with talented new colleagues, and with a renewed dedication to fighting every day for jobs, economic recovery and the middle class.
      Thank you again for your leadership and for your friendship.
      best wishes,
      NANCY PELOSI
      WaPo, 11-6-10
    • Obama: “Leadership Isn’t Just Legislation” After Midterm Defeat, Humbled President Acknowledges Failures in Exclusive “60 Minutes” Interview: “I think that’s a fair argument. I think that, over the course of two years we were so busy and so focused on getting a bunch of stuff done that, we stopped paying attention to the fact that leadership isn’t just legislation. That it’s a matter of persuading people. And giving them confidence and bringing them together. And setting a tone,” Mr. Obama told 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft in an exclusive interview set to air Sunday. “Making an argument that people can understand,” Mr. Obama continued, “I think that we haven’t always been successful at that. And I take personal responsibility for that. And it’s something that I’ve got to examine carefully … as I go forward.” – CBS News, 11-5-10
    • Obama: Put politics aside to grow economy: “Based on today’s jobs report, we’ve now seen private sector job growth for 10 straight months. That means that since January, the private sector has added 1.1 million jobs,” he said at the White House after the Labor Department reported that the economy added 151,000 jobs in October. “The most important competition that we face in the new century will not be between Democrats and Republicans. It’s the competition with countries around the world to lead the global economy, and our success or failure in this race will depend on whether we can come together as a nation.” “Our future depends on putting politics aside to solve problems, to worry about the next generation instead of the next election. We can’t spend the next two years mired in gridlock. Other countries like China aren’t standing still, so we can’t stand still either. We have to move forward.” – CNN, 11-5-10
    • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in a speech to the Heritage Foundation: “We have to be realistic about what we can and cannot achieve, while at the same time recognizing that realism should never be confused with capitulation.”… “But the fact is … it would be foolish to expect that Republicans will be able to completely reverse the damage Democrats have done as long as a Democrat holds the veto pen.”….He reiterated that his overriding goal is to “deny President Obama a second term in office.”
    • Exclusive: Boehner Expects ‘Whale of a Fight’ With Obama Over Taxes in Lame Duck Session: “We’re not in control,” Boehner said. “And I’ve not been party to any of these conversations. I’m for extending all of the current tax rates for all Americans.”… “The American people want us to find common ground,” he said. “And I’m hoping that the president heard what the American people had to say the other night.” – Fox News, 11-4-10
    • Sarah Palin: The Midterms: Lessons Learned and the Way Forward: Have an intelligent message, and fight for your right to be heard…. – NRO, 11-4-10
    • President Barack Obama, Press Conference: “I’ve got to do a better job,” he said, “like everybody else in Washington.” And he took responsibility for not doing enough to alter the ways of the capital, whether its hyper-partisanship or back-room dealing. “We were in such a hurry to get things done that we didn’t change how things were done.”
    • Ohio Rep. John Boehner, the speaker-in-waiting: “Change course we will,” describing the outcome as a clear mandate to shrink the government. That echoed the unrelenting demand of tea party activists whose energy and votes helped to fuel the largest turnover in the House in more than 70 years.
      “I think it is important for us to lay the groundwork before we begin to repeal this monstrosity,” Boehner said.
    • Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, No. 2 Republican in the House: “We’ve been given a second chance and a golden opportunity.” But, he added, “People want to see results.”
    • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who survived a tea party challenge in Nevada: “I’m ready for some tweaking” on the health care law but would fight its repeal.
      “If we need to work something out with the people who are really rich, I’ll have to look at that,” he said. “If there’s some tweaking we need to do with the health care bill, I’m ready for some tweaking. But I’m not going to in any way denigrate the great work we did as a country, and saving America from bankruptcy because of the insurance industry bankrupting us.”
    • Sarah Palin via Twitter: “As always, proud to be American! Thanks, Commonsense Constitutional Conservatives, u didn’t sit down & shut up…u “refudiated” extreme left”—so tweeted Sarah Palin on Election Night, demonstrating characteristic optimism in the face of what was decidedly a mixed bag for her politically…. Palin tweeted on Tuesday about the media, and specifically the Today Show: “Silly fellas! Chucky, remember, I’m not on ballot.”
    • Rick Scott FLA Gov (R): “There were plenty of pundits, politicians and insiders who said this victory was impossible. But the people of Florida knew exactly what they wanted. They sent a message loud and clear: they said, let’s get to work.”
    • Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, who is poised to become the new speaker of the House: “Americans have sent an unmistakable message … tonight, and that message is: Change course.” Boehner acknowledged that his party’s ability to set the nation’s path will be limited with Democrats still in power in the Senate and the White House. “It’s the president who sets the agenda for our government,” he said…. “The American people were concerned about the government takeover of health care,” he said. “I think it’s important for us to lay the groundwork before we begin to repeal this monstrosity.”
    • Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., in line to take over as House majority leader, said the driving issue in his party’s success was the economy: “Jobs first,” he said in describing the GOP’s priorities. Rolling back Obama’s health care initiative also will be a goal, he said. “There’s no question, last night indicated again that the majority of Americans want to see the repeal of Obamacare.”… “I hope that we’re able to put a repeal bill on the floor right away because that’s what the American people want,” he said Tuesday night. “They understand that this bill is going to bankrupt this country and take away the health care that they — most people in this country — know and like.”
    • STATEMENT FROM RNC CHAIRMAN MICHAEL STEELE ON THE PENNSYLVANIA ELECTIONS: Tonight, the Keystone State delivered a resounding repudiation of the reckless tax, borrow and spend agenda of Democrats in Washington and in Harrisburg. Pennsylvania voters have chosen principled, fiscally responsible leadership by electing Tom Corbett, Pat Toomey, and five new Republican members of Congress, who will work to help fix the economy and get Pennsylvanians back to work.
      These Republican wins are proof that the real catalysts for change in this country are the grassroots activists in small towns across the nation and the millions of families looking to earn an honest living and pursue the American dream. Through the tremendous leadership of the Pennsylvania Republican Party and support of an unprecedented Victory effort of twenty-six offices and twenty-seven dedicated staff, we were able to communicate our Party’s message, identify voters, get our supporters to the polls, and deliver Republican victories across the state.
      I would like to congratulate Pat Toomey, Tom Corbett, and all of our federal and state legislative Republican candidates across Pennsylvania for their successful campaigns for limited government and fiscal responsibility. It is time for our nation and Pennsylvania to get back to work and leaders such as Pat Toomey and Tom Corbett will be on the frontlines to ensure that we do.
    • Details on President Obama’s call the House Republican leader John Boehner from the AP: “During what Boehner described as a brief but pleasant midnight conversation, the two discussed working together on priorities for Americans. Boehner says he told the president that the people expect them to cut spending and create jobs.”
    • House Republican Leader John Boehner is speaking: “Listen, I’ll be brief, because we have real work to do ?” and this is not a time for celebration … not when one in 10 of our fellow citizens are out of work …not when we have buried our children under a mountain of debt … not when our Congress is held in such low esteem.? of our fellow citizens are out of work … not when we have buried our children under a mountain of debt … not when our Congress is held in such low esteem.”
    • New York Democratic Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo seemed to be speaking to Tea Partiers in his acceptance speech: He said, “You are not going to separate us, you can try that somewhere else, but not in New York.” He acknowledged that he and his party had work to do to rebuild trust with voters. But he asserted that “politics were over, we are going to be more united than ever before.”
    • MARCO RUBIO’S WORD OF CAUTION: Marco Rubio tempered his acceptance speech in the Florida Senate race with a word of caution to his fellow Republicans. He said, “Even now, the stories are being written about what this really means. The House of Representatives will change hands, and a growing number of Republicans will also serve in the Senate. But we will make a grave mistake if we think this is an embrace of the Republican Party. ” Instead he said, it was “a second chance” for his party “to be what we were meant to be.”
    • Republican Cantor vows to repeal health reform: Representative Eric Cantor, who is likely to become majority leader in the new Republican-led House of Representatives, vowed on Tuesday to repeal healthcare reform and cut federal spending. “We will get to work right away to reduce the deficit by cutting federal spending next year down to 2008 levels. That will save $100 billion in the first year alone,” he said, according to prepared remarks…. – Reuters, 11-2-10
    • HOUSE Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine said: Democratic loses in the House, especially loses in his home state of Virginia, were “very tough.””We wanted to hold on to both [chambers of Congress] especially because we have had a great Speaker in Speaker Pelosi.”Speaking to reporters at Democratic headquarters, Kaine quickly turned to the optimistic view that Democrats will retain control of the Senate. “We remain confident we will have a strong showing and keep the majority,” he said.Refusing to offer what he called a post-mortem of the night, Kaine said the night’s results point to the need for both sides of the aisle to cooperate and listen to the American public.”Maybe it is a message from the American public,” he said. “We have a Democrat in the White House; we’ll have maybe a majority of Republican governors; we’ll have a Democratic Senate; Republican House: everyone has to work together and that is what I know the president will focus on.”
    • Christine O’Donnell Concession Speech: In her concession speech, Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell gave no ground in defeat. She said she had just gotten off the phone with her opponent, Democrat Chris Coons. “And I warned him that he was now in a position to help the people who are suffering … I asked him if he would fight to stop the death tax from being reinstated this Jan. 1.” She added, “We can only hope and pray that he chooses to go against his party and do what is right for the people of Delaware.” She vowed to continue fighting for her positions. “Our elected officials will be held accountable to their constituents, like it or not.”
    • Rand Paul: KY SENATE: In his acceptance speech in Bowling Green, Ky., Republican Rand Paul called his win part of a “Tea Party tidal wave.” He said, “The American people are unhappy with what is going on in Washington. Tonight … we are sending a message to them.”
    • HOUSE: Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was defiantly optimistic about his party’s chances to retain control of the house.Speaking to reporters at the Democratic headquarters shortly after 9, he rebuffed NBC News’ Norah O’Donnell when she said her network had already called Republicans had won a majority in the House. “Well, I think that is a mistake. That is way too early,” he said. and again I think that is a mistake and I think what you are seeing right now is voters going to polls and the verdict is out still.” “Democratic turnout has been higher than projected,” Van Hollen said. “Obviously we had a good early vote and we are seeing stronger than projected democratic turnout in races so far. Obviously there are a lot of polls around the country that has not closed yet in the mountain region and the West Coast. but we knew it would be challenging.” Moments after he walked out of the room CNN also called control of the House for Republicans. Van Hollen’s words seemed to be a final cry for hope: “We remain confident we will have a strong showing and keep the majority.”
    • Obama says post-election agenda hinges on having allies: President Barack Obama said the fate of his policy agenda would depend on having allies in Congress as he pressed supporters to turn out and vote in a bid to minimize his Democrats’ losses in Tuesday’s congressional elections. “Everybody who is listening: Just remember, the future is yours to shape. But if you don’t get involved, somebody is going to shape it for you … one of the best ways to do that is to vote today,” Obama said in an interview on Los Angeles radio station KPWR.
      With the midterm elections shaping up as a referendum on his first two years, Obama insisted his administration had accomplished a lot after taking office in the midst of the worst financial crisis in decades. He cited a return to economic growth — albeit slow and halting — plus a sweeping healthcare overhaul and a U.S. troop drawdown in Iraq among his achievements. Obama acknowledged that job growth is slower than it needs to be but said he would keep the focus on reducing unemployment as well as improving education. “Across the board, things have gotten better over the last two years. We can only keep it up if I’ve got some friends and allies in Congress and statehouses,” Obama, speaking from the Oval Office, said on the youth-oriented radio station’s whose slogan is “Where hip hop lives.” Reuters, 11-2-10

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    • Richard Norton Smith: Voters to Republicans: Don’t Get Too Comfortable: “Let’s face it,” says Richard Norton Smith, a history professor at George Mason University, the outcome “is schizophrenic.” He says voters demand change, then punish lawmakers who made change possible. Voters insist they want representatives who work across the aisle, yet reward the ones who make sure that doesn’t happen. “They claim to want to address fundamental issues, including the budget deficit, but don’t want to take the costly steps to get us there,” says Smith…. – Business Week, 11-4-10
    • Gil Troy: Obama 2.0 Must Lead from the Center Humbly and Substantively: The American voters gave President Barack Obama a good, old-fashioned political whupping on Tuesday. It was a stunning political reversal as Mr. Yes We Can became Mr. Why Can’t They Understand and Appreciate Me? President Barack Obama must learn his lesson from this political drubbing. To redeem his presidency, he must do what he originally promised to do, lead from the center—humbly and substantively….
      Obama still has the time and the national good will to recover. Most Republican campaign commercials targeted Nancy Pelosi, or Harry Reid, or big government, not the president. This nuance reflected Obama’s personal popularity, despite his 55 percent negative job approval rating. Moreover, the economy could still revive, unemployment could fall, the Republicans could self-destruct by misreading this election as an invitation to showcase their extremists.
      Political greatness, in fact personal greatness, does not come from winning all the time, but from knowing how to turn devastating defeats into incredible opportunities. The true test of Barack Obama the man and the president has begun. – HNN, 11-4-10
    • Tevi Troy: Secondary Purge: Politico has a piece on an expected shakeup of the White House staff in the wake of the Democrats’ historic election defeat. This may be a good idea, but it’s important to remember that the White House has already engaged in one of the more extensive White House staff shakeups in recent memory, replacing the chief of staff, the head of the National Economic Council, the national security adviser, and the head of the Council of Economic Advisers over the last few months. The election debacle may prompt more heads to roll, but purging more staffers will not solve the White House’s problems…. – NRO, 11-4-10
    • Obama’s ‘shellacking’ puts his legacy in jeopardy: “It was conciliatory and rambling. He was flailing to find issues to compromise on,” said Princeton University public affairs professor Julian E. Zelizer. “It wasn’t the image of someone who’s decisive and in control.” The president by nature is a consensus seeker, Zelizer said. “He’s not totally comfortable with the political part of the job.” The more Obama leans toward the center to appease the Republicans, however, the more he risks alienating his liberal base. In that case, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — who wisely stayed off the stump this election season — may become a more viable 2012 presidential candidate for the Democrats, Zelizer said…. – AMNY, 11-4-10
    • Rick Perlstein: How Obama Enables Rush: We live in a mendocracy. As in: rule by liars. Political scientists are going crazy crunching the numbers to uncover the skeleton key to understanding the Republican victory last Tuesday. – The Daily Beast (11-6-10)
    • Allan Lichtman: The Joyless Election: …[N]ever before in the history of the United States has such a sweeping victory by one political party elicited so little joy and such minimal expectations. The American voters rejected the leadership of the Democratic Party that controlled the presidency and both Houses of Congress…. Above all, this year voters repudiated the government of the United States. This is the third consecutive election in which the voters ousted the party in power. However, dissatisfaction with government extends more deeply into the American past…. – Gazette.net (MD) (11-5-10)
    • David M. Kennedy: Throwing the Bums Out for 140 Years: SO we have had three “wave” elections in a row: control of both chambers of Congress changed hands in 2006, as did the presidency in 2008, and the House flipped back to Republican domination last week. All this apparently incoherent back-and-forth has left the political class reeling and set the commentariat aflutter. Explanations for our current political volatility abound: toxic partisanship, the ever more fragmented and strident news media, high unemployment, economic upheaval and the clamorous upwelling of inchoate populist angst. But the political instability of our own time pales when compared with the late 19th century. In the Gilded Age the American ship of state pitched and yawed on a howling sea of electoral turbulence. For decades on end, “divided government” was the norm. In only 12 of the 30 years after 1870 did the same party control the House, the Senate and the White House…. – NYT (11-7-10)
    • Daniel K. Williams: A Victory for the Christian Right: Immediately after the 2010 midterm elections, the National Right to Life Committee declared the results a victory for the pro-life cause, claiming that 65 seats in Congress had switched from pro-choice to pro-life. The Family Research Council likewise declared that voters had soundly rejected President Barack Obama’s efforts to allow gays to serve openly in the military. Voters in Iowa recalled three state Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. Across the nation, Christian conservatives claimed victories for their cultural causes after seeing Tuesday’s election results. Why, then, did most of the media—and the Republican Party leadership—say so little about religion in the election analysis?…. – PBS (11-5-10)
    • Robert Dallek: The Long View of the Tea Party: Regardless of how many seats change hands in the election, one result is already clear: The tea party movement will, for the immediate future, influence the direction of the Republican Party…. – Politico (11-4-10)
    • Alan Brinkley: Obama vs. Tea Party: Think FDR vs. Huey Long: In the aftermath of the massive Democratic losses on Election Day, the tea party movements have proved that their efforts made a significant contribution to the Republican victories. Though only a few true tea party candidates were actually elected — most prominently Rand Paul in Kentucky and Marco Rubio in Florida — there can be no doubt that the movement’s energy and anger were perhaps the crucial factor…. – Politico (11-4-10)
    • Steven M. Gillon: The Lessons of 1994: Democrats are still absorbing the electoral drubbing they suffered at the polls this week. As the New York Times reported, nearly every congressional district in America voted more Republican in 2010 than in 2008. Republicans rode a wave of well-financed and carefully orchestrated (but no less genuine) public anger at a struggling economy that shows little signs of improving. Gleeful conservative pundits are already predicting that the election marked the beginning of the end of the Obama presidency. Dispirited Democrats worry they may be right. But are they?… – Huffington Post (11-4-10)
    • Victor Davis Hanson: America Just Checked into Rehab: On Tuesday, voters rejected President Obama’s attempt to remake America in the image of an imploding Europe — not just by overwhelmingly electing Republican candidates to the House, but by preferring dozens of maverick conservatives who ran against the establishment. Why the near-historic rebuke? Out-of-control spending, unchecked borrowing, vast new entitlements, and unsustainable debt — all at a time of economic stagnation. So what is next? Like the recovering addict who checks himself into rehab, a debt-addicted America just snapped out of its borrowing binge, is waking up with the shakes, and hopes there is still a chance of recovery…. – National Review (11-4-10)
    • Historic Perspective on Republican Shift: Presidential historian Michael Beschloss, Richard Norton Smith of George Mason University and Beverly Gage of Yale University examine the results of Tuesday’s midterm election in the context of races past…. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-10Mp3
    • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, presidential historian: I think we can stamp this one with historic…. But I think, in this case, it has the added advantage of being true, as they say in Texas — was historic for a couple of reasons. One is, the Obama presidency is unlikely to be the same again. The things he was able to do with control of Congress, it is going to be very different now that he’s lost one house. Also, you don’t usually see a wave of this magnitude, hasn’t happened quite like this in at least a half-century. So, the American people were obviously saying something very powerful, very different from what they said two years ago…. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-10
    • BEVERLY GAGE, assistant professor, Yale University: I do agree. And I would say that, looking back to this half-century, we really want to look at 1946 as a really good example of a moment where a midterm actually was a sea change. And I think it’s an interesting model, going back to what we were saying with the health care debate, which is that, in 1946, there was a lot of talk about labor law, and, as this new Republican Congress came in under a Democratic president, they actually managed to do something significant. They didn’t repeal the labor laws that had been passed during the New Deal, but they did actually succeed in passing new laws like Taft-Hartley, that severely restricted the kinds of legislations that they had been objecting to for upwards of a decade at that point…. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-10
    • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, scholar in residence, George Mason University: Let me think about that. 1930, of course, Herbert Hoover had been sold to the American people as this un — non- politician, the hero of World War 1 who defended Belgium and the rest of the world, never run for office before. Both parties wanted to make him president in 1920. The slogan was, “Who but Hoover?” He was elected in 1928 with very high expectations. And then, of course, Wall Street collapses. And, in 1930, the Democrats come within a whisker of taking over the House. And then, through a series of bi-elections, they actually take the House. And there’s no doubt that they stopped Hoover’s program cold… … and enshrined Hoover in public memory to this day as a man who is synonymous not with feeding people, but denying, in effect, government aid to victims of the Depression…. PBS Newshour, 11-4-10
    • Michael Beschloss: Historian Predicts Obama Will Be Reelected Despite Midterm Election Results (VIDEO): ‘The Daily Show’ (weeknights, 11PM ET on COM) partnered with ‘The Colbert Report’ for ‘Indecision 2010’ on election night, offering viewers live coverage of the midterm results. Jon Stewart noted that it’s standard practice for the nation’s ruling party to “lose some seats” in midterm elections. However, presidential historian Michael Beschloss admitted they don’t usually lose this many seats.
      But if history repeats itself, he had some good news for President Obama. “The three presidents in recent times who have had midterm loss like this have been Truman, Eisenhower, Bill Clinton. Every single one of them got reelected.” “So your thought is, ‘What a great night for Barack Obama!'” joked Stewart. – TV Squad, 11-3-10
    • Tevi Troy Visiting Senior Fellow, the Hudson Institute, How does Obama explain the GOP landslide?: President Obama has a lot of explaining to do. He came into office with a great deal of goodwill, strong majorities in both houses of Congress, and an opposition party in complete disarray. Less than two years later, the goodwill and the House majority are gone, and Republicans are resurgent. It will not be possible to make complete amends in a single press conference, but he can start by signaling a move to the middle and a willingness to work in a more bipartisan manner…. – Politico
    • Julian Zelizer: As the GOP Gains Control of the House, What Does the Party Have to Do? John Boehner Expected to Become Next Speaker of the House: “[Boehner’s] first challenge is to control the rebels,” said Julian Zelizer, political analyst and professor of politics at Princeton University. “Some of the ideological division we see will be because of the Tea Party types, but also just because of freshmen determined to show they’re not part of the status quo.”
      “The Republicans don’t want to look like a whole cohort of Christine O’Donnell’s came to town,” said Zelizer referring to the losing Tea Party candidate who admitted during the campaign she once dabbled in witchcraft. “Maverick outsiders who are good at attack politics but who are not necessarily politicians who can’t handle the responsibilities of the office.”
      “Boehner has to make sure that’s not the image that people are left with in two years,” said Zelizer.
      “The GOP really needs to decide whether their strategy is to try to obtain some legislation that their supporters would like or to focus on a strategy on pure obstruction and grandstanding. Both have dangers and benefits,” Zelizer said…. – ABC News, 11-3-10
    • Julian E. Zelizer: Is it 1994 all over again?: Republicans effectively gained control over Congress on Tuesday. The GOP won a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, thus overturning the gains Democrats made in 2006 and 2008.
      In the Senate, where the procedural power of the minority has already given Republicans the power to shape deliberations, the narrowed Democratic ranks will further weaken the majority.
      In the weeks running up to the election, there were some commentators who concluded that the current situation would be the best outcome for President Obama.
      Pointing to the example of the 1994 midterms, which gave Republicans control of Congress, they have argued that a bad outcome for Democrats would ironically allow Obama to regain his standing. Obama could use Republicans as a foil to attack extremism — just as Clinton did with Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1995 and 1996 — and he would have political cover and incentives to move closer toward the center, where voters would like him more….
      Now, with 2012 over the horizon, the GOP will have more incentives to oppose the president. Indeed, Sen. Mitch McConnell, leader of the Senate Republicans, recently said: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
      At the same time, Obama faces a significant risk if he tries to appease Republicans in Clinton-like fashion. After all, many liberals are already frustrated with the kinds of compromises Obama has made. Going too far — for example, declaring that the era of big government is over — could trigger a challenge to the president in the Democratic primaries.
      We should hope that the United States is not about to live through a repeat performance of what occurred after 1994. The nation faces too many pressing economic and foreign policy problems to have that happen again. – CNN, 11-3-10
    • Paul Green, Roosevelt University political science professor and commentator Election 2010: Will gridlock be election fallout?: “The election really doesn’t make a difference. Everything will be held up. Bipartisanship has become a code word for political treason.” – Daily Journal, 11-3-10
    • David Claborn, Olivet Nazarene University associate professor of political science and history Election 2010: Will gridlock be election fallout?: “We voted against a party and a status quo, not necessarily for the people who won. I don’t think the election has given us much of a clue as to what will happen.” – Daily Journal, 11-3-10
    • Jacob Weisberg: Faking Right How the Republican Congress will abandon Tea Party ideas and legislate toward the center: In the likely event that Republicans capture control of one or both houses of Congress next week, the new leaders will face a strategic question. Should they pursue the agenda of the Tea Party movement that brought them to power? Or should they try to mollify their party’s base with gestures and symbols, without taking its radical ideology too seriously? While they’ll never discuss this problem honestly, indications point in the latter direction. That is, the GOP’s congressional leadership will feint right while legislating closer to the center.
      The choice is between a Ronald Reagan strategy and a Newt Gingrich strategy. Reagan, who first rode a new conservative movement to the presidency in 1980, was a master of the right fake. After one brief and disastrous attempt to reduce Social Security spending in 1981, Reagan never seriously challenged federal spending again. But Reagan sounded so convincing in his rhetorical flights that most conservatives and liberals walk around today thinking that he cut government. Reagan was just as slippery with the religious right, embracing them while wasting little political capital on issues like abortion or school prayer. President George W. Bush followed this same model, humoring the base while letting government expand…. – Slate, 11-3-10
    • A deeply divided government is tasked with building consensus: “There isn’t going to be a candidate around which they can unify all factions of the party,” University of New Hampshire political science professor Dante Scala offered. “For all the talk from the Republican elite about unifying, I wonder if it’s already too late.”…
      “The President may go the Bill Clinton route to build up his centrist credentials,” Prof. Scala said. “If that’s the case, a lot of [progressive] House Democrats will be put in cold storage for a couple of years.”… – The Globe & Mail, 11-2-10
    • Julian Zelizer: Le Congrès, acteur central de la politique américaine: C’est dû au pouvoir que le Congrès accorde au «parti perdant au Sénat», explique Julian Zelizer, professeur de science politique à l’université de Princeton. La minorité d’opposition peut en effet décider de bloquer un projet de loi, en se livrant à la pratique de l’obstruction systématique (filibuster). Seule une majorité sénatoriale des deux tiers peut mettre fin au blocage. Le Congrès dispose d’autres «instruments» considérables pour borner et contrôler le pouvoir exécutif, puisqu’il tient les cordons de la bourse et peut décider de limiter le budget, note Zelizer. Il peut enterrer des projets législatifs et dispose aussi d’un rôle d’enquête très important grâce à ses puissantes commissions parlementaires et autres commissions ad hoc. – Le Figaro, 1-2-10
    • Stefan Zaklin: Bush Is Back Why Republicans and Democrats alike are about to contract a serious case of Bush nostalgia: Nostalgia is a powerful force in American politics. Consider this year’s midterm elections. Democrats wanted to return to the Clinton years, when budgets were balanced and the economy was booming. Glenn Beck and his Tea Party followers yearned for a time before Woodrow Wilson. And while the rest of the Republican Party didn’t pledge to take the country back quite as far—the 1950s, for example, would do just fine—it still pledged to take the country back. For a lot of people, the past is preferable to the present.
      But is our penchant for political pining expansive enough to encompass someone as seemingly irredeemable as, say, George W. Bush?
      We’re about to find out. When Bush retired in 2009, the near consensus was that he—like the Vietnam War, the Teapot Dome scandal, or Millard Fillmore—was nostalgia-proof. The national debt stood at $11.3 trillion, more than double what it was when he took office. The economy hadn’t been so bad since the Great Depression. Inherited surpluses equal to 2.5 percent of GDP had become deficits equal to 3 percent of GDP. And Americans were still dying in two wars—one neglected, the other inexplicable. In Rolling Stone, historian Sean Wilentz awarded Bush the title of “worst president in history.” Many voters agreed: his final approval ratings hovered around 22 percent, a near-record low.
      What You Missed: Midterm Elections in 7 Minutes Haven’t been paying attention this election season? Here’s everything you need to know in brief
      Over the next few months, however, the thinking on Bush is likely to be challenged. In fact, some voters—and politicians—might even find themselves longing for a return to the Inauspicious Aughties. In part that’s because the former president is releasing a memoir of his time in office, Decision Points, on Nov. 9. After nearly two years of silence, he’ll headline the Miami Book Fair, appear on Oprah, and enjoy the predictable softening of public sentiment that comes when an embattled figure emerges from the wilderness and starts spending a lot of time to promote his side of the story. But there’s a bigger reason that Bush nostalgia is about to become a very real phenomenon inside and outside the Beltway: the Tea Party. As far-right rookies like Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, and Ken Buck begin to arrive on Capitol Hill, as they’re expected to, both mainstream Republicans and Democrats will realize that, whatever their disagreements with him—real or fabricated—Dubya and his ilk would be far more constructive partners in governing than the new kids on the block…. – Newsweek, 11-2-10
    • A Conservative Victory for Now: The date was March 20, 1981 and Ronald Reagan who had taken the oath of office for his first term just three months earlier was addressing a joint meeting of the American Conservative Union, Young Americans for Freedom, the National Review and Human events.
      It was a very different era. Many of the youth in the audience were members of Generation X, born 1965 through 1980, and Reagan would be in office as Generation Y debuted in 1981 through 1995. Spanning those generations was one that would fill out the present demographic of today’s senior citizens, a critical voting bloc; one that can recall Reagan’s values and hopes to see them restored….
      For Reagan, the conservative goal was “to restore to their rightful place in our national consciousness the values of family, work, neighborhood, and religion” and he warned that it will not be achieved “by those who set people against people, class against class, or institution against institution.”
      That was and is a perfect description of Barack Obama and a Democratic Party that knows no other way of governing and has no faith in the people.
      Reagan never lost faith in the American people even though, for a while, they have been forgetful of the past, backsliding from the goals set by the Founding Fathers, robbed and wronged, but who are ready to rise again and restore America…. – Canada Free Press, 11-1-10
    • History Lessons: Midterms as Political Referendum: BEVERLY GAGE, professor, Yale University: Well, midterm elections, historically, are almost always overshadowed by presidential elections. We tend to think in terms of presidents. But they have played really critical roles at some really key moments in American history. And the moments where they have been most important have largely been when two things happened. The first is when either the Senate or the House or both of them have changed hands from one party to another, most often, because it’s a midterm election, from the president’s party to the opposite.
      And the second is when these party changes happen at moments where really critical issues are at stake. A couple of examples that come to mind, 1918, you see a switch in the Senate in particular under Woodrow Wilson. They scotch his plans for the League of Nations.
      Another significant midterm election, 1946, Harry Truman has just become president. You begin to get real Republican pushback against New Deal policies and against Harry Truman’s domestic agenda…..
      Woodrow Wilson notoriously handled it incredibly poorly. By the time he’s at the end of World War I, he’s had a stroke.
      But he also, in particular, took this Republican repudiation deeply personally. He refused to work with them. And it really ruined a lot of his plans. Presidents who can step back a little bit, take it a little bit less personally, and try to negotiate some sort of compromise tend to do a little bit better in those sorts of scenarios.
      I do think the 1934 election is an interesting parallel to look at. It’s, on the one hand, quite exceptional, because the Democrats, under Franklin Roosevelt, actually pick up so many seats that year.
      But, given that Obama was in fact being so roundly compared to Franklin Roosevelt when he was elected — we were going to have another New Deal in the midst of economic crisis — I do think it’s worth asking why the repudiation of Obama has been quite as severe as it is, and why he couldn’t capitalize, like Roosevelt did in 1934.
      We said, it’s an exceptional moment, certainly, but, given all of those earlier comparisons, I think it’s worth thinking about. – PBS Newshour, 10-27-10
    • History Lessons: Midterms as Political Referendum: RICHARD NORTON SMITH, scholar in residence, George Mason University: I would add, it certainly is a historical trend. In the last 100 years, only twice, has a president, his party in power added seats in…
      The first — in the two years, halfway through the first term, in 1934, FDR at the height of the New Deal. And then, in 2002, George W. Bush defied the odds in the wake of 9/11, and Republicans actually picked up seats.
      Now, the real curse in American party politics is the six-year curse. Six years into a president’s term, it’s Katy bar the door. But the fact is, two years… He’s a lame duck. He’s probably intellectually spent….
      It is increasingly so (a referendum), I think particularly in the modern media age. I mean, one of the interesting things is, for 40 years, the Democrats had the House, from early ’50s until ’94. The Republicans then took the House and held on to it for 12 years. The Democrats took the House back in 2006. If they lose it on Tuesday, they will have had it for four years.
      There’s something going on here. The period of one-party dominance has been shrinking measurably. And I think that’s in part because of the emphasis we place on the executive. We have personalized these elections. They’re not localized. This is — for lots of people, this is a referendum on Barack Obama.
      And it’s not just the angry anti-Obama forces. If you’re on the left, and you are disappointed in this administration for whatever reason, you can express your disappointment by not voting. And that is a significant fact. That’s the source of the enthusiasm gap, I think, that we have heard about all year….
      And, if you have lost your job, you’re depressed. There’s no doubt that there are lots people in this country who are hurting. More than that, there is this pervasive — I think pervasive fear that the future may not be what Americans traditionally have assumed it to be.
      There’s a clear fear of China. There’s a sense that this is a country and a culture that may be in the decline. But, in terms of 1934, it was an affirmation of, in a sense, the radicalization that was in 1932. FDR took government places that no president had before. And, by 1934, people felt, psychologically at least, whatever the economic indices were, things were getting better. And so they endorsed him.
      This time around, we didn’t go over the cliff. “It could have been worse” is not a banner that millions of people are going to march behind to the polls. But, in effect, that’s the Obama argument. The argument is, if you listen to the economists, eight million jobs were not lost because of the hated bailouts and TARP and all the other stuff, many of which are Bush initiatives….
      And I think it complicates — it’s a very difficult message that Obama has to deliver…
      I would say he has company, yes. The conventional wisdom is, Bill Clinton brilliantly stole Republican clothes.
      He actually turned this to his advantage by co-opting the center and by waiting for the Republicans to overreach, the shutdown of the government, and et cetera.
      But, I mean, he moved to a balanced budget. He signed the welfare reform package. And so, by ’96….
      Republican ideas. He basically shut the door on Bob Dole or any Republican candidate. The question is whether Barack Obama, in today’s media climate, with the left on the blogosphere holding his feet to the fire, whether he has as much latitude if he wants to move to the center that Bill Clinton had. PBS Newshour, 10-27-10
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