December 8, 2008: Obama on the Economy & Caroline Kennedy, New York Senator?

POLITICS & PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION WATCH:

Canada in Focus:

  • Dion’s Speech Beset By Technical Woes: In the battle of the airwaves Wednesday, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion showed up almost an hour late and a few pixels short in his duel with the prime minister he hopes to replace. – Canadian Press, 12-4-08
  • Gov. Gen. Agrees to Suspend Parliament: Prime Minister Stephen Harper has won a stay of political execution – at least until January. Harper convinced Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean to suspend Parliament on Thursday, delaying a non-confidence vote scheduled for Monday that would have brought down his beleaguered minority Conservative government. – Canadian Press, 12-4-08

The Headlines…

Scott Olson/Getty Images

President-elect Barack Obama introduced retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki as his nominee for secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department on Sunday.

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

  • Democrats Pick Up House Seat: Mary Jo Kilroy, a Democrat, won the 15th District, which encompasses Columbus, the state’s capital and largest city, by a little more than 2,000 votes over Steve Stivers, a Republican. Representative Deborah Pryce, a Republican, announced in August 2007 that she was vacating the seat. – NYT, 12-7-08
  • CONGRESS: Biden unwelcome in Senate huddles, where Cheney wielded power: In a move to reassert Congressional independence at the start of the new presidential administration, the vice president will be barred from joining weekly internal Senate deliberations, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun. – Las Vegas Sun, 12-7-08
  • 1st Vietnamese-American elected to US Congress: Republican immigration attorney Anh “Joseph” Cao defeated Democratic U.S. William Jefferson on Saturday in an election postponed for a month by Hurricane Gustav. – AP, 12-7-08
  • What impact will Obama’s public works have on the American landscape?: President-elect Barack Obama is a student of history, as he has deftly demonstrated by following the model of Abraham Lincoln’s “team of rivals” in staffing his Cabinet. So as Obama pushes to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the nation’s infrastructure, I hope he’ll direct his motorcade past some living architectural history in Chicago, such as the Art Deco-style Lake Shore Drive Bridge over the Chicago River. – Chicago Tribune, 12-7-08
  • The Brightest Are Not Always the Best: IN 1992, David Halberstam wrote a new introduction for the 20th-anniversary edition of “The Best and the Brightest,” his classic history of the hubristic J.F.K. team that would ultimately mire America in Vietnam. He noted that the book’s title had entered the language, but not quite as he had hoped. “It is often misused,” he wrote, “failing to carry the tone or irony that the original intended.” – NYT, 12-7-08
  • Academic elites fill Obama’s roster Critics worry about insularity as Ivy League graduates crowd Cabinet posts: Barack Obama’s chief economic adviser was one of the youngest people to be tenured at Harvard and later became its president. His budget director went to Princeton and the London School of Economics, his choice for ambassador to the United Nations was a Rhodes scholar, and his White House counsel hit the trifecta: Harvard, Cambridge and Yale Law. – Salt Lake Tribune, 12-7-08
  • H. Brandt Ayers: Abraham Obama’s cabinet: We do not yet know how Sen. Hillary Clinton was persuaded to accept appointment as secretary of state, but the process is likely to resemble Abraham Lincoln’s appointment of his chief rival in the presidential race, Sen. William H. Seward. – The Anniston Star, 12-7-08
  • Clinton’s Welcome Will Include a Plate of Global Crises: As a candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton warned that Iran might be obliterated if it launched a nuclear attack on Israel and that Jerusalem should remain Israel’s undivided capital. As a senator, she voted to label Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization and to approve President Bush’s plan to go to war against Iraq. – NYT, 12-7-08
  • Obamaland ‘Partisan’ Seeks a Prefix: Bi- or Post- : Six weeks before taking office, President-elect Barack Obama can already boast one striking accomplishment: persuading partisan, ideological adversaries to see him in a less partisan, less ideological light. NYT, 12-6-08
  • Lawrence Summers: Harvard Lightning Rod Finds Path to Renewal With Obama – NYT, 12-7-08
  • AP IMPACT: Donors, lobbyists help Obama get ready: Faced with hiring a new administration, President-elect Barack Obama is learning how hard it is to keep his promise to avoid aides who have been entangled with the capital’s lobbying scene. – AP, 12-6-08
  • Kennedy Is Said to Cast Her Eye on Senate Seat: Caroline Kennedy, a daughter of America’s most storied political family who for many years fiercely guarded her privacy, is considering whether to pursue the Senate seat expected to be vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton early next year, a family member said Friday. – NYT, 12-6-08
  • “Car czar” proposed for any automaker bailout – Reuters, 12-6-08
  • Obama speechwriter Favreau learns the perils of Facebook: Jon Favreau, future White House director of speechwriting, has so far been at a loss for words over Facebook pictures of him at a recent party. – CNN, 12-6-08
  • Louisiana voters oust indicted Rep. Jefferson: In a year when national Republican fortunes took a turn for the worse, Louisiana delivered the GOP two seats in Congress in elections delayed by Hurricane Gustav. – AP, 12-6-08
  • Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary: President-elect Barack Obama has chosen retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki to be the next Veterans Affairs secretary, turning to a former Army chief of staff once vilified by the Bush administration for questioning its Iraq war strategy. – AP, 12-6-08
  • Obama campaign mulls what to do with $30M surplus: Democrats carrying significant campaign debt after winning a string of House and Senate races are grumbling about President-elect Barack Obama’s financial reserves, saying the party’s leader is sitting on a pile of cash while Democratic leaders are broke. – AP, 12-5-08
  • Obama in the public eye Sunday: President-elect Barack Obama, who has been laying low the last few days, plans to be out in public in high-profile appearances on Sunday. In the morning, he’s the guest on NBC’s venerable “Meet the Press,” where he is certain to be questioned on the economy, his cabinet picks, and more. In the afternoon, he plans a press conference in Chicago. His office said this afternoon that “on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, President-Elect Barack Obama will be speaking about the contributions of those that have served our nation.” – Boston Globe, 12-5-08
  • 3 Palin Stylists Cost Campaign More Than $165,000: Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign spent more than $165,000 over the course of nine weeks on a trio of stylists for Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, equivalent to what a Hollywood studio might invest in preparing an A-list actress for a movie premiere or publicity campaign, other stylists said. – N”YT, 12-5-08
  • Biden picks Bernstein as his economic adviser: Vice President-elect Joe Biden on Friday named Jared Bernstein as his chief economic policy adviser, a new post created as the nation faces a recession. – AP, 12-5-08
  • Obama donors urged to ease Clinton campaign debt: Hillary Rodham Clinton is scrambling to reduce her massive campaign debt before she becomes secretary of state, when federal ethics laws — and political sensitivities — will severely hamper her ability to do so. – AP, 12-5-08

Political Quotes

  • Gen. Shinseki as Secretary of Veterans Affairs: President-elect Barack Obama announced today that General Eric Shinseki will be his nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs. General Shinseki is a former Army Chief of Staff and 38-year Army veteran who served two combat tours in Vietnam. He understands the changing needs of our troops and their families and shares President-elect Obama’s commitment to modernizing the VA to meet the challenges of our time. – You Tube, 12-7-08
  • Obama Sharpens Tone on Auto Industry: Part of what I’m hoping to introduce as the next president is a new ethic of responsibility, where we say that, if you’re laying off workers, the least you can do when you’re making $25 million a year is give up some of your compensation and some of your bonuses, figure out ways in which workers maybe have to take a haircut, but they can still keep their jobs, they can still keep their health care, and they can still stay in their homes…. They have been building better cars now than they were 10 or 15 or 20 years ago. They are making some investments in the kind of green technologies and the new batteries that would allow us to create plug-in hybrids. – NYT, 12-7-08
  • Obama Warns of Further Economic Pain: “This is a big problem, and it’s going to get worse.”….. “I don’t think it’s an option to simply allow it to collapse… I think Congress is doing exactly the right thing by asking for a conditions-based assistance package that holds the auto industry’s feet to the fire… If this management team that’s currently in place doesn’t understand the urgency of the situation and is not willing to make tough choices and adapt to new circumstances, then they should go. As part of our economic recovery package, what you will see coming out of my administration right at the center, is a strong set of new financial regulations, in which banks, ratings agencies, mortgage brokers, a whole bunch of folks start having to be much more accountable and behave much more responsibly.
    I am absolutely confident, that if we take the right steps over the coming months, that not only can we get the economy back on track, but we can emerge leaner, meaner and ultimately more competitive and more prosperous.” NYT, 12-8-08
  • Obama Noncommittal on Caroline Kennedy, and Smoking: Caroline Kennedy has become one of my dearest friends and is just a wonderful American, a wonderful person. But the last thing I want to do is get involved in New York politics….
    I have done a terrific job, under the circumstances, of making myself much healthier. And I think that you will not see any violations of these rules in the White House…. – N”YT, 12-7-08
  • Obama: Economy to get worse before it improves – on “Meet the Press”: “We’ve got to provide a blood infusion to the patient right now to make sure that the patient is stabilized. And that means that we can’t worry short term about the deficit. We’ve got to make sure that the economic stimulus plan is large enough to get the economy moving….
    Congress is doing the exact right thing by asking for a conditions-based assistance package that holds the industry’s feet to the fire and gives the industry some short-term assistance….
    What we need to do is examine, what are the projects where we’re going to get the most bang for the buck? How are we going to make sure taxpayers are protected? You know, the days of just pork coming out of Congress as a strategy, those days are over…
    We are going to maintain a large enough force in the region to assure that our civilian troops or our civilian personnel and our embassies are protected, to make sure that we can ferret out any remaining terrorist activity in the region. – AP, 12-7-08
  • The Saturday Word: Roads and Cars: In the wake of dismal job reports, President-elect Barack Obama called in his radio/YouTube address for the creation of “millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s.” – NYT, 12-6-08
  • Barack Obama: Your Weekly Address from the President-Elect: December 6, 2008: This week President-elect Barack Obama addresses the job loss that our nation continues to endure and offers solutions to the challenges we face. – You Tube, 12-6-08
  • Obama vows vast public works program: He proposes rebuilding roads, extending access to Web as way to revive economy – “We need to act with the urgency this moment demands to save or create at least 2 1/2 million jobs so that the nearly 2 million Americans who’ve lost them know that they have a future.” Houston Chronicle, 12-6-08
  • Obama Statement: Town meetings start health reform effort: Providing quality affordable health care for all Americans is one of my top priorities for this country because our long-term fiscal prospects will have a hard time improving as long as sky-rocketing health care costs are holding us all down. Yet in order for us to reform our health care system, we must first begin reforming how government communicates with the American people. These Health Care Community Discussions are a great way for the American people to have a direct say in our health care reform efforts and I encourage Americans to take part if they are able. – Reuters, 12-6-08
  • Tom Daschle “Town meetings start health reform effort”: The myth is that we have the best healthcare system in the world. We do have islands of excellence in a sea of mediocrity.” – Reuters, 12-6-08
  • Biden’s spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander: CONGRESS: Biden unwelcome in Senate huddles, where Cheney wielded power: “Biden had no intention of continuing the practice started by Vice President Cheney of regularly attending internal legislative branch meetings — he firmly believes in restoring the Office of the Vice President to its historical role. He and Senator Reid see eye to eye on this.” – Las Vegas Sun, 12-7-08
  • Harry Reid: CONGRESS: Biden unwelcome in Senate huddles, where Cheney wielded power: “He can come by once and a while, but he’s not going to sit in on our lunches. He’s not a senator. He’s the vice president.” – Las Vegas Sun, 12-7-08

Historians’ Comments

  • Donald Ritchie: CONGRESS: Biden unwelcome in Senate huddles, where Cheney wielded power: Associate Senate Historian Donald Ritchie said Johnson was “hurt by the angry response.” Senators then, as they had throughout history, understood potential encroachment of the executive branch on their power. Similar rebuffs fill the pages of Senate history, from John Adams to Spiro Agnew. “Every vice president who has tried to be assertive has been restrained by the Senate,” said Ritchie, the historian. “Usually the vice president gets the hint and goes back to the White House.” – Las Vegas Sun, 12-7-08
  • Gil Troy “Will recession mean a toned-down inauguration?”: Though costly, an inauguration helps set the tone for a presidency, said Gil Troy, a visiting scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
    The president shouldn’t be seen noshing on caviar, but neither should he dispense with glamour entirely, Troy said. Americans want their leader to be a man of the people and a celebrity superstar, both.
    “Americans are people who love to indulge, and deep in our hearts want our leaders to be like the king and queen of England — but not too much,” he said.
    President Ronald Reagan fit the bill best when he set a new standard of opulence for his 1981 inauguration, Troy said. Nancy Reagan wore a $10,000 gown to the three-hour gala with Frank Sinatra.
    “Reagan had the ability — and maybe the Obamas will — to somehow make spending look patriotic,” Troy said. – AP, 12-7-08
  • Donald A. Ritchie “Can’t Put a Price on History For Some, Preparing for Inaugural Events Is No Time for Frugality”: Donald A. Ritchie, associate historian at the U.S. Senate Historical Office, said atypical visitors also attended the second inauguration of Abraham Lincoln in 1865. Blacks came because it was the first time they were allowed to march in the parade. “Probably the most popular so far was Andrew Jackson’s first inauguration in 1829, because he was seen as the people’s president,” Ritchie said. “The well-to-do of Washington were appalled at the common folk who showed up for Jackson’s inauguration.” – WaPo, 12-7-08
  • Carl Sferrazza Anthony “For Michelle Obama, great expectations”: Historian Carl Sferrazza Anthony said the public misperceived what Carter, who also maintained a weekly working lunch with her husband, was trying to do. “She was just avoiding having to bother him later with questions,” said Anthony, of the National First Ladies Library…. Dolley Madison, on the other hand, was admiringly called “Presidentress” by some for her role as a national symbol for all Americans, one who knew “how to strike the delicate balance between queen and commoner,” Anthony said. But Elizabeth Monroe, who came next and was much less popular, suffered from the comparison…. The wealthy Julia Tyler was deemed overly regal or queenlike, but then her successor, Sarah Polk, was called “monstrously small” (meaning small-minded) by President Tyler himself, Anthony said. – AP, 12-6-08
  • Michael Beschloss “300,000 Apply for 3,300 Obama Jobs”: The presidential historian Michael R. Beschloss said that “it’s hard to find a parallel in modern times to this degree of enthusiasm for going into government,” all the more striking in a period previously known for cynicism about government employment. – NYT, 12-6-08
  • Joan Hoff: ‘It was the best of times … worst of times:’ Presidential historian analyzes election: “Never before have we had a president coming in facing two wars, the collapse of a financial system and a country on the brink of decline in its great nation status.”…
    “Number one was the question of race. But also, we as a country are reluctant to vote for a president who does not try to hide his intellect. The last one before Obama was Woodrow Wilson. If you combine these two factors, it makes it a hugely unique vote.”…
    “The country is on a seismic brink,” Hoff said. “As foreign observers are now saying that all the time, we are on a downward slope in terms of economic footing and our position of power in the world. We are at the tipping point. And, if that is the case, any president will have to deal calmly and intellectually with our declining economic and diplomatic power in the world.”…
    “He has to be like Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” Hoff said. “FDR gave Americans the impression that he was solving the Depression. It was the second world war that brought the country out of the Depression.”…
    “Obama has become an international phenomenon like no other candidate has. It is said that as the U.S. goes, so goes the world. And people around the world were interested in what was happening in our election. There is the perception that Obama could bring change not only to the U.S. but also to the world.”…
    “I was in New York City during the election and it was fun to be there. People poured out into the streets and closed many of them off when it was announced that Obama had won. In addition, large crowds unprecedented in size gathered to watch the results in Times Square, Columbus Circle and Rockefeller Center.”
    “To be classified as a landslide, a candidate has to win at least 400 electoral votes, and preferably more than 500. So Obama’s 365 (current projections) was definitely was not a landslide, but it was a good mandate. Historians may, as they have with Truman and the Korean War, positively re-evaluate his Middle Eastern foreign policy if in 20 years or so it appears more successful than it does now. ” “This election was really something to experience. Obama will have to utilize his optimism and popularity to make changes following a failed presidency of unprecedented proportions. No previous president-elect has inherited two wars and a major recession. The situation is depressing, but it was such an upbeat election that I can’t be depressed. Obama has raised our expectations in a time of great need and I wish him well in trying to fulfill them.” – MSU News, 12-5-08
  • David Brinkley “Bush must navigate a treacherous post-presidency”: “The first year for every ex-president is really hard,” said David Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. “You have to raise all this money for your library, you’ve got to build an organization, you have to write a huge memoir, your papers are in disarray, and you suddenly realize your mistakes because your pace slows down.”…
    “This is going to be Bush vision.” Brinkley said of the institute. “Bush has never liked the academics, and this is a nonacademic institute aimed at cutting to the core of things: only pro-democracy foot soldiers who are green-lit by George and Laura Bush are in the mix.” – CNN, 12-5-08
  • Julian Zelizer “Bush must navigate a treacherous post-presidency”: “He is a president where people are expecting some kind of repair work,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton. “If he just goes on the speaking circuit and focuses his time making huge money, that would only tarnish a presidency that only has a low approval rating.” Instead, Bush is more likely to choose a similar post-presidential path, at least initially, as that of Jimmy Carter, who also left the White House with poor approval ratings, Zelizer said. “What Jimmy Carter showed is that you can be very active in your post-presidential years and help improve how people think of you as a leader and a policy maker,” Zelizer said. – CNN, 12-5-08
  • Stephen Hess “Bush must navigate a treacherous post-presidency”: “This president’s low approval rating is overwhelmingly connected to Iraq. It will rise and fall depending what turns out to be the history of that country and that part of the world,” said Stephen Hess, a former Eisenhower aide and a scholar at the conservative Brookings Institution. “That really is what his legacy for future historians is all about.” – CNN, 12-5-08
  • Gil Troy: Is Bush’s Greatest Achievement a Non-Achievement: No Subsequent 9/11s?: In yet another example of “blowback” actually undermining Islamist terrorism, the Mumbai mayhem may boost George W. Bush’s historical legacy. In the waning days of his presidency, the massacres highlighted one of Bush’s most significant but elusive achievements. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment is a non-event. After September 11, most Americans assumed they would endure a wave of terrorist attacks. Even those Americans who hate Bush must grant him at least some credit for the fact that not one major attack has occurred again on American soil….
    Despite all the hype during a presidential campaign about a candidate’s skills, judgment, character, experience, and potential, external events often define presidencies. George W. Bush himself entered office expecting to focus on domestic affairs. The horrific murders in Mumbai – along with the continuing economic roller coaster – illustrate that Obama’s legacy, like that all of his predecessors, remains in the hands of powerful actors and historical forces beyond his control, no matter how talented he is, no matter how focused on this one leader we remain. – HNN, 12-4-08
  • Julian Zelizer: Can President-Elect Obama Manage His Team of Egos?: Obama has assembled a powerful team that is full of experience, and opinions “He does have this challenge,” says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. “It’s not a modest cabinet by any stretch of the imagination. These are people of opinions and experience,” and they won’t be shy about “pushing the president” to adopt their ideas. The question is whether Obama will be strong enough to manage the egos around him—and distill from the resulting tensions and rivalries the best policies for the nation without allowing his government to descend into constant infighting, as happened under President Jimmy Carter and other chief executives. – – US News & World Report, 12-2-08
  • Douglas Brinkley “Presidential Historian Obama Could Permanently Ban ANWR Drilling”: Douglas Brinkley tells CNN’s Lou Dobbs new president may turn Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to a national monument – “I think what they’re trying to do is in the Obama administration, start pointing out some clear divot spots where they’re going to deviate from the Bush administration –things like Guantanamo, things that, ‘No, we are not going to be for drilling around parks,'” Brinkley said. “I wouldn’t be surprised in the coming year if you see someplace like ANWR in Alaska turn from being a wildlife refuge run by U.S. Fish and Wildlife and turn over to becoming a National Monument where you couldn’t drill. So you’re going to be, and that’s because you’re going to have to do some things sort of on the cheap,” he said. – Business and Media, 11-12-08
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November 3, 2008: In the Last Week the Tide Turns….

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH:

The week that was….

  • November 1, 2008: Confident Obama asks supporters to ‘change the world,’ while McCain digs for last-minute upset … Palin, in prank call from fake French president, says she might make good president in 8 years … McCain pokes fun at his presidential campaign on ‘Saturday Night Live’ – AP
  • October 31, 2008: Obama goes for landslide, even campaigning in rival’s state; McCain says foe is too far left … Not so fast: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin might not be permitted to cash in on fame … Thousands of Colo. residents purged from voter registration rolls now allowed to cast ballots – AP
  • October 30, 2008: McCain says Obama’s economic policies are from the far left of US politics … Former top US diplomat says Palin not up to the task of presidency but could become ‘adequate’ … Don’t rush me: AP poll finds 1 in 7 likely voters still persuadable as Election Day draws near … McCain to appear on ‘Saturday Night Live’ just before election … Biden absent from re-election campaign, depending on surrogates – AP
    Economy reeling, Obama and McCain trade blame, fight for final votes in campaign homestretch … Campaign says Obama TV ads, one positive and one negative, offer their ‘closing argument’ … Biden says Obama will create jobs in hotly contested Missouri … Palin speaks to enthusiastic crowd in Cape Girardeau … Early voting means waiting, waiting and more waiting … NC elections board extends early voting hours on Saturday in wake of record turnout. – AP
  • October 29, 2008: Obama gets his normal cheering crowd at cold, outdoor rally … With polls showing Pa. slipping away, McCain says ‘it’s wonderful to fool the pundits’ … Biden urges early voting in Florida, says state could determine election … McCain calls for Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens to resign after felony convictions … Lines long for early voting in Ga.; polling place hours extended in Fla. due to record turnout. – AP….
    AP EXCLUSIVE: Obama ahead or tied in 8 battleground states, GOP worries about landslide … McCain proposes giving more revenue to coastal states that boost offshore oil production … Obama takes his case to the country with infomercial, broader TV blitz … Palin calls for break from Bush energy policies … Palin faces new ethics complaint … In a push for early voting in Fla., Biden urges supporters to promote Obama … Democrats dominate early voting, putting Republicans behind as Election Day approaches AP
  • October 28, 2008: Obama takes his case to the country with infomercial, broader TV blitz … In battleground of Florida, McCain links economy, security … Palin is still in charge with personal assistance from her Anchorage office – AP
  • October 27, 2008: Obama envisions no ‘red’ or ‘blue’ America, but getting elected is different … McCain takes running mate Palin on swing through conservative, rural areas of Pennsylvania … Michelle Obama says she wears J. Crew, expresses empathy over Palin’s $150,000 wardrobe – AP
    McCain says Bush tactic on economy is wrong; promises lid on government spending … Palin promises to work with Israeli ambassador, warns of Democratic monopoly in Washington … Obama offers closing argument in Ohio; vows to restore prosperity and higher national purpose … Biden compares Obama attacks to those lobbed against past presidents –
  • October 26, 2008: McCain says ‘I’m going to win it’ as Obama says the Republican is running out of time’ … McCain says Palin returned some of the $150,000 in clothing the Republican Party bought her … The Anchorage Daily News, Alaska’s largest newspaper, endorses Obama for president … – AP

The Stats

  • November 2, 2008: Obama keeps his lead in Ohio Final poll: Obama 52%, McCain 46% – Columbia Dispatch, 11-2-08
  • October 31, 2008: Democrat Barack Obama has an 8-percentage-point lead over Republican John McCain — 50 percent to 42 percent — among registered voters, according to the latest Gallup Poll daily tracking update. Obama’s lead on Wednesday was 9 points. – AP
  • October 27, 2008: Democrat Barack Obama has a 10-percentage-point lead over Republican John McCain — 52 percent to 42 percent — among registered voters, according to the latest Gallup Poll daily tracking update. – AP

In the News…

Campaign Bloopers

Historians’ Comments

  • Will This Election Be Stolen? As both parties battle over just how fraud could taint this election, two analysts with very different viewpoints look at voting abuses from the beginning of the republic to the present day. – WSJ, 11-1-08
  • Essay How to Read Like a President – NYT, 10-31-08
  • Arthur I. Cyr “History says not to count out McCain”: Another factor that may affect the outcome of this election is the so-called “Bradley Effect.” In 1982, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, an African-American, was defeated for governor of California even though polls showed him winning. This and other examples argue some voters are more included in opinion polls than in the voting booth to support a minority candidate. The 2008 presidential campaign has been remarkably free of appeals to racism, despite personal attacks by both sides. The fact that a major party ticket is headed by an African-American is enormously important — and positive. A Democratic victory, however, won’t be guaranteed until demonstrated by the electorate. – Scripps News, 10-31-08
  • Julian Zelizer “Obama Holds 6-Point Average Lead Over McCain in Polls”: “Obama’s is a campaign about gaining a lead and then holding it,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University in New Jersey. “McCain’s last two weeks have not changed this. Most important, the context of the election has remained the same — an economy in crisis — so it is hard to get those numbers to move.” — Bloomberg, 11-1-08
  • Devin Fergus “2008 Presidential Election Signals Transition”: First 100 days crucial: Regardless of who is elected president, similarities will be drawn between the first 100 days of the new administration and that of FDR, says 20th-century historian Devin Fergus. How the new president works with Congress in handling the economic and financial crisis will set the tone for the rest of the term. If Obama is elected as a post-racial candidate, he must balance the competing concerns of the investor class with those of working and middle-class voters. Obama’s advisers should look to what lessons could be learned from the successes and failures of the New Deal. – Market Watch, 10-31-08
  • Carl Anthony “Candidate wives a study in contrasts on the trail”: Indeed, Cindy McCain referred to that experience at a women’s event a year ago, says historian Carl Anthony, and suggested that she’d protect herself better this time. “She said, ‘You know what? I’m not going to put it all on the line again,'” says Anthony, of the National First Ladies Library. “‘It’s not the be-all and the end-all.'”… Candidates’ spouses have been an important campaign presence since 1920, when Florence Harding spoke to women’s groups from her front porch, says Anthony, the historian. Mamie Eisenhower was famous for her speeches from her husband’s whistle-stop train. Pat Nixon and Jackie Kennedy both wrote articles boosting their husbands, and Lady Bird Johnson struck out on her own through the Deep South in 1964. – AP, 10-31-08
  • Julien Vaisse “Misunderstanding of US underlies global Obama-mania: analysts”: For Julien Vaisse, a French historian at the Brookings Institution think-tank in Washington, one has to see Obama’s economic, political and social policies from an American perspective.”I’m not saying that he is not someone we can believe in. I am just speaking to the fascination that he gives rise to,” Vaisse said. “His charisma is undeniably similar to Bill Clinton’s, which made them (Europeans) forget that he is American.” – AFP, 10-31-08
  • Matthew Whitaker “Blacks’ emotions swell as Obama chases history”: At the local level, African-Americans have made some significant political gains lately, said Matthew Whitaker, a history professor at Arizona State University. In recent years, they have won seats on several school boards, city councils and town boards, often in mostly White communities. Those positions could serve as springboards for statewide offices, Whitaker said. – Arizona Republic, AZ, 10-31-08
  • Alex Keyassar “Anxious voters hurry up and wait 19 percent of Peoria voters cast ballots ahead of Tuesday election”: That effort was a public act of engagement and participation giving a sense of ownership in the process, according to Alex Keyssar, professor of history and social policy at Harvard University. “Early voting for us in our history is important because of the inadequacies of our voting system to handle high turnout,” he said. “Early voting is not as desirable as a functioning system.” Voting on a holiday or Sunday, as is the custom in many countries, is a worthwhile notion, he said. “Voting is an act of participation that gives people a sense of engagement and ownership over the process. It’s an important thing to do,” Keyssar said. “Because of the attraction of Barack Obama, turnout will be high. The significance of government is underscored. It is clear that only a national government remotely has the tools to deal with this current financial crisis. After eight years of what has been an ideological emphasis on less government and diminishing sense of the importance of government, the role of government is underscored and brought home.” – Peoria Journal Star, IL, 11-2-08
  • Myra Gutin: “Will next first lady be a Bess or an Eleanor?”: “Eleanor Roosevelt was the most active first lady of all time; Bess Truman was the least active of the 20th Century,” says Myra Gutin, an historian of first ladies and a communications professor at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. “We’ve not had a ceremonial first lady since Bess Truman. The position has continually evolved but not necessarily in a chronological development.” “Americans don’t exactly know what they want from a first lady,” Gutin says. “When Hillary Clinton was first lady, she had an office in the West Wing, which made a lot of people unhappy. But there are people who are unhappy with Laura Bush for not taking advantage of the White House podium. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”… “There seems to be a reserve about her (Cindy McCain),” Gutin says. “That kind of scrutiny is tough for anyone but for someone reticent, it can really be a challenge.”… Obama “is a very capable, articulate, bright woman and most likely is going to be an activist first lady,” Gutin says. “And she will be the first one to confront the issue of how to deal with very young children in the White House” since John F. Kennedy. – Detroit Free Press, 10-26-08
  • Carl Sferrazza Anthony: “Will next first lady be a Bess or an Eleanor?”: Why does it matter? Carl Sferrazza Anthony, historian for the National First Ladies Library in Canton, Ohio, says the role says as much about America as it does about those who inhabited it. “It opens a window on so many fascinating dialogues about our highly contradictory, highly individualist, unique American culture and the many contradictions we have about women and men,” he says… “It’s the mythological figure of the first lady, a summation of all of them or all the things we’ve liked or like to think we remember liking about them, and it’s somehow quite sacred,” Anthony says. “They take on relic- like status.” Then we “lock these women in a china closet.” – Detroit Free Press, 10-26-08

On The Campaign Trail…

  • November 2, 2008: John McCain in a rally at Strath Haven High School, PA Now let me give you a little straight talk about the state of the race today. There’s just two days left. We’re a couple of points behind in Pennsylvania. The pundits have written us off, just like they’ve done before….
    My friends, the Mac is back!
    The other night, Senator Obama said that if he lost, he would return to the Senate and try again in four years for the second act. That sounds like a great idea to me! Let’s help him make it happen….
    I think that Tom Ridge — and President Bush — deserve some credit for the fact there’s not been another attack on the United States of America since 9/11,’
  • November 2, 2008: Obama say he might be headed for a win Tuesday The past couple of days I’ve just been feeling good….You start thinking maybe we might be able to win an election on November 4.
  • November 2, 2008: Sarah Palin at a Ohio Rally: A little advice to Tina Fey. I want to make sure she’s holding on to that Sarah outfit. Because she’s gonna need it in the next four years.
  • November 2, 2008: : If you have not voted yet, it would be a shame for you to come to a rally and not vote. Go vote now. Do not delay!…. It won’t be easy, it won’t be quick, but you and I know it’s time to come together and change this country. We can’t let this slip away….
    Washington will have to tighten its belt and put off spending on things we don’t need. As President, I will go through the federal budget, line-by-line, ending programs that we don’t need and making the ones we do need work better and cost less.
  • October 31, 2008: Joe Biden to a gropup of reporters in Lima, Ohio: We’ve been down this road before. I felt awful good about this time, you know in the Kerry campaign and I felt good in the Gore campaign and so, so, this, that old joke, you know, it ain’t over till it’s over. I don’t, you know, I mean we feel good, we look good but it’s not over yet….Look, I’m a politician who has run scared in every single election. The fact of the matter is that I have, I have done relatively well in my own elections but I have never, never, before the polls close said, man, this is in the bag….
    We can’t get this done with just Democrats, even if we control, even if we’re lucky enough to get to 60 senators…. I don’t know. I hope it’s intact. I still admire him. I still like him. One of the things I’ve admired about John, and why I’ve considered him a friend, he never gives up. So I just hope when it’s over, win or lose, you walk up and you shake hands and say, “John, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
  • October 31, 2008: John McCain in Hanoverton, Ohio: The pundits have written us off, just like they’ve done before. But we’re closing my friends and we’re going to win in Ohio! My opponent is working out the details with speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise your taxes, increase spending and concede defeat in Iraq. He’s measuring the drapes. And as you noticed, the night before last, he gave his first address to the nation before the election. And this week he settled on a chief of staff!… Just four days left! The pundits have written us off, just like they’ve done before. But we’re closing my friends and we’re going to win in Ohio!…. My opponent is working out the details with speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise your taxes, increase spending and concede defeat in Iraq. He’s measuring the drapes. And as you noticed, the night before last, he gave his first address to the nation before the election. And this week he settled on a chief of staff! We’re a few points down, but we’re coming back and we’re coming back strong.
  • October 31, 2008: Barack Obama in Des Moines, IA: What you started here in Iowa has swept the nation. A whole new way of doing democracy started right here in Iowa and it’s all across the country now… A couple of elections ago, there was a presidential candidate who decried this kind of politics and condemned these kinds of tactics. And I admired him for it – we all did. I will not take the low road to the highest office in this land.’ Those words were spoken eight years ago by my opponent, John McCain, but the high road didn’t lead him to the White House then, so this time, he decided to take a different route. Now, I know campaigns are tough because we’ve got real differences about big issues and we care passionately about this country’s future. And make no mistake, we will respond swiftly and forcefully with the truth to whatever falsehoods they throw our way. The stakes are too high to do anything less.
    I don’t disagree with Senator McCain on everything, and I respect his occasional displays of independence. But when it comes to the economy, when it comes to the central issue of this election, the plain truth is that John McCain has stood with President Bush every step of the way.
    I won’t stand here and pretend that any of this will be easy – especially now. Washington will have to tighten its belt and put off spending on things we don’t need. As President, I will go through the federal budget, line-by-line, ending programs that we don’t need and making the ones we do need work better and cost less.
  • October 30, 2008: Palin says Obama infomercial short on specifics in Erie PA.: In times of economic worry and hardship — crisis that we’re in right now — someone is attempting to put those concerns aside on Election Day — national security issues. Obama “wrapped his closing message in a warm and fuzzy scripted infomercial intended to soften the focus in these closing days. He’s hoping that your mind won’t wander to the real challenges of national security, challenges that he isn’t capable of meeting.”… We’re fighting two wars … They think it’s the perfect time to radically reduce defense spending. What are they thinking?
  • October 30, 2008: John McCain, on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” referring to former President Clinton in defending his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
    “I would remind you again there was an obscure governor of a small state called Arkansas that everybody said wasn’t qualified. Well, I didn’t vote for him, but he got elected and re-elected.”
  • Joe McCain: As a historian, I’m a little less worried about things – I hope I’m not being rosy about it – because we’ve been here before. We’ve been through some eight to eleven economic crashes, depending on which economic historians you talk to….How well we come out of these times absolutely depends on whom we have as the captain of our ship of state…The man you want answering the phone at three in the morning is John McCain. – WTOP News, 10-31-08
  • October 29, 2008, Republican John McCain on his Democratic rival Sen. Obama is running to be redistributionist in chief. I’m running to be commander in chief.
  • October 28, 2008, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden: You can’t call yourself a maverick when all you’ve been the last eight years is a sidekick.
  • October 27, 2008: Sarah Palin told Ambassador Sallai Meridor, at a rally in Leesburg, VA: I look forward to hearing about your work with the Jewish Agency and all the plans that we have. We’ll be working together….
    If big government spenders control the House and the Senate and heaven forbid the White House, they will have a monopoly in Washington
  • October 27, 2008: Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden: New ideas and new leaders are often met with new attacks — almost always negative attacks built on lies which are the last resort of those who have nothing new to offer.
  • October 27, 2008, John McCain in Pottsville, Pa. If I’m elected, I’ll fight to shake up Washington. I’m not afraid of the fight, you’re not afraid of the fight and we’re ready for the fight.
  • October 27, 2008: Barack Obama, Canton Memorial Civic Center, Ohio & October 28, 2008: “The question in this election is not “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” We know the answer to that. The real question is, “Will this country be better off four years from now?”…
    In one week, we can choose hope over fear, unity over division, the promise of change over the power of the status quo. We can come together as one nation, and one people, and once more choose our better history. That’s what’s at stake.
    In one week, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election; that tries to pit region against region, city against town, Republican against Democrat; that asks us to fear at a time when we need hope.
    Government “should ensure a shot at success not just for those with money and power and influence, but for every single American who’s willing to work. John McCain calls this socialism, I call this opportunity.
  • October 27, 2008: John McCain in Cleveland, Ohio: The difference between myself and Senator Obama is our plan will create new jobs; his plan to raise taxes on small businesses, to impose insurance mandates on families and small businesses will cut jobs…. We both disagree with President Bush on economic policy. The difference is that he thinks taxes have been too low, and I think that spending has been too high…. That is what change means for the Obama campaign, the redistributor; It means taking your money and giving it to someone else.
  • “Barack Obama and I both have spent quite some time on the basketball court. But where I come from, you have to win the game before you start cutting down the net.” Sarah Palin
  • October 26, 2008: John McCain on Meet the Press, Discussing the Palins $150,000 Wardrobe Look, she lives a frugal life. She and her family are not wealthy. She and her family were thrust into this, and there was some — and some third of that money is given back, the rest will be donated to charity.
  • October 25, 2008: Barack Obama at the University of New Mexico to Hispanic Voters They’ll ask us is this a time when America lost its sense of purpose, when we lost our nerve, when we allowed the same divisions and fears to point us into a deeper recession or, will they say, is this one of those moments when America overcomes?…It’s time to build this economy by investing in the middle class again, and that’s what I’ll do as president.

June 23, 2008: Campaign Financing & Future First Ladies in the Spotlight

Reprinted from HNN

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH:

    The week that was….

  • June 16, 2008: Former Vice President Al Gore endorses Barack Obama for the Democratic Nomination.
  • June 17, 2008: Obama reached the million mark in Facebook supporters. That is more supporters than any other page on the most popular social network site.
    A McCain adviser claims “Senator Obama is a perfect manifestation of a September 10th mind-set. … He does not understand the nature of the enemies we face.”
  • June 18, 2008: Barack Obama said in bring Osama bin Laden to justice he would not allow him to become a martyr. “First of all, I think there is an executive order out on Osama bin Laden’s head. And if I’m president, and we have the opportunity to capture him, we may not be able to capture him alive.”
    McCain disccussed energy issues and ways to reduce depency on foreign oil, which would include construction of 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030 and $2 billion “to make clean coal a reality.”
  • June 19, 2008: Barak Obama opted-out of the public campaign financing system. Previously Obama claimed he would use the system if Republican John McCain decided to use it. McCain visits flood ridden Iowa despite Gov. Chet Culver request to cancel the campaign visit.
  • June 20, 2008: Barack Obama is considering Former Senators John Edwards and Sam Nunn as potential running mates, former Vice-President Al Gore is also being mentioned.
  • June 21, 2008: Obama criticized McCain for opposing federal flood prevention programs and spending on levees. The issue is in the spotlight since areas of the Mid-West are still flooded from tornadoes and heavy rains that swept through the area. While McCain critized Obama’s opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
  • The Stats

  • A Quinnipiac University poll found that Obama leads in the three critical states; Florida (47 percent to 43 percent), Ohio (48 percent to 42 percent), and Pennsylvania (52 percent to 40 percent).
  • Michelle Obama is viewed more favorably by voters than Cindy McCain, 48 percent to 39 percent ABC News, 6-18-08
  • Unfavorable view by voters: Obama 29 percent vs. McCain 25 percent – ABC News, 6-18-08
  • Historians Comments:

  • Betty Koed, assistant historian of the Senate:
    Mr. Obama’s Washington He wants to change the culture there. But it’s hard to fix a place you’ve never really known. – Newsweek, 6-30-08
  • Victor Davis Hanson Obama promises to bring change — but what kind?
    By this point in the presidential campaign, the public knows that a charismatic Barack Obama wants sweeping “change.” While the national media have often fallen hard for the Illinois senator’s rhetoric — MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said he felt a “thrill going up my leg” during an Obama speech — exactly what kind of change can Obama bring if he’s elected in November?…

    Overall, Obama’s announced policies are sounding pretty much the same old, same old once promised by candidates like George McGovern, Mike Dukakis, Walter Mondale, Al Gore and John Kerry. Of course, a return to the standard big- government nostrums of the past may well be what the angry voters want after 20 years of the Bushes and Clintons.

    But it is not a novel agenda, much less championed by a post-racial, post-political emissary.

    So what are the Democrats thinking? That a mesmerizing, path-breaking African-American candidate — coupled with Bush exhaustion — will overcome past public skepticism of Northern presidential Democratic candidates, traditional liberal agendas and Obama’s own relative lack of experience.

    In other words, we should count on hope rather than change. – Fresno Bee, 6-22-08

  • John Hope Franklin Calls Obama Success “Amazing” – NPR, 6-20-08
  • John Hope Franklin on an Obama Presidency Esteemed historian reacts to a historic race, one he never believed he would witness in his lifetime:
    “Franklin reminisces about how his mother encouraged him as a youngster to tell people he wanted to become “the first Negro president of the United States.” He says the phrase then seemed “so far-fetched, so incredible that we used to really have fun just saying it.”

    “He has shown an ability to bridge the divides in our society and unite people behind his agenda for change,” he said in his mid April endorsement of Obama. – TheRoot.com, 6-19-08 Video of the Interview

  • Robert Mutch, a campaign-finance historian on “Obama Opts Out of Public Funding for His Campaign”:
    “I’m very much in favor of public financing. However, the existing public-financing law has been flawed from the start. The main problem with the public-financing system for nearly the last 30 years is that it became too easy to get around it.” – Christian Science Monitor, 6-19-08
  • Myra Gutin, a first lady historian at New Jersey’s Rider University and author of the 1989 book “The President’s Partner: The First Lady in the 20th Century” on ” Michelle Obama Makes Appeal to Women Voters, Co-Hosts ‘The View’ Potential First Lady Attempts to Soften Image as Husband Fights for Critical Votes “:
    “She needs to relax, show she has a sense of humor and is someone who can laugh at herself. I see Michelle Obama taking advantage of more of the opportunities of the White House, making speeches on causes important to her, and see Cindy McCain taking on a more traditional, supportive spouse role.” – ABC News, 6-18-08
  • Gil Troy, Professor of History, McGill University on “Race for first lady”: Top Picks : Race for first lady : CTV Newsnet: Gil Troy, presidential historian With five months till the presidential election, the spotlight is now on the political wives. Both Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama are trying to court the public but have stereotypes working against them. – CTV NewsNet, 6-18-08
  • Carl Sferrazza Anthony, a first ladies historian on “Michelle Obama preps for general election close-up”:
    Carl Sferrazza Anthony, a first ladies historian, said it’s important for Michelle Obama to define herself before others define her. “One comment made off-hand … might be easily misinterpreted by the opposition,” he said. – CNN, 6-18-08
  • Allan Lichtman: The (Non-Electoral) Case for the Obama-Clinton Ticket – Britannica Blog, 6-17-08
  • Bruce Bartlett: Election 2008: Obamacons: Conservatives That Support Obama – NPR, 6-13-08
  • On the Campaign Trail….

    Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland Predicting that Ohio and the Presidency will go to Barack Obama, June 21, 2008
    “Barack Obama is the nominee of our party. He is a bright, committed, energizing young leader. I met with him yesterday in Chicago and I pledged to him then, as I had previously, that I will work my heart out for him and that Ohio will work her heart out for him.”

    Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: A Metropolitan Strategy for America’s Future, June, 21, 2008 This is something of a homecoming for me. Because while I stand here today as a candidate for President of the United States, I will never forget that the most important experience in my life came when I was doing what you do each day – working at the local level to bring about change in our communities….

    And it’s precisely because you’re on the front lines in our communities that you know what happens when Washington fails to do its job. It may be easy for some in Washington to remain out of touch with the consequences of the decisions that are made there – but not you….

    And just the other day, Senator McCain traveled to Iowa to express his sympathies for the victims of the recent flooding. I’m sure they appreciated the sentiment, but they probably would have appreciated it more if he hadn’t voted against funding for levees and flood control programs, which he seems to consider pork. Well, we do have to reform budget earmarks, cut genuine pork, and dispense with unnecessary spending, as we confront a budget crisis left by the most fiscally irresponsible administration in modern times….

    But understand – while the change we seek will require major investments by a more accountable government, it will not come from government alone. Washington can’t solve all our problems. The statehouse can’t solve all our problems. City Hall can’t solve all our problems. It goes back to what I learned as a community organizer all those years ago – that change in this country comes not from the top-down, but from the bottom up. Change starts at a level that’s even closer to the people than our mayors – it starts in our homes. It starts in our families. It starts by raising our children right, by turning off the TV, and putting away the video games; by going to those parent-teacher conferences and helping our children with their homework, and setting a good example. It starts by being good neighbors and good citizens who are willing to volunteer in our communities – to keep them clean, to keep them safe, and to serve as mentors and teachers to all of our children.

    That’s where change begins. That’s how we’ll bring about change in our neighborhoods. And if change comes to our neighborhoods, then change will come to our cities. And if change comes to our cities, then change will come to our regions. And if change comes to our regions, then I truly believe change will come to every corner of this country we love.

    Communications Director Jill Hazelbaker in a statement for the McCain campaign on Barack Obama’s Decision not to use Federal Campaign Funding, June 19, 2008 “Today, Barack Obma has revealed himself to be just another typical politician who will do and say whatever is most expedient for Barack Obama. The true test of a candidate for president is whether he will stand on principle and keep his word to the American people. Barack Obama has failed that test today, and his reversal of his promise to participate in the public financing system undermines his call for a new type of politics.”

    Remarks By John McCain On Energy Security, June 17, 2008

    I first addressed this issue at the outset of my primary campaign. And in just that time — a little more than a year — the price of a barrel of oil has more than doubled. And the price of a gallon of gas in America stands at more than four dollars. Yesterday, a barrel of oil cost about 134 dollars. And various oil ministers and investment firms have confidently informed us that soon we can expect to pay 200 dollars for every barrel, and as much as seven dollars for every gallon of gas. That may come as good news in Moscow, Riyadh, or Caracas, where economic growth and rising oil prices are more or less the same thing. But their oil prosperity is our energy vulnerability. And the jobs, family budgets, and futures of the American people should not depend on the whims of foreign powers. Oil and gasoline are the most vital of all commodities in a modern economy. Their price affects the cost of things even more basic and essential. America’s dependence on foreign oil is a matter of large and far-reaching consequences — none of them good….

    The next president must be willing to break with the energy policies not just of the current Administration, but the administrations that preceded it, and lead a great national campaign to achieve energy security for America. So in the days ahead I plan to return to the subject in a series of discussions to explain my reform agenda. And I will set forth a strategy to free America once and for all from our strategic dependence on foreign oil.

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