Sestakgate?: Obama White House Offered Joe Sestak Job to Drop Senate Run

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

THE HEADLINES….

  • White House Used Bill Clinton to Ask Sestak to Drop Out of Race: President Obama’s chief of staff used former President Bill Clinton as an intermediary to see if Representative Joe Sestak would drop out of a Senate primary if given a prominent, but unpaid, advisory position, people briefed on the matter said Friday.
    Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, asked Mr. Clinton to explore the possibilities last summer, accordingto the briefed individuals, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the politically charged situation. Mr. Sestak said no and went on to win last week’s Pennsylvania Democratic primary against Senator Arlen Specter. NYT, 5-28-10
  • Obama Promises Response on Question of Job Offer: President Obama refused to say Thursday whether his White House offered a job to Representative Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania to drop out of a Democratic primary but promised that the administration would respond soon. “There will be an official response shortly on the Sestak issue, which I hope will answer your questions,” Mr. Obama told reporters at a White House news conference. “I can assure the public that nothing improper took place.” – NYT, 5-27-10
  • Sestak says his brother, White House met about alleged job offer: Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) said Thursday his brother has spoken with White House officials about the congressman’s allegation that he was offered an Obama administration job if he would stay out of a Democratic Senate primary… He told reporters Thursday that he would not expand upon his prior statements until the White House releases its report on the matter. President Obama said in his news conference such a report would come “shortly.” Richard Sestak, who has served as his brother’s top political adviser and campaign lawyer, spoke with administration officials Wednesday, Joe Sestak said.
    “They got ahold of my brother on his cellphone, and he spoke to the White House . . . about what’s going to occur,” said Sestak, who said he expects the White House will release its information Friday. He declined to elaborate on his discussions with his brother…. – WaPo, 5-27-10
  • Dig into alleged Joe Sestak job offer, GOP tells Justice Department: The White House backed Rep. Joe Sestak’s opponent in the Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania. The GOP wants to know whether it offered Mr. Sestak a job to drop out of the race.
    “The allegations in this matter are very serious and, if true, suggest a violation of various criminal laws intended to safeguard our political process from the taint of bribes and political machine manipulation,” said Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee in a Wednesday letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.
    Those who signed the letter include Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Charles Grassley of Iowa, Jon Kyl of Arizona, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas, and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma…. – CS Monitor, 5-26-10
  • Did the White House offer Joe Sestak a job?: Rep. Joe Sestak is in a tough primary race against Obama-backed Senator Arlen Specter. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs for the first time responded to questions about whether the White House offered Sestak a post to lure him out of the race…. – CS Monitor, 3-16-10
Advertisements

Political Highlights: May 24, 2010: Obama Doctrine, New National Security Plan – Super Primaries Day Roundup

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • The Obama effect — Are you with him or against him?: Halfway through the 2010 primary season, the fundamental tension in the American political system is becoming more clear: A liberal government is struggling to impose its agenda on an electorate increasingly responsive to an activist conservative movement operating inside the Republican Party…. – WaPo, 5-21-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • White House: Justice Dept. has been to Gulf spill: The White House says the Justice Department has been gathering information about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Press secretary Robert Gibbs isn’t saying whether the department has opened a criminal investigation. He would only tell CBS’ “Face the Nation” that department representatives have been to the Gulf as part of the response to the BP oil leak…. – AP, 5-24-10
  • Obama seeks to force votes on spending cuts: President Barack Obama on Monday is sending legislation to Congress that would allow him to force lawmakers to vote on cutting wasteful programs from spending bills. The legislation would award Obama and his successors the ability to take two months or more to scrutinize spending bills that have already been signed into law for pet projects and other dubious programs. He could then send Congress a package of spending cuts for a mandatory up-or-down vote on whether to accept or reject them. Senate Democrats killed the idea just three years ago, and so Obama’s move would seem like a long shot. But the plan could pick up traction in the current anti-Washington political environment in which lawmakers are desperate to demonstrate they are tough on spending…. – AP, 5-23-10
  • Obama Outlines National Security Strategy: President Obama outlined a new national security strategy rooted in diplomatic engagement and international alliances on Saturday as he repudiated his predecessor’s emphasis on unilateral American power and the right to wage preemptive war. Eight years after President George W. Bush came to the United States Military Academy to set a new course for American security in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Obama used the same setting to offer a revised doctrine, one that vowed no retreat against American enemies while seeking “national renewal and global leadership.” “Yes, we are clear-eyed about the shortfalls of our international system,” the president told graduating cadets. “But America has not succeeded by stepping outside the currents of international cooperation. We have succeeded by steering those currents in the direction of liberty and justice – so nations thrive by meeting their responsibilities, and face consequences when they don’t.” Mr. Obama said the United States “will be steadfast in strengthening those old alliances that have served us so well” while also trying to “build new partnerships and shape stronger international standards and institutions.” He added: “This engagement is not an end in itself. The international order we seek is one that can resolve the challenges of our times.” – NYT, 5-22-10
  • Results of Kandahar offensive may affect future U.S. moves: The Obama administration’s campaign to drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan’s second-largest city is a go-for-broke move that even its authors are unsure will succeed. The bet is that the Kandahar operation, backed by thousands of U.S. troops and billions of dollars, will break the mystique and morale of the insurgents, turn the tide of the war and validate the administration’s Afghanistan strategy. There is no Plan B…. – WaPo, 5-22-10
  • Clinton says North Korean attack on ship will not go ‘unanswered’: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned North Korea on Friday for a deadly attack on a South Korean warship and vowed that it would not go “unanswered,” but senior U.S. officials stressed that neither side on the Korean Peninsula seems to be heading toward war….
    In a blunt statement after meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, Clinton said the United States “strongly condemns” the North Korean attack and that both countries would seek an international response. “Let me be clear,” Clinton said in her first public comments since South Korea released a report on Thursday formally blaming the North for the torpedo strike. “This will not be and cannot be business as usual.”… – WaPo, 5-22-10
  • As financial overhaul takes shape, it’s crunch time for lobbyists: Few differences exist between the Senate and House bills, leaving little time to push for changes. Obama says his administration will keep the rules tough… – LAT, 5-21-10
  • Pentagon’s Clapper may lead intelligence agencies: The Pentagon’s top intelligence official emerged as the leading choice Friday for what’s fast becoming known as one of the most thankless jobs in Washington — director of national intelligence. The position has a great title, but the office has just claimed its third victim. James R. Clapper, now the defense undersecretary for intelligence, is the White House’s leading candidate to replace retired Adm. Dennis Blair, who is resigning, two current U.S. officials and one former military official say. Another candidate is Mike Vickers, the Pentagon’s assistant secretary for special operations, officials say, but a Defense Department official says he has not been contacted for an interview. With three previous intelligence directors all saying the same thing — the job description itself is flawed — who would want it?… – AP, 5-21-10
  • Senate Passes Finance Bill Biggest Regulatory Overhaul of Wall Street Since Depression Moves Closer to Law: The Senate on Thursday approved the most extensive overhaul of financial-sector regulation since the 1930s, hoping to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis that hit the U.S. economy starting in 2007. The legislation passed the Senate 59 to 39 and must now be reconciled with a similar bill passed by the House of Representatives in December, before it can be sent to President Barack Obama to be signed into law. The controversial measure, supported by the Obama administration, sets up new regulatory bodies and restricts the actions of banks and other financial firms. It is designed to try to make order of the cascading regulatory chaos that ensued in 2008 when mammoth banks and some unregulated financial firms collapsed, and public funds were used to save them…. – WSJ, 5-21-10
  • Senate Passes Massive Financial Regulation Bill: In its broad sweep, the massive bill would touch Wall Street CEOs and first-time homebuyers, high-flying traders and small town lenders…. – AP, 5-20
  • National intelligence director resigning: National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair is resigning under pressure from the White House, ending a tumultuous 16-month tenure marked by intelligence failures and spy agency turf wars. Blair, a retired Navy admiral, is the third director of national intelligence, a position created in response to public outrage over the failure to prevent the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. His departure underscores the disorganization inside the Obama administration’s intelligence apparatus, rocked over the past six months by a spate of high-profile attempted terror attacks that revealed new national security lapses. And it comes two days after a stark Senate report criticized Blair’s office and other intelligence agencies for new failings that, despite a top-to-bottom overhaul of the U.S. intelligence apparatus after 9/11, allowed a would-be bomber to board a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day. In a message Thursday to his work force, Blair said his last day would be May 28…. – AP, 5-21-10
  • Oil spill scrutiny turns to Obama administration: Last week, it was oil executives who faced the wrath of lawmakers eager to find blame for the massive oil spill spreading in the Gulf of Mexico. On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and other federal officials will come under questioning for what the government did — or did not do — to prevent the oil spill, and how they have responded since oil started streaming into the Gulf last month…. – AP, 5-18-10
  • Lincoln loses leverage on financial reform bill: Senator Blanche Lincoln, a key voice for financial reform, was forced on Tuesday into a Democratic runoff election in Arkansas and lost leverage for her plan to force big banks to spin off swaps desks. She was expected to be the vote-leader in the primary and possibly win the nomination outright. Instead, Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter ran neck-and-neck with her in a race colored by anti-Washington sentiment. Her swap reform proposal would cost a handful of big U.S. banks billions of dollars in revenue. It is one of the final issues in a mammoth Wall Street reform bill pending in the Senate. The swaps-desk language was a hallmark of Lincoln-authored legislation to bring the $615 trillion market in over- the-counter derivatives under federal regulation. While Lincoln said her proposal would “ensure that banks get back to the business of banking,” there was broad opposition to the idea within the financial industry and among some Obama administration officials. Analysts said she probably would not prevail on the issue, even if she won the three-way Democratic primary. They expected efforts to strip the language would begin immediately after the primary. One alternative would be the so-called Volcker language to restrict derivatives trading by banks…. – Reuters, 5-19-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Cuomo joins race in first As governor, the Democrat pledges he’d put an end to “national disgrace” of state government in Albany and to usher in a new era of reform: Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced his candidacy for governor on Saturday, slamming Albany corruption and promising to build a coalition to help him drive priorities ranging from freezing public employee salaries to support for a constitutional convention to bring about change.
    Cuomo enters the race as an overwhelming front-runner with no Democratic challengers, Republicans in disarray and a hefty campaign account of at least $16 million.
    In a polished speech rehearsed privately before groups all year, Cuomo launched a gubernatorial effort in which he will be campaigning all summer while three Republicans seeking to oppose him try to knock each other out in a primary battle.
    The announcement came first with a 21-minute online video as slick as a Madison Avenue presentation. He later made his case for governor before the Tweed Courthouse in Manhattan, criticizing abuses of 19th-century Democratic leader William “Boss” Tweed, who was convicted of stealing from taxpayers during a scandalous reign.
    “Our state government in Albany is disreputable and discredited . . . a national disgrace,” Cuomo said. “The corruption in Albany could even make Boss Tweed blush.”… – Albany Times-Union, 5-22-10
  • Rand Paul and the Perils of Textbook Libertarianism: When Rand Paul, the victor in the Republican Senate primary last week in Kentucky, criticized the Civil Rights Act of 1964, singling out the injustice of non-discriminatory practices it imposed on private businesses, the resulting furor delighted Democrats and unsettled Republicans. Mr. Paul hastened to state his abhorrence of racism and assert that had he served in the Senate in 1964, he would have voted for the measure. On the surface Mr. Paul’s contradictory statements might seem another instance of the trouble candidates get into when ideological consistency meets the demands of practical politics… – NYT, 5-22-10
  • GOP wins House seat in Obama’s home district: Republican Charles Djou (duh-JOO’) has won a Democratic-held House seat in Hawaii in the district where President Barack Obama grew up. The special election is the latest triumph for the GOP as it looks to take back control of Congress. Djou’s victory was also a blow to Obama and other Democrats who could not rally around a candidate and find away to win a congressional race that should have been a cakewalk. The seat had been held by a Democrat for nearly 20 years and is located in the district where Obama was born and spent most of his childhood. Djou received 67,274 votes, or 39.5 percent. He was followed by state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and former U.S. Rep. Ed Case — both Democrats…. – AP, 5-22-10
  • ZEV CHAFETS: The Limbaugh Victory: THERE are many theories for why very conservative Republicans seem to be doing so well lately, taking their party’s Senate nominations in Florida, Kentucky and Utah, and beating Democrats head-to-head in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia. Some attribute this to a generalized anti-incumbent mood. Others say it reflects the tendency of parties in power to falter in midterm elections. Recently it has been fashionable to ascribe right-wing success to the Tea Party movement. But the most obvious explanation is the one that’s been conspicuously absent from the gusher of analysis. Republican success in 2010 can be boiled down to two words: Rush Limbaugh…. – NYT, 5-20-10
  • After Explaining a Provocative Remark, Paul Makes Another: Rand Paul, the newly nominated Republican candidate for Senate from Kentucky, touched off more controversy on Friday by calling the Obama administration “un-American” for taking a tough stance with BP over the company’s handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico…. “What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,'” Mr. Paul said, referring to a remark by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about the oil company. “I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. I’ve heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it’s part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense that it’s always got to be someone’s fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.”… – NYT, 5-22-10
  • ‘Tea party’ candidate faces civil rights controversy: Rand Paul, winner of Kentucky’s Republican nomination for the Senate, is working to tamp down the controversy over his statements criticizing nondiscrimination laws… – LAT, 5-21-10
  • Obama endorsements don’t seem to help Democrats: Voters rejected one of President Barack Obama’s hand-picked candidates and forced another into a runoff, the latest sign that his political capital is slipping beneath a wave of anti-establishment anger. Sen. Arlen Specter became the fourth Democrat in seven months to lose a high-profile race despite the president’s active involvement, raising doubts about Obama’s ability to help fellow Democrats in this November’s elections. The first three candidates fell to Republicans. But Specter’s loss Tuesday to Rep. Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania’s Democratic senatorial primary cast doubts on Obama’s influence and popularity even within his own party — and in a battleground state, no less. Of course, it’s possible that Democrats will fare better than expected this fall. And there’s only so much that any president can do to help other candidates, especially in a non-presidential election year…. – AP, 5-19-10
  • Blogging the Primaries: One incumbent, Senator Arlen Specter, lost in a tough primary against Representative Joe Sestak, who surged in the last few weeks. The outcome in Pennsylvania ended the five-term Senate career of Mr. Specter, who switched parties last year to avoid what he believed was a certain defeat as a Republican.
    Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas faced an uphill battle against the popular lieutenant governor, Bill Halter. Neither reached the 50-percentage threshold, so they’ll got to a runoff on June 8…. – NYT, 5-18-10
  • House Republicans: “We’ve Got a Lot of Work To Do”: “Mark Critz’s victory demonstrates that Democrats can win in a tough political environment,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s spokesman Brendan Daly. “The Republicans have been boasting that they can win 50 or even 100 House seats, yet they could not win a seat that independent analysts called a ‘must win’ for them in a district that John McCain won in 2008.”
    When the outcome was still unclear, House majority leader Steny Hoyer was not so sure. “If he wins will that mean the Democrats are going to sweep? I don’t think so,” Hoyer said yesterday. “These special elections are, you know, they are what they are.”
    Republican Whip Eric Cantor said this morning that he thinks Americans still want to vote for some kind of check and balance to Democrat’s power in Washington. “Obviously, I’m disappointed as a Republican that Tim Burns did not win the seat,” Cantor said in an interview for CBSNews.com’s “Washington Unplugged.” “What is pretty indicative was that the Democratic candidate refused to get anywhere near the policy agenda promoted by Speaker Pelosi and President Obama,” Cantor said. That said, Cantor acknowledged that “last night is evidence of the fact that we’ve got a lot of work to do.”… – CBS News, 5-19-10
  • Today’s Primaries Offer New Clues: It’s decision day for voters in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Kentucky, where the outcome of Senate primary contests on Tuesday will deliver more clues to the puzzle that is the midterm election of 2010. Two Democratic senators, with combined Washington experience of nearly 50 years, will discover if they have assembled strong-enough coalitions to withstand an anti-incumbent surge or if their careers will effectively end. And an open Senate seat in Kentucky will help show whether Tea Party advocates can produce an electoral victory. The contests, taken together, offer the biggest trove of information so far this year about the mood of the electorate…. – NYT, 5-17-10
  • Primaries in 4 states, 1 House election: President Barack Obama is not on the ballot in this week’s primaries, nor is Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican Senate leader. But both have a stake in intensely competitive Senate races in three states, contests testing the strength of the tea party among Kentucky Republicans and the durability of incumbent Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas and Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania. In a fourth race of national significance, Republican Tim Burns and Democrat Mark Critz battled to fill out the term of the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha in a congressional district in southwestern Pennsylvania. Both political parties reported spending roughly $1 million to sway the race, turning it into a laboratory for the fall campaign, when all 435 House seats will be on the ballot… – AP, 5-18-10
  • Obama’s Midterm Strategy: Blame the GOP: The only people more unpopular than Democrats are congressional Republicans, so President Obama is reminding us of what Republican rule was like….
    Two years later the president is tentatively unveiling the strategy he and fellow Democrats will pursue in this fall’s election season, and it has a heavy dose of … looking backward. It’s going to be as much about history as hope, and more about attacking Republicans than promoting his own vision. The goal is to give pause to independent voters eager to punish Obama for their economic insecurity by voting for GOP candidates. The message: we can’t return power to the very people who gave us the catastrophic Great Recession to begin with…. – Newsweek, 5-17-10
  • McCain shakes up campaign; Pa. Senate race tight: Sen. John McCain’s re-election bid lost its campaign manager and another veteran Republican official, part of a shake-up for the Arizona lawmaker locked in a tight primary race with radio host and former Rep. J.D. Hayworth. The pair of GOP hands — who started before Hayworth entered the race — will instead work on the Republican National Committee’s effort in Arizona. Campaign spokesman Brian Rogers said neither Shiree Verdone nor Mike Hellon, a former Arizona GOP chairman, was fired. “Senator McCain is very grateful for all that Shiree and Mike have done to launch the re-election campaign and establish it on a firm footing and looks forward to working closely with them for victory in November,” Rogers said in a statement. AP, 5-17-10
  • Senate primaries today may give hint of voters’ mood: In Pennsylvania, Senator Arlen Specter, a Republican turned Democrat, is trying to hold off US Representative Joe Sestak for the party’s nomination. Sestak has spent much of the campaign painting Specter as a political opportunist for switching parties last year. In Kentucky, Rand Paul, who has strong backing from Tea Party activists, is seeking the Republican nomination in a race against Trey Grayson, the secretary of state. Grayson is backed by Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader and Kentucky’s senior senator. In Arkansas, Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter will try to oust the incumbent Democrat, Senator Blanche Lincoln, who has been criticized by her opponent for failing to support the health care overhaul legislation. A poll released yesterday shows the Pennsylvania race is too close to call, the latest of many tough election challenges for Specter, 80…. – Boston Globe, 5-18-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Weekly Address: President Obama Establishes Bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling:
    Names Former Two-Term Florida Governor and Former Senator Bob Graham and Former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency William K. Reilly as Commission Co-Chairs
    Remarks of President Barack Obama Saturday, May 22, 2010 Weekly Address Washington, DC: One month ago this week, BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded off Louisiana’s coast, killing 11 people and rupturing an underwater pipe. The resulting oil spill has not only dealt an economic blow to Americans across the Gulf Coast, it also represents an environmental disaster. In response, we are drawing on America’s best minds and using the world’s best technology to stop the leak. We’ve deployed over 1,100 vessels, about 24,000 personnel, and more than 2 million total feet of boom to help contain it. And we’re doing all we can to assist struggling fishermen, and the small businesses and communities that depend on them….
    One of the reasons I ran for President was to put America on the path to energy independence, and I have not wavered from that commitment. To achieve that goal, we must pursue clean energy and energy efficiency, and we’ve taken significant steps to do so. And we must also pursue domestic sources of oil and gas. Because it represents 30 percent of our oil production, the Gulf of Mexico can play an important part in securing our energy future. But we can only pursue offshore oil drilling if we have assurances that a disaster like the BP oil spill will not happen again. This Commission will, I hope, help provide those assurances so we can continue to seek a secure energy future for the United States of America…. – WH, 5-22-10
  • At West Point, Obama offers new security strategy: …In a commencement speech to the graduating class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the president outlined his departure from what Bush had called a “distinctly American internationalism.” Instead, Obama pledged to shape a new “international order” based on diplomacy and engagement.
    “Yes, we are clear-eyed about the shortfalls of our international system. But America has not succeeded by stepping outside the currents of international cooperation,” he said. “We have succeeded by steering those currents in the direction of liberty and justice — so nations thrive by meeting their responsibilities, and face consequences when they don’t.”
    “The international order we seek is one that can resolve the challenges of our times,” he said in prepared remarks. “Countering violent extremism and insurgency; stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and securing nuclear materials; combating a changing climate and sustaining global growth; helping countries feed themselves and care for their sick; preventing conflict and healing its wounds.”
    And yet, as he calls for global cooperation, Obama has intensified the U.S. war in Afghanistan. And his administration has repeatedly confronted the dangers of Islamic terrorism on U.S. soil, including unsuccessful attempts to down a Detroit-bound airliner and explode a car bomb in New York’s Times Square…. – WaPo, 5-22-10
  • Obama Tells Ohio, ‘Our Economy Is Growing Again’: President Obama came Tuesday to this area long synonymous with economic distress to take a few strides on a victory lap for the policies he credits with helping create jobs and to knock Republicans for standing in the way. “Despite all the naysayers in Washington, who are always looking for the cloud in every silver lining, the fact is our economy is growing again,” Mr. Obama told an audience of several hundred workers in a cavernous — and expanding — pipe-making plant, citing four months of job growth…. “If the ‘just say no’ crowd had won out,” he said, “if we had done things the way they wanted to go, we’d be in a deeper world of hurt than we are right now.”… – NYT, 5-19-10
  • Citing Affair, Congressman Souder Resigns: Representative Mark Souder, a conservative Indiana Republican, said Tuesday that he was resigning as of Friday after having an extramarital affair with a staff member in his district office, as events continued to roil the midterm election landscape. “I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff,” Mr. Souder said in a statement. “In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain. I am resigning rather than to put my family through that painful, drawn-out process.” … – NYT, 5-18-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Thomas Schwartz: Up from the deep sea: a nightmare for Obama: Presidential historian Thomas Schwartz, a Vanderbilt University professor, said presidencies are often defined by the crises encountered. He said the oil spill could prove to be a defining crisis but he cautioned against comparing the leak to Katrina, for instance. “This one has been slowly developing and could have those qualities, but if BP were to suddenly get it capped, things could be defused very quickly. The air could go out of the balloon,” Schwartz said. Reuters, 5-27-10
  • The end of the Specter era: Something seems off-kilter in Philadelphia… After five decades as a towering figure in the public life of his city, state, and nation, Sen. Arlen Specter is in the strange position of counting the days until the likely end of his political career…. “He’s one of the most complicated people in public life today,” said Randall Miller, a political historian at St. Joseph’s University. “He defies easy characterization. For that matter, he defies political science. . . . He just doesn’t do what you expect him to do.”… – Philadelphia Inquirer, 5-19-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton: Those kinds of comments are always a problem for Gingrich. The former speaker, an intelligent and sometimes highly effective politician, often can’t help himself in making these kind of statements. If Gingrich wants to make a run he has to demonstrate that he can be a disciplined leader. While he might want to appeal to the tea party movement, it is a mistake to adopt their rhetoric. That will alienate many suburban voters not win them over. Republicans are looking for a serious candidate who looks like someone with big ideas and who can govern. They don’t need someone who imitates Joe the Plumber. – Politico Arena, 5-21-10

May 17, 2010: Questioning Kagan, Obama Campaigns for Arlen Specter

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President Gives an Update on the Response to the Oil Spill

White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 5/14/1

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Ratings Changes – Reid’s Included – Show GOP Momentum: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s persistent vulnerability in his Nevada re-election campaign is the top takeaway from the latest race rating changes by the CQ-Roll Call elections team – the subject of today’s and tomorrow’s columns.
    But after another strong Democratic year in 2008, the tides have turned sharply in favor of a Republican rebound, this time in reaction to the assertive but politically risky agenda pursued by President Obama and the Democratic majorities in Congress. CQPolitics’ ratings in recent months have reflected this trend, as the newest changes drive home.
    Headlining the Senate ratings changes summarized below, Reid has been hurt politically by his central role as the Democrats’ point person in a series of highly partisan policy battles. With public polls continuing to show him struggling against much lesser-known candidates competing for the Republican Senate nomination in the June 8 primary, CQPolitics has changed its rating on the Nevada race to Leans Republican from Tossup…. – CQ Politics, 5-14-10
  • Voters Shifting to GOP, Poll Finds: Republicans have solidified support among voters who had drifted from the party in recent elections, putting the GOP in position for a strong comeback in November’s mid-term campaign, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
    Republicans have reassembled their coalition by reconnecting with independents, seniors, blue-collar voters, suburban women and small town and rural voters—all of whom had moved away from the party in the 2006 elections, in which Republicans lost control of the House. Those voter groups now favor GOP control of Congress.
    A big shift is evident among independents, who at this point in the 2006 campaign favored Democratic control of Congress rather than Republican control, 40% to 24%. In this poll, independents favored the GOP, 38% to 30%…. – WSJ, 5-13-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Kagan’s skills well-suited to Senate hearings: Standing before the nine Supreme Court justices, Elena Kagan is forceful, quick on her feet, admits error when necessary, then goes right back at the questioner — blunt yet polite. Her style as solicitor general is likely to serve her in confirmation hearings, but only to an extent, legal and political analysts say. Kagan has exhibited the dexterity necessary to respond to tough questions in a public forum, but a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing is a more politically charged setting than the high court. “She can’t just show that she’s a super-duper lawyer for the president,” says Ken Duberstein, a chief of staff to President Reagan who handled several Supreme Court nominations. “She has to tell a life story and convey a temperament that shows she’ll be fair and impartial.”… – USA Today, 5-17-10
  • Senator says Kagan broke law at Harvard: While Senate Republicans acknowledge that they are unlikely to derail Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court, that hasn’t stopped them from testing potential lines of attack against her. Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, accused Kagan of violating the law when she was dean of Harvard Law School between 2003 and 2008. During her tenure, she continued the school’s restrictions on campus military recruitment because of the armed forces’ “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that bans openly gay people from serving. Sessions blasted Kagan on ABC’s “This Week” for enforcing the recruitment restrictions during a time of war, which he called “no little-bitty matter.”… – WaPo, 5-17-10
  • Obama: Democratic clean up, GOP car crashes: President Barack Obama mocked Republicans with images of cars in ditches and mopping up messes. Determined to rally Democrats, Obama told donors at a fundraiser Thursday night in New York City that his administration and congressional Democrats have tried to repair a battered economy while Republicans have remained on the sidelines. “So after (Republicans) drove the car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want the keys back,” Obama said. “You can’t drive! We don’t want to have to go back into the ditch! We just got the car out!”… – AP, 5-15-10
  • Personal ties bind Obama, Kagan President joins ranks of picking friend for court: If Elena Kagan is confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice, President Obama will have something that has become increasingly rare for presidents: a personal friend on the court. Indeed, when Obama introduced Kagan at the White House as his court nominee, it sounded almost as if he were talking about himself: a former Chicago law professor, Harvard graduate, and White Sox fan who eschewed the lucrative world of corporate law to focus on academia and public service. Obama brought her into his administration by nominating her to be solicitor general and now, after slightly more than a year in that job, he wants to elevate her to the Supreme Court. Boston Globe, 5-16-10
  • Pragmatism over partisanship? Kagan described as favoring a consensus-building, analytical style over a passion for her own ideas: Just after Election Day the fall of her senior year at Princeton, Elena Kagan published an opinion piece in the campus newspaper recounting how she had wept and gotten drunk on vodka at a campaign gathering for a liberal Brooklyn congresswoman who had unexpectedly lost a race for the Senate. Ronald Reagan was heading to the White House, and Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman — a champion for women’s causes for whom Ms. Kagan had toiled 14-hour days as a campaign press assistant — was leaving Capitol Hill. Ms. Kagan, then 20 and imbued with the liberal principles on which she had been raised, said she was flirting with despair that “there was no longer any place for the ideals we held. … I wonder how all this could possibly have happened and where on earth I’ll be able to get a job next year.”… – WaPo, 5-16-10
  • ‘General Kagan’ no newcomer to high court: Six times in the past nine months, Solicitor General Elena Kagan has come to the mahogany lectern in the hushed reverence of the Supreme Court to argue the government’s case before the justices she now hopes to join soon…. – AP, 5-15-10
  • Palin Warns NRA Obama Wants to Ban Guns: Palin, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, told National Rifle Association members during their annual meeting that the only thing stopping Obama and his Democratic allies from trying to ban guns is political backlash.
    “Don’t doubt for a minute that, if they thought they could get away with it, they would ban guns and ban ammunition and gut the Second Amendment,” said Palin, a lifelong NRA member who once had a baby shower at a local gun range in Alaska. “It’s the job of all of us at the NRA and its allies to stop them in their tracks.”… – AP, 5-14-10
  • Palin pushes abortion foes to form ‘conservative, feminist identity’ Network News: Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin told a group of women who oppose abortion rights that they are responsible for an “emerging, conservative, feminist identity” and have the power to shape politics and elections around the issue. Speaking to a breakfast gathering of the Susan B. Anthony List in downtown Washington on Friday, Palin urged more than 500 audience members to back only those candidates for public office who are uncompromisingly opposed to abortion. Palin, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, delivered calls to action to an audience dominated by women. “The mama grizzlies, they rise up,” she said, to laughter. “You thought pit bulls are tough. You don’t want to mess with the mama grizzlies. And I think there are a whole lot of those in this room.”… – WaPo, 5-14-10
  • Congressman to launch inquiry on how much oil is gushing into Gulf: A U.S. congressman said he will launch a formal inquiry Friday into how much oil is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico after learning of independent estimates that are significantly higher than the amount BP officials have provided. Rep. Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said he will send a letter to BP and ask for more details from federal agencies about the methods they are using to analyze the oil leak. Markey, who chairs a congressional subcommittee on energy and the environment, said miscalculating the spill’s volume may be hampering efforts to stop it. “I am concerned that an underestimation of the oil spill’s flow may be impeding the ability to solve the leak and handle the management of the disaster,” he said in a statement Thursday. “If you don’t understand the scope of the problem, the capacity to find the answer is severely compromised.” BP officials have said 5,000 barrels per day of crude, or 210,000 gallons, have been leaking for the past three weeks…. – CNN, 5-14-10
  • Senate panel approves money for Afghan, Iraq wars: A Senate committee on Thursday approved another $33.5 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq this year, although some members said they did so reluctantly. The action by the Senate Appropriations Committee is the first step toward congressional approval of the extra war spending that President Barack Obama requested in February to support his surge of 30,000 more U.S. troops into Afghanistan…. Chairman Daniel Inouye said he hoped the Senate would act on the legislation by the end of May. The money comes on top of about $130 billion that Congress already approved for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars through September 30 of this year…. – Reuters,
  • President’s visit makes impression at Industrial Support: After President Obama and his White House entourage left, when the television cameras were off, David Sullivan and managers at Industrial Support Inc. gathered in his office late Thursday and cracked open a few beers to celebrate one heck of a day. “Unbelievable,” said Sullivan, founder and president of Industrial Support. “The man is incredible — sharp, funny, personable. People were crying talking to him. The thing couldn’t have gone better.”… – Buffalo News, 5-13-10
  • Swipe this card; shopping could be cheaper: Striking at a lucrative bank business, the Senate on Thursday voted to force credit card companies to reduce fees for debit card transactions and permit merchants to offer customer discounts based on their payment method. The 64-33 vote inserted the fee requirement in a package of new financial rules the Senate is considering to ward off a repeat of the financial crisis. The vote was a major defeat for banks, which lobbied hard against it. But the measure attracted heavy bipartisan support and surpassed a 60-vote threshold for passage. Seventeen Republicans voted for the amendment; 10 Democrats voted against it. The measure from Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., would force credit card companies to charge businesses less for debit card transactions than for credit card payments…. – AP, 5-13-10
  • Kagan’s Link to Marshall Cuts 2 Ways: In the spring of 1988, Justice Thurgood Marshall assigned a clerk, Elena Kagan, to write a first draft of his opinion in a case considering whether a school district could charge a poor family for busing a child to the nearest school, which was 16 miles away….
    Because Ms. Kagan has never been a judge and has produced only a handful of scholarly writings, clues to her philosophy are rare. In that vacuum, liberals and conservatives alike are attributing special significance to her clerkship year with Justice Marshall, who led the civil rights movement’s legal efforts to dismantle segregation before becoming a particularly liberal Supreme Court justice.
    But while Ms. Kagan, a former board member for the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, clearly relished the experience and admired the justice as a historic figure, she appears to have had a far more ambivalent attitude toward his jurisprudence, according to a review of his papers at the Library of Congress, her comments over the years about him and interviews with her fellow clerks and colleagues…. – NYT, 5-13-10
  • Other border states shun Arizona’s immigration law They don’t see the illegal flow of people as problematic: U.S. Border Patrol vehicles patrol near the San Ysidro port of entry, late Monday in San Diego. Arizona’s sweeping new law empowering police to question and arrest anyone they suspect is in the U.S. illegally is finding little support in the other states along the Mexican border….
    Among the reasons given: California, New Mexico and Texas have long-established, politically powerful Latino communities; they have deeper cultural ties to Mexico that influence their attitudes toward immigrants; and they have little appetite for a polarizing battle over immigration like one that played out in California in the 1990s…. – Salt Lake Tribune, 5-12-10
  • Climate change bill has critics from both sides: Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and John Kerry, D-Mass., unveiled their long-delayed climate change bill Wednesday and immediately encountered liberal and conservative critics who said the measure was either an energy bailout or a danger to the American economy.
    “Those who’ve spent years stalling need to understand something: Killing a Senate bill is not the measure of success or victory, because if Congress can’t legislate a solution, the EPA will regulate one,” Kerry said, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency. “And it will come without the help to America’s businesses and consumers that is in this bill.”… – Houston Chronicle, 5-13-10
  • Big oil to get more grilling as oil gushes in Gulf: Oil execs to be grilled again by U.S. lawmakers * BP stock value drops $30 billion, underscoring uncertainty * Protests planned in several U.S. cities * Oil starting to wash up on shore, BP says…
    Top oil executives face a second day of grilling by U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday over a deadly well rupture that unleashed a huge oil slick and the specter of environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico… – Reuters, 5-12-10
  • As Clinton Aide, Kagan Recommended Tactical Support for an Abortion Ban: Elena Kagan, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, once recommended to President Bill Clinton that he support a Democratic-sponsored ban on some late-term abortions as a way to defeat a stronger measure gaining momentum in the Senate.
    As a White House domestic policy aide, Ms. Kagan sent Mr. Clinton a memorandum urging him to endorse the ban sponsored by Senator Tom Daschle, Democrat of South Dakota. The memo anticipated that the Daschle plan would fail but suggested that it would provide political cover for enough senators to stick by the president when he ultimately vetoed the tougher bill sponsored by Republicans.
    “We recommend that you endorse the Daschle amendment in order to sustain your credibility on HR 1122 and prevent Congress from overriding your veto,” Ms. Kagan and her boss, Bruce Reed, said in the memo on May 13, 1997…. – NYT, 5-12-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President delivers the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 5/14/10

  • Weekly Address: President Obama “Wall Street Reform Will Bring Greater Security to Folks on Main Street” Remarks of President Barack Obama Saturday, May 15, 2010 Weekly Address Washington, DC: The way the system is currently set up, these banks are at a disadvantage because while they are often playing by the rules, many of their less scrupulous competitors are not. So, what reform will do is help level the playing field by making sure all our lenders – not just community banks – are subject to tough oversight. That’s good news for our community banks, which is why we’ve received letters from some of these banks in support of reform….
    That’s why Wall Street reform is so important. With reform, we’ll make our financial system more transparent by bringing the kinds of complex, backroom deals that helped trigger this crisis into the light of day. We’ll prevent banks from taking on so much risk that they could collapse and threaten our whole economy. And we’ll give shareholders more of a say on pay to help change the perverse incentives that encouraged reckless risk-taking in the first place. Put simply, Wall Street reform will bring greater security to folks on Main Street….
    Next week, we have a chance to help lay a cornerstone in that foundation. The reform bill being debated in the Senate will not solve every problem in our financial system – no bill could. But what this strong bill will do is important, and I urge the Senate to pass it as soon as possible, so we can secure America’s economic future in the 21st century…. – WH, 5-15-10
  • Obama pushes Wall Street reform with populism: President Barack Obama on Saturday called for swift Senate action on a sweeping overhaul of Wall Street rules to “secure America’s economic future” as a reform bill moves into the decisive stage next week. With months to go before November’s pivotal congressional elections, Obama pressed a populist theme of helping the “folks on Main Street” as he urged approval of tighter regulations to prevent a repeat of the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
    Obama’s Democrats and opposition Republicans are continuing to haggle over a slew of amendments, but the bill could come up for a vote in the U.S. Senate by the end of next week and is widely expected to pass.
    “The reform bill being debated in the Senate will not solve every problem in our financial system — no bill could,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. “But what this strong bill will do is important, and I urge the Senate to pass it as soon as possible, so we can secure America’s economic future in the 21st century.”… – Reuters, 5-15-10
  • Palin to Obama: ‘Do your job, secure our border’: Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin joined the national battle over Arizona’s controversial new immigration law Saturday, appearing with Gov. Jan Brewer in Phoenix to denounce the Obama administration’s criticism of the law. “It’s time for Americans across this great country to stand up and say ‘We’re all Arizonans now and, in clear unity, we say Mr. President, do your job, secure our border,'” Palin said, standing beside Brewer at a Saturday afternoon press conference…. – CNN, 5-16-10
  • Sarah Palin speaks in Rosemont: Only moments after taking the stage Wednesday at the Rosemont Theatre, former Alaska governor and conservative firebrand Sarah Palin took on officials of Highland Park High School for cancelling a trip to Arizona for its girls basketball team because of opposition to the state’s controversial new immigration law. “Keeping the girls basketball team off the court for political reasons? Those are fighting words,” Palin said. Noting the school has allowed student trips to China, Palin questioned whether school officials knew “how they treat women in China.”
    “An economic and political boycott of one of our sister states is not a way to secure our borders,” Palin said, using the title of her first book to encourage the team members to “go rogue, girls.”… – Chicago Tribune, 5-12-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Matthew Dallek “History warns Obama on primaries”: President Barack Obama is deeply enmeshed in the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary….
    Obama is entangled in other Democratic primaries, as well. His White House has endorsed incumbent moderate Democrats in a handful of key midterm races. It has actively intervened in support of Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.
    Obama’s political team has pressured potential rivals to bow out of some races. The president has raised funds for his preferred candidates. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs argued, for example, that Lincoln is the president’s favored candidate because she’s the incumbent.
    Obama is not the first president to be involved in intraparty fights during midterms. Ideology and political disputes have sparked squabbling in Democratic primaries throughout the past century.
    While Obama’s efforts seem motivated by a desire to retain Democratic majorities in Congress, his predecessors often had larger policy issues that spurred them to purge their Democratic foes. But in virtually every case, the results were never good for the president… – Politico, 5-11-10

The President tours Industrial Support Inc. in Buffalo, N.Y.

The President tours Industrial Support Inc. in Buffalo, N.Y., White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 5/13/10

March 15, 2010: Obama Administration Health Care, Education & Israel

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President delivers the Weekly Address

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Poll: Republican resurgence among young adults: A new poll shows 18- to 29-year-old Republicans are more politically energized than young Democrats and are more inclined to vote in this fall’s elections. Young adults are also extremely concerned about the economy.
    Forty-one percent of young Republicans say they plan to vote in November, compared with 35 percent of Democrats and 13 percent of Independents, according to the poll conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics (IOP), a nonpartisan group. Fifty-three percent of those who voted for Sen. John McCain (R) of Ariz., in 2008 say they will definitely vote in midterm elections, compared with 44 percent of those who voted for President Obama…. – CS Monitor, 3-9-10
  • Poll: Financially pinched, young adults lose faith: Young adults are financially anxious, worried that they can’t meet their educational, housing and health care needs, according to a new poll that exposes a growing pessimism about achieving the American Dream. The poll by Harvard’s Institute of Politics found that six out of 10 of those surveyed worry they may not meet their current bills and obligations. Nearly half of those attending college wonder whether they will be able to afford to stay in school. And more than eight out of 10 said they expect difficulty finding a job after graduation. Fewer than half said they believe they will be better off than their parents when they reach their parents’ age…. – AP, 3-9-10
  • Poll: U.S. has lost global standing under Obama: A majority of Americans say the United States is less respected in the world than two years ago and believe President Obama and other Democrats fall short of Republicans on the issue of national security, according to a poll by two left-leaning groups.
    The Democracy Corps-Third Way survey released Monday finds that by a 10-point margin – 51 percent to 41 percent – Americans think the standing of the United States has dropped during the first 13 months of Mr. Obama’s presidency.
    “This is surprising, given the global acclaim – and Nobel peace prize – that flowed to the new president after he took office,” the pollsters said…. – Washington Times, 3-9-10
  • New poll spells potential trouble for Democrats: A new poll on Monday found signs of trouble ahead for President Barack Obama and his Democrats on national security issues such as the handling of terrorism suspects. The poll was conducted jointly by Democratic Corps, a Democratic organization, and Third Way, a progressive non-profit organization. It was done mainly to gauge voters’ views on Democrats’ handling of national security.
    The poll found 60 percent of Americans believe the United States is on the wrong track. It also found that people rated Democrats at about the same level as Republicans, in what amounted to an erosion of the advantage Democrats have held.
    “We would not want the election to be held today, with this poll,” said Democracy Corps’ chief pollster Stan Greenberg. “If the election were held today, this would be a ‘change’ election.”… – Reuters, 3-8-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Agencies lag in following Obama’s openness order: President Barack Obama is having difficulty getting all federal agencies to follow his order to deliver “a new era of open government,” according to a study of how they administer the Freedom of Information Act. The National Security Archive, a private group that publishes declassified government information and uses the act and lawsuits to pry out official records, found a decidedly mixed record in an audit of how 90 agencies responded to Obama directives to open more records, and the guidelines and training sessions that followed from the Justice Department…. – AP, 3-14-10
  • Catholic hospitals support health care bill: A group representing Catholic hospitals is rallying behind President Barack Obama’s health care bill. Support from the Catholic Health Association could help persuade anti-abortion lawmakers to provide critical votes in the House for the overhaul. The group’s chief executive, Carol Keehan, writes on the association’s Web site that the legislation isn’t perfect, but is “a major first step” toward covering all Americans and would make “great improvements” for millions of people….- AP, 3-13-10
  • Reports: U.S. Pressuring Israel to Scrap Building Plan: The controversial plan to build 1,600 apartments was approved during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to the region last week…. – AP, 3-15-10
  • GOP Lawmaker: White House Job Offer to Sestak Would Have Been a ‘Crime’: A GOP lawmaker says that the White House committed a “crime” if it offered Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak a federal job in exchange for dropping his primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa…. – FOX News, 3-13-10
  • Obama promise: Brighter education futures for kids: President Barack Obama is promising parents and their kids that with his administration’s help they will have better teachers in improved schools so U.S. students can make up for academic ground lost against youngsters in other countries.
    A plan to overhaul the 2002 education law championed by President George W. Bush was unveiled by the Obama administration Saturday in hopes of replacing a system that in the last decade has tagged more than a third of schools as failing and created a hodgepodge of sometimes weak academic standards among states.
    “Unless we take action — unless we step up — there are countless children who will never realize their full talent and potential,” Obama said during a video address on Saturday. “I don’t accept that future for them. And I don’t accept that future for the United States of America.”
    In the proposed dismantling of the No Child Left Behind law, education officials would move away from punishing schools that don’t meet benchmarks and focus on rewarding schools for progress, particularly with poor and minority students. Obama intends to send a rewrite to Congress on Monday of the law…. – AP, 3-13-10
  • Coffee vs. Tea: A political movement is brewing: The new Coffee Party movement deemed its official kickoff Saturday a “huge success,” with dozens of talks held at coast-to-coast coffee shops as members came together to discuss the issues most important to them.
    Billed by many as an answer to the conservative Tea Party movement, the Coffee Party was born on Facebook just six weeks ago. While the group has become an instant hit online — it boasts more than 141,000 Facebook fans as of Saturday — gauging the success of this weekend’s coffee meetups was predicted to be an indicator of the group’s strength…. – CNN, 3-13-10
  • Democrats move toward grouping health reform with student-aid bill: Democratic leaders said Thursday that they were increasingly inclined to release a final health-care bill that could accomplish two of President Obama’s top domestic priorities: guaranteeing coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans and vastly expanding federal aid for college students…. – WaPo, 3-12-10
  • Health Care Bill ‘Still a Jump Ball,’ White House Official Says: Passage of health care reform bill is “still a jump ball,” official tells Fox News, as Democratic leaders point to progress…
    The prospects for Democratic victory on health care reform, the president’s signature domestic initiative, have improved, but “it’s still a jump ball,” a top White House official intimately involved in the ongoing health care negotiations with House and Senate Democrats told Fox News late Friday. That assessment confirms that the White House and Democratic leaders so far lack the votes to pass health care in the House. And it undercuts somewhat the declaration Friday from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that President Obama finally feels the wind at his back on the issue…. – Fox News, 3-12-10
  • Obama prepares for showdown on health care: This time, the President acts as if he has set a deadline he can believe in… – Globe & Mail, 3-12-10
  • Clinton Rebukes Israel for Housing Announcement: In a tense, 43-minute phone call on Friday morning, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel’s plan for new housing units for Jews in East Jerusalem sent a “deeply negative signal” about Israeli-American relations, and not just because it spoiled a visit by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
    Such blunt language toward Israel is very rare from an American administration, and several officials said Mrs. Clinton was relaying the anger of President Obama at the announcement, which was made by Israel’s Interior Ministry and which Mr. Netanyahu said had caught him off guard…. – NYT, 2-12-10
  • Scott Brown to give GOP rebuttal to President’s weekly radio address: US Sen. Scott Brown, who was elected on a wave of opposition to current health care reform plans, will give the GOP rebuttal to President Obama’s weekly address as the White House ramps up their reform efforts. The high-profile address comes as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) announced yesterday he would push to pass the reforms through reconciliation…. – Boston Herald, 2-12-10
  • Senators give Obama a bipartisan plan on immigration: The president is encouraged, but healthcare politics could jeopardize the proposal…. – LAT, 3-12-10
  • At U.N., Clinton rallies for more women’s opportunities worldwide: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told government delegates and activists here Friday that violence against women remains a “global pandemic” and that their “subjugation” constitutes “a threat to the national security of the United States.” Speaking on the final day of a two-week U.N. conference on women’s rights, Clinton urged U.N. member states to expand opportunities for women and end practices that subject them to discrimination and violence…. – WaPo, 3-12-10
  • Dems look to health vote without abortion foes: House leaders have concluded they cannot change a divisive abortion provision in President Barack Obama’s health care bill and will try to pass the sweeping legislation without the support of ardent anti-abortion Democrats. A break on abortion would remove a major obstacle for Democratic leaders in the final throes of a yearlong effort to change health care in the United States. But it sets up a risky strategy of trying to round up enough Democrats to overcome, not appease, a small but possibly decisive group of Democratic lawmakers in the House…. – AP, 3-12-10
  • Dems Abandon Abortion Deal, Ready Health Vote: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel emerged from a meeting in the Capitol with top Democratic lawmakers Thursday night saying, “We made a lot of decisions. We’re getting towards the end.”… – AP, Fox News, 3-12-10
  • Obama Lists Who Will Get Prize Money From Nobel: President Obama has made good on a promise to give his $1.4 million in Nobel Peace Prize money to charity, releasing on Thursday the names of the organizations that will benefit.
    “These organizations do extraordinary work in the United States and abroad helping students, veterans and countless others in need,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “I’m proud to support their work.”
    Mr. Obama put Fisher House, an organization that provides housing for the families of those being treated at major military and Veterans Affairs medical centers, at the top of the list with a $250,000 donation. Fisher House was followed by the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, the project his two immediate predecessors are running to raise money for relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti, which will get $200,000… – NYT, 3-11-10
  • Senate approves $138-billion spending bill: The legislation, which must be reconciled with the House version, would extend jobless benefits and tax measures created to boost the economy, and help states pay for Medicaid…. – LAT, 3-11-10
  • Key senators balk at adding student loan overhaul to health-care legislation: As they push to finish health-care legislation by the end of the month, Democratic leaders in Congress are weighing whether to add another of President Obama’s priorities to the package: a popular proposal to overhaul the federal student loan program. The move could clear the way for Obama to claim victory on two of his most significant domestic initiatives in a single signing ceremony. Administration officials and House leaders have pressed aggressively for the addition in recent days. But key senators are objecting to the move, arguing that political resistance in the Senate and the rapidly rising cost of the education measure could jeopardize efforts to push health-care reform to final passage…. – WaPo, 3-11-10
  • It’s Obama vs. the Supreme Court, Round 2, over campaign finance ruling: Roberts calls scene at State of the Union ‘very troubling’ In remarks during a question-and-answer session with law students at the University of Alabama, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. protested the timing of President Obama’s State of the Union disapproval of the court’s decision in a major campaign finance case.
    President Obama and the Supreme Court have waded again into unfamiliar and strikingly personal territory. When Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. told law students in Alabama on Tuesday that the timing of Obama’s criticism of the court during the State of the Union address was “very troubling,” the White House pounced. It shot back with a new denouncement of the court’s ruling that allowed a more active campaign role for corporations and unions…. – WaPo, 3-11-10
  • Bill Clinton, Bill Gates unite in foreign aid plea: Former president Bill Clinton and Microsoft founder Bill Gates called Wednesday on US lawmakers to boost foreign aid to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria in the world’s poorest nations. The leading philanthropists went to Capitol Hill to boost support for the so-called Global Health Initiative (GHI) and promote a crucial health aid budget bill proposed in 2009 by President Barack Obama’s administration.
    “I hope you will pass this bill,” Clinton said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It is a very good bill, I think, and I think it is the next logical step” in US efforts to boost global health care… – AFP, 3-10-10
  • Obama Gets Tough on Health Care Fraud: President Obama continued his drive for a health care overhaul on Wednesday, ordering a crackdown on Medicare and Medicaid waste and fraud, while in Washington, House leaders said they hoped to have a completed bill to present to rank and file members Thursday morning….
    “The health care system has billions of dollars that should go to patient care, and they’re lost each and every year to fraud and abuse and massive subsidies that line the pockets of insurance company executives,” Mr. Obama told about 500 mostly supportive local residents in the gymnasium of St. Charles High School here…. – NYT, 3-10-10
  • Obama backs bipartisan crackdown on healthcare cheats: President Barack Obama, making a final push for healthcare reform, will back bipartisan plans to stamp out waste in government-run medical programs for the old and needy, the White House said on Tuesday… – Reuters, 3-9-10
  • Mitt Romney: Tea Party movement is great as long as they vote Republican: Mitt Romney is supportive of the Tea Party movement but draws the line when it comes to a third party. CS Monitor, 3-9-10
  • Ex-Congressman Massa says groping wasn’t sexual: Former Rep. Eric Massa, a New York Democrat who resigned his seat Monday amid a sexual harassment investigation, goes on TV to defend himself…. – LAT, 3-10-10
  • Obama takes hard-sell health pitch to Pa.: President Obama stepped up pressure Monday on his fellow Democrats to retool the nation’s health care system, decrying those who put politics above policy. Saving his harshest rhetoric for the insurance industry, Obama began his latest attempt to pass his 10-year, $950 billion measure by declaring, “The issue here is not the politics of it.”
    “It’s hard for some members of Congress to make this vote. There’s no doubt about that,” Obama said. In contrast, he said, “What’s hard is what millions of families and small businesses are going through because we allow the insurance industry to run wild in this country.”,…. – USA Today, 3-8-10
  • Obama hails contributions of ‘daring’ women: Crediting their role in the American story, President Barack Obama on Monday praised the nation’s “daring, indomitable” women — including the one-time political rival who is now his secretary of state. “Women like Hillary Rodham Clinton, who, throughout her career, has put millions of cracks in America’s glass ceiling,” Obama said in the grand East Room packed mostly with women. “It’s because of them — and so many others, many who aren’t recorded in the history books — that the story of America is, ultimately, one of hope and one of progress, of an upward journey.”
    “We’re doing all of this not only because promoting women’s empowerment is one of the best ways to promote economic development and economic success,” Obama said. “We are doing it because it’s the right thing to do. I say that not only as a president, but also as the father of two daughters, as a son and a grandson, and as a husband.” – AP, 3-8-10
  • Joe Biden in Israel to press Mid-East peace talks: US Vice-President Joe Biden has arrived in Israel to promote a new round of Middle East peace talks more than a year after they stalled. Mr Biden – the highest-ranking Obama administration official to visit the region – will meet both Palestinian and Israeli officials. Iran’s nuclear intentions are expected to be at the top of Israel’s agenda…. – BBC News, 3-8-10
  • Pa. Sen. Arlen Specter is penning a book: Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, who switched to the Democratic Party last year, is writing a book about his experiences… – USA Today, 3-8-10
  • Healthcare overhaul comes down to Pelosi and Obama: A bill’s fate depends on whether the House Speaker can land enough votes – and whether the president can take control of the debate, which Democrats complain he has not done…. – 3-8-10
  • Democrats Voice Health-Bill Doubts: Some House Democrats wavering over whether to back a health-care overhaul questioned whether it would effectively curb the country’s health costs, highlighting a difficult issue that the White House and congressional leaders must address in the final negotiations on the measure. The issue is one of several that have been raised by Democrats over the bill, which President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders are pushing to pass by the end of March. Conservative Democrats have raised questions over the bill’s language on abortion and tax increases, while liberals are unhappy with its failure to include a government plan that would compete with private insurers…. – WSJ, 3-8-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Voter turnouts for primaries ‘a concern’: The red-hot race in Texas earlier this month between Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison for the Republican gubernatorial nomination helped drive the state to its biggest primary turnout in 20 years. And just how many people showed up for the election? About 1.5 million Texans cast ballots in the March 2 GOP primary for governor, according to the secretary of State’s office. That means only about 1 in 10 of the 15.3 million Texans 18 and older who were eligible to vote actually cast a ballot, according to Curtis Gans at American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate… – USA Today,
  • McCain campaigns for NH Senate candidate: Arizona Sen. John McCain told New Hampshire voters Saturday that if the current health care bill passes, opponents will immediately launch a nationwide movement to repeal it.
    “We can repeal it, but I would hate to have to have that task; obviously because there’s still the same resident of the White House,” he said at a town hall meeting reminiscent of those he held during his two presidential campaigns.
    On Saturday, McCain was stumping for fellow Republican Kelly Ayotte, a former state attorney general who is seeking the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Judd Gregg…. – Boston Globe, 3-12-10
  • Bush keeps Crist in his gun sights: Former Gov. Jeb Bush has been increasingly critical of Gov. Charlie Crist, but his election endorsement is still pending. There’s been a lot of speculation about when Jeb Bush will finally make his preference official and endorse Marco Rubio for the Senate. But it strikes us that Rubio is better served for now with the popular ex-governor continuing with his current role: ostensibly neutral and taking increasingly tough shots at Charlie Crist from the sidelines…. – St. Peterberg Times, 3-14-10
  • GOP nominates newcomer to succeed Murtha: Republicans last night selected a political newcomer who has never sought elected office as their nominee in the special election to succeed the late U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha. Tim Burns, a self-made millionaire from Eighty Four, Washington County, and a native of Mr. Murtha’s hometown of Johnstown, handily defeated Bill Russell, who mounted a strong challenge to Mr. Murtha in 2008…. – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3-12-10
  • Palin will make an appearance at fundraiser for Bachmann: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will bring her star power and fundraising prowess to Minnesota next month to help U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann with reelection. Bachmann announced Thursday that Palin will host a fundraising dinner April 7 at a Minneapolis hotel. There will be a private reception and photo opportunity at 4:30 p.m., a general reception at 5 p.m. and a dinner at 6 p.m. It’s not known how much tickets will cost…. – Star Tribune, 3-11-10
  • Cuomo Hands Paterson Case to an Ex-Judge: Facing growing political pressure, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday appointed an independent counsel to take over his office’s investigation into the Paterson administration’s response to a domestic violence case. Mr. Cuomo said Judith S. Kaye, the former chief judge of New York, would lead the inquiry, along with an investigation into whether the governor lied when he was questioned by the State Commission on Public Integrity about his office’s solicitation of Yankees World Series tickets…. – NYT, 3-11-10
  • With a huge lead in Florida polls, Rubio dazzles crowd: The second poll in a week shows him more than 30 points ahead of Gov. Charlie Crist…. – Jacksonville.com, 3-11-10
  • Romney Ties Decision on Presidential Bid to Outcome of November Elections: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney suggested Sunday that his decision on whether to run again for president may hinge on the outcome of the November midterm elections….
    “I don’t really have the pros and cons laid out yet,” he said. “It’s something which we won’t have to decide until some time after the November elections. My guess is after those elections are over and we see where the country is, and we see the features in our own lives that may affect a decision like that, we’ll sit down and make a decision.”… – Fox News, 3-8-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) Delivers Weekly GOP Address on Health Care: In the Weekly Republican Address, newly-elected Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts explains that the Democrats running Washington have their priorities all wrong. Sen. Brown says Americans “told me that they want their President and Congress to focus on creating jobs and reviving Americas economy. Instead, for more than a year now, we have seen a bitter, destructive, and endless drive to completely transform Americas health care system.”
    “Somehow,” Sen. Brown notes, “the greater the public opposition to the health care bill, the more determined they seem to force it on us anyway. Their attitude shows Washington at its very worst the presumption that they know best, and theyre going to get their way whether the American people like it or not.”
  • Sen. Brown says, “I havent been here very long, but, I can tell you this much already: Nothing has distracted the attention and energy of the nations capital more than this disastrous detour. And, the surest way to return to the peoples business is to listen to the people themselves: We need to drop this whole scheme of federally controlled health care, start over, and work together on real reforms at the state level that will contain costs and wont leave America trillions of dollars deeper in debt.” – You Tube, 3-13-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama to Send Updated Elementary and Secondary Education Act Blueprint To Congress on Monday Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address March 13, 2010: Under the leadership of an outstanding Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, we launched a Race to the Top, through which states compete for funding by committing to reform and raising standards, by rewarding good teaching, by supporting the development of better assessments to measure results, and by emphasizing math and science to help prepare children for college and careers.
    And on Monday, my administration will send to Congress our blueprint for an updated Elementary and Secondary Education Act to overhaul No Child Left Behind. What this plan recognizes is that while the federal government can play a leading role in encouraging the reforms and high standards we need, the impetus for that change will come from states, and from local schools and school districts. So, yes, we set a high bar – but we also provide educators the flexibility to reach it…. – WH, 3-13-10
  • The Conscience of a Florida Conservative: “They voted for somebody they’d never heard of in Barack Obama because he ran on the platform of a very devoted centrist.” That’s the answer from Marco Rubio when asked about his stunning rise to national prominence as a Republican challenger to a popular Republican officeholder in the key electoral state of Florida. Underlying this strange political season, says Mr. Rubio, is the president’s rapid uncloaking in office as anything but the postpartisan that voters thought they had elected. “Within weeks,” says Mr. Rubio, “he began trying to implement what appears to everyone else to be the left-of-center politics of the last 50 years, but in a much more aggressive way, using the excuse of a severe economic downturn as justification for growing and in essence redefining the role of government in America.”… – WSJ, 3-15-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Tevi Troy: Health Care: A Two-Decade Blunder: …Fast-forward 19 years: it is the Democrats who are now faced with divining the results of another underdog’s victory. In January, a little-known state senator named Scott Brown defeated Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in a special election for the United States Senate. Universal health care was once again on center stage. This time around, though, the Republican seized on widespread antipathy to what has come to be seen as an incoherent Democratic scheme for an unworkable federal takeover of health care…. – Commentary Magazine, 4-10
  • Tevi Troy: Nerd is another word for smart Republicans have long been viewed as those who get gentleman’s “C” in the national classroom. In fact, it is almost a liberal trope to call Republican presidents “dumb.”
    Democrats, in contrast, are usually cited as the smart ones in American politics….
    But this simplistic analysis of smart Democrats contrasted with dumb Republicans does not fit reality. – Politico, 3-12-10
  • Fred Greenstein: Obama Gets High Scores on Leadership Report Card: That’s according to presidential historian and author Fred Greenstein, professor of politics emeritus at Princeton University. The author of the new Inventing the Job of President has just updated his initial Obama report card and declared the president a “rare political leader.”
    In a scholarly paper, Barack Obama: The Man and His Early Presidency, Greenstein looks at six key leadership qualities and seems to find that the nation’s first African-American president is up to snuff. “Barack Obama is a fascinating political specimen,” writes Greenstein, whose books include The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to Barack Obama; The Hidden-Hand Presidency: Eisenhower as Leader; and How Presidents Test Reality: Decisions on Vietnam, 1954 and 1965.
    “Indeed,” adds Greenstein, “he may turn out to be the rare political leader who is marked by both a first-rate temperament and a first-rate mind.”… – US News, 3-12-10
  • Julian Zelizer: GOP health care refusal could backfire: Most Republicans have opposed President Obama’s health care bill from the first day he proposed reform. If the House passes the Senate bill in the next few days, it will probably do so without any Republican support.
    Regardless of whether the legislation passes, Republicans can already claim a victory, given that the struggle for legislation has lasted more than a year and tied up the rest of the Democratic agenda….
    Yet Republicans should be wary about celebrating too much. The strategy of obstruction poses significant risks….
    A recent leaked document from the Republican National Committee suggests that the party is planning to base its 2010 campaign on fear and negative attacks, rather than hope and ideas. Sometimes, in the enthusiasm over a battle, armies can lose sight of the war.
    Republicans might have regained their fighting spirit over health care, but the strategy could prove to be costlier than they expect. – CNN, 3-8-10

August 11, 2009: President Obama, Health Care Reform Debate Heats Up

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

Health Insurance Reform Reality Check

Reality Check – Health Insurance Reform

There is a lot of misinformation being spread by defenders of the status quo. Find out what’s in health insurance reform for you, and what’s not in it at all.

Learn More

The President speaks at the town hall

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • President Barack Obama’s approval rating down to 50 percent: poll: Exactly half of registered voters surveyed by Quinnipiac University said they approve of the job Obama is doing, compared with 42 percent who disapprove.That’s down from 57 percent approval and 33 percent disapproval in a poll taken in late June, according to results released Thursday…. – Ny Daily News, 8-7-09
  • A Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday found 52 percent of voters disapprove of Obama’s handling of healthcare while 39 percent approve. That was a shift from 46 percent approval against 42 percent disapproval in a July 1 survey…. – Reuter, 8-5-09
  • Obama’s approval rating back above 50 percent: President Barack Obama’s job approval has bounced back above 50 percent, in the latest Zogby International national poll. In a telephone poll of 1,005 likely voters, from July 31 to Aug. 4, 53 percent said they approve of Obama’s job performance, and 38 percent disapprove, with a 3.2 percent margin of error…. – Daytona Business Journal, 8-5-09

THE HEADLINES:

Health Insurance Reform Reality Check

Reality Check – Health Insurance Reform

There is a lot of misinformation being spread by defenders of the status quo. Find out what’s in health insurance reform for you, and what’s not in it at all.

Learn More

The President speaks at the town hall

White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/11/09

Health Reform Town Hall Portsmouth

The President makes the case forcefully for health insurance reform, and calls out defenders of the status quo to debate on the merits — not blatant falsehoods.

Learn More

The President applauds Justice Sotomayor's confirmation

  • Obama takes the stand on healthcare: Reform won’t mean ‘death panels’ or rationed care, he tells a town hall in New Hampshire. The audience is polite, but Democrats elsewhere face hecklers…. – AP, 8-11-09
  • Lawmakers face angry crowds on health care: Jeers and taunts drowned out Democrats calling for a health care overhaul at town halls Tuesday, and one lawmaker said a swastika was spray-painted at his office as debate turned to noisy confrontation over President Barack Obama’s plan. The president himself was treated more respectfully. “You’ll be gone, by God the bureaucrats will still be here,” one man told Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., at a town hall in Lebanon, Pa…. – AP, 8-11-09
  • Senator Goes Face to Face With Dissent: More than 1,000 people showed up here Tuesday morning in this largely Republican town in central Pennsylvania for a town-hall-style meeting with Senator Arlen Specter, though the auditorium could seat only 250. Like many of the dozens of such meetings held by members of Congress over the last few weeks, this one was punctuated with rowdy moments, and interviews with many of those who showed up made it clear just how much underlying dissent motivated them…. – NYT, 8-11-09
  • Rove involvement in US attorney firing detailed: Former White House political adviser Karl Rove played a central role in the ouster of a U.S. attorney in New Mexico, one of nine prosecutors fired in a scandal in 2006 over political interference with the Justice Department, according to transcripts of closed-door testimony released Tuesday…. – AP, 8-11-09
  • In healthcare debate, ‘reality’ is in dispute: The White House launches an online ‘reality check’ to fight ‘myths’ about Democrats’ legislation. Republicans say the site is full of errors and worse… – LAT, 8-10-09
  • Obama pitching health care plan to the insured: President Barack Obama is switching his message on his overhaul of the nation’s health care system, readying a fresh pitch designed for those who already have insurance…. – AP, 8-11-09
  • Democrat Takes Heat During August Recess: Washington Post: Blue Dog Leader Baron P. Hill Feels the Pressure After Voting for House Health…. – WaPo, CBS News, 8-10-09
  • Alaska lawmakers override Palin veto: In a final spat with former Gov. Sarah Palin, the Alaska Legislature voted Monday to override her veto of $28.6 million in federal stimulus funds intended for energy efficiency projects…. – AP, 8-10-09
  • White House Adapts to New Playbook in Health Care Debate: The White House on Monday started a new Web site to fight questionable but potentially damaging charges that President Obama’s proposed overhaul of the nation’s health care system would inevitably lead to “socialized medicine,” “rationed care” and even forced euthanasia for the elderly…. – NYT, 8-10-09
  • It’s the Hillary & Bill show. Deal with it: The U.S. power couple is gloriously equal. Yet, when we’re not pitting Hill against Bill, we’re accusing them of planning a ‘shadow presidency’… – Globe and Mail, 8-9-09
  • Obama attending first US-Canada-Mexico summit – AP, 8-9-09
  • Obama Arrives in Mexico for Start of Summit: President Barack Obama began a summit meeting here Sunday night with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts that touched on a broad range of issues including climate change, the economic crisis, the swine flu pandemic and the battle against illegal drugs. NYT, 8-9-09
  • After July’s Turmoil, Obama Needs ‘a New Chapter’ in August: President Obama once looked to the August congressional recess as the moment to gain a decisive advantage in the fight to overhaul the nation’s health-care system. Instead, he needs to use the month to rebalance his presidency…. – WaPo, 8-8-09
  • A Jobs Bottom Another sign that a rebound is coming: Yesterday’s jobs report for July is undeniably good news, even if the economy did shed another quarter-million jobs for the month. The pace of job loss is slowing, confirming the view we expressed after last week’s GDP report that the economy is now poised for a rebound from its fall and winter depths…. – WSJ, 8-7-09
  • Health Care Debate Shifting Into Free Speech Battle: Both sides of the aisle are playing hardball. Though Democrats first accused Republicans of leading “mob rule” at health care meetings, health care reform supporters are responding in kind…. – Fox News, 8-7-09
  • ‘Cash-for-clunkers’ program gets $2B refill: Car shoppers caught up in the frenzy of the “cash-for-clunkers” program now have more time and a $2 billion reason to trade in their old gas guzzlers. President Barack Obama signed into law Friday a measure tripling the budget of the $1 billion incentive program that has drawn big crowds to formerly deserted showrooms. The Senate on Thursday passed the legislation extending the two-week-old program into Labor Day and preventing it from running out of money…. – AP, 8-7-09
  • Mitt Romney’s Big-Government Health Care Plan: The governor’s program is hardly a model for the nation–it’s a mess…. – Forbes, 8-6-09
  • White House Vows to Defend Democrats on Health Reform – WSJ, 8-6-09
  • Obama’s counter-terrorism advisor denounces Bush-era policies: John Brennan accuses the previous administration of promoting a ‘global war’ mind-set that served only to ‘validate Al Qaeda’s twisted worldview.’… – LAT, 8-6-09
  • Doubt Raised on Gitmo Closing Date: The Obama administration’s counterterrorism chief appeared to provide the first indication the administration may not make its January deadline for closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay in remarks Thursday that aimed to outline a new path for combating terrorism…. – WSJ, 8-6-09
  • Mitt Romney picks publisher, title, date for new book: St. Martin’s Press will publish, “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness.” It’s due out next March, just as mid-term election campaigns are heating up…. – Boston Herald, 8-6-09
  • Obama promises health overhaul with or without GOP: President Barack Obama said Wednesday he’s determined to get an overhaul of the health care system before the end of the year and, if necessary, without bipartisan support…. – AP, 8-5-09
  • GOP Gaining Traction Against Obama: The Republican Party seems to be gaining some traction in attacking President Obama’s agenda and pulling him down a peg or two in public esteem…. – AP, 8-5-09
  • GOP Sen. Gregg to vote for Sotomayor: Republican Sen. Judd Gregg says he’ll vote for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, breaking with most of his fellow Republicans…. – AP, 8-5-09
  • Funds Flow to Electric Cars: White House Unveils $2.4 Billion in Grants to Jump-Start an Electric-Vehicle Industry in Midwest – WSJ, 8-5-09
  • What are two Russian subs doing off the US coast?: The Pentagon doesn’t know. But it’s the first such incident in nearly 10 years, suggesting that the Russian military is flexing its muscle…. – CS Monitor, 8-5-09
  • Obama Setting Out to Put Brighter Face on Economy: The White House is making a major push this week to persuade Americans that President Obama’s policies are helping bring the nation out of recession. But a four-letter word — jobs — may well get in the way…. – NYT, 8-4-09
  • Dealers in neutral as Senate debates ‘clunkers’: As dealerships and car shoppers alike wait for the Senate to decide the fate of “cash for clunkers,” one question reigns: Deal or no deal? Many dealerships have stopped selling cars and trucks through the program while Washington decides whether to approve more money for it. In some cases, salesmen are only taking deposits and not letting customers drive new vehicles off the lot…. – AP, 8-4-09
  • Seniors defend Medicare plan Obama calls ‘wasteful’: One of the largest spending cuts Congress could rely on to pay for an overhaul of the nation’s health care system comes from a Medicare program President Obama has called a “wasteful” subsidy for the health insurance industry….A Gallup Poll last week found 20% of Americans over 65 say an overhaul will improve their health care — the lowest showing of three age groups…. – USA Today, 8-4-09
  • Does House Healthcare Bill Fund Abortion? Depends on Whom You Ask… – US News, 8-4-09
  • No middle-class tax increases, White House insists: ‘The president’s clear commitment is not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year,’ a spokesman says after Geithner and Summers suggested increases had not been ruled out…. – LAT, 8-3-09
  • Different US locations weighed for Gitmo trials: Staring at a January deadline, the Obama administration is debating between two dramatically different schemes for putting Guantanamo Bay detainees on trial: big-city courtrooms in the nation’s capital, New York and Virginia — or a one-of-a-kind superjail in the Midwest…. – AP, 8-3-09
  • Senate Democrats impatient with healthcare pace: With President Barack Obama’s political fortunes on the line, Democrats in Congress vowed on Monday to push healthcare reform through the Senate with or without Republican support…. – Reuters, 8-3-09
  • McCain to oppose Sotomayor (though she has the votes to prevail) – USA Today, 8-3-09
  • Proposed Tax Tests Obama on Campaign Vow: A proposed tax on generous health-insurance packages presents a challenge to President Barack Obama, who promised during his campaign not to raise taxes on the middle class. A plan under debate in Congress would impose a new tax on insurers or employers who provide so-called gold-plated health-care plans…. – WSJ, 8-2-09
  • Greenspan says no need yet to raise interest rates: Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says he doesn’t think the Fed should be considering raising interest rates to ward off inflation — at least not yet…. – AP, 8-2-09
  • Franken relishes policy role in new position: Just weeks into his Senate term, Al Franken’s portfolio compares favorably to any of the Senate’s freshman members. He loves policy. He has signed on as co-sponsor to a half dozen bills, asked thoughtful questions of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, and immersed himself in a thorny debate over health care reform…. – AP, 8-2-09
  • FACT CHECK: Distortions rife in health care debate: Confusing claims and outright distortions have animated the national debate over changes in the health care system. Opponents of proposals by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats falsely claim that government agents will force elderly people to discuss end-of-life wishes. Obama has played down the possibility that a health care overhaul would cause large numbers of people to change doctors and insurers. To complicate matters, there is no clear-cut “Obama plan” or “Democratic plan.” Obama has listed several goals, but he has drawn few lines in the sand…. – AP, 8-2-09
  • GOP: Dem healthcare plans ‘fall short’: Democratic healthcare reform proposals “fall short” in bringing down costs for U.S. families and small businesses, a Republican Party leader said Saturday.”Republicans want healthcare reform that works,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. said. “Reform that brings down costs for families and small businesses, and refor m that provides better care to more people. On all these points, the current proposals by the president and the … Democrat leadership in Congress fall short.” Thune claimed the Democratic plan would “spend more than $2 trillion and further increase our exploding deficit.”… – UPI, 8-1-09
  • Seniors uneasy over Medicare cuts in overhaul: Democrats are pushing for Medicare cuts on a scale not seen in years to underwrite health care for all. Many seniors now covered under the program don’t like that one bit….”Nobody is talking about reducing Medicare benefits,” Obama said. “Medicare benefits are there because people contributed into a system. It works. We don’t want to change it. What we do want is to eliminate some of the waste that is being paid for out of the Medicare trust fund that could be used more effectively to cover more people and to strengthen the system.”… – AP, 8-1-09
  • Obama, Cabinet meet for mid-year assessment: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, senior officials and Cabinet members were gathering away from the White House this weekend to discuss administration progress at the six-month mark and plot a course ahead…. – AP, 7-31-09

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • GOP officials: Heller won’t take on Reid: The GOP’s top choice to take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid next year has told party officials he’s decided against a run for the Senate…. – AP, 8-11-09
  • Maloney won’t challenge Gillibrand for NY Senate: U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whose appointment to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton angered some New York Democrats, cleared a major hurdle Friday when a potential primary opponent abandoned a promised challenge…. – AP, 8-7-09
  • Fla. GOP Sen. Martinez says he’s resigning early: Republican Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida said Friday he will step down from the Senate as soon as possible — more than a year before his term ends — adding fresh intrigue over who will fill the seat…. – AP, 8-7-09
  • Results of State Elections May Show How Obama Is Doing: President Obama has returned to the campaign trail. He is appearing in television advertisements in New Jersey this week on behalf of Gov. Jon S. Corzine, the embattled Democrat struggling to win a second term. And he campaigned on Thursday evening alongside R. Creigh Deeds, the candidate for governor fighting to keep Virginia in the Democratic column…. – NYT, 8-6-09
  • Rep. Sestak will try to unseat Sen. Specter of Pa.: Three years after he knocked off a veteran House incumbent, Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak will seek a bigger prize and challenge Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter for his long-held U.S. Senate seat…. – AP, 8-4-09
  • Conn. Senate race pauses for Dodd, who has cancer: The state’s senior U.S. senator, Christopher Dodd, has been heavily criticized for months, suffering from poor poll numbers and questions about discount mortgages he received. The criticisms stopped Friday, when the 65-year-old Democrat announced he’s been diagnosed with an early stage of prostate cancer and will have surgery soon…. – AP, 8-1-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

(President Barack Obama, center,  with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, and Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, right,  at the leader’s trilateral meeting at the Cabanas Cultural Center in Guadalajara,  Monday, August 10, 2009.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
  • To friendly crowd, Obama assails health care foes: Braced for a fight he never got, President Barack Obama went on the offensive in support of his health care plan Tuesday, urging a town hall audience not to listen to those who seek to “scare and mislead the American people.” “For all the scare tactics out there, what is truly scary is if we do nothing,” Obama told a friendly crowd of about 1,800 in a high school auditorium and a nationwide audience watching on cable television…. – AP, 8-11-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM TOWN HALL Portsmouth High School Portsmouth, New Hampshire – WH, 8-11-09
  • In a Tight Spot, Pelosi Calls Health Care Critics ‘Un-American’: It’s hardly the first time House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who earlier this year accused the CIA of lying to Congress and repeatedly has called Republicans unpatriotic, has employed some serious name-calling to characterize her opponents’ views….”Let the facts be heard,” they wrote. “These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.”… – Fox News, 8-10-09
  • Obama: Health overhaul key to economic recovery: “We’ve begun to put the brakes on this recession and … the worst may be behind us,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. He cited Friday’s Labor Department report that showed a dip in unemployment, but said, “We must do more than rescue our economy from this immediate crisis. We must rebuild it stronger than before.” He added: “We must lay a new foundation for future growth and prosperity, and a key pillar of a new foundation is health insurance reform.”… – AP, 8-8-09
  • Text: Obama calls health reform key to improving economy: In his weekly radio and Internet address, President Obama said healthcare reform could bolster an economy on the rebound. In the Republican response, Bob McDonnell, the GOP nominee for Virginia governor, noted that unemployment remains too high and criticized efforts to expand the federal government’s role in healthcare…. – LAT, 8-8-09
  • Palin says Obama’s health care plan is ‘evil’: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says in the America she knows, people won’t have to “stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care.” She says such a system is “downright evil.”… – AP, 8-8-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Calls Health Insurance Reform Key to Stronger Economy and Improvement on Status Quo – WH, 8-8-09
  • Obama vows to pass healthcare reform: “I promise you, we will pass reform by the end of this year because the American people need it,” Obama said in Wakarusa, Indiana, where he traveled to tout his economic initiatives. “We’re going to have to make it happen.”… – Reuter, 8-5-09
  • Hillary of Africa A welcome focus on failed governance: “The absence of strong, effective democratic institutions has permitted ongoing corruption, impunity, politically motivated violence, human-rights abuses and a lack of respect for the rule of law,” Mrs. Clinton said at a press conference. “These conditions helped fuel the post-election violence and they are continuing to hold Kenya back.”… Secretary Clinton was critical of the government decision not to appoint a tribunal that could hold those responsible for the election-related violence accountable. She acknowledged that prosecuting the perpetrators without igniting more unrest is “complicated” but said it’s no excuse for inaction. “There needs to be a beginning,” said Mrs. Clinton. “That’s what we’re looking for.”… – WSJ, 8-5-09
  • McCain saddened by Palin attacks but predicts resurrection: Regardless, McCain — appearing on CNN’s State of the Union said he was “…saddened by the fact that there are still such vicious attacks on her and her family.” “I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” he added…. “Sarah, I think, made, clearly, the best decision,” he added. “I think she will continue to contribute. I think she will continue to be a force.”… – CS Monitor, 8-2-09
  • Transcript: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Alan Greenspan: “This Week” Transcript with Treasury Secretary Tim Geither and former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan – ABC News, 8-2-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Says GDP Numbers Show Recovery Act Working; Long-Term Investments Still Needed: …But history shows that you need to have economic growth before you have job growth. And the report yesterday on our economy is an important sign that we’re headed in the right direction. Business investment, which had been plummeting in the past few months, is showing signs of stabilizing. This means that eventually, businesses will start growing and hiring again. And that’s when it will really feel like a recovery to the American people…. – WH, 8-1-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

President Barack Obama speaks about the economy during a statement in the Rose Garden
(President Barack Obama speaks about the economy during a statement in the Rose Garden of the  White House Friday, August 7, 2009.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: When interest groups go too far”: Last week, Americans saw some disturbing images. During town hall meetings about health care reform, legislators and citizens were loudly interrupted and intimidated by members of the audience who refused to let them speak. We don’t yet have solid evidence as to whether the protesters were local citizens simply expressing their genuine concerns about the cost of the health care proposals — concerns that have been showing up in recent polls — or whether they were people primarily recruited and sent into these meetings by such groups as FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, and Conservatives for Patients’ Rights…. – CNN, 8-11-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Another Clinton in the fold”: “When she became Secretary of State, the question was: ‘What is Obama going to do with Bill Clinton?'” said Julian Zelizer, a historian at Princeton University. “Now the answer seems to be that he is going to use Bill Clinton.” Some observers now wonder whether Bill Clinton, who heads a global charitable foundation, may get future sensitive diplomatic missions. He “got the Administration out of a difficult jam, and Obama will be happy to use him again,” Zelizer said. – Sydney Morning Herald, 8-11-09
  • Drug War, H1N1 Virus Top Mexico Summit Agenda: From drug violence to H1N1 flu, President Obama, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper tackled a long list of issues at a summit Monday…. – PBS Newshour, 8-10-09
  • Lawrence Powell “Katrina anniversary visit by President Barack Obama appears unlikely”: “Nationally, Katrina is old news, ” said Tulane University historian Lawrence Powell. “I think right now the president is more focused on the economy and health care.”… – Times-Piscayne 8-10-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Obama cautious despite unemployment cheer”: “The economy has stabilized, the markets have risen and we now have improved unemployment figures, but his best bet is to let voters connect the dots themselves,” said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University history professor. “If he and the administration boast too much, claiming credit for the good times, the danger is that bad numbers can appear in the coming months and he will hand Republicans the very argument they are looking for.”… – Reuters, 8-7-09
  • Stanley Karnow: US looks to Vietnam for Afghan tips: Top U.S. officials have reached out to a leading Vietnam war scholar to discuss the similarities of that conflict 40 years ago with American involvement in Afghanistan, where the U.S. is seeking ways to isolate an elusive guerrilla force and win over a skeptical local population. The overture to Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Stanley Karnow, who opposes the Afghan war, comes as the U.S. is evaluating its strategy there…. – AP, 8-6-09
  • Victor Davis Hanson: “Obama’s great race to change America”: Why does President Barack Obama want to implement all at once radical changes in American foreign policy, environmental policy, education, health care and the tax code? The answer is easy: If he does not achieve these initiatives soon, he never will. Almost none of Obama’s proposed policies any longer enjoy majority support among voters…. – Mercury News, 8-5-09
  • Richard Norton Smith “Happy Birthday, Mr. President: Obama Turns 48 In Country’s Most Stressful Job, Presidents Rarely Age Gracefully”: “All the presidents age in office. All you have to do is look at the photos at the beginning of their terms and the end,” said presidential historian and ABC News consultant Richard Norton Smith. “And they all age for pretty much the same reason. It’s the nature of the job. It’s the demands of the job. It’s a 24-hour job. I can’t think of another job that carries the same degree of responsibility; and if that’s true in peace time, it is exponentially greater in times of war.” ABC News, 8-4-09
  • Julian Zelizer: Commentary: Why Obama’s plans are stalled: The second hundred days of Barack Obama’s presidency have in many ways been more revealing than the first hundred days.We have learned a lot, not so much about Obama’s governing style or his policy agenda, but about the political environment in which he will have to operate — at least until the 2010 midterm elections…. – CNN, 8-4-09
  • DANIEL HENNINGER Why Obama May Fail If Obama can’t sell more government, no one can: A very long time ago, it was January. Barack Obama stood at the mountain top, bathed in the new light of a historic presidency and gazing down on a congressional lake afloat with contented Democrats. Those who spoke against him were vilified for not wanting this smart, vibrant president to “succeed.” How could he fail? Eight months into his presidency, Mr. Obama may do just that—fail…. – WSJ, 8-6-09
  • E.J. Dionne Jr.: Can Republicans escape their extremists?: Things are looking up for the Republicans, relatively speaking. President Obama’s poll numbers have dipped, GOP recruitment for the 2010 elections is going better than expected, and the heath care battle has been rough on the Democrats. On top of that, the surveys show Republicans now leading in this year’s two major governor’s races, in Virginia and New Jersey. There’s just one problem: The country still doesn’t like Republicans. – SF Gate, 8-1-09
%d bloggers like this: