Political Highlights January 24, 2011: Obama & the State of the Union — Chinese President Visits White House — House Votes to Repeal Health Care Bill

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:

STATS & POLLS

  • Who is Obama? Pragmatism makes him tough to define: A socialist? A steady hand? A sellout? Halfway through his first term — or only term, if Republicans can eject him in the 2012 elections — President Obama’s leadership style has made him something of a political enigma. His health care law ushered in the most sweeping social legislation since the 1960s, but he abandoned the government-sponsored coverage he embraced during his campaign. His tax-cut compromise with Republicans to extend unemployment benefits and provide relief to the middle class discarded a key campaign promise to roll back Bush-era tax cuts for top earners. His Wall Street bailouts alienated some of the Main Street workers he said he was trying to help. His soaring rhetoric from the campaign often dried up during debates on health care and jobs, but it re-emerged powerfully this month as he honored the victims of the mass shooting in Tucson.
    Two years into his presidency, who is Barack Obama? Ronald Reagan stood firm for limited government and against communism. Bill Clinton stayed focused on the economy. George W. Bush launched a post-9/11 war on terrorism. Obama’s political North Star is harder to define…. – USA Today, 1-18-11
  • Obama’s job approval rebounds in latest polls, but can it last?: The latest polls show Obama’s job approval back up to 50 percent. His response to Tucson and the bills passed by the lame-duck Congress are credited, but the economy remains a challenge.
    On the second anniversary of his inauguration – and days before his State of the Union address next Tuesday – President Obama is on the rebound with the American public. A slew of major polls now show Mr. Obama with more public approval than disapproval of his job performance, many of them putting him over the 50 percent mark. A survey of the latest polls by RealClearPolitics shows Obama averaging 50 percent approval versus 45 percent disapproval. The last time the positive outweighed the negative was in July. The last time that gap was at least 5 percentage points was a year ago…. – CS Monitor, 1-20-11
  • President Obama’s approval rating surges at midpoint of term: Several polls note a rise in public approval for Obama. The bump comes after his Tucson shooting speech and a productive lame-duck congressional session.
    The same polling shows that although new Speaker of the House John Boehner is getting favorable reviews early on, Americans don’t expect that much from the new Congress.
    A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released Wednesday night showed Obama’s job-approval rating at 53%, an eight-point jump from mid-December and his highest rating since July 2009. Surveys from CNN/Opinion Research and ABC News/Washington Post also put Obama’s approval rating above the 50% threshold.
    An aggregation of polling data by Real Clear Politics shows Obama with a net approval rating of 5%, a jump of 8% from mid-December and at the highest level since January 2010…. – LAT, 1-20-11
  • Poll shows high marks for Obama on Tucson, low regard for political dialogue: Evaluations of President Obama’s handling of the Jan. 8 tragedy are highly positive across the political spectrum, with nearly eight in 10 giving him high marks for his response to the incident. A robust 71 percent of Republicans say they approve of his leadership following the shootings.
    The strong reviews of the president’s response to the Arizona incident – which included giving a prime-time eulogy at a memorial service for the victims – have helped boost Obama’s overall approval rating to its highest point since last April. Fully 54 percent of all Americans now approve of the way he is handling his job as president, while 43 percent disapprove…. – WaPo, 1-17-11

2011 STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

The President gives the 2010 State of the Union Address
  • State of the Union – NYT
  • The State of the Union and You: On Tuesday, January 25, at 9 p.m. EST, President Obama will deliver the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol. We have been working on a number of ways citizens can get involved in the State of the Union and ask their questions of President Obama and senior Administration officials. You can find all the details on the brand new State of the Union page.
    Here’s the lineup of events next week. Be sure to tune in to watch the speech live at 9 p.m. on Tuesday and find a way get involved.
    Tuesday at 9 PM: Live Stream of the State of the Union Watch the live stream of the State of the Union Address on WhiteHouse.gov.
    Tuesday Immediately After the Speech: Open for Questions Immediately following the State of the Union Address, stay tuned for a live Open For Questions event where Senior White House officials will answer your questions about key issues addressed in the speech live from the White House…. – WH, 1-21-11
  • Obama’s speech will expose partisan divide on spending: President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech will emphasize “winning the future” for America by strengthening the nation’s ability to compete in a changing world, according to White House talking points provided Monday by a Democratic source. Tuesday night’s annual speech to Congress, a nationally televised event considered the president’s biggest address of the year, brings together the three branches of government for an assessment of where America stands and where it is heading.
    “The president will lay out a plan to win the future by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world,” said the White House talking points. “He will talk about the need to take responsibility for our deficits, by investing only in what makes America stronger and cutting what doesn’t, and reforming our government so that it’s leaner and smarter for the 21st century.”… – CNN, 1-24-11
  • State of the Union: It’s the economy, again: Standing before a nation clamoring for jobs, President Barack Obama will call for targeted spending to boost the economy but also for budget cutting in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, his first in a new era of divided political power.
    To a television audience in the tens of millions, Obama will home in on jobs, the issue of most importance to the public and to his hopes for a second term. Though war and other concerns bid for attention, the president has chosen to lean heavily on the economy, with far less emphasis on Afghanistan and Iraq, terrorism and foreign affairs.
    Specifically, Obama will focus on improving the education, innovation and infrastructure of the United States as the way to provide a sounder economic base. He will pair that with calls to reduce the government’s debt — now topping a staggering $14 trillion — and reforming government. Those five areas will frame the speech, with sprinklings of fresh proposals.
    Yet no matter how ambitious Obama’s rhetorical reach, his speech at the halfway point of his term will be viewed in the context of his new political reality…. – AP, 1-24-11
  • Obama to Press Centrist Agenda in His Address: President Obama will outline an agenda for “winning the future” in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, striking a theme of national unity and renewal as he stresses the need for government spending in key areas and an attack on the budget deficit.
    “My No. 1 focus,” he said, “is going to be making sure that we are competitive, and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future.”
    “These are big challenges that are in front of us,” Mr. Obama also said in the video, sent to members of Organizing for America, his network of supporters from the 2008 campaign. “But we’re up to it, as long as we come together as a people — Republicans, Democrats, independents — as long as we focus on what binds us together as a people, as long as we’re willing to find common ground even as we’re having some very vigorous debates.”… –
    NYT, 1-23-11
  • Tensions rise between Supreme Court, politicians: The moment lasted about 20 seconds. But its political reverberations have endured for a year and exemplify today’s knotty confluence of law, politics and public perception.
    At last year’s State of the Union speech Jan. 27, with six Supreme Court justices in attendance, President Obama denounced a recent campaign-finance ruling, saying it reversed a century of precedent and warning that it would “open the floodgates” for corporate spending on elections. Justice Samuel Alito shook his head and mouthed “not true.” That tense moment has been viewed on youtube.com more than 650,000 times in the past year. It was singularly controversial but not the only headline-grabbing interaction between members of the political branches and the Supreme Court in the past twelve months.
    A series of events, most recently Justice Antonin Scalia’s acceptance of an invitation to speak to Tea Party members, has made clear that against the backdrop of an increasingly polarized Washington and the 24-hour media frenzy, interactions between justices and the two elected branches have become more politicized…. – USA Today, 1-24-11
  • State of Union Near, Republicans Draw Line on Spending: Congressional Republicans, seeking to recapture the debate over the country’s economic recovery in advance of President Obama’s State of the Union address, warned Sunday that they would oppose any new spending initiatives and press ahead with their plans for budget cuts in every realm of government, including the military…. – NYT, 1-23-11
  • State of the Union speech to focus on jobs: Obama: President Barack Obama said on Saturday he would use his annual State of the Union address to urge both parties to act to lift U.S. growth and create more jobs.
    “My number one focus is going to be making sure that we are competitive, that we are growing, and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future,” he said in a video e-mailed to members of his Organizing for America grassroots movement.
    Obama’s speech on Tuesday to a joint session of the U.S. Congress will show how he plans to rise above the political gridlock that marked his first two years in the White House, shaping his 2012 re-election prospects…. – Reuters, 1-22-10
  • Obama touts U.S. innovation in State of the Union preview: In his weekly address, Obama hails American economic potential and efforts to ‘win the future.’ In their response, Republicans focus on the repeal of the healthcare overhaul law.
    President Obama hailed the economic potential of increased American exports and green technology Saturday, previewing themes expected to be at the heart of his second State of the Union address Tuesday night. In his weekly address, Obama referred to Wednesday’s state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao and his own trip to a General Electric plant in New York on Friday as examples of how innovation and opening new overseas markets to American products will help “win the future.”
    “Countries around the world are upping their game and giving their workers and companies every advantage possible. But that shouldn’t discourage us,” he said. “We just have to make sure we’re doing everything we can to unlock the productivity of American workers, unleash the ingenuity of American businesses, and harness the dynamism of America’s economy.”
    Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, a doctor, pressed the Democrats who still control the Senate to bring a repeal bill up for a vote in the chamber. “We are now one step closer to victory in the fight for a healthcare policy that puts Americans first — not Washington,” he said. “Our job won’t be done until we repeal and replace this bad law.”… – LAT, 1-22-10
  • A ‘state of the union’ fight ahead over US government spending: How furiously to cut government spending is likely to be a major point of departure between Obama, who gives the State of the Union address on Tuesday, and congressional Republicans…. – CS Monitor, 1-22-10
  • Obama’s economic agenda: Boost US competitiveness: Under pressure to energize the economy, President Barack Obama will put job creation and American competitiveness at the center of his State of the Union address, promoting spending on education and research while pledging to trim the nation’s soaring debt.
    Obama hopes this framework will woo Republicans as he searches for success in a divided Congress and will sway a wary private sector to hire and spend money it’s held back. The economy is on firmer footing than when he took office two years ago, and his emphasis on competitiveness signals a shift from policies geared toward short-term stabilization to ones with steady and long-term growth in mind.
    Obama will speak to a Congress shaken by the attempted assassination of one of their own. Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head two weeks ago during an event in her district in Tucson, Ariz.
    The president has appealed for more civility in politics, and in a nod to that ideal, some Democrats and Republicans will break with tradition and sit alongside each other in the House chamber Tuesday night during a joint session of Congress…. – AP, 1-22-10
  • In this year’s State of Union, seating could blur party lines: Flash-forward now to the Congress of today, the Era of I-Hate-Your-Guts-And-Want-To-Rip-Your-Lungs-Out-You- Unpatriotic-Jerk. Weary of a climate that has grown so toxic that Congress should earmark money for a political Hazmat team, some lawmakers have a solution. When President Barack Obama comes to Capitol Hill Tuesday night to deliver the State of Union speech to a joint session of Congress, Democrats and Republicans should sit together, not in opposing camps of red and blue. The opposing camps idea has been the tradition since 1913, when Woodrow Wilson became the first president since Thomas Jefferson to personally deliver the annual speech to Congress…. – Miami Herald, 1-21-11
  • Obama’s Tuesday speech to stress economy, civility: President Barack Obama, midway through his term and mindful of positioning himself for next year’s re-election campaign, will use the annual State of the Union address Tuesday night to recast himself to voters and regain the confidence of centrists and independents. Expect the economy to serve as the major focus of the speech, both short-term job creation and his plans for long- term stability, with a secondary theme being a call for civility and compromise.
    “The great majority of the speech will be on the steps that the president believes our country has to take to continue that economic recovery,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs…. – Miami Herald, 1-21-11
  • GOP taps Paul Ryan to give rebuttal to Obama’s speech: House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a rising Republican star who’s stirred controversy with his approach to budget-cutting, will give the GOP response Tuesday to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. The choice is aimed at showcasing the commitment of Republicans, who earlier this month took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in four years, to deficit reduction.
    Previous Republican responses to Obama’s State of the Union addresses were given by governors, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Bob McDonnell of Virginia.
    Ryan, 39, a seventh-term Wisconsin Republican, is known for his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” a plan for reducing federal budget deficits that includes permitting younger workers the option of setting aside Social Security tax payments for “personal retirement accounts.”
    In addition, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., a favorite of the tea party movement, will deliver a separate reaction to Obama’s speech on behalf of the Tea Party Express, one of the movement’s largest groups. The broadcast, following Obama and Ryan, will be broadcast on live streaming video at http://www.TeaPartyExpress.org or at http://www.TeaPartyHD.com…. – Miami Herald, 1-21-11
  • Scenarios: Possible themes in Obama’s State of Union speech: President Barack Obama faces a new political reality when he gives his State of the Union address on Tuesday: greater Republican power in Congress that will hamper his ability to make sweeping policy proposals. So the president, a Democrat, will make an even greater attempt to highlight areas of common ground with the opposition party on areas that are priorities for both sides such as boosting the economy and reducing the deficit. Here are a few potential areas he may touch upon…. – Reuters, 1-21-11

REMEBERING SARGENT SHRIVER: PEACE CORPS FOUNDER, DIES AT 95

https://i1.wp.com/multimedia.heraldinteractive.com/images/20110118/7dae46_Shriv_01192011.jpg
  • R. Sargent Shriver has died: Robert Sargent Shriver, the former Peace Corps director and vice-presidential nominee, has passed away.
  • Sargent Shriver, former Peace Corps director, Dies — NYT Slideshow
  • Sargent Shriver eulogized at funeral Mass in Maryland: Maria Shriver, the former NBC reporter and wife of former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said her family took comfort in ‘knowing that Daddy is in heaven with God and with Mummy.’… – LAT, 1-22-10
  • Sargent Shriver remembered at star-studded funeral: Maria Shriver and husband Arnold Schwarzenegger helped carry the casket of Sargent Shriver today at a funeral mass at Our Lady of Mercy Parish, the Shriver family’s church in Potomac, Md. President Bill Clinton, First lady Michelle Obama, U2’s Bono and Oprah Winfrey attended the funeral. Others on the guest list included Muhammad Ali, Clint Eastwood and congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, reports AP. Wyclef Jean played piano and sang All the Ends of the Earth as guests including the Shriver family clapped along. Later, Vanessa Williams sang Soon and Very Soon.
    At a wake held for Shriver on Friday, some of Washington’s most notable figures extended condolences to the family. Shriver, the husband of Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, died Tuesday at age 95…. – USA Today, 1-22-

Smiling at the Life of R. Sargent Shriver at His Funeral Mass

  • R. Sargent Shriver remembered for heritage, hugs: R. Sargent Shriver was honored Saturday as much for his passion for helping others as his loving hugs and enjoyment of baseball. Shriver, who fulfilled his brother-in-law John F. Kennedy’s campaign promise by starting the Peace Corps, developed the aid organization into an international force. Philanthropists and politicians who have worked to help others through charities were among hundreds honoring Shriver at a funeral Mass at Our Lady of Mercy Parish, the Shriver family’s church in Potomac, Md.
    Former President Bill Clinton, first lady Michelle Obama, U2 frontman Bono and singer Wyclef Jean were among those in attendance, along with members of the Kennedy and Shriver families.
    One by one, some of Shriver’s 19 grandchildren read short remembrances about their grandfather, recalling his passion for helping people, his hugs and his love of baseball.
    Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington told Shriver’s grandchildren to live with the same courage and fortitude of Shriver and his late wife, Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Wuerl spoke of Shriver’s legacy and belief that the world could be filled with peace, compassion and love. “Ask your parents to tell you stories. Read what your grandfather has written,” Wuerl said. “When you think of him, rejoice in the heritage he has given you.”… – AP, 1-22-10

  • Sargent Shriver’s family, veterans of social programs honor his life at wake: On Friday, Koskin was among hundreds who stood in a long but fast-moving line outside Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown to pay tribute to R. Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps. Shriver died Jan. 18 at age 95. Koskin met Shriver a couple of times and has fond memories. “I’m here to celebrate a man who was an extraordinary role model for anyone who values what a just and civilized society should be,” said Koskin, an Arlington County resident who works in the Treasury Department’s inspector general’s office. “If you go to the Peace Corps building, his spirit is very much alive. You feel an incredible optimism for what is possible. Anyone who ever worked in that building comes away with an intolerance for the word ‘No.’ ” Mourners included dowagers in full-length fur coats, Special Olympians, civil servants and young college students who said Shriver inspired them to aim for a life in public service. Former Peace Corps volunteers, who formed the largest contingent at Friday’s wake, said they carried their idealism into middle age. A funeral Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac. Cardinal Donald Wuerl will deliver the homily…. – Washington Post, 1-21-11
  • R. Sargent Shriver, Peace Corps Leader, Dies at 95: R. Sargent Shriver, the Kennedy in-law who became the founding director of the Peace Corps, the architect of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty, a United States ambassador to France and the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1972, died on Tuesday in Bethesda, Md. He was 95. Mr. Shriver was found to have Alzheimer’s disease in 2003 and on Sunday was admitted to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, where he died. He had been in hospice care in recent months after his estate in Potomac, Md., was sold last year.
    White-haired and elegantly attired, he attended the inauguration of his son-in-law, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the Republican governor of California in the fall of 2003. Mr. Schwarzenegger is married to Maria Shriver, a former NBC News correspondent. But in recent years, as his condition deteriorated, Mr. Shriver was seldom seen in public. He emerged in one instance to attend the funeral of his wife of 56 years, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a sister of John F. Kennedy; she died in 2009 in Hyannis, Mass., at the age of 88…. – NYT, 1-18-11
  • ‘Sarge’ Shriver, founder of Peace Corps, dead at 95: Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., founder of the Peace Corps and husband of the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, died yesterday after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
    The 95-year-old former vice-presidential candidate, known fondly as “Sarge,” “went to heaven to join the love of his life,” the family said in a statement.
    Shriver died at a Maryland hospital surrounded by his five children — Bobby, Maria, Tim, Mark and Anthony — their spouses and 19 grandchildren. His death came less than two years after his wife died in August 2009 at age 88.
    “He was a man of giant love, energy, enthusiasm and commitment. He lived to make the world a more joyful, faithful and compassionate place,” the family statement read. “We will miss him forever.” – Boston Herald, 1-18-11
  • Sargent Shriver, founding director of Peace Corps, dies at 95: Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., husband of the late Eunice Kennedy and father of five children, spent more than seven decades in public service.
    R. Sargent Shriver, who was tapped to create the Peace Corps by his brother-in-law John F. Kennedy and crafted 1960s-era programs that remain cornerstones in the federal government’s efforts to combat poverty, died Jan. 18 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, a family spokesman said. He was 95 and had Alzheimer’s disease.
    A Yale-educated lawyer from a prominent Maryland family, Mr. Shriver was a businessman and aspiring political leader when he married Eunice Kennedy in the early 1950s. He served in three presidential administrations, including a stint as U.S. ambassador to France, and ran for president and vice president. His ambitions were as much propelled as they were frustrated by his connection to his in-laws, the powerful political dynasty from Massachusetts.
    When the family received word in 1964 that President Lyndon B. Johnson was considering Mr. Shriver as a running mate, Eunice balked. “No,” she reportedly said, and then invoked her brother Robert’s name. “It’s Bob’s turn.” Kennedy aide Ken O’Donnell was more straightforward, telling Mr. Shriver that if any of the inner circle were to run, it would be Bobby – not “half a Kennedy.”
    Still, it was Mr. Shriver’s status as an almost-Kennedy that landed him the role for which he is perhaps best known, as the leader of the Peace Corps during its infancy…. – WaPo, 1-18-11
  • Shriver family gave voice to ‘silent epidemic’ Public figure’s battle with Alzheimer’s helped normalize disease: Battling Alzheimer’s disease is often a private struggle, with few champions who speak on behalf of patients and their loved ones. But the family of R. Sargent Shriver, who died Tuesday, helped shed light on the disease and spur support and research for its causes.
    Since his diagnosis in 2003, the family of the influential public servant and founder of the Peace Corps had sought to change the public perception of people with Alzheimer’s so they would not be viewed as victims, said geriatrician William Thomas, professor at UMBC’s Erickson School of Aging.
    “Instead, he was a person living with Alzheimer’s, and that’s an absolutely crucial distinction,” Thomas said. “What the Shrivers were about were sort of normalizing this disease. It is important for people of stature, like the Shrivers, to step into the light and to be seen and to tell their story, because so many other people feel like they can’t do that.”… – LAT, 1-18-11
  • Statement by the President on the Passing of Sargent Shriver: I was deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Sargent Shriver, one of the brightest lights of the greatest generation. Over the course of his long and distinguished career, Sarge came to embody the idea of public service. Of his many enduring contributions, he will perhaps best be remembered as the founding director of the Peace Corps, helping make it possible for generations of Americans to serve as ambassadors of goodwill abroad. His loss will be felt in all of the communities around the world that have been touched by Peace Corps volunteers over the past half century and all of the lives that have been made better by his efforts to address inequality and injustice here at home. My thoughts and prayers are with Robert, Maria, Tim, Mark, and Anthony, and the entire Shriver family during this sad time. – WH, 1-18-11

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN RETIRING IN 2012

  • Joseph I. Lieberman’s Life and Career, NYT Slideshow
  • Joe Lieberman to retire in 2012: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) will retire in 2012, according to two Democratic sources familiar with the decision. Lieberman is expected to announce his decision tomorrow.
  • For Lieberman, an Exit Forged in Alienation: Mr. Lieberman barely alluded to this in his speech, saying only that “I have not always fit comfortably into conventional political boxes — Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative.”
    The senator looked past the bad blood with Democrats, back all the way to John F. Kennedy, who he said had inspired him to pursue public service. He said Kennedy’s principles — “service to country, support of civil rights and social justice, pro-growth economic and tax policies, and a strong national defense” — were still his politics.
    “So maybe that means J.F.K. wouldn’t fit neatly into any of today’s partisan political boxes either,” Mr. Lieberman ventured. To his supporters, that is precisely the point: the party left Mr. Lieberman behind, not the other way around… – NYT, 1-20-11
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman says he will retire in 2012:Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut announced Wednesday that he will not seek a fifth term, ending a political career spanning four decades in which he evolved from a reliably Democratic state legislator into an independent U.S. senator who backed the war in Iraq and the Republican candidate for president. While Lieberman’s supporters lamented his decision not to run in 2012, many constituents, especially Democrats, said they were pleased because the “Joe” they knew as a state lawmaker and activist state attorney general is already long-gone.
    With his extended family standing behind him, Lieberman announced his intentions to retire before a crowd of several hundred supporters at a downtown Stamford hotel, near the site of his childhood home. While he acknowledged that he’d likely face a difficult re-election campaign, Lieberman, 68, downplayed speculation he was backing down from a tough race.
    He invoked a Bible verse from Ecclesiastes in explaining his decision: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.” “At the end of this term, I will have served 24 years in the U.S. Senate and 40 years in elective office. For me, it is time for another season and another purpose under heaven,” he said.
    Lieberman said he’s had a history of winning tough political battles since the 1970s, including the 2006 race where he lost the Democratic primary, only to win the general election as an independent. “I know that some people have said that if I ran for re-election, it would be a difficult campaign for me. So what else is new,” Lieberman said…. – AP, 1-19-11
  • Joe Lieberman Quips: When Regis Retires, I Retire: Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut confirmed on Wednesday that he will not seek another term. When he addressed a crowd of supporters and press at a Marriott hotel in Stamford, the politician said his wife Hadassa once asked him how long he was going to stay in the Senate and he came up with this response: “I promise you, that when Regis leaves television, I’ll leave the Senate,” he quipped. “And here we are.”
    Lieberman first became a Senator in 1988. Al Gore picked him as his running mate in 2000, and since then, Lieberman’s relationship with the Democratic party has been a little rocky. TV personality Regis Philbin announced his retirement from his long-running daytime show on Tuesday.
    “I have not always fit comfortably into conventional political boxes,” he said Wednesday. “Maybe you’ve noticed that.”… – WNYC, 1-19-11
  • Joe Lieberman’s approach out of step with the times: By the geriatric standards of the Senate, the retirement of 68-year-old Sen. Joe Lieberman comes at a relatively young age. But Wednesday’s news that the Connecticut Democrat plans to leave the stage in 2012 surprised no one: It was clear the role he played was outdated and even clearer that he was thoroughly unsuited for the modern political era.
    The circumstances surrounding Lieberman’s decision not to seek reelection attest to that. In the span of just a decade, he went from celebrated vice-presidential nominee—he was the first Jewish candidate on a major party ticket in American history—to near-pariah status within his own party. The speed and arc of his political decline is stunning: In 2000, Lieberman won reelection to a third Senate term in a landslide, even as he spent the bulk of his time campaigning outside his home state as Al Gore’s running mate. By 2006, Lieberman couldn’t even win the Democratic nomination for his own seat. He was forced to run as a third-party candidate, winning with a bare 50 percent of the vote.
    The pendulum swung so far for Lieberman that he got a serious look to be Republican Sen. John McCain’s running mate in 2008. Both Gore and McCain saw in Lieberman the same thing, in mirror image: a moderate-to-conservative grown-up, whose very presence would signal to voters that the man at the top of the ticket wasn’t as extreme as he might appear at first blush, either to the left or to the right.
    But these days, at a time when most politicians prefer to pledge devotion to bipartisanship while not actually practicing it, a man with a foot in two parties really has no party. And therefore, really, no political future…. – Politico, 1-19-11
  • Norton: Lieberman’s exit a loss for the District: With Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) announcing Wednesday that he will not run for reelection in 2012, plenty of members of his old party and liberal commentators are happy to see the Democrat-turned-Independent go. But at least one Democrat is sorry to hear the Connecticut lawmaker’s decision — Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.).
    “The people of the District of Columbia have no senator of their own, but they have had in Senator Joe Lieberman an unfailing champion of their rights,” Norton said in a press release. “Senator Lieberman has been the lead sponsor of virtually every bill for our rights since I have been a Member of the House. As conditions allowed, he was always there for this city, first for statehood, then for seats in the House and Senate, and finally for the House vote. Beyond sponsorship, Joe Lieberman has been our chief advocate and strategist in the Senate.”… – WaPo, 1-19-11
  • No Fifth Term for Lieberman: Mr. Lieberman, 68, whose term is up in January 2013, has chosen to retire rather than face a difficult campaign for re-election, according to aides and others who spoke to the senator on Tuesday.
    “He believes that if he were to run for re-election it’d be a tough fight,” said Marshall Wittmann, a member of Mr. Lieberman’s Senate staff. “He’s confident he could’ve won that fight. He’s had tough fights before. But he wants to have a new chapter in his life.”
    News of Mr. Lieberman’s plans surfaced on the same day that Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, announced he would retire.
    Democrats say the decision by Mr. Lieberman, which his office declined to confirm, increases the likelihood that their party will capture his seat next year. Among other things, Democrats noted that President Obama, who won Connecticut overwhelmingly in 2008, would be on the ballot in 2012…. – NYT, 1-18-11
  • Lieberman Decision Could Set Off a Wild Race: Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut plans to announce Wednesday he will not seek a fifth term in office, setting the stage for what will likely be a wide-open Democratic primary and perhaps another deep-pocketed campaign by former wrestling executive Linda McMahon.
    Mr. Lieberman’s decision would end a remarkable and unusual political career when his current term expires in January 2013. His independence has made him an important factor in close Senate votes, but it has not endeared him to the Democrats and left-leaning independents in his state…. – WSJ, 1-18-11

GABRIELLE GIFFORDS: SHOOTING IN TUCSON, ARIZONA

  • Updated rehab aims to give Giffords her life back: She inspired the nation with her fairy-tale recovery. Now Rep. Gabrielle Giffords must inspire herself through the ordeal of rehabilitation, and doctors say it’s likely to be the hardest work she’ll ever do. Just a couple of decades ago, rehab was little more than physical therapy for shuffling stroke victims and wheelchair-bound quadriplegics, a last resort after doctors had done all they could.
    Now it’s a sophisticated science at the forefront of treating people like Giffords, who was shot in the forehead two weeks ago while meeting constituents in Tucson. An early start on rehab is key to limiting permanent damage, and the Houston hospital where she will be treated uses high-tech tools to push the brain to rewire itself.
    The Arizona congresswoman arrived Friday at the Texas Medical Center, where she is expected to spend a few days in intensive care before moving to TIRR Memorial Hermann rehab hospital. Instead of doctors making you well, rehab means “teaching you how to help yourself” to get your life back, said Dr. William Donovan, a former medical director of the rehab hospital who still works there part-time…. – AP, 1-22-11
  • Doc: Giffords heard cheers leaving Ariz., smiled: She heard them, smiled, and tears welled up in her eyes. The caravan carrying Rep. Gabrielle Giffords swept past cheering crowds Friday as she left the hospital in Tucson, Ariz., where she dazzled doctors with her recovery from being shot in the head two weeks ago, and was moved to Houston for rehabilitation….
    By Friday afternoon, after a 930-plus-mile trip that doctors said went flawlessly, Giffords was in an intensive care unit at Texas Medical Center, where a new team of doctors planned to start her therapy immediately. After several days of evaluation, she will be sent to the center’s rehabilitation hospital, TIRR Memorial Hermann. Giffords has “great rehabilitation potential,” said Dr. Gerardo Francisco, chief medical officer of Memorial Hermann…. – AP, 1-21-11
  • Doctor: Giffords felt sunshine from hospital deck: Gabrielle Giffords on Thursday felt the sunshine on her face for the first time since she was shot, as doctors prepared her to leave behind the Arizona hospital where she dazzled them with her rapid recovery. Her next stop will be a Houston rehab center, where she will face an even more arduous task: Getting life back to normal.
    Her husband said he’s hoping she’ll make a full recovery, calling her “a fighter like nobody else that I know.”
    The doctors who will help her offered a more sober outlook. “Not everyone always gets 100 percent restoration, but we help them to get to a new normal,” said Carl Josehart, chief executive of the rehab hospital that will be the Arizona congresswoman’s home for the next month or two…. – AP, 1-20-11
  • Federal grand jury indicts Ariz. shooting suspect: A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted the suspect in the deadly Arizona shooting rampage that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The indictment against Jared Loughner, 22, accuses him of attempting to assassinate Giffords and trying to kill two of her aides. It does not include two murder charges listed in an earlier criminal complaint for the deaths of Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, 30, and U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63. Those are potential death penalty charges. A statement from the U.S. attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke, said those require a more painstaking process under Justice Department rules. Burke said the initial indictment issued by a grand jury in Tucson was just the beginning of federal legal action against the 22-year-old Tucson resident…. – AP, 1-19-11
  • Giffords to relearn basic skills in Houston rehab: Less than two weeks after surviving a bullet through the brain, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is to be moved to Houston to begin an arduous journey of intensive mental and physical rehabilitation. She’ll have to relearn how to think and plan. It’s unclear if she is able to speak or how well she can see. And while she is moving both arms and legs, it’s uncertain how much strength she has on her right side. Her swift transition from an intensive care unit to a rehab center is based on the latest research, which shows the sooner rehab starts, the better patients recover. Giffords’ family hopes to move the Arizona congresswoman on Friday to TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston, where her husband lives and works as an astronaut. The exact day of the move will depend on her health.
    “I am extremely hopeful at the signs of recovery that my wife has made since the shooting,” Mark Kelly said in a statement released by Giffords’ congressional office. The staff at University Medical Center in Tucson “has stabilized her to the point of being ready to move to the rehabilitation phase.”… –
  • Giffords stands with assistance, may move to rehab center Friday: A federal grand jury indicts Jared Lee Loughner on charges of attempted murder… Giffords has the strength to stand and lift her head… Giffords is to be moved to TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston… Her husband, Mark Kelly, says Giffords feared for her safety… – CNN, 1-19-11
  • The congresswoman and the astronaut: A love story: STORY HIGHLIGHTS: The world has gotten a glimpse into the love affair of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly… The pair met in China in 2003, wed in 2007… Friends say Kelly is Giffords’ “rock” and they are devoted to each other… – CNN, 1-19-11
  • In Tucson, a Staff Mourns While Asking, ‘What Would Gabby Do?’: They still greet every visitor. They still help veterans file for disability benefits and retirees sign up for Medicare. They still send out press releases, though now they are signed by the chief of staff instead of the boss. There is an empty desk where a key aide of Representative Gabrielle Giffords sat inside Suite 112 of a modest stucco building here. And though the boss herself is not returning anytime soon, the rest of the staff is struggling every day to adapt to what one of them called “the new normal.” Ms. Giffords’s aides opened Suite 112, the congresswoman’s district office, two days after the shooting that left her with a severe bullet wound to the head, and the office has stayed open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday since. It has been one of the staff’s few constants since a gunman opened fire at a community event on Jan. 8, killing six people and wounding the congresswoman and 12 others. Staff members have dived into their jobs as a means of coping with the tragedy. The mantra has been “What Would Gabby Do?” and the answer has been clear — keep working…. – NYT, 1-18-11
  • Gabrielle Giffords responds well to skull surgery, doctors say: Physicians in Tucson say they repaired damage to Gabrielle Giffords’ eye sockets on Saturday, and that she has responded well. They are still unsure about her ability to speak…. – LAT, 1-17-11
  • More Progress Reported for Giffords: Doctors at the University Medical Center said on Monday that the condition of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who was shot through the head Jan. 8, continued to improve, and that she appeared to be focusing her eyes, a sign of progress in her recovery.
    At a news conference at the hospital, doctors told reporters that Ms. Giffords had made it through the most dangerous period as far as potential swelling of her injured brain was concerned, but that she still faced the risk of serious complications, including infection.
    Her husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, a naval officer and astronaut, said in a television interview that Ms. Giffords had rubbed his back for 10 minutes, which doctors said was another positive sign. “It does imply that she is interacting, perhaps, in a more familiar way with him,” said Dr. G. Michael Lemole Jr., the chief neurosurgeon at the hospital…. – NYT, 1-17-11
  • Will Gabrielle Giffords keep her House seat?: It’s unclear when or if the Arizona congresswoman recovering from gunshot wounds might return to work, but her staff is keeping her offices running, and not even political opponents are talking about vacating her seat.
    Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University, said a decision on vacating the seat would probably be as much about emotions as the law. “It would still be very tough for someone to move to declare her seat vacant,” Zelizer said. “She has become a symbol to much of the nation, a symbol for the nation for hope about the political process.”… – LAT, 1-18-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama vows to ‘unlock the productivity’ of Americans: US President Barack Obama expressed his determination Saturday to “unlock the productivity” of American workers to make the country more competitive in a technology-driven economy.
    “I know we can out-compete any other nation on Earth,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “We just have to make sure we?re doing everything we can to unlock the productivity of American workers, unleash the ingenuity of American businesses, and harness the dynamism of America?s economy,” he added.
    The president also referred to a raft of trade deals worth $45 billion the United States and China announced Wednesday as the two powers tried to narrow disputes by tethering their economic fortunes…. – AFP, 1-22-10
  • Hawaii law bars release of Obama birth info: A privacy law that shields birth certificates has prompted Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie to abandon efforts to dispel claims that President Barack Obama was born outside Hawaii, his office says.
    State Attorney General David Louie told the governor that privacy laws bar him from disclosing an individual’s birth documentation without the person’s consent, Abercrombie spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said Friday.
    “There is nothing more that Gov. Abercrombie can do within the law to produce a document,” said Dela Cruz. “Unfortunately, there are conspirators who will continue to question the citizenship of our president.”
    Abercrombie, who was a friend of Obama’s parents and knew him as a child, launched an investigation last month into whether he can release more information about the president’s Aug. 4, 1961 birth. The governor said at the time he was bothered by people who questioned Obama’s birthplace for political reasons. But Abercrombie’s attempt reached a dead end when Louie told him the law restricted his options… – AP, 1-22-10
  • Obama pays short visit to House Democratic retreat: Lawmakers who gathered here for the annual House Democratic retreat may have been disappointed to get no preview of the State of the Union address from President Obama when he paid a quick visit tonight. They were treated, however, to a display of the president’s dance moves. Obama met with more than 130 House Democratic lawmakers and their spouses for about 90 minutes, entering the first-floor ballroom at the plush Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay shortly before 7:30 p.m. Democrats have been at the sprawling bayside resort since Thursday afternoon, discussing their strategy and messaging after a midterm shellacking that saw their party lose 63 seats in the House. The resort is the same one that hosted House Republicans after they lost the majority in 2006…. – WaPo, 1-21-11
  • The reality of death panels ObamaCare’s end-of-life planning comes down to economics: SUPPORTERS OF President Obama’s health care reform law have relentlessly derided Sarah Palin’s notion of “death panels’’ as a vulgar rhetorical technique, with no basis in reality, devised merely to scare a gullible, uneducated citizenry into rallying to repeal the law. The death panel notion persists, however, because it denotes, in a pithy way, the economic realities of scarcity inherent in nationalizing a rapidly developing, high-technology industry on which people’s lives depend in a rather immediate way. G.K. Chesterton once wrote that vulgar notions (and jokes) invariably contain a “subtle and spiritual idea.’’ The subtle and spiritual idea behind “death panels’’ is that life-prolonging medical technology is an expensive, limited commodity and if the market doesn’t determine who gets it, someone else will…. – Boston Globe, 1-21-11
  • Sasha Obama spoke Chinese to who?: Nine-year-old First Daughter Sasha Obama has been learning Chinese in school, but who does she speak to outside the classroom? The answer might surprise you. China’s President Hu Jintao is introduced to nine-year-old Sasha Obama by US President Barack Obama as they greet the crowd during an official south lawn arrival ceremony for Hu at the White House in Washington Jan. 19.
    President Barack Obama’s nine-year-old daughter, Sasha, wanted to test her developing Chinese skills this week while Hu Jintao was in town.
    Just whom did she want to practice them with? The Chinese president himself, according to a White House official who recounted the story on Thursday after a formal state dinner the previous night.
    “The president pointed out last night at the state dinner that his daughter, Sasha, is a very young girl but her class is studying Chinese,” Ben Rhodes, a White House deputy national security adviser, told a video conference with Chinese bloggers. “She’s under 10 years old and they’re studying Chinese, and she wanted to have the chance to practice her Chinese with President Hu.”
    Sasha attended Hu’s welcoming ceremony on the White House lawn on Wednesday morning with friends and could be seen waving a Chinese flag excitedly as her father and Hu walked around the grounds. The two presidents paused to visit when they reached the nine-year-old and her friends behind the rope line…. – CS Monitor, 1-21-11
  • Liberal group fights campaign finance decision opposed by Obama: The liberal advocacy group Common Cause has asked the Justice Department to investigate what it says are potential conflicts involving two Supreme Court justices whose votes helped clear the way for unlimited campaign spending by corporations, unions and others. President Obama cricized the ruling when it was rendered last January. Now Common Cause, in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, says Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas participated in strategy sessions with corporate leaders who benefitted by the decision inCitizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The advocacy group referred to political retreats sponsored by Koch Industries, a Wichita, Kan.-based energy company owned by brothers Charles and David Koch. Common Cause says the Koch Industries political action committee spent $2.6 million in the 2010 elections…. – USA Today, 1-20-11
  • Campaign finance ruling: Should Supreme Court justices have recused themselves?: The liberal group Common Cause asks the Justice Department to investigate whether Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Thomas should have stepped aside in a major campaign finance reform case a year ago.
    The liberal advocacy group Common Cause announced on Thursday that it has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether two US Supreme Court justices should have recused themselves from consideration of a major campaign finance reform case last year.
    Common Cause President Bob Edgar said the group has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to examine whether Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas should have stepped aside rather than vote in the Citizens United case.
    The case, handed down a year ago on Friday (Jan. 21), struck down a portion of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law that had barred corporate expenditures for political advertisements during campaign season…. – CS Monitor, 1-20-11

Photo courtesy of White House

  • Summit yields gains for both China and U.S.: Chinese President Hu Jintao’s just-concluded summit with President Obama was a win both for the Communist Party and for Hu himself, demonstrating once again the Chinese government’s reliance on ceremony to bolster its standing among its people. China’s state-run newspapers ran enormous photographs of Hu with Obama, a not-so- subtle message that China is now the United States’ equal on the world stage.
    For the Obama administration, the meeting went smoothly and yielded some progress on difficult issues – but it also served as a reminder that the U.S.-China relationship will continue to be among Washington’s most nettlesome.
    “The most important thing they did was, for the time being, put a floor under the relationship after a very bad year,” said Michael Green, a former National Security Council senior official. “No one expected a transformational summit, but if you graded it pass-fail, I say they passed.”… – WaPo, 1-20-11
  • Business Leaders Make Cut at State Dinner With Hu: Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter made the cut. So did Bill Clinton and his wife, the secretary of state. The heads of Microsoft, Boeing, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Boeing and Walt Disney were on the list. So were the singer Barbra Streisand, the ice skater Michelle Kwan, the violinist Yo Yo Ma, the architect Maya Lin and the fashion designer Vera Wang. But Fred Hochberg, the chairman of the Export-Import Bank, didn’t make it to President Obama’s state dinner for President Hu Jintao of China, even though trade was a major theme of the day. Neither did Aris Candris, the CEO of Westinghouse Electric, who attended a business leaders’ meeting with the two leaders, or Jim Sasser, the former ambassador to China, whose invitation to a State Department lunch with Mr. Hu might have served as a consolation prize.
    The 225 guests at Wednesday night’s glittering White House affair were, in a certain sense, survivors. All made it through an intense winnowing-down process by a White House confronted by some of the most intense jockeying for invitations in recent memory. The White House was intensely private about the planning, for fear of offending the Chinese. The theme for the evening was “quintessentially American,” with a menu that featured farm-fresh vegetables, poached Maine Lobster, dry aged rib eye with buttermilk crisp onions, topped off by old fashioned apple pie with ice cream. The entertainment, in the White House East Room, was the most quintessential of American music – a parade of jazz greats, including Herbie Hancock…. – NYT, 1-19-11
  • With Obama, Hu concedes China’s rights need help: In a rare concession on a highly sensitive issue, Chinese President Hu Jintao used his White House visit on Wednesday to acknowledge “a lot still needs to be done” to improve human rights in his nation accused of repressing its people. President Barack Obama pushed China to adopt fundamental freedoms but assured Hu the U.S. considers the communist nation a friend and vital economic partner.
    Hu’s comments met with immediate skepticism from human rights advocates, who dismissed them as words backed by no real history of action. Hu contended his country has “made enormous progress” but provided no specifics.
    Still, his remarks seemed to hearten and surprise U.S. officials, coming during an elaborate visit that centered on boosting trade and trust between the world’s two largest economies.
    More broadly, Hu and Obama sought to show off a more mature and respectful relationship, not the one often defined by disputes over currency, sovereignty and freedoms. Hu said he wanted even closer contact with Obama; Obama sought again to embrace China’s rise, and the two men shared some unexpected laughs…. – AP, 1-19-11
  • Obama’s day: Dealing with China: On this day in 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower first agreed to something that is now essential to White House life: A news conference filmed for television. It’s a day of high level diplomacy for President Obama, as he summits with President Hu Jintao of China. After Vice President Biden greeted Hu at the airport yesterday, the Chinese president and Obama held a small private dinner at the White House. Today, it’s down to work…. – USA Today, 1-19-11
  • U.S. Shifts Focus to Press China for Market Access: A year ago, the fight over how China’s cheap currency was hurting American companies in marketplaces at home and abroad was shaping up to be the epic battle between the world’s biggest power and its biggest economic rival.
    But when President Hu Jintao walks into the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with President Obama on Wednesday to face a group of 18 American and Chinese business leaders, much of the clash will be about a new economic battlefield — inside China itself…. – NYT, 1-18-11

112TH CONGRESS

John Boehner talks with reporters as he makes his way to his office from the House floor after the repeal of the Healtch Care Reform Act passed. | John Shinkle/POLITICO

  • Lawmakers’ soft words hide spending cuts’ pain: Terms like “cutting spending” and “raising taxes,” though they sound straightforward enough, are becoming battlegrounds in the Republicans’ and Democrats’ bids to frame the debate over how to cope with the growing national debt. Newly empowered congressional Republicans are playing down the big impact their proposed spending cuts would have on millions of Americans, according to Democrats and some bipartisan groups…. – AP, 1-21-11
  • House Republicans Plan Their Own Health Bills: Less than 24 hours after voting to repeal the new health care law, House Republicans said Thursday that they would pass discrete bills to achieve some of the same goals, but with more restraint in the use of federal power. At the same time, the speaker, John A. Boehner, said House Republicans would push for much stricter limits on abortion in federal programs, including those created by the new law. By a vote of 253 to 175, the House on Thursday directed four committees to draft legislation that would replace the health care law. The directive sets forth 13 objectives…. – NYT, 1-20-11
  • House panel announces investigation into healthcare reform: A day after the House voted to repeal the healthcare reform law, a powerful House committee is launching a probe of the Obama administration’s efforts to implement the law. Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee are flexing their new oversight powers by calling on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to explain why some groups were given waivers to a key requirement of the reform law and why the department recently reorganized an office created just months ago.
    The health department’s power to provide temporary exemptions to certain groups on annual insurance-limit requirements included in the reform law is “troubling,” according to a letter from Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and investigations subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.). The committee is asking the department to provide a list of every individual, organization, business, state or other entity that requested a waiver, obtained a waiver, or has been denied a waiver for any part of the reform law. The probe seeks “all documents” relating to the granting of waivers or exemptions for any reform law requirement…. – The Hill, 1-20-11
  • House votes to repeal Obama’s health care law: Swiftly honoring a campaign pledge, newly empowered Republicans pushed legislation to repeal the nation’s year-old health care overhaul through the House Wednesday night, brushing aside implacable opposition in the Senate and a veto threat from President Barack Obama. The 245-189 vote was largely along party lines, and cleared the way for the second phase of the “repeal and replace” promise that victorious Republicans made to the voters last fall. GOP officials said that in the coming months, congressional committees will propose changes to the existing legislation, calling for elimination of a requirement for individuals to purchase coverage, for example, and recommending curbs on medical malpractice lawsuits. Republicans also intend to try to reverse many of the changes Democrats made to Medicare Advantage, the private alternative to the traditional government-run health care program for seniors. Like the repeal bill itself, these other measures will require Senate approval and a presidential signature to take effect, and the prospect is for months of maneuvering on the issue. AP, 1-19-11
  • House votes to repeal health care law against long odds: McConnell pledges Senate vote… Democrats Boren, McIntyre and Ross voted for repeal… “It’s a promise kept,” a leading Republican says… The repeal bill is unlikely to survive the Senate, however…
    The House of Representatives voted to repeal the Obama administration’s signature health-care legislation Wednesday evening, a vote the newly elected Republican majority called a fulfillment of their No. 1 campaign promise. The bill, dubbed the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” passed 245-189. Three Democrats joined a unanimous Republican caucus on the vote.
    The legislation is unlikely to make it past the Democratic-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he won’t bring it to the floor for a vote. And even if it did, it would face a certain veto by President Barack Obama. But Rep. Mike Pence, a leading GOP conservative, dismissed Democratic criticism that Wednesday’s vote was a “gimmick.” “We have another term for it on our side of the aisle: It’s a promise kept,” he said. “And House Republicans are here to stand with the American people and say with one voice, ‘We can do better.’ We can do better than their government takeover of health care.”… – CNN, 1-19-11
  • Health care: Now comes the really hard part: The vote passed Wednesday 245-to-189 — with unanimous GOP support, plus three Democrats. But the repeal bill is destined to die in the Senate, so Republicans will use their newly acquired power in the House to wage a long-term campaign to weaken the law.
    The next steps — hearings, testimony from administration officials, funding cuts — lack the punch of a straight repeal vote, but Republicans said they will keep at it, hoping the end result is the same: stalling implementation of the $900 billion law.
    Republicans promise to hold a series of hearings and oversight investigations into the law, attempt to repeal individual provisions and craft an alternative health care plan. Some of the first issues they will tackle are the cost of the law, the mandate on larger employers to provide coverage and the impact of the legislation on the states.
    But the GOP is expected to be thwarted at every turn by the Democratic-controlled Senate — and ultimately President Barack Obama, who has said he is willing to “improve” the law but “we can’t go backward.”
    “This is not symbolic,” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said on the floor. “This is why we were sent here, and we will not stop until we put a president in a position in the White House who will repeal this bill. … Make no mistake, we are here to stay and our resolve is firm.” Politico, 1-19-11
  • Debate To Repeal Health Care Law Begins: The house of representatives gets back to work on capitol hill for the first time since the Tucson shooting that left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the hospital.The first item of business – repealing the new healthcare law. Debate unfolded on the house floor and in a series of news conferences.Republicans showed off piles of petitions from Americans demanding a repeal. While democrats showcased the personal stories of people who say repealing the law will negatively affect them.
    Rep. Tom Price says: “In our pledge to America, we said we would do in our pledge to America, we said that if given the privilege of leading once again, one of the things we would do would be to vote in the House of Representatives to repeal Obamacare. “Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz says: “Why we are doing this other than playing to the vanity of extremely conservative right wing of the Republican party, is beyond me.”
    The repeal is expected to sail through the house. But it’s not expected to get through the democratic senate or the president’s veto. A final vote is expected Wednesday afternoon or early evening. – Fox News 12, 1-18-11
  • Congress tones down the rhetoric after shootings: Born of bloodshed, a self-proclaimed Age of Civility dawned in Congress on Tuesday. Republicans and Democrats of the House spoke without angry shouts and debated legislation to repeal the nation’s year-old health care law without rancor. By unspoken agreement, manners mattered, although there were few overt references to the reason — the shooting rampage in Arizona 10 days ago that left six dead, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords wounded and lawmakers of both parties stunned.
    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said no directives had gone out to rank-and-file lawmakers cautioning them about their behavior as the House convened to debate a highly controversial bill. “We expect the debate to ensue along policy lines,” he said, suggesting one that did not stray from the merits of the legislation itself.
    Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking Democrat, agreed. “My expectation is that members will heed their own advice and will address the issues in a way that will deal with them on the merits,” he said. In the past, he added, too much of the public debate was “about incitement rather than informing . about making people angry, disrespecting the … point of view of the other side.”
    The change in tone was evident from the opening moments of the debate about a bill Republicans promised in last fall’s campaign to make an early 2011 priority…. – AP, 1-18-11
  • GOP set to assail healthcare law and seek alternatives: Civility gets its first test in the House since the Tucson shootings in a debate over repeal of Obama’s healthcare overhaul…. – LAT, 1-17-11
  • House set for health care repeal vote: The House of Representatives is set to vote on a repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul this week, fulfilling a campaign promise of congressional Republicans and setting up a clash with the White House and Senate Democrats.
    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has scheduled a floor debate on the measure for Tuesday and a vote on Wednesday. The new GOP majority, in keeping with its “repeal and replace” mantra, will instruct various House committees to craft alternatives to the law.
    “Repealing the job crushing health care law is critical to boosting small business job creation and growing the economy,” Boehner wrote online Monday…. – CNN, 1-17-11
  • Some House rivals spar — cautiously — on eve of health care repeal vote: House Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.) noted that during last year’s debate over the health care law, he had argued that the overhaul amounted to the Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century.
    “We’re hearing some of the same rhetoric around patients’ rights that we heard around voting rights,” Clyburn said. “But does this mean that some changes should not be made? Absolutely not. When the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, it did not cover public employees. When the Voting Rights Act became law in 1965, it did not cover congressional redistricting. The Fair Housing Law wasn’t perfect when it was passed, and bipartisan changes were made to all of these to improve the measures.” Clyburn added that as the House debates repeal, “I hope we can look at bipartisan changes and modifications that would increase efficiency and effectiveness but do not repeal this fundamental right.”A few minutes later, however, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) had some stronger words for Republicans’ efforts to repeal the entire law.
    “Every minute that we spend fruitlessly debating the repeal of health care reform — which we know is ultimately not going to happen — is one less minute that we are spending creating jobs and focusing on getting people back to work and turning this economy around,” Wasserman Schultz said. “Why we are doing this other than playing to the vanity of the extremely conservative right wing of the Republican Party is beyond me.”

    At their weekly pen-and-pad briefings with reporters, both House Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that leaders had not given any specific instructions to members of their caucuses to soften their rhetoric.
    “There’s been no discussion about acceptable language or non-acceptable language,” Cantor said. “What we’ve said, and the speaker has said, is this: We’re about a policy-oriented debate here. This is an issue of policy that was hotly debated over the last Congress, something that has great consequences for this country and deserving of a civil discourse in the House of Representatives, and that’s what we expect.”
    Repeal HealthCare Act Chairman Ken Hoagland, who also spoke at the event, called the petitions “an example to the rest of the world how even dramatic change in public policy can be effected through peaceful means.” “There is no room in our country for violent tactics to change public policy,” Hoagland said. “Our founding fathers left us every tool we need to change public policy peacefully, and that is what we intend to do. Now are the people who signed this petition angry? Yes, they are. … To suggest that that axiomatically leads to violence is just a wrong conclusion.” WaPo, 1-18-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • Ala. governor apologizes for remarks on Christians: Two days after being sworn in as Alabama governor, Robert Bentley apologized Wednesday for proclaiming to a Baptist church audience that only Christians were his brothers and sisters and vowed to work for people of all faiths and colors. His comments Monday shocked and offended some believers of other faiths, but the backlash didn’t seem to be a serious political wound for the retired dermatologist and Southern Baptist deacon. In a conservative state with some of the highest levels of church attendance in the country, some Christian leaders defended the remarks and the Republican will likely get a fair chance to pursue his agenda in the coming legislative session.
    “If anyone from other religions felt disenfranchised by the language, I want to say I am sorry. I am sorry if I offended anyone in any way,” he told reporters Wednesday after meeting with leaders of other faiths in his new office. After he took the oath of office at the Alabama Capitol on Monday, Bentley headed across the street to a service honoring Martin Luther King Jr. at King’s first church, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. During his speech, he remarked: “Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.”… – AP, 1-18-11

CHICAGO MAYORAL CAMPAIGN

  • Emanuel Raises $10 Million in Mayoral Bid: Rahm Emanuel, the former White House Chief of Staff, has raised more than $10 million in his quest to become mayor of Chicago. Filed with state election officials on Thursday, the campaign reports of Mr. Emanuel and his opponents offer a first real look at the financial side of this city’s first competitive race for mayor in years. In addition to the money he collected by the start of this year, Mr. Emanuel, who formerly served in Congress, also moved $1.1 million from a federal campaign fund into his mayor’s effort for a total of $11.7 million; he has already spent $3.4 million, the report showed…. – NYT, 1-20-11
  • Bill Clinton to campaign in Chicago for Emanuel: Former President Bill Clinton is coming to Chicago Tuesday to campaign for mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel, but his visit is the cause of some controversy. While the former White House chief of staff hopes Clinton can persuade voters to cast their ballots for him Feb. 22, a former mayoral contender has warned that Clinton is risking his popular standing with the African American community by backing Emanuel rather than a black candidate.
    Clinton is scheduled to appear with Emanuel at the Chicago Cultural Center Tuesday morning. The candidate touted the visit in his campaign mailings over the weekend, mixed with an appeal for campaign donations. “I’m honored to have President Clinton’s support,” Emanuel told supporters in the e-mail on Sunday. “I’m excited to show President Clinton the great Chicagoans who’ve made this campaign possible.”… – WaPo, 1-17-11

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • Obama could survive some bumps on road to 2012 reelection: Two years later, though, many analysts and observers have forgotten the breadth of Obama’s victory in the wake of the devastating and across-the-board (not to mention down-the-ballot) losses the Democratic Party suffered in the 2010 midterms. And yet, a detailed examination of the national map heading into 2012 suggests that the president still sits in a strong position for reelection – able to lose half a dozen (or more) swing states he carried in 2008 and still win the 270 electoral votes he needs for a second term…. – WaPo, 1-23-11
  • Evangelical/Romney supporter calls for new litmus test: Mark DeMoss, a well-connected figure in the evangelical community and Mitt Romney supporter, sent a memo last week to Christian conservatives urging them to consider “a new litmus test” beyond traditional cultural issues
    1. Who is most capable of winning the Republican nomination?
    2. Who is most capable of mounting the kind of campaign (raising money, recruiting staff and volunteers, presenting a clear message) necessary to upset a sitting president?
    3. Who is most capable of actually being the president of the United States—governing and serving as the CEO of the largest enterprises on the planet?
    Romney, argued DeMoss, was well-positioned financially and in the polls to meet the electability standard and, because of his background in business, is up for the job… – Politico, 1-23-11
  • Mitt Romney easily wins New Hampshire Republican poll: Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney easily won a poll of several hundred Republican delegates Saturday about whom they would choose to take on Democrat Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. Also at the meeting, conservative Tea Party activist Jack Kimball beat Juliana Bergeron to be New Hampshire’s new state Republican Party chairman — an outcome that could influence presidential campaigning in the state.
    Romney won 35 percent of the poll, trouncing Texas Congressman Ron Paul, with 11 percent, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, with 8 percent, and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who took 7 percent. Some 20 names were listed on the poll, including Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York…. – Reuters, 1-22-10
  • Republican hopefuls lay groundwork for 2012: Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and other potential presidential candidates have been stockpiling cash as they test the waters for a run. Nobody’s making anything official yet…. – LAT, 1-21-11
  • Poll: Mike Huckabee Takes Lead Among Potential GOP Presidential Picks: While Mike Huckabee has been cagey about whether he’ll make another run for the White House, a new poll out Friday finds the former Arkansas governor leading the pack among potential GOP presidential candidates for 2012. The Public Policy Polling survey has Huckabee with a solid 24 percent support among respondents, ahead of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney, the ex-governor of Massachussetts, who are tied at 14 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich comes in third with 11 percent, followed by Tim Pawlenty, the ex-governor of Minnesota, with 8 percent.
    PPP called Huckabee “the big winner” in this poll, citing his increased appeal to both moderates and conservatives within the Republican Party. Romney isn’t so lucky, according to PPP. He’s not particulary popular among conservative voters, who give him only a 55 percent favorability rating. That’s compared to 74 percent favorability from conservatives for Huckabee and 73 percent for Palin…. – Politics Daily, 1-21-11
  • Bachmann ‘encouraged’ after Iowa visit: Michele Bachmann of Minnesota says the reactions she received in her Friday meetings with Iowa Republican leaders and conservative activists in the leadoff presidential caucus state have encouraged her to explore running for president.
    “I am very encouraged by what I heard and the level of support that I saw today,” Bachmann told The Des Moines Register after a gauntlet of meetings in Des Moines.
    Bachmann’s visit stirred up the quietly developing race for the 2012 Republican presidential caucuses in Iowa, a little more than a year away.
    Bachmann spoke Friday night at a reception for Iowans for Tax Relief, an influential advocacy and political group with roughly 55,000 conservative and Republican-leaning members across the state. “It is not too late to change course and save this great nation,” Bachmann told her audience at a downtown Des Moines hotel. “I believe we can save America. I believe we can preserve this exceptional nation — this land of promise — for our children and grandchildren.”… – USA Today, 1-21-11
  • Palin Inches Toward 2012 in Iowa, Nevada: Sarah Palin may be inching toward a presidential run in 2012 as she heads next week to Nevada for two speeches and her advisers quietly begin talking to Republican activists in Iowa. Both states will be key to winning the Republican nomination, and Ms. Palin’s advisers are determined to do the groundwork necessary should she decide to jump into the campaign. The informal conversations in Iowa, reported by the Web site Real Clear Politics, are the first baby steps in what would have to become a much more elaborate turnout effort if Ms. Palin, the former Alaska governor, decides to run.
    And her speeches in Nevada to two outdoors groups — including one on the same night that President Obama delivers his State of the Union speech in Washington — give her a platform to talk about hunting and guns in the wake of the shootings in Arizona this month.
    “There are a lot of Republican activists who want the governor to run and want to get involved and want to help,” said Tim Crawford, the treasurer of Ms. Palin’s political action committee, SarahPAC…. – NYT, 1-20-11
  • Obama Will Move Political Operations to Chicago: President Obama will close the office of political affairs at the White House in preparation for the establishment of his re-election headquarters, which will open its doors in Chicago by late March to concentrate on building a national fund-raising and grass-roots operation to rival his first campaign, aides said.
    The president has signed off on the plan to set up his campaign headquarters away from Washington, a first for a modern-day presidential re-election campaign. To avoid turf battles, chaotic communications and duplicated efforts, aides said, a significant realignment is under way in the West Wing, with the duties of the political office being taken up by the Democratic National Committee.
    Mr. Obama intends to make a formal declaration of his candidacy in about two months by filing papers with the Federal Election Commission, aides said. That step would allow him to raise money and hire a team of advisers, who would seek to make Mr. Obama follow Bill Clinton as the second Democrat since Franklin Delano Roosevelt to be elected twice to the White House…. – NYT, 1-20-11
  • Pence urged to enter race for president in 2012: An independent campaign to draw GOP Rep. Mike Pence into the 2012 presidential race is under way, with a veteran of the Reagan White House launching a petition drive on Monday urging him to enter the primary contests.
    Ralph Benko, a deputy counsel to Ronald Reagan, announced the America’s President Committee to encourage a Pence- for-president bid. Former Rep. Jim Ryun, R-Kan., is also helping the campaign to collect signatures from conservatives and tea party activists.
    “Mike Pence extraordinarily exemplifies the optimistic, pro-growth, pro-job creation Reagan-Kemp wing of the GOP. Grass-roots conservatives, Republicans, the tea party and populists are looking for a man or woman of principle who can champion and unite the newly energized and engaged citizenry,” Benko said. “Mike Pence is the best choice to lead us into a new era of peace and prosperity.”… – AP, 1-17-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address
  • Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader on “Fox News Sunday.”: “With all due respect to our Democratic friends, any time they want to spend, they call it investment, so I think you will hear the president talk about investing a lot Tuesday night. This is not a time to be looking at pumping up government spending in very many areas.”
  • Sen. John McCain praises Obama: ‘Doing a Lot of the Right Things’: Speaking on Face the Nation, Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain praised President Obama, saying the first-term president has done “a lot of the right things.” “The president, I think, has learned a lot in the last two years as any president does. He is a very intelligent man. I think he’s doing a lot of right things,” he said.
    “I’m told already that the Democrats may agree with us on some changes,” Mr. McCain said. “There needs to be a lot more changes than what they’re willing to agree to. It has to be the subject of a national debate.” – The State Column, 1-23-11
  • Weekly Address: “We Can Out-Compete Any Other Nation”: Remarks of President Barack Obama The White House January 22, 2011: Here’s the truth about today’s economy: If we’re serious about fighting for American jobs and American businesses, one of the most important things we can do is open up more markets to American goods around the world.
    That’s why I met with China’s President Hu Jintao at the White House this past week. We’re now exporting more than $100 billion a year to China in goods and services. And as a result of deals we completed this week, we’ll be increasing U.S. exports to China by more than $45 billion, and China’s investments in America by several billion dollars. Most important, these deals will support some 235,000 American jobs. And that includes a lot of manufacturing jobs.
    That goal is why I fought so hard to negotiate a new and better trade deal with South Korea – a deal with unprecedented support from business and labor – that will support more than 70,000 American jobs. And that’s why I traveled to India last fall to help pave the way for $10 billion in new deals for American businesses and more than 50,000 new American jobs.
    Now, these may just sound like statistics. But yesterday, I saw what that means firsthand when I traveled to a GE plant in Schenectady, New York. This plant is manufacturing steam turbines and generators for a big project in India that resulted from a deal we announced around that trip – a project that’s helping support more than 1,200 manufacturing jobs and more than 400 engineering jobs in Schenectady. Good jobs at good wages, producing American products for the world.
    At the same time, GE has also been investing in innovation, building a clean energy center, an advanced battery manufacturing plant, and other state-of-the-art facilities in Schenectady that are resulting in hundreds of new American jobs and contributing to America’s global economic leadership.
    Leading the world in innovation. Opening new markets to American products. That’s how we’ll create jobs today. That’s how we’ll make America more competitive tomorrow. And that’s how we’ll win the future.
    While I was in Schenectady, I announced that Jeff Immelt, GE’s CEO and one of the most imaginative and visionary business leaders in America, has agreed to head up our new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The purpose of this council is to help us find ways to grow our economy by investing in our businesses here at home. And under Jeff’s leadership, I’m confident that they’ll generate good ideas about how we can spur hiring, educate our workers to compete in the 21st century, and attract the best jobs and businesses to America rather than seeing them spring up overseas.
    We’re living in a new and challenging time, in which technology has made competition easier and fiercer than ever before. Countries around the world are upping their game and giving their workers and companies every advantage possible. But that shouldn’t discourage us. Because I know we can win that competition. I know we can out-compete any other nation on Earth. We just have to make sure we’re doing everything we can to unlock the productivity of American workers, unleash the ingenuity of American businesses, and harness the dynamism of America’s economy. Thanks everyone, and have a nice weekend. – WH, 1-22-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Watch Live: The China State Visit: The President hosts Hu Jintao, President of the People’s Republic of China, at the White House for a State Visit, marking the third State Visit of the Obama Administration. President Hu’s visit highlights the importance of expanding cooperation between the United States and China on bilateral, regional, and global issues, as well as the friendship between the peoples of our two countries. The President, who visited China in November 2009, looks forward to welcoming President Hu to Washington to continue building a partnership that advances our common interests and addresses our shared concerns. Watch the Arrival Ceremony, State Dinner toasts, and more on WhiteHouse.gov…. – WH, 1-19-11
  • State Dinner with President Hu of China: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host President Hu of China at a State Dinner at the White House. January 19, 2011…. – WH, 1-19-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • President Obama Welcomes President Hu of China to the White House: At a time when some doubt the benefits of cooperation between the United States and China, this visit is also a chance to demonstrate a simple truth. We have an enormous stake in each other’s success. In an interconnected world, in a global economy, nations — including our own — will be more prosperous and more secure when we work together.
    The United States welcomes China’s rise as a strong, prosperous and successful member of the community of nations. Indeed, China’s success has brought with it economic benefits for our people as well as yours, and our cooperation on a range of issues has helped advance stability in the Asia Pacific and in the world.
    We also know this: History shows that societies are more harmonious, nations are more successful, and the world is more just, when the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld, including the universal rights of every human being.
    Mr. President, we can learn from our people. Chinese and American students and educators, business people, tourists, researchers and scientists, including Chinese Americans who are here today —- they work together and make progress together every single day. They know that even as our nations compete in some areas, we can cooperate in so many others, in a spirit of mutual respect, for our mutual benefit.
    What Deng Xiaoping said long ago remains true today. There are still great possibilities for cooperation between our countries. President Hu, members of the Chinese delegation, let us seize these possibilities together. Welcome to the United States of America. Hwan-ying. (Applause.)… – WH, 1-19-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Palin explains ‘blood libel’ comment: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, defending herself against criticism following the Tucson, Ariz., shootings, said Monday that she used the term “blood libel” to describe comments made by those who falsely tried to link conservatives to the assassination attempt against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Speaking out for the first time since she used the term in a video, Palin said on Fox’s Sean Hannity show that the term referred to those “falsely accused of having blood on their hands.” Some Jewish groups strongly protested her use of the term, which historically was used to accuse Jews of using blood of Christians in religious rituals. “I think the critics again were using anything that they could gather out of that statement,” she said. “You can spin up anything out of anybody’s statements that are released and use them against the person who is making the statement.” Palin, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2012, said the criticism won’t stop her from speaking out and accusing Democrats of taking the country in the wrong direction. “They can’t make us sit down and shut up,” she said…. – AP, 1-17-11
  • Cheney: Obama has Learned that Bush Policies were Right: President Obama has “learned from experience” that some of the Bush administration’s decisions on terrorism issues were necessary, according to former Vice President Dick Cheney. In his first interview since undergoing major heart surgery last July, Cheney said he thinks Obama has been forced to rethink some of his national security positions now that he sits in the Oval Office…. – Fox News, 1-17-11
  • Tom Daschle to Barack Obama: Meet, eat with GOP leaders: As Washington begins another period of divided government, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle urged President Obama to reach out to Capitol Hill by holding more regular meetings with congressional leaders of both parties.
    “I would love to see the President of the United States hold a weekly breakfast with the four leaders, two Republican and two Democratic,” Daschle said in a recent interview with POLITICO. The former South Dakota Democrat, one of Obama’s earliest supporters and still an outside adviser, suggested the president and congressional leaders alternate venues. “I think it would be refreshing to have the President come down to Capitol Hill and meet down there,” he said…. – Politico, 1-17-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: What Obama can learn from Clinton, Reagan: Many political analysts are urging President Obama to give a State of the Union Address that is conciliatory toward Republicans and that acknowledges that voters are unhappy with the direction of his policies.
    Ever since he agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts in a compromise with Republicans, his poll numbers have been improving, and Obama has filled several key positions in his administration with moderate Democrats. There is reason to think that the president will continue this path….
    He can use this opportunity to answer some of the big questions surrounding his presidency. He can explain how and when the government can solve certain problems better then markets. He can explain to Americans how his health care bill will help contain costs for citizens. He can share with the country how he balances concerns over the deficit with the need to stimulate the economy and what exactly is the path he envisions toward a stronger economy.
    By tackling these and other questions, Obama has to use this opportunity to explain himself and his presidency, providing voters a stronger understanding of who he is and what policies he will defend as he enters into discussion with a Republican House…. – CNN, 1-24-11
  • ‘State of the Union’ Could Mark Turning Point for Obama, Historian Says: President Barack Obama’s Tuesday night State of the Union address comes at a critical moment in his presidency and could set the tone in Washington for years to come, says a presidential historian at the University of Indianapolis. This won’t be the first State of the Union delivered amid economic woes and stiff partisan opposition, Associate Professor Edward “Ted” Frantz says. Previous examples include Bill Clinton in 1995, Ronald Reagan in 1983 and Franklin Roosevelt in 1935.
    “The fundamental challenge for Roosevelt was getting business interests to trust him, and they never did,” Frantz says. In that case, however, Roosevelt was able to continue his New Deal economic reforms with the help of large Democratic majorities in Congress, an advantage Obama does not have…. – Newswise, 1-24-11
  • Reagan and Kennedy Are Role Models for Obama Obama’s message in Tucson was the kind of speech Kennedy and Reagan would have given: But historian Robert Dallek says both Kennedy and Reagan retain a grip on the popular imagination for similar reasons. “Kennedy and Reagan are the darlings of the public,” he says. “People remember them as inspirational voices. They gave people hope.” Dallek recalled a comment by historian Richard Hofstadter that Theodore Roosevelt, another iconic leader, was “the master therapist of the middle class.” Kennedy and Reagan played the same role. “Kennedy and Reagan made people feel good,” Dallek adds. “Kennedy and Reagan have become mythological figures, iconic figures.”… – US News, 1-21-11
  • What Would Ronnie Do?: Obama starts the second half of his term with a set of obstacles similar to those that bedeviled Ronald Reagan. On Reagan’s centennial, the president is looking to the past for inspiration…. – Newsweek, 1-23-11
  • Ari Berman: Obama: Triangulation 2.0?: Immediately following the Democrats’ 2010 electoral shellacking, a broad spectrum of pundits urged President Obama to “pull a Clinton,” in the words of Politico: move to the center (as if he wasn’t already there), find common ground with the GOP and adopt the “triangulation” strategy employed by Bill Clinton after the Democratic setback in the 1994 midterms. “Is ‘triangulation’ just another word for the politics of the possible?” asked the New York Times. “Can Obama do a Clinton?” seconded The Economist. And so on. The Obama administration, emphatic in charting its own course, quickly took issue with the comparison. According to the Times, Obama went so far as to ban the word “triangulation” inside the White House. Politico called the phrase “the dirtiest word in politics.”…. – The Nation, 2-7-11
  • House votes to repeal health-care reform: What happens now?: Though the House has repealed health-care reform, it won’t be repealed by the Senate, meaning the effort is virtually dead. But House Republicans can still try to dismantle the law by other means.
    “We have a bill that expanded coverage, put new regulations in place, but it’s not clear it cuts the cost of health care,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. “That’s a criticism you saw from left, right and center.” “If the debate moves in that direction, there’s room to form some kind of bipartisan support for more stringent cost controls,” he adds. “But on the other hand, both parties also have a stake in posturing going into 2012 elections.”… – CS Monitor, 1-19-11
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Can Boehner’s GOP deliver on promises?: Following a traumatic week for the nation in the wake of the Arizona shootings, Congress will get back to business this week. As House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s spokesperson announced, “It is important for Congress to get back to work, and to that end we will resume thoughtful consideration of the health care bill.”
    On Capitol Hill, Republicans find themselves in a position that seemed inconceivable a few years earlier, even to most conservatives. Although Democrats retain control of the White House and Senate, many Republicans were elated when they won control of the House and had the votes to elect John Boehner as speaker….
    The ways in which the Republican Party responds to these challenges will play an important role in defining what kind of political party Republican candidates will be able to champion in 2012 — and what kind of party President Obama will be able to attack on the campaign trail…. – CNN, 1-17-11
  • ‘Historian’ Douglas Brinkley: Obama ‘like’ Martin Luther King, Douglas Brinkley, presidential historian: “I thought President Obama did a wonderful job this evening. I thought that he really brought people together. I mean, when he, in the middle of the speech, said, ‘Gabby opened her eyes, Gabby opened her eyes,’ & you could almost hear a Martin Luther King-like inflection — And he carried that throughout a lot of the speech. “I was, like David Gergen earlier, a little put off by the atmospherics, 14,000 cheering people. But the president, I think, worked his way into that atmosphere. So, by the end of it, you could almost feel people hugging in the excitement, in the warmth & the love in the arena.”… – CNN, 1-13-11
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