April 13, 2009: The Obamas Introduce “Bo” The First Dog & Celebrate Passover & Easter at the White House


The President pets Bo


In Focus: Stats

  • Obama’s Approval Tops Recent Presidents Bush, Clinton: Obama’s approval rating climbed to a high of 66 percent in an April 1-5 New York Times/CBS News poll. The poll follows recent surveys by the Gallup Poll, Quinnipiac University and the Pew Research Center showing that about six out of 10 Americans approve of the job the president is doing.
    A Gallup Poll taken in March gave Obama, a Democrat, a 64 percent approval rating. That compares with 56 percent for Republican George H.W. Bush, 52 percent for Democrat Bill Clinton and 53 percent for Republican George W. Bush at similar points in their presidencies. The last Bush left office with an approval rating of 34 percent, according to a Jan. 9-11 Gallup Poll…. – Bloomberg, 4-7-09
  • Obama’s Journey from Charismatic to Polarizing The president is facing strong resistance from Republicans and some conservative Democrats: ….Obama is facing an additional problem that has been little noticed by the media and little discussed by his own strategists, at least in public. He is turning out to be what he said he wouldn’t be: a polarizing figure. Each of his immediate predecessors was popular with core members of his own party—Bill Clinton with Democrats, George W. Bush with Republicans—but alienated the other side. That’s what’s happening to Obama as his ratings remain strong with fellow Democrats but slide with Republicans. Independents remain up for grabs…. – US News & World Report, 4-9-09
  • Republican in N.Y. House Race Up by 24 Votes: Republican Jim Tedisco is leading Democrat Scott Murphy by 24 votes in the latest count of a too-close-to-call special congressional election in New York state. The state Board of Elections reported Thursday that unofficial vote counts show Mr. Tedisco leads Mr. Murphy 77,201 to 77,177. That margin is up from a 17-vote margin Tuesday. The lead has fluctuated since the March 31 election in the 20th congressional district…. – AP, 4-9-09
  • Fox News poll (taken March 31 to April 1): Found that Mr. Obama’s job approval among independents has fallen to 52 percent, down nine points from the start of March and down 12 points from late January.
    Over the same period, the number of independents who disapprove of Mr. Obama’s performance has doubled to 32 percent from 16 percent. – Washington Times, 4-9-09


The President discusses Passover and Easter in his Weekly Address

White House Photo, 4/10/09, Lawrence Jackson

Weekly Address: Passover & Easter 4/11/09

This week the President discusses the
multitude of problems and opportunities
before the world through the prism
of Passover and Easter.

Watch the Video

President Barack Obama and staff in Europe

The Headlines…

  • For Easter worship, Obama picks Episcopal church: President Barack Obama opted for the safe choice for Easter Sunday, visiting the pale yellow church across from the White House where other presidents have worshipped. The pick puts off — for now — a decision on a new permanent congregation for the first family. Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters took Communion at St. John’s Church on Lafayette Square, where they heard a come-as-you-are sermon tailored to doubters and skeptics. The Rev. Luis Leon made no direct reference to the Obamas, who made their first trip to a Washington church since Inauguration Day under tight security and scrutiny…. – AP, 4-12-09
  • Kidnapped US captain freed; snipers kill 3 pirates: Navy SEAL snipers on the fantail of a destroyer cut down three Somali pirates in a lifeboat and rescued an American sea captain on Easter Sunday. The surprise nighttime assault in choppy seas ended a five-day standoff between a team of rogue gunmen and the world’s most powerful military. It was a stunning conclusion to an Indian Ocean odyssey that began when 53-year-old freighter Capt. Richard Phillips was taken hostage Wednesday by pirates who tried to hijack the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama. The Vermont native was held on a tiny lifeboat that began drifting precariously toward Somalia’s anarchic, gun-plagued shores. The operation, personally approved by President Barack Obama, quashed fears the saga could drag on for months and marked a victory for the U.S., which for days seemed powerless to resolve the crisis despite massing helicopter- equipped warships at the scene…. – AP, 4-12-09
  • Obama signed off on taking out pirates: President Barack Obama issued a standing order to use force against pirates holding an American captain hostage – including giving a Navy commander the authority to act if he believed the captain’s life was in danger, two senior defense officials said Sunday night. Navy snipers aboard the USS Bainbridge on Sunday shot and killed three of the pirates after the Bainbridge’s commander gave the order, when a pirate was spotted aboard the lifeboat pointing an AK-47 rifle at Capt. Richard Phillips, one defense official said. “The clear belief by the captain of the ship was that he was in imminent danger,” this official said…. – Politico, 4-12-09
  • Obamas ready to unveil first dog Bo: Black and white Portuguese water dog is gift from Ted Kennedy and named in reference to Michelle Obama’s father… – Guardian UK, 4-12-09
    WaPo, 4-12-09 Meet Bo, the First Dog, WH Blog, 4-12-09
  • Obamas Said to Choose a Portuguese Water Dog: It’s decided: the Obamas have chosen a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog to be the first pet. In what was one of the White House’s most tightly kept secrets, President Barack Obama’s daughters, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha, have settled on a black and white pup, a White House official speaking on the condition of anonymity told The Associated Press Saturday night. The dog, a gift from Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts who owns several Portuguese water dogs himself, will make his big debut Tuesday afternoon…. – AP, 4-12-09
  • Obama: World’s problems require global cooperation: Global cooperation is needed to tackle the financial meltdown, climate change, nuclear proliferation and other pressing problems, President Barack Obama said Saturday. Fresh from his first trip overseas as president, Obama used his radio and Internet address to ask people in the United States and around the world to focus on areas of common interest…. – AP, 4-11-09
  • The Bush Family Enjoys Their Quieter Life: As President Obama announced the current state of the nation, news that included anti-American sentiment, a struggling economy, and two wars, George W. Bush and his wife settled into a quiet dinner of chicken pot pie. It seems the couple is enjoying the slower pace: their issues aren’t global, but extend only as far as their lawn. The company they keep no longer includes foreign dignitaries, but neighbors in a supportive community…. – ToTheCenter.com, 4-11-09 WaPo, 4-11-09
  • Crashing the Republican Party: Turns out that a McCain did emerge from the 2008 election victorious — not the captivity-surviving, straight-talking, Palin-picking Republican senator from Arizona but his Bud Light-drinking, talk-show-appearing, insouciantly Twittering 24-year-old daughter. “My cab driver is totally vibing me out,” Meghan McCain Twittered to her online devotees Thursday evening. “Just asked me if my cheekbones are real? Wtf, u can have fake cheekbones???” Yep, that’s the one…. – Politico, 4-11-09
  • Obama has hundreds of important jobs still open: President Barack Obama doesn’t have time for a victory lap now that his Cabinet is finally largely in place. One level down, he faces gaping holes in the ranks he needs to fill if there is to be any hope of turning his ambitious agenda into action on health care, the environment and much more. After a spurt of recent activity that followed a problem-plagued start, Obama is outpacing George W. Bush and Bill Clinton on appointments. But Obama, like his two immediate predecessors, is bogged down in a system that has grown increasingly cumbersome over the years. And he’s added tougher-than-ever background checks and ethics rules…. – AP, 4-11-09
  • U.S. Stocks Gain, Capping Biggest Jump Since 1933 as Banks Rise: U.S. stocks rose for a fifth week, capping the steepest rally since 1933, as Wells Fargo & Co.’s higher-than- estimated earnings and speculation banks will pass government stress tests spurred optimism that the industry’s slump is ending. Bank of America Corp., American Express Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. helped drive a gauge of 80 financial companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to a 9.4 percent advance. Wells Fargo surged 20 percent after reporting record first-quarter profit. Lincoln National Corp. and Principal Financial Group Inc. jumped at least 37 percent as the Treasury considered bailouts for life insurers…. – Bloomberg, 4-10-09
  • Hillary Clinton Tries to Pay Down Debt by Raffling Off Day With Her Husband: The secretary of state’s long-shuttered presidential campaign is still trying to pay off a steep debt, and has launched a new fundraising pitch urging donors to give money and compete for the chance to win one of three “exclusive prizes.” One of those is a day with Bill Clinton…. – Fox News, 4-10-09
  • Iowa GOP head says state’s caucus position is safe: The Iowa Republican Party chairman said Friday he’s talked with national party leaders and is confident the state will retain its leadoff role in the presidential nominating process. “I’ve had that conversation already with (National Republican Chairman) Michael Steele,” said Matt Strawn. “I know we need to remain vigilant, but for 2012 we’re safe.”… – AP, 4-10-09
  • Obama releases Reagan records: President Barack Obama is ordering the release of nearly a quarter of a million pages of records from the Reagan White House that were kept from the public during a lengthy review by President George W. Bush. The Reagan documents – which include presidential briefing papers, speechwriting research materials and declassified foreign policy records — are expected to be released Monday…. – Politico, 4-10-09
  • Obama sees ‘glimmers of hope’ “We are starting to see progress,” President Obama said. Still, experts agree that another round of major government aid will be necessary: President Obama, walking a fine line between optimism and caution, said Friday that there were “glimmers of hope” for the economy but warned that substantial, potentially difficult government action was still necessary to ensure a healthy recovery.
    “We are starting to see progress,” Obama said after huddling with senior members of his economic team at the White House. But he warned that the country must not “flinch” at the difficult steps to come…. – LAT, 4-10-09
  • Biden says Bush didn’t lead; Rove says VP lies: Vice President Joe Biden said he gave then-President George W. Bush an earful in the Oval Office. Former Bush adviser Karl Rove says Biden’s version of that encounter is at best an exaggeration — at worst a lie — and part of a pattern. “It’s a habit he ought to drop,” Rove said. The tit-for-tat between Biden and Rove illustrates both the vice president’s colorful way of retelling stories and Bush-era aides’ effort to protect their former boss. The pair tussled during media interviews this week in a political game without an obvious goal: The unpopular Bush is gone from Washington and Biden operates under President Barack Obama. – AP, 4-10-09
  • McCain’s daughter slated to write book on politics: Sen. John McCain’s daughter will write a book about her experience as a progressive Republican. Meghan McCain, who campaigned for her father during the 2008 presidential race, will examine what it means to “love the Republican party, while not always fitting in,” says publisher Hyperion, which inked a deal with McCain. – AP, 4-10-09
  • Obama to seek $83.4 billion for Iraq, Afghan wars: Congressional aides say President Barack Obama is seeking $83.4 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into the fall. Once approved by Congress, the money would bring the total amount for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001 to almost $1 trillion…. – AP, 4-10-09
  • Obama urges families to refinance mortgages President also cautions against scams, con artists: Declaring “good news” in the midst of an economic meltdown, President Obama yesterday urged families to take advantage of near-record-low mortgage rates by refinancing their home loans. “We are at a time where people can really take advantage of this,” Obama said, seated with a handful of homeowners who have already lowered their bills. But he also warned people to watch out for scam artists, cautioning, “If somebody is asking you for money up front before they help you with your refinancing, it’s probably a scam.” – Boston Globe, 4-9-09
  • CIA abandons use of contract interrogators: The CIA has stopped using contractors to interrogate prisoners and fired private security guards at the CIA’s now-shuttered secret overseas prisons, agency Director Leon Panetta said Thursday. Panetta told agency employees in an e-mail message that the guards will be replaced with CIA officers at the sites, which President Barack Obama ordered closed on his second day in office. – AP, 4-9-09
  • US to attend group nuclear talks with Iran: The Obama administration said Wednesday it will participate directly in group talks with Iran over its suspect nuclear program, another significant shift from President George W. Bush’s policy toward a nation he labeled part of an axis of evil. The State Department said the United States would be at the table “from now on” when senior diplomats from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany meet with Iranian officials to discuss the nuclear issue. The Bush administration had generally shunned such meetings, although it attended one last year…. – AP, 4-9-09
  • Biden: Administration working ’round the clock’: Vice President Joe Biden says the Obama administration is working “round the clock” on hostage-taking incident involving a U.S.-flag ship. AP, 4-9-09

[Download High Resolution]

(President Obama hosts a traditional Seder dinner in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House on Thursday
night, April 9, 2009. Some friends and White House employees and their families joined the Obama family.
Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

  • Obama to host seder: President Obama will host a Passover seder Thursday evening in the White House. The president’s schedule for the rest of the week, released on Tuesday evening, said that Obama would mark the beginning of the holiday with a seder for friends and staff. No other information was provided. It is believed to be the first presidential seder held in the White House. William Daroff, vice president for public policy and director of the United Jewish Communities Washington office, said the seder was scheduled on the second night so as not to disrupt first night family seders and is “a testament to how far we have come as a Jewish people in America. “Jews are a vital component in the mosaic that is American culture and society,” he said. “Our welcome through the front door, and the dining room door, of the White House speaks to the inclusiveness of today’s America and of President Obama. This night is indeed different from all other nights.” – JTA, 4-8-09
  • Obama to tackle immigration reform this year: report: U.S. President Barack Obama plans to start addressing the thorny issue of immigration reform this year, including the search for a path to legalize the status of millions of illegal immigrants, The New York Times reported on Wednesday, quoting a presidential aide. Obama will speak publicly about the matter in May and bring together working groups including Democratic and Republican lawmakers over the summer to begin discussing possible legislation for as early as the fall, administration officials told the Times…. – Reuters, 4-9-09
  • 10 Holy Cross priests object to Obama invitation: Ten priests from the order that founded the University of Notre Dame say the school risks its “true soul” and could distance itself from the Roman Catholic Church by inviting President Barack Obama to campus next month. The members of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, which helps run the university, asked the Rev. John Jenkins, the Holy Cross priest who is Notre Dame’s president, and the university’s board of fellows to reconsider the invitation to Obama because he supports abortion rights…. – AP, 4-8-09
  • Holder tells prosecutors that justice top priority: Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday warned federal prosecutors of increased scrutiny in the wake of mistakes in the corruption case against former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. Holder told assistant U.S. attorneys for the District of Columbia that they must respond to negative perceptions of federal prosecutors by doing “the right thing.” “Your job as assistant U.S. attorneys is not to convict people,” Holder said. “Your job is not to win cases. Your job is to do justice. Your job is in every case, every decision that you make, to do the right thing. Anybody who asks you to do something other than that is to be ignored. Any policy that is at tension with that is to be questioned and brought to my attention. And I mean that.” – AP, 4-8-09


The President discusses Passover and Easter in his Weekly Address

Political Quotes

  • Obama: World’s problems require global cooperation: “These are challenges that no single nation, no matter how powerful, can confront alone,” Obama said. “The United States must lead the way. But our best chance to solve these unprecedented problems comes from acting in concert with other nations.”
    “With all that is at stake today, we cannot afford to talk past one another. We can’t afford to allow old differences to prevent us from making progress in areas of common concern,” Obama said. “We can’t afford to let walls of mistrust stand. Instead, we have to find — and build on — our mutual interests. For it is only when people come together, and seek common ground, that some of that mistrust can begin to fade. And that is where progress begins.”
    “These are two very different holidays with their own very different traditions. But it seems fitting that we mark them both during the same week,” Obama said. “For in a larger sense, they are both moments of reflection and renewal. They are both occasions to think more deeply about the obligations we have to ourselves and the obligations we have to one another, no matter who we are, where we come from, or what faith we practice.” – AP, 4-11-09
  • Weekly Address: Passover & Easter: WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Says Nations Must Unite To Overcome Global Challenges In his weekly address, President Barack Obama extended his best wishes to everyone celebrating this week’s Passover and Easter holidays and called on nations around the world to come together to solve the current trials facing the world. On the heels of his weeklong trip overseas, the President said he believes it is important to acknowledge no single nation can solve global problems like a recession, international terrorism, climate change, or nuclear proliferation. But, working with other nations, the United States can lead the way in overcoming these challenges…. – WH Blog, 4-11-09 Transcript
  • US to attend group nuclear talks with Iran: “We believe that pursuing very careful engagement on a range of issues that affect our interests and the interests of the world with Iran makes sense,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters. “There is nothing more important than trying to convince Iran to cease its efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon.” – AP, 4-9-09
  • George W. Bush attends Road 2 Recovery Locals thrilled by veterans’ visit: Bush joined U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, State Rep. Rob Orr, R-Burleson, Cleburne Mayor Ted Reynolds and other city officials Saturday morning at the Comfort Inn to rally the riders before they departed. Bush declined to publicize his appearance because he thought it might distract focus from the veterans and the importance of their bike ride.
    Bush joked about things he misses from his days as president, including tasks he now has to perform on his own, one of which involves walking, and picking up after, his dog.
    “You all remember Barney right?” Bush said. “The other day I took him for a walk through the neighborhood, something I hadn’t done in years and something Barney had never done. Well, I had the experience of using the little plastic bag, and it hit me that I was picking up what I spent eight years in office dodging.” What he most misses, Bush said, is serving as commander in chief of the U.S. Military. – Cleburne Times Review, 4-9-09
  • Bush Aides Challenge Biden’s Boasts of Oval Office Slapdowns: Aides to former President George W. Bush are challenging the veracity of Vice President Joe Biden’s claim this week of having privately castigated Bush. Fox News, 4-9-09
  • DIVISIVE FIGURE: “Mr. Obama has hastened the decline of Republican support with petty attacks on his critics and predecessor,” writes Karl Rove, former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, in the Wall Street Journal. “For a person who promised hope and civility in politics, Mr. Obama has shown a borderline obsessiveness in blaming Mr. Bush. Starting with his inaugural address and continuing through this week’s overseas trip, the new president’s jabs at Mr. Bush have been unceasing, unfair and unhelpful. They have also diminished Mr. Obama by showing him to be another conventional politician. Rather than ending ‘the blame game,’ he is personifying it. – Washington Times, 4-9-09


President Barack Obama confers with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke following their meeting at the White House, April 10, 2009
(President Barack Obama confers with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke following their meeting
at the White House, April 10, 2009. White House Photo/Pete Souza)

Historians’ Comments

  • Allan J. Lichtman, Professor of History, American University “Opportunity and danger for Obama”: President Obama’s overseas trip signals the arrival of an important new approach to American foreign policy. In contrast to the previous administration, he has adopted a more multilateral and cooperative approach to world affairs. Obama has gained support from foreign leaders and publics, which could pay future dividends later on. He has initiated a much needed outreach to the Muslim world, enhanced America’s standing in Turkey, and made a start in thawing relations with Russia and China. He has introduced a notable initiative on reducing nuclear arms and controlling nuclear testing. Obama has recognized that until the U. S. and other major powers make a real effort to reduce their nuclear arsenals, progress on non-proliferation is likely to be stalled. He did not get all he wanted on economic recovery and reform, but still gained some cooperation on economic stimulus programs and financial regulations.
    Obama has an opportunity to become a great or near great president. However, like another Democratic President Lyndon Johnson, his Achilles Heel could be an unwise and un-winnable foreign war: in this case Afghanistan. The objections of his base voters at home and the reluctance of America’s allies to support fully the war in Afghanistan should come as a loud and clear warning to the new president. – 4-8-09
  • Robert Weisbrot “What Obama’s Great Society challenge is, says Great Society historian”: Robert Weisbrot, co-author of “The Liberal Hour: Washington and the Politics of Change in the 1960s,” says the Great Society revolution was “tremendously liberating” for members of the most vulnerable groups in America.
    But historical circumstances won’t permit Obama to push through his own Great Society, Weisbrot says. “Obama is living in a different age,” Weisbrot said. “The circumstances won’t permit him to be another Lyndon Johnson.” – CNN, 4-7-09
  • Douglas Brinkley: Obama is America’s first global president: Barack Obama “is our first global president,” according to historian Douglas Brinkley. “Obama came of age, really, after the Cold War, with the Internet being the transformative engine of society, and he now takes his multicultural heritage and the geographical diversity of his upbringing” to the world, Brinkley said in an interview Tuesday as Obama wrapped up his first trip abroad. Brinkley, who has written about presidents from Teddy Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan, said Obama “is playing to the world right out of the gates, whereas most presidents have not.” – USA Today, 4-7
  • Julian Zelizer “Obama’s Approval Tops Recent Presidents Bush, Clinton”: “Bush’s popularity was so low it created an opportunity for Obama by contrast to win the hearts and minds of the country,” said Julian Zelizer, a history and public-affairs professor at Princeton University in New Jersey. “He has also consistently shown that magic quality that politician yearn for, the ‘it’ factor which leads people to like what you do.” – Bloomberg, 4-7-09
  • Thomas Whalen “Obama White House Faces ‘Unprecedented’ Onslaught of Domestic, Global Problems With the new administration stretched wafer thin, it’s questionable whether the Obama White House, or any White House, could be equipped to handle such an onslaught of problems.”: “North Korea, strangely enough, is the least of Obama’s foreign policy problems at this point — and that’s pretty bad,” said Thomas Whalen, a political historian and professor at Boston University. Whalen said the breadth of challenges facing Obama less than 80 days into his term is “unprecedented” for a new president. “FDR, he had the Great Depression, but it wasn’t until his third term until he really dealt with foreign policy issues,” he said. “This is … like it’s all coming at once.” Whalen said the magnitude and severity of challenges help explain why Obama is overseas seeking renewed support from European nations and restored relations with countries like Russia and China. Obama also is making fresh overtures to the Muslim world — on Monday, he declared before the Turkish parliament that the United States “is not and will never be at war with Islam” and called for a mutual respect between East and West. “He knows the United States can’t do it alone,” Whalen said. – Fox News, 4-6-09

Bo, the First Dog

%d bloggers like this: