Political Highlights: Debt Ceiling Showdown 2011 Recap — President Obama Signs the Bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2011 into Law Averting 1st Default in US History


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.






Debt Ceiling Showdown All Posts; News, Quotes, Speeches, Press Conferences & Analysis on History Musings

Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown August 1-2, 2011: Debt Ceiling Crisis Averted House & Senate Pass Bipartisan Compromise Bill — President Obama Signs Budget Control Act of 2011 into Law — History Musings, 8-2-11

Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown July 25-31, 2011: Finally, a Deal! After Week of Partisan Votes in Congress — President Obama, White House, Republican & Democratic Leaders Agree to Debt Deal — Still Needs to Pass House & Senate Votes — History Musings, 8-1-11

Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown Recap July 18-24, 2011: 2 Plans, 8 Days No Debt Deal in Sight — Will the US Default on August 2, 2011? — History Musings, 7-25-11

Political Debt Ceiling Showdown Recap July 6-18, 2011: Bipartisan Senate Compromise Plan Emerges — Obama Sets New Deadline for Friday July 22, 2011 — History Musings, 7-18-11

Full Text of the Budget Control Act of 2011 — PDF

How the Senate voted: 74-26 roll call Tuesday — the Senate passed Budget Control Act of 2011 —

YES: 45 Democrats and 28 Republicans
NO: 6 Democrats and 19 Republicans

How the House of Representatives voted: 269-161 roll call Monday — the House passed Budget Control Act of 2011 —

YES: 95 Democrats and 174 Republicans
NO: 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans

Resources on the Debate About the National Debt — White House


  • Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell and the making of a debt dealPolitico, 8-2-11
  • Obama Approval Drops to New Low of 40% Similar to his approval rating for handling the debt ceiling negotiations: President Obama’s job approval rating is at a new low, averaging 40% in July 26-28 Gallup Daily tracking. His prior low rating of 41% occurred several times, the last of which was in April. As recently as June 7, Obama had 50% job approval…. – Gallop, 7-29-11
  • Majority of Americans surveyed believe Congressional leaders behaved like spoiled children: Congressional approval ratings fell to a dismal 14% in the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corp. Survey released Tuesday. It showed a whopping 77% of people felt elected officials in Washington behaved mostly like “spoiled children” in the run-up to the vote.
    Only 17% of people surveyed believed the pols behaved like “responsible adults,” with 4% saying it was a mixture of both…. – NY Daily News, 8-2-11
  • Snapshot: Obama signs debt limit bill: Just hours ahead of a deadline to avert an unprecedented default, President Barack Obama, without public ceremony, signs a bill that raises the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and sets in motion a plan to reduce U.S. deficits over 10 years…. – Reuters, 8-2-11Fact Sheet: Bipartisan Debt Deal: A Win for the Economy and Budget Discipline — White House, 7-31-11

    Timeline of the Debt Ceiling Negotiations — NYT, 7-31-11

    SNAPSHOT-U.S. lawmakers close to deal on debt: Here is what is happening on Sunday as lawmakers and the White House race to broker a deal to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion borrowing cap by Tuesday’s deadline and avoid default on obligations…. – Reuters, 7-31-11

    FACTBOX-Key elements of possible U.S. debt deal: U.S. lawmakers were working furiously on Sunday to hammer out details of a deal to raise the U.S. borrowing limit and put in place a deficit-reduction plan to help avert a potentially catastrophic debt default.
    Lawmakers, administration officials and aides have made clear that they have yet to agree on the final deal. But they did provide the following details of how the deal is taking shape…. – Reuters, 7-31-11

    FACTBOX-What’s ahead in the U.S. debt limit fight — Reuters, 7-30-11

    How Different Types of Republicans Voted on the Revised Debt Plan: Analysis of how different Republican blocs voted on the revised debt plan… – NYT

    Interactive Graphic: House Roll Call: Boehner’s Short-Term Debt Ceiling Increase — NYT

    Interactive Graphic: Comparing Deficit-Reduction Plans — NYT

    Timeline: How U.S. debt talks spiraled into crisis: The United States drifted closer to a credit rating downgrade and default on Wednesday as President Barack Obama’s Democrats and their Republican rivals worked on competing plans to cut spending and raise the debt ceiling. Following is a timeline of the U.S. debt debate… – Reuters, 7-30-11

    Factbox: Details of competing debt limit plans: House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid are pushing rival plans to raise the government’s borrowing limit before an August 2 deadline. Reid could modify his plan to attract Republican support once Boehner’s bill fails in the Senate. Here are details of the two plans… – Reuters, 7-28-11

    Factbox: House factions influence debt/deficit vote: On any major piece of legislation that moves through Congress, various factions within the House of Representatives and Senate can influence chances of success or failure.
    That has been especially true in the debate over raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit by August 2 in order to avoid a U.S. government default. Here is a rundown of the various factions — many overlap — and how they shaped the debate and how they might influence the final vote:


    Reuters, 7-28-11

    Debt ceiling Q&A: How did we get here, what happens next?LAT, 7-28-11

    Debt ceiling poll: Voters with Obama: Most Americans would like to see a mix of spending cuts and tax increases be part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, a new poll finds, aligning the majority with President Barack Obama’s position. Of those surveyed for a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday, 56 percent said they want to see a mix of approaches used in an agreement to raise the debt ceiling. The poll was conducted overnight Monday, as Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) voiced their views on the impasse in negotiations in back-to-back televised primetime speeches.
    Just 19 percent of Americans said they favor a plan like Boehner’s, which would rely solely on spending cuts to existing programs to reduce the deficit. Twelve percent said they would prefer a plan to reduce the deficit only by raising taxes.
    Americans’ blame for the impasse is spread all around, though is particularly strong against congressional Republicans, with 31 percent of those surveyed saying they are responsible for it. Twenty-one percent blamed Obama and nine percent blamed congressional Democrats…. – Politico 7-26-11

    New polls confirm Obama’s Democratic base crumbles: …”More than a third of Americans now believe that President Obama’s policies are hurting the economy, and confidence in his ability to create jobs is sharply eroding among his base,” the Post reports.
    Strong support among liberal Democrats for Obama’s jobs record has plummeted 22 points from 53% down below a third. African Americans who believe the president’s measures helped the economy have plunged from 77% to barely half.
    Obama’s overall job approval on the economy has slid below 40% for the first time, with 57% disapproving. And strong disapprovers outnumber approvers by better than two-to-one. – LAT, 7-26-11

    INFOGRAPHIC: Where does our national debt come from?: One of the fundamental things to understand when considering the debate about reducing our national debt is how we accumulated so much in the first place.
    To explain the impact various policies have had over the past decade, shifting us from projected surpluses to actual deficits and, as a result, running up the national debt, the White House has developed a graphic for you to review and share. – WH, 7-26-11

  • Factbox: How the Obama/Boehner debt talks unraveled: President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner had agreed on the rough outlines of a far-reaching budget deal that would allow the United States to avert an imminent default before Boehner broke off talks on Friday.
    Here is a summary of what the two sides had agreed upon, where they had differed, and how things fell apart… – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • Timeline: How the debt talks spiraled into crisis: With financial markets on edge, White House officials and Republican leaders scrambled to reassure them that the United States will avert default and lift its $14.3 trillion borrowing limit before August 2. Following is a timeline of the U.S. debt debate…. – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • Debt Ceiling for Dummies: Why Compromise Is so NecessaryHuff Post, 7-24-11
  • SCENARIOS-Options for raising the U.S. debt limit: Democrats and Republicans in Congress, unable to compromise on how to cut budget deficits and raise U.S. borrowing authority, are now working on their own, competing bills. With nine days’ left until the United States runs out of money to pay all its bills after Aug. 2, the two parties were rushing to get their respective bills moving through Congress this week.
    Here are some scenarios for raising the debt limit by the early August deadline to avoid a potentially crippling government default:
    OBAMA INVOKES THE CONSTITUTION… – Reuters, 7-24-11President Obama USA Today Exclusive Op-ed: Go ‘big’ on debt deal: For years now, America has been spending more money than we take in. The result is that we have too much debt on our nation’s credit card — debt that will ultimately weaken our economy, lead to higher interest rates for all Americans, and leave us unable to invest in things like education, or protect vital programs like Medicare.
    Neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this debt, but both parties have a responsibility to come together and solve the problem. That’s what the American people expect of us. Every day, families are figuring out how to stretch their paychecks a little further, sacrifice what they can’t afford, and budget only for what’s truly important. It’s time for Washington to do the same…. – USA Today, 7-21-11
  • Poll: Sharp Partisan Divide Over Debt Ceiling Deal: With the deadline to broker a debt ceiling deal fast approaching, Americans are craving a solution but remain strongly divided along party lines over how to achieve it, according to a CNN/ORC poll released today.
    The poll finds 64% of Americans want a package that includes both spending cuts and tax increases, although the partisan divide is clear: 83% of Democrats and nearly two-thirds of independents support this combined approach, while only 37% of Republicans say they agree. A majority of Republicans and self-described tea party supporters support a plan that only includes spending cuts…. – NY Daily News, 7-21-11
  • ‘Cut, cap, and balance’ vs. ‘gang of six’ plan: Which for House GOP?: ‘Cut, cap, and balance’ legislation, which lays out a GOP plan to eliminate the US budget deficit, is set for a House vote late Tuesday. A symbolic move, the vote is nonetheless vital to Republicans. Here’s why…. – CS Monitor, 7-20-11
  • Latest developments in debt ceiling standoff: Congress has until Aug. 2 to raise the federal borrowing limit or the government will run out of money and possibly default on its debt. House Republicans say they won’t raise the debt limit without equal spending cuts. President Barack Obama and Democrats insist that higher revenues must be included.
    Monday’s developments: Obama says the two sides are “making progress” in negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says the Senate will meet each day until the issue is resolved.
    What’s Next: Republican House to vote Tuesday on bill to cut and cap spending and require that Congress pass a balanced budget amendment before the debt ceiling can be raised. While the bill is unlikely to pass the Democratic Senate, Obama threatens to veto it. – AP, 7-18-11
  • McConnell Offers Three-Stage Debt-Limit ‘Last Choice’ Option: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell proposed a “last choice option” for increasing the U.S. debt limit in three stages in case President Barack Obama and Congress can’t agree on a deficit-reduction plan.
    McConnell’s plan would let the president raise the limit, while accompanying it with offsetting spending cuts, unless Congress struck down his plan with a two-thirds majority. The debt-ceiling increase could occur without the companion spending cuts, McConnell said.
    Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, said the plan would allow Obama to raise the debt limit while putting the onus on him and congressional Democrats for any failure to cut spending. At the same time, Republicans wouldn’t have to agree to tax increases.
    The proposal is “not my first choice,” McConnell said, adding that he wanted to show the financial markets that the U.S. will not default on its debts. He said he continues to seek a broader deal to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit with congressional Democrats and the White House. “We’re certainly not going to send a signal to the markets and the American people that default is an option,” he said…. – Bloomberg, 7-12-11
  • Timeline: Debt debate, 7-11-11: President Barack Obama and top lawmakers will meet again Monday in search of a deal on slashing the U.S. budget deficit and raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling before the United States defaults.
    Obama wants to strike a deal well before August 2, when the Treasury Department says it will no longer be able to honor its obligations and issue new bonds without breaching the limit that Congress set on how much the United States can borrow.
    Republican and Democratic lawmakers say any increase must include measures to ensure the country’s debt remains at a sustainable level. The debt-reduction debate is a sharp shift for Washington, which less than a year ago was focused on additional deficit spending to lower the unemployment rate.
    Following is a timeline of the debate…. – Reuters, 7-11-11
  • Factbox: What’s on the table in debt talks: President Barack Obama and congressional leaders resume their White House talks on Monday to see if they have the makings of a deal to trim budget deficits and avert a looming default.
    The Treasury Department has warned it will run out of money to cover the country’s bills if Congress does not raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by August 2.
    Although Democrats and Republicans agree on the need for trillions of dollars in budget savings, they remain sharply divided about how to get there.
    Following is a summary of the debate… – Reuters, 7-11-11
  • Bruce Bartlett: Five myths about the debt ceiling: In recent months, the federal debt ceiling — last increased in February 2010 and now standing at $14.3 trillion — has become a matter of national debate and political hysteria. The ceiling must be raised by Aug. 2, Treasury says, or the government will run out of cash. Congressional Republicans counter that they won’t raise the debt limit unless Democrats agree to large budget cuts with no tax increases. President Obama insists that closing tax loopholes must be part of the package. Whom and what to believe in the great debt-limit debate? Here are some misconceptions that get to the heart of the battle….

    1. The debt limit is an effective way to control spending and deficits.
    2. Opposition to raising the debt limit is a partisan issue.
    3. Financial markets won’t care much if interest payments are just a few days late — a “technical default.”
    4. It’s worth risking default on the debt to prevent a tax increase, given the weak economy.
    5. Obama must accept GOP budget demands because he needs Republican support to raise the debt limit….

    WaPo, 7-7-11

Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown August 1-2, 2011: Debt Ceiling Crisis Averted House & Senate Pass Bipartisan Compromise Bill — President Obama Signs Budget Control Act of 2011 into Law


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.


Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell are pictured. | AP Photo composite by POLITICO


  • Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown August 1-2, 2011: Debt Ceiling Crisis Averted House & Senate Pass Bipartisan Compromise Bill — President Obama Signs Budget Control Act of 2011 into Law — History Musings, 8-2-11
  • Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown July 25-31, 2011: Finally, a Deal! After Week of Partisan Votes in Congress — President Obama, White House, Republican & Democratic Leaders Agree to Debt Deal — Still Needs to Pass House & Senate Votes — History Musings, 8-1-11
  • Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown Recap July 18-24, 2011: 2 Plans, 8 Days No Debt Deal in Sight — Will the US Default on August 2, 2011? — History Musings, 7-25-11
  • How the Senate voted: 74-26 roll call Tuesday — the Senate passed Budget Control Act of 2011 —

    YES: 45 Democrats and 28 Republicans
    NO: 6 Democrats and 19 Republicans

    How the House of Representatives voted: 269-161 roll call Monday — the House passed Budget Control Act of 2011 —

    YES: 95 Democrats and 174 Republicans
    NO: 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans

    Resources on the Debate About the National Debt — White House

  • Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell and the making of a debt dealPolitico, 8-2-11
  • Obama Approval Drops to New Low of 40% Similar to his approval rating for handling the debt ceiling negotiations: President Obama’s job approval rating is at a new low, averaging 40% in July 26-28 Gallup Daily tracking. His prior low rating of 41% occurred several times, the last of which was in April. As recently as June 7, Obama had 50% job approval…. – Gallop, 7-29-11
  • Majority of Americans surveyed believe Congressional leaders behaved like spoiled children: Congressional approval ratings fell to a dismal 14% in the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corp. Survey released Tuesday. It showed a whopping 77% of people felt elected officials in Washington behaved mostly like “spoiled children” in the run-up to the vote.
    Only 17% of people surveyed believed the pols behaved like “responsible adults,” with 4% saying it was a mixture of both…. – NY Daily News, 8-2-11
  • Snapshot: Obama signs debt limit bill: Just hours ahead of a deadline to avert an unprecedented default, President Barack Obama, without public ceremony, signs a bill that raises the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and sets in motion a plan to reduce U.S. deficits over 10 years…. – Reuters, 8-2-11


Obama signs debt-ceiling deal into law: President Obama has signed into law the bill raising the federal debt ceiling just hours before the Treasury said it could begin running out of money to pay the government’s bills, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.

President Obama says work not done: After the Senate passed the debt deal and removed the threat of default the day the Treasury was expected to run out of funds, President Obama told the American people from the Rose Garden that “the next phase” of the process involved such things as entitlement and tax reform, extended unemployment benefits and middle-class tax cuts.
He urged Congress to tackle those issues when it returns from its August recess.
“Voters may have chosen divided government, but they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government,” Obama said. “They want us to solve problems.”
The president added “While deficit reduction is part of that agenda, it is not the whole agenda.”

Congress approves debt deal, averts U.S. default: The Senate approved a plan, 74 to 26, Tuesday that will increase the federal debt ceiling just hours before the Treasury said it could begin running out of money to pay the government’s bills.
The measure now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it shortly. The plan will cut the national debt by at least $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years with no immediate provision for tax increases.

Senate begins vote on debt deal: Approval would send the measure to President Obama and immediately grant the Treasury $400 billion in additional borrowing authority, just hours before a midnight deadline.

  • Full Text of the Budget Control Act of 2011 — PDFHow the Senate voted: 74-26 roll call Tuesday — the Senate passed Budget Control Act of 2011 —

    YES: 45 Democrats and 28 Republicans
    NO: 6 Democrats and 19 Republicans

    How the House of Representatives voted: 269-161 roll call Monday — the House passed Budget Control Act of 2011 —

    YES: 95 Democrats and 174 Republicans
    NO: 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans

    “It was a long and contentious debate. And I want to thank the American people for keeping up the pressure on their elected officials to put politics aside and work together.” — President Barack Obama

    “We have seen in the past few days that Washington has the ability to focus when there is a timer ticking down and when there is a looming disaster. It shouldn’t take the risk of default, the risk of economic catastrophe, to get folks in this town to get together and do their jobs. Our economy didn’t need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse.” — President Barack Obama

    “It may have been messy. It might have appeared to some like their government wasn’t working. But, in fact, the opposite was true. The push and pull Americans saw in Washington these past few weeks was not gridlock. It was the will of the people working itself out in a political system that was never meant to be pretty…. It was a debate that Washington needed to have.” — — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    The bill passed by the House last night isn’t the bill we’d write if conservatives ran Washington, but it’s a step in the right direction. When I went to NY & said we wouldn’t pass a debt limit increase without spending cuts larger than the hike, skeptics said we were crazy. We’ve proven the skeptics wrong. When Americans stay engaged in their government, there’s no limit to what can get done. Keep up the fight. — Speaker of the House John Boehner

    “Never again will any president from either party be allowed to raise the debt ceiling without being held accountable for it by the American people. And in addition to that, without having to engage in the kind of debate we just went thorough. This kind of discussion isn’t something to dread. It’s something to welcome.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    “The American people want to see accountability and cooperation in Washington. And they want to see that we’re working to get our fiscal house in order. This legislation doesn’t get us there. But for the first time in a long time, I think we can say to the American people that we’re finally facing in the right direction.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    “It is the beginning of a process where we are going to change a system in this town. And it also, I think, sends a signal that we can work together to try and produce results.” — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

    “It’s hard to believe that we are putting our best foot forward with the legislation that comes before us today. I’m not happy with it, but I’m proud of some of the accomplishments contained in it.” — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

    “There is great incentive created in this committee to deal with tax reform. It is certainly our expectation that that product will include revenue as well as other areas of finding deficit reduction.” — Speaker of the House Jay Carney

    “I believe the joint select committee can in fact produce real cuts in spending.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

    Senator Tom Coburn: Why I voted against the debt deal”: “The real debt crisis is not a debate that has been imposed on Washington by Tea Party activists. It is a crisis Washington has imposed on the American people through laziness.” — WaPo, 8-2-11

  • Snapshot: Obama signs debt limit bill: Just hours ahead of a deadline to avert an unprecedented default, President Barack Obama, without public ceremony, signs a bill that raises the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and sets in motion a plan to reduce U.S. deficits over 10 years…. – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Debt Bill Becomes Law; Default Averted: The Senate voted Tuesday to raise the government’s debt ceiling and cut trillions of dollars from its spending, finally ending a fractious partisan battle just hours before the government’s borrowing authority was set to run out.
    The bill, which passed 74 to 26 after a short debate devoid of the oratorical passion that had echoed through both chambers of Congress for weeks, was signed by President Obama later on Tuesday.
    A few minutes after the vote, President Obama excoriated his Republican opposition for what he called a manufactured crisis that could have been avoided. “Voters may have chosen divided government,” he said, “but they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government…. – NYT, 8-2-11
  • Fitch: US Debt deal alone won’t sustain AAA rating: The bill to raise the country’s borrowing limit and prevent a possible U.S. debt default passed in Congress. But it not enough for the U.S. to maintain its coveted AAA debt rating, according to Fitch Ratings.
    On Tuesday, Fitch said the agreement was an important first step but “not the end of the process.” The rating agency wants to see a credible plan to reduce the budget deficit.
    David Riley, managing director at Fitch, told The Associated Press: “There’s more to be done in order to keep the rating in the medium-term.”… – AP, 8-2-11
  • Senate passes, Obama signs debt limit bill: President Obama signed a bill to raise the nation’s borrowing limit on Tuesday, just hours after the Senate voted 74-26 in favor of the deal that will cut government spending by trillions and effectively raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2012…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • President Obama Signs Debt Deal as Next Fight Looms: Hours before the U.S. faced a first-ever default, President Obama signed into law a compromise deal that averts a crisis by raising the debt limit, but signaled that he will not abandon his stalled efforts to raise taxes on the wealthy.
    “It’s an important first step to ensuring that as a nation we live within our means, yet it also allows us to keep making key investments in things like education and research that lead to new jobs and assures that we’re not cutting too abruptly while the economy’s still fragile,” Obama said in a statement from the White House Rose Garden before signing the bill.
    Moments before his remarks, senators voted 74 to 26 to pass the Budget Control Act, the last hurdle for the controversial measure that was first approved by the House Monday night, making a $2.4 trillion down-payment on the federal deficit over the next 10 years.
    Obama’s signature ends a bruising Washington-made crisis that has gripped the country and lifts what the administration has called a “cloud of uncertainty hanging over the economy.”… – ABC News, 8-2-11
  • With debt debate over, Obama urges focus on jobs: President Obama marked the end of the “long and contentious” debt-limit debate Tuesday afternoon, lamenting that the “manufactured crisis” has stunted the economic recovery and promising a return to a jobs-focused agenda.
    The president spoke from the Rose Garden moments after the Senate gave final approval to the deal by a vote of 74-26. The House had voted for it by a surprisingly comfortable 269-161 margin on Monday.
    Obama signed the measure more than an hour after the Senate vote, ensuring that the nation is able to continue borrowing money to pay its bills.
    The president called the deficit-reduction measures paired with the debt-limit increase an “important first step to ensuring that as a nation we continue living within our means.” But he also said he would continue to fight for a “balanced” approach when Congress continues the debate this fall.
    “I’ve said it before, I will say it again: We can’t balance the budget on the backs of the very people who have born the biggest brunt of this recession,” he said…. – LAT, 8-2-11
  • Obama says more needed to boost U.S. economy: President Barack Obama said on Tuesday a just-passed bill to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and cut spending was a first step toward ensuring the United States lives within its means but that more was needed to rebuild the world’s largest economy.
    Speaking at the White House, Obama made clear he expects tax reform to emerge from deliberations by a new committee of Democrats and Republicans to be established by the legislation and that a “balanced approach” in which the wealthier pay more taxes is needed for more deficit reduction.
    Obama, a Democrat, said uncertainty from the bitter debt debate had been an impediment to business but the economic recovery also suffered from unforeseen problems such as the Japan earthquake and tsunami.
    Obama urged Congress to pass stalled trade bills and said he wants tax cuts for the middle class and unemployment benefits extended.
    “Both parties share power in Washington. And both parties need to take responsibility for improving this economy,” Obama said shortly after the Senate passed the debt bill and sent it to him for signing into law.
    “I’ll be discussing additional ideas in the weeks ahead to help companies hire, invest and expand.”… – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Obama hails passage of debt limit compromise: President Obama hailed a hard-fought, last-minute deal to avert economic catastrophe Tuesday, saying a compromise to cut spending and increase the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit marked an “important first step to ensuring that as a nation we live within our means.”
    The bill, he said, was the outcome of a “long and contentious debate” to avoid a man-made economic disaster that he described as creating “unsettling” economic uncertainty. He said that while voters chose divided government, “they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government.”
    “It shouldn’t take the risk of default, the risk of economic catastrophe, to get folks in this town to get together and do their jobs,” the president said. He added: “Our economy didn’t need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse.”
    Mr. Obama plans to sign the legislation in a closed-door ceremony Tuesday afternoon. It will effectively increase the nation’s borrowing authority through the end of next year and promises more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years.
    Now that the debt limit fight is effectively over, Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats say they will pivot to a focus on jobs and the economy, which they say should be Congress’ top priority.
    “We’ve got to do everything in our power to grow this economy and put Americans back to work,” Mr. Obama said Tuesday. He called on Congress to extend middle class tax cuts and unemployment benefits, pass trade deals and plow money into infrastructure when it returns from its August recess…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Obama signs debt-limit bill into law: The Senate passed a landmark plan to raise the federal debt limit and reduce government spending Tuesday, ending a partisan stalemate that threatened to plunge the nation into default and destabilize the world economy.
    The measure was approved by a vote of 74 to 26. It promptly went to President Obama, who signed it into law, giving the government the money to pay its bills ahead of a midnight deadline.
    Speaking in the White House Rose Garden after the Senate vote, Obama called the legislation “an important first step” in ensuring that the nation lives within its means, and he said it avoids “cutting too abruptly while the economy is still fragile.” He vowed to keep working for a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction that includes “reforming our tax code so that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share.”
    The Senate vote came a day after the House voted 269 to 161 to pass the plan, as recalcitrant Republicans and disappointed Democrats rallied around calls to avert the nation’s first default and rein in ballooning deficits. The measure immediately grants the Treasury $400 billion in additional borrowing authority, with more to follow…. – WaPo, 8-2-11
  • Debt ceiling bill passes Senate, 74-26: Treasury won an immediate reprieve of $400 billion in new borrowing authority Tuesday, as the Senate gave final approval to a hotly contested debt and deficit-reduction agreement hammered out with the White House Sunday night.
    The bipartisan 74-26 roll call followed a 269-161 vote in the House Monday evening and the bill will be quickly signed by President Barack Obama, ending an unprecedented, hard-edged political struggle that pushed the nation to the brink of default.
    Indeed, the stakes were far larger than the April shutdown fight, and more than any single event this year, the debt ceiling fight captured all the power—and critics would say extreme risk-taking—of the anti-government backlash that fueled the GOP’s gains in the 2010 elections…. – Politico, 8-2-11
  • Done Deal Senate Passes Debt Ceiling Bill 74-26: Members of the Senate this afternoon approved a bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, narrowly avoiding the nation’s first-ever default.
    The bill garnered broad bipartisan support in today’s 74-26 vote. The House passed the measure yesterday by a vote of 269-to-161, with only two members of the city’s congressional delegation supporting it.
    The bill now heads straight to President Barack Obama’s desk for signing…. – NY1, 8-2-11
  • Senate Passes Debt Plan to Avert Default: The Senate put an end to months of partisan impasse on Tuesday, passing a landmark budget agreement to raise the debt ceiling and sending the measure to the White House for President Obama’s signature — just hours before the government’s borrowing authority was set to run out at midnight.
    The bipartisan vote was 74 to 26 , a margin that belied the intensity of a fight that has left both parties bruised and exhausted.
    With the ambivalent support of Congressional leaders in both parties and Mr. Obama, the compromise, which passed the House with bipartisan support on Monday night, averts a potential default on the government’s debt and provides for increases in the debt ceiling to be phased in, with compensating budget cuts, lasting beyond the 2012 elections. Enactment of the legislation would signal a pronounced shift in fiscal policy, from the heavy spending on economic stimulus and warfare of the past few years to a regime of steep spending cuts aimed at reducing the deficits — so far, without new revenues sought by the White House…. – NYT, 8-2-11
  • Senate passes debt deal: The Senate approved — and President Obama is likely to sign — $2.4 trillion in budget cuts and a roughly equal amount of additional debt capacity, ending months of gridlock.
    The 74-26 Senate vote came just in time to avoid an unprecedented default that Treasury officials predicted could happen if Congress didn’t raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit by today.
    The debt drama wasn’t a one-act play. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said it would be the “template” for all future debt limit increases…. – USA Today, 8-2-11
  • Senate approves bill to raise debt ceiling; sends to President Obama: The Senate voted on Tuesday to approve a deal to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, voting 74-26 for a bill that would cut government spending by trillions and effectively raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2012. The bill will now be sent to President Obama, who is expected to sign it immediately.
    The bill was brokered Sunday night in last-minute negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders.
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a key player in the negotiations, and Majority Leader Harry Reid,D-Nev., both backed the bill – paving the way for its easy passage in the Senate.
    The six Democrats who voted against the measure on Tuesday were sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Tom Harkin (Ia.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.). Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who caucuses with Democrats, also voted against the measure.
    Nineteen Republican senators voted against the bill…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Debt battle set to draw to close, for now: The United States is poised to step back from the brink of economic disaster on Tuesday when a bitterly fought deal to cut the budget deficit is expected to clear its final hurdles.
    Just hours before the Treasury’s authority to borrow funds runs out — risking a damaging U.S. debt default — the Senate and President Barack Obama are expected to approve a deal to cut a bulging deficit and lift the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling enough to last beyond the November 2012 elections.
    The bill overcame its biggest obstacle late on Monday when the Republican-led House of Representatives passed the measure despite noisy opposition from both conservative Tea Party members, who wanted more spending cuts, and liberal Democrats angered by potential hits to programs for the poor.
    The vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate, due to take place at noon EDT, is expected to be less dramatic. If approved, Obama would sign the bill into law shortly afterward.
    That would mark the end of a fierce partisan battle that has paralyzed Washington for weeks and spooked investors already nervous about a weak U.S. economy and Europe’s sovereign debt woes…. – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Senate expected to vote in favor of debt-limit bill: The Senate is set to vote this afternoon on the bill to raise the debt limit that the House approved Monday. Senators are expected to approve it and then send the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature.
    With a strong backing from Democrats, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the House on Monday approved raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
    The Senate is expected to approve it at noon today, and President Barack Obama is prepared to sign it almost immediately, averting the prospect of an unprecedented default…. – AP, 8-2-11
  • House Approved Debt Bill Faces Final Hurdle: The Senate today is expected to sign off on a compromise bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and avoid the country’s first ever default on its bills.
    The House passed the measure yesterday by a vote of 269-to-161, with only two members of the city’s congressional delegation supporting it.
    Once approved, the bill will head straight to President Barack Obama’s desk for signing.
    The measure allows for a $2.4 trillion increase to the debt ceiling, but also slashes about $2 trillion from the federal budget. It also means Congress doesn’t have to deal with the debt ceiling again until 2013.
    Many Republicans say it still does not cut enough spending, while many Democrats slammed the deal because it does not include tax hikes…. – NY1, 8-2-11
  • Republicans Turn to Dealmaker McConnell for Compromise: While Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell stayed out of the spotlight during much of the negotiations over the U.S. debt limit, the deal that’s headed for approval by Congress today has his fingerprints all over it.
    Those who have worked with McConnell say that is typical of the lawmaker from Kentucky, a tight-lipped veteran of 26 years in the Senate who says little in public while wielding broad power behind closed doors.
    He “tends to be underestimated by the press, because they don’t see him doing things,” said former Senator Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican and longtime ally. “He’s not at the microphones all the time, so they underestimate his capacity to do things. And he’s the last person in the Senate you want to underestimate.”
    The deficit-reduction deal that is set for a Senate vote today is largely a product of direct negotiations among McConnell, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi…. – Bloomberg, 8-2-11
  • Senate to Vote on Debt-Ceiling Bill: The Senate is expected at noon Tuesday to sign off on a bipartisan agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling and cut as much as $2.4 trillion from budget deficits, after the House passed the measure 269-161 last night.
    The deal is the product of one of the most ferocious fights ever over government spending and political brinksmanship that caused economic uncertainty and continues to threaten the nation’s prized AAA credit rating. Its passage through the Senate makes it likely that Congress won’t break Tuesday’s deadline set by the Treasury Department after which the nation could run out of money to pay all of its bills.
    WSJ’s Alan Murray and Joe White join the News Hub panel to discuss Monday evening’s House vote to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, and look ahead to Tuesday’s vote in the Senate. WSJ Photo.
    Passage in the House came despite the opposition of both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, both of whom balked at the deal reached over the weekend between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders.
    However, the agreement was expected to obtain the 60 votes needed for it to pass the Senate, paving the way for Mr. Obama to sign it into law Tuesday afternoon…. – WSJ, 8-2-11
  • Senate poised to pass debt deal despite criticism from left, right: The Senate will vote at noon Tuesday to approve a bipartisan deal to raise the debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and send it President Obama before the 11:59 p.m. deadline.
    The deal is expected to attract strong support from mainstream senators on both sides of the aisle while the chamber’s most liberal and conservative members will vote no.
    It passed the House easily Monday evening by a vote of 269 to 161.
    Wall Street, however, did not seem impressed by the deficit-reduction package, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 0.75 percent and the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell by 1 percent Tuesday morning.
    Senators from both parties lined up to praise and criticize the agreement…. – The Hill, 8-2-11
  • Obama, GOP brace for ‘Super Committee’: It’s a bird … it’s a plane … It’s Super Committee!
    As President Obama prepares to sign the debt ceiling agreement later today, lawmakers are already positioning themselves for the special congressional committee that will be assigned to look for $1.5 trillion in debt reduction over the next ten years.
    Some observers are joking about whether members of so-called “Super Committee” will don capes and costumes with dollar sign logos, but the political parties are preparing another serious battle over the topics that dominated the debt ceiling debate: Taxes, spending, and the scope of government.
    Obama and aides said they will continue pushing the idea that any debt reduction plan must be “balanced,” including not only spending cuts but more taxes from the nation’s wealthiest Americans.
    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said “it’s going to be pretty hard” for the committee to recommend taxes, and suggested that GOP appointees would block such a move…. – USA Today, 8-2-11
  • Obama shifts to the right: President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks from White House briefing room, Sunday, July 31, 2011 in Washington, about a deal being reached to raise the debt limit. (AP)
    The most distressing outcome of the deficit hysteria gripping Washington may be what Barack Obama has revealed about himself. It was disconcerting to watch the president slip-slide so easily into voicing the fallacious economic arguments of the right. It was shocking when he betrayed core principles of the Democratic Party, portraying himself as high-minded and brave because he defied his loyal constituents. Supporters may hope this rightward shift was only a matter of political tactics, but I think Obama has at last revealed his sincere convictions. If he wins a second term, he will be free to strike a truly rotten “grand bargain” with Republicans—“pragmatic” compromises that will destroy the crown jewels of democratic reform.
    The president has done grievous damage to the most vulnerable by trying to fight the GOP on its ground—accepting the premise that deficits and debt should be a national priority. He made the choice more than a year ago to push aside the real problem—the vast loss and suffering generated by a failing economy…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Debt ceiling agreement a fair compromise?Politico Arena, 7-31-11
  • Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell and the making of a debt deal: Almost as abruptly, the compromise started coming together. What happened during a weekend of frenzied negotiations to salvage the deal is a tale of cataclysm narrowly averted, a historic debt-reduction plan that satisfies none of its signatories and a lesson on how even the most dysfunctional political system can be made functional through the injection of fear, finesse and Joe Biden’s old friendships…. – Politico, 8-2-11
  • Pols all ‘look like idiots’ during debt crisis, but President Obama takes biggest hit of them all: There are no real winners in the debt-crisis debacle, and in such moments the leader of the country absorbs a larger hit than most.
    The tawdry spectacle of governmental paralysis, engineered by take-no-prisoner Tea Party newbies and abetted by Republicans fearful of crossing them, is more reminiscent of a banana republic.
    “We all look like idiots,” a dismayed Democratic Party elder complained as Congress lurched toward sidestepping a financial meltdown. “The extremists have taken over the system. This is not a good omen for anyone.”
    President Obama, least of all.
    Obama got less than a half loaf, but came away with some positives from the shotgun-wedding compromise. He pushed back the next debt extension donnybrook to 2013, guaranteeing this summer’s legislative chaos won’t be rerun during next year’s campaign.
    He also averted an even bigger embarrassment – America didn’t, on his watch, default on its debt obligations for the first time in history.
    But even Obama loyalists on Capitol Hill privately say he didn’t exactly burnish his leadership credentials in this process. “At the end of the day, voters expect their President to bring people together,” one of them said. “He hasn’t been able to on this.”…. – NY Daily News, 8-2-11


How they voted: The 269-161 roll call Monday by which the House passed the compromise bill to raise the debt ceiling and prevent a government default.

YES: 95 Democrats and 174 Republicans.
NO: 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans.

House approves raise in federal debt ceiling; bill goes to Senate: The House approved a bill Monday night that raises the federal debt limit and cuts discretionary spending by $1 trillion over the next 10 years, a key step toward averting a government default. The 269 to 161 vote sends the bill to the Senate, which is likely to consider the plan Tuesday — the day that the Treasury has said it would begin running short of cash to pay the nation’s bills. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords cast her first vote in the House since being shot in January, voting yes.

I would like to say this bill solves our problem. It doesn’t. It’s a solid first step.” — Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R) of Texas, the House Republican Conference chairman

“Although not perfect, [it] will begin to change the culture here in Washington.” — House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) Virginia

“Beginning to take steps toward fixing our fiscal problems will in fact provide more confidence for employers in America.” — Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio

“The Capitol looks beautiful, and I am honored to be at work tonight… I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy. I have closely followed the debate over our debt ceiling and have been deeply disappointed at what’s going on in Washington. After weeks of failed debate in Washington, I was pleased to see a solution to this crisis emerge.” — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona

“Gabby is voting to support the bipartisan debt-ceiling compromise. This is a huge step in her recovery, and an example of what we all know — she is determined to get better, and to serve CD8 and our nation. This vote — expected to be very close — was simply too important for her to miss.” — Gabrielle Gifford’s Facebook Page

“There isn’t a name that stirs more love, more admiration, more respect, more wishing for our daughters to be like her than the name of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Thank you, Gabby.” — Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader

“That’s why I’m here. Nancy [Pelosi] was kind enough to call me.”…
When I went up, she said, ‘Joe. I said, ‘Now we’re both members of the Cracked Head Club.’ You know, I had two craniotomies. For real. They literally took the top of my head off. Twice. Now, the wags in Delaware, when the second operation occurred, wrote and said, ‘Well, it’s because they couldn’t find a brain the first time!’
She and I just commiserated about the steps to recovery. Hers, much more consequential. But it scares the living devil out of you when you’re recovering from a serious operation or injury to your head. But it comes back. And knowing people who’ve been through it and came back was helpful, for me anyway. You know what I mean?
She’s remarkable. She’s remarkable. Will matters. Will matters. I tell you what, she’s the embodiment of a strong, strong woman. Think about what that woman has been through, and think about her determination.
It’s really good. Here I am hugging Gabby and Michele Bachmann. Seriously. I’m being literal. Sure! I like Michele Bachmann. For real. We’re all standing there around and Michele walks up to see Gabby because she cares about her… There is a basic humanity here, man. It matters, between people. I know that sounds corny.”…
He then recalled what he said was one of the most emotional moments he ever saw. Hubert Humphrey, the former vice president and US senator from Minnesota, was dying of cancer and made an appearance on the Senate floor. “He could hardly walk. He walked into the well. And Barry Goldwater got out of his seat, hugged him in the well, and the both embraced each other for a good three minutes, crying. These were arch, arch, arch ideological enemies. There’s a lot of humanity left here.” — Vice President Joe Biden Boston Globe, 8-1-11

House approves debt deal a day before deadline – Reuters, 8-1-11

  • WaPo, 8-2-11
  • House OKs debt; Giffords brings down the House: Crisis legislation to yank the nation past the threat of a historic financial default sped through the House Monday night, breaking weeks of deadlock. The rare moment of cooperation turned celebratory when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords strode in for the first time since she was shot in the head nearly seven months ago.
    The vote was 269-161, a scant day ahead of the deadline for action. But all eyes were on Giffords, who drew thunderous applause as she walked into the House chamber unannounced and cast her vote in favor of the bill.
    A final Senate sign-off for the measure is virtually assured on Tuesday. Aside from raising the debt limit, the bill would slice federal spending by at least $2.1 trillion, and perhaps much more.
    “If the bill were presented to the president, he would sign it,” the White House said, an understatement of enormous proportions…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • House Passes Deal to Avert Debt Crisis: After months of partisan impasse, the House on Monday approved a budget agreement intended to head off a potential government default, pushing Congress a big step closer to the conclusion of a bitter fight that has left both parties bruised and exhausted. Despite the tension and uncertainty that has surrounded efforts to raise the debt ceiling, the vote of 269 to 161 was relatively strong in support of the plan, which would cut more than $2.1 trillion in government spending over 10 years while extending the borrowing authority of the Treasury Department. It would also create a powerful new joint Congressional committee to recommend broad changes in spending — and possibly in tax policy — to reduce the deficit.
    Scores of Democrats initially held back from voting, to force Republicans to register their positions first. Then, as the time for voting wound down, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, returned to the floor for the first time since being shot in January and voted for the bill to jubilant applause and embraces from her colleagues. It provided an unexpected, unifying ending to a fierce standoff in the House.
    The Senate, where approval is considered likely, is scheduled to vote at noon on Tuesday and then send the measure to Mr. Obama less than 12 hours before the time when the Treasury Department has said it could become unable to meet all of its financial obligations…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Debt-ceiling bill clears House. Now, hopes that Round 2 will be better: With the House passing a debt-ceiling bill Monday, and end of the debt crisis is in sight. But more cutting lies ahead, and both sides are hopeful they’ll get more of what they want…. – CS Monitor, 8-1-11
  • Debt deal easily clears House, final passage likely: Congress was poised to send President Obama a compromise deficit-reduction package topping $2 trillion Tuesday, just hours before the nation could run out of borrowed money to pay its bills.
    After months of bitter partisan wrangling, the House on Monday easily approved the landmark measure raising the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit by a 269-161 vote. The Senate is expected to approve it at noon Tuesday, and Obama is prepared to sign it almost immediately, averting the prospect of an unprecedented default…..
    Republican leaders boasted that they got two-thirds of the spending cuts they sought, leading GOP House members to vote 174-66 in favor of the bill. Democrats who split 95-95 on the measure were left to highlight the cuts they averted…. – USA Today, 8-1-11
  • Debt deal clears House on 269-161 vote; Senate passage expected Tuesday: A bipartisan bill to increase the nation’s debt limit and cut as much as $2.4 trillion in government spending passed the House of Representatives, overcoming the key hurdle on the road to averting an unprecedented federal default.
    The legislation, which passed Monday evening by a relatively comfortable 269-161 margin, came after a weekend of tense meetings, exhausted staff discussions and, in the end, a compromise worked out at the highest levels of government. If passed by the Senate on Tuesday, which is widely expected, it will end a months-long standoff between a new Republican House majority, which refused to pass an increase without a deficit reduction package, and the Democratic majority in the Senate and President Barack Obama…. – Bellingham Herald, 8-1-11
  • House passes debt ceiling agreement; Senate vote expected Tuesday: The U.S. House on Monday passed the debt-ceiling deal worked out by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders, sending it to the Senate for consideration a day before the deadline for the government to face possible default.
    A Senate vote was expected Tuesday, according to multiple Senate leadership aides from each party…. – CNN, 8-1-11
  • Pelosi rallies Dems to help pass debt plan: House minority leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco provided 95 Democratic votes – half of her caucus – to approve a $2 trillion-plus, 10-year debt-reduction package Monday that helped make up for a slew of defections by Tea Party-backed Republicans.
    Pelosi urged Democrats to swallow hard on the package, which did not include new taxes as they had wanted, to save the nation from a potentially calamitous cash shortfall. The final vote was 269 to 161, with 66 Republicans voting no on grounds that the spending cuts did not go deep enough.
    Rep. Gabrielle Giffords,the Arizona Democrat shot in the head by a gunman in January, made a dramatic entrance onto the House floor to cast her vote for the deal…. – San Francisco Chronicle, 8-1-11
  • House Passes Compromise Debt Bill: 7:42 p.m. | Updated The House of Representatives approved the debt ceiling bargain negotiated over the weekend by President Obama and leaders from both parties, sending the measure to the Senate. Final approval that could come Tuesday.
    Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, told his colleagues that the Senate will take up the debt bill at noon on Tuesday, just hours before the midnight deadline when the nation’s borrowing authority will run out.
    The final vote was 269 to 161, with 66 Republicans and 95 Democrats voting no. Many Democratic lawmakers joined dozens of Tea Party-backed Republicans in calling it a bad deal for the country. But the complicated legislation to raise the debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion earned the support of members from both parties to win approval.
    Senators said they planned to take up the legislation as soon as Monday evening or Tuesday, hours before a deadline that might have led to a federal default.
    The passage came in dramatic fashion as Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, made her first appearance back in the chamber since she was shot in the head by an assailant during a meet and greet in her district. Members in both parties stood up for a long and enthusiastic standing ovation for Ms. Giffords, who entered dressed in a teal shirt and with her brown hair trimmed short. She has been recuperating since the shooting and it had been unclear when she would return…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Giffords Returns, as Does Unity, Briefly: With two minutes to go and roughly 20 votes needed to pass a bill to raise the nation’s debt limit, a smattering of applause rippled from a corner of the House chamber. After a few seconds of confusion, a flash of teal jacket could be seen almost floating among a sea of Democrats.
    There she was, Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, appearing unexpectedly Monday evening to cast one of the last votes needed to send the measure over the top.
    The full chamber erupted in loud applause as Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House whip, flicked his eyes from the vote board to Ms. Giffords. It was the first time she had been in the chamber since she was critically injured in an assassination attempt in January in Tucson…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Rep. Giffords casts debt-limit vote on House floor: As minutes remained on a critical vote to raise the debt limit, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords burst onto the House floor Monday and cast a “yes” vote, the first time the Arizona Democrat had voted since a gunman shot her in the head at a political event in Tucson seven months ago.
    Lawmakers, tense after weeks of contentious negotiations, erupted into applause as Giffords entered the chamber accompanied by her close friend and colleague Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and her husband, space shuttle astronaut Mark Kelly. Giffords waved and said, “Thank you” as her colleagues gave her a standing ovation.
    Giffords, who wore glasses and a teal blazer, turned to watch the tally as voting ended on the debt-ceiling compromise package….
    Vice President Biden said Pelosi told him earlier Monday that Giffords would return to the House. “That’s why I’m here,” Biden said…. – USA Today, 8-1-11
  • Julian Zelizer on House Debt Deal Vote: Many bills that eventually take on big issues start as a modest, first step, says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University, citing the 1957 civil rights bill, which disappointed most of its supporters for not going far enough to redress the nation’s record on civil rights.
    President “Lyndon Johnson pushed back against liberals saying, ‘If I can get Southerners to vote for something, you can do more down the road,’ ” he says.
    “The debt deal is trying to give some assurance that it’s a first step and will continue,” he adds. “The legislation is vague enough about this new committee that everyone can look at it and think that the committee will later give them what they want.”… – CS Monitor, 8-1-11
  • Deal Was Forged Over Choices and Chinese Food: Last Friday night, President Obama called Speaker John A. Boehner just after the Republican House leader had gotten his rebellious Republicans, on the third effort, to pass legislation to address the debt crisis.
    “Congratulations on finally getting your bill through,” Mr. Obama said, according to a Democrat familiar with the conversation. “You know you’re not going to get through the Senate, so now we need to focus on a solution.”
    Roughly 48 hours later, at 8:15 on Sunday night, the president again called Mr. Boehner from the Oval Office.
    “Do we have a deal?” Mr. Obama asked, then stopped abruptly. His senior advisers, standing nearby, gathered that Mr. Boehner had interrupted the president, and they braced for confirmation of the worst in Mr. Obama’s next words. Instead, there was relief.
    “Congratulations to you, too, John,” Mr. Obama finally said….. – NYT, 8-1-11


Budget Office says debt deal will save at least $2.1 trillion: The Congressional Budget Office confirmed Monday that the debt-reduction deal struck by the White House and congressional leaders would cut deficits by at least $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years, if lawmakers approve the plan later Monday.
The independent budget analysts reconfirmed that it contains up front savings of $917 billion, the same level as initially proposed in legislation offered by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) last week, and it credited President Obama and the leaders with at least $1.2 trillion in savings for the follow-on work to be done by a special committee.

“Despite what some Republicans have argued, I believe that we have to ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share by giving up tax breaks and special deductions. Despite what some in my own party have argued, I believe that we need to make some modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to ensure that they’re still around for future generations. That’s why the second part of this agreement is so important.” — President Barack Obama

“I am relieved to say that leaders from both parties have come together for the sake of our economy to reach a historic, bipartisan compromise that ends this dangerous standoff. The compromise we have agreed to is remarkable not only because of what it does, but because of what it prevents: a first-ever default on the full faith and credit of the United States.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

We got 98 percent of what we wanted… It would also guarantee the American people the vote they have been denied in both chambers on a balanced budget amendment, while creating, I think, some new incentives for past opponents of a BBA to support it.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“There is nothing in this framework that violates our principles. It’s all spending cuts. The White House bid to raise taxes has been shut down…. Now listen, this isn’t the greatest deal in the world. But it shows how much we’ve changed the terms of the debate in this town.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“I became convinced that even though my friend, [majority leader Reid], and I would love to work this out, we can’t do it by ourselves. It has to have the only person who can sign something into law. There are 307 million Americans, but only one can sign something into law.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Reid says debt limit vote in Senate by Tuesday: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that debt limit increase legislation would be completed in the Senate by Tuesday. “This vote could happen either tonight or tomorrow,” Reid said on the Senate floor. – Reuters, 8-1-11

Highlights of the bipartisan debt-ceiling deal — LAT

  • For debt-ceiling deal to become law, what needs to happen by Tuesday: Selling the debt-ceiling deal to a critical mass of lawmakers is a formidable political reach. Many conservatives say the deal doesn’t go far enough, while some liberals say the richest Americans should have to pay more taxes…. – CS Monitor, 8-1-11
  • Several Steps Remain Before the Debt Ceiling Is Raised: During the next 60 hours, the legislative leaders who shook hands with each other must sell the deal to their wary members, something that could still pose a thorny political challenge.
    And then — with the Tuesday deadline for a default looming — they must turn the “framework” into legislative language and pass it through both chambers of Congress — not an easy task for institutions, especially the Senate, which are not known for moving with haste…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • House begins debate on debt limit compromise: Congress has started debating the debt limit compromise negotiated by President Barack Obama and Republican leaders.
    The GOP-run House began considering the bill less than a day after the White House and top lawmakers reached agreement on a dispute that had locked them in deadlock for months…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • House begins debate on debt limit compromise: Congress has started debating the debt limit compromise negotiated by President Barack Obama and Republican leaders.
    The GOP-run House began considering the bill less than a day after the White House and top lawmakers reached agreement on a dispute that had locked them in deadlock for months…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Pleasing Few, Debt Deal to Go to Vote: Democratic and Republican leaders in the Congress began making their final arguments on behalf of Sunday’s debt ceiling deal to skeptical members in advance of votes in both chambers that could come as early as Monday afternoon.
    With only one day left before Tuesday’s looming deadline that carries the threat of a federal default, Vice President Joseph R. Biden arrived at the Capitol for back-to-back, closed-door meetings with Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate. Republicans in the House and Senate also huddled in advance of the votes.
    The last-minute wrangling on Monday morning reflected the lack of enthusiasm for the debt deal as lawmakers, party activists and pundits expressed relief but little excitement for a compromise that appears to have left few partisans eagerly promoting the deal as the one that they wanted.
    On the Senate floor on Monday, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said, “People on the right are upset. People on the left are upset. People in the middle are upset.” But he called it a “remarkable agreement which will protect the long-term health of our economy.”
    Mr. Reid said that the Senate is likely to take a final vote on passage of the deal later today. Republican aides in the House said that voting could begin as early as 2 p.m., though neither chamber had yet told members exactly when to expect final votes on the legislation.
    Most of the leading 2012 Republican presidential candidates weighed in Monday in opposition to the debt ceiling deal, saying that it does too little to address the nation’s spending problem. Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, said the deal “opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table..”… – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Debt deal: $32.4 billion per page: The debt framework President Obama and congressional leaders reached Sunday night runs 74 pages long, and could authorize as much as $2.4 trillion in new debt — or $32.4 billion per page.
    That debt increase will get the country through the 2012 election, both sides said, but it does not bring to an end the sea of red ink that will continue to wash over the federal government for the foreseeable future.
    In the near term, the bill sets budget numbers for 2012 that would require a real cut of $7 billion in discretionary spending from 2011 levels, though that’s $25 billion less than projected spending would have been had it kept pace with inflation.
    Over the long term, the deal could lead to as much as $2.4 trillion in lower-than-projected spending over the next decade, which also works out to about $32.4 billion per page in lower spending — if all of the conditions are met. But during those 10 years, that still means the country could pile up another $10.4 trillion in new debt, which would leave the government well more than $20 trillion in debt by the end of the decade…. – Washington Times, 8-1-11
  • Obama: Debt debate will continue: President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign e-mailed a brief address from the president, describing the recent battle with Republicans as a phase in a long-running effort to forge a “balanced” debt reduction package that includes new tax revenue as well as budget cuts.
    “This chapter is over. That work and that debate continue. This has been a tense debate because the stakes were so high.”
    Though grateful that the agreement heads off a government default, Obama said the agreement is “far from satisfying” and he will urge a new special congressional committee to cut federal debt with taxes as well as less spendng. “The ultimate solution must be balanced,” Obama said…. USA Today, 8-1-11
  • House vote first test of debt-ceiling bill: The first test of legislation to raise the nation’s debt ceiling comes in the House, which plans to vote Monday evening on the plan agreed to by party leaders Sunday.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would work to take up the plan Monday as well, though that would be a challenge given traditional delaying tactics that may be employed.
    Passage in either chamber is far from assured. Some Republicans are objecting to the possibility of steep cuts in defense spending, while others continue to oppose any debt-ceiling increase. Liberal Democrats think the so-called compromise was more like a cave-in…. – LAT, 8-1-11
  • House Debt Vote Expected Monday Afternoon: The House of Representatives could begin voting as early as 2 p.m., Eastern time, on the debt ceiling compromise announced by President Obama and Congressional leaders on Sunday night, a House leadership aide said.
    In a brief message on Twitter, Erica Elliott, the press secretary for Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, the majority whip, announced the tentative schedule.
    It was not immediately clear when the Senate might vote on Monday…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Debt-Limit Deal to Get Congress Vote Today: Congressional leaders, leaving no extra time before a default threatened for tomorrow, are racing to push through a compromise sealed with President Barack Obama last night to raise the U.S. debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and slash government spending by $2.4 trillion or more. The House plans votes today and the Senate may follow suit to consider the agreement reached during a weekend of negotiations that capped a months-long struggle between Obama and Republicans over raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. Megan Hughes reports on Bloomberg Television’s “First Look.” (Source: Bloomberg)
    Congressional leaders, leaving no extra time before a default threatened for tomorrow, are racing to push through a compromise sealed with President Barack Obama last night to raise the U.S. debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and slash government spending by $2.4 trillion or more.
    The House plans votes today and the Senate may follow suit to consider the agreement reached during a weekend of negotiations that capped a months-long struggle between Obama and Republicans over raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.
    Both parties were working to sell the deal to their rank and file — meeting resistance from social liberals who fault it for failing to increase taxes and from fiscal conservatives who say it’s insufficient to rein in the debt…. – Bloomberg, 8-1-11
  • House races toward Monday debt ceiling vote: The House is racing toward a Monday evening vote to raise the debt ceiling, as congressional leaders furiously round up the votes necessary to push the plan through before Tuesday’s deadline.
    Senate leaders plan to take up the bill shortly after, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says enough votes will be lined up for the bill to pass.
    House leaders are still gauging support for the measure. House Republicans will meet at 12:30 and House Democrats are caucusing with Vice President Joe Biden — who got a standing ovation when he walked into the meeting today.
    Biden laid out in candid terms what the White House had to do to get a deal.
    “Elections have consequences,” Biden told Senate Democrats, according to a senator in the room. The vice president characterized the fight as a hostage situation, saying Republicans have a “gun to their heads,” the source said…. – Politico, 8-1-11
  • Debt-ceiling compromise: Now, it’s time to find the votes: Vice President Joe Biden will meet Monday with the Senate and House Democratic caucuses while Republican leaders also huddle to gauge support for the debt-ceiling plan negotiators agreed to Sunday.
    The legislative path for the bill was still somewhat unclear as individual members study the details. No votes had been scheduled yet in either the House or Senate on Monday, but could be added once party leadership takes the temperature of their respective caucuses. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told members Sunday night that the bill would move quickly to the floor, perhaps as early as Monday afternoon…. – LAT, 8-1-11
  • House to vote before Senate on raising debt ceiling: The House of Representatives will vote before the Senate on the bipartisan plan to raise the debt ceiling, according to two House GOP leadership sources…. – CNN, 8-1-11
  • House vote could be squeaker: A Democratic official involved in the effort to secure the votes in the House and Senate for the debt deal says there is more concern about the vote tally in the House than the Senate, where it looks like it will get the 60 votes needed without much drama.
    In the House, Democrats who favor the deal are concerned about a very close vote – maybe a squeaker.
    Vice President Joe Biden will meet with the House Democratic caucus at noon to answer questions, soothe concerns, and help shore up reluctant Democrats.
    Even though Biden is coming over to meet with Democrats and has planned to come out to the media stakeout afterwards, it’s unclear from Democratic aides at this point how many of the Democratic leaders, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, will stand with Biden and say they will support the bill…. – CNN, 8-1-11
  • The debt ceiling battle at a glance:

    A compromise agreement to raise the nation’s borrowing limit has been reached The House and Senate are expected to vote today The House Speaker says the agreement does not violate Republican principles Some Senate Democrats are grumbling, an aide says, but the chamber is expected to approve the deal

    President Obama and congressional leaders have agreed to a plan that would lift the nation’s credit limit and avoid an unprecedented default on its debt, which could have widespread economic ramifications ranging from higher interest rates to a predicted stock market crash. Congress still must approve the deal by Tuesday. Here’s the situation at a glance… – CNN, 8-1-11

  • Democrats seem to end up on short end of the deal: The deal struck by the White House and congressional leaders to raise the nation’s debt ceiling has the feel of a classic compromise, full of give and take.
    There is no requirement for a balanced budget amendment, no second showdown over the nation’s borrowing limit before the 2012 elections and, according to some conservatives, not nearly enough in cuts.
    But for weeks and months Republicans have warned Democrats they would only accept a deal that cut spending without raising taxes.
    And the deal that faces a final congressional vote Monday does exactly that. The deal includes $1 trillion in cuts over 10 years. It sets up a congressional committee that could consider tax reform as it seeks a strategy for deeper debt reduction. On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office confirmed that the deal would cut deficits by at least $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years…. – WaPo, 8-1-11
  • Obama, Boehner Suffering ‘Monday Morning Hangover’: President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, did something most considered a long shot – they agreed on a budget deal and the talking points that go with it.
    But the Monday morning hangover plaguing Obama and Boehner as a result of Sunday night’s celebration may last longer and produce bigger headaches than either anticipated.
    Vice President Joe Biden was dispatched to the Capitol early Monday to meet with Democratic lawmakers in both the House and Senate to convince lawmakers the latest deal is the way to go. Republicans were also huddling to see if they have enough votes for a Monday afternoon roll call.
    Reid took to the senate floor Monday morning, calling the weekend deal a “remarkable agreement which will protect the long-term health of our economy.”
    “People on the right are upset. People on the left are upset. People in the middle are upset,” said Reid in his remarks.
    President Obama, seemingly tired and frustrated after a tense round of negotiations, called reporters together saying the compromise “allows us to avoid default and end the crisis that Washington imposed on the rest of America.”… – Christian Post, 8-1-11
  • Debt Deal: Some Read It and Weep, Others Swallow Hard and Nod: Liberals and conservatives woke up on Monday morning and began assessing the last-minute debt ceiling deal reached by leaders in Washington over the weekend.
    Many liberals are grousing about President Obama’s willingness to abandon some of the things he had demanded. Some conservatives are griping that the deal doesn’t do enough to cut spending. And some members of both parties are declaring the deal good enough, if not exactly great…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • McCain says he’ll ‘swallow hard’ and support deal: Sen. John McCain says he’ll vote for compromise legislation averting a government default, although “I will probably have to swallow hard.”
    The Arizona Republican who lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election says he’s concerned about the impact of the deficit-reduction deal on defense spending.
    But McCain also tells CBS’s “The Early Show” that officials in Washington realized “we were not going to let the government shut down.”… – AP, 8-1-11
  • Sen. Marco Rubio will vote against debt ceiling deal: The South Florida Congressional delegation says it will likely approve the tentative deal struck Sunday night to raise the debt ceiling but Sen. Marco Rubio is a holdout…. – Miami Herald, 8-1-11
  • GOP presidential hopefuls unhappy with debt-ceiling deal: Some of the Republicans who want to kick President Obama out of office next year are sounding off today with their opposition to a deal the White House reached with congressional leaders to raise the debt ceiling…. – USA Today, 8-1-11
  • Romney opposes debt deal: Mitt Romney said Monday he opposes the compromise to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, becoming the second Republican presidential contender to oppose a deal backed by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders in both parties.
    The plan, which supporters say is needed to avert a looming fiscal crisis, opens the door to tax increases and defense cuts, the former Massachusetts governor said in a statement.
    “President Obama’s leadership failure has pushed the economy to the brink at the eleventh hour and 59th minute,” Romney said. “While I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama’s lack of leadership has placed Republican members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal.”
    The statement represents the most substantive comment to date from Romney, the early frontrunner in the Republican presidential field, who has largely avoided weighing in on daily developments in the high-stakes debate. The issue, as the nation’s economy in general, is likely to dominate the 2012 contest…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Debt and budget bill saves more than $2T: A new study says the debt and budget bill backed by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders would save taxpayers at least $2.1 trillion over the coming decade.
    The Congressional Budget Office analysis says the initial down payment of spending cuts — tight “caps” on the operating budgets of Cabinet agencies like the departments of Defense and Education — would produce more than $900 billion in savings over 10 years…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Congressional Leaders to Pitch Debt-Reduction Compromise to Caucuses: Democratic and Republican leaders in both chambers of Congress will meet with their caucuses Monday for a hard sell of a compromise debt-reduction package that gives President Obama up to a $2.5 trillion hike in the debt limit as long as lawmakers can find an equal or greater amount in spending cuts.
    But even if they can’t come up with solutions, the cuts will be found for them.
    Obama announced Sunday night that leaders of both parties in both chambers reached an agreement on a debt-reduction deal that will “lift the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over our economy” and prevent the nation from potentially defaulting on the U.S.’s financial obligations…. – Fox News, 8-1-11
  • Congress moving quickly on debt and spending deal: Congress is moving quickly on an agreement to avert a potentially devastating default on U.S. obligations, with legislation that mixes a record increase in the government’s borrowing cap with the promise of more than $2 trillion in spending cuts.
    After a tense weekend of bargaining, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders announced the agreement Sunday night, providing an instant boost to Asian financial markets and a huge dose of relief to an administration and Congress frazzled by months of partisan warfare and the chance that a default could send the still-fragile economy into recession.
    The Senate seems likely to vote first on the measure while House GOP leaders work to assemble support for it. Democratic votes are certain to be needed to pass the measure in the Republican-dominated House, just as Republicans will be needed to clear the measure through the Democratic Senate. Liberal Democrats were already carping that Obama had given away too much to GOP leaders…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Obama announces budget deal: President Barack Obama, addressing the nation Sunday, announced a bipartisan, bicameral deal to end a dangerous impasse over raising the debt ceiling, marking the start of a process to avert a catastrophic national default on Tuesday.
    A somber Obama — decrying a process that has been “messy” and has “taken far too long” — made his announcement moments before House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) took the two-part package of $2.5 trillion in cuts to a skeptical GOP conference. The agreement came after a day of frenzied negotiations over “triggers” that will be used to determine the make-up of the final $1.5 trillion in cuts.
    “We’re not done yet,” Obama told a smattering of reporters gathered in the White House briefing room. “Despite what some Republicans have argued I believe we have to ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share … and despite what some in my own party have argued I believe that we need to make some modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to assure that they’re still around for future generations,” he said, acknowledging the opposition of tea party conservatives and liberal Democrats…. – Politico, 8-1-11
  • Analysis: Bipartisan debt-limit deal means bipartisan opposition for Obama, Boehner: The newly struck debt-ceiling compromise between President Barack Obama and the Republican leaders of Congress represents a historic accomplishment of divided government, with all the disappointment that implies for the most ardent partisans inside the two major parties and out.
    But it marks an accomplishment nonetheless between a Democratic president elected in 2008 and the Republicans who, Obama memorably said, handed his party a “shellacking” at the polls two years later.
    The tea party conservatives won’t like it, regretting it doesn’t cut spending by more. “Someone has to say no, I will,” Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said in a statement emailed from Iowa Sunday night, where she was courting Republicans for her 2012 presidential bid.
    Neither will the liberal Democrats, unhappy that it cuts at all. “This deal weakens the Democratic Party as badly as it weakens the country. We have given much and received nothing in return,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
    Which means that Obama and his principal Republican antagonist, Speaker John Boehner, will share responsibility for passing it in the House…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • US debt limit really doesn’t limit debt: The federal debt limit is a triumph of false advertising. It doesn’t really limit the national debt. Whenever the false ceiling has been reached, it has been raised — forcing unpopular votes in Congress, but not the really hard ones it would take to cut spending, raise revenues and balance budgets.
    Ranting about the debt is easier than taming it. So the same political theatrics are played over and over again. The debt limit has been raised 78 times since 1960. The current hassle over No. 79 is more contentious and divisive than the previous rounds because of hardened lines in Congress, not only between Democrats and Republicans but within their rosters, especially on the GOP side where about 80 freshmen sent by tea party voters consider compromise a crime.
    The hypocrisy of the whole process was summed up by an expert witness, Barack Obama, now the president championing a debt limit increase, when he tried to explain his own vote as junior senator from Illinois to oppose the raise then-President George W. Bush sought…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Obama: We have a deal: The nation’s top lawmakers and President Obama announced late Sunday they have reached a deal to raise the debt ceiling and dramatically curb federal spending.
    “I want to announce that the leaders of both parties, in both chambers, have reached an agreement that will reduce the deficit and avoid default,” Obama said Sunday night.
    Obama said that while the process was messy, and had taken far too long, the nation would, in the end, avoid a costly default and economic catastrophe.
    A short time before Obama spoke, Sens. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell said that a framework had been agreed to…. – CNN Money, 8-1-11

Political Headlines June 12, 2011: First Photos of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Released



First photos of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords since the January 8, 2011 shooting were released early morning on June 12, 2011.
To correct the AP article, it does not seem to be discoloration on the left side of her foreheard, but an indent, a result of the injuries Gabby Gifford endured from the shooting.

  • First photos of Gabrielle Giffords released: The first photos of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords since she was shot in the head in a mass shooting in Tucson about five months ago were released early Sunday. The photos appeared on her Facebook page.
    Both pictures show the congresswoman outside. In one she is alone and smiling at the camera, her hair trimmed short with the skin on the side of her head slightly disclored but with no clear sign of any scarring. In the other, she is sitting with a woman.
    Giffords has been in a Houston rehab facility since two weeks after the Jan. 8 shooting. Six people were killed and 13 were injured, including Giffords.
    Since the shooting, the only time the public was able to glimpse Giffords was April 27 as she boarded a plane to Florida to watch astronaut husband Mark Kelly launch into space. The grainy footage showed Giffords slowly but purposefully walking up the airplane’s stairs…. – AP, 6-12-11
  • Gabrielle Giffords’s life and career: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, known as a rising star in the Democratic party, is smiling in the latest photos released of her, five months a Tucson shooting left her hospitalized… – WaPo, 6-12-11
  • Photos of Congresswoman Giffords:
    Background of the photographer
    The photos were taken by P.K. Weis of SouthwestPhotoBank.com. He has worked as a photojournalist in the Southwest for about four decades. He worked at the Tucson Citizen for 36 years, including 30 as photo editor, until the paper closed in 2009. Weis has known Congresswoman Giffords for more than a decade, since before she was first elected to the Legislature.
    Statement by the photographer “Any photographer in the country would have loved the opportunity to take these pictures and I was delighted to be asked. I’ve known Gabby for more than a decade and her staff asked me to do it because she wanted someone who was not a stranger – someone she would be comfortable around. The photos were taken in her room and in an outside area of the hospital.
    “In addition to the congresswoman, her mother, one of her staff members and a close friend were there. Doctors and nurses also came in and out.“
    It was very inspiring to see how much she had recovered in 4½ months. I was excited to see her and to see her smile. She was glad to see me, was in a good mood, smiling and laughing and seemed to enjoy the experience. I certainly did, too.” — Rep. Gabrielle Gifford Official Facebook Page, 6-12-11

Political Highlights January 16, 2011: Looking Back, A Nation Heals after Giffords / Arizona Shootings, McCain v. Palin on Obama as Healer in Chief — Aftermath & Attempts at Bipartisanship


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.


President Obama Speaks at Richard Holbrooke's Memorial


  • AP-GfK Poll: Raw feelings ease over health law: As lawmakers shaken by the shooting of a colleague return to the health care debate, an Associated Press-GfK poll finds raw feelings over President Barack Obama’s overhaul have subsided. Ahead of a vote on repeal in the GOP-led House this week, strong opposition to the law stands at 30 percent, close to the lowest level registered in AP-GfK surveys dating to September 2009. The nation is divided over the law, but the strength and intensity of the opposition appear diminished. The law expands coverage to more than 30 million uninsured, and would require, for the first time, that most people in the United States carry health insurance. The poll finds that 40 percent of those surveyed said they support the law, while 41 percent oppose it. Just after the November congressional elections, opposition stood at 47 percent and support was 38 percent. As for repeal, only about one in four say they want to do away with the law completely. Among Republicans support for repeal has dropped sharply, from 61 percent after the elections to 49 percent now. Also, 43 percent say they want the law changed so it does more to re-engineer the health care system. Fewer than one in five say it should be left as it is…. – AP, 1-16-11
  • Obama’s Approval Rating Rises to 48 Percent in Quinnipiac Opinion Poll: President Barack Obama’s approval rating has climbed to 48 percent, the highest figure since the 50 percent recorded in October 2009, a Quinnipiac University poll shows. The percentage of voters who support Obama’s job performance rose 4 percentage points from the previous Quinnipiac poll in November, taken shortly after that month’s midterm elections. Registered voters in the new survey split almost evenly, 47 percent to 45 percent, on whether Obama’s presidency is a success or failure as the president reaches the midpoint of his term…. – Bloomberg, 1-13-11
  • AP-GfK Poll: Obama, GOP improve their standing: Americans give higher marks to President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans after a holiday season of compromise paid dividends for both, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll. At the start of the divided government era, the survey found that 53 percent of Americans approve of how Obama is doing his job, his best numbers since the divisive health care vote 10 months ago. And, compared with just after the November elections, more now express confidence that Obama and the new Republican-controlled House can work together to solve the country’s most urgent problems, chief among them the struggling economy…. – AP, 1-12-11
  • Poll: Emanuel expands lead in Chicago: Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has a double-digit lead in a new poll for Chicago mayor. Emanuel leads former U.S. senator Carol Moseley Braun, 42%-26%, in a survey commissioned by the Chicago Teamsters. Emanuel led with 36% in the Teamsters’ November poll. Voters in the Windy City go to the polls on Feb. 22 to pick a successor to Richard M. Daley, Chicago’s longest- serving mayor…. – USA Today, 1-11-11
  • Poll: Huckabee most liked, Palin best known: Republicans with an eye on the White House have some work to do on improving their image and recognition by voters. A new Gallup Poll shows Mike Huckabee is the most liked and Sarah Palin is the best known in the crowded field of potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates. Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and winner of the 2008 Iowa GOP caucuses, has a net favorable rating of 30% among Republicans and is recognized by 87%. Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, comes in fourth in favorability (22%) but is recognized by 95%…. – USA Today, 1-10-11


  • Arizona shooting: a week of agonizing, arguing, praying, investigating: US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, targeted in last week’s Arizona shooting, continues to improve; a Tucson Safeway store reopens; and investigators work to build their case against Jared Loughner. A week has passed since America – and Tucson, Ariz., in particular – was horrified, revolted, and grieved by a mass shooting at a congresswoman’s routine event with constituents outside a Safeway supermarket. In that time President Obama has three times spoken to the nation, in a bid to comfort and unite. In that time three of the six people killed in the shooting have been laid to rest. In that time the Safeway has reopened, with store spokeswoman Cathy Kloos on Saturday noting employees’ desire to “reconnect with their customers” and affirming, “We’re doing OK.” The initial round of castigation – liberals and conservatives feuding over who’s more at fault for a climate of political “vitriol” and whether that played into the tragedy – has subsided. Lawmakers in Congress are considering whether Republicans and Democrats ought to intermingle in the audience at the upcoming State of the Union address, in a gesture of comity. Doctors say Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D), the apparent target of the attack, continues to improve after being shot in the head and is off a ventilator, raising hopes for her recovery, and 10 of the 13 wounded have been released from the hospital. Things will never be the same, especially for families who lost loved ones. But for many they are starting to be manageable, if still not explainable…. – CS Monitor, 1-15-11
  • Senator: Giffords moving both sides of her body, breathing on her own: U.S.Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who remains in critical condition after a shooting at a January 8 public event, is moving both sides of her body and is able to breathe on her own, a fellow member of Congress said Sunday. “She’s doing great,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York and a friend of the Arizona congresswoman, on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” Gillibrand said she spoke to Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly, on Saturday night and that Giffords is “making progress every day.” Gillibrand told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Giffords is moving both sides of her body and is “showing people that she can communicate well by, you know, holding our hands and moving her arms and legs and looking at us. So she’s making great progress.”… – CNN, 1-16-11
  • Who had the Worst Week in Washington? Sarah Palin: In moments of crisis, great politicians rise to the occasion. Bad ones tend to fall flat. Sarah Palin learned that the hard way this past week, when a statement she released hoping to quell the controversy that surrounded her after the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) only helped create a new and even larger controversy. At issue was a map that Palin’s political team published during the 2010 campaign. It had cross hairs on 20 Democratic districts – including Giffords’s – that Palin was targeting as politically vulnerable. In the aftermath of the Jan. 8 shootings, many on the left unfairly blamed Palin for somehow inciting the gunman. (The details that have emerged since last Saturday suggest that the suspect, Jared Loughner, was deeply troubled and without any coherent political philosophy.) Palin, rightly, felt aggrieved. But her 1,141-word statement issued via Facebook not only cast her as a victim (not good), but also used the phrase “blood libel,” a loaded term with deep anti-Semitic roots (double not good). Palin’s folly was exacerbated by the speech that President Obama delivered Wednesday night, a stirring address that made the former Alaska governor’s words seem small and self-interested by comparison…. – WaPo, 1-16-11
  • McCain, Palin Appear to Be Split on Obama Senator Says Obama Is a Patriot While Former Governor Believes President Trying to Weaken US: There appears to be a serious difference opinion at the top of the 2008 Republican ticket, with John McCain and Sarah Palin split on the issue of President Obama. Much has been written about turmoil and infighting during that campaign. But the conflict now has nothing to do with politics in 2008, and everything to do with the direction of the Republican Party in 2011. One says the president actively wants to help America, the other, actively hurt it. In Sunday’s Washington Post, Sen. McCain wrote an Op-Ed lavishing praise on President Obama for his speech Wednesday night in Tucson. “President Obama gave a terrific speech Wednesday night,” the senator wrote, “[he] “comforted and inspired the country.” And in notably gracious language, McCain added, “”I disagree with many of the president’s policies, but I believe he is a patriot sincerely intent on using his time in office to advance our country’s cause.” Read that carefully. He called President Obama a “patriot” who wants to “advance our country’s cause.” Now contrast those words to language used by former Gov. Palin a little more than a week ago, when she said the President was, “Hell-bent on weakening America.” That statement came during an interview on Laura Ingraham’s radio show that has drifted into that background a bit because of the discussion about the Arizona shootings, not to mention “cross-hairs’ and “blood libel.” Palin used that notably strong language the day before the Arizona shootings in a discussion with Ingraham on raising the national debt ceiling, which she opposes, and the White House currently supports. Palin told Ingraham that by supporting raising the debt ceiling, “what Obama is doing–purposefully weakening America.”… – ABC News, 1-16-11
  • After Tucson, a thaw between Obama and McCain?: Could the long-icy relationship between President Obama and his 2008 presidential opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), be thawing? McCain took a significant step toward reconciling with the president in a graceful op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post. If that article marks a genuine fresh beginning, it would be one positive thing to come out of the horrific shooting spree in Tucson eight days ago. McCain and Obama will never be comrades in arms. They have too much history, too much mutual ill will and too many philosophical differences for that. In the two years since McCain went down in defeat against Obama, the tension between them has been evident in almost every public setting in which they’ve appeared. But in praising the president’s speech at Wednesday’s memorial service in Tucson, McCain has reached out to Obama with an open hand. Not since his gracious concession speech on the night of the election has McCain spoken so generously of his rival. Obama should not let the opportunity pass to reach out to McCain in return…. – WaPo, 1-15-11
  • The Suddenly Quiet McCain: As politicians across the spectrum weigh in on the Arizona shooting, the state’s senior senator has been surprisingly silent…. – Newsweek, 1-15-11
  • For Giffords, Tucson Roots Shaped Views: Gabrielle Giffords grew up in an old house filled with old things at the edge of a city being remade by the new. While strip malls and subdivisions were rising everywhere else, her rambling brick residence was surrounded by 18 arid acres of cactuses and mesquite trees and decorated with Mexican art and Southwestern relics. When she gave up her big-city dreams in New York to come home and run her family’s tire business, she passed on a new condominium or house in the suburbs, instead moving into an adobe duplex in an old neighborhood with shade trees, where crime might be higher but people knew who lived down the street. And when Ms. Giffords, now a congresswoman, married an astronaut years later, she borrowed her Vera Wang wedding dress, served dinner on plates made of biodegradable sugar cane, had a cook make tortillas on the spot and invited fellow lawmakers to the working farm where she said her vows…. – NYT, 1-14-11
  • Arizona shooting victim arrested after threat: One of the Arizona shooting victims was arrested Saturday and then taken for a psychiatric evaluation after authorities said he took a picture of a tea party leader at televised town hall meeting and yelled: “you’re dead.” James Eric Fuller, 63, objected to something Trent Humphries said during the forum taped for a special edition of ABC’s “This Week” with Christiane Amanpour, Pima County sheriff’s spokesman Jason Ogan said. Fuller was in the front row and apparently became upset when Humphries suggested that any conversations about gun control should be delayed until all the dead were buried, KGUN-TV in Tucson reported. Fuller was arrested on misdemeanor disorderly conduct and threat charges, Ogan said. While Fuller was being escorted out, deputies decided he needed a mental health evaluation and he was taken to a hospital, where he remained Saturday evening…. – AP, 1-15-11


  • Richard Holbrooke’s Lonely Mission: The late diplomat never lost his passion for peacemaking, but it turned out that some of his toughest adversaries were on his own side…. – Newsweek, 1-16-11
  • A Leading Diplomat Is Remembered With Affection and Humor: There are not many people who can pack a Kennedy Center hall with 1,100 people — including five world leaders — and not only personally know just about every single one of them, but have all of them believe that they have a personal relationship with him. On Friday afternoon, Richard C. Holbrooke appeared to do just that. His memorial service drew an array of the world’s brightest diplomatic lights. There was President Obama, sitting next to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who sat next to her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who sat next to the former secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, who sat two seats down from Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They all came to pay homage to the man who, in the words of Mr. Obama, was “the leading light of a generation of American diplomats who came of age in Vietnam.” It was perhaps Mr. Obama’s misfortune that he, of the 14 people who spoke, knew Mr. Holbrooke the least. As Mr. Obama’s larger-than-life envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mr. Holbrooke and Mr. Obama had only two years together before Mr. Holbrooke died last month of an aortic tear. So Mr. Obama could not sprinkle his remarks with the personal remembrances offered by speakers like Mr. Clinton (“He wanted to interview me to see if I was qualified to be president.”) or Mrs. Clinton (when he wanted something, “he would follow me onto a stage when I was making a speech, into my hotel room, into a ladies’ room — in Pakistan”)…. – NYT, 1-15-11
  • Holbrooke Eulogized by Obama as ‘Leading Light’ of U.S. Diplomatic Efforts: President Barack Obama eulogized the late Richard Holbrooke as a “leading light” of U.S. diplomacy whose career formed a chronicle of American foreign policy. Holbrooke, who died Dec. 13 at the age of 69, was at the center of U.S. foreign affairs from the war against the communists in Vietnam to the fight against the Taliban and al- Qaeda in Afghanistan. “He was the leading light of a generation of American diplomats who came of age in Vietnam,” Obama said. It was a generation that came to know the tragic limits and awesome possibilities of American power.” Obama was among the dignitaries who gathered for a memorial service for Holbrooke, special U.S. envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, at Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Those in attendance included former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari and Vice President Joe Biden, who just returned from a trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq…. – Bloomberg, 1-14-11
  • Richard C. Holbrooke, 1941-2010 Strong American Voice in Diplomacy and Crisis: Richard C. Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2009 and a diplomatic troubleshooter who worked for every Democratic president since the late 1960s and oversaw the negotiations that ended the war in Bosnia, died Monday evening in Washington. He was 69 and lived in Manhattan. His death was confirmed by an Obama administration official. Mr. Holbrooke was hospitalized on Friday afternoon after becoming ill while meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in her Washington office. Doctors found a tear to his aorta, and he underwent a 21-hour operation. Mr. Holbrooke had additional surgery on Sunday and remained in very critical condition until his death. Mr. Holbrooke’s signal accomplishment in a distinguished career that involved diplomacy in Asia, Europe and the Middle East was his role as chief architect of the 1995 Dayton peace accords, which ended the war in Bosnia. It was a coup preceded and followed by his peacekeeping missions to the tinderbox of ethnic, religious and regional conflicts that was formerly Yugoslavia. More recently, Mr. Holbrooke wrestled with the stunning complexity of Afghanistan and Pakistan: how to bring stability to the region while fighting a resurgent Taliban and coping with corrupt governments, rigged elections, fragile economies, a rampant narcotics trade, nuclear weapons in Pakistan, and the presence of Al Qaeda, and presumably Osama bin Laden, in the wild tribal borderlands…. – NYT, 12-14-11


The President & First Lady after his remarks in Tucson

  • Obama may face new kind of crowd at State of the Union: It’s starting to sound like President Obama will be speaking to a different kind of audience at this month’s State of the Union, and there will be less of a pep rally atmosphere. Two prominent senators from different parties — Democrat Charles Schumer of New York and Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma — said today that they will sit together during Obama’s annual address, and hope that congressional colleagues will follow suit. “We hope that many others will follow us,” Schumer said today on NBC’s Meet The Press. “Now that’s symbolic, but maybe it just sets a tone and everything gets a little bit more civil.” Obama’s nationally televised address will be the night of Jan. 25. Other lawmakers have also expressed interest in mixing party members during the speech in a show of national unity in the wake of the Arizona shooting. The idea was proposed by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Col0. Coburn, who appeared with Schumer on Meet The Press, said, “Chuck and I have been able to work on multiple bills, because we sit down, one on one, and work things out. And what we need to do is have more of that, not less of it.” Traditionally, Republicans sit on one side of the chamber and Democrats on the other during the annual address. In recent years, that arrangement has produced alternate standing ovations from each side of the chamber, depending on the nature of the proposals being made and the party of the president making them…. – USA Today, 1-16-11
  • Obama, Republicans plan more civil health care debate: Things return more to normal in Washington this week, include a long-awaited House vote to repeal President Obama’s health care bill– though the tone of the discussion is likely to be different in the wake of the Arizona shooting. “I think you’ll see a more civil debate than you would have had otherwise,” said U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., today on CBS’ Face The Nation. Flake added that “I’m not sure the substance of the debate will change that much,” and that the Republican-run House probably has the votes to repeal the bill that it says will increase health care costs and compromise medical care. It’s likely to a symbolic move — members of the Democratic-run Senate said they will not take up the measure, and Obama would veto it in any case…. – USA Today, 1-16-11
  • Pawlenty opposes raising federal debt ceiling: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2012, says he opposes raising the nation’s debt ceiling and is urging Republicans in Congress to do the same. Pawlenty says lawmakers should take action that prevents the government from defaulting on its obligations, then have a debate over what spending should be reduced…. – AP, 1-16-11
  • Obama’s education focus faces big hurdles: Signs of trouble are arising for President Barack Obama’s plan to put education overhaul at the forefront of his agenda as he adjusts to the new reality of a divided government. Giving students and teachers more flexibility is an idea with bipartisan support. Yet the debate about the overdue renewal of the nation’s chief education law, known as No Child Left Behind, is complicated by political pressures from the coming 2012 presidential campaign and disputes over timing, money and scope of the update. While education might offer the best chance for the White House to work with newly empowered Republicans, any consensus could fade in the pitiless political crosscurrents, leaving the debate for another day, perhaps even another presidency…. – AP, 1-16-11
  • G.O.P. Elects a New Chairman as Steele Drops Out: The Republican National Committee selected a new leader on Friday, with its choice, Reince Priebus of Wisconsin, surviving seven contentious rounds of balloting to overtake Michael Steele, the embattled chairman, as party officials demanded new leadership to fortify the party for the 2012 presidential race. Mr. Priebus, who broke away from Mr. Steele’s close circle of advisers to run against him, said he would work to rebuild the trust of major contributors who had lost faith in the party and begin preparing to challenge President Obama. He pledged to heal any divisions among Republican constituencies. “We all recognize that there’s a steep hill ahead of us,” Mr. Priebus said, delivering his first remarks as party chairman. “The only way we’ll be able to move forward is if we’re all together.” NYT, 1-14-11
  • G.O.P. Leader’s Promise: Humility and Hard Work: For Reince Priebus, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, politics has long been more than simply a hobby. It provided the entertainment for the first date with his wife. More than a decade ago, when Representatives Henry J. Hyde of Illinois and James F. Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin were delivering keynote speeches at a Lincoln Day Dinner in Kenosha, Wis., Mr. Priebus reserved two tickets and turned the event into part of his courtship. “I know. Nerd alert,” Mr. Priebus said in an interview a few hours after he was elected on Friday to lead the national Republican Party. His voice was filled with self-deprecation as he recalled the moment. “But we went to a movie after that.” Humility was a key selling point for Mr. Priebus as he embarked on a two-month campaign to overthrow Michael Steele, the controversial party chairman, and begin the challenging task of rebuilding a committee that is more than $21 million in debt and competing for relevance in an age when the political establishment is no longer the most popular place to be…. – NYT, 1-15-11
  • New chairman targets GOP team setting up 2012 national convention in Tampa: There’s a new Republican National Chairman in office, and he’s about to clean house on the team putting together the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa. Responding to complaints about excessive spending by the RNC’s convention team, newly elected chairman Reince Priebus told Republican U.S. House members in a closed door meeting Saturday that he was going to replace the RNC’s convention team in Tampa Bay with his own team, Politico reported Saturday. The RNC has about a half dozen staffers working on the convention out of donated office space in downtown Tampa, but the work has drawn considerable criticism and helped fuel opposition to former RNC chairman Michael Steele. For instance, he hired his former assistant, Belinda Cook, for $15,000-per-month, and she spent thousands of dollars renting a 3,200 square foot waterfront Treasure Island home…. – St Petersburg Times, 1-15-11
  • Reince Priebus replaces Michael Steele as GOP chairman: The Republican National Committee selected Reince Priebus as its new chairman, replacing Michael Steele, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland. Steele’s two-year tenure was marked by high spending, financial debt and verbal gaffes. Priebus won late Friday afternoon after seven rounds of balloting. He received 97 votes out 168 ballots cast. Steele, the party’s first African-American chairman, sought a second term, but conceded midafternoon. “I think the party is ready for something different,” Steele said. Priebus is the Wisconsin GOP chairman and a former general counsel for the RNC…. – USA Today, 1-14-11
  • Reince Priebus: “We Can Defeat Barack Obama in 2012”: The Republican Party will face significant challenges in the 2012 election cycle: A geared-up Democratic electorate excited to see President Obama back on the ballot, a rowdy and somewhat unpredictable Tea Party base, funds flowing through multiple outside organizations. On top of all that, the Republican National Committee must deal with its splintered membership and more than $20 million in debt. New RNC Chairman Reince Priebus today acknowledged as much after his fellow committee members chose him to put him at the helm of the organization. “We recognize that the Democrats have taken this country on the wrong path, and it isn’t going to be easy or glamorous, but together we must lead,” he said. Priebus, a 38-year-old lawyer who served as chairman of the Wisconsin GOP, said he plans to keep his head down and get to work. That means restructuring the RNC’s financial operation, hiring a top-notch staff, improving the lines of communication with state parties and — perhaps most importantly — restoring the faith of the party’s donors. “Together we can defeat Barack Obama in 2012, together, unified as a committee,” Priebus said…. – CBS News, 1-14-11
  • Michael Steele’s many blunders led to defeat in RNC chair reelection campaign: Republicans emerged from a 2008 electoral drubbing not only lacking a telegenic spokesman for the party but virtually any major officials who were not white, a major void after the election of the nation’s first black president. Michael Steele seemed like the right man at the right time: an African-American Republican who loved going on television. But instead of turning into a solution for the GOP, critics say Steele blundered so many times in his first few months as chairman of the Republican National Committee that party officials openly considered replacing him well before the first quarter of his two-year tenure had ended. Republicans completed the dumping of Steele on Friday, voting out the party’s first-ever black chairman…. – WaPo, 1-14-11
  • Outgoing Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele’s 10 best gaffes: Embattled Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele abandoned his re-election bid Friday after four rounds of balloting left him far short of a second term. Steele, who just finished his first two-year term in the job, dropped out as four other hopefuls competed to become his successor. Steele, 52, urged his backers to give their support to GOP operative Maria Cino, who worked in George W. Bush’s administration, but Reince Priebus, the head of the Wisconsin Republican Party, ultimately was elected after seven rounds of voting. The GOP’s first black chairman received a standing ovation from the party regulars after pulling out of the race. His spotty two-year reign included huge victories by the GOP in the November elections, but for many, Steele is known more for his verbal gaffes than his electoral accomplishments…. – NY Daily News, 1-14-11
  • Dewey Clayton Professor of Political Science, University of Louisville: Michael Steele’s legacy will be a mixed one. On the one hand, Steele first and foremost will be remembered as the first African-American to be elected as chairman of the RNC. Secondly, it was under Steele’s stewardship that Republicans gained the majority in the House in 2010. Many saw Steele’s election as an effort by the Republican Party to reach out to African-American voters and portray an image of being open to all and not as an exclusive party. To that end, two black Republicans were elected to Congress in 2010. They will be the first black Republicans in Congress since J.C. Watts of Oklahoma retired in 2003. And they are also the first black Republicans in the House since Reconstruction. Unfortunately, much of the attention that Steele received during his tenure was negative. He was criticized for often acting too independently, people questioned some of his paid speaking engagements, and there were issues of excessive spending. I think the controversy surrounding Steele may have caused many Republican donors to scale back their contributions to the RNC. Because of this, his lack of fundraising will be a lasting legacy. It’s hard to say whether Steele did more harm than good. He was a charismatic leader and some of the controversy during his tenure was not really his fault. I think that ultimately, he did more good than harm and the Republicans did gain the majority in the House under his leadership. The next chairman, assuming that Steele does not win another term, should probably maintain a lower profile and concentrate on improving the level of fundraising.. – Politico Arena, 1-14-11
  • Bruce Reed: Another Clinton centrist joins Obama White House: Bruce Reed will be Vice President Biden’s new chief of staff. He was a senior aide to President Clinton and a leader in centrist Democratic policy circles. Does this bode ill for liberals’ agenda? The Obama White House is beginning to look like a reunion of the Clinton administration. On Friday, Vice President Joe Biden announced that Bruce Reed will be his new chief of staff. Though not a household name, Mr. Reed is well known in Washington for his role as a senior aide to President Bill Clinton and for his continued leadership in centrist policy circles. He recently served as executive director of President Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission, and since 2001 has been chief executive officer of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. “I’ve known and admired Bruce for over 20 years,” said Mr. Biden in a statement. “We worked closely together to pass the crime bill in the 1990s, and I’ve frequently sought his advice and counsel in the years since.” CS Monitor, 1-14-11
  • In Seoul, Gates Reaffirms American Support for South Korea: Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met with President Lee Myung-bak and South Korea’s defense minister here on Friday as South Korea and the United States again declared solidarity against North Korean aggression. In comments to reporters at the start of a meeting with the defense minister, Kim Kwan-jin, Mr. Gates reiterated that the United States was concerned that “North Korea’s continued belligerence and repeated provocations” had raised tensions on the Korean Peninsula…. – NYT, 1-14-11
  • Miss. Gov. Barbour to speak at House GOP retreat: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who’s contemplating a 2012 presidential run, will be dispensing political advice to congressional Republicans this weekend during their private retreat in Baltimore. Barbour spokesman Dan Turner said the governor flew Thursday from Mississippi to the nation’s capital. “He’s got kind of a mixture of meetings in Washington,” said Turner, adding that some meetings are for state business and some are for politics. Barbour and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are among the potential presidential candidates speaking during congressional Republicans’ three-day retreat. Turner said the governor is skipping the Republican National Committee meeting Friday in Washington, where a new chairman is being chosen…. – WaPo, 1-13-11
  • Economy facing headwinds, but Bernanke hopeful: Jobless claims hit a 10-week high last week while producer prices shot up in December, pointing to headwinds for an economy that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said was showing fresh vigor…. – Reuters, 1-13-11
  • Ariz. GOP official quits in wake of Giffords shooting, says he received threats, feared for life: A prominent Republican in Arizona resigned in the wake of Saturday’s shooting, saying that threats from Tea Party members had him fearing for his life. Anthony Miller, the chairman of Arizona Legislative District 20 and the only black Republican to hold a chairmanship in the state, was reelected to a second one-year term last month. He said he was stepping down due to constant verbal threats against him and his family from people with Tea Party ties, The Arizona Republic reported. “I wasn’t going to resign, but decided to quit after what happened Saturday,” Miller told paper. “I love the Republican Party, but I don’t want to take a bullet for anyone.”…. – NY Daily News, 1-13-11
  • Obama Administration Reverses a Mountaintop Removal Permit: In nearly four decades since the Clean Water Act was passed, the Environmental Protection Agency has never vetoed any mining permit retroactively. That changed this morning. Word is just coming down via Coal Tattoo that the Obama administration EPA has just vetoed the largest single mountaintop removal permit in West Virginia history. The permit was initially awarded during the previous very fossil-friendly Bush administration, after a fractious decades-long court battle. By retracting the Clean Water Air permit for Arch Coal’s 2,300-acre mine proposed for the Blair area of Logan County, West Virginia, the EPA is effectively suspending most major activity…. – Reuters, 1-13-11
  • Obama to deliver State of the Union address on Jan. 25: ‘We welcome an opportunity to hear your proposals,’ House Speaker John Boehner says in his formal invitation to President Obama to deliver the State of the Union address. The new GOP majority in the House and the Tucson shooting are expected to add drama to the speech…. – LAT, 1-12-11
  • Joe Biden tells Afghans the U.S. is there for them, even beyond 2014: Vice President Joe Biden backs away from his earlier promise that, no matter what, the U.S. would be ‘totally out’ of Afghanistan by 2014. LAT, 1-12-11
  • Man arrested after threats to Rep. Jim McDermott: ‘I’ll kill his family’: FBI agents arrest a California man who called Rep. Jim McDermott’s Seattle office in December and left two threatening messages linked to the Democrat’s stand on extending the Bush tax cuts…. – CS Monitor, 1-12-11
  • US could take Sudan off state terror list by July: Sudan could be removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism as early as July if Khartoum recognizes the results of the referendum on independence for the south, a US official said Tuesday. “Should the referendum be carried out successfully and the results are recognized by the government, President Obama would indicate his intention to begin the process of removing them,” Princeton Lyman, the lead US negotiator with Sudan, told AFP. “It is a process that takes some time, but by beginning the process in the wake of the referendum, the hope is if they meet all the conditions it can be done by July,” Lyman said. The referendum is widely expected to lead to mainly Christian and animist southern Sudan seceding from the predominantly Muslim north of the country. Results are expected around the end of the month, US officials said…. – AFP, 1-11-11
  • Assange Lawyers See U.S. Extradition ‘Risk’: If WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is extradited to Sweden to face a sexual-assault investigation, there is a “real risk” the U.S. would seek to extradite him from there, Mr. Assange’s lawyers argued in documents published Tuesday. The attorneys cited a risk the U.S. could detain Mr. Assange at Guantanamo Bay or subject him to the death penalty. A U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawyers’ document or on the likelihood of Mr. Assange being charged with a crime in the U.S. The Obama administration has said it is trying to close Guantanamo Bay. Mr. Assange’s lawyers didn’t say in their document which charges they believe the U.S. might levy that could lead to the death penalty for Mr. Assange, who is a citizen of Australia…. – WSJ, 1-11-11
  • DeLay Sentenced to 3 Years in Money Laundering Case: Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader, was sentenced to three years in prison on Monday after convictions for money laundering and conspiracy stemming from his role in a scheme to channel corporate contributions to Texas state races in 2002. Mr. DeLay, once one of the most powerful and polemical Republican congressmen in the state’s history, was ushered out of Travis County Court after the sentencing and was taken by sheriff’s deputies to the county jail, where he was expected to post a $10,000 bond and be released pending an appeal. After listening to Mr. DeLay say he felt he had done nothing wrong, Judge Pat Priest sentenced him to three years in prison for the conspiracy count and 10 years’ probation for the money laundering count. The judge rejected arguments from Mr. DeLay that the trial had been a politically motivated vendetta mounted by an overzealous Democratic District Attorney. “Before there were Republicans and Democrats, there was America, and what America is about is the rule of law,” the judge said just before pronouncing the sentence…. – NYT, 1-10-11
  • Supreme Court declines to rein in Congress’ regulatory powers: The justices reject a constitutional challenge to a law that makes it a federal crime for a felon to have body armor or a bulletproof vest. The case involves the same point of law that is at the heart of pending legal battles over the healthcare law. The Supreme Court gave a strong hint Monday that the justices are not anxious to rein in Congress’ broad power to pass regulatory laws under the Constitution’s commerce clause, the key point of dispute in the pending court battles over President Obama’s health insurance law. By a 7-2 vote, the justices turned down a constitutional challenge to a 2002 law that makes it a federal crime for a felon to have body armor or a bulletproof vest. The law came in response to several shootouts involving police, including a bank robbery in North Hollywood where the robbers came equipped in body armor. But the dispute in the Supreme Court concerned only whether Congress had the power to enact a law regulating the possession of a product — in this instance, body armor. An appeal filed on behalf of Cedrick Alderman, a Seattle man, argued that the possession of a bulletproof vest had nothing to do with interstate commerce and, therefore, was beyond Congress’ power…. – LAT, 1-10-11
  • Supreme Court: Did it just hint at stance on a health-care law challenge?: The Supreme Court refused to take up a case examining Congress’s authority under the commerce clause, a key issue in a legal challenge to Obama’s health-care law. Two justices dissented…. – CS Monitor, 1-10-11
  • Colo. man accused of threatening Sen. Bennet staff: A Colorado man is accused of threatening to set fire around Sen. Michael Bennet’s office and shoot members of his staff, prompting authorities to step up patrols around the senator’s home and office. John Troy Davis, 44, faces a charge of assault on a federal employee. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The alleged threat happened two days before six people died in Saturday’s shootings at a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, Ariz., where U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was meeting constituents. A federal judge, a congressional aide and a young girl were among the six killed, while Giffords and 13 others were wounded… – AP, 1-10-11
  • Former Capitol Hill Aide, Wife of White House Staffer Found in Burned Car Ashley Turton Was Found Dead in Burning Car in Southeast Washington: Ashley Turton, a former aide to Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and the wife of White House staff member Dan Turton, was found dead this morning in her burned-out car in the garage of her home in Southeast Washington, D.C. Turton, a mother of 3-year-old twins and a 1-year-old, worked as a lobbyist for Progress Energy… – WaPo, 1-11-11


  • Schumer Pushes for Military to Report Applicants’ Drug Use to Prevent Gun Purchases: If someone admits to a federal official that he’s used illegal drugs, that information should be sent to the FBI so that person can be disqualified from purchasing a gun, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday…. – Fox News, 1-16-11
  • House panel will probe health overhaul, gas curbs: President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, new rules overseeing the Internet and administration plans to curb gas emissions will be scrutinized in congressional hearings, the Republican chairman of a House subcommittee said Friday. The announcement by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., was the latest signal from GOP leaders that they will use their control of the House over the next two years to aggressively pick through administration actions in a broad range of areas. Republicans are hoping to help their business allies and blunt some Obama initiatives while providing fodder for next year’s presidential and congressional elections. “My priority will be on job creation and removing government barriers to economic growth,” Stearns said in a written statement…. – AP, 1-14-11
  • House set to vote on healthcare repeal: The U.S. House of Representatives will resume action next week on repealing President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare overhaul, a House Republican spokesman said on Thursday. The House had been expected to act this week on the repeal bill, but the vote was postponed after a shooting spree in Arizona killed six people and critically wounded U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. “As the White House noted, it is important for Congress to get back to work, and to that end we will resume thoughtful consideration of the health care bill next week,” said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. “Americans have legitimate concerns about the cost of the new healthcare law and its effect on the ability to grow jobs in our country,” he added. The vote is set for Wednesday, said another Republican aide who asked not to be identified…. – Reuters, 1-13-11
  • Kay Bailey Hutchison Won’t Seek Reelection: Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas announced Thursday that she will not seek reelection in 2012. “When my current term is up, I will have served Texas for 19 years in the United States Senate,” she said in a statement. “I intended to leave this office long before now, but I was persuaded to continue in order to avoid disadvantage to our state. The last two years have been particularly difficult, especially for my family, but I felt it would be wrong to leave the Senate during such a critical period.” Hutchison, who took office in 1993, vowed to continue to “fight the massive spending that has increased our national debt; the government takeover of our health care system; and the growth of the federal bureaucracy, which threatens our economy” until her term ends next year. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Communications Director Eric Schultz: “We look forward to running a competitive race in Texas as the Lone Star state is now one of several Democratic pick-up opportunities next November.” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called Hutchison “a trusted advisor and friend, a senator who always serves Texas first.” “Fortunately, she’s not leaving soon,” he said in a statement. “While I’m confident she’ll continue to be a powerful advocate for her state and nation over the next two years, the Senate will miss her strength and energy when she leaves.” CBS News, 1-13-11
  • No cut in U.S. funds for Lebanon, but more scrutiny: Lebanon’s political turmoil will not trigger an immediate cut in U.S. aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces but will likely sharpen U.S. Congressional scrutiny of how the money is used, analysts said on Wednesday…. – Reuters, 1-12-11
  • House tribute to Giffords: ‘Violence cannot silence’: House Speaker John Boehner has formally introduced a resolution paying tribute to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that “condemns in the strongest possible terms” the Arizona shooting spree that left her gravely wounded and six others dead. The four-page resolution is simply written, with sections honoring Giffords, each of the deceased, the wounded, and people such as Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez and event attendee Patricia Maisch who tried to save lives and apprehend the shooter. The resolution offers the condolences of the House and reaffirms the belief of lawmakers “in a democracy in which all can participate and in which intimidation and threats of violence cannot silence the voices of any American.” The first of the deceased recognized in the “whereas” clauses is Christina-Taylor Green, the youngest of those slain. The 9-year-old girl and her life story have captured the nation’s attention. As the House resolution states, Christina was at Giffords’ “Congress on your Corner” event on Saturday because she had “an avid interest in government.” Boehner will gavel the House to order on Wednesday and then open four to six hours of debate on the resolution. A bipartisan prayer service honoring Giffords and the Arizona shooting victims will be held at 1 p.m. ET…. – USA Today, 1-11-11
  • House Resolution Honors Heroes, Victims of Tucson Tragedy: 112TH CONGRESS 1ST SESSION H. RES. ___ Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8, 2011. IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Mr. BOEHNER submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on lll RESOLUTION Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8, 2011. Whereas on January 8, 2011, an armed gunman opened fire at a “Congress on your Corner” event hosted by Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, killing and wounding at least 14 others…. – ABC, 1-11-11


  • Mayoral candidates debate for first time Four major candidates face each other before Chicago Tribune editorial board: The four major candidates for Chicago mayor debated each other for the first time at a forum before the Tribune editorial board Friday. Here are excerpts from their exchanges…. – Chicago Tribune, 1-15-11
  • Former President Bill Clinton to Stump for Rahm Emanuel Next Week: Former president Bill Clinton will campaign for Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel at a rally next Tuesday, according to a campaign spokesperson. Emanuel served as a senior advisor to Clinton at the White House from 1993 to 1998. Clinton will speak at a rally at the Chicago Cultural Center, 77. E. Randolph St., on January 18 at 11 a.m. The event is open to the public. Tickets are available at chicagoforrahm.com/clinton – Fox Chicago, 1-13-11
  • Emanuel Not Tied to New Political Group: Aide: Mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel has not injected himself in the City Council races but could get involved at some point in the campaign, his spokesman said Thursday. But campaign aide Ben LaBolt said Emanuel has no involvement in a new political action committee created by his former political aide to help candidates for council. “Rahm does not plan to endorse City Council candidates, though we are not ruling out dedicating resources to candidates who share his vision for the city,” LaBolt told the Chicago News Cooperative. He added that Emanuel is taking the same wait-and-see approach to the other two city-wide races, for treasurer and clerk…. – Chicago News Cooperative, 1-13-11
  • Barbour pushes for Mississippi civil rights museum: Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour drew mixed reactions from analysts on Wednesday for his decision to push for a civil rights museum for his state ahead of a possible presidential bid. Barbour urged the state’s legislature during an annual address to build the $50 million museum in a state that became notorious during the 1950s and 1960s for violent enforcement of racial segregation and opposition to civil and voting rights. Barbour, the chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, says he is mulling a bid to be his party’s nominee in 2012 where he would likely face President Barack Obama vying for a second term in the White House. “I urge you to move this museum forward as an appropriate way to do justice to the Civil Rights Movement and to stand as a monument of remembrance and reconciliation,” Barbour said in the speech late on Tuesday. “The civil rights struggle is an important part of our history, and millions of people are interested in learning more about it. People from around the world would flock to see the museum and learn about the movement,” he said…. – Reuters, 1-12-11
  • >Bill to abolish death penalty awaits Ill. governor: More than a decade after Illinois put all executions on hold, a bill to abolish the death penalty altogether awaits only the governor’s signature. But Pat Quinn’s approval is hardly assured. While he says he supports capital punishment when properly applied, he has not yet indicated whether he will sign the proposal, despite intense pressure from fellow Democrats. “I think it’s important, given the importance of this measure, that people from all over Illinois express their opinions,” Quinn said Wednesday, a day after lawmakers sent the historic bill to his desk. “I’m happy to listen and reflect, and I’ll follow my conscience.” And as he listens, the world watches…. – AP, 1-12-11
  • Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget plan at a glance: Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday proposed $12.5 billion in cuts to a wide range of state programs and $12 billion in revenue, partly from an extension of tax increases, to close California’s budget deficit. Here are some of his proposals…. _ Total spending, including special funds and bond payments, is $127.4 billion for the 2011-12 fiscal year, slightly ahead of the current total spending of $125.2 billion. _ General fund spending is $84.6 billion, slightly less than the $86.5 billion adopted for the current fiscal year. _ The deficit is $8.2 billion in the current fiscal year and $17.2 billion in the fiscal year that begins July 1…. – AP, 1-10-11

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • The GOP Wildcard, The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza wants to upend the race for the 2012 Republican nomination: Any day now, one of the many Republican worthies who long to be president will make an announcement, everyone else will follow in rapid succession, and the 2012 presidential campaign will officially be under way. Feels like it is already, doesn’t it? And has been for eons? Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney never stopped running. Newt Gingrich has been running since the ’90s. The rest of the field is likely to include Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, and the list only gets duller from there—none could be accused of inciting a crowd. Are we doomed to a dull campaign? Not if the Hermanator has his way. If you don’t attend Tea Party rallies or listen to political talk radio, the name Herman Cain may not register. Cain intends to rectify that. He’s planning to seek the GOP nomination, so he’s spreading his blustery, relentlessly upbeat right-wing social and economic message, which can be heard weeknights from 7 to 10 on WSB in Atlanta. Cain is so exuberantly confident of his message that he has upgraded its status: he bestows upon audiences not speeches or talking points but “The Hermanator Experience.” He’s even trademarked the phrase…. – The Atlantic, 1-13-11
  • Herman Cain inches closer to presidential run: Atlanta businessman and conservative activist Herman Cain announced Wednesday he was launching a presidential exploratory committee, bringing him one step closer to a bid for the GOP nomination in 2012. “We are now going to test the waters for voter support and financial support,” Cain told Fox News’ Mario Cavuto Wednesday afternoon. The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO confirmed his plans to Condace Pressley, assistant program director at 750 AM and now 95.5 FM News Talk WSB, where he hosts a nightly talk show. On that show Wednesday, he said he is considering a run for office to “make this a better world” for his three grandchildren. He said the White House needs a president “that will listen to the people first” and who is “a problem solver… that’s what I’ve done my entire business career.” He said the “American dream is under attack” by excessive legislation, regulation and taxation…. – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1-2-11
  • Priebus leads Steele in race for GOP chairman: The election for chairman of the Republican National Committee is on Friday and some of the focus is on front-runner Reince Priebus, a lawyer and chairman of the Wisconsin GOP. In the latest whip count, Priebus has the committed support of 38 RNC members — more than a third of the way toward the 85 votes needed to win — according to a tally by National Journal’s Hotline. He’s followed by incumbent chairman Michael Steele with 17 commitments. The chairmanship is crucial as Republicans try to defeat President Obama, win control of the Senate and keep their majority in the House…. – USA Today, 1-11-11
  • Can Tim Pawlenty light a fire with Republicans?: Can Tim Pawlenty light a fire with Republicans?… Pawlenty criticizes Palin’s crosshairs map… Right Turn: Tim Pawlenty’s Reagan-esque agenda… Pawlenty’s book pushes blue-collar appeal Even his adversaries say they can’t help but like former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who left office on Jan. 1 and is on a book tour, the next step in a campaign for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination that he has been quietly running for more than a year. But there is one thing that gets a rise out of Pawlenty, and that is to suggest that he lacks a certain . . . pizazz. “Compared to who?” Pawlenty retorted in an interview. “I’ll concede that Sarah Palin is in a league of her own, and a force of nature. As to most of the rest in the field? If you get to know me, I don’t think that’s an accurate rap. I mean, you think about all the other people running. With the possible exception of Mike Huckabee, and Palin, there aren’t exactly a bunch of Lady Gagas.”… – WaPo, 1-11-11


The President records the Weekly Address

  • Weekly Address: “Before We are Democrats or Republicans, We are Americans”: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery The White House January 15, 2011: It’s been one week since tragedy visited Tucson, Arizona. We properly spent much of the week mourning the victims and remembering their lives. We also discovered stories that serve to lift us up – stories of heroism and bravery, of courage and community – stories that remind us that we are one American family, 300 million strong. One of the places we saw that sense of community on display was on the floor of Congress, where Gabby Giffords, who inspires us with her recovery, is deeply missed by her colleagues. One by one, Representatives from all parts of the country and all points of view rose in common cause to honor Gabby and the other victims, and to reflect on our shared hopes for this country. As shrill and discordant as our politics can be at times, it was a moment that reminded us of who we really are – and how much we depend on one another. While we can’t escape our grief for those we’ve lost, we carry on now, mindful of those truths. We carry on because we have to. After all, this is still a time of great challenges for us to solve. We’ve got to grow jobs faster, and forge a stronger, more competitive economy. We’ve got to shore up our budget, and bring down our deficits. We’ve got to keep our people safe, and see to it that the American Dream remains vibrant and alive for our children and grandchildren. These are challenges I believe we can meet. And I believe we can do it in a way worthy of those who sent us here to serve. So as business resumes, I look forward to working together in that same spirit of common cause with members of Congress from both parties – because before we are Democrats or Republicans, we are Americans. And as we perform the work of this nation, my prayer is that we stay true to our words, and turn to those examples of heroism, and courage, and perseverance, to bring out the better in all of us…. – WH, 1-15-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Honoring Holbrooke: “Because We Could Make a Difference…”: To Kati, Anthony, David and Elizabeth, to all the friends and admirers of Richard, we come together to celebrate an extraordinary life. In 1999, at the height of the crisis in Kosovo, Richard gave an interview in which he addressed the question of why the United States was engaged in bringing peace to that war-torn corner of the world. Why bother? His answer was simple: “Because we could make a difference.” Because we could make a difference. That is the story of American leadership in the world. And that is also the story of Richard Holbrooke. He made a difference…. The list of places he served and the things he did reads as a chronicle of American foreign policy. Speaking truth to power from the Mekong Delta to the Paris peace talks. Paving the way to our normalization of relations with China. Serving as ambassador in a newly unified Germany. Bringing peace to the Balkans. Strengthening our relationship with the United Nations. And working to advance peace and progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan…. He understood American power, in all its complexity, and believed that when it is applied with purpose and principle, it can tip the scales of history. And that coupling of realism and idealism, which has always represented what is best in American foreign policy, that was at the heart of his work in Bosnia, where he negotiated and cajoled and threatened all at once, until peace was the only outcome possible…. Richard is gone now, but we carry with us his thirst to know, to grasp, and to heal the world around him. – WH, 1-14-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Memorial Service for Richard C. Holbrooke Remarks Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State The Kennedy Center Washington, DC January 14, 2011: Well, I am last because my office is on the 7th floor which is as close to heaven as you can get, so I end the program by being and bringing you with me to be as close to Richard as we can be. I’m very, very moved by the outpouring of love and admiration and respect that has been sent to me on behalf of our country from so many places across the world. And in this audience this afternoon are so many who have worked with Richard in the past and were working with him today. If we had time, each and every one of you would have you own stories. … There are few people in any time, but certainly in our time, who can say, I stopped a war. I made peace. I saved lives. I helped countries heal. Richard Holbrooke did these things. He believed that great men and women could change history. And he did. He wanted to be a great man so he could change history. He was, and he did. His time with us ended far too soon. And yet he lived enough for 10 lives. So while we mourn, we have reason for joy – joy for the life that Richard lived, joy that we were able to be part of it – that we went along for the ride…. – State.gov, 1-14-11
  • John McCain: After the shootings, Obama reminds the nation of the golden rule: President Obama gave a terrific speech Wednesday night. He movingly mourned and honored the victims of Saturday’s senseless atrocity outside Tucson, comforted and inspired the country, and encouraged those of us who have the privilege of serving America. He encouraged every American who participates in our political debates – whether we are on the left or right or in the media – to aspire to a more generous appreciation of one another and a more modest one of ourselves. The president appropriately disputed the injurious suggestion that some participants in our political debates were responsible for a depraved man’s inhumanity. He asked us all to conduct ourselves in those debates in a manner that would not disillusion an innocent child’s hopeful patriotism. I agree wholeheartedly with these sentiments. We should respect the sincerity of the convictions that enliven our debates but also the mutual purpose that we and all preceding generations of Americans serve: a better country; stronger, more prosperous and just than the one we inherited…. – WaPo, 1-14-11
  • SHMULEY BOTEACH: Sarah Palin Is Right About ‘Blood Libel’ Judaism rejects the idea of collective responsibility for murder: The term “blood libel”—which Sarah Palin invoked this week to describe the suggestions by journalists and politicians that conservative figures like herself are responsible for last weekend’s shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz.—is fraught with perilous meaning in Jewish history. The term connotes the earliest accusations that Jews killed Jesus and enthusiastically embraced responsibility for his murder, telling Pontius Pilate, “His blood be upon us and our children” (Matthew 27:25). Thus was born the legend of Jewish bloodlust and of Hebrew ritual use of Christian blood for sacramental purposes. The term was later used more specifically to describe accusations against Jews—primarily in Europe—of sacrificing kidnapped Christian children to use their blood in the baking of Passover matzos…. How unfortunate that some have chosen to compound a national tragedy by politicizing the murder of six innocent lives and the attempted assassination of a congresswoman. To be sure, America should embrace civil political discourse for its own sake, and no political faction should engage in demonizing rhetoric. But promoting this high principle by simultaneously violating it and engaging in a blood libel against innocent parties is both irresponsible and immoral. – WSJ, 1-14-11
  • President Obama in Tucson: “The Forces that Divide Us are Not as Strong as Those that Unite Us”: Last night the President spoke to an emotional crowd at a memorial event in Tucson, Arizona. The grief for the victims of the tragic shooting there was overwhelming, but so too was the admiration for the heroes who risked their lives to prevent even greater loss, as well as the hope for the survivors to see full recoveries. The President asked those in the hall and across America to channel their emotions toward the pursuit of a more perfect union, saying that “If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate — as it should — let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost.”… – WH, 1-13-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Text Obama’s Remarks in Tucson: Following is a text of President Obama’s prepared address on Wednesday to honor those killed and wounded in a shooting on Jan. 8, as released by the White House…. But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds. Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, “when I looked for light, then came darkness.” Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath. For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind. So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future…. That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions – that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires. For those who were harmed, those who were killed – they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong. We may not have known them personally, but we surely see ourselves in them. In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. Phyllis – she’s our mom or grandma; Gabe our brother or son. In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America’s fidelity to the law. In Gabby, we see a reflection of our public spiritedness, that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union. And in Christina…in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic. So deserving of our love. And so deserving of our good example. If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle…. – NYT, 1-12-11
  • Sarah Palin: America’s Enduring Strength: ….The last election was all about taking responsibility for our country’s future. President Obama and I may not agree on everything, but I know he would join me in affirming the health of our democratic process. Two years ago his party was victorious. Last November, the other party won. In both elections the will of the American people was heard, and the peaceful transition of power proved yet again the enduring strength of our Republic. Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible. There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure…. – Sarah Palin on Facebook, 1-12-11Video


  • Gil Troy: America’s search for civility It’s time to return to the notion of ‘malice toward none’ and ‘charity for all’: The tragic Arizona rampage that critically injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six citizens, including 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who wanted to see “how our government works,” has triggered the predictable recitations about America’s long history of political violence -without any evidence that this was a political crime. That vast numbers of shocked observers immediately concluded that the gunman’s lunatic actions were in some way linked to the present fervid red-blue debate in the United States speaks volumes about the overheated rhetoric that has come to characterize much of America’s political discourse in recent years. But political civility has an equally long and robust U.S. pedigree. We should appreciate the coalition-builders, not the partisans; the statesmen, not the demagogues; the magnanimous uniters, not the cranky dividers. In matters political, the big broad tent with stakes driven deep into America’s rich soil is more constructive and more lasting than partisan lean-tos tilting left or right…. – Montreal Gazette, 1-13-11
  • Historian Douglas Brinkley says Tucson will be a place in ‘history like a Selma or Birmingham in the 1960s’: As the shock wanes from the aftermath of Saturday’s Tucson tragedy, how might this event be remembered historically? According to noted historian Douglas Brinkley, a fellow at the Baker Institute and a professor of history at Rice University, it will rank up there with one of the bloodiest times in U.S. history, the Civil Rights Era in Alabama, including the September 15, 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham and the March 7, 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma. “Well you know Tucson now is one of these places people are going to talk about in history like a Selma or Birmingham in the 1960s,” Brinkley said. “It seems like a war zone spot and if you go to Selma or Birmingham today, they cope with that past. They have museums and memorials. This is the beginning of the healing for that community of Tucson and it’s very significant that President Obama’s coming, and hugging people, talking to people – making them know he feels the pain of the entire community and the nation.”… – The Daily Caller, 1-13-11
  • Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton: The health care will not be an inevitable problem for Romney. He can also position himself as the Republican who tackled health care, but did it the “right” way. In this political world it won’t be hard for him to claim there are major differences between what he did and what the president did. Romney also offers some pluses for the GOP — he has been in the business world, he is very intelligent and he looks like a president. Moreover, he can claim to be a Republican who has a chance to win moderate and independent votes. It would be a mistake for Republican challengers to dismiss him. – Politico Arena, 1-14-11
  • Douglas Brinkley: A Country of Guns: Assassination Throughout History: It’s sad that this is on the rise now, and I do think we need to ask these questions: Do our congresspeople and federal judges need better protection than we’re giving them, in a world where semi-automatic weapons and guns with scopes are just so easy to acquire?… – — The Daily Caller, 1-11-11, Mp3

History Buzz: January 16, 2011: AHA Recap — Virginia Textbook Controversy — Civil War at 150 — Historians Reflect on Arizona Shootings


History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.



  • American Historical Association’s (AHA) 125th Annual Meeting / Conference: Daily RecapsHistory Musings
  • Producers already pitch Kennedy project elsewhere: After the History channel said it would not air a controversial miniseries on the Kennedy family, producers were already seeking another television home.
    The Showtime pay cable network has been approached to air the eight-part series, a spokesman said on Saturday. Eight years ago, Showtime aired a movie about President Reagan that CBS had made but decided not to broadcast when it faced pressure from some of that former president’s family. Showtime won’t make a decision about the Kennedy miniseries until its executives have a chance to see it, spokesman Richard Licata said….
    A concerted effort was made to quash the series. Liberal filmmaker Robert Greenwald collected 50,000 petitions urging History not to air it, and he produced a short film condemning the project on a website, stopkennedysmears.com. He had been given an early script, which included one scene where President Kennedy tells his brother Robert about his need to have sex with other women. Former Kennedy aide Theodore Sorensen also harshly condemned the film, saying scenes in the script where he was depicted didn’t actually occur. History also likely felt corporate pressure. The network is owned by the A&E Television Networks, which itself is owned jointly by NBC Universal, the Walt Disney Co. and the Hearst Corp…. – AP, 1-8-11
  • History network pulls plug on Kennedy project: The History Channel will not air a controversial miniseries it produced about the Kennedy family, saying the multimillion project that had become the network’s most expensive on record did not fit the “History brand.”
    The eight-part series had already been completed, and starred Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes as President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie. But during its production, critics like former Kennedy administration aide Theodore Sorenson attacked the scripts as inaccurate. The role of producer Joel Surnow, a political conservative, also drew suspicion from fans of the Kennedy family.
    “We have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand,” the network said in a statement late Friday. History, in its statement, said the decision was made after viewing the series in its totality. “We recognize historical fiction is an important medium for storytelling and commend all the hard work and passion that has gone into the making of the series, but ultimately deem this as the right programming decision for our network,” History said in a statement…. – AP, 1-8-11
  • ‘Kennedys’ gets pulled: A&E Television Networks will not broadcast the miniseries “The Kennedys’’ on the History Channel this spring. The network has canceled the series starring Greg Kinnear as John F. Kennedy and Katie Holmes as Jackie Kennedy, concluding it was “not a fit’’ for the History Channel, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Upon completion of the production of ‘The Kennedys,’ History has decided not to air the eight-part miniseries,’’ a rep for A&E told the trade publication. The multimillion dollar project has been the subject of controversy since it was announced in December 2009. Developed by Joel Surnow, the conservative co-creator of “24,’’ the project was criticized by some Democrats and Kennedy historians. The miniseries is still set to air in Canada on March 6, and will still be broadcast internationally. – Boston Globe, 1-8-11
  • History Channel Pulls ‘The Kennedys’; Says Controversial Miniseries ‘Not a Fit’: Ambitious miniseries was set to air this spring; stars Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes, and producer Joel Surnow were told today of cancellation.
    In a surprise move, A&E Television Networks has canceled plans to broadcast The Kennedys, the ambitious and much- anticipated miniseries about the American political family that was set to air this spring on the History channel.
    “Upon completion of the production of The Kennedys, History has decided not to air the 8-part miniseries on the network,” a rep for the network tells The Hollywood Reporter in a statement. “While the film is produced and acted with the highest quality, after viewing the final product in its totality, we have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand.”
    The multi-million dollar project—History and Lifetime president and general manager Nancy Dubuc’s first scripted miniseries at the network and its most expensive program ever—has been embroiled in controversy since it was announced in December 2009.
    Developed by Joel Surnow, the conservative co-creator of 24, along with production companies Asylum Entertainment and Muse Entertainment and writer Stephen Kronish, the project drew fire from the political left and some Kennedy historians. Even before cameras rolled, a front-page New York Times story last February included a sharp attack from former John F. Kennedy adviser Theodore Sorenson, who called an early version of the script “vindictive” and “malicious.”
    History and parent A&E said at the time that the script had been revised and that the final version had been vetted by experts. Indeed, the script used in production had passed muster with History historians for accuracy.
    Despite the controversy, History was able to recruit a big-ticket cast to the project, announcing in April that Greg Kinnear (John F. Kennedy), Katie Holmes (Jackie Kennedy), Barry Pepper (Robert F. Kennedy) and Tom Wilkinson (Joe Kennedy) would co-star. The actors and CAA, which reps both Kinnear and Holmes, were told this afternoon of the cancellation. Surnow also was told today.
    No advertisers had registered complaints or concerns with the miniseries, confirms an A&E spokesperson, but the content was not considered historically accurate enough for the network’s rigorous standards. So an air date, which had not been announced but was planned for spring, was scrapped.
    “We recognize historical fiction is an important medium for storytelling and commend all the hard work and passion that has gone into the making of the series, but ultimately deem this as the right programming decision for our network,” a rep tells THR in the statement.
    The miniseries is still scheduled to air in Canada on March 6, and will still be broadcast internationally…. – The Hollywood Reporter, 1-8-11


  • Va. Board Of Ed Wants To Improve Book Review Process: The Virginia Board of Education will review two error-filled textbooks to determine whether they’re fit to be used in the state’s schools.
    At its Thursday meeting, the board directed Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia Wright to come up with a process to help the board decide whether the two books, both published by Connecticut-based Five Ponds Press, should be included on a list of approved books. The board adopted the directives as a motion made by board member David Foster of Arlington.
    The board also asked Wright to ask experts to review all Five Ponds textbooks included on the approved books list and seek potential remedies from the publisher for school divisions that purchased the books. The books are the fourth-grade textbook, “Our Virginia: Past and Present” and the fifth-grade book, “Our America: To 1865.” – WY Daily, 1-15-11
  • Va. withdraws approval of textbooks: The Virginia Board of Education on Thursday withdrew its approval of two elementary school history textbooks, which a panel of historians found to have dozens of errors. On Thursday, the Board of Education also ordered a review by experts of any other approved textbooks published by Five Ponds Press. The company currently has four world history books which are approved for use in the state’s classrooms. Those books passed the state’s textbook review process, in which panels of reviewers, often elementary school teachers, verified that the books cover each of the Standards of Learning themes. Experts in particular subject matters also sometimes review books…. – WaPo, 1-13-11
  • Virginia Textbook Controversy: Publisher Will Replace VA Textbooks For Free — Board of Education Withdraws Approval: The publisher of this textbook will replace it at no cost to school divisions, due to errors found in two books. In response to criticism of errors found in its textbooks, Five Ponds Press announced Tuesday it intends to replace all copies of “Our Virginia” and “Our America: To 1865” for free…. – Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, 1-13-11
  • Business Metaphor Still Ascendant at AHA: it was difficult to escape the conclusion, during the American Historical Association’s annual meeting here over the weekend, that higher education is in the throes of a crisis. Panels used the word “crisis” to describe the state of the job market for historians, the state of public universities, and the state of higher education in general. And the enemy was consistently identified as the ideology and analytical tools of business.
    For example, the scarcity of faculty jobs in history — 569 this year, which marked the smallest number in two decades — was driven by more than simple laws of supply and demand, argued Martin Mulford, a self-described “rogue scholar” and former businessman, during a Saturday session, “The Academic Job Market: Finding Solutions in a Time of Crisis.” The lack of history jobs has been hastened and worsened by a larger trend of hiring adjuncts and contingent faculty instead of full-time faculty in the interest of cost-cutting, he said. This reflects a larger transformation of the role of business in higher education, which he likened to the shift from being a stepchild to the head of a household. “This is a problem of the colonization of the academy by business,” said Mulford…. – Inside Higher Ed (1-11-11)
  • Turns Out, Jobs for Historians Are…History: While Wednesday’s ADP number for December was surprisingly strong, skeptical strategists emphasize that this US labor market remains in a state of disarray.
    How about the well educated among us? How are our PhD-carrying comrades navigating this lousy labor market? Interestingly, it depends on the area in which they specialize. According to a new report by Inside Higher Ed, historians have it rough: During the 2009-10 academic year, the number of positions listed with the American Historical Association dropped by 29.4%. That follows a 23.8% drop the year before. Last year, the association announced that the number of listings it received — 806 — was the smallest in a decade; this year’s total of 569 marks the smallest number in 25 years…. – Minyanville, 1-6-11
  • Historians Continue to Face Tough Job Market: The job market for historians continued to deteriorate last year, although there is reason to hope it may be poised to rebound somewhat, according to a report released on Monday by the American Historical Association. The report, published in the group’s Perspectives on History, a newsletter, in advance of its annual conference this week, said the number of jobs posted with the association fell by more than 29 percent—from 806 to 569—during the 2009-10 academic year. Since two years ago, when the association posted an all-time high of 1,059 job openings, the number of jobs advertised with it has dropped by more than 46 percent, to the lowest level in 25 years.
    The report does contain a glimmer of hope: Looking at the current academic year, it found that the number of job advertisements posted as of December 1 was up by more than 21 percent from the same period a year earlier. The report also offers an important caveat to its findings: Not all of the jobs available in the discipline are listed with the association, and some “are advertised only in The Chronicle of Higher Education or H-Net, for instance.”… – Chronicle of Higher Education, 1-3-11
  • Historians Expose Error-Filled Virginia Textbooks: In the version of history being taught in some Virginia classrooms, New Orleans began the 1800s as a bustling U.S. harbor (instead of as a Spanish colonial one). The Confederacy included 12 states (instead of 11). And the United States entered World War I in 1916 (instead of 1917). These are among the dozens of errors historians have found since Virginia officials ordered a review of textbooks by Five Ponds Press, the publisher responsible for a controversial claim that African-American soldiers fought for the Confederacy in large numbers during the Civil War.
    Our Virginia: Past and Present, the textbook including that claim, has many other inaccuracies, according to historians who reviewed it. Similar problems, historians say, were found in another book by Five Ponds Press, Our America: To 1865. A reviewer has found errors in social studies textbooks by other publishers as well, underscoring the limits of a textbook-approval process once regarded as among the nation’s most stringent…. – AP, 1-3-11
  • Carol Sheriff: Virgina History Textbook Inaccuracies Controversy: It’s a textbook case of getting it wrong. A Virginia elementary school textbook will soon be history after a college professor and parent, caught more than one mistake in it. Turns out the errors she spotted were not the only ones. Some of the glaring errors had to do with African-Americans and the Civil War. These and dozens of other errors can be found in the textbook handed out to thousands of Virginia fourth graders. Problems with the book ‘Our Virginia: Past and Present’, published by Five Ponds Press, first surfaced last October, as reported by the Washington Post, when the mother of one student, a college history professor, spotted several lines on page 122.
    “It was particularly jarring when I got to this one passage that was so at odds with what historians have been saying about who participated in the Civil War,” said William & Mary Professor Carol Sheriff, a parent of one student.
    The book says thousands of southern blacks fought in the confederate ranks, something not supported by mainstream Civil War scholarship. But it’s the next line that’s just plain wrong: “including two black battalions under the command of Stonewall Jackson.” The textbook actually, does note that it wasn’t ’til 1865 that African-Americans could legally serve in the confederate army. It also tells children that Stonewall Jackson died in 1863. The error about blacks serving in the confederate army was outrageous to many in academia… – CNN, 12-30-10


  • James McPherson: Battle Over the Battlefields: One hundred and fifty years after the start of the Civil War, we’re still fighting. This time it’s development vs. preservation—and development’s winning. The Battle to Preserve History “There has to be a reasonable balance,” says James McPherson, the foremost living Civil War historian and professor emeritus of history at Princeton. “If you preserved every square foot of battlefield in Virginia, there wouldn’t be much land left. There’s a tendency among preservationists to want to save everything, but realistically there have to be compromises.”
    One place McPherson isn’t willing to compromise, however, is the Virginia Walmart, a 140,000-square-foot supercenter the company wants to build in Orange County on a parcel that’s been zoned for commercial use for 37 years. The bloody May 1864 encounter fought there was the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. In Grant’s first battle since becoming chief of the U.S. Army, he pounded Lee and began driving him south toward Richmond. Historians say his army’s “nerve center,” including his own headquarters, was located on and near the Walmart site, which is also across the street from the entrance to the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park…. – Newsweek, 1-13-11
  • AnneMarie Luijendijk: A flax merchant from Egypt! Owner of 4th century New Testament papyrus identified: A Princeton University researcher has identified the owner of a New Testament papyrus that dates to the time of Constantine the Great…. “It is the first and only ancient instance where we know the owner of a Greek New Testament papyrus,” writes Professor AnneMarie Luijendijk in an article recently published in the Journal of Biblical Literature. “For most early New Testament manuscripts, we do not know where they were found, let alone who had owned them.”… – Unreported Heritage News, 1-2-11
  • After 130 years, will Billy the Kid finally get a governor’s pardon?: Outgoing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is considering a pardon for celebrated outlaw Billy the Kid. An informal e-mail poll shows support. But time is running out.
    Public perception regarding the Kid is split into two camps, says Paul Hutton, a history professor and Old West expert at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque: “people who see him as this homicidal maniac and [others] who see him as a romantic character fighting for justice against a corrupt New Mexico system.”
    Hutton says most historians agree that Billy the Kid’s life was not as violent as the legend suggests and that he was a product of his unwieldy times of government corruption and vigilante justice. “He certainly felt solving problems with a gun was the way to go, but that was the world in which he lived in,” he says. “The forces of authority in 1877 New Mexico were nothing to brag about.”… – CS Monitor, 12-29-10


  • DISUNION: One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, Americans went to war with themselves. Disunion revisits and reconsiders America’s most perilous period — using contemporary accounts, diaries, images and historical assessments to follow the Civil War as it unfolded…. – NYT, Disunion
  • James Loewen’s “5 Myths about why the South seceded” Washington Post’s Most Viewed: James Loewens’ op-ed in the Washington Post “5 Myths about Why the South Seceded,” published last Sunday, has become the most viewed article at their website, garnering more than a half a million views as of Monday, and combined with print views, now more than a million views:
    One hundred fifty years after the Civil War began, we’re still fighting it – or at least fighting over its history. I’ve polled thousands of high school history teachers and spoken about the war to audiences across the country, and there is little agreement even about why the South seceded. Was it over slavery? States’ rights? Tariffs and taxes? As the nation begins to commemorate the anniversaries of the war’s various battles – from Fort Sumter to Appomattox – let’s first dispense with some of the more prevalent myths about why it all began…. – WaPo, 1-9-11
  • Gil Troy: America’s search for civility It’s time to return to the notion of ‘malice toward none’ and ‘charity for all’: The tragic Arizona rampage that critically injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six citizens, including 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who wanted to see “how our government works,” has triggered the predictable recitations about America’s long history of political violence -without any evidence that this was a political crime.
    That vast numbers of shocked observers immediately concluded that the gunman’s lunatic actions were in some way linked to the present fervid red-blue debate in the United States speaks volumes about the overheated rhetoric that has come to characterize much of America’s political discourse in recent years.
    But political civility has an equally long and robust U.S. pedigree. We should appreciate the coalition-builders, not the partisans; the statesmen, not the demagogues; the magnanimous uniters, not the cranky dividers. In matters political, the big broad tent with stakes driven deep into America’s rich soil is more constructive and more lasting than partisan lean-tos tilting left or right…. – Montreal Gazette, 1-13-11
  • Gil Troy: It Was Good to See the Last of 2010: Good riddance to 2010 – not only because the calendar gods decree it, but because so many of us were so fed up with it.
    Fortunately no historic cataclysm occurred that will jump off the page of future textbooks. Instead, it was a year of slogging through, of feeling drained. It featured major leaks, notably the British Petroleum oil leak and the diplomatic tsunami of WikiLeaks. During 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama’s support and standing continued to seep away. And 2010 witnessed trouble brewing in the United States and Europe, as the prolonged recession drained individuals’ morale, family finances, and communal energies…. – Montreal Gazette, 1-4-11
  • Simon Schama: An America Lost in Fantasy Must Recover Its Dream: As it says goodbye and good riddance to 2010, is America also saying so long to depression, both the economic and the psychic varieties? Is double-dip now just another way to get your hot fudge sundae? Riding the Metro North commuter train from Pleasantville to Grand Central Station on the last weekend before Christmas, you’d certainly suppose so. The consumer confidence index had been rising for two straight months now and most of it seemed to be on board, wallets bursting to get in on the action. Heavy-set thirtysomethings on parole from suburbia, fists popping cans of Bud Lite, boomed to all who wanted to hear (Ben Bernanke maybe?) that they were “gonna do some serious shopping DAMAGE dude!” In the month before Christmas Grand Central turns into a retail bazaar, and to the strains of jingle tills vendors selling silk scarves, Thai and Polish jewellery, hammered leather goods and fancy stationery were all doing brisk trade to elbow-working crowds…. – Financial Times (UK), 12-23-10
  • Paul Kengor: Stalin’s dupes, past and present: It’s customary at year’s end to share our favorite news items from the year past – from happy moments to outrages. As a professor and historian, I tend to highlight things I fear are lost to American education. To that end, I’ve become somewhat of a pessimist, especially as I observe what the next generation is not being taught. So, my enduring “news item” of 2010 falls under the category of historical outrage, though it is redeemed somewhat by another item considerably more positive. I’d like to link them here as a teachable moment.
    My outrage of 2010: the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va., erected a statue of Josef Stalin, architect of the Great Purge, Ukrainian famine, gulag, war on religion and upwards of 60 million deaths. We learned about this travesty, thanks to the vigilant work of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which has the heroic goal of trying to educate Americans about the forgotten holocaust committed by communists. The group created a website (Stalinstatue.com) to call attention to this moral-historical slander. The site featured a petition to remove the statue, with thousands of signatures from all over the world. Addressed to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation and to President Obama‘s secretary of the interior, it demanded that the “true history of World War II must be protected from distortion and misinformation.”… – The Washington Times, 12-28-10


  • Peter L. Bergen: Determined to Strike: THE LONGEST WAR The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda For years, I tried to read every new novel about how 9/11 affected our lives. Some were very thoughtful, but I always came away unsatisfied, feeling that the authors had worked hard but had somehow fallen short. As I read the stunning first section of Peter L. Bergen’s new book on the war between the United States and Al Qaeda, I realized I had been looking in the wrong genre. None of the novels were as effective or moving as “The Longest War,” which is a history of our time.
    Bergen, a national security analyst for CNN, impressively covers it all: Al ­Qaeda’s aspirations and its 9/11 attack, the Bush administration’s panicky response, the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the crucial and continuing unhelpful role of Pakistan, and the terrorist episodes in London and Madrid. Other books, most notably Bob Woodward’s series on the wars as viewed from Washington, have bitten off big chunks of this story, but Bergen’s, to my knowledge, is the first to credibly cover the global sweep of events over the last 10 years, exploring not just American views but also Al Qaeda’s…. – NYT, 1-16-11
  • PSYCHOLOGY REVIEW BY STEVEN F. HAYWARD: Putting George W. Bush on the psychologist’s couch: Dan P. McAdams, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, offers one of the first comprehensive psychological profiles of Bush in “George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream.” To his credit, McAdams tries not to pre-judge Bush, and he avoids making moral or political judgments about the president’s major decisions. McAdams will further disappoint Bush-haters in his measured rejection of several pop-psych themes, such as that Bush was in thrall to an Oedipal rivalry (though he does think a desire to avenge his father in Iraq was a factor). But in the end, McAdams’s framework sinks into a mire of professional jargon that tells us more about contemporary theory than about the former president…. – WaPo, 1-14-11
  • Chappaqua’s Kenneth Jackson is the executive editor of the second edition of “The Encyclopedia of New York City,” which boasts some 5,000 entries spanning 1,561 pages: Chappaqua’s Kenneth Jackson was first approached about assembling a New York City encyclopedia in 1982. The late Edward Tripp, a former editor-in-chief for Yale University Press, pitched the idea. “I thought it would be fun, and I was teaching New York City history,” says Jackson, a historian at Columbia University and the book’s executive editor. “It took a little while to get it going.” Officially, it took about 13 years, as the first edition of “The Encyclopedia of New York City” hit bookshelves in 1995. Heaped with critical acclaim, it sold out its first printing before it was published, and seven more printings followed. Some 75,000 copies have been sold to date. But a lot’s happened since then. New stadiums have been built for the Yankees and Mets. AirTrain and E-ZPass have become transportation norms. And the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, changed everything…. – LoHud, 1-16-11
  • Dark Tales Illuminate Haiti, Before and After Quake: “Haiti Noir,” released last week, has taken on new resonance amid the first anniversary of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake that killed 300,000 people and left over one million homeless. While only 3 of the 18 stories deal with the earthquake directly, Edwidge Danticat, the volume’s editor, said many were filled with reminders of what was lost.
    “I had this fear that the stories would lose their relevance,” said Ms. Danticat, the most widely known contemporary writer to come from Haiti. “But the post-earthquake neighborhoods have a new intrigue. Some of these stories are elegies to lost, broken and destroyed neighborhoods.”… – NYT, 1-10-11
  • NYT 100 Notable Books of 2010NYT, 12-5-10
  • NYT: The 10 Best Books of 2010: Stacy Schiff: CLEOPATRA: A Life: With her signature blend of wit, intelligence and superb prose, Schiff strips away 2,000 years of prejudices and propaganda in her elegant reimagining of the Egyptian queen who, even in her own day, was mythologized and misrepresented.
    Isabel Wilkerson: THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration: Wilkerson, a former national correspondent for The Times, has written a masterly and engrossing account of the Great Migration, in which six million African-Americans abandoned the South between 1915 and 1970. The book centers on the journeys of three black migrants, each representing a different decade and a different destination. – NYT, 12-12-10
  • Glenn W. LaFantasie: The top 12 Civil War books ever written: One great book for each month of 2011, the sesquicentennial of the War Between the States. In any event, here are a dozen books that, for me, tell the story of the Civil War with literary elegance, intellectual gusto and enormous flair….
    12. “The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War” by Bruce Catton
    11. “Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America”: by William E. Gienapp
    10. “Lincoln’s Men: How President Lincoln Became Father to an Army and a Nation”: By William C. Davis
    9. “Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War”: By Charles Bracelen Flood
    8. “Chancellorsville 1863: The Souls of the Brave”: By Ernest B. (“Pat”) Furgurson
    7. “Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam”: By Stephen W. Sears
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