November 14, 2008: The Obama Transition Continues, Bipartisanship & the Historical Moment

POLITICS & PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION WATCH:

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Stats:

  • A timeline of the Obama campaign – Newsday
  • Get to know the Obamas: Bios of Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha – Newsday

The Headlines…

    President-Elect Barack Obama Transition office: http://change.gov/

  • Hillary Clinton emerges as US State dept candidate: Sen. Hillary Clinton emerged on Thursday as a candidate to be U.S. secretary of state for Barack Obama, months after he defeated her in an intense contest for the Democratic presidential nomination. – Reutera, 11-14-08
  • Obama resigns Senate seat effective Sunday – Reuters, 11-13-08
  • Palin stars at Republican governors meeting – Reuters, 11-13-08For Obama and Family, a Personal Transition – NYT, 11-13-08
  • Obama inauguration in January – but D.C. travel rush underway: Barack Obama won’t be sworn in as the nation’s 44th president for two months, but his historic election has already set off a frenzied scramble for inauguration tickets, hotel rooms and flights to Washington. – San Francisco Chronicle, 11-13-08
  • Crowd of 1 million could attend Obama inauguration: AP, 11-13-08
  • US general urges Obama to keep missile defense – AP, 11-12-08
  • Cheney, Biden to meet privately at VP residence – AP, 11-12-08
  • Obama to pioneer Web outreach as president: Transition officials call it Obama 2.0 — an ambitious effort to transform the president-elect’s vast Web operation and database of supporters into a modern new tool to accomplish his goals in the White House. If it works, the new president could have an unprecedented ability to appeal for help from millions of Americans who already favor his ideas, bypassing the news media to pressure Congress. – AP, 11-12-08
  • Obama taps veteran Dems for DoD, State handovers: President-elect Obama has hired former Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sam Nunn to help shepherd his Pentagon transition, a spokeswoman said Tuesday. Similarly, a senior administration official said former Secretary of State Warren Christopher would advise Obama on his State Department transition. – AP, 11-11-08
  • Catholic bishops will fight Obama on abortion – AP, 11-11-08
  • Bush wistfully salutes veterans on Intrepid in NYC: President Bush wistfully saluted the nation’s veterans Tuesday as he prepares to hand two ongoing wars over to his successor, saying he’ll “miss being the commander in chief of such a fabulous group.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • Pelosi calls for emergency aid for auto industry – AP, 11-11-08
  • Obama wants Lieberman to stay with Senate Dems – AP, 11-11-08
  • Bush, Obama discuss economy, foreign policy – AP, 11-10-08
  • Obama, Bush complete historic White House meeting: The Bushes welcomed the Obamas to the White House on Monday, visiting for nearly two hours and offering the nation a glimpse of a new first family at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. President-elect Obama and President Bush met in the Oval Office, their first substantive one-on-one session, while first lady Laura Bush and Obama’s wife, Michelle, talked in the White House residence. – AP, 11-10-08
  • DNC Chairman Howard Dean will not seek second term: Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean plans to step down from his post when his term expires in January, wrapping up a tenure in which the party heavily invested in all 50 states for a payoff that helped elect Barack Obama president. – AP, 11-10-08
  • Senator asks sites not to sell inaugural tickets – AP, 11-10-08
  • Obama plans US terror trials to replace Guantanamo: President-elect Obama’s advisers are crafting plans to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and prosecute terrorism suspects in the U.S., a plan that the Bush administration said Monday was easier said than done. – AP, 11-10-08

President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush and President-elect Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama pause for photographs Monday, Nov. 10, 2008, after the Obama's arrival at the South Portico of the White House. White House photo by Chris Greenberg

President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush and President-elect Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama pause for photographs Monday, Nov. 10, 2008, after the Obama’s arrival at the South Portico of the White House. White House photo by Chris Greenberg

Political Quotes

  • Barack Obama resigns Senate seat effective Sunday: “It has been one of the highest honors and privileges of my life to have served the people of Illinois in the United States Senate…. In a state that represents the crossroads of a nation, I have met so many men and women who’ve taken different journeys, but hold common hopes for their children’s future. It is these Illinois families and their stories that will stay with me as I leave the United States Senate and begin the hard task of fulfilling the simple hopes and common dreams of all Americans as our nation’s next president.” — Reuters, 11-13-08
  • Edwards speaks about Obama, Clinton but not affair: “In many ways, Barack Obama symbolizes what’s possible in America… That long, drawn-out, tough process played a role in making him a better candidate. He was well-prepared for this general election campaign.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • George W. Bush to CNN: Obama scoped daughters’ bedrooms after visit: “One of things President-elect Obama was interested in — after we had our policy discussions — was his little girls. How would they like the White House? It was interesting to watch him go upstairs, and he wanted to see where his little girls were going to sleep….
    I said ‘Bill, I’m getting ready to meet with the new president and I remember how gracious you were to me,’ ‘I hope I can be as gracious to President-elect Obama as you were to me.’….
    Clearly, this guy is going to bring a great sense of family to the White Hous. I hope Laura and I did the same thing, but I believe he will and I know his girls are on his mind and he wants to make sure that first and foremost he is a good dad. And I think that’s going to be an important part of his presidency….
    I’m not sure what to expect. I know I’ll miss certain things about the presidency. I also know I’m looking forward to getting home, so I’ve got mixed emotions.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • Bush wistfully salutes veterans on Intrepid in NYC: “Today we send a clear message to all who have worn the uniform: Thank you for your courage, thank you for your sacrifice, and thank you for standing up when your nation needed you most. I will miss being the commander in chief of such a fabulous group of men and women, those who wear the uniform of the United States military.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • Vice President Dick Cheney marked Veterans Day by solemnly placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. Cheney then offered a glowing tribute to the U.S. armed forces: “No single military power in history has done greater good, shown greater courage, liberated more people, or upheld higher standards of decency and valor.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • McCain says Palin didn’t hurt presidential bid to Jay Leno during an “Tonight Show” interview taped for broadcast Tuesday night: “I’m so proud of her and I’m very grateful she agreed to run with me. She inspired people, she still does. I couldn’t be happier with Sarah Palin….
    I think I have at least a thousand, quote, top advisers. A top adviser said? I’ve never even heard of … a top adviser or high-ranking Republican official.
    “The people were very excited and inspired by her. That’s what really mattered, I think. She’s a great reformer.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pa.: Catholic bishops will fight Obama on abortion: “I cannot have a vice president-elect coming to Scranton to say he’s learned his values there when those values are utterly against the teachings of the Catholic Church….
    They cannot call themselves Catholic when they violate such a core belief as the dignity of the unborn. – AP, 11-11-08
  • Palin blames Bush policies for GOP defeat: “I’m like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I’m like, don’t let me miss the open door,” Palin said in an interview with Fox News on Monday. “And if there is an open door in ’12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plow through that door.”…
    “I did not order the clothes. Did not ask for the clothes,” Palin said. “I would have been happy to have worn my own clothes from Day One. But that is kind of an odd issue, an odd campaign issue as things were wrapping up there as to who ordered what and who demanded what.”….
    “It’s amazing that we did as well as we did. I think the Republican ticket represented too much of the status quo, too much of what had gone on in these last eight years, that Americans were kind of shaking their heads like going, wait a minute, how did we run up a $10 trillion debt in a Republican administration? How have there been blunders with war strategy under a Republican administration? If we’re talking change, we want to get far away from what it was that the present administration represented and that is to a great degree what the Republican Party at the time had been representing,” Palin said in a separate interview with the Anchorage Daily Newspublished Sunday. – AP, 11-10-08
  • Obama plans US terror trials to replace Guantanamo: At the White House, spokeswoman Dana Perino said Monday that President Bush has faced many challenges in trying to close the prison. “We’ve tried very hard to explain to people how complicated it is. When you pick up people off the battlefield that have a terrorist background, it’s not just so easy to let them go,” Perino said. “These issues are complicated, and we have put forward a process that we think would work in order to put them on trial through military tribunals.” – AP, 11-10-08

President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama walk the Colonnade to the Oval Office Monday, Nov. 10, 2008, as the President and Mrs. Laura Bush welcomed the President-elect and his wife, Michelle, to the White House. White House photo by Eric Draper
President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama walk the Colonnade to the Oval Office Monday, Nov. 10, 2008, as the President and Mrs. Laura Bush welcomed the President-elect and his wife, Michelle, to the White House. White House photo by Eric Draper

Historians’ Comments

  • ERIC FONER “What it meant In the great national narrative, where will Obama’s election really fit? Five historians answer”: MOST PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS do not fundamentally alter the American political landscape. Even when the party in power changes, the basic assumptions governing policy generally remain the same. But in a few critical elections, the advent of a new president is a transformative moment that reshapes American public life for a generation or more….
    Obama has the bad luck to come to power in the midst of an economic crisis. He has the good luck to do so in a country yearning for strong leadership and a renewed sense of political possibility. No president can perform miracles. But if, like his most successful predecessors, Obama seizes the occasion by striking out boldly, articulating forcefully a new philosophy of governing at home and relating to the rest of the world, we will add 2008 to the very short list of elections that have truly transformed American life. – Boston Globe, 11-9-08
  • STEVEN F. LAWSON “What it meant In the great national narrative, where will Obama’s election really fit? Five historians answer”: IT HAS TAKEN 43 years since passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which extended the right to vote to the majority of African-Americans, for a black candidate to become president of the United States. The significance of this achievement rises further when we remember that it has been nearly 90 years since women received the suffrage and that no woman has been elected president or even chosen by the two major parties to run.
    Barack Obama’s election confirms the faith that the civil rights movement placed in the power of the right to vote. In becoming commander in chief, Obama has inherited the legacy of countless civil rights warriors who risked their lives and many who lost theirs, to gain the right to vote, not as an empty symbol, but as a genuine tool for freedom and equality. He stands on the shoulders of John Lewis, Medgar Evers, Amzie Moore, Ella Baker, and Martin Luther King Jr., among many others….
    And, remember, Obama’s triumph does not guarantee the election of another African-American any time soon. John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic to win election to the presidency in 1960 and remains the only Catholic president to date. In fact, unless Americans become racially blind, which has not happened through 500 years, it will become harder for African-Americans to win the White House again. Demography is working against them, as Hispanic-Americans have now become the nation’s largest minority group. – Boston Globe, 11-9-08
  • THOMAS J. SUGRUE “What it meant In the great national narrative, where will Obama’s election really fit? Five historians answer”: ON ELECTION NIGHT, Barack Obama addressed nearly 200,000 supporters in Chicago’s Grant Park – the place where, just 40 years earlier, antiwar protesters, hippies, yippies and black radicals clashed with police during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Alternative visions of America had collided on Chicago’s streets: dissent versus “America love it or leave it” patriotism, militancy versus law and order, sexual libertinism versus family values. Obama’s Grant Park celebration – just like the election of 2008 – exorcized the ghosts of 1968, perhaps forever….
    Generation Obama has its own issues: global warming, worldwide epidemics, the threat of terrorism, and the collapse of the financial markets, to name a few. McCain’s evocations of small-town values, of dissent and the silent majority and campus radicalism, left those problems unaddressed. Obama’s rhetoric of unity – of common purpose and common cause – threw the dated politics of division and resentment into the dustbin of history. The cultural warriors, fighting over law and order, God, guns, and family values, will not be silent during the Obama administration, but they are increasingly relics of the past. – Boston Globe, 11-9-08
  • JACQUELINE JONES “What it meant In the great national narrative, where will Obama’s election really fit? Five historians answer”: NOW THAT HALF a century has passed since the election of President Barack Obama, we can begin to place that watershed event into historical perspective.
    Those of us who witnessed the turbulent campaign of ’08 recall that, at the time, many pundits, scholars, and politicians argued that “racial progress” constituted the true significance of Obama’s election. Certainly his success at the polls that year was a great symbolic victory; less than a century and a half earlier, the vast majority of Americans of African descent were enslaved, and as late as 1965, the vast majority of rural black Southerners were disenfranchised. Obama’s election then was a triumph on two fronts: Many white Americans repudiated centuries of pervasive racial prejudice and discrimination to vote for a black man, and at the same time, President Obama represented the integration of blacks into the highest echelons of American elective office. The night of the election, Obama’s supporters joyfully celebrated what many considered to be the elimination of racial barriers to black people’s full participation in American political and social life….
    In time-honored fashion, many Americans searched for scapegoats to blame as the long era of freewheeling spending came to an abrupt halt; and in the years after 2008, those scapegoats were likely to be African-Americans and undocumented immigrants. In hindsight we know that contemporary observers who celebrated Obama’s victory as a new era in American “race relations” were sadly mistaken. – Boston Globe, 11-9-08
  • JOHN DITTMER “What it meant In the great national narrative, where will Obama’s election really fit? Five historians answer”: FIFTY YEARS FROM now historians will look back on the election of 2008 as a watershed. Transcending the issue of his race, Barack Obama assembled a new progressive coalition, galvanized by the young and minorities, that successfully challenged the conservative consensus that had defined American political life for more than a quarter century….
    On Election Day, men and women who had once fought for the right to vote stood in line for hours to elect a black president. At the Obama victory rally, when asked to explain the tears running down his cheek, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said he was thinking of all the martyrs who had given their lives to make the moment possible. Television footage from across the country showed people crying and hugging each other, evoking images of the spontaneous celebrations at the end of World War II. A new day seemed to be dawning. Once again America was leading by example, giving hope to all who believe in the possibilities of democracy. – – Boston Globe, 11-9-08
  • John Hope Franklin “In Obama’s victory, America comes to terms with past”: “This is one of the most historic moments, if not the most historic moment in the history of this country,” said 93-year-old John Hope Franklin, professor emeritus of history at Duke University. Franklin, one of the nation’s most accomplished historians, said Wednesday that he was confident that Obama could reach this historic milestone. “I knew that it would come sooner or later,” Franklin said. “I had the chance to meet and talk with him, so I was not shocked or terribly surprised because he is a winner.” – Kansas City Star, 11-13-08
  • Horace Huntley “In Obama’s victory, America comes to terms with past”: “I’ve taught for 35 years and I always tell my students, ‘When race comes into play, logic has a way of exiting.’ But I may have to revise that thinking after this,” said Horace Huntley, a historian and the director of oral history at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. “Now it appears that logic may be overtaking the illogical. It appears there’s a groundswell of sensibility.”
    To a generation of young blacks who never experienced overt racism, many can’t fully appreciate the magnitude of Obama’s victory. That’s mainly the fault of black parents and schools that don’t make civil rights history mandatory, Huntley said. – Kansas City Star, 11-13-08
  • Clarence Williams “In Obama’s victory, America comes to terms with past”: Clarence Williams, a history professor at the University of California at Davis, was equally pessimistic about Obama’s chances, saying he never thought he’d see a black president in his lifetime. “Because I think of the United States, historically, as a deeply and pervasive racist country,” Williams said. “It may have changed a bit in some ways, but in some ways it has not. And I have no shame about saying that to you.” Williams, who describes his feelings about America as “critical patriotism,” said that he, too, was heartened by the widespread support that Obama got from nonblack voters who gravitated to his positive message. “This notion of giving people hope is a very important thing,” he said.
    Williams warned, however, that Obama’s victory doesn’t mean that America is or ever will be colorblind. “But what it does is suggest we have taken another gigantic step forward with our racial problem,” Williams said.
    “We attempted to coddle our children and protect them from the harshness of the past rather than teach them what had taken place,” Huntley said. As a result, many young blacks “have put a diesel engine on an oxcart and raced away from their past,” Williams said. – Kansas City Star, 11-13-08
  • Nell Painter: “In Obama’s victory, America comes to terms with past”: Nell Painter, a history professor emeritus at Princeton University, also was taken by the country’s ability, in the end, to judge a black candidate based on his ideas rather than skin color. “The idea that we can vote for a black person for president just really makes me feel good about the United States, given our history,” Painter said. “It’s like we’re saying ‘Look, we’re not these bad old people any more. We’re fair-minded.’ It’s a powerfully positive statement about the United States turning its back on its evil ways.”
    “The breaking down of segregation made possible what we’re seeing today in Barack Obama,” Painter said. “This could not have happened in a segregated America. Too many white people would have found it impossible to vote for him.” – Kansas City Star, 11-13-08
  • Gil Troy “Obama’s “Historic” Triumph: Did He Win or was it a GO George – Get Out George W. victory by default?”: Historians have to navigate carefully when entering the strange, alluring world of media commentary. To maintain our integrity, we need boundaries. Presumably, those of us who comment believe that offering historical perspective even as history unfolds can elevate public debate, using current events as “teachable moments.” But most of the time journalists want us – especially on television – to do things we should not do, namely predict the future or determine the historical meaning of fleeting events as they unfold. Even on the air, historians should dodge certain questions. We should never predict. And we should sidestep premature queries such as “Is George W. Bush the worst president ever,” halfway through his term. Anyone who survived oral exams should be able to handle it. During last week’s remarkable redemptive moment as Barack Obama won the presidency, it seemed that most of the media wanted to trot out historians to certify that this election was indeed “historic.” — HNN, 11-13-08
  • Gil Troy “How Generation Y became Obama’s political animal”: “This is not a generation of enduring loyalty,” said Gil Troy, a presidential historian at McGill University. “They have quicksilver loyalties compared to their parents. At some point, there’ll be a confrontation between hope and government.” – Globe and Mail, 11-11-08
  • Allan Lichtman “‘President Obama’ Will Be Greeted By A Stack Of Problems”: Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University in Washington, D.C., said like great presidents of the past, however, Obama seems suited to the task of navigating the country through its current morass. “He’s very cool, very unruffled; he doesn’t panic and he’s retained his good humor, like Ronald Reagan, and that’s going to be very critical,” Lichtman explained. “Also, he’s been very inspirational and that’s an important quality because it helps bring people along with you and the only way to counter wealthy, special interests is the power of the people. That’s how Teddy Roosevelt countered special interests in his administration.”
    “I think it’s a return to a kind of liberalism that we have not seen since the 1960s, early 1970s,” said Lichtman. “Ther’s a much greater faith in government, a less militaristic approach to foreign policy and a much more multilateral approach compared to the Bush administration….there’s less of an emphasis on supporting the wealthy.”
    “Obama can take good lessons from Franklin Roosevelt, who came into office during a financial crisis, and that is bold, persistent determination and a willingness to try lots of different things. There is no one silver bullet for this economic problem.”
    “He’s shown tremendous willingness to experiment and change and try to do new things and not just walk down the line in Democratic orthodoxy,” he said.
    “Race is a sore spot,” said Lichtman, the American University historian. “He’ll have to tread softly but not back down, and he’s shown his ability to do that. The best way to defuse the issue of race is for Obama to show he can be president of all people and to govern well, and governing well means solving problems.” – Seattle Medium, 11-12-08
  • Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said she was hard-pressed to find a similar moment in history when the tone had changed so drastically, and so quickly, among so many people of such prominence. “The best answer I can give you,” said Goodwin, “is they don’t want to be on the wrong side of history.” – Star Tribune, 11-13-08
  • Douglas Brinkley, the best-selling author and professor of history at Rice University: “Monumental … a major shift in the zeitgeist of our times.”
  • Joan Hoff, a former president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency: “I can’t think of another election where the issues were two wars and a crashed economy. There just isn’t any historical precedent for this.”
  • James McPherson, author and professor emeritus of history at Princeton University: “It’s an historic turning point … an exclamation point of major proportions to the civil rights movement that goes back to the 1950s.”
  • Douglas Brinkley says Obama Could Permanently Ban ANWR Drilling: “I think what they’re trying to do is in the Obama administration, start pointing out some clear divot spots where they’re going to deviate from the Bush administration –things like Guantanamo, things that, ‘No, we are not going to be for drilling around parks.’ I wouldn’t be surprised in the coming year if you see someplace like ANWR in Alaska turn from being a wildlife refuge run by U.S. Fish and Wildlife and turn over to becoming a National Monument where you couldn’t drill. So you’re going to be, and that’s because you’re going to have to do some things sort of on the cheap. – http://www.businessandmedia.org, 11-12-08
  • Edna Greene Medford “Obama’s victory a ‘renewed hope'” Howard University history professor Edna Greene Medford said President-elect Barack Obama’s historic victory is “a symbol” to blacks, but “we don’t expect much because we know we’re not going to get much.” A Lincoln historian, Mrs. Medford said Mr. Obama, like Lincoln, is offering hope but black voters are “smart enough to know” that the 44th president is only one man and his election “does not mean that life is going to get better for me.” Mrs. Medford made her comments, which were disputed by Obama transition team officials, during a heady meeting of the Trotter Group of black columnists at Howard. – Washington Times, 11-12-08
  • Daryl Scott “Obama’s victory a ‘renewed hope'” 20th-century historian Daryl Scott, echoed the sentiment that Mr. Obama “ran a campaign on helping the middle class;” not the poor, who disproportionately are minorities and women. “There will be nothing done for the poor in the name of the poor, nothing done for blacks in the name of blacks,” Mr. Scott said. “Obama will do what Lincoln did – give them nothing but freedom.” – Washington Times, 11-12-08
  • Michael Honey, MLK historian, reflects on Obama presidency: “It took an African-American to really follow through on what freedom means. We have elected a leader whose insight comes from his own historical roots. He is trying to make freedom real for everybody.”…
    In 30 years, people of color will be in the majority in the United States. The U.S. is about inclusive equality and freedom. But a certain portion of the electorate is holding on to the old America. The old idea of white men running things doesn’t fit the reality of the country any more. It’s like we’ve been trying to build America while excluding a big part of America. We have had so much trouble [with racial issues]. But now that Obama has been elected, I feel like we’re finally dealing with our own history. We’re not living in unreality anymore. – http://www.tacomadailyindex.com, 11-10-08
  • Shelby Steele: ‘Why Obama Can’t Win’ Author Defends Analysis: “My feeling is that I stand by every word of the analysis — what is between the covers of the book. For the year I have had to apologize for the stupid, silly subtitle that was slapped on to the book.” – NYT, 11-10-08
  • Harold Holzer & James McPherson ask: WWLD? (What would Lincoln Do?): So, what lessons can Obama learn from what Lincoln did—and didn’t do—in the time between his election and inauguration? To find out, the Tribune asked two Lincoln scholars, Harold Holzer, author of the newly published “Lincoln President-elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861,” and James McPherson, author of the classic Civil War history tome “Battle Cry of Freedom” and “Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief,” published in October. – Chicago Tribune, 11-9-08
  • Timothy Garton Ash: Obama must show the way to a goal set by Russell, Einstein – and Reagan – Guardian (UK), 11-13-08
  • Alonzo Hamby: Why liberals now call themselves progressives Conservativenet, 11-12-08
  • Julian Zelizer: What Obama should do with Biden CNN, 11-10-08
  • Beverly Gage: Do Rookies Make Good Presidents? – Time Magazine, 11-5-08
  • Andrew Doyle: 2-minute Tuesday: Andrew Doyle, Associate professor of history at Winthrop University – Herald Online, 11-4-08
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Post Election News & Analysis: The Obama Presidency

POLITICS & PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION WATCH:

Election Result Snapshot:

    Google News Results

  • Barack Obama: 364, 53% 64,643,455
  • John McCain: 162, 46% 56,903,815 — 47%
  • Barr 0% 494,102 Nader (I) 1% 667,416
  • Nader 1% 667,416
  • Senate: 35 seats contested
    Democrats: 57, 18 won, +6
    Republicans: 40, 14 won
  • House: 435 seats contested
    Democrats: 254, +20
    Republicans: 173

Doug Mills/The New York Times

President-elect Barack Obama, who went for a morning workout on Thursday in Chicago, plans a news conference on Friday.

The Headlines…

  • Obama speaks with 9 world leaders: President-elect Obama accepted congratulations from nine presidents and prime ministers Thursday, returning calls from world leaders who reached out after his presidential victory. – AP, 11-7-08
  • Palin lays low as interview requests pile up: Gov. Sarah Palin hadn’t been back home in Alaska for a full day and her staff had begun fielding requests Thursday for postelection interviews, including from Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey, Larry King and others. AP, 11-7-08
  • Obama’s choice of Emanuel shows switch in tone: Barack Obama is signaling a shift in tactics and temperament as he moves from candidate to president-elect, picking sharp-elbowed Washington insiders for top posts. – AP, 11-6-08
  • Palin gone, anything but forgotten: GOP vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin returned home in defeat to Wasilla, Alaska, on Wednesday night – leaving behind eyebrow-raising tales about towel-clad appearances and internal campaign feuds. – San Francisco Chronicle, 11-6-08
  • Among Democrats’ Leadership Questions: What to Do With Lieberman?: As election returns in Oregon gave Democrats a sixth new seat in the Senate, Democratic leaders on Thursday began to confront some of the crucial personnel questions that would shape the next Congress, including the fate of Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut after his ardent backing of Senator John McCain for president. – NYT, 11-6-08
  • Tough Election Leaves GOP In Dire Straits: Politico: Republican Party Seen As Increasingly Out-Dated, In Its Worst Shape Since Rise Of The Conservative Coalition – Politico, 11-6-08
  • Rahm Emanuel Accepts Chief of Staff Post: President-elect Barack Obama said Thursday afternoon that he selected Representative Rahm Emanuel, a fierce and consummate navigator of the capital’s political terrain, as his chief of staff because he has “deep insights into the challenging economic issues that will be front and center for our administration.” – NYT, 11-6-08
  • Bush Wants to Ensure a Smooth Transfer to Obama: President Bush and Barack Obama on Monday will hold their first substantive talks about the nation’s daunting priorities as the transition to a Democratic administration accelerates. Bush, soon to return to Texas after two terms in office, ordered employees on Thursday to ensure a smooth transfer of power to Obama. The transition is a delicate dance in which the White House keeps the president-elect in the loop, and even solicits his input, but the decisions remain solely the president’s. – AP, 11-6-08
  • Breaking Down Obama’s Cabinet Contenders As Obama Prepares To Fill Key Cabinet Roles, CBSNews.com Looks At The Names Generating The Most Buzz In Washington – CBS News, 11-6-08
  • Obama Unveils Presidential Transition Team As Congratulations Pour In, President-Elect Begins Process To Build Cabinet To Help Deal With Challenges At Home And Abroad: President-elect Barack Obama Wednesday announced that his presidential transition team will be led by John Podesta, who served as chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, campaign advisor Valerie Jarrett, and Pete Rouse, who has been Obama’s chief of staff in the Senate. CBS/AP, 11-5-08
  • Obama picks Clinton alum Emanuel chief of WH staff: President-elect Barack Obama pivoted quickly to begin filling out his new administration on Wednesday, selecting hard-charging Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff while aides stepped up the pace of transition work that had been cloaked in pre-election secrecy. – AP, 11-5-08
  • Obama aims for smooth transition: Democrat Barack Obama put aside the victory celebrations on Wednesday and began crafting a White House team to help him lead a country mired in a deep economic crisis and two lingering … Reuters, 11-5-08
  • Great expectations: Obama will have to deliver: Over and over, Barack Obama told voters if they stuck with him “we will change this country and change the world.” They did, and now their expectations for him to deliver are firmly planted on his shoulders. Many supporters greeted his victory with euphoria. – AP, 11-5-08
  • McCain starts mapping out a new role in the Senate: Before resting from the grueling presidential race, John McCain began discussing with senior aides what role he will play in the Senate now that he has promised to work with the man who defeated him for president. One obvious focus will be the war in Iraq. After two years spent more on the campaign than in the Senate, McCain will return as the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee. – AP, 11-5-08
  • Minnesota Senate race heads into automatic recount: A slugfest for nearly two years, Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race headed into a new round Wednesday as the campaigns girded for an automatic statewide recount to determine whether Republican Sen. Norm Coleman’s bare lead over Democratic challenger Al Franken would stand. – AP, 11-5-08
  • Daley celebrates a peaceful rally GRANT PARK | ‘It was a homecoming … a baptism’ – Chicago Sun-Times, 11-6-08
  • World reaction to Obama victory: Elation – LA Times, 11-6-08

With Mrs. Laura Bush, the Vice President and Mrs. Cheney and Cabinet secretaries looking on, President George W. Bush addresses his staff Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008, on the South Lawn of the White House. Said the President, "As we head into this final stretch, I ask you to remain focused on the goals ahead. I will be honored to stand with you at the finish line." White House photo by Eric Draper

With Mrs. Laura Bush, the Vice President and Mrs. Cheney and Cabinet secretaries looking on, President George W. Bush addresses his staff Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008, on the South Lawn of the White House. Said the President, “As we head into this final stretch, I ask you to remain focused on the goals ahead. I will be honored to stand with you at the finish line.” White House photo by Eric Draper

Political Quotes

  • President-Elect Barack Obama: I announce this appointment first because the chief of staff is central to the ability of a president and administration to accomplish an agenda. And no one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel.
    Michelle and I look forward to meeting with President Bush and the First Lady on Monday to begin the process of a smooth, effective transition. I thank him for reaching out in the spirit of bipartisanship.”
  • Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff, Obama Administration: Now is a time for unity. I will do everything in my power to help you stitch together the frayed fabric of our politics, and help summon Americans of both parties to unite in common purpose….
    Like the record amount of voters who cast their ballot over the last month, I want to do everything I can to help deliver the change America needs. We have work to do, and Tuesday Americans sent Washington a clear message — get the job done.
    I want to say a special word about my Republican colleagues, who serve with dignity, decency and a deep sense of patriotism. We often disagree, but I respect their motives. Now is a time for unity, and Mr. President-elect, I will do everything in my power to help you stitch together the frayed fabric of our politics, and help summon Americans of both parties to unite in common purpose.
  • Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour: With the selection of Rahm Emanuel [as White House Chief of Staff] I think Sen. Obama is sending a strong signal of partisanship. He’s a hardball player if there ever was one. That doesn’t say much to me about this ‘post-partisan’ presidency.’
  • The House minority leader, John A. Boehner of Ohio, said in a statement: This is an ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil and govern from the center.
  • President George W. Bush: Earlier this year, I promised that I would sprint to the finish. I am keeping that promise, and I know I have given some of you a good workout along the way. As we head into this final stretch, I ask you to remain focused on the goals ahead. I will be honored to stand with you at the finish line.
    We face economic challenges that will not pause to let a new president settle in. This will also be America’s first wartime transition in four decades.

Historians’ Comments

  • David Greenberg “Landslide? Not Exactly: While 2008 represents an unmistakable repudiation of contemporary conservatism, Obama didn’t redraw the electoral map.
    The advent of America’s first black president inexorably calls forth the word historic. Uttered so frequently last evening, as it will be in the days ahead, the adjective would have been drained of meaning but for the palpable momentousness of Barack Obama’s election. Gone was the pretense of post-racialism; revealed was liberal America’s pride in the often-unsung progress toward equality and toleration achieved in the civil rights movement’s aftermath…. TheDailyBeast.com, 11-5-08
  • Alonzo Hamby “President-Elect and Champion Campaigner Obama”:
    ….Yet I am struck that so many different people see different Obamas….
    From my point of view, the transformation of the Daley organization into a 60s Popular Front, with room for Weathermen bombers, old Black Panthers, and Israel-haters are revelatory of the moral confusion of post-Vietnam American liberalism.
    Who IS the real BHO? I’m damned if I know, but I feel that I can only take him and his record at face value. No one can deny, however, that he ran a helluva of a campaign and is as charismatic a figure as we’ve seen in American politics for a long time. Let’s hope for the best. HNN, POTUS Blog, 11-5-08
  • Gil Troy “The Obama-McCain “Return Night” Reconciliation: Lasting Hope or Fleeting Moment?”:
    On Thursday, in Georgetown, Delaware, the losing and winning candidates from the various contests around that state will assemble for Return Day. In a ritual tracing its roots to 1791, voters and politicians will hear the official electoral returns and make nice, no matter how bitter their campaigns may have been. In addition to parading together down the main street in antique automobiles, the rivals will bury a ceremonial tomahawk, quite literally burying the hatchet. Late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, President-elect Barack Obama and Senator John McCain mounted their own version of this reconciliation ritual, offering a magnificent display of the grace, civility, and patriotism that could heal America, even during these painful times. – HNN, 11-5-08
  • Richard Norton Smith and Peniel Joseph Historians Answered Your Questions on Obama’s Win, 2008 Campaign:
    Sen. Barack Obama will become the country’s first black leader after a campaign season that broke records and saw female candidates break new ground. Historians Richard Norton Smith and Peniel Joseph answered your questions on this historic election. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • ELLEN FITZPATRICK, University of New Hampshire “An ‘evolution’ of U.S. democracy”:
    I think it’s an incredible moment in the history of this country, one of the more important moments we have seen ever.
    And that is because this election has resolved a moral contradiction that runs through the interstices of our history from its very founding.
    The founders were not able to deal with the issue of slavery and created a republic based on a set of values and beliefs that were denied to African-Americans through more than two centuries.
    And through segregation, after the Civil War, it was followed by segregation, the Jim Crow laws. And that moment — I think we’ve put a punctuation mark on a very important and rather shameful chapter….
    PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • PENIEL JOSEPH, Brandeis University “An ‘evolution’ of U.S. democracy”:
    Well, certainly I think we all agree at this roundtable that this election shows the evolution of American democracy. As historians, we realize that that evolution is not always a linear progression.
    So during the reconstruction era, for instance, we had the first generation of black elected officials, and then that time ended because of Jim Crow segregation. The civil rights movement became a second reconstruction, so to speak.
    And now, 40 years later, I think many African-Americans are thinking of this as a potential third reconstruction. But white Americans and Latinos have joined them, as well, so this really speaks to the potential, in terms of democratic progression for the nation. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University “An ‘evolution’ of U.S. democracy”:
    You know, 50 years later, we don’t think of John F. Kennedy — the first thing that comes to mind is not the first Catholic president.
    Clearly, it loomed much larger in November 1960 than it does 50 years later. And if 50 years from now, the most important thing about Barack Obama was his race, that would give me real pause, and it would suggest that his presidency, which ultimately is going to be about other things than race, was less than successful. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian: “An ‘evolution’ of U.S. democracy”:
    And, you know, in a way, that is what happens when there is success in breaking a barrier.
    You know, one reason we don’t think of John Kennedy so much as a Catholic is because, by breaking the barrier, people didn’t notice those things anymore.
    The second Catholic on a national ticket after Kennedy was William Miller, on with Barry Goldwater in 1964. No one even mentioned it, you know? And I think that will happen, the same thing with the second African- American on a national ticket after Barack Obama. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • ELLEN FITZPATRICK “Hopes and concerns”:
    I think what we’re seeing is a tremendous feeling on the part of the public that what they responded to was the sense of hope that was being offered.
    This was ridiculed at times in the campaign. But every social movement that has amounted to anything in American history was based on that kind of idealism and some powerful leadership, a figure, as well, that the greatest ones have been trans-historical, who were able to capture that mood and articulate it.
    And the shifting of generations evokes 1960, as well. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH “Hopes and concerns”:
    Franklin Roosevelt once said that, since our founding, we have been engaged in a permanent peaceful revolution, a revolution that he defined as being all about, ultimately, democratic inclusiveness. And that’s very much a part of the essentially optimistic, hopeful nature of the American people.
    I was struck by those comments. And last night, people feel good. People could have been very angry in this campaign, and certainly there was anger.
    But, you know, Barack Obama notably did not run as an angry candidate. Reagan-esque style, he really did appeal to our sense of possibility. Maybe not optimism, because it’s a tough time to be optimistic, but he clearly laid the groundwork for, in effect, a unity government after a period of considerable division. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • PENIEL JOSEPH “Obama’s challenges ahead”:
    Well, I think domestically we have to go back to FDR. And FDR talked about freedom from fear in 1932, freedom from want, talked about a new social contract with the body politic.
    Certainly. And by 1940, we were faced on the eve of the Second World War, at least the United States’ involvement in that conflict.
    Certainly, in 1960, John Kennedy faced a changing world within the midst of the Cold War, but I think what Obama is facing is unprecedented in a way. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS “Obama’s challenges ahead”:
    Well, you know, another part of this is that, you know, a political scientist would say we had a lot of the ingredients yesterday for high turnout, high intensity: two candidates with big differences on the major issues; and also an election where we really are at a crossroads on economic policy, social issues, national security.
    But I must say I must have been too jaded, because I would have said probably — and I would have been wrong 48 hours ago — that, you know, people have a sense that the system isn’t working and they won’t turn out in those numbers, numbers that approach 1908, 1960, years of very high turnout.
    But the other thing is that, you know, look at Obama. You were talking about optimism and hope. Look what kind of a leader he is.
    There was a potential in the last two months for a demagogue of the kind of Huey Long of Louisiana, to just start an angry campaign, “These horrible people on Wall Street are stealing your money, and the government is paying them off, and why are oil prices so high, and arms merchants got us into a war in Iraq, and oil, and all this stuff.”
    A leader could have gone very far with that kind of an angry appeal; none of that with Obama.
    So the result is that, elected as he is by a decent margin, he’s coming in with an appeal that is almost entirely positive. And I think that says very good things about this country. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH “Obama’s challenges ahead”:
    Well, not only positive, but almost post-ideological. I mean, the really remarkable thing, here is someone who in many ways — let’s face it — is a product of the civil rights revolution, who is a product of the ’60s.
    Certainly a beneficiary, absolutely, but who was very much a product of those times, and yet who’s been very explicit in making clear his desire to turn the page on our unhealthy, cultural obsession with the 1960s. And in a sense, he’s almost a post-boomer president. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • PENIEL JOSEPH “History’s lessons on expectations”:
    Well, I think the Obama campaign has talked about the first 100 days and reading books about FDR’s first 100 days to see how he would respond if he gets into the White House.
    I think when we look at somebody like Bill Clinton, there were high expectations, and the first year was kind of rocky. He got caught up in gays in the military and Whitewater instead of policy implications.
    So in terms of managing expectations, I think it’s going to be difficult, based on the 63 million votes — this is the most in American history — but based on the campaign and the discipline of his campaign, I think he’ll be able to manage it….
    Well, the 63 million for a Democrat. This is the most a victor has gotten in American history. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS “History’s lessons on expectations”: A blessing because he can call on those people and say, “You elected me to do A, and B, and C. I’m asking you for sacrifices that may be required to achieve those things. You people have to come among with me on that.”
    But, you know, here, again, Obama benefits from having read history. In that speech last night, he said, “You know, I may not do everything in my first year or even my first term.” You sort of think that he may have read John Kennedy’s inaugural, where he said, “All this will not be finished in the first 100 days, 1,000 days, life of this administration.”
    Occasionally it does really help when a president has read some history. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH “History’s lessons on expectations”: And echoes of Dr. King. “We may not get there.”…
    Well, I mean, the classic — I mean, Herbert Hoover went into office the most popular man in the country, deemed to be an economic wizard.
    That didn’t — that didn’t sustain itself….
    But what I believe, the inauguration, this is going to be the most exciting inauguration since Andrew Jackson. And the irony is, you know, Jackson ushered in a new era of, quote, “democracy,” very limited. It included basically white men.
    But, nevertheless, it was a profound shift from the well-bred and well-read who had governed the nation before Jackson.
    They had enormous expectations. They formed an army, a new politically potent army, and he sustained that, and he transformed the party, and he transformed the country.
    That’s a tall order. But, clearly, there was that same sense of excitement. And I think, in this case, it transcends narrowly partisan loyalties.
    As I say, there’s a real feeling in this country today of almost universal pride. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • ELLEN FITZPATRICK “History’s lessons on expectations”: I think that every president has a difficult job sustaining the momentum and meeting the expectations. But the great presidents rise to their historical moment.
    It may be a terrible moment. It may be a war; it may be a horrible depression. But the public, I think, is chastened. They understand what we’re up against, and they’re looking for leadership.
    If they provide leadership, even if they don’t have all the answers and the solutions, that will carry them. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • David Greenberg: McCain Ran the Sleaziest Campaign in History?: ….But unlike those exaggerations, the line about McCain threatens to stain a man’s name for history. And when viewed without partisan blinders or presentist lenses, the charge doesn’t hold up. Indeed, it says more about today’s political culture, which has grown unusually high-minded, and the emotions that Americans invest in presidential elections, which are unfailingly intense, than it does about McCain himself…. – Slate, 11-5-08
  • Allan Lichtman, presidential historian, American University “Latest : Historic win, Canada AM”: Allan Lichtman gives us his reaction to last night’s historic win. He also provides analysis of Obama’s election campaign strategy and the future of American politics – CTV, 11-5-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University “Political History Takes New Course in ’08 Election”: Oh, sure. There’s the history you make for the first time and there’s the history that you revisit.
    Clearly, in terms of what is unprecedented, the headline about this is, come January, we will have our first African-American president or our first female vice president. That’s the headline. And it’s a pretty impressive headline.
    Beyond that headline, however, when you begin to ask what is motivating people, in terms of voting, I think you can look at a number of elections in the past which are basically about the economy. And I think, for the last six weeks, that’s certainly been what has been driving this more than anything else.
    It feels a lot like 1980, when there was clearly a desire on the part of most people for something other than the status quo, but the challenger, Ronald Reagan, had to convince a majority of the country that he represented a safe alternative to the status quo. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • PENIEL JOSEPH, Brandeis University “Political History Takes New Course in ’08 Election”:
    Certainly. The idea that the United States, 43 years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, could actually have a major party nominee be an African-American is extraordinary and unprecedented.
    After signing the Voting Rights Act, August 6, 1965, Lyndon Johnson famously said that he was giving away the South, basically, for a generation. And except for a blip in 1976, when Carter won every southern state except for Virginia, that’s basically held true in two-person presidential elections.
    So the idea that an African-American, as all polls suggest, may become the next president is certainly historic and unprecedented. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian “Political History Takes New Course in ’08 Election”:
    Once, yes, but it hasn’t been enough. You know, I mean, first of all, it shouldn’t have taken until 1920 nor should it have taken until the end of the Civil War for African-Americans to get the vote.
    Our founders were terrific, but this is a good night to remember, as wonderful as we think they are and admire them for all sorts of reasons, these were people who did not consider African-Americans fully human, considered them mainly slaves, and also never conceived of the idea that women would be an important part of our political culture.
    This night is a triumph in those terms, too. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH “Parallels to the ’30s”:
    Well, the difference, of course, is that you had this slow-motion train wreck. I mean, you’d had three years in which the American people had been marinated in despair. And, basically, millions of them had given up hopes.
    They had lost their homes; they’d lost their jobs. And they were un-American, in the sense that they had lost that most American sense of optimism, that the future is our friend.
    So Franklin Roosevelt, who, by the way, as you know, was written off by a lot of journalists and would-be pundits in the ’32 campaign as an amiable lightweight, nevertheless won simply because he wasn’t Herbert Hoover.
    And the fact that he promised an experimental, innovative kind of government to a people who were tired of a government that appeared frozen in indifference, the difference, of course, is now — to be sure, people all year long have been saying the economy is the number-one issue, but it’s only in the last six weeks that there’s a sense of panic about the future….
    Yes, what happened in 1980 was people — Americans always believe the future is going to be better than the present. In 1980, there was a disconnect. People questioned that. And that was made-to-order for Ronald Reagan. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS “Parallels to the ’30s”:
    I think ’32 will do, because, you know, ’32 was, as Richard is saying, as we’ve suggested, a huge economic problem. But the thing about this year is we’re not just at a fork in the road on our economic system. We’re at a fork in the road also on national security. That rarely happens.
    ’32 was a big economic election; 1940, Franklin Roosevelt was running against Wendell Willkie, who was saying, “Don’t help the British. Let’s stay out of what would become World War II.” Now you’ve got a time when both of these issues are combined in one year.
    You know, all of us, I think, as historians tend to think that you can only see something as historic in retrospect, but anyone tonight who’s going to say that the next president is not going to have an enormous effect over how this country changes on both of those fronts I think is kidding themselves. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08PBS Newshour, 11-4-08

Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman is not sure which direction he is going in the Senate leadership.

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