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

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

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

IN FOCUS: STATS

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

THE HEADLINES….

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

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

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

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

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

POLITICAL QUOTES

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

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Time for Obama to put cards on table: If current polls are a guide, the midterm elections probably won’t be good for President Obama and his party. The Democrats are in danger of losing control of the House of Representatives and of seeing their majority in the Senate diminish.
    With Obama’s approval rating sagging to 45 percent according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll, even his most ardent supporters admit that he will need a stimulus act for his presidency before 2012 comes around.
    One of Obama’s biggest challenges has been his reticence about defining a clear agenda and a set of governing principles. Doing so has been at odds with his legislative strategy, which has hinged on avoiding big proclamations to give himself wiggle room with Congress….
    But Obama must also do a better job at telling voters what he is about. While the president has a large legislative record to boast of, it remains unclear to many voters, including Democrats who support much of the record, what it all adds up to.
    It’s time for Obama to state his agenda and lay out a set of governing principles that will guide him in his next two years as president. It’s likely that the pressure of the 2010 midterm elections will compel Obama to present an argument to the public to build a case for his presidency. – CNN, 8-30-10
  • KATHRYN OLMSTED: Why Americans love conspiracies: According to recent polls, large numbers of Americans are convinced of two things that are verifiably not true: that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and that Muslims are building a mosque at ground zero. A great many are also convinced that Obama was not even born in America. The tendency of most pundits and public officials is to dismiss these stories as the easily ignored theories of the lunatic fringe. But the “ground zero mosque” and “Obama-is-a-Muslim” stories have traction in the media for two reasons.
    First, they’re highly effective because they tap into deep, historic American anxieties about “un-American” agents within the republic — perhaps even within the White House. Second, these stories have some powerful sponsors in the media and in politics, sponsors who insinuate their paranoid theories into the mainstream debate to promote their own political goals. Americans have a special relationship to conspiracy theories involving insidious foreigners. Immigrants to America have brought a wider mix of religions and ethnicities and political histories than to any other New World country, and Americans have worried that their country is especially open —and vulnerable — to alien subversion. The historian Richard Hofstadter argued that there was a “paranoid style” in U.S. politics, prompted in part by Americans’ need to define themselves by casting out the un-Americans — or anyone who was not white, native-born and Protestant.
    Over the past two hundred years, frightened Americans have targeted Roman Catholics, Masons, Mormons, and Jews because these native groups were allegedly guided by the instructions of an alien power. Now, it’s the Muslims’ turn…. – Politico, 8-27-10
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August 30, 2010: Obama & Katrina 5 Years Later, John McCain wins Arizona Primary

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

President Obama at Xavier University in New Orleans, La.
President Obama at Xavier University in New Orleans, La., White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/29/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Election 2010 map: Track House, Senate and governor racesUSA Today
  • Poll: Six in 10 say Sarah Palin would be ineffective as president: She has been helping to drive conservative candidates to victory in GOP primaries across the country, but six in 10 Americans say Sarah Palin would not be an effective president, according to a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll released today. Palin, the former Republican governor of Alaska, did better among GOP voters. Forty-seven percent of Republicans say she could be an effective president, compared with 12% of Democrats and 21% of independents, according to the poll…. – NY Daily News, 8-30-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Baghdad; will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: Biden’s back in Baghdad. The vice president landed in Iraq on Monday in a surprise visit to mark the end of combat operations in the war-torn nation. The last American combat troops left Iraq earlier this month, and the White House says the number of U.S. troops in Iraq is now the lowest since the beginning of the conflict in 2003. A ceremony on Wednesday will signal the beginning of a new phase of the ongoing mission to establish a democratic government there, with the U.S. moving away from military operations and toward a largely diplomatic one.
    Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will “discuss the political situation and withdrawal, and Iraqis taking over responsibility for security,” the prime minister’s adviser, Yasin Majeed, told The Associated Press…. – NY Daily News , 8-30-10
  • Obama Pledges Commitment to New Orleans: Speaking at Xavier University on the fifth anniversary of the hurricane that took 1,800 lives, Mr. Obama emphasized the resilience of New Orleans residents.
    The legacy of Katrina, Mr. Obama said, must be “not one of neglect, but of action; not one of indifference, but of empathy; not of abandonment, but of a community working together to meet shared challenges.” “There are some wounds that do not heal,” the president acknowledged. “There are some losses that cannot be repaid. And for many who lived through those harrowing days five years ago, there is a searing memory that time will not erase.”… – NYT, 8-29-10
  • Obama, in New Orleans, promises to ‘fight alongside’ Gulf Coast: In New Orleans, the president talks Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, pointing up post-Katrina aid improvements and work on shoring up levees…. – LAT, 8-29-10
  • President Obama hails New Orleans’ comeback; samples local seafood: President Obama visited New Orleans Sunday on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to hail the storied city’s return from the dead and promise to keep it safe from new monsters whirling offshore.
    “Five years ago, many questioned whether people could ever return to this city. Today, New Orleans is one of the fastest-growing cities in America, with a big surge in new small businesses,” Obama said. “You’re not only rebuilding; you’re rebuilding stronger than before,” Obama said. “My administration is going to stand with you, and fight alongside you, until the job is done.”… – NY Daily News, 8-29-10
  • Glenn Beck and Al Sharpton: The rallies of 8/28WaPo
  • Glenn Beck rally: A warning to Obama and Democrats?: There may have been some Democrats at the Glenn Beck rally Saturday, but even many of them aren’t happy with the country’s direction. Does the large turnout portend trouble for Democrats? One hundred to two hundred thousand people attended a rally organized by Fox TV commentator, Glenn Beck, at the foot of the Lincoln memorial. Although it was avowedly “non-political,” Sarah Palin was one of the main speakers and the crowd resembled very much the Tea Party crowd…. – CS Monitor, 8-29-10
  • Sharpton’s ‘Reclaim the Dream’ event brings thousands to honor MLK Sharpton: ‘The dream has not been achieved’: Thousands of people joined the Rev. Al Sharpton and other leaders Saturday in a counter-protest to the rally called by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. The event, billed as “Reclaim the Dream,” included a march that culminated at the Mall, the site of Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally.
    In an interview before the rally began at Dunbar High School in Northwest Washington, Sharpton said he called the event to show respect for the dream of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech 47 years ago at the March on Washington near where Beck spoke to thousands Saturday.
    “People are clear in what Dr. King’s dream was about, and we will not react to those who try to distort that dream,” Sharpton said. He was one of several prominent leaders who condemned Beck’s rally, despite cries from organizers that “Restoring Honor” was not intended to dishonor King or his work…. – WaPo, 8-28-10
  • Beck says US has ‘wandered in darkness’ too long: From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck told the tens of thousands of activists he drew from around the nation Saturday that the U.S. has too long “wandered in darkness.”
    At an event billed as nonpolitical but reflecting the mood of a sizable number in the country, the rally’s marquee speaker, Sarah Palin, praised “patriots” in the audience for “knowing never to retreat.”
    “Something beyond imagination is happening,” he said. “America today begins to turn back to God.” “For too long, this country has wandered in darkness,” said Beck, a Fox News host. He said it was now time to “concentrate on the good things in America, the things we have accomplished and the things we can do tomorrow.”… – AP, 8-28-10
  • Glenn Beck rally: Sarah Palin and President Obama agree on one thing: President Obama and Sarah Palin disagreed sharply on the war in Iraq. But in Obama’s radio address Saturday and Palin’s speech at Glenn Beck’s ‘Restoring Honor’ rally, they agreed on the need to honor and support the troops…. – CS Monitor, 8-28-10
  • Family Feud Erupts Over Martin Luther King’s Legacy Martin Luther King’s son, Martin Luther King III, and King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, found themselves on opposing sides when it came to the Glenn Beck rally: A day of activism and protest in the nation’s Capitol today featured two prominent members of the King family laying very different claims on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.
    Addressing a massive crowd gathered at the Lincoln Memorial for Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally, King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, tied the civil rights icon’s legacy to the featured themes of honor, patriotism, service and faith that were highlighted at the gathering.
    “Today, we are here to honor special men and women, who like my uncle Martin are blessed with servant’s hearts” said King. “Though they gave their service in ways very different from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., like him they are people who are not afraid to give their lives for the freedom of other. If uncle Martin could be here today, he would surely commend them.”
    But Martin Luther King II, King’s son, seemed not to share that belief, instead joining civil rights leaders in a counter protest. “This is not about a left side or a right side,” he said. “This is about God’s side in terms of doing what’s right for all of America. That’s what Martin Luther King’s dream is about.” AOL News, 8-28-10
  • Carter and Former Prisoner Return to U.S.: Mr. Gomes, 31, stepped off a private plane at Logan International Airport about 2 p.m. on Friday, a day after Mr. Carter secured his release in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. He was immediately surrounded by more than a dozen relatives who enveloped him in a group hug. Neither Mr. Gomes (pronounced GOHMZ) nor Mr. Carter spoke with reporters upon their arrival, and it was unclear if or when either man would share details of Mr. Gomes’s detainment and release. Mr. Gomes quickly left the airport with his family and stayed out of the public eye for the rest of the day. But Mr. McCarthy later said that Mr. Gomes appeared in good health and that Mr. Carter had told the family that “the Koreans had taken good care of him.”… – NYT, 8-27-10
  • US implores Americans not to visit NKorea: The State Department on Friday urged Americans to respect its warning against traveling to North Korea, saying in a cheeky Twitter message that there are not too many former U.S. presidents left available for rescue missions. In a Tweet posted shortly after former President Jimmy Carter arrived in Boston from North Korea with American Aijalon Gomes who had been detained in the communist country for seven months, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said: “Americans should heed our travel warning and avoid North Korea. We only have a handful of former presidents.”
    His message referred to the fact that Carter was the second former U.S. president to travel to North Korea in the past year to win the release of American citizens imprisoned there. Last August, former President Bill Clinton secured the release of two television reporters who had been arrested for illegally entering North Korea…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • Sharpton: Beck rally goes against King’s vision: Broadcaster Glenn Beck and tea party activists have a right to rally in the nation’s capital but not to distort Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision, the Rev. Al Sharpton said Friday.
    Sharpton described the demonstration planned for Saturday by Beck and his supporters as an anti-government rally advocating states’ rights. And he said that goes against the message in King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, in which the civil rights leader appealed to the federal government to ensure equality.
    Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally will be held at the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his speech exactly 47 years earlier. Beck and other organizers say the aim is to pay tribute to America’s military personnel and others “who embody our nation’s founding principles of integrity, truth and honor.” The broadcaster toured the site Friday as supporters cheered…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • Obama to commemorate Katrina on 5th anniversary: President Barack Obama will use the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to reaffirm his commitment to the Gulf Coast amid lingering questions over his administration’s response to the BP oil spill.
    Obama ends his Martha’s Vineyard vacation Sunday and heads to New Orleans, five years to the day from when Hurricane Katrina raged ashore, busting through crumbling levees and flooding 80 percent of the city, killing more than 1,600 people. Then-President George W. Bush was harshly criticized in many quarters for not responding aggressively enough to the disaster.
    The unfinished business of helping make New Orleans whole is Obama’s responsibility now. On Sunday, he will have the delicate task of commemorating the ravaging storm while reassuring residents who may still believe the government has failed them — both when it comes to Katrina and to the BP spill…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • On Martha’s Vineyard, Obamas savor local produce: For a vacationing President Barack Obama, it seems all produce — like politics — is local. So far, in their only dinner outings since arriving on Martha’s Vineyard last week, the president and his wife have twice eaten at restaurants that feature locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs. And the White House has let it be known that the meals being cooked at their rented vacation compound feature all manner of things from farms and gardens on this island off Cape Cod. It seems the passion for freshness behind first lady Michelle Obama’s backyard garden at the White House hasn’t taken a holiday during her family’s stay here…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • Obama Hits Fairway With UBS’s Wolf, Lawyer Jordan During Vineyard Vacation: The biggest names on the links this week aren’t all teeing off at the PGA tournament in Paramus, New Jersey. The power foursomes are on Martha’s Vineyard, where President Barack Obama is spending a chunk of his vacation playing golf with partners who have included Robert Wolf, chairman and chief executive officer of UBS Americas, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Vernon Jordan, Lazard Ltd. senior managing director and a longtime Democratic Party supporter.
    Obama had a 15-minute discussion with Bloomberg about the economy in the clubhouse before heading out to the fairways yesterday, Reid Cherlin, an administration spokesman, said…. – Bloomberg, 8-27-10
  • Rain lifts, vacationing Obamas dine out for lunch: Emerging from semi-seclusion after four days of drenching rain, a cheery President Barack Obama lunched with his wife and daughters at a wharfside restaurant Wednesday and mingled with fellow vacationers. It was the family’s first public appearance together since beginning their Martha’s Vineyard stay.
    “Good to see you guys, you doing alright?” the smiling president asked a crowd that cheered his arrival at Nancy’s, an eatery well known for its fried local seafood. First lady Michelle Obama commiserated with the onlookers over the lousy weather. “You dried off finally?” she asked…. – AP, 8-26-10
  • U.S. deficit panel chair stirs uproar over remark: The co-chairman of a commission on the U.S. budget deficit came under fire on Wednesday after an off-color remark that likened the payment of government retirement benefits to milking cows. Women’s groups and some lawmakers called for the resignation of Alan Simpson, a Republican who serves on the bipartisan deficit panel created by President Barack Obama. Simpson wrote this week in an email to one of his critics the Social Security retirement program has reached the point “where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits.” He later issued an apology for the comment…. – Reuters, 8-26-10
  • Glenn Beck supporters head for Washington, D.C., rally: Glenn Beck’s supporters started boarding buses days ago in cities as far from the nation’s capital as Sacramento, Salt Lake City and Houston. Heading east for a grass-roots show of force on Saturday, they will join the conservative icon for a rally that he says is aimed at “restoring honor” to a troubled nation.
    “People are upset with the direction of the country,” says Patti Weaver, head of the Pittsburgh Tea Party, who is bringing 900 people on 16 buses to the event at the Lincoln Memorial. The rally will “continue to unite people who are upset with our government. … We can take our country back.”
    Beck has been criticized by civil rights groups such as the National Urban League for holding the rally at the site of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on racial equality and on its 47th anniversary. The Fox News and radio talk-show host insists that his rally is about supporting the nation’s troops — not about politics…. – USA Today, 8-26-10
  • David & Charles Koch: Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama: …One dignitary was conspicuously absent from the gala: the event’s third honorary co-chair, Michelle Obama. Her office said that a scheduling conflict had prevented her from attending. Yet had the First Lady shared the stage with Koch it might have created an awkward tableau. In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular…. – New Yorker, 8-30-10
  • Jimmy Carter: Can Obama trust him in North Korea talks?: Jimmy Carter gained a reputation as an independent actor when President Clinton sent him to North Korea in 1994. President Obama will hope Carter – on a mission to bring back a jailed American – does not stray into talks about North Korea’s nuclear program…. – Cs Monitor, 8-25-10
  • US general: Afghan deadline ‘giving enemy sustenance’: General James Conway said troops in southern Afghanistan were likely to have to remain for a few years. A senior US general has warned President Barack Obama’s deadline to begin pulling troops out of Afghanistan is encouraging the Taliban. US General James Conway, head of the US Marine Corps, said the deadline was “giving our enemy sustenance”. Gen Conway warned that US forces in southern Afghanistan will likely have to stay in place for several years. His comments are likely to fuel debate over US strategy in Afghanistan and Mr Obama’s July 2011 withdrawal date… – BBC, 8-24-10
  • Stem cell ruling to be appealed, some work to stop: The government will quickly appeal a court ruling that undercut federally funded embryonic stem cell research, the Obama administration declared Tuesday, but dozens of experiments aimed at fighting spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and other ailments probably will stop in the meantime.
    The White House and scientists said Monday’s court ruling was broader than first thought because it would prohibit even the more restricted stem cell research allowed for the past decade under President George W. Bush’s rules.
    The Justice Department said an appeal is expected this week of the federal judge’s preliminary injunction that disrupted an entire field of science…. – Boston Globe, 8-24-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

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  • ‘World News’ Political Insights — Tea Party’s Boil Still Singing Republicans: Movement Continues as Mixed Blessing for GOP, as More Primaries Loom… – ABC News, 8-29-10
  • Dems’ bright spots in foreboding election year: John Carney of Delaware is a rarity in a campaign season of foreboding for Democrats, a practicing politician with a strong chance of winning a Republican-held seat in Congress. Not that Carney is interested in attaching any national significance to his race. “I’ll support (President Barack Obama) when I think he’s right and I won’t when I think he proposes something that isn’t in the best interests of Delaware,” he says…. – AP, 8-29-10
  • W.Va. Gov. Manchin wins Dem primary for US Senate: Popular Gov. Joe Manchin won the Democratic nomination Saturday and will face GOP primary winner and wealthy businessman John Raese in the race to fill the Senate seat vacated by the late Robert C. Byrd. Raese defeated a crowded field of Republicans and becomes part of the GOP quest to dismantle the Democratic Senate majority as high unemployment and the slow economic recovery take a toll on their political prospects this fall…. – AP, 8-29-10
  • Crist, Meek tout plans to stimulate economy: Two of Florida’s U.S. Senate hopefuls, Gov. Charlie Crist and Congressman Kendrick Meek, on Sunday touted their plans to stimulate the lagging economy…. – AP, 8-29-10
  • Tweet by AK Senate candidate’s staffer causes stir: Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Joe Miller apologized on Twitter and a campaign staffer was told to exercise more caution Friday after someone in Miller’s campaign sent a tweet that appeared to liken a possible party switch by Sen. Lisa Murkowski to prostitution. The item posted on Miller’s Twitter account Friday said, “What’s the difference b/n selling out your party’s values and the oldest profession?” The tweet linked to an online article speculating on whether Murkowski would run on the Libertarian Party ticket if she loses the GOP primary to Miller. Murkowski’s campaign responded by calling the tweet “disgusting” and demanding an apology, after which Miller issued another tweet that said: “Please accept my apologies. Staffer trying to encourage Libertarians not to sell out.”… – AP, 8-28-10
  • Democratic Campaign Chief Says Tea Party Will Hurt Republicans: Victories of “extreme right” Tea Party-backed congressional candidates in Republican primaries will help the Democratic Party retain control of the House by alienating independent voters who will determine the November election outcome, the House Democrats’ campaign chief said.
    Many Republican candidates “emerging from the primaries are on the far right of the political spectrum, and many are driven by the Tea Party movement,” Representative Chris Van Hollen told reporters in Washington…. – Bloomberg, 8-27-10
  • Low-Profile Alaskan Swaps Law Court for the Limelight: This time last year, Joe Miller was augmenting his income from his private legal practice by working as a part-time attorney for the borough here, and had to put in for leave to take an elk-hunting trip with two of his sons.
    Now, the 43-year-old Mr. Miller stands on the brink of what would be one of this year’s biggest political upsets. If his slim lead in last Tuesday’s GOP primary holds, he will oust Sen. Lisa Murkowski from a seat she and her father, Frank, have held for 30 years.
    The final vote tally is expected within two weeks, after the state finishes counting 11,266 absentee ballots. With 100% of precincts counted, Mr. Miller currently leads by 1,668 votes. Most political watchers expect a Miller victory, and observers in Alaska and across the U.S. are taking a closer look at a man who, even in Fairbanks, maintained a low profile before he jumped into the race against Ms. Murkowski last April…. – WSJ, 5-27-10
  • Harry Reid vs. Sharron Angle: this season’s must-see political slugfest: The US Senate race between Harry Reid and Sharron Angle in Nevada is so close and the stakes are so high that the political world is riveted…. – CS Monitor, 8-27-10
  • John McCain survives Tea Party challenge at US primaries John McCain wins in Arizona after Sarah Palin endorsement, Tea Party’s Joe Miller set for surprise defeat of Alaska senator: Tea Party activists were on the verge of achieving one of the biggest upsets of the year by ousting the sitting Republican senator for Alaska, a scalp that would compensate for their failure earlier in the day to defeat the former presidential candidate John McCain.
    With 98% (91,000) of the votes counted in Alaska, the senator, Lisa Murkowski, was trailing Joe Miller on 51%. Miller has a lead of 1,190 votes, but still with 16,000 absentee ballots to be counted. Although Murkowski has been the senator since 2002 and polls suggested an easy win, Miller enjoyed Tea Party support, including one of its unofficial figureheads, the former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
    In a year that has seen establishment candidates beaten by outsiders in Republican primaries across the country, Alaska could be added to a list of Tea Party battle honours that already include Kentucky, Florida, Nevada and Utah.
    Miller’s surprise success suggests nationwide resentment over lack of jobs and the slowness of economic recovery remains as strong as ever, with voters blaming Washington…. – Guardian UK, 8-25-10
  • As GOP civil war rages, Democrats look to benefit: A Republican civil war is raging, with righter-than-thou conservatives dominating ever more primaries in a fight for the party’s soul. And the Democrats hope to benefit. The latest examples of conservative insurgents’ clout came Tuesday at opposite ends of the country. In Florida, political newcomer Rick Scott beat longtime congressman and state Attorney General Bill McCollum for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. And in Alaska, tea party activists and Sarah Palin pushed Sen. Lisa Murkowski to the brink of defeat, depending on absentee ballot counts in her race against outsider Joe Miller…. – AP, 8-26-10
  • McCain, Murkowski Primary Results Send Mixed Messages Incumbents McCain and Meek win, while Palin, Tea Party flex their Alaska muscle: Tuesday’s Senate primaries in Arizona, Florida, and Alaska were a test for the major players in the 2010 primaries: the establishment, wealthy political newcomers, and the Tea Party movement. Two establishment candidates prevailed, GOP Sen. John McCain in Arizona and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek in Florida. And the fate of a third hangs in the balance in Alaska, where officials determined that the race between eight-year incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sarah Palin-backed candidate Joe Miller is too close to call. The Alaska outcome will be decided by the 16,000 absentee ballots, and officials said it could take a week to determine the final results. Murkowski, the fifth ranking Republican in the Senate, said she will not concede the race in which she was about 2,000 votes behind Miller as of Wednesday morning. If Murkowski loses, she will be the seventh incumbent, and fourth Republican, taken down by voters this primary season. A Miller win would be seen as a substantial victory for Palin in her home state and for the Tea Party movement nationally, though a high-profile Tea Party candidate, J.D. Hayworth, lost to McCain in Arizona…. – US News, 8-25-10
  • In Alaska, Doubts About Climate Change Rise With a New Politician: Alaska’s cliffhanger primary is poised to propel a climate skeptic toward the U.S. Senate, observers say, likely bolstering the number of nominations achieved by conservative candidates who challenge manmade global warming. Republican Joe Miller, a former judge with a Yale law degree, showcased Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s past support for climate legislation, among other things, before slipping by her at the voting stations Tuesday to capture a 1,900 vote lead with several thousand absentee ballots still being counted…. – NYT, 8-26-10
  • Where GOP’s Lisa Murkowski went wrong and John McCain went right: Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska didn’t open her war chest in time, and it may have cost her the GOP primary. Arizona’s Sen. John McCain, by contrast, spent early and often… – CS Monitor, 8-25-10
  • Murkowski Counts on History Lesson to Remain Confident in Alaska: Sen. Lisa Murkowski declared Wednesday that “it ain’t over yet, folks” as she faced the prospect of being ousted by a conservative challenger backed by Sarah Palin amid widespread anti-incumbent rage this year. Joe Miller leads Murkowski by about 2,000 votes with several thousand absentee ballots still to be counted, putting him in position to potentially be the latest political newcomer to defeat a well-known incumbent.
    At a news conference in Anchorage, Murkowski mentioned that then-Sen. Ted Stevens in 2008 went to bed one night in the lead and learned later he had lost his Senate seat of 40 years to Mark Begich. She said U.S. Rep. Don Young also reminded her of a race he had won after going into the election thinking he would be the clear loser. “There is much, much yet to be counted,” she said.
    Regardless of who prevails, the Republican primary is a sign of Palin’s clout in her home state after the former governor and vice presidential candidate had suffered a string of loses recently in endorsing other candidates nationally…. – AP, 8-25-10
  • Arizona primary: Why McCain is set to beat the anti-incumbent backlash: Polls suggest Sen. John McCain is set to win his primary Tuesday. Some voters have been turned off by his attack ads and big spending in the race against J.D. Hayworth. But it has worked…. – CS Monitor, 8-24-10
  • Establishment vs. outsiders in primaries: It’s the political establishment vs. the outsiders in Tuesday’s primaries. And the establishment has the better odds.
    Republican Sens. John McCain and Lisa Murkowski were poised to win bitter primaries in Arizona and Alaska against tea-party-backed candidates.
    In Florida, boatloads of cash may not be enough to propel former health care executive Rick Scott and real estate businessman Jeff Greene to victory in gubernatorial and Senate primaries.
    “I think the voters have figured out that no matter how much money some guy spends, just because he’s wealthy and can run ads that slam the other guy doesn’t make him the right person to govern Florida,” said state Attorney General Bill McCollum, who is locked in a bruising Republican gubernatorial campaign against Scott…. – AP, 8-24-10
  • Republican Chuck Hagel backs Democrat in Pa. Senate race: Republican Chuck Hagel, the former Nebraska senator, will endorse Democrat Rep. Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania’s competitive U.S. Senate race…. – USA Today, 8-23-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson

  • Remarks by the President on the Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana Xavier University New Orleans, Louisiana: … Now, even as we continue our recovery efforts, we’re also focusing on preparing for future threats so that there is never another disaster like Katrina. The largest civil works project in American history is underway to build a fortified levee system. And as I — just as I pledged as a candidate, we’re going to finish this system by next year so that this city is protected against a 100-year storm. We should not be playing Russian roulette every hurricane season. (Applause.) And we’re also working to restore protective wetlands and natural barriers that were not only damaged by Katrina — were not just damaged by Katrina but had been rapidly disappearing for decades.
    And when I came here four years ago, one thing I found striking was all the greenery that had begun to come back. And I was reminded of a passage from the book of Job. “There is hope for a tree if it be cut down that it will sprout again, and that its tender branch will not cease.” The work ahead will not be easy, and there will be setbacks. There will be challenges along the way. But thanks to you, thanks to the great people of this great city, New Orleans is blossoming again. – WH, 8-29-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama: As the Combat Mission in Iraq Ends, We Must Pay Tribute to Those Who Have Served: Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House August 28, 2010: On Tuesday, after more than seven years, the United States of America will end its combat mission in Iraq and take an important step forward in responsibly ending the Iraq war.
    As a candidate for this office, I pledged I would end this war. As President, that is what I am doing. We have brought home more than 90,000 troops since I took office. We have closed or turned over to Iraq hundreds of bases. In many parts of the country, Iraqis have already taken the lead for security.
    In the months ahead, our troops will continue to support and train Iraqi forces, partner with Iraqis in counterterrorism missions, and protect our civilian and military efforts. But the bottom line is this: the war is ending. Like any sovereign, independent nation, Iraq is free to chart its own course. And by the end of next year, all of our troops will be home.
    As we mark the end of America’s combat mission in Iraq, a grateful nation must pay tribute to all who have served there. Because part of responsibly ending this war is meeting our responsibility to those who have fought it.
    The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now make up America’s longest continuous combat engagement. For the better part of a decade, our troops and their families have served tour after tour with honor and heroism, risking and often giving their lives for the defense of our freedom and security. More than one million Americans in uniform have served in Iraq – far more than any conflict since Vietnam. And more than one million who have served in both wars have now finished their service and joined the proud ranks of America’s veterans.
    What this new generation of veterans must know is this: our nation’s commitment to all who wear its uniform is a sacred trust that is as old as our republic itself. It is one that, as President, I consider a moral obligation to uphold.
    At the same time, these are new wars; with new missions, new methods, and new perils. And what today’s veterans have earned – what they have every right to expect – is new care, new opportunity, and a new commitment to their service when they come home…. – WH, 8-28-10
  • Hurricane Katrina: Five Years of Remembering & RebuildingWH, 8-25-10
  • Vice President Biden on Iraq and Our Veterans: “These Homecomings Are Something I Have Long Looked Forward To…”: These homecomings are something I have long looked forward to, and I know many of you have as well. The day my son Beau returned from a yearlong tour in Iraq, and I watched him embrace his wife and children, was one of the proudest and happiest moments of my life. By the end of next year—2011—our remaining troops in Iraq will have come home to their families and a grateful nation. This is only possible because of the extraordinary progress our military—the finest fighting force this planet has ever seen—has brought about, led by the great General Ray Odierno…. – WH, 8-24-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Time for Obama to put cards on table: If current polls are a guide, the midterm elections probably won’t be good for President Obama and his party. The Democrats are in danger of losing control of the House of Representatives and of seeing their majority in the Senate diminish.
    With Obama’s approval rating sagging to 45 percent according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll, even his most ardent supporters admit that he will need a stimulus act for his presidency before 2012 comes around.
    One of Obama’s biggest challenges has been his reticence about defining a clear agenda and a set of governing principles. Doing so has been at odds with his legislative strategy, which has hinged on avoiding big proclamations to give himself wiggle room with Congress….
    But Obama must also do a better job at telling voters what he is about. While the president has a large legislative record to boast of, it remains unclear to many voters, including Democrats who support much of the record, what it all adds up to.
    It’s time for Obama to state his agenda and lay out a set of governing principles that will guide him in his next two years as president. It’s likely that the pressure of the 2010 midterm elections will compel Obama to present an argument to the public to build a case for his presidency. – CNN, 8-30-10
  • PETER BERKOWITZ: The Death of Conservatism Was Greatly Exaggerated In 2008 liberals proclaimed the collapse of Reaganism. Two years later the idea of limited government is back in vogue: Last August left little doubt that a conservative revival was underway. Constituents packed town-hall meetings across the country to confront Democratic House members and senators ill-prepared to explain why, in the teeth of a historic economic downturn and nearly 10% employment, President Obama and his party were pressing ahead with costly health-care legislation instead of reining in spending, cutting the deficit and spurring economic growth.
    Still, whether that revival would have staying power was very much open to question. A year later—and notwithstanding the Democrats’ steadily declining poll numbers and the mounting electoral momentum that could well produce a Republican majority in the House and a substantial swing in the Senate—it still is.
    Sustaining the revival depends on the ability of GOP leaders, office-holders and candidates to harness the extraordinary upsurge of popular opposition to Mr. Obama’s aggressive progressivism. Our constitutional tradition provides enduring principles that should guide them…. – WSJ, 8-28-10
  • PEGGY NOONAN: We Just Don’t Understand Americans look at the president and see a stranger: All presidents take vacations, and all are criticized for it. It’s never the right place, the right time. Ronald Reagan went to the ranch, George W. Bush to Crawford, both got knocked. Bill Clinton even poll-tested a vacation site and still was criticized. But Martha’s Vineyard—elite, upscale—can’t have done President Obama any good, especially following the first lady’s foray in Spain. The general feeling this week was summed up by David Letterman: “He’ll have plenty of time for vacations when his one term is up. Plenty of time.”… – WSJ, 8-27-10
  • E.J. Dionne Jr.: Tuesday’s tutorial: a GOP too far right: Republicans are in the midst of an insurrection. Democrats are not. This vast gulf between the situations of the two parties — not some grand revolt against “the establishment” or “incumbents” — explains the year’s primary results, including Tuesday’s jarring outcomes in Florida and Alaska.
    The agitation among Republicans is not surprising, given the trauma of the final years of George W. Bush’s presidency. After heavy losses in 2006 and 2008, it was natural that GOP loyalists would seek a new direction.
    Liberals who saw Bush’s presidency as a failed right-wing experiment thought Republicans would search for more moderate ground, much as Britain’s Tories turned to the soothing leadership of David Cameron to organize their comeback. But this expectation overlooked the exodus of moderates over the past decade, which has shifted the balance of power in Republican primaries far to the right. As a result, the main critique of Bush in Republican ranks casts him as insufficiently conservative — too inclined to support federal action on education and in expanding prescription drug assistance to the elderly, and too ready to run up the deficit…. – WaPo, 8-26-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: GOP needs a Reagan to unite its factions: The debate over the construction of an Islamic center and mosque in New York exploded into a fierce national controversy. President Obama was unable to contain the issue, and his comments only added fuel to the fire. Polls show that his approval ratings continue to fall.
    But the debate over the Islamic center and mosque tells us as much about the tensions that are brewing within the Republican Party as it does about the challenges facing the White House. It is unclear whether any Republican has the capacity to unite the party and help repair the damage inflicted by the final year of President George W. Bush’s presidency.
    The same week that many conservatives were laser-focused on Muslims and the mosque, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed published in The Boston Globe criticizing the administration’s economic policies. Romney argued that Obama’s policies have been hampering, not helping, economic recovery and outlined as an alternative a package of tax cuts that he believes would generate growth.
    If Republicans can’t find a unifying figure like Reagan, and instead move toward one of the candidates who leans heavily toward one of these factions, the party won’t be able to prevent the contradictions and internal tensions from drowning any effort to challenge Obama. – CNN, 8-24-10
  • Joe Klein: Dems Depressed and Disheartened: The lead item on Politico–titled “Dems Urge Obama to Take a Stand”–is almost surrealistic. Take a stand? The guy passed health care, a stimulus bill that helped avoid a Depression, a groundbreaking financial reform bill that is too complicated to be popularly described, a bailout that enabled General Motors and Chrysler to survive. He nominated two estimable women to the Supreme Court. He restored America’s image in the world. I can go on…
    But Dems are distressed? He’s not populist or ideological enough? Oh please. There are several ways to go about the presidency. Ronald Reagan chose one way: he said one thing and did another. He was for cutting back the size of government, but didn’t. He was for lowering taxes and he did, but then he raised taxes–two of the laegest percentage increases in American history–when his supply-side “philosophy” proved a phony. He confronted the Soviet Union, but he also would have agreed to massive reductions in nuclear arsenals if the Soviets had allowed him to pursue his Star Wars fantasy…. – Times, 8-23-10
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