May 25, 2009: President Obama, Dick Cheney & Guantanamo

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President gives the Weekly Address paying tribute to America’s veterans

White House Photo, 5/22/09, Samantha Appleton

Weekly Address 5/23/09 Memorial Day

The President pays tribute to America’s veterans, servicemen and women – particularly those who have made the ultimate sacrifice – and their families.

Watch the Video

The President on American security and values

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • Your Government & New Media – WH Blog, 5-21-09
  • Poll gives Va. dark horse Deeds a boost Democratic bid is wide open: State Senator R. Creigh Deeds was the only one of three candidates vying for the party’s nomination to show a jump in the latest poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling. The survey shows support for Mr. Deeds at 20 percent – up 6 percent from a similar poll taken two weeks ago. Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe continues to lead the race with 29 percent support – one point down from the previous poll. Former Delegate Brian J. Moran remained at 20 percent support, with undecided voters making up 31 percent…. – Washington Times, 5-22-09
  • Poll shows Obama getting little support in Oklahoma: President Barack Obama’s approval rating in Oklahoma is only 38 percent, according to a new poll that shows that even a third of the state’s Democrats aren’t happy with the new president. The poll, released Thursday by Public Policy Polling, a North Carolina firm, reflects little change in the state’s sentiment toward Obama since the election in November. Nationally, Obama had his worst showing in Oklahoma, getting just 34 percent of the vote and losing all 77 counties to Republican Sen. John McCain…. – Tulsa World, 5-21-09
  • Roll Call: House rejects probe of Pelosi’s claims: The 252-172 roll call Thursday by which the House rejected a measure to investigate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s assertion that the CIA misled her on the use of torture. A “yes” vote is a vote against an investigation. Voting yes were 250 Democrats and 2 Republicans. Voting no were 0 Democrats and 172 Republicans…. – AP, 5-21-09
  • House panel advances global warming bill: Legislation imposing the first nationwide limits on the pollution blamed for global warming advanced in the House late Thursday, clearing a key committee despite strong Republican opposition. The Energy and Commerce Committee approved the sweeping climate bill 33-25 after repeatedly turning back GOP attempts to kill or weaken the measure during four days of debate…. – AP, 5-21-09
  • The Death of the Republican Party May Have Been Greatly Exaggerated: Some in the media believe the Republican Party is washed up and dying. Leslie Savan wrote in The Nation earlier this month: “What sort of psychological bent would lead people to want to be part of a dead-end political party like the GOP has become?”
    But, a new Gallup poll from May 7 – 10 shows it’s not quite that bad for the GOP. Thirty-two percent of participants in the survey identified themselves as Republicans, 32 percent as Democrats, and 34 percent Independents. And if you include Independent “leaners,” Republicans and Democrats are also tied at 45 percent between May 7 – 10. Fox News, 5-20-09
  • Poll: Nearly half of Nevadans would oust Sen. Reid: Along with the 45 percent who said they’d oust the four-term Democrat, 17 percent of the 625 voters contacted statewide for the Las Vegas Review-Journal poll said they would consider another candidate. Thirty-five percent of the poll respondents said they would re-elect him…. – Mercury News, 5-19-08
  • Poll: Americans want moderate judge as next justice: In the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, however, majorities said it is “not important at all” that Obama nominate a woman, an African American, or a Hispanic. A plurality, 32 percent, said it’s not important for the nominee to have experience in elected office.
    But 67 percent of respondents said it’s important that the nominee has experience as a judge.
    In terms of political ideology, 37 percent said they believed Obama should nominate a moderate, while 27 percent said someone who was very or somewhat liberal, and 35 percent said a nominee who was very or somewhat conservative. Also, 68 percent said they do not want to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established the right to abortions in the first three months of pregnancy…. – Boston Globe, 5-18-09
  • Did Nancy Pelosi lie? New poll shows Americans are divided: 43 percent of those polled believe that it;s “at least somewhat likely” the CIA misled Pelosi while 41 percent believe it’s not likely. The partisan gap is what’s telling. Sixty-two percent of Democrats are willing to accept what she said while an identical 62 percent of Republicans don;t buy it.
    Those not affiliated with a party are more likely not to support Pelosi’s statement by a 48 percent to 38 percent margin…. – CS Monitor, 5-18-09

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama signs credit card reform legislation
(President Barack Obama and a bipartisan group of lawmakers applaud after the President signed the  Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act in the Rose Garden of the White House  Friday, May 22, 2009.  Official White House photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The Headlines…

  • Memorial Day roll call honors 148,000 veterans: The names are whisked away by the hot, gusting wind as soon as they are spoken, forgotten in the stream of the next name and the next name and the next name…. The story of America could be told through these names, tales of bravery and hesitation, of dreams achieved or deferred and of battles won and lost. Taken alone, they are just words, identities stripped of place and time, stripped of rank and deeds and meaning. But they are not taken alone. They are taken together — 148,000 names, representing the entire veteran population of Riverside National Cemetery, a roll call of the dead read aloud over 10 days by more than 300 volunteers…. – AP, 5-23-09
  • Dick Cheney: Washington trembles at the return of ‘Darth Vader’: Dick Cheney was a formidable backroom operator during his eight years as vice-president in the Bush administration. Having abandoned his short-lived retirement in Wyoming, he is now leading the Republican charge against Obama from the front…. – Guardian UK, 5-24-09
  • Obama Signs Credit-Card Overhaul Legislation Into Law: President Barack Obama put his signature on legislation Friday clamping down on credit-card companies’ ability to boost interest rates and slap higher fees on consumers, a measure long-sought by the White House but reviled by the banking sector.
    “We’re not going to give people a free pass, and we expect consumers to live within their means and pay what they owe, but we also expect financial institutions to act with the same sense of responsibility that the American people aspire to in their own lives,” Obama said at a signing ceremony in the Rose Garden…. – WSJ, 5-22-09
  • Cheney Seeks Book Deal on Bush Years and More: With his sustained blitz of television appearances and speeches, former Vice President Dick Cheney has established himself as perhaps the leading Republican voice against President Obama. Not a bad time, then, to be in the market for a multimillion-dollar book contract. Mr. Cheney is actively shopping a memoir about his life in politics and service in four presidential administrations, a work that would add to what is already an unusually dense collection of post-Bush-presidency memoirs that will offer a collective rebuttal to the many harshly critical works released while the writers were in office and beyond…. – NYT, 5-22-09
  • GOP effort to discredit Pelosi sees modest success: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has avoided serious damage from the relentless Republican effort to discredit her, though there’s some evidence that the GOP is making small inroads. Republicans have been battering the California Democrat over her assertion that the CIA misled her in 2002 about whether terrorism suspects had been tortured…. – Miami Herald, 5-22-09
  • President’s Detention Plan Tests American Legal Tradition: President Obama’s proposal for a new legal system in which terrorism suspects could be held in “prolonged detention” inside the United States without trial would be a departure from the way this country sees itself, as a place where people in the grip of the government either face criminal charges or walk free…. – NYT, 5-22-09
  • House Climate Change Bill Clears Key Hurdle: The nation’s first federal climate change cleared a key hurdle last night by making it out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on a 33-25 vote. The American Clean Energy and Security Act, also known as the Waxman-Markey bill because of its two authors, now heads to the full House and could see a vote as early as late June, according to reports. But the massive bill faces more revisions as it makes its way through additional committees and also faces opposition in the Senate…. – Reuters, 5-22-09
  • House panels will make haste on climate bill, Hoyer says: Expect another fast-paced month of committee action on a sweeping global warming and energy bill ahead of possible floor debate in late June or early July, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said today.
    “I think the speaker and I will both be urging the committee chairs to consider these quickly,” the Maryland Democrat said in an interview, referring to eight panels with jurisdiction on a bill approved last night by the Energy and Commerce Committee. “Frankly, they’ve been considering them for some time now. It’s not like it’s a great surprise.” For most committees, the work will be swift, Hoyer said. “Their level of concern,” he said, “is not high.”… – NYT, 5-22-09
  • Naval graduates include Sen. McCain’s son, Jack: Far from the madding crowds of last year’s campaign trail, Barack Obama quietly greeted the newly graduated midshipman and son of the man he defeated for the presidency. The moment had to be a bit cathartic for both John Sidney “Jack” McCain IV and Obama, whose fitness to be commander in chief was questioned just months ago by young Jack’s father, Sen. John McCain…. – AP, 5-22-09
  • To cover both wars, Senate passes $91.3B bill: The Senate is backing President Barack Obama’s efforts to ramp up the war in Afghanistan, granting his request for $91.3 billion for military and diplomatic operations there and in Iraq. The spending bill, approved on an 86-3 vote Thursday night, goes to congressional negotiators to work out a compromise with a similar measure the House passed. Lawmakers expected to present a bill for Obama’s signature next month…. – AP, 5-22-09
  • Bush’s Gitmo Vindication Obama still hasn’t said where the worst terrorists will go: President Obama delivered a major speech yesterday on how he intends to prosecute the war on terror (or whatever it’s now called), and in particular his desire to close the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay. As rhetoric, his remarks were at pains to declare a bold new moral direction. On substance, however, the speech and other events this week look more like a vindication of the past seven years. The President’s speech came after both houses of Congress had denied his funding requests to shut down Guantanamo and relocate some of the most dangerous prisoners to the U.S. The 90-6 vote in the Senate was especially notable because all but a half-dozen Democrats opposed their own President, on that high-minded principle known as not-in- my-backyard…. – WSJ, 5-22-09
  • Obama backs Gitmo plan, Cheney defends Bush policy: President Barack Obama fought Thursday to retake command of the emotional debate over closing Guantanamo, denouncing “fear-mongering” by political opponents and insisting that maximum-security prisons in the U.S. can safely house dangerous terror suspects transferred from Cuba. In a unique bit of Washington theater, former Vice President Dick Cheney delivered his own address just one minute later, defending the Bush administration’s creation of the prison camp as vigorously as Obama denounced it….. – AP, 5-21-09
  • Obama: 50 Gitmo detainees cleared for transfer: Forty-eight terror suspects currently held at Guantanamo Bay are waiting to be released to other nations, the Obama administration said Thursday. The detainees are among 50 detainees whose cases President Barack Obama said Thursday have already been reviewed. The detainees would be the first to be released to other nations under the Obama administration’s effort to empty the Cuba-based prison without bringing all its inmates to the United States…. – AP, 5-21-09
  • Palin picks memoir collaborator: Sarah Palin has picked a collaborator for her memoir. A spokeswoman for SarahPAC, the Alaska governor’s political action committee, says that Palin has selected Lynn Vincent, an author and features editor for World magazine, a conservative Christian publication. Palin’s book, currently untitled, is scheduled for release next year by HarperCollins…. – AP, 5-21-09
  • Obama vs. Cheney: Just the facts: President Barack Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney laid out a variety of arguments Thursday in staking out two widely divergent views of national security in the age of terror…. – Politico, 5-21-09
  • SPIN METER: Obama vs. Cheney: Two tough speeches conveying two radically different views of America’s fight against terrorism and the nation’s values unfolded Thursday in separate halls, minutes apart…. – AP, 5-21-09
  • GOP’s best hope: Obama overreaches or underachieves: If history’s any guide, the Republican Party’s best hope for winning back power is a public backlash against Barack Obama. That’s how Republicans came back from the edge of a political abyss in 1966, as voters started to turn against Lyndon Johnson two years after his landslide election. That’s what helped unify them in the late 1970s, when a wholesale rejection of Jimmy Carter set the stage for Ronald Reagan’s sweeping victory of 1980. It worked again in 1994, when the public turned thumbs down on the first two years of Bill Clinton’s presidency and turned the Congress over to Republicans for the first time in four decades. Whether the American people will turn against Obama is an open question. Even if they do, it could take years, well beyond the 2010 midterm elections or Obama’s likely run for re-election in 2012…. – Miami Herald, 5-21-09
  • 14 hours later, House Democrats hold the line on climate bill: House Democrats defeated a series of Republican “benchmark” amendments aimed at halting a future U.S. global warming law during a 14-hour, politically charged Energy and Commerce Committee markup yesterday. The GOP amendments took on a familiar theme by proposing the law’s sunset should the measure lead to significant job losses, higher gas prices and electricity rates, or a lack of corresponding action from China and India…. – NYT, 5-20-09
  • Obama Speech to Address Gitmo Worries: President Barack Obama will attempt to explain in a speech Thursday a series of decisions on the handling of detainees that has given ammunition to political opponents and raised concerns among Democrats that the issue could prove damaging to the young administration…. – WSJ, 5-20-09
  • GOP drops effort to rename Democrats ‘Socialist’: Republicans on Wednesday abandoned an effort to label their opponents the “Democrat Socialist Party,” ending a fight within the GOP ranks that reflected the divide between those who want a more centrist message and those seeking a more aggressive, conservative voice…. – AP, 5-20-09
  • Senate OKs bill to rein in credit card industry: The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to rein in credit card rate increases and excessive fees, hoping to give voters some breathing room amid a recession that has left hundreds of thousands of Americans jobless or facing foreclosure. “This is a victory for every American consumer who has ever suffered at the hands of a credit card company,” said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Banking Committee. The bill passed the Senate 90-5…. – AP, 5-19-09
  • Senators reject closing Gitmo prison without plan: President Barack Obama’s promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison suffered a blow Tuesday when his allies in the Senate said they would refuse to finance the move until the administration delivers a satisfactory plan for what to do with the detainees there…. – AP, 5-19-09
  • Obama’s new rules will transform US auto fleet: Some soccer moms will have to give up hulking SUVs. Carpenters will still haul materials around in pickup trucks, but they will cost more. Nearly everybody else will drive smaller cars, and more of them will run on electricity. The higher mileage and emissions standards set by the Obama administration on Tuesday, which begin to take effect in 2012 and are to be achieved by 2016, will transform the American car and truck fleet. The new rules would bring new cars and trucks sold in the United States to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon, about 10 mpg more than today’s standards. Passenger cars will be required to get 39 mpg, light trucks 30 mpg…. – AP, 5-19-09
  • Sen. Reid botches 3 subjects at news conference: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid became the latest Democrat to stray into rhetorical trouble Tuesday, botching statements on three subjects in one news conference — including the fragile health of the chamber’s most senior members…. – AP, 5-19-09
  • FEC dismisses complaint over Palin clothing: The Federal Election Commission has dismissed a complaint over the $150,000-plus designer wardrobe the Republican Party bought to outfit vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the good-government group that filed the complaint, argued that candidates aren’t supposed to use donor money for personal expenses such as clothes. The FEC ruled Tuesday that the ban doesn’t apply to party money, however…. – AP, 5-19-09
  • U.S. pressing Israel for gestures to PA before June 4: The United States expects Israel to make concrete concessions to the Palestinians before U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Cairo on June 4, an American official said during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington this week. Israel’s cabinet is due to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip this Sunday, and one concession the U.S. would like to see is for Israel to decide at this meeting to ease its restrictions on imports and exports of goods to Gaza. It also wants Israel to ease restrictions on movement in the West Bank…. – Haaretz, 5-19-09
  • Obama prods Netanyahu, Iran in Mideast foray: President Barack Obama on Monday opened his deepest foray into the Middle East quagmire, telling Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu he must stop Jewish settlements and should grasp a “historic opportunity” to make peace with the Palestinians. Obama also had pointed words for Iran on a second major Mideast dispute, warning the Iranians they had until year’s end to get serious about talks with the world community on curbing their nuclear ambitions. “We’re not going to have talks forever,” the president said. Obama and Netanyahu spoke highly of their hopes for progress in the Mideast after a lengthy private meeting in the Israeli’s first visit to the White House since Obama became president and Netanyahu began his second stint as prime minister. Yet the new president was firm in insisting the Israelis move toward peace with the Palestinians, and Netanyahu stuck to his stance that Israel cannot negotiate with people who deny its right to exist…. – “We should have a fairly good sense by the end of the year as to whether they are moving in the right direction and whether the parties involved are making progress and that there’s a good-faith effort to resolve differences,” the president said. “We have seen progress stalled on this front, and I suggested to the prime minister that he has a historic opportunity to get a serious movement on this issue during his tenure,” Obama said. “That means that all the parties involved have to take seriously obligations that they have previously agreed to.” “There is a clear understanding that we have to make progress on settlements; that settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward,” Obama said, referring to past negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. AP, 5-18-09
  • Obama Tells Netanyahu He Has an Iran Timetable: President Obama said Monday that he expected to know by the end of the year whether Iran was making “a good-faith effort to resolve differences” in talks aimed at ending its nuclear program, signaling to Israel as well as Iran that his willingness to engage in diplomacy over the issue has its limits…. – NYT, 5-18-09
  • Vatican: Obama seeks “common ground” on abortion: The Vatican said Monday that President Barack Obama was clearly looking for some common ground with his speech at the University of Notre Dame about abortion. The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano said Obama’s speech at the leading Catholic university on Sunday confirmed what he had said at a recent news conference — that signing the so-called Freedom of Choice Act in the U.S. Congress wasn’t his highest legislative priority. The bill would protect a woman’s right to have a child or end a pregnancy. Obama’s stance on the issue is that he supports abortion rights but says the procedure should be rare…. – AP, 5-18-09
  • Obama to link auto emissions and mileage standards: President Barack Obama, seeking to end a stand-off between states and the auto industry, plans to issue new national emission limits and mileage requirements for cars and trucks. Obama plans to announce on Tuesday that he will couple pollution reduction from vehicle tailpipes with increased efficiency on the road. It would be the first time that limits on greenhouse gases were linked with federal standards for passenger cars and light trucks…. – AP, 5-18-09
  • Bill Clinton to be named special UN envoy to Haiti: Former President Bill Clinton will be named special U.N. envoy to this impoverished Caribbean nation that has been mired in political and social turmoil for decades, his spokesman said Monday. An official announcement is expected from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Tuesday, Clinton spokesman Matt McKenna told The Associated Press…. – AP, 5-18-09
  • Dodd to face Democratic challenger in 2010: Embattled Sen. Christopher Dodd is getting a Democratic challenger. Connecticut businessman and former Air Force officer Merrick Alpert plans to launch a 2010 primary campaign against Dodd, who faces his toughest re-election in five terms. The official announcement is expected Tuesday…. – AP, 5-18-09
  • Pelosi got warning from administration on CIA memo: The Central Intelligence Agency gave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., advance warning before CIA chief Leon Panetta sent a memo to employees at the spy agency that countered Pelosi’s claim that the agency lied to Congress about waterboarding. A CIA official, but not Panetta, made the call to Pelosi “His office gave a heads-up,” a Democratic aide said Monday…. – Washington Examiner, 5-18-09
  • Biden speaks at Wake Forest – does not disclose nuclear launch codes: Good news for Vice President Biden’s office! The Veep successfully delivered the commencement address at Wake Forest University without disclosing top secret information. The problem is, he may have done that a few weeks ago. Newsweek is reporting that Biden may have revealed where former Vice President Cheney’s undisclosed location was. After the 9/11 attacks, Cheney’s whereabouts were frequently unknown. And that was on purpose. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer coined the phrase “undisclosed location” and it stuck. And no one, save a few with the highest of clearances, knew where it was located…. – CS Monitor, 5-18-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President gives the Weekly Address paying tribute to America’s veterans

Political Quotes

  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Calls on All Americans to Honor the Service of the Troops and Their Families: On this Memorial Day weekend, President Obama calls on the American people to join him in paying tribute to America’s veterans, servicemen and women – particularly those who have made the ultimate sacrifice – and their families…. – White House, 5-23-09Weekly Address: Sacrifice
  • Obama sees court pick as smart with common touch: On the verge of choosing his first Supreme Court nominee, President Barack Obama has already provided a profile of the person he is likely to pick: an intellectual heavyweight with a “common touch,” someone whose brand of justice means seeing life from the perspective of the powerless. Obama is expected to announce his nominee this week, as early as Tuesday…
    “You have to have not only the intellect to be able to effectively apply the law to cases before you,” Obama said in an interview carried Saturday on C-SPAN television. “But you have to be able to stand in somebody else’s shoes and see through their eyes and get a sense of how the law might work or not work in practical day-to-day living.”… – AP, 5-23-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT SIGNING OF THE CREDIT CARD ACCOUNTABILITY, RESPONSIBILITY AND DISCLOSURE ACT: …And that’s why, because of this new law, statements will be required to tell credit card holders how long it will take to pay off a balance and what it will cost in interest if they only make the minimum monthly payments. We also put a stop to retroactive rate hikes that appear on a bill suddenly with no rhyme or reason…. – White House, 5-22-09A New Era for Credit Cards
  • Obama Is Embraced at Annapolis: “As long as I am your commander in chief,” Mr. Obama said, “I will only send you into harm;s way when it is absolutely necessary, and with the strategy and the well-defined goals, the equipment and the support that you need to get the job done.”…..
    “These Americans have embraced the virtues that we need most right now: self-discipline over self-interest; work over comfort; and character over celebrity,” the president said. “After an era when so many institutions and individuals have acted with such greed and recklessness, it’s no wonder that our military remains the most trusted institution in our nation.” – NYT, 5-22-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY COMMENCEMENT – White House, 5-22-09Annapolis
  • Obama vows not to send people to war without cause: “I will only send you into harm’s way when it is absolutely necessary, and with the strategy, the well-defined goals, the equipment and the support that you need to get the job done,” the president told more than 1,000 graduates during a sun-splashed ceremony at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium….
    “In short, we will maintain America’s military dominance and keep you the finest fighting force the world has ever seen,” Obama said, as more than 30,000 watched from the stands….
    “The extraordinary precision and professionalism displayed that day was made possible, in no small measure, by the training, the discipline and the leadership skills that so many of those officers learned at the United States Naval Academy,” Obama said in his first public comments on the matter…. – AP, 5-22-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT SIGNING OF THE WEAPONS SYSTEMS ACQUISITION REFORM ACT: The bill I’m signing today, known as the Weapons System Acquisition Reforms Act, represents an important next step in this procurement reform process. It reforms a system where taxpayers are charged too much for weapons systems that too often arrive late — a system that suffers from spending on unproven technologies, outdated weapons, and a general lack of oversight…. – White House, 5-22-09Reform for Our Troops
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON NATIONAL SECURITY: In the midst of all these challenges, however, my single most important responsibility as President is to keep the American people safe. It’s the first thing that I think about when I wake up in the morning. It’s the last thing that I think about when I go to sleep at night.
    And this responsibility is only magnified in an era when an extremist ideology threatens our people, and technology gives a handful of terrorists the potential to do us great harm. We are less than eight years removed from the deadliest attack on American soil in our history. We know that al Qaeda is actively planning to attack us again. We know that this threat will be with us for a long time, and that we must use all elements of our power to defeat it…. – White House, 5-21-09Security & Values
  • SPIN METER: Obama vs. Cheney: Obama: “I released the memos because the existence of that approach to interrogation was already widely known. The Bush administration had acknowledged its existence. And I had already banned those methods. The argument that, somehow, by releasing those memos, we are providing terrorists with information about how they will be interrogated makes no sense. We will not be interrogating terrorists using that approach. That approach is now prohibited.”….
    “The decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable — a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions, that failed to use our values as a compass.”….
    “I can stand here today as president of the United States and say without exception or equivocation that we do not torture and that we will vigorously protect our people while forging a strong and durable framework that allows us to fight terrorism while abiding by the rule of law. Make no mistake. If we fail to turn the page on the approach that was taken over the past several years, then I will not be able to say that as president. And if we cannot stand for our core values, then we are not keeping faith with the documents that are enshrined in this hall (the National Archives).”…
    “Now let me be clear: We are indeed at war with al-Qaida and its affiliates. … Al-Qaida terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture, like other prisoners of war, must be prevented from attacking us again.”…
    “Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. And I believe that those decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that too often our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight, and all too often trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions. Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, we too often set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And in this season of fear, too many of us — Democrats and Republicans, politicians, journalists and citizens — fell silent.” – AP, 5-21-09
  • Remarks by Richard B. Cheney: On May 21, 2009, former vice president Richard B. Cheney, now a member of AEI’s Board of Trustees, spoke at AEI on the serious and ongoing threat terrorism poses to the United States. He was introduced by AEI president Arthur C. Brooks…. – AEI, 5-21-09
  • SPIN METER: Obama vs. Cheney: Cheney: “Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national security interests of the United States. The harm done only begins with top-secret information now in the hands of terrorists who have just received a lengthy insert for their training manual.”….
    “We did not invent that authority. It’s drawn from Article Two of the Constitution, and it was given specificity by Congress after 9/11 in a joint resolution authorizing all necessary and appropriate force to protect the American people.”…
    “When just a single clue that goes unlearned or one lead that goes unpursued can bring on catastrophe, it’s no time for splitting differences. There is never a good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American people hang in the balance.”…
    “Apparently using the term ‘war’ where terrorists are concerned is starting to feel a bit dated. So henceforth we’re advised by the administration to think of the fight against terrorists as ‘overseas contingency operations.’ … And when you hear that there are no more enemy combatants, as there were back in the days of that scary war on terror, at first that sounds like progress. The only problem is that the phrase is gone, but the same assortment of killers and would-be mass murderers are still there. And finding some less judgmental or more pleasant-sounding name for terrorists doesn’t change what they are or what they would do if we let them loose.”…
    “To the very end of our administration, we kept al-Qaida terrorists busy with other problems. We focused on getting their secrets, instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again. … It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed.” – AP, 5-21-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE SIGNING OF THE HELPING FAMILIES SAVE THEIR HOMES ACT AND THE FRAUD ENFORCEMENT AND RECOVERY ACT: Well, standing up for the American people is exactly what we’re doing here today with two bills that I’m about to sign — The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, and The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act. These landmark pieces of legislation will protect hardworking Americans, crack down on those who seek to take advantage of them, and ensure that the problems that led us to this crisis never happen again. – White House, 5-20-09
  • A Culture Change on Climate Change: “For what everyone here believes, even as views differ on many important issues, is that the status quo is no longer acceptable.” – WH Blog, 5-19-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON NATIONAL FUEL EFFICIENCY STANDARDS – White House, 5-19-09
  • Obama brings foes together for auto deal: “In the past, an agreement such as this would have been considered impossible,” Obama said Tuesday in announcing the deal, the usually pokerfaced president reveling in his own achievement. “It represents not only a change in policy in Washington but the harbinger of a change in the way business is done in Washington.”… – AP, 5-19-09
  • Steele: GOP must confront Obama’s celebrity appeal: “He’s young. He’s cool. He’s hip … he’s got all the qualities America likes in a celebrity, so of course he’s going to be popular,” Steele told state party chairmen Tuesday. But “this is not American Idol. This is serious … and we are going to take them on.” “The era of apologizing for Republican mistakes of the past is now officially over,” he said. “We have turned the corner. No more looking in the rearview mirror. From this point forward, we will focus all of our energies on winning the future.” – AP, 5-19-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President with former Secretaries of State
(President Barack Obama meets with, from left: former Defense Secretary William Perry;  former Georgia Sen.  Sam Nunn; former Secretary of State George P. Shultz; and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger  in the Oval Office Tuesday, May 19, 2009.  Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Historians’ Comments

  • Julian Zelizer “Why Guantanamo has become Obama’s problem”: As Princeton scholar Julian E. Zelizer points out, when it comes to national security, Obama seems to lose the confidence he so evidently has on other major issues…. – Xinhua, 5-22-09
  • Barack Obama gives the national security speech Democrats were waiting for: President Barack Obama delivered the national security speech Thursday that Democrats have been waiting for. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Democrats have stumbled in offering a response to the Republican approach to the war on terrorism. When former Vice President Dick Cheney speaks on national security — as he did again Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute — most Democrats continue to shudder. Republicans have argued that they are the party that will be tough on terrorists and that their policies offer the only way to keep Americans safe…. – Politico, 5-21-09
  • Lou Zickar: Commentary: Republicans must move to center: In his CNN.com column last week, Ed Rollins said of the Republican Party, “We may be down for awhile, but what we won’t become is a ‘Democratic Party lite’! We are a party that wants smaller government and lower taxes. Obama and the Democrats do not. We are a party that wants to encourage small business.”….
    The success of these efforts provides the GOP with a road map on how to rebuild their party today. In this, Rollins is right — Republicans should not abandon their core philosophy of a strong defense, low taxes and smaller federal government. But they do need to figure out how to make this philosophy relevant to the lives of more Americans. And for this, they would be wise to do what the Democrats did in 1992 and 2006.
    They need to turn toward the center. Among other things, this means coming to grips with the role of government in our lives. For nearly 30 years, the party’s position in this regard has been clear and absolute — government should be smaller. But Katrina and Iraq and Walter Reed brought to light a simple truth — government needs to be more efficient, too.
    Unfortunately, smart government is not in the Republican Party’s rhetorical toolbox. It also runs counter to everything many on the far right represent. Yet it’s going to be one of the defining issues of the next few years as taxpayers begin to demand greater accountability and transparency in how their federal tax dollars are being spent.
    Simply arguing that we need to establish pro-growth tax policies and leave it at that is not enough anymore. Republicans also need to acknowledge government has a role to play, and it is the responsibility of all elected lawmakers to get it right. Taking this kind of step would not only move the GOP closer to the political center, but would also be another step in the party’s journey back from political oblivion. CNN, 5-22-09
  • Julian Zelizer: Commentary: Democrats play defense on security: President Obama has been struggling to get things right on national security. The president has not displayed the same kind of poise and confidence as he has with domestic issues.
    In contrast to the economic stimulus and health care reform, there have been a number of missteps, reversals and intra-party tensions over national security since Obama took office.
    Obama, who in February 2008 said the trials of Guantanamo detainees were “too important to be held in a flawed military commission system,” now says that he will continue to use that system, though in slightly modified fashion. When Obama announced that he would not release photographs of mistreated detainees, many of his supporters could not help but be disappointed….
    We have a growing military engagement in Afghanistan, the possibility of greater involvement in Pakistan, and the announcement that Obama plans to leave between 30,000 and 50,000 troops in Iraq after the “withdrawal” next year. To be sure, Obama has sent Clinton to embark on a more ambitious diplomatic agenda, but we have only seen the outlines of what they hope to achieve. The administration must start explaining what the primary objectives of its foreign policy will be.
    The more thought that goes into what we are doing before a crisis hits, the better prepared we are to deal with a crisis should it occur.
    But Democrats have a political incentive to be proactive as well. Democrats have shown in the previous two elections that Republicans don’t have an electoral monopoly on national security debates. But unless they provide a bold and coherent vision of their alternative, Democrats will continue to play defense. – CNN, 5-20-09
  • John Steele Gordon: Why Government Can’t Run a Business: The Obama administration is bent on becoming a major player in — if not taking over entirely — America’s health-care, automobile and banking industries. Before that happens, it might be a good idea to look at the government’s track record in running economic enterprises. It is terrible.
    In 1913, for instance, thinking it was being overcharged by the steel companies for armor plate for warships, the federal government decided to build its own plant. It estimated that a plant with a 10,000-ton annual capacity could produce armor plate for only 70% of what the steel companies charged….. – WSJ (5-20-09)


(President Barack Obama pets the family dog, Bo, during a brief break from meetings on the South Lawn of the White House May 12, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Advertisements

April 8, 2009: President Obama’s Europe, Turkey & Iraq Trips

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President visits the troops in Iraq

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • Democrat wins Illinois congressional seat: Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley, 50, trounced GOP nominee Rosanna Pulido and Green Party candidate Matt Reichel for the 5th Congressional District seat that Emanuel first won in 2002. With 59 percent of precincts reporting, Quigley had 15,977, or 74 percent of the vote. Pulido had 4,184 or 19 percent and Reichel had 7 percent…. – AP, 4-7-09
  • Absentees push Franken’s Senate lead to 312: Democrat Al Franken’s lead in Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race widened Tuesday to 312 votes after previously rejected absentee ballots were added to the counting. Franken did better than Republican Norm Coleman by a nearly 2-to-1 margin as the ballots were opened and counted as part of a lawsuit brought by Coleman over the statewide recount. A three-judge panel ruled earlier that 351 ballots had been improperly rejected during the election and should be restored…. – AP, 4-7-09
  • Is Obama the Divider-In-Chief?: A Pew Research poll indicates 88 percent of Democrats approve of the president’s job performance, while just 27 percent of Republicans say the same thing. That’s a 61-point difference.
    The gap for President George W. Bush at a similar juncture was 51 points. It was 45 for Bill Clinton — 38 for the first President Bush — and 46 for Ronald Reagan. Fox News, 4-6-09
  • Obama’s scorecard: Some setbacks but a good summit: At his summit debut, President Barack Obama failed to persuade foreign counterparts to commit to fresh and lavish spending to boost economic revival. And the success he did achieve in finding common ground was as much the result of modified goals as swaying other countries to bend to U.S. priorities…. – AP, 4-2-09

THE HEADLINES….

Charles Dharapak/Associated Press President Obama was greeted by Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, as he arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday.

The Headlines…

  • Obama in Europe: ‘The waters didn’t part’: …How much he succeeded is open to debate, however, and it could take a long time to gauge how successfully he managed to reshape American policy, and with it the course of world affairs. “This will be tested in time,” Obama said at a town hall meeting in Istanbul, his second of his trip. “Moving the ship of state is a slow process. States are like big tankers; they’re not like speedboats. You can’t just whip them around and go in a new direction. Instead you’ve got to slowly move it and then eventually you end up in a very different place.” – Miami Herald, 4-7-09
  • Defense budget plan tough sell on Capitol Hill: Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ proposed budget, which axes some multibillion-dollar weapons projects, is encountering strong resistance from lawmakers whose districts stand to lose thousands of jobs during a recession. Members of Congress and military analysts said Tuesday that the potential loss of jobs is by far the biggest hurdle the administration’s plan must overcome as it looks to build support on Capitol Hill, and they expect some concessions…. – AP, 4-7-09
  • WHITE HOUSE NOTEBOOK: Obama misses dinner in Iraq: One thing missing from President Barack Obama’s whirlwind visit to the capital of Iraq? Dinner at the president’s residence. Before he disappeared behind closed doors to meet with President Jalal Talabani, Obama said the meal was one thing he missed. The two shared dinner at Talabani’s house when he visited Baghdad as senator. Tuesday’s unannounced visit to Baghdad was Obama’s first to the Iraq war zone as president…. – AP, 4-7-09
  • Obama Makes Surprise Visit to Iraq: President Obama made a surprise detour to Iraq on Tuesday, stopping to visit American troops and commanders before returning to Washington from his first overseas trip as president…. – NYT, 4-7-09
  • ‘House’ actor Kal Penn joins White House team: The White House has hired actor Kal Penn as a liaison between President Barack Obama’s administration and Asian constituents. White House spokesman Shin Inouye said Tuesday that the actor who had a recurring role on Fox’s TV show “House” and has starred in several movies would join the staff as an associate director in the Office of Public Liaison…. – AP, 4-7-09
  • Bios of prosecutors facing criminal investigation: NICHOLAS MARSH, JOSEPH BOTTINI, WILLIAM WELCH, EDWARD SULLIVAN, EDWARD SULLIVAN…. – AP, 4-7-09
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press Former President George W. Bush threw out ceremonial first pitch before the game between the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers.
  • Photos: Bringing the Heat on Opening Day: Two political heavy hitters took part in baseball’s opening day festivities. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. took to the field before the Baltimore Orioles opening day game against the New York Yankees….
    Meanwhile, former President George W. Bush received a standing ovation at the Ballpark in Arlington, where he threw out the first pitch before the game between the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers…. – NYT, 4-6-09 ABC, 3-30-09
  • Obama Team’s Finances Released: Recently released financial records paint a contrasting picture of the Obama administration: a cabinet composed largely of politicians and government employees who have been on the public payroll for years, and a White House staffed with numerous aides who received substantial compensation over the past year from firms that could have a big stake in administration policies…. – WSJ, 4-6-09
  • Dismayed Lawyers Lay Out Reasons for Collapse of the Stevens Conviction: Even before Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. moved last week to throw out the conviction, the trial record was filled with instances of serious prosecutorial mistakes that dismayed the large corps of Washington lawyers who followed the case, including former prosecutors and defense lawyers…. – NYT, 4-6-09
  • Virginia Race Takes Tone, Tactics of National Politics: Independent election advocacy groups known as “527s” have been common in national and federal races for years as a way around fundraising limits. Because Virginia has no such limits anyway, 527s scarcely bothered. But are they on the verge of playing a larger role in this fall’s high-stakes gubernatorial races?… – ABC 7 News, 4-6-09
  • Quigley favored to replace Emanuel in Congress: Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley isn’t taking anything for granted even though he’s the favorite in Tuesday’s special congressional race to replace Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s chief of staff…. – AP, 4-6-09
  • President Bush’s Emergency AIDS Plan Saved 1.2 Million in Africa: The largest U.S. foreign aid program fighting the AIDS epidemic has cut the disease’s death toll by 1.2 million from 2004 to 2007 in a dozen hard-hit African countries, researchers said…. – Bloomberg, 4-6-09
  • Obama brings hope for warmer relations to Turkey: President Barack Obama is reaching out to Turkey to help him wind down the Iraq war and bring stability to the Middle East. He is also counting on the only Muslim member of NATO to remain a steadfast ally in the Afghanistan conflict…. – AP, 4-6-09
  • President Obama in Turkey: President Obama, directly addressing a majority Muslim country for the first time in his presidency, said Monday that the United States “would never be at war with Islam.”…. NYT, 4-6-09 Transcript
  • For Obama, politics may be hard to avoid in auto bailout: Given Obama’s ties to the United Auto Workers and his reliance on Ohio, Michigan and Indiana to win the election, he has ‘to be very careful’ about alienating a key political ally in the Rust Belt… – LAT, 4-6-09
  • Analysis: Obama visit to Turkey no afterthought: President Barack Obama’s stop in Turkey is hardly an afterthought, a “while I’m in the neighborhood” visit. For starters, he wants to mend relations strained when the United States went to war in Iraq six years ago. Ankara’s Islamic-rooted government denied Washington’s request to use Turkish territory to invade Iraq from the north. But Turkey also is in line for thanks for trying to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Turkey is the only predominantly Muslim country in NATO, an alliance stalwart and America’s best friend in the Islamic world. Obama, completing a European trip, arrives Sunday and undoubtedly will reprise his message from a town hall meeting Friday in France. “We must be honest with ourselves. In recent years, we’ve allowed our alliance to drift,” he said at that appearance…. – AP, 4-5-09
  • GOP May Be Stuck on Cohesion: On the House floor Thursday, Republicans registered their unanimous opposition to President Obama’s budget proposal…. WaPo, 4-5-09
  • House fight is a boon for lawyers: Democrat Scott Murphy and Republican Jim Tedisco remain tied in the contest to represent the 20th Congressional District, but one clear winner has emerged: the legal profession. Both candidates have hired top election lawyers to represent them in what could be a lengthy post-ballot battle to for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s seat in the House. Less than 24 hours after polls closed Tuesday, both sides began asking supporters for money to pay the coming legal bills…. – Albany Times Union, 4-5-09
  • Ted Stevens: Rested, and ready to be Alaska governor?: With his criminal conviction about to be vacated, thanks to a Democratic attorney general, Alaska’s former Senator- for-life Ted Stevens should be tanned, rested and relieved. But is he ready? A fellow Republican, Alaska’s Congressman-for-life Don Young, came up with a capital idea for 85-year-old Uncle Ted. “Personally I’d like to see him run for governor, and that’s my personal feeling,” said Young, who himself has been under investigation by two federal grand juries. Young and Stevens served in Congress together for 36 years. – Seattle PI, 4-5-09
  • Obama: US cannot shoulder Afghan burden alone: On the eve of the NATO summit, President Barack Obama didn’t get what he wanted most from U.S. allies: significant new commitments of combat troops for Afghanistan. Faced with stiff public opposition to war, reluctant European leaders on Friday offered only limited aid for civilians and some troops to help train Afghan police and soldiers. Afghanistan was the theme to which a frustrated Obama returned over and over throughout the day. “This is a joint problem, and it requires a joint effort,” he said. – AP, 4-3-09
  • Analysis: Plenty of cheers but mixed bag for Obama: Stop after stop, crowds are thronging, leaders gushing, headlines blaring. Even a roomful of foreign reporters applauded after President Barack Obama’s London news conference. They love him over here. But are they giving him anything else to take home? It’s a mixed bag: some success, several failures and much still to be determined. The president hit the halfway point Saturday on a European trip that, by the end, will have him charming and listening (not lecturing) his way through five countries, three international summits, one-on-one meetings with at least 17 leaders, a Buckingham Palace audience, at least seven news conferences, three speeches, two question-and-answer sessions with regular-folk foreigners and three official dinners…. – AP, 4-4-09

The President visits the troops in Iraq

White House Photo, 4/7/09, Pete Souza

Troops in Iraq

The President drops in on the troops in Iraq
on his way back from Europe.

Watch the Video
View the Slideshow

President Obama speaks at a Student Roundtable in Turkey

White House Photo, 4/7/09, Chuck Kennedy

Turkish Parliament

The President holds a roundtable with a hundred students in Istanbul, discussing everything from climate change to the relationship between America
and the Muslim world.

Read the Remarks

The President films the Weekly Address

White House Photo, 4/3/09, Pete Souza

Weekly Address: The Challenges of Our Time

The President discusses the breadth and depth of the global challenges we face, as well as our potential to address them through renewed international alliances.

Watch the Video

President Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy

  • Analysis: Congress backs some Obama goals, not all: President Barack Obama emerged from this year’s congressional budget debate with a half-victory: a green light to pursue an overhaul of health care, accompanied by a rebuke over how to pay for it. Obama’s plan to tackle global warming fared worse. Nine Democratic senators broke with him on a symbolic but politically resonant vote to cut inheritance taxes.
    In short, Obama’s Democratic allies embraced providing health care to the uninsured, boosting education and promoting clean energy. But the second part of the equation — finding billions of dollars to finance his agenda without further exploding the deficit — suffered repeated setbacks in the Senate. –
    “It’s a realistic blueprint for restoring the promise of the American dream — getting people back to work, ending our energy crisis, improving education for millions of students, and at long last achieving the goal of quality, affordable health care for all Americans,” said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
    A survey taken March 25 by the Gallup Poll showed that 39 percent of respondents had positive views of Obama’s budget plan and 27 percent had negative views. That was slightly worse than a poll taken just after the budget’s release in February. – AP, 4-4-09
  • Obama Finds That Washington’s Habits of Secrecy Die Hard: At 12:01 p.m. on Jan. 20 — the precise moment Barack Obama became president of the United States — a new White House Web site sprang to electronic life with a pledge to “provide a window for all Americans into the business of the government.” The next day, Mr. Obama issued a memorandum on transparency, promising to make it one of “the touchstones of this presidency.” But on issue after issue — a raucous internal debate over whether to release memorandums detailing harsh interrogation techniques used during the Bush years, for example, or publicizing financial information about high-level administration appointees — Mr. Obama has discovered that fulfilling his pledge is easier said than done…. – NYT, 4-4-09
  • State Department says North Korea launches rocket: President Barack Obama said North Korea should refrain from further provocative actions after that nation’s government made good on their promise to launch a long-range rocket…. – AP, 4-4-09
  • Did President Obama dodge a friendly kiss from French First Lady Carla Bruni?: Forget NATO, world peace or the global recession – it was The Kiss, or the lack of one, that was the talk of Europe Friday. The international kiss-ident unfolded as President Obama and his wife, Michelle, met French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his supermodel wife, Carla Bruni, in Strasbourg, France, as part of this weekend’s NATO summit…. – NY Daily News, 4-4-09
  • Obama tapes message pushing Chicago as 2016 Olympics host: They’re trying to show Chicago is an international city ready for a global event and when they make their case to Olympic evaluators Saturday, members of the Chicago 2016 team will trot out worldwide rock star and hometown guy, President Barack Obama. The White House confirmed the president taped what Chicago 2016 officials describe as a “welcome message” for the 13-member International Olympic Committee’s Evaluation Commission, charged with grading the city’s readiness for the 2016 summer games…. – Chicago Sun-Times, 4-3-09
  • Europe’s Giddiness Eases a Bit for President O-BA-MA: Barack Obama is back in Europe. Only this time, he’s president. On the Continent, the giddiness on display last summer, when 200,000 turned out to hear candidate Obama give a speech in Berlin, has subsided as the weight of the economic crisis unfolds. Candidate Obama was a blank slate on which Europeans drew what they wished. President Obama brought with him wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a global recession. “It’s different, totally different,” said Elisabeth Vogel, a teacher at the Lycée Camille See in Alsace, who took a bevy of students to attend a town hall meeting here. “Now he’s president of the United States. That changes everything.” Since his arrival Tuesday, Mr. Obama and his entourage have cut through Europe like a comet, creating excitement but less gravitational pull — and some irritation…. – WSJ, 4-2-09
  • Obama touts policy changes, seeks Afghanistan help: Courting Europe with an American-style campaign, President Barack Obama on Friday talked up his plans — popular here — to eliminate nuclear weapons, close the Guantanamo Bay prison and tackle global warming. In return, he’s hoping for European popular support in the anti-terror fight in Afghanistan. “It’s not just a matter of more resources, it’s a matter of more effectively using the resources we have,” Obama said. – AP, 4-3-09
  • On the World Stage, Obama Issues an Overture: In his debut on the international stage, President Obama presented himself as the leader of an America that can no longer go it alone, and as abiding by the protocol of a global new deal….
    “If there’s just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy, that’s an easier negotiation,” Mr. Obama said during his hourlong meeting with the international news media, during which he called on reporters from India and China to ask him questions. “But that’s not the world we live in, and it shouldn’t be the world that we live in.” – NYT, 4-2-09
  • Obama, Brown predict G20 deal to fight recession: Doggedly optimistic in the face of doubts, President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown predicted Thursday’s emergency G-20 economic summit would produce a significant global deal to tackle the deepening worldwide recession…. – AP, 4-1-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President visits the troops in Iraq

White House Photo, 4/7/09, Pete Souza

Troops in Iraq

The President drops in on the troops in Iraq
on his way back from Europe.

Watch the Video
View the Slideshow

President Obama at a student roundtable in Turkey
(President Barack Obama addresses his remarks at a town hall meeting Tuesday, April 7, 2009,
at the Tophane Cultural Center in Istanbul. White House Photo/Chuck Kennedy)

Political Quotes

  • Obama in Baghdad, tells troops Iraq must take over: Iraqis “need to take responsibility for their own country,” Obama told hundreds of cheering soldiers gathered in an ornate, marble palace near Saddam Hussein’s former seat of power. “You have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country. That is an extraordinary achievement,” he told some 600 troops, saluting their efforts during six years of American fighting and losses. “We love you,” someone yelled from the crowd of photo-snapping men and women in uniform. “I love you back,” responded the president, repeating a sequence that played out at hundreds of campaign stops on his successful run for the White House last year…. – AP, 4-7-09
  • Biden says Cheney ‘dead wrong’ on security policy: “I don’t think he is out of line, but he is dead wrong. … The last administration left us in a weaker posture than we’ve been any time since World War II: less regarded in the world, stretched more thinly than we ever have been in the past, two wars under way, virtually no respect in entire parts of the world,” Biden said. “And so we’ve been about the business of repairing and strengthening those. I guarantee you we are safer today, our interests are more secure today than they were any time during the eight years” of the Bush administration. – AP, 4-7-09
  • Gov. Sarah Palin Isn’t Happy About Today’s ‘Tyra Show’: “Bristol did not even know Levi was going on the show,” says the statement, issued to People magazine. “We’re disappointed that Levi and his family, in a quest for fame, attention, and fortune, are engaging in flat-out lies, gross exaggeration, and even distortion of their relationship. Bristol’s focus will remain on raising Tripp, completing her education, and advocating abstinence. It is unfortunate that Levi finds it more appealing to exploit his previous relationship with Bristol than to contribute to the well being of the child. Bristol realizes now that she made a mistake in her relationship and is the one taking responsibility for their actions.” – NYT, 4-6-09
  • Obama Ends Trip Pledging ‘New Chapter’ of Global Engagement: “I’m personally committed to a new chapter of American engagement,” the president told a town-hall meeting with students yesterday in Istanbul. In a surprise stop in Iraq before heading back to the U.S., Obama spoke of being committed to an Iraq that is “sovereign, stable and self-reliant.” – Bloomberg, 4-7-09
  • The Student Roundtable in Turkey: I enjoyed visiting your parliament. I’ve had productive discussions with your President and your Prime Minister. But I also always like to take some time to talk to people directly, especially young people. So in the next few minutes I want to focus on three areas in which I think we can make some progress: advancing dialogue between our two countries, but also advancing dialogue between the United States and the Muslim world; extending opportunity in education and in social welfare; and then also reaching out to young people as our best hope for peaceful, prosperous futures in both Turkey and in the United States. – WH Blog, 4-6-09
  • Obama tells Turkish students change will take time: President Barack Obama heralded a “new chapter of American engagement” with the world on Tuesday and vowed to forge new relationships in the Middle East and elsewhere. “States are like big tankers, they’re not like speedboats. You can’t just whip them around and go in another direction,” Obama said in a question-and-answer session with Turkish college students. “You turn them slowly, and eventually you end up in a very different place,” he said, responding to a student who asked about differences between him and his predecessor. Obama ended his first overseas trip as president with an appeal to the world to put aside stereotypes and misconceptions: the view by many Muslims that Israel is to blame for all problems, similar views in reverse by “some of my Jewish friends,” the view in parts of the world that Americans are crass and selfish. “The world will be what you make of it,” Obama told the students. “You can choose to make new bridges instead of new walls.” – AP, 4-6-09
  • Crossroads in Turkey: I know there have been difficulties these last few years. I know that the trust that binds the United States and Turkey has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced. So let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam. (Applause.) In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical not just in rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject, but also to strengthen opportunity for all its people.
    I also want to be clear that America’s relationship with the Muslim community, the Muslim world, cannot, and will not, just be based upon opposition to terrorism. We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. We will listen carefully, we will bridge misunderstandings, and we will seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree. We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world — including in my own country. The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their families or have lived in a Muslim-majority country — I know, because I am one of them. (Applause.)… – WH Blog, 4-6-09
  • Obama to Muslim world: No US war with Islam: “We seek broader engagement based upon mutual interest and mutual respect,” Obama said in a speech to Turkey’s Parliament. “Our partnership with the Muslim world is critical, not just in rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject but also to strengthen opportunity for all its people,” he said. He portrayed terrorist groups such as al-Qaida as extremists far removed from the vast majority of Muslims…. “Turkey’s greatness lies in your ability to be at the center of things. This is not where East and West divide — this is where they come together,” Obama said. – AP, 4-6-09
  • Obama’s Agenda Demands a Star Player: At this peak moment of college basketball fervor, President Obama likens Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to an underappreciated teammate who “gets that extra rebound, takes the charge, makes that extra pass.” – NYT, 4-6-09
  • NKorea rocket fizzles, US says; Obama urges action: “North Korea broke the rules, once again, by testing a rocket that could be used for long-range missiles,” Obama said in Prague. “It creates instability in their region, around the world. This provocation underscores the need for action, not just this afternoon in the U.N. Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons.” – AP, 4-5-09
  • Obama outlines sweeping goal of nuclear-free world: “This goal will not be reached quickly — perhaps not in my lifetime,” he told a cheering crowd of more than 20,000 in the historic square outside the Prague Castle gates. We “must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change. We have to insist, ‘Yes, we can.'” – AP, 4-5-09
President Obama and Secretary Clinton

(President Barack Obama confers with U.S.Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during the NATO
summit in Strasbourg, France, Saturday, April 4, 2009. White House Photo/Pete Souza)

  • Afghanistan and NATO: We start from a simple premise: For years, our efforts in Afghanistan have lacked the resources needed to achieve our goals. And that’s why the United States has recommitted itself to a clear and focused goal — to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.
    This effort cannot be America’s alone. All of NATO understands that al Qaeda is a threat to all of us, and that this collective security effort must achieve its goals. And as a signal of that commitment, I am pleased that our NATO allies pledged their strong and unanimous support for our new strategy. Keep in mind it was only just a week ago that we announced this new approach. But already with Secretary Clinton’s work at The Hague and with the success at today’s summit we’ve started to match real resources to achieve our goals…. – WH Blog, 4-4-09
  • Europe praises Obama, pledges few Afghan troops: European leaders enthusiastically praised President Barack Obama’s new Afghan strategy at a NATO summit Saturday but held their ground on a central disagreement and offered only military trainers and extra security forces for upcoming elections.
    “I am pleased that our NATO allies pledged their strong and unanimous support for our new strategy,” Obama said. “We’ll need more resources and a sustained effort to achieve our ultimate goals.” – AP, 4-4-09
  • Obama Calls for Global Coordination, Praises G-20 Agreement: President Obama used his weekly address to continue to send the message he has sought to convey throughout his trip to Europe — that no one country can go it alone. Threats to U.S. security and the economy “can no longer be kept at bay by oceans or by borders drawn on maps,” President Obama said in his address, taped aboard Air Force One during his presidential trip… – NYT, 4-4-09

The President visits the troops in Iraq

White House Photo, 4/7/09, Pete Souza

Troops in Iraq

The President drops in on the troops in Iraq
on his way back from Europe.

Watch the Video
View the Slideshow

President Obama speaks at a Student Roundtable in Turkey

White House Photo, 4/7/09, Chuck Kennedy

Turkish Parliament

The President holds a roundtable with a hundred students in Istanbul, discussing everything from climate change to the relationship between America
and the Muslim world.

Read the Remarks

The President films the Weekly Address

  • Weekly Address: The Challenges of Our Time: “The only way forward is through shared and persistent efforts to combat fear and want wherever they exist.” – WH Blog, 4-4-09 Transcript
  • State Department says North Korea launches rocket: “I urge North Korea to abide fully by the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council,” the president said as the council approved an emergency session Sunday to deal with North Korea’s rocket launch. North Korea will not find acceptance in the international community “unless it abandons its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction,” Obama said. – AP, 4-4-09
  • Reset with Russia: As I’ve said in the past, I think that over the last several years the relationship between our two countries has been allowed to drift. And what I believe we’ve begun today is a very constructive dialogue that will allow us to work on issues of mutual interest, like the reduction of nuclear weapons and the strengthening of our nonproliferation treaties; our mutual interest in dealing with terrorism and extremism that threatens both countries; our mutual interest in economic stability and restoring growth around the world; our mutual interest in promoting peace and stability in areas like the Middle East.
    So I am very encouraged by the leadership of the President. I’m very grateful that he has taken the time to visit. I am especially excited about the fact that the President extended an invitation for me to visit Moscow to build on some of the areas that we discussed on today. And I have agreed to visit Moscow in July, which we both agreed was a better time than January to visit. – WH Blog, 4-1-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Todd Heisler/The New York Times President Obama in Prague on Sunday.

Historians’ Comments

  • Bruce Buchanan “Obama Ends Trip Pledging ‘New Chapter’ of Global Engagement”: The trip has been “especially important for a new president,” said Bruce Buchanan, a presidential scholar at the University of Texas in Austin. “He now has working relations that he can use via the telephone to push for additional action in matters such as stimulus.” – Bloomberg, 4-7-09
  • Allan Lichtman “Obama Ends Trip Pledging ‘New Chapter’ of Global Engagement”: “Did he accomplish everything he might have hoped for? No,” said Allan Lichtman, a political history professor at American University in Washington. “Did he accomplish everything that could reasonably be expected and more? Yes, and in that sense it was a very successful trip.” Obama’s initial foreign-policy venture compares favorably with those of his predecessors, Lichtman said. While John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, were the “toast of Paris” on their 1961 European trip, the new president’s meeting with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was a “disaster,” he said. And Franklin Delano Roosevelt skipped an economic conference in London held soon after his 1933 inauguration. – Bloomberg, 4-7-09
  • Lou Cannon “Now, Obama ‘Owns’ General Motors Obama’s economic legacy may hinge on whether he becomes known as the President who saved the U.S. car industry or the one who destroyed it “: It’s too early to say how important Obama’s ultimatum to the U.S. auto industry will prove. “This could be an important moment,” says Lou Cannon, a preeminent Reagan scholar and the author of five books on the former President. But even if it is, the decision could turn out to have starkly different meanings. Obama could be “seen two years from now as the President who saved the American automobile industry, or…as the President who destroyed it,” Cannon said by phone from his California home. “Think of the two characterizations.”
    Because of that uncertainty, Cannon thinks there may be a more apt analogy. It is then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s remonstration to President George W. Bush before his final decision to go to war in Iraq: “If you break it, you own it.” “The President of the U.S. owns GM. He put himself in a position in which the success or failure of GM will be blamed on him,” Cannon said. – Business Week, 4-1-09
  • Richard Reeves “Now, Obama ‘Owns’ General Motors Obama’s economic legacy may hinge on whether he becomes known as the President who saved the U.S. car industry or the one who destroyed it”: There’s another key difference between Obama last week and Reagan and Thatcher in the ’80s: The conservative icons acted in the face of blatant opposition, and in the process changed the political equation by showing that government was not going to side with labor, says Richard Reeves, the author of biographies of both JFK and Reagan.
    Obama, by contrast, is in a much more fluid situation. The true message of his move remains to be seen. Reeves compares Obama’s strategy with that of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s. The economic downturns in the 1930s and now were bafflingly complex. FDR “had not mastered the declining economics of the country,” he said. As for Obama, Reeves said, “I can’t believe that, with the amount of time that’s passed and the people involved, that they have dug so deep into these problems. There’s no way that they know what they’re doing. You couldn’t know so many things in such a confusing time.”
    In both cases, the Presidents were “throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks,” Reeves said. “I think Obama is saying, ‘Someone has to be in charge,’ and I think he’s right. If he was just sitting back, he’d be toast. This country wants a sense that someone is in charge.” – Business Week, 4-1-09
  • Julian E. Zelizer “Now, Obama ‘Owns’ General Motors Obama’s economic legacy may hinge on whether he becomes known as the President who saved the U.S. car industry or the one who destroyed it”: “On the most obvious level, if you issue threats or you intimidate business, and in the end business just does what it wants, you lose some of your political capital,” says Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs. “It will suggest the business community is not so frightened of Obama at a time he needs to be able to lean on them.”
    That happened to FDR, too. One of his signature early initiatives, the National Recovery Act, sought to impose voluntary production levels to bring the country out of the Depression. It flopped, even before the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional, Zelizer says. “Sometimes a President can’t use the power of persuasion to get business to act even in a time of major economic crisis,” he said. – Business Week, 4-1-09
  • Julian Zelizer: A surprising model for Obama’s presidency: While pundits have compared President Obama to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, less attention has been paid to another, perhaps more apt parallel — Lyndon Baines Johnson. Sometimes the similarities are striking. Both aimed high, seeking major legislation to reshape America — Johnson with civil rights and Medicare, Obama with health care and energy legislation. Both Johnson and Obama understood that Congress was a credit-claiming institution whose members did not like to have proposals rammed down their throats. Johnson’s style of political leadership was famous. A creature of the Senate, Johnson loved to lean on legislators and intimidate them into supporting his agenda….
    The comparisons between Johnson and Obama likewise offer reminders about what could go wrong for the current president. After all, Johnson was a politician who looked like a transformative president in 1965 but within three years found himself to be a defeated man who withdrew from the Democratic primaries. Johnson’s fears of the right, moreover, pushed him and America deeper into the deadly war in Vietnam. The social movements that LBJ used to his benefit in 1964 and 1965 turned against him as the administration plunged deeper into Vietnam, a lesson worth thinking about for the current administration. Johnson’s policy of respect for committee chairmen prompted him to make compromises over social policy — such as cuts in social spending in 1968 — that weakened his support among the very Democrats he needed to win re-election. Johnson was never fully aware of how his greatest political skills could also become the source of his downfall. Obama’s challenge is to harness the best parts of this comparison — such as how Johnson handled Congress to produce dramatic legislative results — without repeating the destructive characteristics that shattered Johnson’s White House. – CNN, 4-6-09
  • Christiane Amanpour: What Obama’s trip achieved: Such has been the success of President Obama’s first overseas visit that some observers are even suggesting North Korea’s weekend rocket launch was not the dreaded “3 a.m. moment,” but a golden opportunity for the U.S. president. Coming just hours before Obama’s big speech on combating nuclear proliferation, it added urgency to his proposals…. – CNN, 4-6-09

The First Lady at the Notre Dame Cathedral

[Download High Resolution]

(First Lady Michelle Obama and Hayrunnisa Gul, right, the wife of Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul, listen to a french interpretor during a tour at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg, Fance, Saturday, April 4, 2009. White House Photo/Lawrence Jackson)

March 22, 2009: President Obama’s Worse Week, Selling the Budget on Leno & 60 Minutes

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Obama with Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show.”

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • Obama and the polls: is opinion shifting?: In the new National Public Radio poll conducted by the Democratic polling company Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and its Republican counterpart, Public Opinion Strategies, 42 percent of the 800 likely voters surveyed March 10 to 14 said that if the next congressional election were held today they would vote for the Republican candidate; an identical percentage of respondents said they would vote for the Democratic one. For several years, Democrats held a substantial lead on this question… – The Atlantic, 3-21-09
  • Are Independents Hedging Their Bets? If Republicans really have pulled even among independents, it’s an ominous sign for Democrats: National Public Radio poll conducted by the Democratic polling company Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and its Republican counterpart, Public Opinion Strategies, 42 percent of the 800 likely voters surveyed March 10 to 14 said that if the next congressional election were held today they would vote for the Republican candidate; Democrats still outnumbered Republicans in terms of party identification in this poll by 6 points, 45 percent to 39 percent. Democrats also favored their own party’s congressional candidates 83 percent to 7 percent. But voters who call themselves independents gave GOP candidates the edge by 14 points, 38 percent to 24 percent. And self-identified Republicans supported their own party’s candidates 85 percent to 3 percent. – Charlie Cook, National Journal, 3-21-09
  • Letter to the Editor: Obama’s presidency is disastrous: In two short months, Barry Soetoro, a.k.a. Barack Obama, and this Congress are proving to be beyond inept, extremely arrogant, tyrannical, unqualified and unprepared — and, in so doing, have made Jimmy Carter appear as though he was in total control and knew exactly what he was doing. You wanted change? You got it. By the way, how’s it working for you?…. – Augusta Chronicle, 3-21-09

THE HEADLINES….

The core principles of the President's budget.

The Headlines…

  • Geithner Urges Stronger Financial Regulations: Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said on Monday that the economic crisis showed that the American financial system had failed a major test and was in need of an overhaul. Speaking at a conference in Washington, Mr. Geithner said that the Obama administration planned to work with Congress to develop a modernized government regulatory structure for financial institutions…. – NYT, AP, 3-23-09
  • $50 Million in A.I.G. Bonuses to Be Repaid: The New York State attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, said on Monday that he had persuaded nine of the top 10 bonus recipients at the American International Group to give the money back, as the Senate retreated on plans to tax such bonuses….. – NYT, 2-23-09
  • Half of $165 Million in AIG Bonuses May Be Returned: Nine of the top 10 recipients of bonuses at American International Group Inc. agreed to give back the money and half of the total $165 million paid may be retrieved, said New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo…. – Bloomberg, 3-23-09
  • Gregg continues budget-blasting of Obama: When Senator Judd Gregg stunningly withdrew as President Obama’s choice for commerce secretary, the New Hampshire Republican blamed “irresolvable conflicts” on policy. He wasn’t kidding. Since giving Obama the heave-ho last month, Gregg has been one of the Democratic president’s harshest critics. In recent days, he has been blasting Obama’s proposed $3.6 trillion budget, saying it would bankrupt the country. Gregg, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, got some more ammunition Friday, when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that Obama’s plan would generate unsustainable deficits averaging almost $1 trillion a year for the next decade…. –
  • ‘Bobby Jindal not in race for 2012 presidential polls’: Supriya Jindal, wife of Indian-American Republican leader Bobby Jindal, has denied that her husband is in the race for 2012 US presidential elections, saying that he is concentrating on his re-election as the Governor of Louisiana in 2011.
    “It’s very flattering, it’s very nice,” Supriya said in an interview to Meghan McCain and posted on ‘The Daily Beast’ when asked about news reports that her husband would be leading the Republican Party in the 2012 presidential elections. “But I think the party as a whole and the country as a whole needs to focus on solutions right now and not focus on who the next candidate’s going to be. All of that needs to go by the wayside. We have dire problems going on in the country and we need to focus on that right now,” she said. – Indian Express, 3-23-09
  • Obama implies rejection of House bonus tax plan: President Barack Obama wagered significant political capital Sunday, signaling opposition to a highly popular congressional drive to slap a punitive 90 percent tax on bonuses to big earners at financial institutions already deeply in hock to taxpayers…. – AP, 3-22-09
  • Sen. Gregg says Obama budget will bankrupt US: The top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee says the Obama administration is on the right course to save the nation’s financial system. But Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire also says President Barack Obama’s massive budget proposal will bankrupt the country…. – AP, 3-22-09
  • HHS names health technology coordinator: A former Harvard Medical School professor who has advised Sen. Edward Kennedy and one-time Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis will lead health information technology efforts for the Obama administration. Dr. David Blumenthal was also a senior adviser to President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. – – AP, 3-20-09
  • NY election seen as referendum on stimulus: With polls tight, a Republican state legislator and Democratic venture capitalist battle daily over the economic stimulus package in congressional race that’s seen as a referendum on President Barack Obama’s policies and a test of GOP strength. – AP, 3-22-09
  • Can this David slay Republicans’ Goliath? A Canadian, knowledgeable about how conservatives in Canada rebranded themselves, seeks a renaissance of the GOP. To succeed, he’ll likely have to defeat party titan Rush Limbaugh in the arena of media opinion: The future of the Republican Party, if it has one, is Canadian. David Frum is emerging as the reasoned alternative to the blinkered prejudices that inform much of the debate within the GOP. His close knowledge of the struggle to reinvent and reunite Canadian conservatism, and his own personal evolution, have led him to call for a renaissance of the Republican Party within the United States, one that combines fiscal probity with social moderation, targeted primarily at young, university- educated voters. – Globe & Mail, 3-22-09
  • Lots of ham on the menu at annual Gridiron Dinner: President Barack Obama didn’t have time to join a roast of prominent officials by the journalists who cover them, cracks Vice President Joe Biden, because Obama is getting ready for Easter. “He thinks it’s about him,” Biden says. No, that’s not the reason, counters California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “He’s just not that into you.” – AP, 3-22-09
  • The Dissing of Laura Bush: If the ABC interview was a one-off thing, it would be easy to overlook. But these days the reporting seems to reflect an assumption that if the Obamas haven’t done something, nobody else has, either. Certainly the Washington Post did not challenge the First Lady’s social secretary when she said, “one idea Michelle had was to have an event for military families — here they are sacrificing so much for the country and many of them probably have never been invited to the White House.” This uncritical reportage does Laura Bush an injustice. In hundreds of ways — picnics on the South Lawn, fund-raising d families of the fallen, the work she did for military kids under her Helping America’s Youth initiative -for scholarships for the children of sailors on the USS Texas, unheralded visits with the wounded an- Mrs. Bush showed our troops and their loved ones how close they were to her heart. – Wall Street Journal, 3-20-09
  • Senate Republicans brake rush to tax AIG bonuses: Senate Republicans are drawing out a flap that has made the Obama administration squirm, applying the brakes to Democratic attempts to quickly tax away most of the bonuses at troubled insurance giant AIG and other bailed-out companies. – AP, 3-21-09
  • PROMISES, PROMISES: Obama rhetoric, reality clash: Barack Obama’s optimistic campaign rhetoric has crashed headlong into the stark reality of governing…. For now at least, Obama’s deviations have served only to invite occasional cries of hypocrisy from some Republicans and infrequent grumbles of disappointment from some Democrats. He has popularity on his side, and it seems people mostly are chalking up his moves to much-needed flexibility at a difficult time. But the shifts could take a toll over time if they become a persistent pattern and the public grows weary. His overall job-performance marks could suffer and jeopardize his likely re-election campaign in 2012. People could perceive him as a say-one-thing-do-another politician and the Democratic-controlled Congress could see him as a weak chief executive. Obama’s moves and maneuvering for political cover run the gamut…. – AP, 3-21-09
  • Not bowled over by Obama’s Special Olympics joke: When she met Barack Obama two years ago, Caitlin Cox proudly wore the two bronze medals she had won at the Special Olympics. The then-Illinois senator grinned as she showed him pictures of her signature bubble-gum-pink bowling ball and posed for photographs with her…. Thompson tried to console her daughter, telling her sometimes people do disappointing things. But as a mother and special education teacher, Thompson said, internally she was crushed by the president’s insensitivity. She knows how destructive such stereotypes can be, and it infuriated her that an organization dedicated to empowering millions of people with developmental disabilities would be reduced to a late-night punch line…. – Los Angeles Times, 3-21-09
  • Administration wants to buy up banks’ toxic assets: Struggling to contain the worst financial crisis in seven decades, the Obama administration wants to buy billions of dollars of toxic assets from banks to ease borrowing for consumers and businesses. – AP, 3-21-09
  • Obama’s Day: Back in Washington: Back at the White House after a California trip, President Barack Obama continues cultivating support for his economic recovery program…. – AP, 3-20-09
  • Obama’s Special Olympics joke creates a stir around the nation: It seemed like a harmless remark. In an appearance Thursday night on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” President Barack Obama made a joke about his lackluster bowling skills by saying: “It was like Special Olympics or something.” But the comment caused an immediate stir in Washington and around the nation. – McClatchy Newspapers, 3-20-09
  • Just a Couple of Average Joes Having a Fireside Chat: President Obama didn’t look burdened by his office on “The Tonight Show” on Thursday; he seemed detached. As he described the problems of the American International Group and the credit crisis to Jay Leno, Mr. Obama behaved less like a beleaguered president than like the head of a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia reporting back to the main office: concerned and engaged, but intent on maintaining his professional distance and neutrality…. – NYT, 3-21-09
  • White House says Obama shares US outrage over AIG: The White House says President Barack Obama shares the “outrage and frustration” of Americans over the millions of dollars in bonuses that taxpayer-funded AIG handed out to its executives. AP, 3-20-09
  • Obama urges states to use recovery money carefully: With states eager to spend, President Barack Obama announced guidelines Friday aimed at preventing waste and fraud and limiting the influence lobbyists will have in carrying out the $787 billion economic stimulus program. “This plan cannot and will not be an excuse for waste and abuse,” Obama declared. To make his point, the guidelines specify that stimulus funds can’t be used on projects like aquariums, zoos, golf courses, swimming pools, casinos or other gambling establishments.”… – AP, 3-20-09
  • Senator urges healthcare overhaul this year: Congress must enact a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system by the end of this year or risk waiting at least another four years to get the job done, a senior Republican senator said on Thursday. – Reuters, 3-20-09
  • Senate Republicans brake rush to tax AIG bonuses: Senate Republicans are drawing out a flap that has made the Obama administration squirm, applying the brakes to Democratic attempts to quickly tax away most of the bonuses at troubled insurance giant AIG and other bailed-out companies. – AP, 3-20-09
  • Obamas to Plant Vegetable Garden at White House: Michelle Obama will begin digging up a patch of the South Lawn on Friday to plant a vegetable garden, the first at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden in World War II. There will be no beets — the president does not like them — but arugula will make the cut. – NYT, 3-20-09
  • Obama calls on Americans to support budget: In a new Web video, President Barack Obama is asking Americans to help him pass his $3.6 trillion budget. “I’m asking you to head outside this Saturday to knock on some doors, talk to some neighbors, and let them know how important this budget is to our future,” he said in the video. – AP, 3-20-09
  • Many in Government Knew Weeks Ago About A.I.G. Bonuses: A Treasury spokesman, Isaac Baker, said in a statement on Thursday night, “Although Congressman Crowley raised the issue of the bonuses two weeks ago, Secretary Geithner was not aware of the timing or full extent of the contractual retention payments or the other bonus programs until his staff brought them to his attention on March 10.” NYT, 3-19-09
  • Crown Publishing Group will pay the former president $7 million to write his most important life lessons: George W. Bush’s book deal, news of which broke yesterday, is valued at about $7 million, according to a person familiar with the matter. The sum is less than half what Bill Clinton was paid for his memoir, My Life, and less than the $8 million Hillary Clinton received. – The Daily Beast, 3-19-09
  • Obama visit juices up SoCal electric vehicle plant: Whether President Barack Obama’s California visit rallied sufficient support for his economic stimulus package remains to be seen, but his arrival Thursday definitely juiced the spirits of those who have toiled for years here building, testing and maintaining the kind of electric-powered cars Obama says are the nation’s future. – AP, 3-19-09
  • White House to break ground on ‘kitchen garden’: The White House is getting a new garden. First lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to break ground Friday on a new garden near the fountain on the South Lawn that will supply the White House kitchen. She will be joined by students from Bancroft Elementary School in the District of Columbia. The children will stay involved with the project, including planting the fruits, vegetables and herbs in the coming weeks and harvesting the crops later in the year. Mrs. Obama spent time earlier this week at an exhibit on rooftop gardening. “We’re going to get a big one in our back yard, the South Lawn,” she promised the volunteers. – AP, 3-19-09
  • Obama targets foreclosures in Calif.: President Barack Obama on Thursday announced that California will receive $145 million to help communities hard-hit by the foreclosure crisis. The president, speaking to about 1,000 people at a town hall-style event in downtown, said the Department of Housing and Urban Development funds will be used to purchase and rehabilitate vacant, foreclosed homes and resell them with affordable mortgages. – AP, 3-19-09
  • UPDATE 1-First Family’s dog coming soon, Obama tells TV host: U.S. President Barack Obama was alternately somber and light-hearted in an unusual appearance on America’s top-rated late-night variety show on Thursday, moving deftly from the economic crisis to the April arrival of a “First Dog” in the White House. In an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” the first by a sitting president, Obama talked seriously about his economic plans and voiced strong support for embattled Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner…. – Reuters, 3-19-09
  • Obama Signs Book Deal For Post-Presidency Book: President Barack Obama, the best-selling author who received royalties of $2.5 million last year, has signed a deal for a youth-oriented version of his published memoir and a nonfiction book after he leaves office. Huffington Post (Blog) (3-19-09)
  • Facts about George W. Bush’s new book: Facts about George W. Bush’s new book: Quick start: He began writing the memoir of his years as president just two days after leaving the White House. Notes, assistance: Although he didn’t keep a diary, he said, he jotted down an occasional note. And so far, he said, he’s written “maybe” 30,000 words, working with research assistants and a former White House speechwriter, Chris Michel. Another Bush book: Former first lady Laura Bush previously signed a book deal with Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Both are scheduled for 2010, but a Bush spokesman said hers would come out first…. – Dallas Morning News, 3-19-09
  • Bush begins writing ‘Decision Points’–his memoir: Former President George W. Bush has already written about 30,000 words of a memoir tentatively called “Decision Points” that will cover everything from how he found faith to how he quit drinking to how he chose Karl Rove and Dick Cheney for their jobs…. – Politico, 3-18-09
  • Obama tells Leno he was stunned by AIG bonuses: President Barack Obama has told Jay Leno he was stunned when he learned of the bonuses that bailed-out insurance giant AIG was paying its employees. AP, 3-19-09
  • Obama to Leno: Geithner doing ‘outstanding’ job: President Barack Obama says his embattled treasury chief, Timothy Geithner, is doing an “outstanding job.” In a taped appearance on “The Tonight Show”, he told host Jay Leno that Geithner is a smart guy who’s been handed an incredibly full plate. But he’s handling it all with grace and good humor. – AP, 3-19-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

Green Jobs

Political Quotes

  • Obama wants comprehensive strategy in Afghanistan: “What we can’t do is think that just a military approach in Afghanistan is going to be able to solve our problems,” the president said on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” “So what we’re looking for is a comprehensive strategy. And there’s got to be an exit strategy. There’s got to be a sense that this is not perpetual drift.” “It’s easier terrain,” the president said of Iraq, where the war is winding down after six hard-fought years. “You’ve got a much better educated population, infrastructure to build off of. You don’t have some of the same destabilizing border issues that you have between Afghanistan and Pakistan.” “You are often confronted with bad choices that flow from less than optimal decisions made a year ago, two years ago, five years ago, when you weren’t here,” Obama said. “A lot of times, when things land at my desk, it’s a choice between bad and worse.” “The facts don’t bear him out,” Obama said. “Let’s assume we didn’t change these practices. Are we going to just keep on going until … the entire Muslim world and Arab world despises us? Do we think that’s really going to make us safer? I don’t know a lot of thoughtful thinkers, liberal or conservative, who think that that was the right approach.” “When I make a decision to send 17,000 young Americans to Afghanistan, you can understand that intellectually, but understanding what that means for those families, for those young people when you end up sitting at your desk, signing a condolence letter to one of the family members of a fallen hero, you’re reminded each and every day at every moment that the decisions you make count.” AP, 3-22-09
  • Obama 60 Minutes interview: Wall Street was ‘out of balance’: “Because of bad bets made on Wall Street, there have been enormous losses. I want them (the people on Wall Street) to do well, but what I also know is that the financial sector was out of balance.”… USA Today, 3-22-09
  • Why Obama Is Still Smiling: But Obama was so calm — even jolly — in his “60 Minutes” interview broadcast last night that anchor Steve Kroft asked him about it straight out: “You’re sitting here. And you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people gonna look at this and say, ‘I mean, he’s sitting there just making jokes about money.’ How do you deal with, I mean, explain the…mood and your laughter?…Are you punch drunk?”
    Obama replied with another laugh: “No, no. There’s gotta be a little gallows humor to get you through the day. You know, sometimes my team — talks about the fact that if — if you had said to us a year ago that — the least of my problems would be Iraq, which is still a pretty serious problem — I don’t think anybody would have believed it. But — but we’ve got a lot on our plate. And — a lot of difficult decisions that we’re going to have to make.”…

    “The one thing that — I’ve tried to emphasize, though, throughout this week, and will continue to try to emphasize during the course of the next several months as we dig ourselves out of this — the economic hole that we’re in — is we can’t govern out of anger. We’ve got to try to make good decisions based on the facts, in order to put people back to work, to get credit flowing again. And I’m not going to be distracted by — what’s happening day to day. I’ve gotta stay focused on making sure that — we’re getting this economy moving again.” – WaPo, 3-23-09

  • Obama Responds to Criticism From Cheney: President Obama has hit back at Dick Cheney, the former vice president, calling Bush administration policy on detainees at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, “unsustainable.” “How many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by Vice President Cheney?” Mr. Obama said on Friday in an interview that will air Sunday on the CBS program “60 Minutes.” – NYT, 3-22-09
  • RAW DATA: President Obama’s Weekly Address: In his weekly address, President Obama announced that in the coming week, he will highlight the core principles of his budget, including reform of the energy, education and health care sectors. – Fox News, 3-21-09
  • A Budget Equal to the Task Before Us: Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address, Saturday, March 21, 2009, Washington, DC: “These investments are not a wish list of priorities that I picked out of thin air – they are a central part of a comprehensive strategy to grow this economy by attacking the very problems that have dragged it down for too long: the high cost of health care and our dependence on oil; our education deficit and our fiscal deficit.” – WH Blog, 3-21-09 Transcript
  • Sarah Palin shocked at Obama’s Special Olympics joke: “I was shocked to learn of the comment made by President Obama about Special Olympics. This was a degrading remark about our world’s most precious and unique people, coming from the most powerful position in the world. These athletes overcome more challenges, discrimination and adversity than most of us ever will. By the way, these athletes can outperform many of us and we should be proud of them. I hope President Obama’s comments do not reflect how he truly feels about the special-needs community.” – Christian Science Monitor, 3-20-09
  • Mrs. Obama Speaks Out About Her Household: The interview, which started out on the subject of the new White House vegetable garden, ended up ranging over a variety of household topics, which Mrs. Obama addressed with substantial fun-poking at her husband, her mother and herself. – NYT, 3-20-09
  • Michelle Obama “Obamas to Plant Vegetable Garden at White House”: “My hope,” the first lady said in an interview in her East Wing office, “is that through children, they will begin to educate their families and that will, in turn, begin to educate our communities.” Virtually the entire Obama family, including the president, will pull weeds, “whether they like it or not,” Mrs. Obama said with a laugh. “Now Grandma, my mom, I don’t know.” Her mother, she said, will probably sit back and say: “Isn’t that lovely. You missed a spot.” “There’s nothing really cooler,” Mrs. Obama said, “than coming to the White House and harvesting some of the vegetables and being in the kitchen with Cris and Sam and Bill, and cutting and cooking and actually experiencing the joys of your work.” “A real delicious heirloom tomato is one of the sweetest things that you’ll ever eat,” she said. “And my children know the difference, and that’s how I’ve been able to get them to try different things. I wanted to be able to bring what I learned to a broader base of people. And what better way to do it than to plant a vegetable garden in the South Lawn of the White House? You can begin in your own cupboard,” she said, “by eliminating processed food, trying to cook a meal a little more often, trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables.” – NYT, 3-20-09
  • Biden: Help on the way for middle-class families: The focus of the town-hall-style forum in a bus garage in central Minnesota was the middle class, and Biden told the crowd of more than 400 that the Obama administration is making sure the $787 billion economic stimulus package helps middle-class families get through the downturn and prosper when the economy eventually turns around.
    “We’ll measure our success in these four or eight years based on one thing: whether or not we’ve been able to raise the standard of living for middle-class people,” Biden said. “We’ve got to get this nation growing again.” – AP, 3-19-09
  • First lady discusses career goals with students: First lady Michelle Obama promoted the value of a college education and hard work Thursday, telling high school students that the people who doubted her when she was younger only encouraged her to aim higher. “That never stopped me. That always made me push harder,” she said….
    “Our job is simple: just be open, be honest, be real, be clear and have fun,” Mrs. Obama told the group, which gathered in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House for the event, part of the first lady’s celebration of March as Women’s History Month….
    “I wanted an A … I wanted to be smart, I wanted to be the person who had the right answer,” said Mrs. Obama, a lawyer and former hospital executive in Chicago. “I ran into people in my life who told me, ‘You can’t do it, you’re not as smart as that person.’ And that never stopped me. That always made me push harder, because I was like, ‘I’m going to prove you wrong.'”…
    “College is being able to get up and discipline yourself and get help when you need it and to work hard and not give up,” Mrs. Obama said. “Those are like basic concepts that carry you through life.”
    AP, 3-19-09
  • Heeeere’s Barack….: Asked by Mr. Leno if it was fair to judge him based on just 59 days in office, President Obama said Washington “is a bit like ‘American idol’ except everybody’s Simon Cowell. Everybody’s got an opinion.” But, he said, the American people are in a place where “they understand that it took us a while to get into this mess, and it will take us a while to get out of it.” “I think they are going to give us some time,” he added. “The question is who in their right mind when the company is going bust decides we’re going to be paying a whole bunch of bonuses to people,” Mr. Obama said. “That I think speaks to a broader culture that existed on Wall Street, where I think people just had this general attitude of entitlement where we must be the best and the brightest, we deserve $10 million or $50 million or $100 million payouts. “And the immediate bonuses that went to A.I.G. are a problem, but the larger problem is we’ve got to get back to an attitude where people know enough is enough and people have a sense of responsibility, and they understand that their actions going have an effect on everybody,” he said. “And if we can get back to those values that built America, then I think we’re going to be okay.” – NYT, 3-19-09
  • George W. Bush in Speech in Calgary & about his Memoirs: “I want people to understand the environment in which I was making decisions. I want people to get a sense of how decisions were made and I want people to understand the options that were placed before me,” he told the AP.
    During his speech in Calgary, Bush told Canadian business leaders he equated the world’s economic mess to booze. Quoth Bush: “Wall Street was drunk and we got the hangover. It seems like your [Canadian] banking system was more sober than ours.” Quipped Frank McKenna, the former Canadian ambassador to the U.S., who was sitting next to Bush: “We like to drink.” Countered Bush: “Not the whole bottle.” Bush notes….
    Bush may have refrained from criticizing his successor, but he did tell the Canadian crowd: “It’s the risk takers, not the government — that is going to pull us out of this recession . . . My message to policymakers is don’t substitute government for the marketplace.” – Chicago Sun-Times, 3-19-09
  • Bush Talks About Life Outside the White House: ‘The Only Thing We Don’t Have Are the Newspapers,’ Says Former First Lady – ABC News, 2-26-09
  • Laura Bush: Life in Dallas Has Been a ‘Slow Adjustment’ Former First Lady on Life After the White House: Commercial airline travel, trips to the hardware store for nightlights and walks around the neighborhood are all part of everyday life these days for former President George W. Bush and his wife, former first lady Laura Bush. The former first lady discusses what keeps her and the former president busy. In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Mrs. Bush said she and her husband were settling into a normal, post-presidency life at their new home in the Preston Hollow section of Dallas after spending a month at their ranch in Crawford while the house was finished. – ABc News, 2-26-09
  • Mrs. Bush: Former first family adapts to new life: Former first lady Laura Bush says she didn’t watch President Barack Obama’s speech to Congress because “I just totally forgot about it.”… – AP, 2-27-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Watch the Video

The Middle Class Task Force holds its second meeting

Professors’ Comments

  • “In Obama’s Election, a Textbook Case of History in the Making for Students This Fall”: For many, the excitement of the 2008 presidential election was about witnessing a moment that people would one day read about in history books. Well, the first draft of history has a release date: this fall. On Page 1,126 of the newest edition of “United States History,” a Pearson textbook for high schoolers that is due in classrooms this fall, a picture of Barack Obama at his election night rally in Chicago appears next to the red-lettered headline “An Historic Moment.” “History — there’s no end to it,” said Randy Roberts, a history professor at Purdue University and an author of the Pearson book. “It’s a work in progress.” – NYT, 3-21-09
  • Larry Sabato “Era of ‘presidential innocence gone’ for Obama”: Larry Sabato, professor of politics at the University of Virginia, argued that this event was “the beginning of the end of the age of innocence” for the Obama administration. “Yes, the AIG scandal has been on President Obama’s watch, and clearly, his treasury secretary is involved,” Sabato said. “There is no way to blame that on the Bush administration.” He added that it was “remarkable how quickly former presidents fade in the public memory.” – AFP, 3-22-09
  • Divided we stand The problem with bipartisanship: IF THERE IS a new mantra in American politics, it is “bipartisanship.” Barack Obama won the presidency emphasizing national unity; his rival, Senator John McCain, made bipartisan credentials a centerpiece of his own campaign. Prominent politicians from President Bill Clinton to high-ranking House Republican John Boehner speak of bipartisanship as an independent, innate good….
    History suggests that would be a disaster. There is little evidence that solutions to big problems are to be found through bipartisanship, and plenty to suggest that they are not. The ideal of bipartisanship is what historians call an invented tradition, a new thing that cloaks itself in venerability as a way of obscuring its lack of accomplishment. When it comes to crisis – and there are now a few – the record of bipartisanship is particularly weak.
    In fact, it is partisanship that enjoys a more distinguished place in American history. America’s existence as a nation, its civil liberties, its principle of equality before the law, and some of the most popular and successful government programs all began as highly partisan causes. Accomplishments of deeply partisan origin are so core to national life that it is often forgotten that they initially once divided the people, sometimes violently….
    In his first two months in office, President Obama has enacted a string of clear partisan policies, quickly reversing the previous administration’s policies on torture and interrogation, foreign aid for agencies that provide birth control, and embryonic stem-cell research. He has done so with a collegiality that Americans have not had recent cause to associate with either partisanship or the presidency, even calling his predecessor before announcing troop withdrawals….
    As much as politicians like to invoke Lincoln as a uniter, it is also worth remembering that his election began the most dramatic partisan shift of any period in American history. By his own admission, Lincoln did not seek this change, and did not consider himself a radical. But when radically partisan ideas presented themselves as the best – or the only – solutions for the crises facing the nation, Lincoln’s “sense of unity” did not stop him from taking a side. – Boston Globe, 3-22-09
  • Analysis: Obama rhetoric, reality clash: “Candidates make promises and presidents break promises, and that’s a very predictable pattern,” said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University historian. Like those before him, “Obama’s shifting to the political realities,” said Zelizer. That’s not a bad thing, he said. “We want presidents to adjust to the realities of governing, to the realities of the environment.” – AP, 3-21-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Obama turns to online army to push his budget plan”: “Americans are not as interested in policy as they are in personalities and elections,” said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton historian and author of several books on Congress. “They’re trying to rekindle the enthusiasm from the campaign, but it’s harder to get people involved in budget issues.”… Some Obama voters are independents and Republicans, and “Obama’s efforts will lose their freshness if this is seen as just a political tool of a party,” Zelizer said. Obama largely played the “inside” game on his stimulus bill, negotiating with three Senate Republicans to get it passed. Now, on the budget, he will use such traditional tactics but also an “outside” game of building pressure from the netroots on key members… “How will a senator like Arlen Specter or Evan Bayh react to that? It’s a big question,” Zelizer said, referring to two moderate senators whose votes may be needed to pass the budget. – Mercury News, 3-19-09

March 19, 2009: AIG’s Bonus Scandal and St. Patty’s Day at the O’Bama White House

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times The waters of the fountains at the White House ran green to mark St. Patrick’s Day.

The President Picks His Winners for the NCAA Tournament

White House Photo, 3/17/09, Pete Souza

President’s Picks Bracket

The President picks his winners for the
NCAA Tournament.

President Obama, with the Budget Committee Chairmen

Official White House Photo, 3/17/09, by Chuck Kennedy

Budget Spratt Conrad

The President outlines the new priorities in his budget, and calls for his critics to come to the table with good ideas, not political tactics.

Read the President's Remarks

President Obama pledges help for small business, condemns AIG bonuses

White House Photo, 3/16/09, Chuck Kennedy

AIG

President Obama pledges to help small businesses, fight AIG bonuses.

Watch the video

IN FOCUS: STATS

Monica Almeida/The New York Times President Barack Obama during a town hall meeting at the Orange County Fairground in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Wednesday.

In Focus: Stats

  • Obama’s Approval Equal To or Better Than Bush’s, Clinton’s: President Barack Obama’s job approval rating, at 61% in the latest three-day average of Gallup Poll Daily tracking, is slightly above where George W. Bush’s and in particular Bill Clinton’s were at this point in mid-March of the first years of their administrations.
    Bush’s disapproval rating in mid-March 2001 was about the same as Obama’s is now (28%), while Clinton’s disapproval rating was significantly higher. Gallop.com, 3-16-09

THE HEADLINES….

The President Picks His Winners for the NCAA Tournament

White House Photo, 3/17/09, Pete Souza

President’s Picks Bracket

The President picks his winners for the
NCAA Tournament.

President Obama, with the Budget Committee Chairmen

Official White House Photo, 3/17/09, by Chuck Kennedy

Budget Spratt Conrad

The President outlines the new priorities in his budget, and calls for his critics to come to the table with good ideas, not political tactics.

Read the President's Remarks

President Obama pledges help for small business, condemns AIG bonuses

The Headlines…

  • President to pioneer chat on late-night TV: President Obama hasn’t been practicing one-liners, but he is going Thursday night where no sitting president has gone before: to a late-night comedy show. Obama plans to be a guest on NBC’s The Tonight Show With Jay Leno at 11:35 p.m. ET. His press secretary says not to look for a comedy routine. “I anticipate that a large amount of the discussion will center around the president’s economic plans, and the president’s economic ideas,” spokesman Robert Gibbs says. “And I think the president believes it’s a unique audience with which to explain those challenges and the decisions that he’s made.” – USA Today, 3-18-09
  • Obama schedules second prime time news conference: President Obama will hold his second prime time news conference next Tuesday evening at 8 pm ET, the White House announced Wednesday. The president is expected to use the forum to promote his ambitious budget plan, which has come under fire from Republicans and conservative Democrats for its hefty price tag…. – CNN, 3-18-09
  • Dodd: Administration pushed for language protecting bonuses: Senate Banking committee Chairman Christopher Dodd told CNN Wednesday that he was responsible for language added to the federal stimulus bill to make sure that already-existing contracts for bonuses at companies receiving federal bailout money were honored. CNN, 3-18-09
  • Bush to deliver first U.S. post-presidency speech in May: Former President George W. Bush will make his first domestic post-presidency speech on May 28 in Benton Harbor, Michigan, his spokesman, Rob Saliterman, said Wednesday. Bush will be speaking to members of the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan. The event will be closed to the media. Separately, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also will address the economic club on April 30. – CNN, 3-18-09
  • Obama nixes idea of billing vets’ insurance: President Barack Obama has decided to drop any consideration of billing veterans’ private insurance companies for the treatment of combat-related injuries, the White House said Wednesday. – AP, 3-18-09
  • Chaos in the White House – Obama’s teleprompter blows up: Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen liked President Obama’s speech so much yesterday that he repeated it — for 20 seconds. At that time he realized that Obama’s speech was still on the teleprompter…. – Christian Science Monitor, 3-17-09
  • Health care overhaul may cost about $1.5 trillion: Guaranteeing health insurance for all Americans may cost about $1.5 trillion over the next decade, health experts say. That’s more than double the $634 billion ‘down payment’ President Barack Obama set aside for health reform in his budget, raising the prospect of sticker shock at a time of record federal spending. Administration officials have pointedly avoided providing a ballpark estimate, saying it depends on details to be worked out with Congress. – AP, 3-17-09
  • The McCain ‘Twitterview’: has Twitter jumped the shark?: That “Twitterview” was a little weird. Watching questions from George Stephanopoulos (@GStephanopoulos) and answers from Sen. John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) bounce back and forth felt like watching a tennis match on delay. But it took Twitter somewhere it hadn’t been before, and brought users an instant interview with a major newsmaker in a format that only it could manage….. – Christian Science Monitor, 3-17-09
  • Battle brews over Bush library: Former President George W. Bush is preparing for one final struggle against the odds: raising $300 million for a presidential library, museum and policy institute at a time when dollars are tight and skepticism about his presidency runs high. – Politico, 3-16-09
  • Palin to headline GOP dinner in Washington: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will deliver the keynote address at a dinner sponsored by the House and Senate Republican campaign committees…. – AP, 3-16-09
  • 8 Dems oppose quick debate on global warming bill: Eight Senate Democrats are opposing speedy action on President Barack Obama’s bill to combat global warming, complicating prospects for the legislation and creating problems for their party’s leaders…. – AP, 3-16-09
  • US says it shot down Iranian drone last month: U.S. jets shot down an Iranian unmanned surveillance aircraft last month over Iraqi territory about 60 miles northeast of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Monday. A U.S. statement said the Ababil 3 was tracked for about 70 minutes before U.S. jets shot it down “well-inside Iraqi airspace” and that the aircraft’s presence over Iraq “was not an accident.”… – AP, 3-16-09
  • Obama tries to loosen credit for small businesses: President Barack Obama freed billions of dollars to help the nation’s small businesses on Monday, hoping to get credit flowing again to Main Street, not just Wall Street. He heaped praise on the little guys of American industry, often overshadowed in the blitz of government bailouts. The centerpiece of Obama’s latest plan will allow the government to spend up to $15 billion to buy the small-business loans that are now choking community banks and lenders. That, in turn, could allow those banks to start lending money again to small companies to invest, pay bills and stay afloat…. – AP, 3-16-09
  • Obama berates AIG and vows to try to block bonuses: Joining a wave of public anger, President Barack Obama blistered insurance giant AIG for “recklessness and greed” Monday and pledged to try to block it from handing its executives $165 million in bonuses after taking billions in federal bailout money. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?” Obama asked. “This isn’t just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s about our fundamental values.” – AP, 3-16-09
  • Obama will try to block executive bonuses at AIG: President Barack Obama declared Monday that insurance giant American International Group is in financial straits because of “recklessness and greed” and said he intends to stop it from paying out millions in executive bonuses. AP, 3-16-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President Picks His Winners for the NCAA Tournament

White House Photo, 3/17/09, Pete Souza

President’s Picks Bracket

The President picks his winners for the
NCAA Tournament.

President Obama, with the Budget Committee Chairmen

Political Quotes

  • Biden: Officials must ‘get it right’ on stimulus: Vice President Joe Biden issued a stern warning to local officials Wednesday, urging them to “get it right” when it comes to spending money from the administration’s $787 billion economic stimulus package.
    “The work you are doing is being watched very closely, not just by me, but by everybody…. I’ll show up in your city, and tell you it was a stupid idea… The Recovery Act will help ensure older Americans are not forced to choose between paying bills and buying food…. We will recover. The economy will grow.” – AP, 3-18-09
  • Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh: ‘Moderate Dems Working Group’ organized in Senate: A group of 15 Senate Democrats have organized their own working group, the office of Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh announced Wednesday.
    “Our group seeks to work collaboratively with the Obama administration and Senate leadership to make sure legislation is crafted in a practical way that will solve people’s problems,” Bayh said in a statement. “It’s going to take all of us working together in the Senate to get the 60 votes necessary to deliver the change the American people deserve.” – CNN, 3-18-09
  • Florida Rep. Connie Mack “GOP Rep calls on Geithner to ‘resign or be fired'”: “Well before Timothy Geithner became Secretary of the Treasury, he was working hand-in-hand with AIG and other financial institutions to provide them hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money as one of the key architects of the financial sector bailout,” Florida Rep. Connie Mack said in a statement released Wednesday. “I was outspoken against the bailouts then, and I’m even more outraged now.”
    “I’ve had serious concerns about Secretary Geithner from the moment he was nominated. In the months since, he has shown us time and again why he was the wrong choice for this critical post. This week’s news on the AIG bonus scandal is but the latest fiasco under his watch and he has lost the confidence of the American people.” “Quite simply, the Timothy Geithner experience has been a disaster.” – CNN, 3-18-09
  • GOP Rep calls on Geithner to ‘resign or be fired’: Rep. Darrell Issa, ranking Republican on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also called on Geithner to step down.
    “As one of the chief architects of the AIG bailout, Secretary Geithner was in a position to do what any lender of the last resort would do – negotiate concessions from AIG,” he said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
    “Secretary Geithner either didn’t know about the bonuses, and was grossly negligent, or he did know and failed to bring this to the President’s attention. Either way, the end result has been a significant waste of taxpayer dollars and he should take immediate responsibility and resign.” CNN, 3-18-09
  • Boehner says GOP budget alternative being drafted: “Mr. President, with all due respect: your budget spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much, and that’s going to do further harm to our economy at a time when it desperately needs our help,” Boehner says in a video message posted on YouTube Wednesday. “We believe there’s a better way – better solutions to restore some fiscal sanity here in Washington while encouraging more job creation and more investment.”Our alternative, which is being drafted as we speak by Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and others, will reflect core principles that should guide us as our nation works to emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.” – CNN, 3-18-09
  • McCain: ‘Too Early’ to Tell If Obama Has Put Nation at Risk of Terror Attack: GStephanopoulos@SenJohnMcCain AIG: Would a President McCain break bonus contracts? Obama teams says that would cause more harm than good
    SenJohnMcCain@GStephanopoulos i would have never bailed out AIG, the real scandal is billions to foreign banks.
    GStephanopoulos@SenJohnMcCain ok, but today: should bonus contracts be broken? Dodd wants a targeted tax on bonuses OK with that?
    SenJohnMcCain@GStephanopoulos i haven’t seen it but i would explore every option. i repeat, we wouldn’t have this problem if we hadn’t bailed them out….. – ABC News, 3-17-09
  • Obama Defends Budget Proposal: “If there are members of Congress who object to specific policies and proposals in this budget, then I ask them to be ready and willing to propose constructive, alternative solutions,” Mr. Obama said. “‘Just say no’ is the right advice to give your teenagers about drugs. It is not an acceptable response to whatever economic policy is proposed by the other party.” – NYT, 3-17-09
  • Bush refuses to criticize Obama in Canada: “I’m not going to spend my time criticizing him. There are plenty of critics in the arena. He deserves my silence. I love my country a lot more than I love politics. I think it is essential that he be helped in office….
    I’m going to put people in my place, so when the history of this administration is written at least there’s an authoritarian voice saying exactly what happened. I want people to understand what it was like to sit in the Oval Office and have them come in and say we have captured Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, the alleged killer of a guy named Danny Pearl because he was simply Jewish, and we think we have information on further attacks on the United States….
    I actually paid for a house last fall. I think I’m the only American to have bought a house in the fall of 2008. AP, 3-17-09
  • Bush, Cheney strike different post-White House tones: “I’m not going to spend my time criticizing him. There are plenty of critics in the arena,” the former president told the audience, according to the Associated Press. “It’s the risk-takers, not the government, that is going to pull us out of this recession,” the former president said, according to the Calgary Herald. “My message to policy-makrs is don’t substitute government for the marketplace. Don’t become protectionist. I’m a free-trader to the core.” But overall, the president’s demeanor in front of a friendly crowd was described as jovial. “This is my maiden voyage,” he said in his debut address on the speaking circuit. “I can’t think of a better place to give it than Calgary, Canada.” – CNN, 3-17-09
  • The President, the Taoiseach, and the Shamrocks: Now, before I turn it over to the Taoiseach, it turns out that we have something in common. He hails from County Offaly. And it was brought to my attention on the campaign that my great-great-great grandfather on my mother’s side came to America from a small village in County Offaly, as well. We are still speculating on whether we are related. (Laughter.)
    I do share, though, a deep appreciation for the remarkable ties between our nations. I am grateful to him for his leadership of Ireland. The bond between our countries could not be stronger. As somebody who comes from Chicago, I know a little bit about Ireland, and the warmth, the good humor, and the fierce passion and intelligence of the Irish people is something that has informed our own culture, as well. And so that’s why this day and this celebration is so important. – WH Blog, 3-17-09
  • STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE BUDGET But the one thing I will say is this: With the magnitude of the challenges we face right now, what we need in Washington are not more political tactics — we need more good ideas. We don’t need more point-scoring — we need more problem-solving. So if there are members of Congress who object to specific policies and proposals in this budget, then I ask them to be ready and willing to propose constructive, alternative solutions. If certain aspects of this budget people don’t think work, provide us some ideas in terms of what you do. “Just say no” is the right advice to give your teenagers about drugs. It is not an acceptable response to whatever economic policy is proposed by the other party.
    The American people sent us here to get things done. And in this moment of enormous challenge, they are watching and waiting for us to lead. Let’s show them that we’re equal to this task before us. Let’s pass a budget that puts this nation on the road to lasting prosperity. I know Kent Conrad is committed to doing that; John Spratt is committed to doing that; I’m committed to doing that. We’re going to need everybody working together to get this thing done. – WH Blog, 3-17-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT TO SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS, COMMUNITY LENDERS AND MEMBERS OF CONGRESS – Help for small business, condemnation for AIG bonuses: I’ve asked Secretary Geithner to use that leverage and pursue every single legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole. (Applause.) I want everybody to be clear that Secretary Geithner has been on the case. He’s working to resolve this matter with the new CEO, Edward Liddy — who, by the way, everybody needs to understand came on board after the contracts that led to these bonuses were agreed to last year.
    But I think Mr. Liddy and certainly everybody involved needs to understand this is not just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s about our fundamental values. All across the country, there are people who are working hard and meeting their responsibilities every day, without the benefit of government bailouts or multi-million dollar bonuses. You’ve got a bunch of small business people here who are struggling just to keep their credit line open — that they are foregoing pay, as one of our entrepreneurs talked about, they are in some cases mortgaging their homes, and doing a whole host of things just in order to keep things afloat. All they ask is that everyone, from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, play by the same rules. And that is an ethic that we have to demand.
    And what this situation also underscores is the need for overall financial regulatory reform, so we don’t find ourselves in this position again, and for some form of resolution mechanism in dealing with troubled financial institutions, so that we’ve got greater authority to protect American taxpayers and our financial system in cases such as this….
    Well, I want to say to John and to every American running a small business or hoping to run a small business one day: You deserve a chance. America needs you to have that chance. – WH Blog, 3-16-09
  • Obama will try to block executive bonuses at AIG: “It’s hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay. How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat.”
    Noting that AIG has “received substantial sums” of federal aid from the federal government, Obama said he has asked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner “to use that leverage and pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole.”…
    “All across the country, there are people who work hard and meet their responsibilities every day, without the benefit of government bailouts or multimillion-dollar bonuses. And all they ask is that everyone, from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, play by the same rules. This isn’t just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s about our fundamental values.” – AP, 3-16-09
  • Fed chief Bernanke: recession could end in ’09: “We’ve seen some progress in the financial markets, absolutely, But until we get that stabilized and working normally, we’re not going to see recovery. But we do have a plan. We’re working on it. And, I do think that we will get it stabilized, and we’ll see the recession coming to an end probably this year.”…
    AP, 3-16-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President Picks His Winners for the NCAA Tournament

Historians’ Comments

  • Victor Davis Hanson “First, do no harm”: When it comes to our complex economy, President Barack Obama would do well to heed the physician’s ancient commandment to first “do no harm.”
    Instead, Obama’s administration has been prescribing all sorts of multibillion-dollar borrowing remedies without any consistent diagnosis of what is exactly wrong with the weak economy or even how bad things actually are.
    Since becoming president, Obama has offered numerous bleak economic prognoses. He has told Americans: “The situation we face could not be more serious. We have inherited an economic crisis as deep and as dire as any since the Great Depression.” He has also warned, “Recovery will likely be measured in years, not weeks or months” and “If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years.”
    But suddenly last week, physician Obama flipped and issued an entirely new prognosis: “I don’t think things are ever as good as they say, or ever as bad as they say.” He added. “(Things) are not as bad as we think they are now.”…
    Or did Obama’s change in rhetoric reflect a sort of premeditated strategy: talk down the economy to scare everyone into supporting more government spending and borrowing; then, once the stimulus bill has passed, talk up the economy to reassure us that it will work?….
    It is clear from the last two months that no one in this herky-jerky administration quite knows what is going on in the economy, which has its own self-correcting mechanisms that were already in play without vast new federal spending and borrowing.
    So before we give more toxic-debt medicine to the recovering patient, let us take a timeout from the borrowing, let nature do its work – and at least do no more harm to generations not yet born. – San Francisco Chronicle, 3-18-09
  • Julian Zelizer “White House, Congress Complicit in AIG Bonus Scandal”: Julian E. Zelizer, congressional expert at Princeton University, said the failure of policymakers to limit executive pay for bailed out banks was no accident. “Neither Congress nor the president wanted to look as if they were ‘taking over’ financial institutions,” Zelizer wrote in an email, “nor did they want to anger business.” The result, he added, was “predictable:” a bailout strategy with plenty of leeway for the companies receiving the money. – Washington Independent, 3-18-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Obama Caught In The Eye Of AIG Storm”: Julian Zelizer, a political historian at Princeton University, agreed Obama had no easy way out. “He can come out and say it is bad and reprimand executives–it is another thing to formulate some kind of policy response.” “There is some kind of communication problem here,” said Zelizer. “In the campaign, the president was very good at responding to crises,” he said, refering to Obama’s elegant speech on race after a furore erupted over his fiery former pastor Jeremiah Wright. “But now he is running a government. It is not just him any more–some of Obama’s (top aides) don’t seem as skilled in the political arena as they are in the economic arena.” – mysinchew.com, 3-18-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: GOP’s “small government” talk is hollow”: As the budget debate heats up, Republicans are warning of socialism in the White House and claiming that Democrats are rushing back to their dangerous tonic of big government. …
    After the past eight years in American politics, it is impossible to reconcile current promises by conservatives for small government with the historical record of President Bush’s administration. Most experts on the left and right can find one issue upon which to agree: The federal government expanded significantly after 2001 when George W. Bush was in the White House….
    Fifty years of American history have shown that even the party that traditionally advocates small government on the campaign trail opts for big government when it gets into power. The rhetoric of small government has helped Republicans attract some support in the past, but it is hard to take such rhetoric seriously given the historical record — and it is a now a question whether this rhetoric is even appealing since many Americans want government to help them cope with the current crisis. – CNN, 3-18-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Economy tops everyone’s agenda as Congress returns”: “The economy is on everyone’s mind, and they have to show they’re thinking about what to do at this point. That’s got to be issue No. 1,” said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University history professor. “But just as important is getting the groundwork ready to work with the new president. They’re desperately trying to avoid another Jimmy Carter situation.” – News & Observer, 3-17-09

March 15, 2009: Obama’s First Fifty Days in Office & Ratings Slide

The White House Council on Women and Girls

White House Photo 3/11/09 by Chuck Kennedy

Council on Women

President Obama signs an Executive Order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls.Learn More

The President speaks on education.

White House Photo 3/10/09 by Pete Souza

Education

The President lays out his five pillars of investment and reform for education.Watch the President's remarks

The White House Council on Women and Girls

White House Photo 3/11/09 by Chuck Kennedy

Council on Women

President Obama signs an Executive Order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls.Learn More

The President speaks on education.

White House Photo 3/10/09 by Pete Souza

Education

The President lays out his five pillars of investment and reform for education.Watch the President's remarks

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

Weekly Address: Food Safety

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • FACTBOX: Main developments of Obama’s first 50 days: President Barack Obama marked his 50th day in office on Tuesday with a speech about overhauling the U.S. education system…. – Reuters, 3-11-09
  • Rasmussen Reports: 56%-43% approval, with a third strongly disapproving of the president’s performance. – WSJ, 3-13-09
  • DOUGLAS E. SCHOEN and SCOTT RASMUSSEN: “Obama’s Poll Numbers Are Falling to Earth”: It is simply wrong for commentators to continue to focus on President Barack Obama’s high levels of popularity, and to conclude that these are indicative of high levels of public confidence in the work of his administration. Indeed, a detailed look at recent survey data shows that the opposite is most likely true. The American people are coming to express increasingly significant doubts about his initiatives, and most likely support a different agenda and different policies from those that the Obama administration has advanced. – WSJ, 3-13-09

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Lifts Restrictions on Stem Cell Research

The White House Council on Women and Girls

White House Photo 3/11/09 by Chuck Kennedy

Council on Women

President Obama signs an Executive Order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls.Learn More

The Headlines…

  • Bracing for a Bailout Backlash: The Obama administration is increasingly concerned about a populist backlash against banks and Wall Street, worried that anger at financial institutions could also end up being directed at Congress and the White House and could complicate President Obama’s agenda. – NYT, 3-15-09
  • President Obama’s call for longer school days raises questions: “That calendar may once have made sense,” Obama said last week. “But today, it puts us at a competitive disadvantage.” – Wichita Eagle, 3-15-09
  • Obama says US economy sound, reassures investors: President Barack Obama on Saturday downplayed divisions between the U.S. and Europe over how to tackle the world’s financial crisis and said China should have “absolute confidence” that its sizable investments in the United States are safe…. – AP, 3-14-09
  • G-20 pledge sustained action on financial crisis: Finance officials from rich and developing countries pledged Saturday to do “whatever is necessary” to fix the global economy, including supervision of freewheeling hedge funds and restoring bank lending by dealing with the shaky securities burdening their finances…. – AP, 3-14-09
  • Obama admin. to end use of term ‘enemy combatant’: The Obama administration said Friday that it is abandoning one of President George W. Bush’s key phrases in the war on terrorism: enemy combatant. But that won’t change much for the detainees at the U.S. naval base in Cuba — Obama still asserts the military’s authority to hold them. Human rights attorneys said they were disappointed that Obama didn’t take a new stance…. – AP, 3-14-09
  • Investigator uses phony documents to get passports: Using phony documents and the identities of a dead man and a 5-year-old boy, a government investigator obtained U.S. passports in a test of post-9/11 security. Despite efforts to boost passport security since the 2001 terror attacks, the investigator fooled passport and postal service employees four out of four times, according to a new report made public Friday. The report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm, details the ruses…. – AP, 3-14-09
  • The First Lady’s First Trip: Michelle Obama took her first trip as first lady on Thursday, visiting the military base at Fort Bragg where she offered thanks and support to military families. – NYT, 3-12-09
  • Obama to tap Hamburg to run FDA: sources: President Barack Obama is set to nominate former New York City health chief Margaret Hamburg as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, people with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday. – Reuters, 3-12-09
  • Feds spending millions on Kennedy legacy in Mass.: More than one out of every five dollars of the $126 million Massachusetts is receiving in earmarks from a $410 billion federal spending package is going to help preserve the legacy of the Kennedys. The bill includes $5.8 million for the planning and design of a building to house a new Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate. The funding may also help support an endowment for the institute…. – AP, 3-11-09
  • Obama defends pet projects and signs spending bill: President Barack Obama, sounding weary of criticism over federal earmarks, defended Congress’ pet projects Wednesday as he signed an “imperfect” $410 billion measure with thousands of examples. But he said the spending does need tighter restraint and listed guidelines to do it. Obama, accused of hypocrisy by Republicans for embracing billions of dollars of earmarks in the legislation, said they can be useful and noted that he has promised to curb, not eliminate them…. – AP, 3-11-09
  • Officials: Iran does not have key nuclear material: Iran does not yet have any highly enriched uranium, the fuel needed to make a nuclear warhead, two top U.S. intelligence officials told Congress Tuesday, disputing a claim by an Israeli official…. – AP, 3-10-09
  • 9/11 suspects: ‘We are terrorists to the bone’: Puerto Rico – The self-professed mastermind and four other men charged in the Sept. 11 attacks declared they are “terrorists to the bone” in a statement that mocked the U.S. failure to prevent the killings and predicted America will fall like “the towers on the blessed 9/11 day.”… – AP, 3-10-09
  • Congress approves massive $410B spending bill: Congress on Tuesday cleared for President Barack Obama’s signature a $410 billion measure to fund the government, a measure denounced by most Republicans as an example of reckless spending. The Senate approved the measure by voice after it cleared a key procedural hurdle by a 62-35 vote. Sixty votes were required to shut down debate. – AP, 3-10-09
  • Recession on track to be longest in postwar period: Factory jobs disappeared. Inflation soared. Unemployment climbed to alarming levels. The hungry lined up at soup kitchens. It wasn’t the Great Depression. It was the 1981-82 recession, widely considered America’s worst since the depression…. – AP, 3-8-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President speaks on education.

Political Quotes

  • Cheney Says Obama Has Increased Risks: “He is making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack,” Mr. Cheney said of Mr. Obama in an interview on the CNN program “State of the Union.”….
    “I think those programs were absolutely essential to the success we enjoyed of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11.” “I think that’s a great success story. It was done legally. It was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles.”
    “Up until 9/11, it was treated as a law enforcement problem. You go find the bad guy, put him on trial, put him in jail. Once you go into a wartime situation and it’s a strategic threat, then you use all of your assets to go after the enemy. You go after the state sponsors of terror, places where they’ve got sanctuary. You use your intelligence resources, your military resources, your financial resources — everything you can — in order to shut down that terrorist threat against you. When you go back to the law enforcement mode, which I sense is what they’re doing, closing Guantánamo and so forth, that they are very much giving up that center of attention and focus that’s required, and that concept of military threat that is essential if you’re going to successfully defend the nation against further attacks.”
    “We’ve accomplished nearly everything we set out to do,” he said about Iraq. “Now, I don’t hear much talk about that, but the fact is, the violence level is down 90 percent. The number of casualties and Iraqis and Americans is significantly diminished. There’s been elections, a constitution. They’re about to have another presidential election here in the near future. We have succeeded in creating in the heart of the Middle East a democratically governed Iraq, and that is a big deal,” Mr. Cheney said. “And it is, in fact, what we set out to do.” – NYT, 3-15-09
  • Cheney going high-tech and driving a car: Dick Cheney’s going high-tech with a BlackBerry and a wireless device for reading books. And he’s driving a car these days. AP, 3-15-09
  • Remarks of President Barack Obama, Weekly Address, Saturday, March 14, 2009, Washington, DC, “Weekly Address: Reversing a Troubling Trend in Food Safety”: In this week’s address, President Barack Obama makes key announcements regarding the safety of our nation’s food.
    “We are a nation built on the strength of individual initiative. But there are certain things that we can’t do on our own. There are certain things that only a government can do. And one of those things is ensuring that the foods we eat, and the medicines we take, are safe and don’t cause us harm.” – WH Blog, 3-14-09Transcript
  • President Obama: “A wonderful meeting of the minds”: Is that directed at me? Well, look, I think Brazil has shown extraordinary leadership when it comes to biofuels. And I’ve been a great admirer of the steps that have been taken by President Lula’s government in pursuing biofuels and developing them. And this is an investment that Brazil has made for a very long time.
    My policies coming into this administration have been to redouble efforts here in the United States to pursue a similar path of clean energy development. And I think we have a lot to learn from Brazil.
    As I mentioned to President Lula, I think we have the potential to exchange ideas, technology to build on the biodiesel cooperation structure that we’ve already established. I know that the issue of Brazilian ethanol coming into the United States has been a source of tension between the two countries. It’s not going to change overnight, but I do think that as we continue to build exchanges of ideas, commerce, trade around the issue of biodiesel, that over time this source of tension can get resolved. – WH Blog, 3-14-09
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi “The Buzz About a Second Stimulus Package”: I really would like to focus on the first one. I know that people have made suggestions that we should be ready to do something, but I really would like to see this stimulus package play out.
    I think it’s important that the American people and the Congress of the United States have confidence in the recovery package that we have passed. We believe that it has the right components to take the country in a new direction in terms of job creation, tax cuts for the middle class, investments in the short term for job creation and longer term stabilization. So I’ve always been trying to be fiscally responsible about doing — getting the most for — I won’t say a small amount of money because we’re talking hundreds of billions of dollars.
    As we go down that path as people make judgments, I would hope that we get the results that we need from this package. But that doesn’t mean that people won’t talk about it, as one of our economists suggested the other day. But not from my initiation. – NYT, 3-12-09
  • President Obama declares turning point on earmark reform: Now, yesterday Congress sent me the final part of last year’s budget; a piece of legislation that rolls nine bills required to keep the government running into one, a piece of legislation that addresses the immediate concerns of the American people by making needed investments in line with our urgent national priorities.
    That’s what nearly 99 percent of this legislation does — the nearly 99 percent that you probably haven’t heard much about.
    In my discussions with Congress, we have talked about the need for further reforms to ensure that the budget process inspires trust and confidence instead of cynicism. So I believe as we move forward, we can come together around principles that prevent the abuse of earmarks.
    These principles begin with a simple concept: Earmarks must have a legitimate and worthy public purpose. Earmarks that members do seek must be aired on those members’ websites in advance, so the public and the press can examine them and judge their merits for themselves. Each earmark must be open to scrutiny at public hearings, where members will have to justify their expense to the taxpayer….
    And finally, if my administration evaluates an earmark and determines that it has no legitimate public purpose, then we will seek to eliminate it, and we’ll work with Congress to do so. – WH Blog, 3-11-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT SIGNING OF EXECUTIVE ORDER CREATING THE WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL ON WOMEN AND GIRLS “Opportunities their mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers never dreamed of”: I sign this order not just as a President, but as a son, a grandson, a husband, and a father, because growing up, I saw my mother put herself through school and follow her passion for helping others. But I also saw how she struggled to raise me and my sister on her own, worrying about how she’d pay the bills and educate herself and provide for us.
    I saw my grandmother work her way up to become one of the first women bank vice presidents in the state of Hawaii, but I also saw how she hit a glass ceiling — how men no more qualified than she was kept moving up the corporate ladder ahead of her.
    I’ve seen Michelle, the rock of the Obama family — (laughter) — juggling work and parenting with more skill and grace than anybody that I know. But I also saw how it tore at her at times, how sometimes when she was with the girls she was worrying about work, and when she was at work she was worrying about the girls. It’s a feeling that I share every day…..
    So now it’s up to us to carry that work forward, to ensure that our daughters and granddaughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements — and that they have opportunities their mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers never dreamed of. That’s the purpose of this Council. Those are the priorities of my presidency. And I look forward to working with all of you to fulfill them in the months and years to come.
    All right, so I’m going to go sign this thing. Thank you very much. – WH Blog, 3-11-09Transcript
  • U.S. “in a deep mess” but we will fix it: Geithner: “This president is going to do what is necessary to get us through this. … We’re a terrifically strong country with abundant resources, and we will get through this.”…. You’re going to see (President Obama) lead an ambitious agenda to try to get the world moving with us so that the global economy is firing on all cylinders. Getting the world to move with us (is) necessary and critical.”… “Our markets are still the most liquid markets in the world. And frankly, there is a lot of confidence still in our capacity to manage this and get through it. Everything we do in moving aggressively to fix this crisis is guided by that basic obligation, of not just to American investors but around the world, to do what is necessary to get this economy back on track…. There are a lot of people who want us to come in and pay an inflated price for these assets, and have the government absorb a bunch of those losses directly to socialize that risk. We want to pursue a market mechanism that leaves the taxpayer with less risk and better overall benefit in trying to fix this system.” – Reuters, 3-10-09
  • President Obama “Taking on Education”: Every so often, throughout our history, a generation of Americans bears the responsibility of seeing this country through difficult times and protecting the dream of its founding for posterity. This is a responsibility that has fallen to our generation. Meeting it will require steering our nation’s economy through a crisis unlike any we have seen in our time. In the short-term, that means jumpstarting job creation, re-starting lending, and restoring confidence in our markets and our financial system. But it also means taking steps that not only advance our recovery, but lay the foundation for lasting, shared prosperity.
    I know there are some who believe we can only handle one challenge at a time. They forget that Lincoln helped lay down the transcontinental railroad, passed the Homestead Act, and created the National Academy of Sciences in the midst of Civil War. Likewise, President Roosevelt didn’t have the luxury of choosing between ending a depression and fighting a war. President Kennedy didn’t have the luxury of choosing between civil rights and sending us to the moon. And we don’t have the luxury of choosing between getting our economy moving now and rebuilding it over the long term.
    Of course, no matter how innovative our schools or how effective our teachers, America cannot succeed unless our students take responsibility for their own education. That means showing up for school on time, paying attention in class, seeking out extra tutoring if it’s needed, and staying out of trouble. And to any student who’s watching, I say this: don’t even think about dropping out of school. As I said a couple of weeks ago, dropping out is quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country, and it is not an option – not anymore. Not when our high school dropout rate has tripled in the past thirty years. Not when high school dropouts earn about half as much as college graduates. And not when Latino students are dropping out faster than just about anyone else. It is time for all of us, no matter what our backgrounds, to come together and solve this epidemic. – WH Blog, 3-10-09
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman now sings Obama’s praises: “He’s shown real leadership,” Lieberman told The Associated Press in an interview. “Bottom line: I think Barack Obama, president of the United States, is off to a very good start.” – AP, 3-9-09
  • Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery Signing of Stem Cell Executive Order and Scientific Integrity Presidential Memorandum, Washington, DC, March 9, 2009 – “A debt of gratitude to so many tireless advocates”: Today, with the Executive Order I am about to sign, we will bring the change that so many scientists and researchers; doctors and innovators; patients and loved ones have hoped for, and fought for, these past eight years: we will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research. We will vigorously support scientists who pursue this research. And we will aim for America to lead the world in the discoveries it one day may yield….
    That is why today, I am also signing a Presidential Memorandum directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making. To ensure that in this new Administration, we base our public policies on the soundest science; that we appoint scientific advisors based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology; and that we are open and honest with the American people about the science behind our decisions. That is how we will harness the power of science to achieve our goals – to preserve our environment and protect our national security; to create the jobs of the future, and live longer, healthier lives….
    That is why today, I am also signing a Presidential Memorandum directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making. To ensure that in this new Administration, we base our public policies on the soundest science; that we appoint scientific advisors based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology; and that we are open and honest with the American people about the science behind our decisions. That is how we will harness the power of science to achieve our goals – to preserve our environment and protect our national security; to create the jobs of the future, and live longer, healthier lives. – WH Blog, 3-9-09Transcript

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The White House Council on Women and Girls

Historians’ Comments

  • Michael Kazin “Bracing for a Bailout Backlash”: “The change now is you have a free-floating economic anxiety that has expressed itself in a kind of lashing out at those being bailed out and people who are bailing out,” Michael Kazin, a professor at Georgetown University who has written extensively on populism. “There’s not really a sense of what the solution is.” “I do think there’s a potential for a ‘damn everybody in power’ kind of sentiment,” Mr. Kazin said. – NYT, 3-15-09
  • Robert Dallek “How Not to End Another President’s War (L.B.J. Edition)”: Now that President Obama has inherited not one war but two, does he face a similar hurdle? With the country’s economy in such poor shape and his eagerness to enact bold health insurance, education and environmental reforms, he will need to recall that wars are the enemy of far reaching change. World War I stopped Progressivism; in the 1940’s “Dr. Win the War replaced Dr. New Deal,” as Franklin D. Roosevelt said; the Korean War sidetracked Harry Truman’s Fair Deal; and Vietnam frustrated Johnson’s hopes of additional Great Society measures.
    Mr. Obama’s commitment to maintain perhaps 50,000 troops in Iraq after the drawdown of combat forces over the next 19 months, combined with his decision to send an additional 17,000 troops (for starters) to Afghanistan, could be the beginning of an unwanted debate about commitments abroad. If the country begins to see mounting costs in lives and money from the administration’s war policies, it risks distractions from the more urgent designs the president described in his campaign and recent messages to the Congress and the country.
    History is never a precise guide for current political actions. But the consistent negative impact of earlier foreign conflicts on grand projects at home is a cautionary tale that should command President Obama’s close attention. Guns and butter rarely mix. – NYT, 3-12-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Omnibus bill’s hidden item: a Democratic rift On Tuesday, Congress passed the spending bill to keep the government running – 160 days late, and not without some unusual friction between House and Senate leaders”: The moment marked a sharp break with tradition. “It’s hard to think of a comparable moment like this,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. “The tension between the two chambers is becoming very strong, especially the Pelosi-Reid rivalry.” – Christian Science Monitor, 3-11-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Is it Obama’s economy yet?”: President Obama currently has the polls on his side. In numerous surveys, Americans have said they are pleased with Obama’s performance thus far and confident the president can fix the economy, acknowledging this will take some time.
    The political question for the White House is how long those poll numbers will last. At some point, the “Bush Economy” is going to become the “Obama Economy.”
    When that happens, Obama will be in serious political trouble unless the economy has turned around. Republicans will be able to argue that the administration’s plans are not working and this perception will greatly diminish public support for the White House….
    The clock is ticking for Obama. There will likely be a tipping point when the approval ratings start to slide and a majority of Americans start to associate the recession with this White House.
    Arguments about how the crisis started earlier will sound more like a defeated leader, trying to explain his failures, than a reasoned leader trying to explain the situation we face. That’s how politics works.
    It will be politically essential that Obama’s early policies, particularly the economic stimulus bill and financial bailout, stop the downward slide of the economy and create some kind of stability. Otherwise, the president will find himself in rough waters. – CNN, 3-9-09
%d bloggers like this: