Political Highlights January 1, 2011: Looking Towards 112th Congress & Republican House — Obama’s Hawaii Vacation — Chicago’s Mayoral Campaign

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 111TH & 112TH CONGRESS:

The President records the Weekly Address

STATS & POLLS

  • CNN Poll: Americans more optimistic about the world in 2011: Americans are looking forward to the new year with much more optimism about the state of the world than they did a year ago, according to a new national poll. But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Friday also indicates Americans’ optimism regarding their own personal lives is down a bit from last year.
    Sixty-three percent of people questioned in the poll say they are hopeful about what the new year holds in store for the world in general, up 12 points from last December, with 35% saying they are fearful, down 13 points.
    “On the home front, Americans are just as optimistic, with 64% saying they are hopeful about their own personal lives in the new year,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “But that number is down from 69% who felt that way 12 months ago.”
    The survey indicates a gender gap, with seven of ten men saying they are optimistic about the state of the world in 2011, 11 points higher than the 59% of women who say they feel that way. And according to the poll, Democrats and Republicans are more positive about the state of the world in the new year than independent voters…. – CNN, 12-31-10
  • Poll: Fewer hope for Obama success: Americans are less supportive of President Barack Obama’s policies than they were a year ago, but a majority of those surveyed in a new poll still hope his policies will be successful.
    In a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Wednesday, 61 percent of Americans surveyed said they hope Obama’s policies succeed. A year ago, 71 percent hoped for Obama’s policy success.
    Those surveyed were also less confident that the president’s policies would succeed, with 44 percent saying they would and 47 percent saying they would fail. A year ago, 52 percent of Americans said they thought Obama’s policies would be successful, while 41 percent said they thought his policies would fail.
    Fifty-one percent of Americans said they think the GOP majority in the House of Representatives will be a good thing for the country, while 42 percent said they think it will be a bad thing…. – Politico, 12-30-10
  • Poll: Majority rooting for Obama, GOP wants him to fail: Sixty-one percent of Americans, from all ethnic backgrounds, income groups and age levels, hope that President Obama’s policies will succeed, according to a new Opinion Research poll for CNN. Two groups disagree.
    By a 61 percent to 27 percent margin – exactly the reverse of the poll’s overall numbers – Republicans hope that the president’s policies will fail. Fifty-one percent of self-described Conservatives are also hoping for failure.
    The nation’s 44th president gets positive marks as a person in the Opinion Research findings. “Would you say you approve of him or disapprove of him?” asked a question in the survey.
    Seventy-three percent answered “Approve,” and just 22 percent “Disapprove.” In job approval, however, the latest Gallup Poll has Americans evenly divided: 47 percent give thumbs up to Obama while 46 percent disapprove…. – Seattle PI, 12-29-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Spending showdowns will test new Congress leaders: Two early showdowns on spending and debt will signal whether the new Congress can find common ground despite its partisan divisions or whether it’s destined for gridlock and brinkmanship that could threaten the nation’s economic health. Not all of the bickering in the 112th Congress that convenes Wednesday will be between Republicans and Democrats. House Republicans, back in power after four years in the minority, will include numerous freshmen whose unyielding stands on the deficit, in particular, could severely test soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner’s ability to bridge differences and pass major bills.
    His first big challenge will come in February, when Congress must pass a huge spending bill to keep the government running. Many House Republicans — veterans and newcomers alike — have pledged to cut discretionary domestic spending by up to $100 billion.
    Even if they agree on a plan, it probably will be changed by the Senate, where Democrats will hold 53-47 edge. And President Barack Obama can veto almost any bill he opposes during the next two years.
    Before Boehner, R-Ohio, deals with Democrats’ objections, he may have trouble getting his own 241-member caucus to agree on what to cut, and how deeply. Republicans have a history of promising far more cuts in spending than they deliver. Some conservative activists and commentators are tired of it…. – AP, 1-11-11
  • Obama asks Republicans to help him revitalize economy: In his weekly radio address, Obama speaks of a ‘shared responsibility’ for Democrats and Republicans. He pledges to work in good faith with the GOP as it assumes more power when Congress reconvenes on Wednesday.
    President Obama called on Republicans to be equal partners in his efforts to jump-start the nation’s fragile economy in the new year, pledging to work in good faith with the party as it prepares to assume greater power in Washington.
    In his weekly address Saturday, Obama said economic data showed the economy has been “gaining traction” for months, and said his personal resolution for 2011 was to “do everything I can to make sure our economy is growing, creating jobs, and strengthening our middle class.” While tending to the short-term recovery, the president said lawmakers also must continue making investments that will ensure the nation’s long-term prosperity. Days before Republicans will be sworn in as the majority party in the House of Representatives, Obama said it is now a “shared responsibility” of both parties to do so.
    “Here’s what I want you to know: I’m willing to work with anyone of either party who’s got a good idea and the commitment to see it through. And we should all expect you to hold us accountable for our progress or our failure to deliver,” Obama said…. – LAT, 1-1-11
  • Obama Is Serious About His Vacation. And, Please, No Shirtless Shots: President Obama has accomplished something extraordinary during his Hawaiian escape from Washington: his White House has gone dark for more than a week. Here on Oahu, where Mr. Obama and his family are staying in a luxury oceanfront rental home in the sleepy town of Kailua, the president is cloaked in the comfort of a news-free zone. The public does not see much of him, except for when he is zipping by in his armored sport utility vehicle, and it does not much seem to care. Images of the president at leisure — sharing a Hawaiian shave ice with daughters Malia and Sasha, golfing, dining out with his wife — have trickled out, orchestrated by aides who have also taken care to allow pictures of the president at church and visiting the troops on Christmas Day. His advisers calculate that there has been roughly one photo opportunity every day and a half…. – NYT, 1-1-11
  • Tea Party Activists Angry at G.O.P. Leaders: As Tea Party politicians prepare to take their seats when the 112th Congress convenes this week, they are already taking issue with Republicans for failing to hold the line against the flurry of legislation enacted in the waning weeks of Democratic control of the House of Representatives and for not giving some candidates backed by Tea Party groups powerful leadership positions…. – NYT, 1-1-11
  • Cities Around the World Mark New Year; Napolitano Spends Holiday with Troops: 2011 has begun in New Zealand and Australia with massive fireworks displays at Sky Tower in Auckland and across the Sydney skyline. Asian nations rung in the new year — traditionally, in Japan, where some ventured to offer prayers at Buddhist temples, and for the very first time officially in Hanoi, which normally reserves celebrations for the Tet, the lunar new year beginning in February.
    Days after an unusually severe winter blizzard blanketed New York city, revelers were preparing to watch the Times Square Ball drop at midnight EST as higher temperatures began turning the accumulated snow into a wet slush.
    Napolitano to Spend New Year’s with Troops in Afghanistan Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is in Kabul to celebrate the new year with troops, the first stop in a tour through Qatar, Israel and Belgium. Napolitano will meet with officials to discuss the flow of funds for terrorist activities and efforts to boost aviation security in light of two cargo bombs that were intercepted en route to the U.S…. – PBS Newshour, 12-31-10
  • Holder, diplomats expected at Gray mayoral inauguration: U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder and more than 60 members of the diplomatic community are expected to attend Vincent C. Gray’s swearing-in as the District’s next mayor Sunday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, according to sources familiar with the planning for the inauguration. Holder, who met with Gray shortly after the Nov. 2 general election, will administer the oath to D.C. Council- Chairman-elect Kwame Brown (D), who will also be sworn in that day. Eric T. Washington, the chief judge of the Court of Appeals, is expected to swear in Gray, according to the sources, who asked for anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the preparations…. – WaPo, 12-31-10
  • Roberts Urges Obama and Senate to Fill Judicial Posts: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. called on President Obama and the Senate on Friday to solve what he called “the persistent problem of judicial vacancies.”
    “We do not comment on the merits of individual nominees,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote on Friday. “That is as it should be. The judiciary must respect the constitutional prerogatives of the president and Congress in the same way that the judiciary expects respect for its constitutional role.” But he identified what he called a systemic problem.
    “Each political party has found it easy to turn on a dime from decrying to defending the blocking of judicial nominations, depending on their changing political fortunes,” he said. The upshot, he said, was “acute difficulties for some judicial districts.”
    The chief justice noted that the Senate recently filled a number of vacancies. Including 19 recently confirmed judges, the Senate has confirmed 62 of Mr. Obama’s nominees. There are 96 federal court vacancies, according to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts…. – NYT, 12-31-10
  • Even Snow Has Politics: Some major East Coast cities are still struggling to recover from snowstorms that battered the region on Sunday and Monday. In New York, many streets remain unplowed and angry residents have criticized Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the city’s slow response. Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker has, meanwhile, been praised nationally for his personal handling of the blizzard. Host Michel Martin speaks with NPR Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving about the politics of snow…. – NPR, 12-30-10
  • Mississippi Gov “unethical” over jail release: surgeon: Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour acted unethically when he suspended a woman’s life sentence on condition she donate a kidney to her sister, a prominent transplant surgeon said on Thursday. Barbour agreed to free sisters Gladys and Jamie Scott, who have served 16 years of a double life sentence for an armed robbery in which nobody was hurt and $11 was stolen. The case has drawn national attention.
    A condition of Gladys Scott’s release is that she donate a kidney to her sister in an operation that should be performed urgently, Barbour said in a statement on Wednesday. She had agreed to be a donor for her sister, who requires dialysis. Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, is considering whether to run for president in 2012…. – Reuters, 12-30-10
  • Kidney parole condition raises ethical questions: A debate is unfolding over an unusual offer from Mississippi’s governor: He will free two sisters imprisoned for an armed robbery that netted $11, but one woman’s release requires her to donate her kidney to the other. The condition is alarming some experts, who have raised legal and ethical questions. Among them: If it turns out the sisters aren’t a good tissue match, does that mean the healthy one goes back to jail?
    Gov. Haley Barbour’s decision to suspend the life sentences of Jamie and Gladys Scott was applauded by civil rights organizations and the women’s attorney, who have long said the sentences were too harsh for the crime. The sisters are black, and their case has been a cause celebre in the state’s African-American community…. – AP, 12-30-10
  • Former Obama ‘car czar’ makes $10 mln graft payment: An investor once tapped as US President Barack Obama’s “car czar” has agreed to pay 10 million dollars to New York state after being accused of graft, officials said Thursday. US watchdogs accused Steven Rattner of participating in a widespread kickback scheme to get investments from the New York State Common Retirement Fund, the city’s biggest pension fund.
    “Mr. Rattner will pay 10,000,000 dollars in restitution to the State of New York and be banned from appearing in any capacity before any public pension fund within the State of New York for five years,” a statement from New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo said.
    Rattner had earlier agreed to settle similar charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission, by paying 6.2 million dollars, without admitting or denying guilt. On Thursday he expressed hope that a line had been drawn under the issue. “I am pleased to have reached a settlement with the New York Attorney General’s Office, which allows me to put this matter behind me.”… – AFP, 12-30-10
  • Christine O’Donnell: Why she’s no Sarah Palin: Christine O’Donnell, who faces allegations of improper use of campaign funds, seems to be cut from the same cloth as Sarah Palin. Where they may differ is the ability to withstand adversity…. – CS Monitor, 12-31-10
  • Some GOP stalwarts defend first lady’s anti-obesity campaign from Palin’s shots: Some Republicans watching the cluttered 2012 presidential field may have found an unlikely point of disagreement: the first lady and flab…. In a recent broadcast of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” the former governor, high school basketball player and avid runner prepared s’mores (ingredients: marshmallows, Hershey’s chocolate bars and graham crackers) and said the treat was “in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert.”
    In fact, the first lady has never suggested that sweets be banned from the dinner table, cafeteria or campground. She says she tells her daughters, Sasha and Malia, that “dessert is not a right” and that meals should be balanced with fruits and vegetables.
    In a recent interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham to promote her latest book, Palin again dismissed Obama’s anti-obesity effort as “some politician or politician’s wife’s priorities,” which amount to what she has in the past called a “nanny state run amok.” She told Ingraham that the first lady should “get off our back and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God- given rights to make our own decisions.” And, apparently, to make as many s’mores as they want.
    Palin’s criticism tracks closely with those of many other conservatives who have complained of government overreach and consider Obama’s initiative and the recently passed child nutrition law as intrusions into the school cafeteria…. – WaPo, 12-29-10
  • Hawaii’s governor wants to reveal Obama birth info: Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie wants to find a way to release more information about President Barack Obama’s Hawaii birth and dispel conspiracy theories that he was born elsewhere. Abercrombie was a friend of Obama’s parents and knew him as a child, and is deeply troubled by the effort to cast doubt on the president’s citizenship. The newly elected governor will ask the state attorney general’s office about what can be done to put an end to questions about Obama’s birth documentation from Aug. 4, 1961, spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said Tuesday.
    “He had a friendship with Mr. Obama’s parents, and so there is a personal issue at hand,” Dela Cruz said. “Is it going to be done immediately? No, the first thing on our list is the economy.” It’s unclear what Abercrombie could do because Hawaii’s privacy laws have long barred the release of a certified birth certificate to anyone who doesn’t have a tangible interest…. – AP, 12-28-10

111TH & 112TH CONGRESS

Incoming House Speaker John Boehner, center, and top Republicans must prove themselves in 2011.

  • Bipartisanship or Gridlock? Despite Breakthroughs, Lawmakers Face Rocky Session in 2011: With a divided Congress moving into Washington, President Obama’s New Year’s resolution might be to channel his inner uniter. Perhaps the White House will cool it on the John Boehner taunting and telling Republicans to “sit in back.” But no matter the president’s tone, civility and cooperation will be a heavy lift considering all the outstanding legislative fights lawmakers, new and old, are eager to wage. While the president and his allies deftly cleared away a massive tax-cut extension package, the Russian nuclear arms treaty and the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” at the end of the lame duck, that just made room for new disagreements. Political analysts say hopes for a new era of bipartisanship could yield to the more established Beltway tradition of gridlock.
    Here’s a sampling of the rumbles Americans can expect to see out of Washington in 2011…
    Health Care Post-Game…
    Out of Afghanistan?…
    Oversight Overload…
    Deficit Reduction vs. Stimulus and Jobs Creation…
    2012 Gamesmanship….
    Climate Regulation Backlash… – Fox News, 12-31-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • The Manchurian Candidate: When Barack Obama posted Jon Huntsman to Beijing, it looked like a crafty way to sideline a 2012 rival. Don’t bet on it.
    …Now, it appears, the ambassador is ready to make some noise of his own. Sitting in the echo-y living room of his new Washington home, Huntsman, a tall, lean man with silver hair and impeccable posture, pauses only briefly when faced with the question of presidential aspirations. “You know, I’m really focused on what we’re doing in our current position,” he says. “But we won’t do this forever, and I think we may have one final run left in our bones.” Asked whether he is prepared to rule out a run in 2012 (since it would require him to campaign against his current boss), he declines to comment.
    The winking response—about as close to a hat-in-ring announcement as you’ll get from a sitting member of the incumbent’s administration—could just be a hollow cry for attention. But sources close to Huntsman (who requested anonymity to speak freely without his permission) say that during his December trip to the U.S., he met with several former political advisers in Washington and Salt Lake City to discuss a potential campaign. “I’m not saying he’s running,” says one supporter who has worked with him in the past. “But we’re a fire squad; if he says the word, we can get things going fast.” What’s more, Huntsman tells NEWSWEEK that when he accepted the ambassadorial appointment, he promised his family they would “come up for air” sometime in 2010 to decide how much longer they would stay in Beijing. “I’m not announcing anything at all,” he says. But he sure seems to be hinting…. – Newsweek, 1-4-10
  • Ex-Senator Is Now the Only Black Hopeful in a Chicago Race: Danny K. Davis, a longtime United States representative, has dropped out of the race to become Chicago’s mayor, creating the situation that black leaders here had for months been clamoring for: a campaign that includes only one major African-American candidate.
    Carol Moseley Braun, a former senator, became that candidate this weekend, as Mr. Davis announced his plans to step aside and to support Ms. Braun. The Rev. James T. Meeks, the pastor of a large South Side church, quit his campaign about a week ago.
    Pressure to unite around one African-American candidate has been bubbling here for months, in part out of fear that the city’s black vote would be split — diminishing its influence and all but ensuring that a white candidate (like Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff) or a Latino candidate (like Gery Chico, a former board of education leader) might win on Feb. 22…. – NYT, 1-1-11
  • Braun left as main black candidate in Chicago race: Carol Moseley Braun, the first black woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate, has emerged as the sole prominent African American candidate in the Chicago mayor’s race after the withdrawal of U.S. Rep. Danny Davis. Davis’ decision, announced at a New Year’s Eve news conference, followed weeks of pressure from many African American leaders who believe that only a consensus black candidate can beat former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other prominent contenders in the race to replace retiring Mayor Richard Daley.
    And on Saturday morning, Davis and State Sen. James Meeks, who ended his own run for mayor days ago, appeared at a rally at the Rainbow Push Coalition with the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., his son, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., and U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush to drum up support for Braun.
    “We believe that our community needed to see some unity . . . they needed to see togetherness and we need one African American candidate for mayor of the city of Chicago.,” Meeks said to loud applause…. – AP, 1-1-11
  • Davis to drop out of mayor’s race, support Braun: source: U.S. Rep. Danny Davis is expected to drop out of the race for mayor of Chicago tonight and throw his support behind former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, a source said. Davis’ campaign would not confirm the dramatic development, but did acknowledge the congressman has scheduled a 7 p.m. news conference at his downtown office. Davis’ departure would clear the way for Braun to run as the only major African American candidate. Braun had been pressing her fund-raising advantage with Davis, releasing a list of black business leaders who have pledged to support her Friday. Braun’s campaign was apparently able to persuade Davis that she would be better able to compete financially with Rahm Emanuel…. – Chicago Sun_Times, 12-31-10
  • Miller says he’s ending legal fight, conceding Alaska election: Republican Joe Miller is ending his fight over Alaska’s Senate seat, conceding the race to his bitter rival, incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Miller’s decision, announced Friday at a news conference in Anchorage, comes one day after the state certified Murkowski as the winner. He had the option of appealing a federal judge’s ruling or lodging a formal contest to the election results. While he said he believes he is right about the law, he said it was “very unlikely” an appeals court would side with him and that he had to accept “practical realities.” Ultimately, Miller said, “the courts have spoken.”… – AP, 12-31-10
  • African-American leaders search for unity in mayoral race Davis, Braun meet with Jesse Jackson in an attempt to find the best black candidate for February election African-American leaders search for unity in mayoral race: U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun both insisted Thursday that they would keep running for Chicago mayor, despite renewed calls by black leaders to unite behind a single candidate who could improve the odds of an African-American winning the February election.
    The Rev. Jesse Jackson brokered a roughly four-hour meeting Wednesday night with Davis and Braun at his Rainbow PUSH headquarters that was also attended by several ministers, business leaders and politicians. Among them was U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, who is backing Braun, and state Sen. Rickey Hendon, who is backing Davis. Jackson said he talked with the candidates about who has the best chance in the election as well as where they stand on myriad issues facing the city, but neither Davis nor Braun budged.
    “They know it’s going to be difficult to get two candidates through the race. There will be two losers and no winner,” Jackson said. “It’s difficult to get one camel through the eye of the needle. It’s impossible to get two.”… – Chicago Tribune, 12-30-10
  • Bill Clinton urged not to pick sides in Chicago: Rep. Danny Davis has a message for former President Bill Clinton: Stay out of the Chicago mayor’s race. Davis, a Democrat, is one of many candidates seeking to succeed Richard Daley as mayor. But so is Rahm Emanuel, who worked for Clinton and, most recently, President Obama. Davis, one of the more prominent black candidates in the race, warned Clinton could risk damaging his relationship with African Americans if he takes sides in Chicago.
    “The African-American community has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the Clintons, however it appears as though some of that relationship may be fractured and perhaps even broken should former president Clinton come to town and participate overtly in efforts to thwart the legitimate political aspirations of Chicago’s black community,” Davis said in a statement…. – USA Today, 12-29-10
  • Alaska certifies Murkowski’s write-in Senate victory: The state of Alaska certified Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski’s victory over Tea Party favorite Joe Miller on Thursday, nearly three months after the incumbent won the race with an unconventional write-in campaign.
    The certification document was signed in the state capitol in Juneau by Governor Sean Parnell and Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, a spokeswoman for Parnell said. “It’s been certified. The governor signed the certificate and the lieutenant governor notarized it,” Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said. “From there it gets on a plane tonight with Gail.” Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai will carry it personally to the Secretary of the Senate, who must receive it by noon Monday, Leighow said. It will be hand-carried by a state employee to Washington, D.C. so that it can be delivered to the Secretary of the Senate by Monday, the deadline to ensure Murkowski is sworn in for the start of the new Congress…. – Reuters, 12-30-10
  • New governors scale back inaugural celebrations: In Georgia, between 4,000 and 5,000 people are expected to attend an invitation-only gala on Jan. 10, the day of Republican Nathan Deal’s inauguration. While at least a third of the nation’s 26 new governors are collecting sizable contributions from corporations and wealthy individuals to finance inaugural celebrations next month, some are scaling back plans or adding events that encourage community service.
    “It’s a sign of the times that governors, new governors especially, don’t want to appear ostentatious,” says Joe Heim, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. “Being frugal is more of the mode these days. The recession may be over with, but millions of people are out of work yet.”… – USA Today, 12-29-10
  • O’Donnell faces federal investigation: A top Delaware Republican confirms to POLITICO that former Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell is under federal investigation for allegedly misusing campaign funds. The Associated Press first reported Wednesday that O’Donnell was the target of a federal criminal probe, quoting an anonymous source.
    A spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware did not immediately return a call for comment, but a top state Republican said he was aware of the investigation, which likely centers around a complaint that was sparked by a Washington-based watchdog group and supported by top GOP officials in the state.
    “I was told by the state party chairman that the complaint he filed was alive and under investigation after the election,” said the GOP source.
    The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging O’Donnell used campaign contributions to pay her own personal expenses. Several of O’Donnell’s former campaign workers have also charged that the tea party favorite used donations to pay personal expenses, including rent for her home, which she argued doubled as campaign headquarters…. – Politico, 12-29-10

QUOTES

  • Weekly Address: Democrats and Republicans Have Shared Responsibility to Move America Forward Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House January 1, 2011:
    Hello, everybody. As we close the books on one year and begin another, I wanted to take a moment today to wish you a very Happy New Year and talk a little bit about the year that lies ahead.
    At the start of 2011, we’re still just emerging from a once-in-a-lifetime recession that’s taken a terrible toll on millions of families. We all have friends and neighbors trying to get their lives back on track.
    We are, however, riding a few months of economic news that suggests our recovery is gaining traction. And our most important task now is to keep that recovery going. As President, that’s my commitment to you: to do everything I can to make sure our economy is growing, creating jobs, and strengthening our middle class. That’s my resolution for the coming year.
    Still, even as we work to boost our economy in the short-term, it’s time to make some serious decisions about how to keep our economy strong, growing, and competitive in the long run. We have to look ahead – not just to this year, but to the next 10 years, and the next 20 years. Where will new innovations come from? How will we attract the companies of tomorrow to set up shop and create jobs in our communities? What will it take to get those jobs? What will it take to out-compete other countries around the world? What will it take to see the American Dream come true for our children and grandchildren?
    Our parents and grandparents asked themselves those questions. And because they had the courage to answer them, we’ve had the good fortune to grow up in the greatest nation on Earth.
    Now it’s our turn to think about the future. In a few days, a new Congress will form, with one house controlled by Democrats, and one house controlled by Republicans – who now have a shared responsibility to move this country forward. And here’s what I want you to know: I’m willing to work with anyone of either party who’s got a good idea and the commitment to see it through. And we should all expect you to hold us accountable for our progress or our failure to deliver.
    As I’ve said since I first ran for this office, solving our challenges won’t be quick or easy. We have come through a difficult decade; one of new threats and new trials we didn’t expect when it began. But a new year and a new decade stretch out before us. And if we just remember what America is capable of, and live up to that legacy, then I’m confident that we are poised for a period of progress – one in which our economy is growing, our standing in the world is rising, and we do what it takes to make sure America remains in the 21st century what it was in the 20th: the greatest country in the world.
    Thanks for listening. And Happy New Year. — WH, 1-1-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • O’Donnell angrily denies misusing campaign funds The ‘tea party’-backed Senate candidate from Delaware calls a federal inquiry a ‘thug-politic tactic.’: Christine O’Donnell, who was backed by the conservative “tea party” movement in her unsuccessful bid for a Senate seat from Delaware, denied Thursday that she had misused campaign funds, and she criticized opponents for pursuing a federal investigation into her spending.
    “There’s been no impermissible use of campaign funds whatsoever,” O’Donnell said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “You have to look at this whole thug-politic tactic for what it is.”
    Speaking on NBC’s “Today” show, O’Donnell was more explicit, castigating mainstream Republicans and Democrats. “This is part of the political apparatus who want to make sure that this anti-establishment movement is stopped in its tracks,” O’Donnell said. “They are trying to discredit me.”… – LAT, 12-30-10
  • Juan Williams: Palin not on same ‘intellectual stage’ as Obama: Fox News contributor Juan Williams said Sunday that Sarah Palin “can’t stand on the intellectual stage” with President Obama. Williams, in his role as an analyst on Fox News Sunday, was breaking down the Republican presidential field, which he saw as weak.
    “There’s nobody out there, except for Sarah Palin, who can absolutely dominate the stage, and she can’t stand on the intellectual stage with Obama,” Williams said…. – WaPo, 12-29-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Will Obama’s lame-duck dealmaking survive in the new year?: Even with the deep partisan divide, Obama and Congress worked together in the lame-duck session. But pressure on the president from the left and right will grow in the new year.
    President Obama and Congress proved during the lame-duck session that they can work together to resolve big and thorny issues, but that remarkable show of bipartisanship in all likelihood will be short-lived.
    The Democrats don’t own the House anymore, and their Senate majority is smaller. In securing the $858 billion tax-cut and unemployment-benefit package, Mr. Obama cashed in his one big bargaining chip with the Republicans: allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to continue even for the wealthiest taxpayers. He also infuriated his liberal base.
    “He doesn’t have much to bargain with come January,” says historian Julian Zelizer, at Princeton University…. – CS Monitor, 12-31-10
  • What Republicans have done — and what they need to do: After being left for dead in the wake of the 2008 election, Republicans staged a stunning comeback over the past year. Winning back the House and gaining a significant number of seats in the Senate in November gives them another stab at governing. The energized GOP, added to Americans’ discontent with the way the country is headed, played a large factor in the midterm election wins.
    “Almost nobody broke ranks, and they kept up their attacks on Democrats,” historian and CNN.com Opinion columnist Julian Zelizer wrote. “Republicans have remained united in their opposition to President Obama’s policies as well, charging that he has undertaken a socialistic experiment by expanding government and criticizing the administration for being left of center.”… – CNN, 12-30-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton Christie’s political snowpocalypse?: Large snowstorms create moments when many Americans want government to take charge. The need for public service becomes very clear to people of all income levels and social backgrounds. Everyone can get stuck in a snowstorm. When mayors and governors fail to tackle this kind of crisis it becomes a negative mark on their leadership record. To have juxtaposed images of the governor in sunny Disney World will make for some good ads come reelection time. – Politico Arena, 12-29-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton Lame-duck sessions the ‘new normal’?: The lame duck session was a win in that Obama received approval for unemployment benefits, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the ratification of START. But the victories came with a huge price tag — the extension of the Bush tax cuts which will vastly increase the size of the deficit and set up a difficult political environment in the coming year where Republicans will put Obama on the defensive. The deficit will allow the GOP to switch the agenda toward the politics of spending reduction and Social Security reform which will open up significant tensions within the Democratic Party…. – Politico Arena, 12-23-10
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