December 2, 2008: Obama Presents Hillary and His National Security Team & The Canadian Political Gamble

POLITICS & PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION WATCH:

President-Elect Barack Obama’s National Security Team: President-Elect Barack Obama unveiled his national security team at a press conference in Chicago on December 1st, 2008. – You Tube, 12-1-08

Canada in Focus:

  • Liberals, NDP Reach Coalition Deal: “Harper accused the Liberals of playing the “biggest political game in history.”: Liberal Leader Stephane Dion sent a letter to Michaelle Jean today advising that the Harper government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons.
    He said the Liberals and NDP – backed by the Bloc Quebecois – have reached a deal to form a coalition for at least 18 months, with Dion as prime minister until spring.
    Dion’s letter states that the new government “will effectively, prudently, promptly and competently address these critical economic times.” – Canadian Press, 12-1-08
  • THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The Headlines…

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

President-elect Barack Obama in Chicago announcing appointments, including Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state.

  • Hillary Clinton A Concession Wrapped in an Acceptance: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s speech was no ordinary public-service pledge; for plenty of viewers, it was the moment when Mrs. Clinton finally conceded the election for real.
    The occasion was solemn, but like a wedding where the parents are divorced, the ceremony was carefully choreographed to avert awkward moments and camouflage past unpleasantness. – NYT, 12-2-08
  • Holder a historic pick for A.G., with big challenges ahead: Eric Holder, the first African-American nominee for attorney general, has blazed trails before. He was the first black U.S. attorney, the Justice Department’s first black deputy attorney general — its second-highest- ranking official — and the acting attorney general for 14 days at the end of the Clinton administration. – USA Today, 12-1-08
  • Clinton begins new chapter with State job: She may not have the title she sought, but Hillary Clinton still got what she wanted on Monday: the opportunity to “clean up” after President George W. Bush on the world stage. Clinton, the one-time Democratic White House hopeful, became the face of President-elect Barack Obama’s foreign policy, putting aside any lingering doubts about her former rival as she accepted his offer to be secretary of state. – Reuters, 12-1-08
  • Live Blog: Presenting the National Security Team – NYT, 12-1-08
  • Who will replace Hillary Clinton as New York senator? The scramble to replace Hillary Clinton on Capitol Hill was well underway by the time President-elect Obama officially nominated her Monday morning. Among those mentioned to to take her seat as New York’s junior senator: her husband, former President Bill Clinton. – CNN, 12-1-08
  • Obama Releases Names of Donors – NYT, 12-1-08
  • Obama taps Clinton, Gates for US ‘new dawn’ abroad: Barack Obama promised “a new dawn of American leadership” in a troubled world Monday, announcing a strong-willed national security team headed by Hillary Rodham Clinton, who fought him long and bitterly for the presidency, and Robert Gates, the man who has been running two wars for George W. Bush. – AP, 12-1-08
  • Is Obama America’s First Co-President?: Presidential historians say Barack Obama has a larger role than any president-elect in the last 75 years, as he takes on the financial crisis even before taking office. – Fox News, 12-1-08

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday with President-elect Barack Obama.

Political Quotes

  • Obama’s National Security Team Announcement: And so in this uncertain world, the time has come for a new beginning, a new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century and to seize the opportunities embedded in these challenges.
    We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends. We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships. We will show the world once more that America is relentless in the defense of our people, steady in advancing our interests, and committed to the ideals that shine as a beacon to the world. Democracy and justice, opportunity and unyielding hope because American values are America’s greatest export to the world.
    To succeed, we must pursue a new strategy that skillfully using, balances, and integrates all elements of American power, our military, and diplomacy, our intelligence and law enforcement, our economy and the power of our moral example. The team that we’ve assembled here today is uniquely suited to do just that.
    In their past service and plans for the future, these men and women represent all of the those elements of American power and the very best of the American example. They’ve served in you uniform and as diplomats. They have worked as legislators, law enforcement officials, and executives. They share my pragmatism about the use of power and my sense of purpose about America’s role as a leader in the world.
    I have known Hillary Clinton as a friend, a colleague, a source of counsel, and a tough campaign opponent. She possesses an extraordinary intelligence and a remarkable work ethic. I am proud that she will be our next secretary of state. She’s an American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence, who know many of the world’s leaders, who will command respect in every capital, and who will clearly have the ability to advance our interests around the world…. – NYT, 12-1-08
  • BARACK OBAMA, President-elect of the United States: They would not have agreed to join my administration and I would not have asked them to be part of this administration unless we shared a core vision of what’s needed to keep the American people safe and to ensure prosperity here at home and peace abroad.
    I assembled this team because I’m a strong believer in strong personalities and strong opinions. I think that’s how the best decisions are made.
    One of the dangers in a White House, based on my reading of history, is that you get wrapped up in group-think, and everybody agrees with everything, and there’s no discussion and there are no dissenting views. So I’m going to be welcoming a vigorous debate inside the White House.
    But, understand, I will be setting policy as president. I will be responsible for the vision that this team carries out, and I expect them to implement that vision once decisions are made….
    Look, I mean, I think this is fun for the press to try to stir up whatever quotes were generated during the course of the campaign. No, I understand. And you’re having fun. But — and there’s nothing wrong with that. I mean, I’m not — I’m not faulting it.
    But, look, I think if you look at the statements that Hillary Clinton and I have made outside of the heat of a campaign, we share a view that America has to be safe and secure. And in order to do that, we have to combine military power with strength and diplomacy. And we have to build and forge stronger alliances around the world so that we’re not carrying the burdens and these challenges by ourselves.
    I believe that there’s no more effective advocate than Hillary Clinton for that well-rounded view of how we advance American interests. – PBS Newshour, 12-1-08
  • HILLARY CLINTON, Secretary of State-designate: America is a place founded on the idea that everyone should have the right to live up to his or her God-given potential. And it is that same ideal that must guide America’s purpose in the world today.
    And while we are determined to defend our freedoms and liberties at all costs, we also reach out to the world again, seeking common cause and higher ground. – PBS Newshour, 12-1-08
  • ROBERT GATES, Secretary of Defense: Mindful that we are engaged in two wars and face other serious challenges at home and around the world, and with a profound sense of personal responsibility to and for our men and women in uniform and their families, I must do my duty as they do theirs. How could I do otherwise? – PBS Newshour, 12-1-08
  • SEN. JOE BIDEN, Vice President-elect of the United States: Each member shares our conviction that strength and wisdom must go hand in hand. Each member believes as we do that America’s security is not a partisan issue. – PBS Newshour, 12-1-08
  • Former President Bill Clinton released the following statement: As an American, I am thankful that President-elect Barack Obama has asked Hillary to be Secretary of State and that she has accepted. As her husband, I am deeply proud.
    She is the right person for the job of helping to restore America’s image abroad, end the war in Iraq, advance peace and increase our security, by building a future for our children with more partners and fewer adversaries, one of shared responsibilities and opportunities.
    She has already earned the respect of foreign leaders and diplomats through her work to promote human rights and the empowerment of women through access to education, healthcare and economic opportunity. And Americans know, from her leadership in the Senate on national security, that she will always put the security, values and the interests of our people first.
    In her service to the people of New York and our nation, Hillary has demonstrated the knowledge, passion, resilience, and capacity to learn that our country needs at this critical time. She loves being a Senator from New York, but as she has in all the thirty-seven years I’ve known her, she answered the call to serve. I commend President-Elect Obama for asking her to be a part of a great national security team. America will be well-served. – NYT, 12-1-08
  • Bush sorry economic crisis has cut jobs, 401 (k)s: “I’m sorry it’s happening, of course. Obviously I don’t like the idea of people losing jobs, or being worried about their 401(k)s. On the other hand, the American people got to know that we will safeguard the system. I mean, we’re in. And if we need to be in more, we will.”….
    “A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn’t just people in my administration. A lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington, D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence. I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess. That is a do-over that I can’t do. It’s hard for me to speculate.””….
    “I think I was unprepared for war. In other words, I didn’t campaign and say, ‘Please vote for me, I’ll be able to handle an attack.’ In other words, I didn’t anticipate war. Presidents – one of the things about the modern presidency is that the unexpected will happen.”
    “I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so”…
    “I think it was a repudiation of Republicans. I think most people voted for Barack Obama because they decided they wanted him to be in their living room for the next four years explaining policy. In other words, they made a conscious choice to put him in as president.”
    “It is hard for the average citizen to understand how frozen the system became and how over-leveraged the system became. And so what we’re watching is the de-leveraging of our financial markets, which is obviously affecting the growth of the economy.”
    “This economy will recover. And when it recovers, many of the assets backed by the government now will be redeemed, and we will – could conceivably – make money off of some of the holdings. I can’t guarantee that we’ll get all our money back, but it’s conceivable we could.” – AP, 12-1-08CNN

President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush react during a question and answer session Monday, Dec. 1, 2008, at the Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. White House photo by Eric Draper

President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush react during a question and answer session Monday, Dec. 1, 2008, at the Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. White House photo by Eric Draper Full Story

    • Bush: ‘I Was Unprepared for War’ to ABC News’s Charles Gibson: I’ll be frank with you. I don’t spend a lot of time really worrying about short-term history. I guess I don’t worry about long-term history, either, since I’m not going to be around to read it — but, look, in this job you just do what you can. The thing that’s important for me is to get home and look in that mirror and say, I did not compromise my principles. And I didn’t. I made tough calls. And some presidencies have got a lot of tough decisions to make…. – NYT, 12-1-08
    • Rush Limbaugh endorses Clinton for Obama’s cabinet: “You know the old phrase, ‘You keep your friends close and your enemies closer?’ How can she run for president in 2012? She’d have to run against the incumbent and be critical of him – the one who made her secretary of state.” – AP, 12-1-08
    • Palin urges Ga. voters to back Chambliss in runoff: “Losing an election doesn’t mean we have lost our way. If we are to lead again, we have lots of hard work ahead of us. Let it begin here tomorrow in Georgia.” – AP, 12-1-08

    Historians’ Comments

    • PHILIP ZELIKOW, University of Virginia “Obama Crafts Team to Rethink Foreign Policy Challenges”: I want you to note that he’s picked them and presented them as a team. Usually, when people speculate about these jobs, it’s, well, who would be the best secretary of state? Who would be the best national security adviser?
      What you’re looking for from the point of view of the president is the composition of the team. The chemistry of the team in some ways is more important than the chemistry of any of the individual elements. You’re creating a compound, and the team will end up having a distinctive character.
      When this president came into office in 2001, people thought it was a glittering array of talents, all this experience. But the chemistry of the team in some ways didn’t realize some of the hopes people had for it.
      So what President-elect Obama has done, which a lot of experts like me have been urging a lot of president-elects to do, is to think of the administration as a team and compose it that way. He’s done that with the economic team; he’s done that now with the national security team. And I think it’s terrific.

      It is a team that’s not ideological in the sense of it’s not a team that’s associated with the Democratic Party’s ideology. I mean, Gates is in the administration now. Jim Jones has been working as a special envoy for Secretary Rice for more than a year-and-a-half in the Middle East.
      This is not a team that’s being picked because they’ve hit particular litmus tests. It’s a team I think they’ve picked, frankly, because they’re looking at the need for change in national security affairs in two ways.
      First, in Afghanistan, I think they’re looking at a radical change of strategy. They’re going to need to put that change of strategy in place during the winter so that they’ll have forces ready with a new strategy by the time the fighting season returns in the spring.
      That means they need to keep continuity at defense, and they need an experienced hand with NATO and Afghanistan in the White House.
      And the other area of change is, I think, President-elect Obama really wants to hit the energy and climate issues pretty hard. There’s a heavy diplomatic agenda for that in the first year.
      And Jim Jones actually, beyond the background as a Marine and with NATO, actually has done a lot of work on energy issues recently. And it means he’s got a guy in the West Wing who knows energy, and so he doesn’t have to put an energy and climate czar in the White House.

      I’m not sure you get the strong — everybody wants truth-tellers. And they believe it. Whether you actually get truth-telling depends on what kind of process you run.
      This turns a lot on Jones. Sen. Clinton is a politician. Blunt candor in places where it might leak out is not a quality that politicians ordinarily prize.
      It’s going to be up to Jim Jones to run a process that really draws out blunt statements that have analytic clarity to develop policy. And he’s inheriting a policy-development process that’s had some really serious problems in both Democratic and Republican administrations for more than 15 years.
      It’s not a good quality policy process. It hasn’t been for a long time. He has a heavy burden to try to build that up as he faces a formidable agenda. – PBS Newshour, 12-1-08

    • Julian Zelizer “Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama stretch wings over Mumbai”: “If a country is in a crisis and the incumbent administration is weak or inactive, why not have the new President get a jump start?” said Princeton University’s Julian Zelizer. “The more he can do now, in terms of setting up shop and outlining his ideas, the faster he can move after the starting gun in January.” – NY Daily News, 11-28-08
    • Julian Zelizer: Will Bill Clinton capitalise on Hillarys success by taking over her Senate seat? – ANI, 12-1-08
    • Julian Zelizer Commentary: Why Obama’s picks will make Bill Clinton smile: Many observers use historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s term, “A Team of Rivals,” to describe the Cabinet that President-elect Barack Obama is assembling.
      They use the term to characterize choices like former Obama opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton — expected to be nominated Monday as secretary of state — and current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who is being asked to stay on by Obama.
      But a more useful term might be a team of centrists. The most striking characteristic of the current lineup is how the personalities reflect the centrist vision of the Democratic Party promoted by Bill Clinton and his colleagues at the Democratic Leadership Council in the 1990s. – CNN, 12-1-08
    • Andrew J. Bacevich Expanding War, Contracting Meaning The Next President and the Global War on Terror
      Not long ago, I had a long conversation with a four-star U.S. military officer who, until his recent retirement, had played a central role in directing the global war on terror. I asked him: what exactly is the strategy that guides the Bush administration’s conduct of this war? His dismaying, if not exactly surprising, answer: there is none.
      President Bush will bequeath to his successor the ultimate self-licking ice cream cone. To defense contractors, lobbyists, think-tankers, ambitious military officers, the hosts of Sunday morning talk shows, and the Douglas Feith-like creatures who maneuver to become players in the ultimate power game, the Global War on Terror is a boon, an enterprise redolent with opportunity and promising to extend decades into the future…..
      Bush’s supporters beg to differ, of course. They credit the president with having averted a recurrence of 9/11, doubtless a commendable achievement but one primarily attributable to the fact that the United States no longer neglects airport security. To argue that, say, the invasion and occupation of Iraq have prevented terrorist attacks against the United States is the equivalent of contending that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank since in 1967 has prevented terrorist attacks against the state of Israel.
      Yet the existing strategic vacuum is also an opportunity. When it comes to national security at least, the agenda of the next administration all but sets itself. There is no need to waste time arguing about which issues demand priority action.
      First-order questions are begging for attention. How should we gauge the threat? What are the principles that should inform our response? What forms of power are most relevant to implementing that response? Are the means at hand adequate to the task? If not, how should national priorities be adjusted to provide the means required? Given the challenges ahead, how should the government organize itself? Who — both agencies and individuals — will lead?
      To each and every one of these questions, the Bush administration devised answers that turned out to be dead wrong. The next administration needs to do better. The place to begin is with the candid recognition that the Global War on Terror has effectively ceased to exist. When it comes to national security strategy, we need to start over from scratch. – Philadelphia Jewish Voice, 12-08
    • Michael Beschloss: The Great Inspirer Presidents for generations have turned to Lincoln for solace and guidance: ….It is no surprise that President-elect Barack Obama says he has been rereading the words of Lincoln; the 16th president has been a source of solace—and guidance—for American leaders for well more than a century. Like Stevenson, whose ancestor had been a Lincoln campaign manager, Theodore Roosevelt had listened to tales of his family ties to the great man since he was a child: his father had worked in Lincoln’s government and escorted the president and Mary to church… Newsweek, 11-15-08
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    June 30-July 14, 2008: Floundering on the Campaign Trail

    PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH: HNN, June 30-July 14, 2008

    The week that was….

    • July 13, 2008: Obama claims “little doubt we’ve moved into recession.” McCain experienced a bumpy week after unveiling a new campaign hierarchy; McCain made a a concritized joke about U.S. cigarettes killing Iranians, he criticized the Social Security program, and one of his top ecomnic advisors called the country “a nation of whiners” suffering a “mental recession.”
    • July 12, 2008: Obama’s statement that the United States should be a multilngual nation has spawned criticism from Republicans.
    • July 11, 2008: McCain devotes a day to Women voters he spoke with female business owners in Minnesota and in Wisconsin held a women-oriented town-hall meeting, where he told the audience that his tax cuts will help women in small business. McCain also released a new ad titled “God’s Children aimed at drumming up support from Hispanic and Latino voters with its pro-immigrant message.
    • July 10, 2008: McCain distanced himself from Phil Gramm, one of his top ecomnic advisors’s comments where he called the country “a nation of whiners” suffering a “mental recession.” McCain told reporters “I strongly disagree” with Phil Gramm’s remarks. Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me.”
      Obama hosted with Hilary Clinton a “Women for Obama” breakfast fundraiser, where they criticized McCain on Women’s issues and Obama claimed “I will never back down in defending a woman’s right to choose.”
      While campaigning in Michigan McCain stated that Fannie and Freddie Mac “have been responsible for millions of Americans to be able to own their own homes, and they will not fail, we will not allow them to fail.”
    • July 9, 2008: Both Obama and McCain agreed there is a need to renew pressure on Iran after they tested missiles. Obama stressed diplomacy, while McCain emphasized tougher economic sanctions and the need to create a new missile defense system.
      Obama is planning a trip to Germany, however, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is uneasy about the prospects that Obama will speak at the historic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
    • July 8, 2008: Both McCain and Obama pitched different economic plans to Hispanic voters in attempts to woo voters.

    The Stats

    • July 11, 2008: Gallup Poll Daily tracking claims Obama has a 6 point lead over McCain (48 percent to 42 percent).

    Historians Comment

    • Julian Zelizer on “Is John McCain too old to be President?” Does age matter? There may be no starker test of that question than the U.S. election, which features the widest age gap between the two parties’ presidential nominees in U.S. history:
      “This is a moment when a lot of voters are talking about change and reform, and youth is often part of what we equate with that.” – National Post, 7-12-08
    • Devin Fergus, a history professor at Vanderbilt College and the author of Black Power, Soft Power on “Jewish leader looks to Obama
      Rabbi hopes strong ties to black leaders will be rekindled”: “One thing that works in Obama’s favor is his mantra that the ’60s are so yesterday. He’s not a descendent of slaves. He’s not trying to refight the cultural wars. That gives him space to distance himself from the divisive politics of Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan.” – Winston-Salem Journal, 7-12-08
    • Jonathan Sarna on “Jewish leader looks to Obama Rabbi hopes strong ties to black leaders will be rekindled”:
      Either way, Jews, blacks and other minorities have started moving away from voting as a block — a trend that American Jewish historian Jonathan Sarna sees as healthy, both for Jews and the political process. “Nothing could be better for the Jewish community than to have both parties vying for the Jewish vote,” said Sarna, who teaches at Brandeis University. “What makes America a great country, in my view, is that both parties have learned that it’s dangerous to write a group off. We have very close elections and every vote counts.” Winston-Salem Journal, 7-12-08
    • Rick Perlstein on “Vietnam remains politically potent”
      “It was such a profound trauma to the American psyche that has never been fully reckoned with or worked through,” said Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland, a book examining the debates of the 1960s and their effect on contemporary politics. “We’re just as divided over the meaning of that event (today) as the Democrats were at their 1968 convention.” – The Kansas City Star, 7-6-08
    • Mary Ann Wynkoop on “Vietnam remains politically potent”
      “There are still so many unresolved questions over our involvement in Vietnam,” said Mary Ann Wynkoop, history professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, “and the shadow it casts over almost every conflict that we get in.” …”It was the first war where patriotism was really questioned,” Wynkoop said. “There is still no closure to the issues that were raised.” – The Kansas City Star, 7-6-08
    • Julian Zelizer: Why Do We Care About Flag Pins?
      NPR, 7-4-08
    • Andrew J. Bacevich: What Bush hath wrought
      Now only two candidates remain standing. Senators John McCain and Barack Obama both insist that the presidential contest will mark a historic turning point. Yet, absent a willingness to assess in full all that Bush has wrought, the general election won’t signify a real break from the past.

      The burden of identifying and confronting the Bush legacy necessarily falls on Obama. Although for tactical reasons McCain will distance himself from the president’s record, he largely subscribes to the principles informing Bush’s post-9/11 policies. McCain’s determination to stay the course in Iraq expresses his commitment not simply to the ongoing conflict there, but to the ideas that gave rise to that war in the first place. While McCain may differ with the president on certain particulars, his election will affirm the main thrust of Bush’s approach to national security.

      The challenge facing Obama is clear: he must go beyond merely pointing out the folly of the Iraq war; he must demonstrate that Iraq represents the truest manifestation of an approach to national security that is fundamentally flawed, thereby helping Americans discern the correct lessons of that misbegotten conflict….

      This is a stiff test, not the work of a speech or two, but of an entire campaign. Whether or not Obama passes the test will determine his fitness for the presidency. – Boston Globe, 7-1-08

    • Robert Dallek on “Obama Hits Back at Questions About His Patriotism”
      “I give him credit. He is taking this very seriously,” said presidential historian Robert Dallek, who compared Obama’s travails to those of John F. Kennedy, which was plagued by whisper campaigns about the divided loyalties of the would-be first Catholic president. Those anti-Catholic whispers were a real threat to Kennedy, Dallek said, but they were not abetted by the stubborn, unruly Internet, nor were they stoked by the undercurrent of racial suspicion that Obama faces. – WaPo, 6-30-08
    • Allan Lichtman: Why Obama Is Colorblind and McCain Is Ageless
      Obama has shut down the dialogue by largely ignoring the most troubling and vexing issues of race relations in America… Obama has followed the lead of Bill Cosby in extolling the virtues of responsible fatherhood — staking a safe, responsible political position that meets the approval of blacks as well as whites. According to a survey conducted by the Suffolk University Political Research Center in 2007, 80% of black respondents agreed with Cosby’s “comments regarding personal responsibility within the black community.”…. This is just smart politics; it raises no risks for the candidate, and opens no fresh wounds. Obama has shied away from controversial racial issues at a time when 46% of whites and 63% of blacks say race relations are “not so good” or “poor,” according to a Washington Post/ABC poll conducted in June. About a third of both white and black respondents admitted to feelings of personal race prejudice.

      A similar silence has emerged from John McCain’s campaign on the most sensitive issue of his campaign: age. If McCain, who turns 72 in August, prevails in the general election, he will become the oldest non-incumbent candidate to be elected president. Ronald Reagan was 69 when first elected in 1980, and 73 when reelected in 1984. In dealing with the age issue, McCain has borrowed from both Reagan and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Like Reagan, the presumptive Republican nominee he has used humor to diffuse the issue. In an appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” McCain quipped, “I ask you, what should America be looking for in a president? Certainly someone who is very, very, very old.”… Like Obama on race, McCain has shrewdly sought to preempt any criticism that suggests he is too old for the presidency….
      In 2008, as in 1932 and 1980, most Americans are unhappy with both their incumbent president and the condition of their country. The challenge for Obama and McCain is to demonstrate that, like Roosevelt and Reagan, they have the rare mix of lofty vision and practical skill that is needed to achieve lasting, positive change. – The Forward, 6-26-08

    • Julian E. Zelizer, Meg Jacobs: Energy Talk Democrats Need to Learn to Sell Their Priorities
      …The United States is a country defined by suburbanization, cars, big houses and the extravagant use of fuel. With all its progress, the environmental movement did not halt this trend. Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, has, over the years, been more complex in his actual policy positions but he just recently embraced the traditional GOP response of calling for off-shore drilling. Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, will have to work on this challenge. As in the 1970s, Americans are again frustrated with the rising price of oil. But Democrats need to work on how they frame and sell their policies — or they could end up like Carter in 1979. – Washington Independent, 6-24-08
    • Michael Kazin and Julian E. Zelizer: A New Social Contract
      For the first time since 1964, Democrats have a good chance not just to win the White House and a majority in Congress but to enact a sweeping new liberal agenda. Conservative ideas are widely discredited, as is the Republican Party that the right has controlled since Ronald Reagan was elected. The war in Iraq has undermined the conservative case for unilateral military intervention and U.S. omnipotence. Economic insecurity has led Americans to question the rhetoric about “big” government, while President Bush’s embrace of new federal programs has undermined GOP promises to cut spending…. – WaPo, 6-22-08
    • Allida Black on “Arming Obama Sen. Jim Webb — Vietnam Vet, ‘Redneck’ — Is Emerging As the Democrats’ Military Point Man; The ‘VP!’ Chant”
      “Jim Webb is an enigma, and his silence on women’s issues makes us nervous,” says Allida Black, history professor and editor of the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers. Wall Street Journal, 6-21-08

    On the Campaign Trail….

    • Barack Obama speaking at a High School in repose to his remarks from July 8, 2008 in Powder Springs, Ga.:Response: “The Republicans jumped on this. I said, absolutely immigrants need to learn English, but we also need to learn foreign languages. This is an example of some of the problems we get into when somebody attacks you for saying the truth, which is: We should want our children with more knowledge. We should want our children to have more skills. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s a good thing. I know, because I don’t speak a foreign language. It’s embarrassing.”

      Previous comments: “I agree that immigrants should learn English. But instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English — they’ll learn English — you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about how can your child become bilingual. We should have every child speaking more than one language.”

    • Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Joint Event with Senator Hillary Clinton, July 10, 2008 …It’s something I hear all the time from working parents, especially working women – many of whom are working more than one job to make ends meet. And then there are the jobs you have once the workday ends: whether it’s cleaning the house or paying the bills or buying the groceries, helping with that science project or enforcing those bedtimes. The jobs you don’t get paid for, but that hold our families together. Jobs that still, even in the year 2008, far too often fall to women.

      But let’s be clear: these issues – equal pay, work/family balance, childcare – these are by no means just women’s issues. When a job doesn’t offer family leave, that also hurts men who want to help care for a new baby or an ailing parent. When there’s no affordable childcare or afterschool programs, that hurts children who wind up in second rate care, or spending afternoons alone in front of the TV. When women still make just 77 cents for every dollar men make – black and Latina women even less – that doesn’t just hurt women, it hurts families who find themselves with less income, and have to work even harder just to get by….

      And let’s be clear, the Supreme Court’s ruling on equal pay is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s at stake in this election. Usually, when we talk about the Court, it’s in the context of reproductive rights and Roe v. Wade. And make no mistake about it, that’s a critical issue in this election. Senator McCain has made it abundantly clear that he wants to appoint justices like Roberts and Alito – and that he hopes to see Roe overturned. Well, I stand by my votes against confirming Justices Roberts and Alito. And I’ve made it equally clear that I will never back down in defending a woman’s right to choose.

    • Remarks By John McCain On His Jobs For America Economic Plan, July 7, 2008:
      “…I have a plan to grow this economy, create more and better jobs, and get America moving again. I have a plan to reform government, achieve energy security, and ensure that healthcare and a quality education are affordable and available for all. I believe the role of government is to unleash the creativity, ingenuity and hard work of the American people, and make it easier to create jobs.
      At its core, the economy isn’t the sum of an array of bewildering statistics. It’s about where Americans work, how they live, how they pay their bills today and save for tomorrow. It’s about small businesses opening their doors, hiring employees and growing. It’s about giving workers the education and training to find a good job and prosper in it. It’s about the aspirations of the American people to build a better life for their families; dreams that begin with a job….
      Americans are having a tough time. But we’ve been through worse, and beaten longer odds. Even in these difficult days, we must believe in ourselves. Nothing is inevitable in America. We’ve always been the captains of our fate. All you’ve ever asked of government is that it stand on your side, not in your way. I intend to do just that: to stand on your side; to help business and not government create jobs; to fight for your future and not the personal ambitions of politicians and bureaucrats.”
    • Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: League of United Latin American Citizens, July 08, 2008: …That’s something I want to talk about because I’m told that today’s theme is “diversity in government.” So I’ve been thinking about why that’s important and about what it means to have a government that represents all Americans. It’s not just about making sure that men and women of every race, religion, and background are represented at every level of government – though that’s a critical part of it. It’s not just about sending a message to our children that everyone can lead and everyone can serve – although that too is important. It’s about making sure that we have a government that knows that a problem facing any American is a problem facing all Americans.

      A government that works for all Americans – that’s the kind of government I’m talking about. And that’s the kind of government I’ve been fighting to build throughout my over 20 years in public service.

      It’s why I reached across the aisle in the Senate to fight for comprehensive immigration reform. It’s why I brought Democrats and Republicans together in Illinois to put $100 million in tax cuts into the pockets of hardworking families, to expand health care to 150,000 children and parents, and to help end the outrage of Latinas making 57 cents for every dollar that many of their male coworkers make. It’s why I worked with LULAC and MALDEF as a civil rights lawyer to register Latino voters and ensure that Hispanics had an equal voice in City Hall….

      That’s the commitment I’m making to you. I marched with you in the streets of Chicago to meet our immigration challenge. I fought with you in the Senate for comprehensive immigration reform. And I will make it a top priority in my first year as President – not only because we have an obligation to secure our borders and get control of who comes in and out of our country. And not only because we have to crack down on employers who are abusing undocumented immigrants instead of hiring citizens. But because we have to finally bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. Yes, they broke the law. And they should have to pay a fine, and learn English, and go to the back of the line. That’s how we’ll put them on a pathway to citizenship. That’s how we’ll finally fix our broken immigration system and avoid creating a servant class in our midst. It’s time to reconcile our values and principles as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. That’s what this election is all about.

    • Remarks by John McCain at the NALEO Conference, June 28, 2008: …Let me close by talking briefly about my respect and gratitude for the contributions of Hispanic-Americans to the culture, economy and security of the country I have served all my adult life. I represent Arizona where Spanish was spoken before English was, and where the character and prosperity of our state owes a great deal to the many Arizonans of Hispanic descent who live there. And I know this country, which I love more than almost anything, would be the poorer were we deprived of the patriotism, industry and decency of those millions of Americans whose families came here from Mexico, Central and South America. I will honor their contributions to America for as long as I live.

      I and many other colleagues twice attempted to pass comprehensive immigration legislation to fix our broken borders; ensure respect for the laws of this country; recognize the important economic necessity of immigrant laborers; apprehend those who came here illegally to commit crimes; and deal practically and humanely with those who came here, as my distant ancestors did, to build a better, safer life for their families, without excusing the fact they came here illegally or granting them privileges before those who did. Many Americans, with good cause, did not believe us when we said we would secure our borders, and so we failed in our efforts. We must prove to them that we can and will secure our borders first, while respecting the dignity and rights of citizens and legal residents of the United States. But we must not make the mistake of thinking that our responsibility to meet this challenge will end with that accomplish ment. We have economic and humanitarian responsibilities as well, and they require no less dedication from us in meeting them.

    • Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: A Serious Energy Policy for Our Future, June 24, 2008: …After all those years in Washington, John McCain still doesn’t get it. I commend him for his desire to accelerate the search for a battery that can power the cars of the future. I’ve been talking about this myself for the last few years. But I don’t think a $300 million prize is enough. When John F. Kennedy decided that we were going to put a man on the moon, he didn’t put a bounty out for some rocket scientist to win – he put the full resources of the United States government behind the project and called on the ingenuity and innovation of the American people. That’s the kind of effort we need to achieve energy independence in this country, and nothing less will do. But in this campaign, John McCain offering the same old gimmicks that will provide almost no short-term relief to folks who are struggling with high gas prices; gimmicks that will only increase our oil addiction for another four years….

      I realize that gimmicks like the gas tax holiday and offshore drilling might poll well these days. But I’m not running for President to do what polls well, I’m running to do what’s right for America. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make gas prices go down, but I can’t. What I can do – and what I will do – is push for a second stimulus package that will send out another round of rebate checks to the American people. What I will do as President is tax the record profits of oil companies and use the money to help struggling families pay their energy bills. I will provide a $1,000 tax cut that will go to 95% of all workers and their families in this country. And I will close the loophole that allows corporations like Enron to engage in unregulated speculation that ends up artificially driving up the price of oil. That’s how we’ll provide real relief to the American people. That’s the change we need….

      When all is said and done, my plan to increase our fuel standards will save American consumers from purchasing half a trillion gallons of gas over the next eighteen years. My entire energy plan will produce three times the oil savings that John McCain’s ever could – and what’s more, it will actually decrease our dependence on oil while his will only grow our addiction further.

    • Remarks by John McCain on Energy Security and Safeguarding Our Environment, June 24, 2008: We’re in the middle of a great debate in this presidential campaign about the energy security of the United States. For my part, in recent days I’ve been laying out a clear agenda to protect our economy from runaway energy costs, and to break America’s dependence on foreign oil. This is going to require the best efforts and ideas of our country, and I am confident we are up to the task. At a time when a gallon of gas is running at more than four dollars, our government needs to shake off years of partisan paralysis that have prevented America from achieving energy security. Nothing is more urgent right now than regaining our energy security — we need to get it done and get it right.

      The immediate problems of high gasoline prices and of our strategic dependence on foreign oil are upon us. And on recent days I’ve been setting forth a plan of action. When people are hurting, and struggling to afford gasoline, food, and other necessities, common sense requires that we draw upon America’s own vast reserves of oil and natural gas. When nations across Europe and Asia are building nuclear power plants to meet their electricity needs, America, too, must make more use of this clean, efficient, and proven source of power. And we must turn all the brilliance and ingenuity of America loose in the search for alternative energy sources — from cleaner coal and wind power to biofuels and solar….

      This is why I further propose we inspire the ingenuity and resolve of the American people by offering a $300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars. This is one dollar for every man, woman and child in the U.S. — a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency — and should deliver a power source at 30 percent of the current costs….

      In these and other ways, we can meet the challenge of global warming with all the resources of human ingenuity at our disposal. Like other environmental challenges — only more so — climate change presents a test of foresight, of political courage, and of the unselfish concern that one generation owes to the next. We Americans like to say that there is no problem we can’t solve, however complicated, and no obstacle we cannot overcome if we meet it together.

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