Political Highlights January 16, 2011: Looking Back, A Nation Heals after Giffords / Arizona Shootings, McCain v. Palin on Obama as Healer in Chief — Aftermath & Attempts at Bipartisanship

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

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 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Speaks at Richard Holbrooke's Memorial

STATS & POLLS

  • AP-GfK Poll: Raw feelings ease over health law: As lawmakers shaken by the shooting of a colleague return to the health care debate, an Associated Press-GfK poll finds raw feelings over President Barack Obama’s overhaul have subsided. Ahead of a vote on repeal in the GOP-led House this week, strong opposition to the law stands at 30 percent, close to the lowest level registered in AP-GfK surveys dating to September 2009. The nation is divided over the law, but the strength and intensity of the opposition appear diminished. The law expands coverage to more than 30 million uninsured, and would require, for the first time, that most people in the United States carry health insurance. The poll finds that 40 percent of those surveyed said they support the law, while 41 percent oppose it. Just after the November congressional elections, opposition stood at 47 percent and support was 38 percent. As for repeal, only about one in four say they want to do away with the law completely. Among Republicans support for repeal has dropped sharply, from 61 percent after the elections to 49 percent now. Also, 43 percent say they want the law changed so it does more to re-engineer the health care system. Fewer than one in five say it should be left as it is…. – AP, 1-16-11
  • Obama’s Approval Rating Rises to 48 Percent in Quinnipiac Opinion Poll: President Barack Obama’s approval rating has climbed to 48 percent, the highest figure since the 50 percent recorded in October 2009, a Quinnipiac University poll shows. The percentage of voters who support Obama’s job performance rose 4 percentage points from the previous Quinnipiac poll in November, taken shortly after that month’s midterm elections. Registered voters in the new survey split almost evenly, 47 percent to 45 percent, on whether Obama’s presidency is a success or failure as the president reaches the midpoint of his term…. – Bloomberg, 1-13-11
  • AP-GfK Poll: Obama, GOP improve their standing: Americans give higher marks to President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans after a holiday season of compromise paid dividends for both, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll. At the start of the divided government era, the survey found that 53 percent of Americans approve of how Obama is doing his job, his best numbers since the divisive health care vote 10 months ago. And, compared with just after the November elections, more now express confidence that Obama and the new Republican-controlled House can work together to solve the country’s most urgent problems, chief among them the struggling economy…. – AP, 1-12-11
  • Poll: Emanuel expands lead in Chicago: Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has a double-digit lead in a new poll for Chicago mayor. Emanuel leads former U.S. senator Carol Moseley Braun, 42%-26%, in a survey commissioned by the Chicago Teamsters. Emanuel led with 36% in the Teamsters’ November poll. Voters in the Windy City go to the polls on Feb. 22 to pick a successor to Richard M. Daley, Chicago’s longest- serving mayor…. – USA Today, 1-11-11
  • Poll: Huckabee most liked, Palin best known: Republicans with an eye on the White House have some work to do on improving their image and recognition by voters. A new Gallup Poll shows Mike Huckabee is the most liked and Sarah Palin is the best known in the crowded field of potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates. Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and winner of the 2008 Iowa GOP caucuses, has a net favorable rating of 30% among Republicans and is recognized by 87%. Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, comes in fourth in favorability (22%) but is recognized by 95%…. – USA Today, 1-10-11

GABRIELLE GIFFORDS: SHOOTING IN TUCSON, ARIZONA

  • Arizona shooting: a week of agonizing, arguing, praying, investigating: US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, targeted in last week’s Arizona shooting, continues to improve; a Tucson Safeway store reopens; and investigators work to build their case against Jared Loughner. A week has passed since America – and Tucson, Ariz., in particular – was horrified, revolted, and grieved by a mass shooting at a congresswoman’s routine event with constituents outside a Safeway supermarket. In that time President Obama has three times spoken to the nation, in a bid to comfort and unite. In that time three of the six people killed in the shooting have been laid to rest. In that time the Safeway has reopened, with store spokeswoman Cathy Kloos on Saturday noting employees’ desire to “reconnect with their customers” and affirming, “We’re doing OK.” The initial round of castigation – liberals and conservatives feuding over who’s more at fault for a climate of political “vitriol” and whether that played into the tragedy – has subsided. Lawmakers in Congress are considering whether Republicans and Democrats ought to intermingle in the audience at the upcoming State of the Union address, in a gesture of comity. Doctors say Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D), the apparent target of the attack, continues to improve after being shot in the head and is off a ventilator, raising hopes for her recovery, and 10 of the 13 wounded have been released from the hospital. Things will never be the same, especially for families who lost loved ones. But for many they are starting to be manageable, if still not explainable…. – CS Monitor, 1-15-11
  • Senator: Giffords moving both sides of her body, breathing on her own: U.S.Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who remains in critical condition after a shooting at a January 8 public event, is moving both sides of her body and is able to breathe on her own, a fellow member of Congress said Sunday. “She’s doing great,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York and a friend of the Arizona congresswoman, on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” Gillibrand said she spoke to Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly, on Saturday night and that Giffords is “making progress every day.” Gillibrand told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Giffords is moving both sides of her body and is “showing people that she can communicate well by, you know, holding our hands and moving her arms and legs and looking at us. So she’s making great progress.”… – CNN, 1-16-11
  • Who had the Worst Week in Washington? Sarah Palin: In moments of crisis, great politicians rise to the occasion. Bad ones tend to fall flat. Sarah Palin learned that the hard way this past week, when a statement she released hoping to quell the controversy that surrounded her after the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) only helped create a new and even larger controversy. At issue was a map that Palin’s political team published during the 2010 campaign. It had cross hairs on 20 Democratic districts – including Giffords’s – that Palin was targeting as politically vulnerable. In the aftermath of the Jan. 8 shootings, many on the left unfairly blamed Palin for somehow inciting the gunman. (The details that have emerged since last Saturday suggest that the suspect, Jared Loughner, was deeply troubled and without any coherent political philosophy.) Palin, rightly, felt aggrieved. But her 1,141-word statement issued via Facebook not only cast her as a victim (not good), but also used the phrase “blood libel,” a loaded term with deep anti-Semitic roots (double not good). Palin’s folly was exacerbated by the speech that President Obama delivered Wednesday night, a stirring address that made the former Alaska governor’s words seem small and self-interested by comparison…. – WaPo, 1-16-11
  • McCain, Palin Appear to Be Split on Obama Senator Says Obama Is a Patriot While Former Governor Believes President Trying to Weaken US: There appears to be a serious difference opinion at the top of the 2008 Republican ticket, with John McCain and Sarah Palin split on the issue of President Obama. Much has been written about turmoil and infighting during that campaign. But the conflict now has nothing to do with politics in 2008, and everything to do with the direction of the Republican Party in 2011. One says the president actively wants to help America, the other, actively hurt it. In Sunday’s Washington Post, Sen. McCain wrote an Op-Ed lavishing praise on President Obama for his speech Wednesday night in Tucson. “President Obama gave a terrific speech Wednesday night,” the senator wrote, “[he] “comforted and inspired the country.” And in notably gracious language, McCain added, “”I disagree with many of the president’s policies, but I believe he is a patriot sincerely intent on using his time in office to advance our country’s cause.” Read that carefully. He called President Obama a “patriot” who wants to “advance our country’s cause.” Now contrast those words to language used by former Gov. Palin a little more than a week ago, when she said the President was, “Hell-bent on weakening America.” That statement came during an interview on Laura Ingraham’s radio show that has drifted into that background a bit because of the discussion about the Arizona shootings, not to mention “cross-hairs’ and “blood libel.” Palin used that notably strong language the day before the Arizona shootings in a discussion with Ingraham on raising the national debt ceiling, which she opposes, and the White House currently supports. Palin told Ingraham that by supporting raising the debt ceiling, “what Obama is doing–purposefully weakening America.”… – ABC News, 1-16-11
  • After Tucson, a thaw between Obama and McCain?: Could the long-icy relationship between President Obama and his 2008 presidential opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), be thawing? McCain took a significant step toward reconciling with the president in a graceful op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post. If that article marks a genuine fresh beginning, it would be one positive thing to come out of the horrific shooting spree in Tucson eight days ago. McCain and Obama will never be comrades in arms. They have too much history, too much mutual ill will and too many philosophical differences for that. In the two years since McCain went down in defeat against Obama, the tension between them has been evident in almost every public setting in which they’ve appeared. But in praising the president’s speech at Wednesday’s memorial service in Tucson, McCain has reached out to Obama with an open hand. Not since his gracious concession speech on the night of the election has McCain spoken so generously of his rival. Obama should not let the opportunity pass to reach out to McCain in return…. – WaPo, 1-15-11
  • The Suddenly Quiet McCain: As politicians across the spectrum weigh in on the Arizona shooting, the state’s senior senator has been surprisingly silent…. – Newsweek, 1-15-11
  • For Giffords, Tucson Roots Shaped Views: Gabrielle Giffords grew up in an old house filled with old things at the edge of a city being remade by the new. While strip malls and subdivisions were rising everywhere else, her rambling brick residence was surrounded by 18 arid acres of cactuses and mesquite trees and decorated with Mexican art and Southwestern relics. When she gave up her big-city dreams in New York to come home and run her family’s tire business, she passed on a new condominium or house in the suburbs, instead moving into an adobe duplex in an old neighborhood with shade trees, where crime might be higher but people knew who lived down the street. And when Ms. Giffords, now a congresswoman, married an astronaut years later, she borrowed her Vera Wang wedding dress, served dinner on plates made of biodegradable sugar cane, had a cook make tortillas on the spot and invited fellow lawmakers to the working farm where she said her vows…. – NYT, 1-14-11
  • Arizona shooting victim arrested after threat: One of the Arizona shooting victims was arrested Saturday and then taken for a psychiatric evaluation after authorities said he took a picture of a tea party leader at televised town hall meeting and yelled: “you’re dead.” James Eric Fuller, 63, objected to something Trent Humphries said during the forum taped for a special edition of ABC’s “This Week” with Christiane Amanpour, Pima County sheriff’s spokesman Jason Ogan said. Fuller was in the front row and apparently became upset when Humphries suggested that any conversations about gun control should be delayed until all the dead were buried, KGUN-TV in Tucson reported. Fuller was arrested on misdemeanor disorderly conduct and threat charges, Ogan said. While Fuller was being escorted out, deputies decided he needed a mental health evaluation and he was taken to a hospital, where he remained Saturday evening…. – AP, 1-15-11

REMEMBERING RICHARD HOLBROOKE

  • Richard Holbrooke’s Lonely Mission: The late diplomat never lost his passion for peacemaking, but it turned out that some of his toughest adversaries were on his own side…. – Newsweek, 1-16-11
  • A Leading Diplomat Is Remembered With Affection and Humor: There are not many people who can pack a Kennedy Center hall with 1,100 people — including five world leaders — and not only personally know just about every single one of them, but have all of them believe that they have a personal relationship with him. On Friday afternoon, Richard C. Holbrooke appeared to do just that. His memorial service drew an array of the world’s brightest diplomatic lights. There was President Obama, sitting next to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who sat next to her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who sat next to the former secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, who sat two seats down from Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They all came to pay homage to the man who, in the words of Mr. Obama, was “the leading light of a generation of American diplomats who came of age in Vietnam.” It was perhaps Mr. Obama’s misfortune that he, of the 14 people who spoke, knew Mr. Holbrooke the least. As Mr. Obama’s larger-than-life envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mr. Holbrooke and Mr. Obama had only two years together before Mr. Holbrooke died last month of an aortic tear. So Mr. Obama could not sprinkle his remarks with the personal remembrances offered by speakers like Mr. Clinton (“He wanted to interview me to see if I was qualified to be president.”) or Mrs. Clinton (when he wanted something, “he would follow me onto a stage when I was making a speech, into my hotel room, into a ladies’ room — in Pakistan”)…. – NYT, 1-15-11
  • Holbrooke Eulogized by Obama as ‘Leading Light’ of U.S. Diplomatic Efforts: President Barack Obama eulogized the late Richard Holbrooke as a “leading light” of U.S. diplomacy whose career formed a chronicle of American foreign policy. Holbrooke, who died Dec. 13 at the age of 69, was at the center of U.S. foreign affairs from the war against the communists in Vietnam to the fight against the Taliban and al- Qaeda in Afghanistan. “He was the leading light of a generation of American diplomats who came of age in Vietnam,” Obama said. It was a generation that came to know the tragic limits and awesome possibilities of American power.” Obama was among the dignitaries who gathered for a memorial service for Holbrooke, special U.S. envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, at Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Those in attendance included former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari and Vice President Joe Biden, who just returned from a trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq…. – Bloomberg, 1-14-11
  • Richard C. Holbrooke, 1941-2010 Strong American Voice in Diplomacy and Crisis: Richard C. Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2009 and a diplomatic troubleshooter who worked for every Democratic president since the late 1960s and oversaw the negotiations that ended the war in Bosnia, died Monday evening in Washington. He was 69 and lived in Manhattan. His death was confirmed by an Obama administration official. Mr. Holbrooke was hospitalized on Friday afternoon after becoming ill while meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in her Washington office. Doctors found a tear to his aorta, and he underwent a 21-hour operation. Mr. Holbrooke had additional surgery on Sunday and remained in very critical condition until his death. Mr. Holbrooke’s signal accomplishment in a distinguished career that involved diplomacy in Asia, Europe and the Middle East was his role as chief architect of the 1995 Dayton peace accords, which ended the war in Bosnia. It was a coup preceded and followed by his peacekeeping missions to the tinderbox of ethnic, religious and regional conflicts that was formerly Yugoslavia. More recently, Mr. Holbrooke wrestled with the stunning complexity of Afghanistan and Pakistan: how to bring stability to the region while fighting a resurgent Taliban and coping with corrupt governments, rigged elections, fragile economies, a rampant narcotics trade, nuclear weapons in Pakistan, and the presence of Al Qaeda, and presumably Osama bin Laden, in the wild tribal borderlands…. – NYT, 12-14-11

THE HEADLINES….

The President & First Lady after his remarks in Tucson

  • Obama may face new kind of crowd at State of the Union: It’s starting to sound like President Obama will be speaking to a different kind of audience at this month’s State of the Union, and there will be less of a pep rally atmosphere. Two prominent senators from different parties — Democrat Charles Schumer of New York and Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma — said today that they will sit together during Obama’s annual address, and hope that congressional colleagues will follow suit. “We hope that many others will follow us,” Schumer said today on NBC’s Meet The Press. “Now that’s symbolic, but maybe it just sets a tone and everything gets a little bit more civil.” Obama’s nationally televised address will be the night of Jan. 25. Other lawmakers have also expressed interest in mixing party members during the speech in a show of national unity in the wake of the Arizona shooting. The idea was proposed by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Col0. Coburn, who appeared with Schumer on Meet The Press, said, “Chuck and I have been able to work on multiple bills, because we sit down, one on one, and work things out. And what we need to do is have more of that, not less of it.” Traditionally, Republicans sit on one side of the chamber and Democrats on the other during the annual address. In recent years, that arrangement has produced alternate standing ovations from each side of the chamber, depending on the nature of the proposals being made and the party of the president making them…. – USA Today, 1-16-11
  • Obama, Republicans plan more civil health care debate: Things return more to normal in Washington this week, include a long-awaited House vote to repeal President Obama’s health care bill– though the tone of the discussion is likely to be different in the wake of the Arizona shooting. “I think you’ll see a more civil debate than you would have had otherwise,” said U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., today on CBS’ Face The Nation. Flake added that “I’m not sure the substance of the debate will change that much,” and that the Republican-run House probably has the votes to repeal the bill that it says will increase health care costs and compromise medical care. It’s likely to a symbolic move — members of the Democratic-run Senate said they will not take up the measure, and Obama would veto it in any case…. – USA Today, 1-16-11
  • Pawlenty opposes raising federal debt ceiling: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2012, says he opposes raising the nation’s debt ceiling and is urging Republicans in Congress to do the same. Pawlenty says lawmakers should take action that prevents the government from defaulting on its obligations, then have a debate over what spending should be reduced…. – AP, 1-16-11
  • Obama’s education focus faces big hurdles: Signs of trouble are arising for President Barack Obama’s plan to put education overhaul at the forefront of his agenda as he adjusts to the new reality of a divided government. Giving students and teachers more flexibility is an idea with bipartisan support. Yet the debate about the overdue renewal of the nation’s chief education law, known as No Child Left Behind, is complicated by political pressures from the coming 2012 presidential campaign and disputes over timing, money and scope of the update. While education might offer the best chance for the White House to work with newly empowered Republicans, any consensus could fade in the pitiless political crosscurrents, leaving the debate for another day, perhaps even another presidency…. – AP, 1-16-11
  • G.O.P. Elects a New Chairman as Steele Drops Out: The Republican National Committee selected a new leader on Friday, with its choice, Reince Priebus of Wisconsin, surviving seven contentious rounds of balloting to overtake Michael Steele, the embattled chairman, as party officials demanded new leadership to fortify the party for the 2012 presidential race. Mr. Priebus, who broke away from Mr. Steele’s close circle of advisers to run against him, said he would work to rebuild the trust of major contributors who had lost faith in the party and begin preparing to challenge President Obama. He pledged to heal any divisions among Republican constituencies. “We all recognize that there’s a steep hill ahead of us,” Mr. Priebus said, delivering his first remarks as party chairman. “The only way we’ll be able to move forward is if we’re all together.” NYT, 1-14-11
  • G.O.P. Leader’s Promise: Humility and Hard Work: For Reince Priebus, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, politics has long been more than simply a hobby. It provided the entertainment for the first date with his wife. More than a decade ago, when Representatives Henry J. Hyde of Illinois and James F. Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin were delivering keynote speeches at a Lincoln Day Dinner in Kenosha, Wis., Mr. Priebus reserved two tickets and turned the event into part of his courtship. “I know. Nerd alert,” Mr. Priebus said in an interview a few hours after he was elected on Friday to lead the national Republican Party. His voice was filled with self-deprecation as he recalled the moment. “But we went to a movie after that.” Humility was a key selling point for Mr. Priebus as he embarked on a two-month campaign to overthrow Michael Steele, the controversial party chairman, and begin the challenging task of rebuilding a committee that is more than $21 million in debt and competing for relevance in an age when the political establishment is no longer the most popular place to be…. – NYT, 1-15-11
  • New chairman targets GOP team setting up 2012 national convention in Tampa: There’s a new Republican National Chairman in office, and he’s about to clean house on the team putting together the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa. Responding to complaints about excessive spending by the RNC’s convention team, newly elected chairman Reince Priebus told Republican U.S. House members in a closed door meeting Saturday that he was going to replace the RNC’s convention team in Tampa Bay with his own team, Politico reported Saturday. The RNC has about a half dozen staffers working on the convention out of donated office space in downtown Tampa, but the work has drawn considerable criticism and helped fuel opposition to former RNC chairman Michael Steele. For instance, he hired his former assistant, Belinda Cook, for $15,000-per-month, and she spent thousands of dollars renting a 3,200 square foot waterfront Treasure Island home…. – St Petersburg Times, 1-15-11
  • Reince Priebus replaces Michael Steele as GOP chairman: The Republican National Committee selected Reince Priebus as its new chairman, replacing Michael Steele, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland. Steele’s two-year tenure was marked by high spending, financial debt and verbal gaffes. Priebus won late Friday afternoon after seven rounds of balloting. He received 97 votes out 168 ballots cast. Steele, the party’s first African-American chairman, sought a second term, but conceded midafternoon. “I think the party is ready for something different,” Steele said. Priebus is the Wisconsin GOP chairman and a former general counsel for the RNC…. – USA Today, 1-14-11
  • Reince Priebus: “We Can Defeat Barack Obama in 2012”: The Republican Party will face significant challenges in the 2012 election cycle: A geared-up Democratic electorate excited to see President Obama back on the ballot, a rowdy and somewhat unpredictable Tea Party base, funds flowing through multiple outside organizations. On top of all that, the Republican National Committee must deal with its splintered membership and more than $20 million in debt. New RNC Chairman Reince Priebus today acknowledged as much after his fellow committee members chose him to put him at the helm of the organization. “We recognize that the Democrats have taken this country on the wrong path, and it isn’t going to be easy or glamorous, but together we must lead,” he said. Priebus, a 38-year-old lawyer who served as chairman of the Wisconsin GOP, said he plans to keep his head down and get to work. That means restructuring the RNC’s financial operation, hiring a top-notch staff, improving the lines of communication with state parties and — perhaps most importantly — restoring the faith of the party’s donors. “Together we can defeat Barack Obama in 2012, together, unified as a committee,” Priebus said…. – CBS News, 1-14-11
  • Michael Steele’s many blunders led to defeat in RNC chair reelection campaign: Republicans emerged from a 2008 electoral drubbing not only lacking a telegenic spokesman for the party but virtually any major officials who were not white, a major void after the election of the nation’s first black president. Michael Steele seemed like the right man at the right time: an African-American Republican who loved going on television. But instead of turning into a solution for the GOP, critics say Steele blundered so many times in his first few months as chairman of the Republican National Committee that party officials openly considered replacing him well before the first quarter of his two-year tenure had ended. Republicans completed the dumping of Steele on Friday, voting out the party’s first-ever black chairman…. – WaPo, 1-14-11
  • Outgoing Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele’s 10 best gaffes: Embattled Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele abandoned his re-election bid Friday after four rounds of balloting left him far short of a second term. Steele, who just finished his first two-year term in the job, dropped out as four other hopefuls competed to become his successor. Steele, 52, urged his backers to give their support to GOP operative Maria Cino, who worked in George W. Bush’s administration, but Reince Priebus, the head of the Wisconsin Republican Party, ultimately was elected after seven rounds of voting. The GOP’s first black chairman received a standing ovation from the party regulars after pulling out of the race. His spotty two-year reign included huge victories by the GOP in the November elections, but for many, Steele is known more for his verbal gaffes than his electoral accomplishments…. – NY Daily News, 1-14-11
  • Dewey Clayton Professor of Political Science, University of Louisville: Michael Steele’s legacy will be a mixed one. On the one hand, Steele first and foremost will be remembered as the first African-American to be elected as chairman of the RNC. Secondly, it was under Steele’s stewardship that Republicans gained the majority in the House in 2010. Many saw Steele’s election as an effort by the Republican Party to reach out to African-American voters and portray an image of being open to all and not as an exclusive party. To that end, two black Republicans were elected to Congress in 2010. They will be the first black Republicans in Congress since J.C. Watts of Oklahoma retired in 2003. And they are also the first black Republicans in the House since Reconstruction. Unfortunately, much of the attention that Steele received during his tenure was negative. He was criticized for often acting too independently, people questioned some of his paid speaking engagements, and there were issues of excessive spending. I think the controversy surrounding Steele may have caused many Republican donors to scale back their contributions to the RNC. Because of this, his lack of fundraising will be a lasting legacy. It’s hard to say whether Steele did more harm than good. He was a charismatic leader and some of the controversy during his tenure was not really his fault. I think that ultimately, he did more good than harm and the Republicans did gain the majority in the House under his leadership. The next chairman, assuming that Steele does not win another term, should probably maintain a lower profile and concentrate on improving the level of fundraising.. – Politico Arena, 1-14-11
  • Bruce Reed: Another Clinton centrist joins Obama White House: Bruce Reed will be Vice President Biden’s new chief of staff. He was a senior aide to President Clinton and a leader in centrist Democratic policy circles. Does this bode ill for liberals’ agenda? The Obama White House is beginning to look like a reunion of the Clinton administration. On Friday, Vice President Joe Biden announced that Bruce Reed will be his new chief of staff. Though not a household name, Mr. Reed is well known in Washington for his role as a senior aide to President Bill Clinton and for his continued leadership in centrist policy circles. He recently served as executive director of President Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission, and since 2001 has been chief executive officer of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. “I’ve known and admired Bruce for over 20 years,” said Mr. Biden in a statement. “We worked closely together to pass the crime bill in the 1990s, and I’ve frequently sought his advice and counsel in the years since.” CS Monitor, 1-14-11
  • In Seoul, Gates Reaffirms American Support for South Korea: Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met with President Lee Myung-bak and South Korea’s defense minister here on Friday as South Korea and the United States again declared solidarity against North Korean aggression. In comments to reporters at the start of a meeting with the defense minister, Kim Kwan-jin, Mr. Gates reiterated that the United States was concerned that “North Korea’s continued belligerence and repeated provocations” had raised tensions on the Korean Peninsula…. – NYT, 1-14-11
  • Miss. Gov. Barbour to speak at House GOP retreat: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who’s contemplating a 2012 presidential run, will be dispensing political advice to congressional Republicans this weekend during their private retreat in Baltimore. Barbour spokesman Dan Turner said the governor flew Thursday from Mississippi to the nation’s capital. “He’s got kind of a mixture of meetings in Washington,” said Turner, adding that some meetings are for state business and some are for politics. Barbour and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are among the potential presidential candidates speaking during congressional Republicans’ three-day retreat. Turner said the governor is skipping the Republican National Committee meeting Friday in Washington, where a new chairman is being chosen…. – WaPo, 1-13-11
  • Economy facing headwinds, but Bernanke hopeful: Jobless claims hit a 10-week high last week while producer prices shot up in December, pointing to headwinds for an economy that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said was showing fresh vigor…. – Reuters, 1-13-11
  • Ariz. GOP official quits in wake of Giffords shooting, says he received threats, feared for life: A prominent Republican in Arizona resigned in the wake of Saturday’s shooting, saying that threats from Tea Party members had him fearing for his life. Anthony Miller, the chairman of Arizona Legislative District 20 and the only black Republican to hold a chairmanship in the state, was reelected to a second one-year term last month. He said he was stepping down due to constant verbal threats against him and his family from people with Tea Party ties, The Arizona Republic reported. “I wasn’t going to resign, but decided to quit after what happened Saturday,” Miller told paper. “I love the Republican Party, but I don’t want to take a bullet for anyone.”…. – NY Daily News, 1-13-11
  • Obama Administration Reverses a Mountaintop Removal Permit: In nearly four decades since the Clean Water Act was passed, the Environmental Protection Agency has never vetoed any mining permit retroactively. That changed this morning. Word is just coming down via Coal Tattoo that the Obama administration EPA has just vetoed the largest single mountaintop removal permit in West Virginia history. The permit was initially awarded during the previous very fossil-friendly Bush administration, after a fractious decades-long court battle. By retracting the Clean Water Air permit for Arch Coal’s 2,300-acre mine proposed for the Blair area of Logan County, West Virginia, the EPA is effectively suspending most major activity…. – Reuters, 1-13-11
  • Obama to deliver State of the Union address on Jan. 25: ‘We welcome an opportunity to hear your proposals,’ House Speaker John Boehner says in his formal invitation to President Obama to deliver the State of the Union address. The new GOP majority in the House and the Tucson shooting are expected to add drama to the speech…. – LAT, 1-12-11
  • Joe Biden tells Afghans the U.S. is there for them, even beyond 2014: Vice President Joe Biden backs away from his earlier promise that, no matter what, the U.S. would be ‘totally out’ of Afghanistan by 2014. LAT, 1-12-11
  • Man arrested after threats to Rep. Jim McDermott: ‘I’ll kill his family’: FBI agents arrest a California man who called Rep. Jim McDermott’s Seattle office in December and left two threatening messages linked to the Democrat’s stand on extending the Bush tax cuts…. – CS Monitor, 1-12-11
  • US could take Sudan off state terror list by July: Sudan could be removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism as early as July if Khartoum recognizes the results of the referendum on independence for the south, a US official said Tuesday. “Should the referendum be carried out successfully and the results are recognized by the government, President Obama would indicate his intention to begin the process of removing them,” Princeton Lyman, the lead US negotiator with Sudan, told AFP. “It is a process that takes some time, but by beginning the process in the wake of the referendum, the hope is if they meet all the conditions it can be done by July,” Lyman said. The referendum is widely expected to lead to mainly Christian and animist southern Sudan seceding from the predominantly Muslim north of the country. Results are expected around the end of the month, US officials said…. – AFP, 1-11-11
  • Assange Lawyers See U.S. Extradition ‘Risk’: If WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is extradited to Sweden to face a sexual-assault investigation, there is a “real risk” the U.S. would seek to extradite him from there, Mr. Assange’s lawyers argued in documents published Tuesday. The attorneys cited a risk the U.S. could detain Mr. Assange at Guantanamo Bay or subject him to the death penalty. A U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawyers’ document or on the likelihood of Mr. Assange being charged with a crime in the U.S. The Obama administration has said it is trying to close Guantanamo Bay. Mr. Assange’s lawyers didn’t say in their document which charges they believe the U.S. might levy that could lead to the death penalty for Mr. Assange, who is a citizen of Australia…. – WSJ, 1-11-11
  • DeLay Sentenced to 3 Years in Money Laundering Case: Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader, was sentenced to three years in prison on Monday after convictions for money laundering and conspiracy stemming from his role in a scheme to channel corporate contributions to Texas state races in 2002. Mr. DeLay, once one of the most powerful and polemical Republican congressmen in the state’s history, was ushered out of Travis County Court after the sentencing and was taken by sheriff’s deputies to the county jail, where he was expected to post a $10,000 bond and be released pending an appeal. After listening to Mr. DeLay say he felt he had done nothing wrong, Judge Pat Priest sentenced him to three years in prison for the conspiracy count and 10 years’ probation for the money laundering count. The judge rejected arguments from Mr. DeLay that the trial had been a politically motivated vendetta mounted by an overzealous Democratic District Attorney. “Before there were Republicans and Democrats, there was America, and what America is about is the rule of law,” the judge said just before pronouncing the sentence…. – NYT, 1-10-11
  • Supreme Court declines to rein in Congress’ regulatory powers: The justices reject a constitutional challenge to a law that makes it a federal crime for a felon to have body armor or a bulletproof vest. The case involves the same point of law that is at the heart of pending legal battles over the healthcare law. The Supreme Court gave a strong hint Monday that the justices are not anxious to rein in Congress’ broad power to pass regulatory laws under the Constitution’s commerce clause, the key point of dispute in the pending court battles over President Obama’s health insurance law. By a 7-2 vote, the justices turned down a constitutional challenge to a 2002 law that makes it a federal crime for a felon to have body armor or a bulletproof vest. The law came in response to several shootouts involving police, including a bank robbery in North Hollywood where the robbers came equipped in body armor. But the dispute in the Supreme Court concerned only whether Congress had the power to enact a law regulating the possession of a product — in this instance, body armor. An appeal filed on behalf of Cedrick Alderman, a Seattle man, argued that the possession of a bulletproof vest had nothing to do with interstate commerce and, therefore, was beyond Congress’ power…. – LAT, 1-10-11
  • Supreme Court: Did it just hint at stance on a health-care law challenge?: The Supreme Court refused to take up a case examining Congress’s authority under the commerce clause, a key issue in a legal challenge to Obama’s health-care law. Two justices dissented…. – CS Monitor, 1-10-11
  • Colo. man accused of threatening Sen. Bennet staff: A Colorado man is accused of threatening to set fire around Sen. Michael Bennet’s office and shoot members of his staff, prompting authorities to step up patrols around the senator’s home and office. John Troy Davis, 44, faces a charge of assault on a federal employee. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The alleged threat happened two days before six people died in Saturday’s shootings at a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, Ariz., where U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was meeting constituents. A federal judge, a congressional aide and a young girl were among the six killed, while Giffords and 13 others were wounded… – AP, 1-10-11
  • Former Capitol Hill Aide, Wife of White House Staffer Found in Burned Car Ashley Turton Was Found Dead in Burning Car in Southeast Washington: Ashley Turton, a former aide to Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and the wife of White House staff member Dan Turton, was found dead this morning in her burned-out car in the garage of her home in Southeast Washington, D.C. Turton, a mother of 3-year-old twins and a 1-year-old, worked as a lobbyist for Progress Energy… – WaPo, 1-11-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • Schumer Pushes for Military to Report Applicants’ Drug Use to Prevent Gun Purchases: If someone admits to a federal official that he’s used illegal drugs, that information should be sent to the FBI so that person can be disqualified from purchasing a gun, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday…. – Fox News, 1-16-11
  • House panel will probe health overhaul, gas curbs: President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, new rules overseeing the Internet and administration plans to curb gas emissions will be scrutinized in congressional hearings, the Republican chairman of a House subcommittee said Friday. The announcement by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., was the latest signal from GOP leaders that they will use their control of the House over the next two years to aggressively pick through administration actions in a broad range of areas. Republicans are hoping to help their business allies and blunt some Obama initiatives while providing fodder for next year’s presidential and congressional elections. “My priority will be on job creation and removing government barriers to economic growth,” Stearns said in a written statement…. – AP, 1-14-11
  • House set to vote on healthcare repeal: The U.S. House of Representatives will resume action next week on repealing President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare overhaul, a House Republican spokesman said on Thursday. The House had been expected to act this week on the repeal bill, but the vote was postponed after a shooting spree in Arizona killed six people and critically wounded U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. “As the White House noted, it is important for Congress to get back to work, and to that end we will resume thoughtful consideration of the health care bill next week,” said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. “Americans have legitimate concerns about the cost of the new healthcare law and its effect on the ability to grow jobs in our country,” he added. The vote is set for Wednesday, said another Republican aide who asked not to be identified…. – Reuters, 1-13-11
  • Kay Bailey Hutchison Won’t Seek Reelection: Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas announced Thursday that she will not seek reelection in 2012. “When my current term is up, I will have served Texas for 19 years in the United States Senate,” she said in a statement. “I intended to leave this office long before now, but I was persuaded to continue in order to avoid disadvantage to our state. The last two years have been particularly difficult, especially for my family, but I felt it would be wrong to leave the Senate during such a critical period.” Hutchison, who took office in 1993, vowed to continue to “fight the massive spending that has increased our national debt; the government takeover of our health care system; and the growth of the federal bureaucracy, which threatens our economy” until her term ends next year. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Communications Director Eric Schultz: “We look forward to running a competitive race in Texas as the Lone Star state is now one of several Democratic pick-up opportunities next November.” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called Hutchison “a trusted advisor and friend, a senator who always serves Texas first.” “Fortunately, she’s not leaving soon,” he said in a statement. “While I’m confident she’ll continue to be a powerful advocate for her state and nation over the next two years, the Senate will miss her strength and energy when she leaves.” CBS News, 1-13-11
  • No cut in U.S. funds for Lebanon, but more scrutiny: Lebanon’s political turmoil will not trigger an immediate cut in U.S. aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces but will likely sharpen U.S. Congressional scrutiny of how the money is used, analysts said on Wednesday…. – Reuters, 1-12-11
  • House tribute to Giffords: ‘Violence cannot silence’: House Speaker John Boehner has formally introduced a resolution paying tribute to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that “condemns in the strongest possible terms” the Arizona shooting spree that left her gravely wounded and six others dead. The four-page resolution is simply written, with sections honoring Giffords, each of the deceased, the wounded, and people such as Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez and event attendee Patricia Maisch who tried to save lives and apprehend the shooter. The resolution offers the condolences of the House and reaffirms the belief of lawmakers “in a democracy in which all can participate and in which intimidation and threats of violence cannot silence the voices of any American.” The first of the deceased recognized in the “whereas” clauses is Christina-Taylor Green, the youngest of those slain. The 9-year-old girl and her life story have captured the nation’s attention. As the House resolution states, Christina was at Giffords’ “Congress on your Corner” event on Saturday because she had “an avid interest in government.” Boehner will gavel the House to order on Wednesday and then open four to six hours of debate on the resolution. A bipartisan prayer service honoring Giffords and the Arizona shooting victims will be held at 1 p.m. ET…. – USA Today, 1-11-11
  • House Resolution Honors Heroes, Victims of Tucson Tragedy: 112TH CONGRESS 1ST SESSION H. RES. ___ Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8, 2011. IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Mr. BOEHNER submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on lll RESOLUTION Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8, 2011. Whereas on January 8, 2011, an armed gunman opened fire at a “Congress on your Corner” event hosted by Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, killing and wounding at least 14 others…. – ABC, 1-11-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • Mayoral candidates debate for first time Four major candidates face each other before Chicago Tribune editorial board: The four major candidates for Chicago mayor debated each other for the first time at a forum before the Tribune editorial board Friday. Here are excerpts from their exchanges…. – Chicago Tribune, 1-15-11
  • Former President Bill Clinton to Stump for Rahm Emanuel Next Week: Former president Bill Clinton will campaign for Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel at a rally next Tuesday, according to a campaign spokesperson. Emanuel served as a senior advisor to Clinton at the White House from 1993 to 1998. Clinton will speak at a rally at the Chicago Cultural Center, 77. E. Randolph St., on January 18 at 11 a.m. The event is open to the public. Tickets are available at chicagoforrahm.com/clinton – Fox Chicago, 1-13-11
  • Emanuel Not Tied to New Political Group: Aide: Mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel has not injected himself in the City Council races but could get involved at some point in the campaign, his spokesman said Thursday. But campaign aide Ben LaBolt said Emanuel has no involvement in a new political action committee created by his former political aide to help candidates for council. “Rahm does not plan to endorse City Council candidates, though we are not ruling out dedicating resources to candidates who share his vision for the city,” LaBolt told the Chicago News Cooperative. He added that Emanuel is taking the same wait-and-see approach to the other two city-wide races, for treasurer and clerk…. – Chicago News Cooperative, 1-13-11
  • Barbour pushes for Mississippi civil rights museum: Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour drew mixed reactions from analysts on Wednesday for his decision to push for a civil rights museum for his state ahead of a possible presidential bid. Barbour urged the state’s legislature during an annual address to build the $50 million museum in a state that became notorious during the 1950s and 1960s for violent enforcement of racial segregation and opposition to civil and voting rights. Barbour, the chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, says he is mulling a bid to be his party’s nominee in 2012 where he would likely face President Barack Obama vying for a second term in the White House. “I urge you to move this museum forward as an appropriate way to do justice to the Civil Rights Movement and to stand as a monument of remembrance and reconciliation,” Barbour said in the speech late on Tuesday. “The civil rights struggle is an important part of our history, and millions of people are interested in learning more about it. People from around the world would flock to see the museum and learn about the movement,” he said…. – Reuters, 1-12-11
  • >Bill to abolish death penalty awaits Ill. governor: More than a decade after Illinois put all executions on hold, a bill to abolish the death penalty altogether awaits only the governor’s signature. But Pat Quinn’s approval is hardly assured. While he says he supports capital punishment when properly applied, he has not yet indicated whether he will sign the proposal, despite intense pressure from fellow Democrats. “I think it’s important, given the importance of this measure, that people from all over Illinois express their opinions,” Quinn said Wednesday, a day after lawmakers sent the historic bill to his desk. “I’m happy to listen and reflect, and I’ll follow my conscience.” And as he listens, the world watches…. – AP, 1-12-11
  • Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget plan at a glance: Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday proposed $12.5 billion in cuts to a wide range of state programs and $12 billion in revenue, partly from an extension of tax increases, to close California’s budget deficit. Here are some of his proposals…. _ Total spending, including special funds and bond payments, is $127.4 billion for the 2011-12 fiscal year, slightly ahead of the current total spending of $125.2 billion. _ General fund spending is $84.6 billion, slightly less than the $86.5 billion adopted for the current fiscal year. _ The deficit is $8.2 billion in the current fiscal year and $17.2 billion in the fiscal year that begins July 1…. – AP, 1-10-11

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • The GOP Wildcard, The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza wants to upend the race for the 2012 Republican nomination: Any day now, one of the many Republican worthies who long to be president will make an announcement, everyone else will follow in rapid succession, and the 2012 presidential campaign will officially be under way. Feels like it is already, doesn’t it? And has been for eons? Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney never stopped running. Newt Gingrich has been running since the ’90s. The rest of the field is likely to include Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, and the list only gets duller from there—none could be accused of inciting a crowd. Are we doomed to a dull campaign? Not if the Hermanator has his way. If you don’t attend Tea Party rallies or listen to political talk radio, the name Herman Cain may not register. Cain intends to rectify that. He’s planning to seek the GOP nomination, so he’s spreading his blustery, relentlessly upbeat right-wing social and economic message, which can be heard weeknights from 7 to 10 on WSB in Atlanta. Cain is so exuberantly confident of his message that he has upgraded its status: he bestows upon audiences not speeches or talking points but “The Hermanator Experience.” He’s even trademarked the phrase…. – The Atlantic, 1-13-11
  • Herman Cain inches closer to presidential run: Atlanta businessman and conservative activist Herman Cain announced Wednesday he was launching a presidential exploratory committee, bringing him one step closer to a bid for the GOP nomination in 2012. “We are now going to test the waters for voter support and financial support,” Cain told Fox News’ Mario Cavuto Wednesday afternoon. The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO confirmed his plans to Condace Pressley, assistant program director at 750 AM and now 95.5 FM News Talk WSB, where he hosts a nightly talk show. On that show Wednesday, he said he is considering a run for office to “make this a better world” for his three grandchildren. He said the White House needs a president “that will listen to the people first” and who is “a problem solver… that’s what I’ve done my entire business career.” He said the “American dream is under attack” by excessive legislation, regulation and taxation…. – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1-2-11
  • Priebus leads Steele in race for GOP chairman: The election for chairman of the Republican National Committee is on Friday and some of the focus is on front-runner Reince Priebus, a lawyer and chairman of the Wisconsin GOP. In the latest whip count, Priebus has the committed support of 38 RNC members — more than a third of the way toward the 85 votes needed to win — according to a tally by National Journal’s Hotline. He’s followed by incumbent chairman Michael Steele with 17 commitments. The chairmanship is crucial as Republicans try to defeat President Obama, win control of the Senate and keep their majority in the House…. – USA Today, 1-11-11
  • Can Tim Pawlenty light a fire with Republicans?: Can Tim Pawlenty light a fire with Republicans?… Pawlenty criticizes Palin’s crosshairs map… Right Turn: Tim Pawlenty’s Reagan-esque agenda… Pawlenty’s book pushes blue-collar appeal Even his adversaries say they can’t help but like former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who left office on Jan. 1 and is on a book tour, the next step in a campaign for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination that he has been quietly running for more than a year. But there is one thing that gets a rise out of Pawlenty, and that is to suggest that he lacks a certain . . . pizazz. “Compared to who?” Pawlenty retorted in an interview. “I’ll concede that Sarah Palin is in a league of her own, and a force of nature. As to most of the rest in the field? If you get to know me, I don’t think that’s an accurate rap. I mean, you think about all the other people running. With the possible exception of Mike Huckabee, and Palin, there aren’t exactly a bunch of Lady Gagas.”… – WaPo, 1-11-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address

  • Weekly Address: “Before We are Democrats or Republicans, We are Americans”: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery The White House January 15, 2011: It’s been one week since tragedy visited Tucson, Arizona. We properly spent much of the week mourning the victims and remembering their lives. We also discovered stories that serve to lift us up – stories of heroism and bravery, of courage and community – stories that remind us that we are one American family, 300 million strong. One of the places we saw that sense of community on display was on the floor of Congress, where Gabby Giffords, who inspires us with her recovery, is deeply missed by her colleagues. One by one, Representatives from all parts of the country and all points of view rose in common cause to honor Gabby and the other victims, and to reflect on our shared hopes for this country. As shrill and discordant as our politics can be at times, it was a moment that reminded us of who we really are – and how much we depend on one another. While we can’t escape our grief for those we’ve lost, we carry on now, mindful of those truths. We carry on because we have to. After all, this is still a time of great challenges for us to solve. We’ve got to grow jobs faster, and forge a stronger, more competitive economy. We’ve got to shore up our budget, and bring down our deficits. We’ve got to keep our people safe, and see to it that the American Dream remains vibrant and alive for our children and grandchildren. These are challenges I believe we can meet. And I believe we can do it in a way worthy of those who sent us here to serve. So as business resumes, I look forward to working together in that same spirit of common cause with members of Congress from both parties – because before we are Democrats or Republicans, we are Americans. And as we perform the work of this nation, my prayer is that we stay true to our words, and turn to those examples of heroism, and courage, and perseverance, to bring out the better in all of us…. – WH, 1-15-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Honoring Holbrooke: “Because We Could Make a Difference…”: To Kati, Anthony, David and Elizabeth, to all the friends and admirers of Richard, we come together to celebrate an extraordinary life. In 1999, at the height of the crisis in Kosovo, Richard gave an interview in which he addressed the question of why the United States was engaged in bringing peace to that war-torn corner of the world. Why bother? His answer was simple: “Because we could make a difference.” Because we could make a difference. That is the story of American leadership in the world. And that is also the story of Richard Holbrooke. He made a difference…. The list of places he served and the things he did reads as a chronicle of American foreign policy. Speaking truth to power from the Mekong Delta to the Paris peace talks. Paving the way to our normalization of relations with China. Serving as ambassador in a newly unified Germany. Bringing peace to the Balkans. Strengthening our relationship with the United Nations. And working to advance peace and progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan…. He understood American power, in all its complexity, and believed that when it is applied with purpose and principle, it can tip the scales of history. And that coupling of realism and idealism, which has always represented what is best in American foreign policy, that was at the heart of his work in Bosnia, where he negotiated and cajoled and threatened all at once, until peace was the only outcome possible…. Richard is gone now, but we carry with us his thirst to know, to grasp, and to heal the world around him. – WH, 1-14-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Memorial Service for Richard C. Holbrooke Remarks Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State The Kennedy Center Washington, DC January 14, 2011: Well, I am last because my office is on the 7th floor which is as close to heaven as you can get, so I end the program by being and bringing you with me to be as close to Richard as we can be. I’m very, very moved by the outpouring of love and admiration and respect that has been sent to me on behalf of our country from so many places across the world. And in this audience this afternoon are so many who have worked with Richard in the past and were working with him today. If we had time, each and every one of you would have you own stories. … There are few people in any time, but certainly in our time, who can say, I stopped a war. I made peace. I saved lives. I helped countries heal. Richard Holbrooke did these things. He believed that great men and women could change history. And he did. He wanted to be a great man so he could change history. He was, and he did. His time with us ended far too soon. And yet he lived enough for 10 lives. So while we mourn, we have reason for joy – joy for the life that Richard lived, joy that we were able to be part of it – that we went along for the ride…. – State.gov, 1-14-11
  • John McCain: After the shootings, Obama reminds the nation of the golden rule: President Obama gave a terrific speech Wednesday night. He movingly mourned and honored the victims of Saturday’s senseless atrocity outside Tucson, comforted and inspired the country, and encouraged those of us who have the privilege of serving America. He encouraged every American who participates in our political debates – whether we are on the left or right or in the media – to aspire to a more generous appreciation of one another and a more modest one of ourselves. The president appropriately disputed the injurious suggestion that some participants in our political debates were responsible for a depraved man’s inhumanity. He asked us all to conduct ourselves in those debates in a manner that would not disillusion an innocent child’s hopeful patriotism. I agree wholeheartedly with these sentiments. We should respect the sincerity of the convictions that enliven our debates but also the mutual purpose that we and all preceding generations of Americans serve: a better country; stronger, more prosperous and just than the one we inherited…. – WaPo, 1-14-11
  • SHMULEY BOTEACH: Sarah Palin Is Right About ‘Blood Libel’ Judaism rejects the idea of collective responsibility for murder: The term “blood libel”—which Sarah Palin invoked this week to describe the suggestions by journalists and politicians that conservative figures like herself are responsible for last weekend’s shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz.—is fraught with perilous meaning in Jewish history. The term connotes the earliest accusations that Jews killed Jesus and enthusiastically embraced responsibility for his murder, telling Pontius Pilate, “His blood be upon us and our children” (Matthew 27:25). Thus was born the legend of Jewish bloodlust and of Hebrew ritual use of Christian blood for sacramental purposes. The term was later used more specifically to describe accusations against Jews—primarily in Europe—of sacrificing kidnapped Christian children to use their blood in the baking of Passover matzos…. How unfortunate that some have chosen to compound a national tragedy by politicizing the murder of six innocent lives and the attempted assassination of a congresswoman. To be sure, America should embrace civil political discourse for its own sake, and no political faction should engage in demonizing rhetoric. But promoting this high principle by simultaneously violating it and engaging in a blood libel against innocent parties is both irresponsible and immoral. – WSJ, 1-14-11
  • President Obama in Tucson: “The Forces that Divide Us are Not as Strong as Those that Unite Us”: Last night the President spoke to an emotional crowd at a memorial event in Tucson, Arizona. The grief for the victims of the tragic shooting there was overwhelming, but so too was the admiration for the heroes who risked their lives to prevent even greater loss, as well as the hope for the survivors to see full recoveries. The President asked those in the hall and across America to channel their emotions toward the pursuit of a more perfect union, saying that “If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate — as it should — let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost.”… – WH, 1-13-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Text Obama’s Remarks in Tucson: Following is a text of President Obama’s prepared address on Wednesday to honor those killed and wounded in a shooting on Jan. 8, as released by the White House…. But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds. Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, “when I looked for light, then came darkness.” Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath. For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind. So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future…. That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions – that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires. For those who were harmed, those who were killed – they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong. We may not have known them personally, but we surely see ourselves in them. In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. Phyllis – she’s our mom or grandma; Gabe our brother or son. In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America’s fidelity to the law. In Gabby, we see a reflection of our public spiritedness, that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union. And in Christina…in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic. So deserving of our love. And so deserving of our good example. If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle…. – NYT, 1-12-11
  • Sarah Palin: America’s Enduring Strength: ….The last election was all about taking responsibility for our country’s future. President Obama and I may not agree on everything, but I know he would join me in affirming the health of our democratic process. Two years ago his party was victorious. Last November, the other party won. In both elections the will of the American people was heard, and the peaceful transition of power proved yet again the enduring strength of our Republic. Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible. There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure…. – Sarah Palin on Facebook, 1-12-11Video

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Gil Troy: America’s search for civility It’s time to return to the notion of ‘malice toward none’ and ‘charity for all’: The tragic Arizona rampage that critically injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six citizens, including 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who wanted to see “how our government works,” has triggered the predictable recitations about America’s long history of political violence -without any evidence that this was a political crime. That vast numbers of shocked observers immediately concluded that the gunman’s lunatic actions were in some way linked to the present fervid red-blue debate in the United States speaks volumes about the overheated rhetoric that has come to characterize much of America’s political discourse in recent years. But political civility has an equally long and robust U.S. pedigree. We should appreciate the coalition-builders, not the partisans; the statesmen, not the demagogues; the magnanimous uniters, not the cranky dividers. In matters political, the big broad tent with stakes driven deep into America’s rich soil is more constructive and more lasting than partisan lean-tos tilting left or right…. – Montreal Gazette, 1-13-11
  • Historian Douglas Brinkley says Tucson will be a place in ‘history like a Selma or Birmingham in the 1960s’: As the shock wanes from the aftermath of Saturday’s Tucson tragedy, how might this event be remembered historically? According to noted historian Douglas Brinkley, a fellow at the Baker Institute and a professor of history at Rice University, it will rank up there with one of the bloodiest times in U.S. history, the Civil Rights Era in Alabama, including the September 15, 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham and the March 7, 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma. “Well you know Tucson now is one of these places people are going to talk about in history like a Selma or Birmingham in the 1960s,” Brinkley said. “It seems like a war zone spot and if you go to Selma or Birmingham today, they cope with that past. They have museums and memorials. This is the beginning of the healing for that community of Tucson and it’s very significant that President Obama’s coming, and hugging people, talking to people – making them know he feels the pain of the entire community and the nation.”… – The Daily Caller, 1-13-11
  • Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton: The health care will not be an inevitable problem for Romney. He can also position himself as the Republican who tackled health care, but did it the “right” way. In this political world it won’t be hard for him to claim there are major differences between what he did and what the president did. Romney also offers some pluses for the GOP — he has been in the business world, he is very intelligent and he looks like a president. Moreover, he can claim to be a Republican who has a chance to win moderate and independent votes. It would be a mistake for Republican challengers to dismiss him. – Politico Arena, 1-14-11
  • Douglas Brinkley: A Country of Guns: Assassination Throughout History: It’s sad that this is on the rise now, and I do think we need to ask these questions: Do our congresspeople and federal judges need better protection than we’re giving them, in a world where semi-automatic weapons and guns with scopes are just so easy to acquire?… – — The Daily Caller, 1-11-11, Mp3
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1 Comment

  1. michellefrommadison

     /  January 16, 2011

    We can only hope and pray she makes a recovery so that Justice can be rendered against her. Had it not been for the negligent actions by Giffords in not having adequate security present after having had substantiated threats documented, she is responsible to the deaths and the injuries to so many of those victims imo.

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