September 6, 2010: Larry Sabato Predicts Republican Congress in November; Obama Officially Ends Combat in Iraq

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President in the Rose Garden
The President and his economic team in the Rose Garden, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 9/3/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Blacks, Young Voters Not Poised for High Turnout on Nov. 2 Republicans — and conservative Republicans in particular — are already tuned in to midterms: Minority and young voters made a significant mark on the 2008 presidential election with their high turnout; today, however, these groups appear to have reverted to previous levels of interest in voting in the context of midterm elections. Most notably, in contrast to 2008, when whites and blacks were about equally likely to say they were giving “quite a lot of” or “some” thought to the presidential election, whites are much more likely than blacks to be thinking about the 2010 elections: 42% vs. 25%, a gap exceeding those from recent midterm elections…. – Gallop.com, 9-3-10Center for Politics
  • Analysis: Democrats face grim election prospects: An unrelenting sour mood among voters has steadily eroded support for President Barack Obama’s Democrats, putting the party’s grip on Congress at growing risk two months before the November 2 election. Worries about the economy and plummeting confidence in Obama have Democrats on the defensive in dozens of once-safe races, sparking new predictions of a 1994-style sweep that would restore Republicans to power in the House of Representatives and even the Senate.
    “A big wave for Republicans is almost guaranteed in November barring some cataclysmic event,” said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, who on Thursday increased his projected Republican gains in the House to 47 seats — enough to win a majority. “The political climate for Democrats has deteriorated badly over the summer,” Sabato said. “The rotten economy and President Obama’s failure to turn it around is killing Democrats.”
    Obama and Democrats got little help on Friday from the latest jobless report, which showed the unemployment rate inching up to 9.6 percent after employment fell for the third consecutive month…. – Reuters, 9-3-10
  • GOP will take over House, political guru Sabato predicts: The Democrats are likely to lose 47 seats and control of the House of Representatives in November’s elections, a top political analyst says in a new forecast Thursday. Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, also says that the Democrats are likely to lose eight or nine seats in the Senate, eight governors’ offices and 300 to 500 seats in state legislatures.
    “The numbers are eye-catching. Republicans are dramatically gaining in all categories,” Sabato said in an interview. “It’s generated by a rotten economy and a strong conservative reaction against President Obama.”
    The analysis marks the first time this year that Sabato and the University’s Center for Politics have predicted a Republican takeover of the House. Sabato is one of the most consistently accurate election prognosticators. His final pre-election analysis in 2006 got the exact number of Democratic gains in the House and Senate and was off by only one in governors’ races. In 2008, he missed the final Electoral College count by only one, and missed the final House tally by only five seats.
    “2010 was always going to be a Republican year, in the midterm tradition. It has simply been a matter of degree,” Sabato said in a written analysis released Thursday. “Had Democratic hopes on economic revitalization materialized, it is easy to see how the party could have used its superior financial resources, combined with the tendency of Republicans in some districts and states to nominate ideological fringe candidates, to keep losses to the low 30s in the House and a handful in the Senate.”
    With Labor Day looming, Sabato wrote, it’s now clear that the summer didn’t turn out as Democrats wanted. “Conditions have deteriorated badly for Democrats over the summer. The economy appears rotten, with little chance of a substantial comeback by November 2nd. “Unemployment is very high, income growth sluggish and public confidence quite low. The Democrats’ self-proclaimed ‘Recovery Summer’ has become a term of derision, and to most voters – fair or not – it seems that President Obama has over-promised and under-delivered.”
    Across the board, Sabato forecasts larger Democratic losses than he projected in the spring, when he and his Center for Politics predicted that the Democrats could lose 32 House seats. That would be a large setback, but Republicans must gain 39 seats to take control of the House. Democrats now control the House by 255-178, with two vacancies, one previously held by each major party. A switch of 47 seats would put the Republicans in charge by at least 226-209, assuming the two vacant seats remain in the same partisan control. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, is in line to be the new speaker of the House. His party would chair all House committees, and would gain subpoena power to force the Obama administration to answer questions.
    At least one other nonpartisan analyst also is now predicting a Republican takeover of the House. University of Buffalo political scientist James Campbell forecasts that the Democrats will lose 51 or 52 seats. Sabato’s new forecast also envisions larger losses in the Senate: eight or nine, up from the seven seats he previously predicted. Republicans must gain 10 Senate seats to take control there, however…. –
    McClachy Newspapers, 9-2-10
  • James E. Campbell: UB professor predicts House will go to Republicans: A University at Buffalo political scientist with a sterling record of prognosticating presidential elections is predicting that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will turn over her gavel to the GOP come January. The presiding Democrats stand to lose about 51 seats in November, says James E. Campbell, professor of political science at UB. His prediction stems from a crystal ball filled with scientific equations based on polling and current events, all pointing to a stunning reversal of fortune for Democrats, who took over the House in 2006.
    “After two election setbacks, they are poised for a comeback,” Campbell says of Republicans. “Partisanship, ideology, the midterm decline from the prior presidential surge, the partisanship of districts being defended, and even President Obama’s approval ratings have set the stage for significant seat gains by Republicans in the House.”
    In a paper he will deliver this week to the American Political Science Association meeting in Washington, Campbell analyzes a variety of political elements that he plugs into his final equation….
    “In June 2010, 42 percent of respondents told Gallup that they were conservatives, while 20 percent claimed to be liberals, and 35 percent said they were moderates,” he said. “The nearly even division in partisanship and the conservative tilt in ideology suggest that the current equilibrium in the electorate is far more Republican than the status quo in the House.” “Polls, primary turnouts, the emergence of the tea party movement, and Republican victories in 2009 [including Scott Brown’s 2010 Senate win in Massachusetts] are unmistakable stirrings of a revitalized right,” he concluded.
    “Although President Obama is not unpopular at this point [his approval ratings stand in the mid- 40s], neither does he have the strong approval ratings that would provide much help to his party in staving off significant midterm losses,” Campbell said. “There is still an outside chance the Democrats could hold on,” he said Saturday…. –
    Buffalo News, 9-2-10
  • Shock Prediction: GOP to Take House, Maybe Senate in 2010 Election UVA’s Larry Sabato also sees Republicans gaining eight governorships in his crystal ball: Typically cautious Larry Sabato, head of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, is rocking the political world with a new “Crystal Ball” prediction: The GOP will win the House, making Ohio’s John Boehner speaker, might get a 50-50 split in the Senate, and will pick up some eight new governors.
    “2010 was always going to be a Republican year, in the midterm tradition,” Sabato said in his latest prediction, issued Thursday. “But conditions have deteriorated badly for Democrats over the summer. The economy appears rotten, with little chance of a substantial comeback by November 2nd. Unemployment is very high, income growth sluggish, and public confidence quite low. The Democrats’ self-proclaimed ‘Recovery Summer’ has become a term of derision, and to most voters—fair or not—it seems that President Obama has over-promised and under-delivered.”
    Sabato on House elections: “Given what we can see at this moment, Republicans have a good chance to win the House by picking up as many as 47 seats, net. This is a ‘net’ number since the GOP will probably lose several of its own congressional districts in Delaware, Hawaii, and Louisiana. This estimate, which may be raised or lowered by Election Day, is based on a careful district-by-district analysis, plus electoral modeling based on trends in President Obama’s Gallup job approval rating and the Democratic-versus-Republican congressional generic ballot. If anything, we have been conservative in estimating the probable GOP House gains, if the election were being held today.”
    Sabato on the Senate: “In the Senate, we now believe the GOP will do a bit better than our long-time prediction of +7 seats. Republicans have an outside shot at winning full control (+10), but are more likely to end up with +8 (or maybe +9, at which point it will be interesting to see how senators such as Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and others react). GOP leaders themselves did not believe such a result was truly possible just a few months ago. If the Republican wave on November 2 is as large as some polls are suggesting it may be, then the surprise on election night could be a full GOP takeover. Since World War II, the House of Representatives has flipped parties on six occasions (1946, 1948, 1952, 1954, 1994, and 2006). Every time, the Senate flipped too, even when it had not been predicted to do so. These few examples do not create an iron law of politics, but they do suggest an electoral tendency.”
    US News, 9-2-10

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama meets with the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jor

President Obama with leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan & Egypt, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 9/1/10

  • Obama to hold press conference next Friday: President Barack Obama will hold a press conference on Friday, September 10, the White House said on Thursday…. – Reuters, 9-3-10
  • Obama: New jobs numbers ‘positive’ but not enough: President Barack Obama welcomed news Friday of better-than-expected private sector job growth. But with the unemployment rate ticking upward nevertheless, he said he’d roll out new plans next week to spur the economy. Obama spoke after the Labor Department reported that private employers added 67,000 new jobs last month, and both July and June’s private-sector job figures were revised upward. Those numbers were better than first thought and pushed stock prices up.
    Standing with his economic team in the Rose Garden, Obama said the jobs report was “positive news, and it reflects the steps we’ve already taken to break the back of this recession. But it’s not nearly good enough.” “That’s why we need to take further steps to create jobs and keep the economy growing including extending tax cuts for the middle class and investing in the areas of our economy where the potential for job growth is greatest,” the president said…. – AP, 9-3-10
  • Obama Declares an End to Combat Mission in Iraq: President Obama declared an end on Tuesday to the seven-year American combat mission in Iraq, saying that the United States has met its responsibility to that country and that it is now time to turn to pressing problems at home.
    In a prime-time address from the Oval Office, Mr. Obama balanced praise for the troops who fought and died in Iraq with his conviction that getting into the conflict had been a mistake in the first place. But he also used the moment to emphasize that he sees his primary job as addressing the weak economy and other domestic issues — and to make clear that he intends to begin disengaging from the war in Afghanistan next summer.
    “We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home,” Mr. Obama said. “Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it’s time to turn the page.”… – NYT, 9-1-10
  • Obama’s Oval Office Address: In Oval Office address last night, Obama said the country was turning the page on Iraq… But it’s still something we’ll have to return to — when violence continues and when judging whether the war was worth the sacrifice… Surprisingly, Obama used a good part of the speech to discuss the economy… He also talked about Afghanistan, his opposition to the war, and George W. Bush… What he didn’t say: whether the surge worked… Today, Obama turns the page from Iraq to Middle East peace, meeting individually with the heads of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and Egypt… The president makes statement to reporters at 5:20 pm ET… Murkowski concedes, becoming the seventh incumbent to lose a primary for re-election this cycle… Three takeaways on Pawlenty’s executive order… Profiling AZ-8… And Boxer and Fiorina debate…. – MSNBC, 9-1-10
  • Biden marks transfer of U.S. command in Iraq: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Robert Gates helped usher in the next chapter for the United States in Iraq on Wednesday, presiding over a ceremony launching a new military operation designed to train, assist and advise the Iraqis.
    Biden said Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, but promised that “American engagement with Iraq will continue” with the new stability mission.
    “This change of mission, to state the obvious, would never have been possible without the resolve and tremendous sacrifice and competence of our military — the finest, if our Iraqi friends will forgive us, the finest fighting force in the world, and I would argue the finest fighting force that ever has existed,” Biden said. ….
    On Tuesday night, U.S. President Barack Obama addressed Americans about the transition in a televised speech.
    “The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people,” Obama said from the Oval Office. “We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people — a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization.”
    Obama said he was “awed” by the sacrifices of service members and their families and that the U.S. has met its responsibility.
    “Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country,” Obama said. “We have removed nearly 100,000 U.S. troops from Iraq. We have closed or transferred hundreds of bases to the Iraqis. And we have moved millions of pieces of equipment out of Iraq.”… – CNN, 9-1-10
  • Why Wall St. Is Deserting Obama: Daniel S. Loeb, the hedge fund manager, was one of Barack Obama’s biggest backers in the 2008 presidential campaign. A registered Democrat, Mr. Loeb has given and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Democrats. Less than a year ago, he was considered to be among the Wall Street elite still close enough to the White House to be invited to a speech in Lower Manhattan, where President Obama outlined the need for a financial regulatory overhaul. So it came as quite a surprise on Friday, when Mr. Loeb sent a letter to his investors that sounded as if he were preparing to join Glenn Beck in Washington over the weekend.
    “As every student of American history knows, this country’s core founding principles included nonpunitive taxation, constitutionally guaranteed protections against persecution of the minority and an inexorable right of self- determination,” he wrote. “Washington has taken actions over the past months, like the Goldman suit that seem designed to fracture the populace by pulling capital and power from the hands of some and putting it in the hands of others.”… – NYT, 8-31-10
  • Blair: Bush world view had ‘immense simplicity’: Former U.S. President George W. Bush was a “true idealist” who displayed “genuine integrity and political courage,” former British prime minister Tony Blair reveals in his memoirs. Detailing the close professional and personal relationship which developed between the two leaders in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks in the U.S. and during the build-up to the Iraq war in 2003, Blair writes that Bush was “very smart” while having “immense simplicity in how he saw the world.” “Right or wrong, it led to decisive leadership… he sincerely believed in spreading freedom and democracy,” he writes in “A Journey;” which hit book stores in the UK on Wednesday.
    But Blair, whose premiership overlapped the presidencies of Bush and Bill Clinton, reserves his warmest words for Bush’s Democratic predecessor, describing him as a “political soulmate” and “the most formidable politician I had ever encountered.” He also defends Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair. CNN, 9-1-10
  • Pawlenty Rejects “Obamacare” Funding for Minnesota: Attacking President Obama’s health care reforms from all angles, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty today issued an executive order directing state agencies to turn down any discretionary funding from the legislation. The health care reform package signed into law earlier this year “represents a dramatic attempt to assert federal command and control over this country’s health care system,” the potential Republican presidential candidate wrote in the executive order…. – CBS News, 9-1-10
  • NYC mayor disapproves of probe of mosque financing: New York’s mayor says an investigation by the state attorney general into the finances of a proposed Islamic center and mosque near ground zero would set “a terrible precedent.” Mayor Michael Bloomberg says there’s no reason for the government to investigate donations to religious organizations. Congressman Peter King disagrees. The ranking minority leader of the Homeland Security Committee says “a number” of terrorist plots have “emanated from mosques.” He cites the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center as an example… – AP, 8-31-10
  • Glenn Beck rally attendance: calculating how many really showed up: Glenn Beck rally attendance has become hotly contested following Saturday’s event in Washington. But from Woodstock to the Million Man March, figuring out the number of people who show up at big events has never been easy. CS Monitor, 8-30-08
  • For New Orleans, Katrina anniversary is both solemn and festive: Dancing, singing, mourning, and crying mixed throughout New Orleans this weekend as the city showcased the progress made since Katrina and honored those who died…. – CS Monitor, 8-30-10
  • Biden in Iraq to mark end of U.S. combat mission The vice president will press Iraqi leaders to form a new government and reassure them that the U.S. is not abandoning the country, officials say. LAT, 8-30-10
  • Obama Dismisses Faith Rumors: President Obama said on Sunday that he was not worried that increasing and significant numbers of Americans believe he is Muslim.
    Mr. Obama attributed the spread of the rumors about his religion and birthplace to “a network of misinformation that in a new media era can get churned out there constantly.” “We dealt with it when we were first running for the presidency,” he said. ‘There were those who said I couldn’t win as U.S. senator because I had a funny name and people would be too unfamiliar with it. “And yet we ended up winning that Senate seat in Illinois because I trusted the American people’s capacity to get beyond all this nonsense and focus on, ‘Is this somebody who cares about me and cares about my family and has a vision for the future?'” Mr. Obama said. “And so, I will always put my money on the American people. And I’m not going to be worrying too much about whatever rumors are floating on out there.”… – NYT, 8-29-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Boxer, Fiorina debate: California economy is center stage: Sen. Barbara Boxer and GOP challenger Carly Fiorina faced off Wednesday night, drawing sharp distinctions between them. The Boxer, Fiorna debate was gaffe-free but too scripted, analysts say…. – CS Monitor, 9-2-10
  • Democratic party braced for midterm beating: Barack Obama’s party likely to lose heavily in November elections, polls suggest The Democratic party is staring at heavy losses in Congress and at the state level in the November midterm elections, according to several public opinion polls. The latest weekly survey from Gallup gives the Republicans a 10-point advantage – 51% to 41% – among registered voters. The lead is the Republican party’s largest so far this year and its widest margin in 68 years. The national poll, released this week, also found Republicans twice as likely to say they are “very” excited about voting in November, amid widespread dissatisfaction with the economy, where the unemployment rate is near double digits…. – Guardian UK, 9-1-10
  • Murkowski was ‘capable, energetic’ for Alaska: U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s stunning defeat in the Alaska primary ends a 30-year family legacy of holding that seat, an era that spanned a majority of Alaska’s statehood. Joe Miller, a self-styled constitutional conservative backed by the Tea Party Express and former Gov. Sarah Palin, upset Murkowski in a close primary race. Miller had a more than 1,600-vote lead with outstanding ballots yet to count, but Murkowski conceded Tuesday night. There are multiple theories on what led to Murkowski’s demise — from her not taking Miller seriously or being aggressive enough, to Palin’s endorsement of Miller, to an abortion ballot measure that drew conservative voters to the polls…. – AP, 9-1-10
  • Palin returns to Iowa for GOP’s biggest fundraiser: Potential 2012 presidential candidate Sarah Palin will headline the Iowa Republican Party’s biggest annual fundraiser, party officials announced Tuesday in the state that launches the presidential nominating process. The Sept. 17 speech at the annual Reagan Dinner in Des Moines will be the first Iowa appearance by the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate since a brief book-signing stop last December. “I know Iowa Republicans will be energized and motivated by Governor Palin to stand up and fight for these principles all the way to Election Day and beyond,” said Matt Strawn, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party…. – AP, 8-31-10
  • 1980 revisited: Are upstart Republicans ready to be US senators?: Will Senate candidate Joe Miller be part of a 2010 Republican takeover in D.C. this fall? While we’re waiting for absentee and questioned primary ballots to be counted in Alaska, Carl Hulse of The New York Times wonders whether the November midterm election will bring results resembling that of 1980, when Republicans riding Ronald Reagan’s coattails — including Frank Murkowski, father of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski — surprised Democrats by taking over the U.S. Senate…. – Anchorage Daily News, 8-31-10
  • Murkowski narrows gap in US Senate seat in Alaska: Sen. Lisa Murkowski gained ground Tuesday on Republican challenger Joe Miller in their razor-thin GOP primary as Alaska began counting thousands of outstanding ballots. Murkowski trailed Miller by 1,294 votes in early counting Tuesday. She was down by 1,668 votes after the Aug. 24 primary. The contest has turned bitter in recent days with Miller accusing Murkowski of trying to steal the election by tampering with the vote. Murkowski shot back by saying Miller is paranoid and dealing in trumped-up, misleading rhetoric…. – AP, 8-31-10
  • Strategist: “Enthusiasm Gap” Between GOP, Dems: Says Republicans Have Midterm Advantage With Dems Facing “Toxic” Combination of Tea Party Activists, Economy, Afghanistan. The success in several primary races of far-right candidates backed by Tea Party activists, and the energetic crowd assembled in Washington last Saturday for Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally, indicate an “enthusiasm gap” that portends trouble for Democrats in November, according to a Republic strategist. Appearing on CBS’ “The Early Show” this morning, Dan Bartlett said, “The Tea Party and whoever else assembles with the Tea Party, like they did this weekend, is demonstrating that Republicans in this election cycle coming up in November have that advantage. “In midterm elections, that is a crucial difference.”…. – CBS News, 8-30-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President speaks to the Nation from the Oval Office
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/31/10
  • Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on the End of Combat Operations in Iraq Oval Office:
    At every turn, America’s men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve. As Commander-in-Chief, I am incredibly proud of their service. And like all Americans, I’m awed by their sacrifice, and by the sacrifices of their families.
    The Americans who have served in Iraq completed every mission they were given. They defeated a regime that had terrorized its people. Together with Iraqis and coalition partners who made huge sacrifices of their own, our troops fought block by block to help Iraq seize the chance for a better future. They shifted tactics to protect the Iraqi people, trained Iraqi Security Forces, and took out terrorist leaders. Because of our troops and civilians — and because of the resilience of the Iraqi people — Iraq has the opportunity to embrace a new destiny, even though many challenges remain.
    So tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country. Having drawn down 100,000 troops since taking office, a much smaller force will stay to train and assist the Iraqi forces during the transition period. All U.S. troops will leave by the end of next year….
    Americans across the political spectrum supported the use of force against those who attacked us on 9/11. Now, as we approach our 10th year of combat in Afghanistan, there are those who are understandably asking tough questions about our mission there. But we must never lose sight of what’s at stake. As we speak, al Qaeda continues to plot against us, and its leadership remains anchored in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda, while preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a base for terrorists. And because of our drawdown in Iraq, we are now able to apply the resources necessary to go on offense. In fact, over the last 19 months, nearly a dozen al Qaeda leaders — and hundreds of al Qaeda’s extremist allies — have been killed or captured around the world….
    Unfortunately, over the last decade, we’ve not done what’s necessary to shore up the foundations of our own prosperity. We spent a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform. As a result, too many middle-class families find themselves working harder for less, while our nation’s long-term competitiveness is put at risk.
    And so at this moment, as we wind down the war in Iraq, we must tackle those challenges at home with as much energy, and grit, and sense of common purpose as our men and women in uniform who have served abroad. They have met every test that they faced. Now, it’s our turn. Now, it’s our responsibility to honor them by coming together, all of us, and working to secure the dream that so many generations have fought for — the dream that a better life awaits anyone who is willing to work for it and reach for it.
    Our most urgent task is to restore our economy, and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work. To strengthen our middle class, we must give all our children the education they deserve, and all our workers the skills that they need to compete in a global economy. We must jumpstart industries that create jobs, and end our dependence on foreign oil. We must unleash the innovation that allows new products to roll off our assembly lines, and nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs. This will be difficult. But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as President.
    Part of that responsibility is making sure that we honor our commitments to those who have served our country with such valor. As long as I am President, we will maintain the finest fighting force that the world has ever known, and we will do whatever it takes to serve our veterans as well as they have served us. This is a sacred trust. That’s why we’ve already made one of the largest increases in funding for veterans in decades. We’re treating the signature wounds of today’s wars — post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury — while providing the health care and benefits that all of our veterans have earned. And we’re funding a Post-9/11 GI Bill that helps our veterans and their families pursue the dream of a college education. Just as the GI Bill helped those who fought World War II — including my grandfather — become the backbone of our middle class, so today’s servicemen and women must have the chance to apply their gifts to expand the American economy. Because part of ending a war responsibly is standing by those who have fought it…. – WH, 8-31-10
  • Obama formally ends Iraq combat mission President says nation’s top priority now is repairing economy: President Barack Obama made it official Tuesday: Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the nation’s No. 1 priority is fixing the economy. “The end of our combat mission in Iraq” comes at “a time of great uncertainty for many Americans,” Obama said in a nationally televised address from the Oval Office of the White House.
    “But this milestone should serve as a reminder to all Americans that the future is ours to shape if we move forward with confidence and commitment,” he added. “It should also serve as a message to the world that the United States of America intends to sustain and strengthen our leadership in this young century.”
    And it opens up another opportunity “to rebuild our nation here at home,” the president said, declaring that “now, it is time to turn the page.”… – MSNBC, 8-31-10Read the full text of the speech
  • Meghan McCain’s ‘Conflicting Feelings’ About Sarah Palin: Meghan McCain, who has tended to keep any strong feelings she may have about Sarah Palin to herself, opened up a bit on “Good Morning America” today while promoting her new book, “Dirty Sexy Politics.” McCain’s opinion on the former Alaska governor is of greater interest than most, since some Republicans blame Palin’s vice-presidential bid for derailing her father’s presidential campaign. “I do clearly state at the end that we did not lose because of her,” McCain said, referring to her book. When pressed by host George Stephanopoulos, McCain admitted to “conflicting feelings” about Palin and went on to discuss the way Bristol Palin’s pregnancy was mishandled by the campaign…. – WSJ, 8-31-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Time for Obama to put cards on table: If current polls are a guide, the midterm elections probably won’t be good for President Obama and his party. The Democrats are in danger of losing control of the House of Representatives and of seeing their majority in the Senate diminish.
    With Obama’s approval rating sagging to 45 percent according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll, even his most ardent supporters admit that he will need a stimulus act for his presidency before 2012 comes around.
    One of Obama’s biggest challenges has been his reticence about defining a clear agenda and a set of governing principles. Doing so has been at odds with his legislative strategy, which has hinged on avoiding big proclamations to give himself wiggle room with Congress….
    But Obama must also do a better job at telling voters what he is about. While the president has a large legislative record to boast of, it remains unclear to many voters, including Democrats who support much of the record, what it all adds up to.
    It’s time for Obama to state his agenda and lay out a set of governing principles that will guide him in his next two years as president. It’s likely that the pressure of the 2010 midterm elections will compel Obama to present an argument to the public to build a case for his presidency. – CNN, 8-30-10
  • KATHRYN OLMSTED: Why Americans love conspiracies: According to recent polls, large numbers of Americans are convinced of two things that are verifiably not true: that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and that Muslims are building a mosque at ground zero. A great many are also convinced that Obama was not even born in America. The tendency of most pundits and public officials is to dismiss these stories as the easily ignored theories of the lunatic fringe. But the “ground zero mosque” and “Obama-is-a-Muslim” stories have traction in the media for two reasons.
    First, they’re highly effective because they tap into deep, historic American anxieties about “un-American” agents within the republic — perhaps even within the White House. Second, these stories have some powerful sponsors in the media and in politics, sponsors who insinuate their paranoid theories into the mainstream debate to promote their own political goals. Americans have a special relationship to conspiracy theories involving insidious foreigners. Immigrants to America have brought a wider mix of religions and ethnicities and political histories than to any other New World country, and Americans have worried that their country is especially open —and vulnerable — to alien subversion. The historian Richard Hofstadter argued that there was a “paranoid style” in U.S. politics, prompted in part by Americans’ need to define themselves by casting out the un-Americans — or anyone who was not white, native-born and Protestant.
    Over the past two hundred years, frightened Americans have targeted Roman Catholics, Masons, Mormons, and Jews because these native groups were allegedly guided by the instructions of an alien power. Now, it’s the Muslims’ turn…. – Politico, 8-27-10
Advertisements

June 21, 2010: Obama Selling the Economy & Introduces Father’s Day Initiative

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

White House Photo, Pete Souza, 6/16/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • AP-GfK Poll bolsters congressional Democrats: There’s encouraging news for Democrats battling to retain control of Congress in this fall’s elections, with the party holding a slender edge in public trust for shepherding the economy and small gains in those saying their finances are healthy, according to a new poll. The reeling economy remains people’s top concern, according to an Associated Press-GfK Poll conducted earlier this month, making public attitudes about it crucial for both parties’ hopes in November. The good news for Democrats: By a margin of 47 percent to 42 percent, people trust them more than Republicans to guide the economy, and slightly more — 64 percent — say their household budgets are in good shape. In addition, people want Democrats to win control of Congress by a 46 percent to 39 percent margin. That is the second straight month in which Democrats have held a delicate advantage on that question since April, when 44 percent preferred Republicans and 41 percent picked Democrats…. – AP, 6-16-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • White House: Emanuel Quitting Report ‘Ludicrous’: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is expected to leave his job within six to eight months because he is fed up with the “idealism” of President Barack Obama’s closest advisers, The London Daily Telegraph reported Monday.
    The newspaper cited Washington insiders, who said Congress veteran Emanuel, 50, is also concerned about burning out and losing touch with his three children due to the pressure of the job.
    In response to the report, a senior White House official told Fox News early Monday the story was “ludicrous” and “not worth looking into.”
    The Telegraph, however, quoted a Democratic source as saying: “I would bet he will go after the midterms.” “Nobody thinks it’s working, but they can’t get rid of him — that would look awful. He needs the right sort of job to go to, but the consensus is he’ll go.” “It might not be his fault, but the perception is there,” said the consultant. “Every vote has been tough, from health care to energy to financial reform. “Democrats have not stood behind the President in the way Republicans did for George W. Bush, and that was meant to be Rahm’s job.”…. – Fox News, 6-21-10
  • Obama steps up fatherhood advocacy with new mentoring initiative: In what is becoming a Father’s Day ritual for the Obama administration, the president on Monday will bring together children, famous dads and nonprofit groups that promote fatherhood to highlight the importance of fathers. The center of President Obama’s day-long celebration will be a speech at the ARC, an arts and recreation campus in Southeast Washington, where he is set to announce the creation of the President’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. It will build on a theme that has been central to his family policy and a core part of the White House’s Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The new initiative, which is enlisting a network of organizations, will expand on a six-city listening tour the administration held last year to bring attention to the issue of fatherlessness. “The tour was a national conversation on responsible fatherhood that was rooted in the president’s personal experiences growing up and his realization that father absence is a real challenge facing many communities,” said Joshua DuBois, director of the partnerships office…. – WaPo, 6-21-10
  • A yachting trip? The 10 worst BP gaffes in Gulf oil spill: BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward attended a yachting race in England yesterday. It was just the latest BP public relations gaffe in the Gulf oil spill. Here are 10 of the worst…. – CSMonitor, 6-20-10
  • Records suggest Kagan played small part in settling Harvard-military dispute Lawrence H. Summers took the lead: When Elena Kagan suspended help to military recruiters as dean of Harvard Law School, consternation inside the Pentagon reached all the way to then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, according to government documents released Saturday. The records show that the controversy was resolved by Harvard’s president with little apparent input from Kagan…. – WaPo, 6-20-10
  • Election-year deficit fears stall Obama stimulus plan: Barely a week after President Obama tried to re-energize his push for more spending on the economy, his agenda is stalled on Capitol Hill, mired in election-year anxiety about the deficit…. Even the state aid that Obama last week called critical to preventing the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers and other government workers is foundering. After days of talks, frustrated Democratic leaders in the Senate failed again Thursday to muster the 60 votes needed to approve the cash and left town for the weekend with no clear path forward…. – WaPo, 6-18-10
  • Obama dashing to Ohio to keep economy out front: Determined to keep showing the economy is on his mind, President Barack Obama is dashing into Ohio for the groundbreaking of a road project, hoping to remind the nation that the massive, costly stimulus act is still churning out jobs. Millions of unemployed people have yet to feel the relief. Obama was to be on the ground in Ohio for only about 90 minutes Friday, long enough to celebrate what the White House calls a significant moment: the start of the 10,000th road project launched under the recovery act. The president’s message is that a summer season of more help is on the way…. – AP, 6-18-10
  • Earning trust is biggest obstacle in disbursing $20 billion BP escrow fund: It is not easy to divvy up $20 billion. Perhaps no one in America knows this better than Kenneth R. Feinberg. The nation’s unofficial authority on disbursing massive relief funds oversaw the paying out of billions of dollars for families of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the Virginia Tech shootings. His phone rang once again this month, not long before word began to spread in Washington about such a fund for victims of the gulf oil spill. BP executives contacted Feinberg to see whether he would be willing to take the job. He agreed, and President Obama signed on…. – WaPo, 6-18-10
  • Kagan’s e-mails show dry wit, political savvy: Newly released e-mails from Elena Kagan’s time as an aide to President Bill Clinton portray the Supreme Court nominee as a driven and opinionated person with a flair for political tactics and little tolerance for high-flying rhetoric. The e-mails — among tens of thousands of pages of her e-mails released Friday — also show how Kagan often had to place political considerations ahead of policy views…. – AP, 6-19-10
  • Day 58: The Latest on the Oil Spill: BP Chief Testifies Before Congress: Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive, testifying before a Congressional subcommittee, apologized for the oil spill, saying it “never should have happened,” but then he faced a barrage of criticism from lawmakers who grew frustrated that he would not answer their questions on specifics about the disaster still unfolding in the Gulf Coast. “With all due respect, Mr. Hayward, I think you’re copping out,” said Representative Phil Gingrey, Republican of Georgia. NYT, 6-17-10
  • U.S. official calls for Kyrgyzstan investigation: A U.S. official on Friday called for a “substantial” investigation into the killings of more than 170 people during recent ethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake was at a refugee camp near the border in Uzbekistan, where thousands of ethnic Uzbeks fled violence in neighboring Kyrgyzstan. Blake said he wants Kyrgyzstan authorities to investigate who carried out the attacks on ethnic Uzbeks and to bring those responsible to justice. He planned to go to the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek later Friday to deliver the message personally, he said…. – CNN, 6-18-10
  • Bill To Help Unemployed Fails In Senate: A beleaguered bill to extend benefits for the long term unemployed stalled on Capitol Hill Tuesday, when the Senate voted 45-52 to block the $140 billion catchall bill that also would delay a Medicare fee cut, extend a hodgepodge of expiring tax cuts, and other provisions that Democrats say will help stimulate job growth. Although the bill also included tax increases on investment managers and oil companies to help offset the cost, it has run into opposition from Republicans as well as many Democrats who are worried about adding to the burgeoning budget deficit. The vote to block the bill came on a motion to waive budget rules to allow it to pass – a motion that would have required 60 votes. Eleven Democrats and one Independent – Joe Lieberman of Connecticut — joined 40 Republicans in voting… – LAT, 6-17-10
  • Obama Adds To Iran Sanctions: Washington….The Obama administration Wednesday added several dozen Iranian individuals and organizations to its sanctions blacklist, its first steps to intensify international pressure in the aftermath of international sanctions adopted last week by the United Nations Security Council. The penalties were aimed at entities tied to Iran’s nuclear and missile program, including one bank, five front companies, 22 energy and insurance concerns, and two individuals and four groups tied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, announcing the sanctions at the White House, said that to be effective “we need to have in place a concerted international approach. This is not something the United States can do alone.”… – LAT, 6-16-10
  • 9/11 payout czar Kenneth Feinberg to dole out gulf oil disaster funds: President Obama’s choice to oversee the gulf oil disaster fund is one of the very few people who have weighed the dollar value of devastation before: 9/11’s special master Kenneth Feinberg. Feinberg, 64, oversaw the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund created by Congress in the wake of the terrorist attacks, doling out $7 billion over nearly three years. “I’m confident he will ensure that claims are administered as quickly, as fairly and as transparently as possible,” Obama said yesterday, adding Feinberg would have $20 billion to start with…. – NY Daily News, 6-17-10
  • Obama to meet with man heading up restoration plan: President Barack Obama is preparing to meet with the man he’s put in charge of developing a recovery plan for the oil-devastated Gulf Coast. Obama and the secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus (MAY’-buhs), plan to discuss Mabus’ role in developing a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan. Mabus knows the region — he is a native of Mississippi and served as that state’s governor from 1988 to 1992…. – AP, 6-17-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Another Alvin Greene? Texas Democrats Grapple With Their Own Surprise Candidate: South Carolina’s unexpected Democratic nominee for the US Senate, mystery man Alvin Greene, says he wants to play golf with Barack Obama. But in Texas, another surprise Democratic primary winner, congressional nominee Kesha Rogers, wants to impeach the President. So while South Carolina party officials are still unsure of what to do about Greene’s success at the ballot box, Texas Democrats have no such reservations — they wasted little time in casting Rogers into exile and offering no support or recognition of her campaign to win what once was Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s old seat…. – Time, 6-20-10
  • Donations Create a Tricky Balance for Oil-State Politicians: The outburst by Representative Joe L. Barton of Texas in support of BP underscored the potential peril for lawmakers forced to respond to crises involving industries vital to their regions, and whose bountiful donations finance their political campaigns. Democrats continued to make use of Mr. Barton’s apology to BP, using it to portray Republicans as beholden to big oil. Mr. Barton, the senior Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, worked as a consultant to Atlantic Richfield Oil and Gas Company before being elected to Congress. He has long been one of the top beneficiaries of campaign donations from big energy companies, cornerstones of the Texas economy. But in going after Republicans, the Democrats’ attacks gloss over a more complicated picture. The largest beneficiary of campaign donations from BP in the 2008 election cycle, for instance, was President Obama, who took in $77,000 from company executives and its political action committee. This year, Senator Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas and chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee, leads all candidates with $286,000 in donations from oil and gas companies… – NYT, 6-19-10
  • Anybody but Rubio? Democrats are flocking to Charlie Crist in order to upend conservative Marco Rubio: Party affiliation wasn’t the only thing Gov. Charlie Crist switched when he dropped out of the GOP primary and decided to run as independent in the Florida Senate race. Mr. Crist has piqued the ire of many conservatives by flip-flopping on a number of issues in order to ingratiate himself with liberals. In fact, he’s made so many 180s that many Democrats are now considering throwing their weight and money behind him in order to upend the remaining Republican in the race, Marco Rubio. In his most recent about-face, Mr. Crist changed his policy on travel to Cuba. In 2008, Mr. Crist signed a law imposing taxes on companies that traveled to and from the communist country. This week, he told Floridians: “I think that what the [Obama] administration has done by allowing families to visit [Cuba] is compassionate.”… – WSJ, 6-19-10
  • State Party in S. Carolina Rejects Bid for New Vote: In this age of candidate Twitter accounts and robocalls, the surprising victory in a South Carolina Democratic primary by Alvin M. Greene, 32, an unknown candidate without so much as a Web site, harks back to another era. But the state’s Democrats rejected a request by Mr. Greene’s opponent for the Senate nomination, Vic Rawl, to turn back the clock in another way. Though members of the executive committee of the state’s Democratic Party called the election “flawed,” they voted overwhelmingly Thursday to reject Mr. Rawl’s request for a new primary. Representatives for Mr. Rawl, 64, a former judge, contended in a hearing in Columbia that the primary results were so rife with irregularities that they should be discarded…. – NYT, 6-18-10
  • Minn. GOP Pawlenty sets up fundraising in Iowa, NH: Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has expanded his presence in two states pivotal to presidential politics by setting up fundraising operations in Iowa and New Hampshire. The state-based political action committees announced Wednesday will let Pawlenty raise and spend money on behalf of Republicans running for state and local offices. It’s a goodwill strategy common among likely presidential candidates…. – AP, 6-16-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address
White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 6/18/10
  • The Most Important Job, President Obama’s Father’s Day Message: As the father of two young daughters, I know that being a father is one of the most important jobs any man can have.
    My own father left my family when I was two years old. I was raised by a heroic mother and wonderful grandparents who provided the support, discipline and love that helped me get to where I am today, but I still felt the weight of that absence throughout my childhood. It’s something that leaves a hole no government can fill. Studies show that children who grow up without their fathers around are more likely to drop out of high school, go to jail, or become teen fathers themselves.
    And while no government program can fill the role that fathers play for our children, what we can do is try to support fathers who are willing to step up and fulfill their responsibilities as parents, partners and providers. That’s why last year I started a nationwide dialogue on fatherhood to tackle the challenge of father absence head on.
    In Chicago, the Department of Health and Human Services held a forum with community leaders, fatherhood experts and everyday dads to discuss the importance of responsible fatherhood support programs. In New Hampshire, Secretary of Education Duncan explored the linkages between father absence and educational attainment in children. In Atlanta, Attorney General Holder spoke with fathers in the criminal justice system about ways local reentry organizations, domestic violence groups and fatherhood programs can join together to support ex-offenders and incarcerated individuals who want to be closer to their families and children.
    Now we’re taking this to the next level. Tomorrow, I’ll make an announcement about the next phase of our efforts to help fathers fulfill their responsibilities as parents — The President’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. You can learn more at http://www.fatherhood.gov.
    This Father’s Day — I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a dad to two wonderful daughters. And I’m thankful for all the wonderful fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers and friends who are doing their best to make a difference in the lives of a child. – WH, 6-20-10
  • Weekly Address: Republicans Blocking Progress WH, 6-219-10
  • Obama: Republicans blocking progress in Congress: President Barack Obama accused Republicans on Saturday of blocking legislation that would boost the nation’s economic recovery and lift a $75 million cap on what oil companies must pay to families and small businesses affected by an oil spill. Obama said the stalled Senate bill would extend unemployment benefits to workers without jobs and a tax credit for first-time homebuyers. He also said the legislation would save thousands of jobs across the country. “Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in the Senate won’t even allow this legislation to come up for a vote,” the president said in his weekly radio and Internet address. “And if this obstruction continues, unemployed Americans will see their benefits stop. Teachers and firefighters will lose their jobs. Families will pay more for their first home.”… – AP, 6-19-10
  • Remarks by the President at the Site of the 10,000th ARRA Road Project Parsons and Livingston Avenue Construction Site Columbus, OhioWH, 6-18-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

President  Obama Speaks in Columbus, Ohio

President Barack Obama, with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, delivers remarks following his tour of the Parsons and Livingston Avenue construction site in Columbus, Ohio, June 18, 2010. The President is in Columbus to tour the site of the 10,000th Recovery Act road project to get underway. The road improvement project is expected to create over 300 construction jobs and will contribute to the broader economic development effort underway in the area around the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Is America tuning out Capitol Hill?: At my local gym Thursday, one of the television sets showed the live CNN broadcast of Rep. Henry Waxman questioning BP CEO Tony Hayward about how so much could have gone wrong.
    The problem was, most people at the gym weren’t watching. Some of them were tuned in to the other television sets on the wall that broadcast the World Cup. Yet others had their eyes glued to the music video stations that play continuously throughout the day near the Nautilus machines….
    Congressional hearings just aren’t what they used to be. We live in a multimedia world that has made it much more difficult for congressional committees to draw attention to their work when they are fulfilling one of the most important roles of the legislative branch: to act as a watchdog by convening hearings.
    While, historically, many hearings have fallen flat and have failed to produce any kind of concrete legislative outcome, the added challenge today is that they take place in a media environment where the public has so many choices as to what they should watch that it is almost impossible to gain national attention.
    This is a shame, for there have been moments when the nation has been absorbed by congressional hearings that produced extremely important debates over key issues of the day….
    Members of Congress have much more trouble shaping national conversations and much more difficulty controlling the flow of information than they did in the period before the 1980s. Legislators such as Waxman, who still believe that the legislative branch has a role to fill in the politics of investigation, might have to start finding new ways to fulfill this historic function…. – CNN, 6-21-10
  • President Obama’s Oval Office oil spill disaster speech draws fire from Robert Reich, other allies: If the reviews of President Obama’s Oval Office oil disaster speech were about a Broadway play, the scenery already would have been loaded into moving vans. The address was “vapid,” “bloodless,” “short on specifics,” “inscrutable” or just plain “flat.” And those verdicts were from Obama’s pals and others who usually give him a thumbs up. Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s labor secretary and a current White House favorite on the economy, was nearly in despair in musings to the Huffington Post. The speech “was, to be frank, vapid,” Reich said. “If you watched with the sound off, you might have thought he was giving a lecture on the history of the Interstate Highway System.”… – NY Daily News, 6-17-10

December 6, 2009: President Obama Focuses on the Economy, Max Baucus Scandal and Sarah Palin at the Gridiron Dinner

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President at West Point

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Unexpected drop in jobless rate sparks optimism: Two years of steep job cuts all but ended last month, unexpectedly pulling down the unemployment rate and raising hopes for a lasting economic recovery. Federal figures released Friday showed that the rate fell from 10.2 percent in October to 10 percent…. And the so-called underemployment rate, counting part-time workers who want full-time jobs and laid-off workers who have given up their job hunt, also fell, from 17.5 percent in October to 17.2 percent…. – AP, 12-4-09

THE HEADLINES….

SarahSnowVa12-09paulrichardsafp

  • Sarah Palin speech: The view’s better from inside the bus than under it: The lines began forming Saturday morning outside the Sioux Falls Barnes & Noble bookstore, fully 35 hours before former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was to arrive there to sign her new book, “Going Rogue.”… – LAT, 12-6-09
  • What Sarah Palin had to say at Saturday’s Gridiron dinner: Look at it this way, Sarah Palin told a Washington journalists’ dinner Saturday night: If Joe Biden had lost, he’d be peddling a book today titled, “Going Rogaine.” Biden, of course, is now vice president (and with a head of thinning hair), while Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, stopped in Washington Saturday to promote her book, “Going Rogue,” and entertain the Gridiron Club, a group of veteran Washington reporters and bureau chiefs at their annual winter dinner…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 12-6-09
  • Obama: Efforts aimed at economy’s long-term health: The U.S. is emerging from an “economic storm,” President Barack Obama says, pledging new ways to put people back on the payroll after a painful recession. Readying a job creation proposal he plans to send to Congress in the coming week, the president said in his radio and Internet address Saturday that he’s focused on building an economy “that continues to make real the promise of America for generations to come.”…
    In a Washington speech Tuesday, Obama is likely to endorse expanding a program that gives people cash incentives to fix up their homes with energy-saving materials, according to administration officials….
    “So that we don’t face another crisis like this again, I’m determined to meet our responsibility to do what we know will strengthen our economy in the long run,” Obama said in his address. AP, 12-5-09
  • Senate debates health care, rejects GOP amendment: Senate Republicans failed Saturday to eliminate $42.1 billion in cuts to Medicare home health care service in the health care bill. The 53-41 vote shot down a motion offered by Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Nebraska, that would have sent Majority Leader Harry Reid’s sweeping $848 billion reform plan back to committee with instructions to remove all home health care cuts. Johanns objected to the cuts, saying that the services “help some of the most vulnerable Americans.”… – CNN, 12-5-09
  • Baucus Nominated Girlfriend for Post, Aide Says: A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Max Baucus says the Montana Democrat was in a romantic relationship with the woman he nominated for U.S. attorney…. – AP/NYT, 12-5-09
  • Obama shifts Copenhagen travel plans to boost climate change deal: US president bows to international pressure to join other world leaders in crunch negotiating sessions. Barack Obama has bowed to international appeals for America to demonstrate commitment to action on global warming, and said he will join other world leaders for the crunch negotiating sessions of the Copenhagen climate change summit.
    The White House, in a statement from the press secretary, Robert Gibbs, last night said Obama would adjust his original travel schedule… “The president believes that continued US leadership can be most productive through his participation at the end of the Copenhagen conference on December 18th,” the statement said. “There are still outstanding issues that must be negotiated for an agreement to be reached, but this decision reflects the president’s commitment to doing all he can to pursue a positive outcome.”… – Guardian UK, 12-4-09
  • Climategate? What Climategate? Congressional Democrats are Climategate deniers: The scandal involving leaked or purloined emails from the Climatic Research Unit at Britain’s University of East Anglia finally reached Capitol Hill this week, but not in the way you’d expect. Democratic committee chairmen ignored the evidence of scientific skullduggery at the influential research unit, even as its head Phil Jones stepped aside this week to make way for an investigation.
    Senator Barbara Boxer, chair of the Environment Committee, did rouse herself to comment on the emails, saying their release should be treated as a criminal matter. “You call it ‘Climategate’; I call it ‘Email-theft-gate,'” she said. “Part of our looking at this will be looking at a criminal activity which could have well been coordinated.”… – WSJ, 12-4-09
  • Palin arrives to cheering crowd at Fort Hood: A cheering crowd has greeted former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin at Fort Hood in Texas. About 1,250 fans showed up to get signed copies of Palin’s book, “Going Rogue.” Because of limited space, only about 250 people were allowed in the food court building to see the former Alaska governor…. – AP, 12-4-09
  • Senate preserves long-term care program: The Senate on Friday turned back a Republican effort to eliminate a long-term care insurance program to help seniors and the disabled, saving the plan once championed by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in its health overhaul bill. But the vote exposed the difficulties Democratic leaders face in persuading their own moderates to remain united behind sweeping legislation they hope to deliver to President Barack Obama. Eleven Democrats voted with Republicans, who warned that the new program would turn into a drain on the federal budget. Republicans fell short in a bid to strike the long-term care plan on a 51-47 vote. They needed 60 votes to prevail…. – AP, 12-4-09
  • Obama, lawmakers target bailout fund for jobs bill: President Barack Obama’s options for spurring job growth may be limited by out-of-control budget deficits, but he is warming to moves by his congressional allies for a jobs-boosting bill. Taking his defense of the economy on the road, the president scheduled appearances Friday in Pennsylvania to showcase innovative businesses following Thursday’s White House jobs forum. That event combined cheerleading and brainstorming as Obama exhorted more than 100 CEOs, academics, small business and union leaders and local officials to focus on new ways to get businesses hiring again…. – AP, 12-4-09
  • Allegedly green Obama lights National Christmas Tree, leaves them on: It was Barack Obama’s first time. But tonight for the 86th year in a row, a U.S. president turned on the lights of the national Christmas tree, a 40-foot Colorado spruce near the White House. Claiming to be technologically challenged, the BlackBerry-loving, 48-year-old president asked his daughters, Sasha and Malia, to help press the ceremonial button that lit up the tree planted on the Ellipse way back in 1978. In those days Obama was only 17 and an aging Vice President Joe Biden was already in the second of a gazillion terms as a senator from Delaware. “Watson, come here!” the 44th president exclaimed. No, just kidding. He actually exclaimed, “It worked!”… – LAT, 12-3-09
  • Senate Democrats push ahead on health bill: They pass an amendment requiring insurers to cover women’s preventive care and screenings, and reject McCain’s bid to restore proposed cuts in what Medicare pays out… – LAT, 12-3-09
  • Senate Breaks Health Stalemate; First Votes Today: At the end of a third day of Senate debate over sweeping health care legislation, Democrats and Republicans said Wednesday night that they had broken an impasse over the seemingly simple question of how and when to vote on the first amendments. But even as lawmakers announced an agreement to begin voting Thursday, Democrats accused Republicans of stalling debate and obstructing the legislation…. – NYT, 12-2-09
  • Obama shifts White House spotlight to unemployment: President Barack Obama turns his attention on Thursday from Afghanistan to the battle against unemployment which has sapped his popularity and may shape his political future. Obama is hosting a forum with business leaders at the White House to discuss how to boost jobs after U.S. unemployment hit a 26-year peak of 10.2 percent in October. But the gathering has been dismissed by critics as a public relations exercise. The president’s public approval ratings have dipped as joblessness has grown, alarming members of his Democratic party who face congressional elections next year. Republicans say his economic recoveries policies have failed to deliver…. – Reuters, 12-2-09
  • Obama rejoining economic debate with jobs summit: Under pressure from Republicans and an impatient public to fix the sputtering economic recovery, President Barack Obama is refocusing on this politically potent issue by talking job creation with business and labor leaders at the White House…. Administration officials are hoping Thursday’s jobs forum, an Obama trip to Pennsylvania on Friday and a major economic speech on Tuesday will help counter Republican critics who contend the administration’s economic recovery efforts have failed and its oversight of the $787 billion stimulus package has been inadequate…. – AP, 12-3-09
  • Old Clemency May Be Issue for Huckabee: When Mike Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist minister then serving as governor of Arkansas, granted clemency to Maurice Clemmons nine years ago, he cited his age: Mr. Clemmons was 16 when he began the crime spree for which he was sentenced to more than 100 years in prison… – NYT, 12-1-09
  • Palin reaches the 1 million mark: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s memoir ‘Going Rogue’ has sold more than one million copies after debuting only two weeks ago, her publisher Harper Collins tells CNN….- CNN, 12-1-09
  • Tempers rise as Senate moves toward health vote: A Republican senator asserted Tuesday during a rancorous floor debate that President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul will shorten the lives of America’s seniors by cutting Medicare. “I have a message for you: You’re going to die sooner,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., an obstetrician- turned-lawmaker…. – AP, 12-1-09

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President delivers the Weekly Address

  • Obama Pledges to Put More Americans Back to Work: In his weekly radio and Internet address, the U.S. president said Saturday he will ‘focus every single day’ on building the economy and getting people into productive jobs. VOA, 12-5-09
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Says Employment Trends Are Improving; But Remains Focused on Job Creation Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address Saturday, December 5, 2009: History tells us this is usually what happens with recessions – even as the economy grows, it takes time for jobs to follow. But the folks who have been looking for work without any luck for months and, in some cases, years, can’t wait any longer. For them, I’m determined to do everything I can to accelerate our progress so we’re actually adding jobs again….
    And that’s exactly what I’m working to give them. In the coming days, I’ll be unveiling additional ideas aimed at accelerating job growth and hiring as we emerge from this economic storm.
    And so that we don’t face another crisis like this again, I’m determined to meet our responsibility to do what we know will strengthen our economy in the long-run. That’s why I’m not going to let up in my efforts to reform our health care system; to give our children the best education in the world; to promote the jobs of tomorrow and energy independence by investing in a clean energy economy; and to deal with the mounting federal debt…. – WH, 12-5-09
  • President Obama’s remarks at National Christmas Tree, as provided by the White House: THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Washington, D.C. (Applause.) I want to, first of all, thank Secretary Salazar for not only the kind introduction, but the extraordinary work he is doing in preserving the incredible bounty and natural resources of this country. I want to thank all those involved in helping to organize this great event. Thank you to….
    …Randy Jackson, and all the performers putting on an incredible show. I told Sasha we’re not on American Idol — (laughter) — no singing. (Laughter.)
    I also want to thank Neal Mulholland, Jon Jarvis, and Peggy O’Dell from the National Park Service for being with us, and all the Park Service employees who’ve worked so hard to put this event together — give them a big round of applause. (Applause.) And I want to thank my outstanding Vice President and his gorgeous granddaughters — Joe Biden. Stand up, Joe. (Applause.)
    In 1923, the Washington, D.C. Public Schools wrote a letter to the White House asking if they could put up a Christmas tree on the South Lawn. And First Lady Grace Coolidge said they could use the Ellipse. (Laughter.) And in the eight decades since -– in times of war and peace, hardship and joy –- Americans from every corner of this nation have gathered here to share in the holiday spirit.
    Tonight, we celebrate a story that is as beautiful as it is simple. The story of a child born far from home to parents guided only by faith, but who would ultimately spread a message that has endured for more than 2,000 years -– that no matter who we are or where we are from, we are each called to love one another as brother and sister.
    While this story may be a Christian one, its lesson is universal. It speaks to the hope we share as a people. And it represents a tradition that we celebrate as a country –- a tradition that has come to represent more than any one holiday or religion, but a season of brotherhood and generosity to our fellow citizens.
    It’s that spirit of unity that we must remember as we light the National Christmas Tree –- a tree that will shine its light far beyond our city and our shores to every American around the world.
    And that’s why tonight our thoughts and prayers are with the men and women who will be spending this holiday far from home –- the mothers and fathers, the sons and daughters of our military who risk their lives every day to keep us safe. We will be thinking of you and praying for you during this holiday season.
    And let’s also remember our neighbors who are struggling here at home -– those who’ve lost a job or a home; a friend or a loved one — because even though it’s easy to focus on receiving at this time of year, it’s often in the simple act of giving that we find the greatest happiness.
    So on behalf of Michelle and Malia and Sasha and my mother-in-law, Mama Robinson — I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. May you go out with joy, and be led forth in peace.
    And now, to the serious business of pressing the button and lighting this beautiful tree. (Applause.) So, guys, come up here. I need some assistance. I’m technologically challenged and I might not get this right. So we’re going to do a countdown, starting from five. Everybody has got to help me out here. Five, four, three, two, one — ho! (Applause.) It worked! LAT, 12-3-09

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Historians comment on Obama role as consoler in chief: In the days ahead, Obama must master those moments to sustain support for the war in Afghanistan, says Jerald Podair, a history professor at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. “Grief is the one part of a president’s job that cannot be spun. It must be personal and come from the heart,” Podair says. Yet the cool and cerebral Obama is not known for opening his heart, Podair says… … If Obama bungles a public occasion for mourning, he can permanently damage his ability to lead, some historians say…. – CNN (12-4-09)
  • Max Boot: Despite some questions, Obama’s Afghan policy is sound Given time, his strategy should work. But will there be time, and what about ‘winning’?: President Obama’s Afghanistan policy raises some serious questions (more on those in a moment), but to see why it has a decent chance of working, it helps to visit the town of Nawa in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand River Valley. I was there in October and found that 1,000 Marines who had arrived during the summer had already made substantial strides. When the Marines got there, Nawa was practically a ghost town…..
    At the same time, our troops must work to build up Afghanistan’s security forces. Yet another missing element in Obama’s speech was the lack of a specific commitment to expand the Afghan security forces, but there is little doubt that this is our only responsible exit strategy. Before the Afghans can take the lead, however, our troops must first reduce the enemy’s toughest strongholds. That process begins in Marjah. – LAT, 12-3-09
  • Andrew J. Bacevich: Obama’s folly: Rather than trying to salvage Bush’s policy in Afghanistan, the president should show real courage and just pull the plug. Which is the greater folly: To fancy that war offers an easy solution to vexing problems, or, knowing otherwise, to opt for war anyway?
    In the wake of 9/11, American statecraft emphasized the first approach: President George W. Bush embarked on a “global war” to eliminate violent jihadism. President Obama now seems intent on pursuing the second approach: Through military escalation in Afghanistan, he seeks to “finish the job” that Bush began there, then all but abandoned.
    Through war, Bush set out to transform the greater Middle East. Despite immense expenditures of blood and treasure, that effort failed. In choosing Obama rather than John McCain to succeed Bush, the American people acknowledged that failure as definitive. Obama’s election was to mark a new beginning, an opportunity to “reset” America’s approach to the world…. – LAT, 12-3-09

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 24, 2009: President Obama’s Second Press Conference Focusing on the Economy & Budget

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

Doug Mills/The New York Times President Obama spoke in the East Room of the White House Tuesday.

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • President Barack Obama “Obama Defends Economic Recovery in News Conference”: “We will recover from this recession. But it will take time, it will take patience, and it will take an understanding that when we all work together; when each of us looks beyond our own short-term interests to the wider set of obligations we have to each other — that’s when we succeed.” – Newshour, PBS, 3-24-09
  • FACT CHECK: Obama Having It Both Ways on Economy?: President Barack Obama’s plea for patience in the economic turmoil Tuesday fits with the view of most economists that a turnaround will take some time. It doesn’t fit quite so neatly with his bullish budget. The president’s spending plans and deficit projections rest on the assumption that the economy will post solid growth next year after a mild, further decline this year. Many economists think that’s too rosy. Obama was more cautious than that in his prime-time news conference — possibly to the point of having it both ways…. – AP, 3-24-09
  • Obama Says Nation Judging Him on Work, Not Race: President Barack Obama says Americans are judging him by the job he’s doing, not the color of his skin. – AP, 3-24-09
  • CBS News Poll: Public Wants Government to Recover Bonus Funds: Only 13 percent agreed that A.I.G. had to pay their executives those bonuses, while 83 percent said they thought the company could have found a way not to pay them.
    And 71 percent disagreed that banks and other financial institutions need to pay large bonuses to hire and keep employees with essential skills.
    Half said they were angry about the bonuses that A.I.G. executives received, and 38 percent said that, while they were not angry, the bonuses “bothered” them. Only 12 percent said they were not bothered. – NYT, 3-24-09

THE HEADLINES….

The Headlines…

  • Obama Tries to Rally Nation to His Agenda: President Obama tried to rally the nation behind his ambitious agenda Tuesday night, hoping to channel outrage at Wall Street excess into support for changes in tax, health care and energy policy that face skepticism even within his own party in Congress…. – NYT, 3-24-09
  • Live Blog: Obama’s News Conference: The second prime-time press conference for Mr. Obama is in the books. Thirteen questions, but not one about Iraq or Afghanistan. That would have been impossible to imagine during his presidential campaign. So what’s the headline? “Hang on Americans, We’ll Get Through This.”…. – NYT, 3-24-09
  • Obama Defends Economic Recovery in News Conference: With the Obama administration set to take on one of its toughest battles yet over their proposed $3.6 trillion budget, the president took to the airwaves Tuesday night, defending his team’s efforts to combat the financial crisis and pledging better days to come…. – Newshour, PBS, 3-24-09
  • Obama’s uses news conference to stress patience and persistence as he tackles problems: President Obama this evening held his second prime-time Q&A since taking office two months ago…. – USA Today, 3-24-09
  • Obama expects strong support for regulatory powers: President Barack Obama says he expects strong support from Americans and Congress for his push for unprecedented regulatory authority over financial institutions…. – AP, 3-24-09
  • Obama sees support for financial wind-down powers: “We should have obtained it much earlier so that any institution that poses a systemic risk that can bring down the financial system, we can handle and we can do it in an orderly fashion, that quarantines it from other institutions. We don’t have that power right now, that’s what (Treasury) Secretary (Timothy) Geithner is talking about and I think there’s going to be strong support from the American people and Congress to provide that authority.” – Reuters, 3-24-09
  • Obama defends budget as essential to recovery: President Obama said Tuesday “there are no quick fixes” to pull the economy out of recession, but he insisted the country will recover…. –
  • Bill Schneider: Obama gives tough answer to CNN: President Obama gave a pretty tough answer to CNN’s Ed Henry when asked why he waited days to express outrage on the AIG bonuses. “It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak,” he said. It seemed to imply the question was impertinent. CNN, 3-24-09
  • Gloria Borger: Lack of foreign policy questions astonishing: It’s astonishing President Obama was not asked more about foreign policy. The president himself had to raise the issue of his Iran tape. There was some talk on Mexico and a tad on the Middle East, but NO Iraq and Afghanistan??? How can that be? And when was the last time a president had a press conference without mentioning those, or without being asked about those?…. – CNN, 3-24-09
  • Obama to focus on economy in news conference: President Barack Obama looked to steer the nation’s economic attention to the bigger picture Tuesday night and away from recent days’ micro-focus on outrage over executive bonuses, declaring signs of progress as his administration attacks the crisis “on all fronts.” “It’s a strategy to create jobs, to help responsible homeowners, to restart lending and to grow our economy over the long term,” Obama said in remarks released in advance of his prime-time news conference. – AP, 3-24-09
  • House Republicans miss Obama’s news conference: As President Obama prepared to hold his second prime time news conference, more than 1,200 Republicans gathered 12 blocks away to break bread at a multi- million dollar fundraiser and discuss the road back to power in the nation’s capital. – CNN, 3-24-09
  • Bleak Deficit Numbers Projected Under Obama’s Budget Plan: The Congressional Budget Office released figures Friday forecasting that President Barack Obama’s budget will produce $9.3 trillion worth of red ink over 2010-2019 and that the deficit for this fiscal year will rise to a record $1.8 trillion. – Newshour, PBS, 3-24-09
  • For Populism, a Return to Economic Roots: In selecting villains, politicians reflect the anxieties of their era. Today’s populist uproar reaches far beyond the American International Group — and may mark a turning point…. – NYT, 3-24-09
  • Geithner Seeks Broader Powers Over Financial Firms: The crisis surrounding the American International Group was a near-tragedy that underlines the need for broad new government authority to regulate or even take control of financial institutions other than banks, the government’s top fiscal officials told lawmakers on Tuesday…. – NYT, 3-24-09
  • Geithner seeks new powers over financial companies: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke sought broad new powers Tuesday to regulate tottering nonbank financial companies like insurance giant AIG, and President Barack Obama said he hopes “it doesn’t take too long to convince Congress” to grant them. – AP, 3-24-09
  • Democrats in Congress Are Ready to Pare Budget: Alarmed by rising deficit predictions, Congressional Democrats prepared Tuesday to pare spending in President Obama’s budget and limit some middle-class tax cuts even as Republicans stepped up their criticism of the plan as irresponsible…. – NYT, 3-24-09
  • Senate Democrats to scrap Obama’s $400 tax credit: A top Democrat in the Senate announced a budget blueprint Tuesday that would scrap Barack Obama’s signature tax cut after 2010 and blends sleight of hand with modest cuts to domestic programs to cut the deficit to sustainable levels. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., promises to reduce the deficit from a projected $1.7 trillion this year to a still-high $508 billion in 2014. But to do so, he assumes Congress will let Obama’s “Making Work Pay” tax credit delivering $400 tax cuts to most workers and $800 to couples will expire at the end of next year. Those tax cuts were included in Obama’s stimulus package. – AP, 3-24-09
  • Next Foreign Crisis Could Be Next Door: Mexico’s economy is being dragged down by the recession to the north. American addicts have turned Mexico into a drug superhighway, and its police and soldiers are under assault from American guns. Nafta promised 15 years ago that Mexican trucks would be allowed on American roads, but the Obama administration says they are too unsafe for that… – NYT, 3-24-09
  • Senate approves former Wash. governor for Commerce: The Senate confirmed former Washington Gov. Gary Locke as commerce secretary Tuesday, handing President Barack Obama an easy victory after his first two nominees for the post withdrew. Locke, 59, was the nation’s first Chinese-American governor, serving two terms from 1997 to 2005. He has promised to focus on job creation and to closely oversee the 2010 census. – AP, 3-24-09
  • Cheney helping or hurting GOP?: Former Vice President Dick Cheney has come back into the spotlight with his criticisms of President Obama’s plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center. But some Republicans wish he weren’t being so vocal…. – USA Today, 3-24-09
  • Bishop to skip Notre Dame commencement over Obama: The Roman Catholic bishop whose diocese includes the University of Notre Dame says he will boycott President Barack Obama’s commencement speech at the Catholic school because Obama’s policies on stem cell research and abortion run counter to church teaching. – AP, 3-24-09
  • NY Gov. orders 8,900 layoffs: Gov. David Paterson on Tuesday ordered layoffs that could total about 4 percent of state workers after unions refused concessions amid a staggering economic downturn that was projected to push the state’s deficit to $16 billion in the next year. AP, 3-24-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Political Quotes

  • Transcript: President Obama’s News Conference: Following is the transcript, as it becomes available, of President Obama’s prime-time press conference on March 24, as transcribed by Federal News Service. – NYT, 3-24-09
  • La. Gov. Jindal urges GOP to stand up to Obama: “We are now in the position of being the loyal opposition,” Jindal said at a Republican congressional fundraising dinner that only by coincidence fell on the same night as Obama’s news conference. “The right question to ask is not if we want the president to fail or succeed, but whether we want America to succeed.” Saying “the time for talking about the past is over,” Jindal said Republicans have begun to find their voice after back-to-back elections losses — motivated by what he called historic Democratic spending excess…. “They’re not allowed to show my speech at Gitmo anymore,” he said. “They’ve banned that.” – AP, 3-24-09
  • President Obama’s News Conference Excerpts:
    Now, it’s important to remember that this crisis didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t result from any one action or decision. It took many years and many failures to lead us here. And it will take many months and many different solutions to lead us out. There are no quick fixes, and there are no silver bullets. That’s why we’ve put in place a comprehensive strategy designed to attack this crisis on all fronts. It’s a strategy to create jobs, to help responsible homeowners, to restart lending, and to grow our economy over the long term. And we’re beginning to see signs of progress….
    You know, there was a lot of outrage and finger-pointing last week, and much of it is is understandable. I’m as angry as anybody about those bonuses that went to some of the very same individuals who brought our financial system to its knees, partly because it’s yet another symptom of the culture that led us to this point. Bankers and executives on Wall Street need to realize that enriching themselves on the taxpayer’s dime is inexcusable, that the days of outsize rewards and reckless speculation that puts us all at risk have to be over. At the same time, the rest of us can’t afford to demonize every investor or entrepreneur who seeks to make a profit. That drive is what has always fueled our prosperity, and it is what will ultimately get these banks lending and our economy moving once more….
    We’ll recover from this recession, but it will take time; it will take patience; and it will take an understanding that when we all work together, when each of us looks beyond our own short-term interest to the wider set of obligations we have towards each other, that’s when we succeed. That’s when we prosper. And that’s what is needed right now. So let’s look towards the future with a renewed sense of common purpose, a renewed determination, and, most importantly, renewed confidence that a better day will come….

    With respect to the American people, I think folks are sacrificing left and right. They — you’ve got a lot of parents who are cutting back on everything to make sure that their kids can still go to college. You’ve got workers who are deciding to cut an entire day and entire day’s worth of pay so that their fellow co-workers aren’t laid off. I think that across the board people are making adjustments, large and small, to accommodate the fact that we’re in very difficult times right now….

    Now, we never expected, when we printed out our budget, that they would simply Xerox it and vote on it. We assume that it has to go through the legislative process. I have not yet seen the final product coming out of the Senate or the House, and we’re in constant conversations with them. I am confident that the budget we put forward will have those principles in place….

    We are providing hundreds of additional personnel that can help control the border, deal with customs issues. We are coordinating very effectively with the Mexican government and President Calderon, who has taken on a(n) extraordinarily difficult task dealing with these drug cartels that have gotten completely out of hand…. One last point that I want to make about this. As I said, President Calderon has been very courageous in taking on these drug cartels….

    First of all, I suspect that some of those Republican critics have a short memory, because as I recall, I’m inheriting a $1.3 trillion deficit, annual deficit, from them. That would be point number one….

    QUESTION: So on AIG, why did you wait — why did you wait days to come out and express that outrage? … It seems like the action is coming out of New York in the attorney general’s office. It took you days to come public with Secretary Geithner and say, look, we’re outraged. Why did it take so long? PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak. (Laughter.) All right?…

    I think it is a realistic way for us to raise some revenue from people who benefitted enormously over the last several years. It’s not going to cripple them. They’ll still be well-to-do. And, you know, ultimately if we’re going to tackle the serious problems that we’ve got, then in some cases those who are more fortunate are going to have to pay a little bit more….
    I mean, if you look at the evidence — there’s very little evidence that this has a significant impact on charitable giving. I’ll tell you what has a significant impact on charitable giving is a financial crisis and an economy that’s contracting. And so the most important thing that I can do for charitable giving is to fix the economy, to get banks lending again, to get businesses opening their doors again, to get people back to work again. Then I think charities will do just fine….

    Well, the first thing I’d say is that I’m heartbroken that any child in America is homeless. And the most important thing that I can do on their behalf is to make sure their parents have a job. And that’s why the recovery package said, as a first priority, how are we going to save or create 3.5 million jobs? How can we prevent layoffs for teachers and police officers? How can we make sure that we are investing in the infrastructure for the future that can put people back to work right away? How do we make sure that when people do lose their jobs, that their unemployment insurance is extended, that they can keep their health care?…. Now, in the meantime, we’ve got to work very closely with the states to monitor and to help people who are still falling through the cracks….

    I think that the last 64 days has been dominated by me trying to figure out how we’re going to fix the economy, and that’s — affects black, brown and white. And you know, obviously, at the Inauguration I think that there was justifiable pride on the part of the country that we had taken a step to move us beyond some of the searing legacies of racial discrimination in this country, but that lasted about a day. And you know, right now the American people are judging me exactly the way I should be judged, and that is, are we taking the steps to improve liquidity in the financial markets, create jobs, get businesses to reopen, keep America safe?…
    What we do know is this; that the status quo is unsustainable. That it is critical for us to advance a two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in their own states with peace and security. And by assigning George Mitchell the task of working as special envoy, what we’ve signaled is that we’re going to be serious from day one in trying to move the parties in a direction that acknowledges that reality. How effective these negotiations may be, I think we’re going to have to wait and see….
    And what that tells me is that if you stick to it, if you are persistent, then — then these problems can be dealt with. That whole philosophy of persistence, by the way, is one that I’m going to be emphasizing again and again in the months and years to come, as long as I am in this office. I’m a big believer in persistence. I think that when it comes to domestic affairs, if we keep on working at it, if we acknowledge that we make mistakes sometimes and that we don’t always have the right answer, and we’re inheriting very knotty problems, that we can pass health care, we can find better solutions to our energy challenges, we can teach our children more effectively, we can deal with a very real budget crisis that is not fully dealt with in my — in my budget at this point, but makes progress….
    And I’m sure there’ll be more criticism and we’ll have to make more adjustments, but we’re moving in the right direction…. We haven’t immediately eliminated the influence of lobbyists in Washington. We have not immediately eliminated wasteful pork projects. And we’re not immediately going to get Middle East peace. We’ve been in office now a little over 60 days. What I am confident about is that we’re moving in the right direction, and that the decisions we’re making are based on, how are we going to get this economy moving? How are we going to put Americans back to work? How are we going to make sure that our people are safe? And how are we going to create not just prosperity here but work with other countries for global peace and prosperity? – Transcript

  • Jindal urges GOP to put ’08 in rear view mirror: “Let’s agree on this tonight, the time for talking about the past is now over,” Jindal told 1,200 people attending a House GOP fundraiser here in Washington. “It has been healthy for Republicans to look in the mirror. It has been healthy for us to realize and admit the mistakes of the past. We have done that quite a bit. I personally have done that quite a bit since the election last fall. It’s now been close to five months since the last election. He added, “It’s time to declare our time of introspection and navel gazing officially over. It’s time to get on with the business of charting America’s future. So as of now, be it hereby resolved, that we will focus on America’s future, and on standing up for fiscal sanity… before it is too late. “Thanks primarily to the Republicans in the House of Representatives, the Republican Party has once again decided to be the conservative party in this country,” Jindal said. – CNN, 3-24-09
  • Meghan McCain: ‘I support the president’: Larry King: [President Obama] is taking some criticism for smiling and laughing [during his “60 Minutes” interview.] Are you one of those critics?
    Meghan McCain: You know, I actually am not. I think anyone that would possibly think that the president is not taking the economy seriously — I just think it’s ridiculous. …
    King: [Is President Obama getting overexposed]?
    McCain: I think he is on the verge of it. I do think you have to be careful. But it is a different generation. [My] generation … we like our celebrities. And I think that he realizes that because he is very much a Generation Y president. However, he is on the risk of alienating his older followers.
    King: Does Obama seem like the same guy who ran against your dad? How do you view him?
    McCain: He’s our president and when the election was over and when President Obama won, all negative feelings were gone. I support the president. – CNN, 3-24-09
  • Aaron Shock: Republican stalked by gossip site like he’s a Hollywood starlet: “I didn’t know what was going on,” Schock said of his first encounter with TMZ. “I was on my way to the floor for a vote, I’m talking to a constituent literally on my cell phone and there’s some guy with a handycam in street clothes walking next to me. And, so, I didn’t know what to expect.”…. “I was actually surprised by how many text messages, e-mails, phone calls I got from stay-at-home mom’s that were watching the [TMZ] show,” Schock said on State of the Union on Sunday. “People that log onto their Web site I guess regularly and check out the news on TMZ. … People who watch TMZ or different mediums don’t expect to see their congressman on such a show. They’re used to seeing the Britney Spears or the movie star.” “Some of these alternative forms [of media] are important because it gets nontraditional voters engaged,” he said. “If they’re learning about me on TMZ or some of these other blogs and YouTube videos, then they’re recognizing my face and my name so that when I’m out on CNN or the other networks talking about issues, they’re going to maybe stop . . . and listen to what I have to say.”
    The young Republican was recently voted the hottest freshman in the current Congress by readers of the Huffington Post, a liberal Web site, and he has already received a fair amount of personal attention from President Obama — though it was not enough to convince Shock to support Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package. – CNN, 3-24-09
  • 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

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Historians’ Comments

  • Julian Zelizer “AIG bonuses follow an American tradition”: In the explosion of outrage over the AIG executive bonus scandal, each party has hurled charges at the other. Both parties are blaming each other for rejecting measures that would have limited executive bonuses. A few Republicans have called for the resignation of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner — with efforts to paint him as the Michael Brown of this administration — and President Obama is promising that this week he will outline more stringent requirements for the financial world.
    These partisan accusations miss a bigger factor behind last’s week’s revelations — America’s middle-way in dealing with business-government relations. In many ways, the bonus scandal was utterly predictable and would likely have happened regardless of which party was in power. And if history is a guide, the populist outrage over the bonuses may not fundamentally change the federal government’s relationship to private business….
    As a result, like many of their predecessors, the White House and Congress allowed management the flexibility to make decisions, such as the bonuses, which have already come back to haunt them. During the next round of negotiations, the administration and Congress might rethink their earlier approach, indeed the approach we have taken to economic intervention since the progressive era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
    The federal government might place tighter regulations on the institutions receiving assistance (as it has with other recipients of government assistance, such as the poor) so that public support for the much needed interventions in this crisis doesn’t suffer more political blows. – CNN, 3-23-09
  • Joyce Appleby “Obama needs some FDR magic” In 1934, Franklin Roosevelt defied history and boosted his agenda by increasing Democrats’ strength in Congress. Can the current president do the same in 2010?: President Obama’s $3.55-trillion budget tackles the nation’s highest priorities while promising to cut deficits in the long run. Breathtakingly bold and refreshingly honest, the budget speaks louder than words about Obama’s confident leadership. But, alas, it only makes more acute the dilemma he faces….
    Does Roosevelt furnish a template for Obama? The two men share a lot. As president, both face the awesome task of reviving the economy. Obama’s personal popularity outstrips support for his party, as did FDR’s. Of necessity, Obama’s hope for matching Roosevelt’s successful record of reform and recovery is going to rest on his pulling off an electoral victory in 2010 like FDR’s 76 years ago. – LAT, 3-23-09
%d bloggers like this: