May 11, 2009: President Obama Unrolls Budget, Credit Card and Health Care Plans

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President discusses fiscal responsibility

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • Obama Approval Picks Up in May Still, only 25% say they would definitely vote to re-elect him in 2012: President Barack Obama appears to be slightly more popular with Americans at the start of his second 100 days in office than he was, on average, during his first 100. Gallup Poll Daily tracking from May 7-9 finds 66% of Americans approving of how he is handling his job, compared with an average 63% from January through April.
    Obama’s approval rating has registered 66% or better in each Gallup three-day rolling average since May 2. His 68% approval rating reported on May 3 is tied for the second highest of his presidency, exceeded only by the 69% recorded immediately after his inauguration. And except for one 66% approval rating in late April, all of Obama’s previous 66% to 68% readings were obtained near the start of his term…. – Gallop, 5-11-09

THE HEADLINES.

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The President talks to the stakeholders
(President Barack Obama meeting with healthcare stakeholders in the Roosevelt Room at White House
May 11, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The Headlines….

  • Reboot in Afghanistan: Gates replaces top general: Taking a cue from voters who elected a president promising a different approach, the Obama administration is replacing the general overseeing the war in Afghanistan with a commander who has special-forces experience. Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a senior administrator with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will take the place of Gen. David McKiernan once he is confirmed by the Senate. Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez will become McChrystal’s deputy with the Senate’s approval, which Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked be granted as soon as possible…. – AP, 5-12-09
  • US to borrow 46 cents for every dollar spent: The government will have to borrow nearly 50 cents for every dollar it spends this year, exploding the record federal deficit past $1.8 trillion under new White House estimates. Budget office figures released Monday would add $89 billion to the 2009 red ink — increasing it to more than four times last year’s all-time high as the government hands out billions more than expected for people who have lost jobs and takes in less tax revenue from people and companies making less money…. – AP, 5-11-09
  • Obama’s Push for Health Care Cuts Faces Daunting Odds: President Obama engineered a political coup on Monday by bringing leaders of the health care industry to the White House to build momentum for his ambitious health care agenda. Mr. Obama pronounced it “a historic day, a watershed event,” because doctors, hospitals, drug makers and insurance companies voluntarily offered $2 trillion in cost reductions over 10 years. The savings, he said, “will help us take the next and most important step — comprehensive health care reform.”… – NYT, 5-11-09
  • Governor of Florida Plans Bid for Senate: Gov. Charlie Crist is expected to announce Tuesday that he will run next year for the United States Senate, ending months of speculation and creating a domino effect that will leave several state positions up for grabs…. – NYT, 5-11-09
  • Obama changes office name, pushes Web work: Someone really is reading those comments left on Barack Obama’s Web sites: the president himself. The White House on Monday changed the name of a major office to reflect how much the administration is using the Internet to sell its agenda and communicate directly with voters. For a candidate who harnessed the Internet to win the presidency, the move — announced on the White House Web site, naturally — underscores Obama’s understanding of new media’s power. “This office will seek to engage as many Americans as possible in the difficult work of changing this country, through meetings and conversations with groups and individuals held in Washington and across the country,” Obama said in a video message posted to the Web…. – AP, 5-11-09
  • Obama Enlists Biden’s Expertise About High Court: The person in the White House most knowledgeable about Supreme Court nominations sits in the vice president’s office. With President Obama filling his first high court vacancy with the retirement of Justice David H. Souter, Vice President Biden finds himself regularly consulting with the president and fielding queries from the White House counsel and others for insights on the process…. – WaPo,
  • Obama says Health overhaul could save U.S. trillions: President Barack Obama will aim on Monday to build support for a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system by highlighting a drive for greater efficiency he predicts could save trillions of dollars…. – Reuters, 5-10-09
  • Health Industry Is Said to Promise to Rein In Costs: Doctors, hospitals, drug makers and insurance companies will join President Obama on Monday in announcing their commitment to a sharp reduction in the growth of national health spending, White House officials said Sunday…. – NYT, 5-10-09
  • U.S. Adviser Holds Firm on Airstrikes in Afghanistan: President Obama’s top national security adviser said on Sunday that the United States would likely continue conducting airstrikes against extremists in Afghanistan despite a sharp warning from President Hamid Karzai that civilian casualties were fast turning ordinary Afghans against the United States…. – NYT, 5-10-09
  • Cheney backs Limbaugh over Powell on GOP future: Dick Cheney made clear Sunday he’d rather follow firebrand broadcaster Rush Limbaugh than former Joint Chiefs chairman Colin Powell into political battle over the future of the Republican Party. Even as Cheney embraced efforts to expand the party by ex-Govs. Jeb Bush of Florida and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and the House’s No. 2 Republican, Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, the former vice president appeared to write his one-time colleague Powell out of the GOP. Asked about recent verbal broadsides between Limbaugh and Powell, Cheney said, “If I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I’d go with Rush Limbaugh. My take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn’t know he was still a Republican.”… – AP, 5-10-09 Washington Times, 5-10-09
  • Obama pokes fun at himself, Dems and GOP: It was the hottest ticket in town, a black-tie dinner gathering of Washington’s political and media elite but Dick Cheney couldn’t make it. The former vice president was busy, President Barack Obama joked, working on his memoir “tentatively titled, How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate People.'”…. – AP, 5-9-09
  • Obama: Send me credit card legislation this month: Send me a bill that stops credit card companies from taking advantage of consumers, and do it by month’s end, President Barack Obama is demanding of Congress. But there’s no guarantee lawmakers will deliver by Memorial Day, and the banking industry is fighting back…. – AP, 5-9-09
  • Republicans and ObamaCare The sound of silence is deafening: Listen. That sound of silence? That’s what’s known as the united Republican response to President Barack Obama’s drive to socialize health care. The president has a plan, and he’s laid it on the table. The industry groups that once helped Republicans beat HillaryCare are today sitting at that table. Unions are mobilized. A liberal umbrella group, Health Care for American Now, is spending $40 million to get a “public option,” a new federal entitlement that would kill off private insurance. Democrats passed a budget blueprint that will allow them to cram through that “public option” with just 51 votes…. – WSJ, 5-9-09
  • Gaps Appear in G.O.P. Solidarity: WAfter being stingy with their support in the early days of the Obama administration, significant numbers of House Republicans have begun breaking from their party leaders and voting for legislation moving through the Democratic-led Congress…. – NYT, 5-9-09
  • On Politics: Dwindling, Connecticut G.O.P. Won’t Look Inward: ON June 4, Newt Gingrich is to address a shrinking Connecticut Republican Party that has sworn off God, guns and gays as wedge issues and rallied around the Yankee ideals of “common sense” and “fiscal responsibility.” Not exactly bumper-sticker material. But this is a state where the G.O.P. has badly withered as Republicans in other states thrived using gay marriage, abortion and the death penalty to energize social conservatives and twice elect George W. Bush as president…. – NYT, 5-9-09
  • US report blames Taliban for civilian deaths: The U.S. coalition blamed Taliban militants Saturday for causing what Afghan officials say are dozens of civilian deaths during a prolonged battle that included American airstrikes. The U.S. said an unspecified number of civilians died but did not take responsibility for any deaths…. – AP, 5-9-09
  • Obama to hold town hall meeting on credit cards: U.S. President Barack Obama will hold a town hall meeting next week in New Mexico to promote congressional efforts to reform credit card practices, the White House said on Friday…. – Rreuters, 5-8-09
  • Analysis: Slow recovery no help for Obama’s plans: Barack Obama’s budget, unveiled with fanfare, fails to deal with his biggest money problems. A molasses-slow economic recovery will make it hard to find the huge sums he’ll need to reach his biggest goals — fixing health care, confronting climate change and overhauling the tax system — without much deeper cuts than he’s proposing in other programs. Obama faces not only fiscal obstacles but political ones, as well…. – AP, 5-8-09
  • The Half-Penny Solution Cutting the budget paper clip by paper clip: President Obama unveiled a budget Thursday with a 2010 price tag of $3.5 trillion financed with $1.2 trillion of new debt. For domestic agencies, that’s a 9.3% spending hike over last year…. – WSJ, 5-8-09
  • List Says Top Democrats Were Briefed on Interrogations: Congressional Republicans on Friday accused Democrats of full complicity in the approval of the Bush administration’s brutal interrogations, citing a new accounting that shows briefings for some top Democrats on waterboarding and other harsh methods starting in 2002…. – NYT, 5-8-09
  • Pelosi still explaining interrogation briefing: It’s a political squall that won’t die: What did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi know about harsh questioning of detainees, and when did she know it? On Friday, the California Democrat was forced to issue yet another press release, reiterating her past assertions that she had been briefed in 2002 only on new interrogation techniques that had been deemed legal and were planned for future use. Pelosi had made the same comments in 2007 when word first leaked that she was aware of the interrogation program and had not objected to it. Her latest statement came three weeks after the Justice Department released formerly classified legal memos that detailed the once-secret CIA harsh interrogation program, and two weeks after she told reporters that when she got her sole CIA briefing on interrogation back in 2002, she had no idea the technique of waterboarding had already been used on a prisoner. Waterboarding is a form of simulated drowning that President Barack Obama last week called torture…. – AP, 5-8-09
  • New Jersey’s GOP Sees Opportunity in Corzine Another moderate Christie seeks the Republican nod: One bright spot for Northeast Republicans is the chance this year to retake the governorship of New Jersey. The seat is now held by Democrat Jon Corzine — a former Goldman-Sachs CEO who has been trailing or tied in the polls with the two Republicans running in the party’s June 2 primary for the chance to unseat him. But the party is divided between moderates who say that only a centrist can win and conservatives who believe that only a bold agenda of tax cuts, spending restraint, and school reform can catch fire with voters…. – WSJ, 5-8-09
  • Souter’s Exit Opens Door for a More Influential Justice: A couple of days ago, Fred R. Shapiro, the editor of The Oxford Dictionary of American Legal Quotations, asked constitutional law scholars for memorable quotations from Justice David H. Souter of the Supreme Court. Mr. Shapiro got only four responses. One was about television coverage of the court (“The day you see a camera come into our courtroom, it’s going to roll over my dead body”). Another concerned the limited pleasures of reading legal briefs rather than serious books (“I find the workload of what I do sufficiently great that when the term of court starts I undergo a sort of annual intellectual lobotomy”). Just two quotations came from the hundreds of opinions that Justice Souter, who is retiring in June, wrote in his 19 years on the court. Neither had much juice to it. ….Instead, he told Mr. Obama that was retiring “under the provision of 28 U.S.C. Section 371(b)(1), having attained the age and met the service requirements of subsection (c) of that section.” He appeared to have signed it in fountain pen, in script that would not have looked out of place on the Declaration of Independence. – NYT, 5-8-09
  • Official Quits Over Jet Flight That Alarmed New Yorkers: The photo shoot of Air Force One soaring above the Statue of Liberty cost taxpayers $328,835. Now the incident, which incited panic among scores of people in New York City, has cost the director of the White House Military Office his job. The White House released the photo that caused the controversy on Friday. The director, Louis Caldera, who was appointed by President Obama to the White House post and had been a secretary of the Army in the Clinton administration, resigned on Friday for his role in approving the April 27 flyover. In a brief letter to Mr. Obama, Mr. Caldera said that the matter “has become a distraction for the important work you are doing as president.”…. – NYT, 5-8-09
  • Aide resigns over NYC flyover; probe continues: The Pentagon and Air Force are reviewing whether their officials may be partly to blame for a $328,835 photo-op of a jumbo jet used by the president soaring above New York City that has already forced the White House military director to step down… – AP, 5-9-09
  • Banks’ tests results lift cloud of uncertainty: Government exams of the nation’s biggest banks have helped lift a cloud of uncertainty that has hung over the economy. The so-called stress tests — a key Obama administration effort to boost confidence in the financial system — showed nine of the 19 biggest banks have enough capital to withstand a deeper recession. Ten must raise a total of $75 billion in new capital to withstand possible future losses…. – AP, 5-8-09
  • Obama opts out of prayer day The move disappoints evangelicals. Under President George W. Bush, the event was held at the White House with political fanfare: For years, it’s been a staple of the White House calendar. On the first Thursday of May, dedicated as the National Day of Prayer, President George W. Bush hosted an ecumenical service in the East Room, a big public endorsement of evangelical Christians. (The event is different from the National Prayer Breakfast, held elsewhere in Washington on the first Thursday of February.) President Obama opted not to have a service in the White House this year. “Prayer is something that the president does every day,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, adding that Obama will sign a proclamation to recognize the day. “I think the president understands, in his own life and in his family’s life, the role that prayer plays.” President Truman signed the first National Day of Prayer proclamation, and President Reagan made it a permanent occasion…. – LAT, 5-7-09
  • Specter gets chairmanship consolation prize Seniority to be settled in 2011 caucus: Senate Democratic leaders on Thursday gave Sen. Arlen Specter the chairmanship of a key Judiciary subcommittee, pacifying the veteran Pennsylvania lawmaker after his shaky start as the chambers newest Democrat. In another reversal of fortune, Mr. Specter’s prospects for re-election as a Democrat in 2010 improved slightly when Republican heavyweight Tom Ridge announced he would not enter the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania…. – Washington Times, 5-7-09
  • Colin Powell’s Bad Advice Nobody wants the government in their living room: In good times or bad, there’s always someone willing to tell the Republican Party that the road to success is to embrace the liberal agenda. In a speech in Washington Monday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell joined the chorus. We hope for the sake of the country that his party doesn’t listen. Mr. Powell insisted that he doesn’t want the Republicans to turn into Democrats or clones of the Democrats. But it’s hard to see what other space he hopes the GOP will carve out for itself given his analysis. According to press accounts, Mr. Powell argued that America has changed, and “Americans do want to pay taxes for services” and “Americans are looking for more government in their life, not less.”… – WSJ, 5-7-09
  • Specter gets subcommittee chair, primary challenge: Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter gained a Judiciary subcommittee chairmanship but also a potential primary challenger Thursday, the latest twists in a turbulent episode of party switching. The good news-bad news day for Specter didn’t stop there. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge announced he would not challenge Specter next year. Ridge, a moderate Republican and the first homeland security chief, had been running about even against Specter in a hypothetical general election race, according to a recent poll. “My desire and intention is to help my party craft solutions that both sides of the aisle can embrace,” said Ridge, whose decision eliminates one major challenge to Specter…. – AP, 5-7-09
  • Obama touts $17 billion ‘lot of money’ budget cuts: President Barack Obama sent Congress a detailed budget Thursday boasting of cutting or killing 121 federal programs in a belt-tightening he likened to that of most Americans in difficult times. But the trims amounted to a tiny fraction of the new spending he wants, and some have already been nixed by allies on Capitol Hill. Obama said his cuts would amount to $17 billion — in a budget totaling well over $3 trillion for the fiscal year that begins in October. He’s estimating the government’s red ink will still be about $1.2 trillion, down only slightly from this year’s all-time record…. – AP, 5-7-09
  • Bush attorneys who wrote terror memo face backlash: Pressure is mounting against two former Bush administration attorneys who wrote the legal memos used to support harsh interrogation techniques that critics say constituted torture. John Yoo, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is fighting calls for disbarment and dismissal, while Judge Jay Bybee of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals faces calls for impeachment…. – AP, 5-7-09
  • Souter chokes up at farewell: Supreme Court Justice David Souter, momentarily choked with emotion, bid an affectionate farewell yesterday to judges and lawyers he has worked with for nearly two decades. AP, 5-6-09
  • Baucus, Obama talk health care at White House: Montana Sen. Max Baucus says a private lunch with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden should help as he leads efforts to overhaul the nation’s health care system. Baucus, a veteran Democrat who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, had lunch with Obama and Biden at the White House Wednesday, along with Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the senior Republican on the finance panel. Baucus said the four men had a wide-ranging discussion, but focused on health care. Baucus called the meeting productive. He pledged to continue to work with Obama, Biden, Grassley and others to get a bill passed…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • Franken meets with vice president in Washington: Democratic Senate candidate Al Franken met privately with Vice President Joe Biden late Wednesday afternoon to update him on the still-contested Minnesota Senate race. Franken, who said he is eager to join the Senate, said the two men also discussed President Barack Obama’s policy goals…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • New Democrat Specter loses committee seniority: Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democratic Party has cost him his seniority on Senate committees. The Senate passed a resolution Tuesday night that made him the most junior Democrat on the committees on which he serves. The resolution was passed after an agreement was reached between leadership in both parties and Specter, said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Manley said the seniority issue will be revisited after the 2010 elections…. Specter serves on the Appropriations, Judiciary, Veterans Affairs, Environment and Public Works, and Special Aging committees…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • Source: No charges seen over interrogation memos: Justice Department investigators say Bush administration lawyers who approved harsh interrogation techniques of terror suspects should not face criminal charges, according to a draft report that also recommends two of the three attorneys face possible professional sanctions…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • Senate hears a dim forecast for newspapers’ future: One way to save some of the nation’s struggling newspapers would be to let them become nonprofits similar to public broadcasting stations, a senator said Wednesday as editors and other journalists painted a grim future for daily print journalism. “We need to save our community newspapers and the investigative journalism they provide,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., told a subcommittee of the Senate’s Commerce Committee. Under a bill proposed by Cardin, newspapers turning to nonprofit status would no longer be able to make political endorsements but could report on all issues including political campaigns. Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax-exempt and contributions to support coverage could be tax deductible…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • AP sources: Obama to seek $17B in budget savings: After a line-by-line scrub of the federal budget, President Barack Obama has signed off on a roster of 121 budget cuts totaling $17 billion — or about one-half of 1 percent of the $3.4 trillion budget Congress has approved for next year. Budget Director Peter Orszag briefed Democratic lawmakers on a partial roster of the cuts Wednesday before a public release on Thursday. Obama also is fleshing out the details of the $1.3 trillion portion of the budget that he requested Congress pass through appropriations bills for the budget year beginning Oct. 1…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • Top Judiciary Republican Inclined Against Blocking Supreme Court Nominee: Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said a deal among centrist senators four yours ago that averted filibusters against some of former President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees established a “standard” that shouldn’t be discarded except in unusual circumstances…. – Fox News, 5-6-09
  • U.S. Says Bank of America Needs $33.9 Billion Cushion: The government has told Bank of America it needs $33.9 billion in capital to withstand any worsening of the economic downturn, according to an executive at the bank…. – NYT, 5-5-09
  • Pakistani President Tries to Assure U.S. on Taliban: Pakistan’s leaders began an arduous campaign here on Tuesday to convince the United States that they will repel recent incursions by Taliban militant groups, secure their own nuclear arsenal and make good use of American military and economic assistance. NYT, 5-5-09
  • House Dems narrow energy, climate bill differences: Key lawmakers agreed Tuesday on a strategy for replacing gas-guzzling cars with more fuel-efficient models, but much tougher negotiations lie ahead on a bill that would, for the first time, limit emissions linked to global warming. President Barack Obama summoned three dozen House Democrats to the White House to build consensus around climate and energy legislation that is under increasing criticism from Republicans and members of his own party. AP, 5-5-09
  • Party Switch Costs Specter His Seniority on Senate Committees: The Senate last night stripped Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) of his seniority on committees, a week after the 29-year veteran of the chamber quit the Republican Party to join the Democrats. In announcing his move across the aisle last week, Specter asserted that Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) had assured him he would retain his seniority in the Senate and on the five committees on which he serves. Specter’s tenure ranked him ahead of all but seven Democrats. Instead, though, on a voice vote last night, the Senate approved a resolution that made Specter the most junior Democrat on four committees for the remainder of this Congress. Reid himself read the resolution on the Senate floor, underscoring the reversal…. – WaPo, 5-5-09
  • Michelle Obama captivates glittery crowd in NYC: She’s already conquered Britain, France and Germany. On Tuesday, it was time for Michelle Obama to conquer New York. After a visit to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and an appearance on “Sesame Street,” Mrs. Obama capped her first visit to New York as first lady with an appearance before a glittery crowd at Time magazine’s annual Time 100 gala, honoring its 100 “Most Influential People.” There, she mixed sparkle with substance, introducing the administration’s proposal to give $50 million to innovative nonprofit groups…. – AP, 5-5-09
  • Republicans attacking Obama on terror policy: After weeks of concentrating their attacks against President Barack Obama on the economy, Republicans are branching out. They’re taking aim at his anti-terrorism policy. “Just what is the administration’s overarching plan to take on the terrorist threat and to keep America safe?” asks House Republican leader John Boehner in a new Web video featuring ominous music, unsettling images and less than flattering photos of the president…. – AP, 5-5-09
  • G.O.P. Picks Conservative for Senate Judiciary Post: Senator Jeff Sessions, a conservative from Alabama, has struck an agreement to assume the top Republican position on the Judiciary Committee, making him the chief voice of the opposition in summer confirmation hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee…. – NYT, 5-5-09
  • At Annual Meeting, Pro-Israel Group Reasserts Clout: The formidable political strength of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the nation’s major pro-Israel lobby, has been on decidedly intentional display here in the last few days. But this year, Aipac’s annual conference comes after a period fraught with small anxieties for the group and its supporters…. – NYT, 5-5-09
  • White House seeks comments on education law: Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a former big-city schools chief, traveled through rural terrain Tuesday as he asked educators and parents how the Obama administration should overhaul the No Child Left Behind law. Duncan is from Chicago, but he made West Virginia the first stop on a 15-state “listening tour.” “I think the challenges are very similar,” Duncan told The Associated Press in an interview. “I know there are high-performing schools in every state in the country, and what’s important to me is to really understand what enables them to beat the odds.”… – AP, 5-5-09
  • Republicans branch out from criticism over economy to hit Obama on terror policy: After weeks of concentrating their attacks against President Barack Obama on the economy, Republicans are branching out. They’re taking aim at his anti-terrorism policy. “Just what is the administration’s overarching plan to take on the terrorist threat and to keep America safe?” asks House Republican leader John Boehner in a new Web video featuring ominous music, unsettling images and less than flattering photos of the president…. – AP, 5-5-09
  • Congress leery about Obama’s plan on tax loopholes: President Barack Obama promised sternly on Monday to crack down on companies “that ship jobs overseas” and duck U.S. taxes with offshore havens. It won’t be easy. Democrats have been fighting — and losing — this battle since John F. Kennedy made a similar proposal in 1961. Obama’s proposal to close tax loopholes was a reliable applause line during the presidential campaign, but it got a lukewarm response Monday from Capitol Hill…. – AP, 5-5-09
  • Obama vows tougher overseas tax policies: President Barack Obama vowed on Monday to overhaul tax policies that he said reward companies for shifting U.S. jobs overseas and allow wealthy people to evade taxes using offshore accounts. The White House estimated the plan would save $210 billion over the next decade. In one proposal businesses are poised to fight, Obama would tighten tax-code provisions that allow firms to defer paying taxes on profits they make overseas as long as those earnings are ploughed back into the foreign subsidiaries…. – Reuters, 5-4-09
  • Standing on Ceremony Is the press showing more respect for Obama than Bush?: A video, put together by Politico’s Patrick Gavin, is making the rounds showing two presidential visits to the White House briefing room. In one, George Bush arrives for a press conference in February 2008, and the press remains seated. In the second, from last Friday, Barack Obama surprises the press by appearing in the midst of the daily briefing. They stand to greet him. (Given that the press is supposedly in the tank for Obama, shouldn’t critics be happy they didn’t kneel?)… – Slate, 5-4-09
  • Palin To Be Part of National Council: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be part of the National Council for a New America, an attempt by leaders in Congress and potential 2012 presidential candidates to rebrand the struggling party. “I am pleased to announce that Governor Palin has joined the National Council for a New America’s panel of experts,” said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) today. “When NCNA was announced last week, we spoke about a dynamic organization that worked to constantly bring in new people and innovative ideas.”… – WaPo, 5-4-09
  • Senators to Obama: Look beyond the federal bench: Wanted: Supreme Court justice. Judicial experience not required. Not only is experience as a judge not a requirement under the Constitution, some of the senators who will conduct confirmation hearings for Justice David Souter’s replacement think it’s time for a nominee who hasn’t served on the federal appeals court. For all nine of the current justices, the appeals court was a final stepping stone to the Supreme Court. “I would like to see more people from outside the judicial monastery, somebody who has had some real-life experience, not just as a judge,” said Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee…. – AP, 5-4-09
  • Obama calls senators about high court pick: President Barack Obama, eager to have his Supreme Court nominee seated by early October, has begun calling senators who will play key roles in the confirmation process. While it is unclear when Obama will name a nominee, aides said he wants the process to move rapidly enough so that the Senate can confirm the person shortly after Congress returns from its August recess, if not sooner…. – AP, 5-4-09
  • Vanity, Karma Continue to Take Toll on Edwards: Feds are combing through John Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign checkbook to see if there’s more to the story of his payments to his former mistress Reille Hunter, a probe that some observers say couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy…. – FOX News, 5-4-09
  • Ridge May Run for Specter’s Senate Seat: Former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge (R) is seriously considering a 2010 bid for the Senate seat held by Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter and will make his decision in the next two weeks, according to several sources familiar with his thinking…. – WaPo, 5-4-09
  • Obama to meet Afghan and Pakistan leaders: President Barack Obama presents his strategy for defeating al Qaeda to the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan on Wednesday amid growing U.S. concern it is losing the war and neither is a reliable ally. The White House meetings with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are likely to be cagey affairs — both visitors have been heavily criticized by Obama’s administration and are also wary of each other…. – Reuters, 5-4-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President gives his Weekly Address on credit card reform

Political Quotes

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON REFORMING THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM TO REDUCE COSTS: And that’s what makes today’s meeting so remarkable — because it’s a meeting that might not have been held just a few years ago. The groups who are here today represent different constituencies with different sets of interests. They’ve not always seen eye to eye with each other or with our government on what needs to be done to reform health care in this country. In fact, some of these groups were among the strongest critics of past plans for comprehensive reform.
    But what’s brought us all together today is a recognition that we can’t continue down the same dangerous road we’ve been traveling for so many years; that costs are out of control; and that reform is not a luxury that can be postponed, but a necessity that cannot wait. It’s a recognition that the fictional television couple, Harry and Louise, who became the iconic faces of those who opposed health care reform in the ’90s, desperately need health care reform in 2009. And so does America….
    Ultimately, the debate about reducing costs — and the larger debate about health care reform itself — is not just about numbers; it’s not just about forms or systems; it’s about our own lives and the lives of our loved ones. And I understand that. As I’ve mentioned before during the course of the campaign, my mother passed away from ovarian cancer a little over a decade ago. And in the last weeks of her life, when she was coming to grips with her own mortality and showing extraordinary courage just to get through each day, she was spending too much time worrying about whether her health insurance would cover her bills. So I know what it’s like to see a loved one who is suffering, but also having to deal with a broken health care system. I know that pain is shared by millions of Americans all across this country. WH Blog, 5-11-09
  • Obama does turn as comedian in chief: “I must confess I really did not want to be here tonight,” Obama told guests at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner — an annual black-tie gathering of journalists, politicians and Hollywood celebrities. “But I knew I had to come. That’s one more problem that I inherited from George W. Bush.”…. “The last thing Tim Geithner needs is someone else treating him like a fire hydrant,” he said…. “Finally, I believe that my next 100 days will be so successful that I will be able to complete them in 72 days. And on the 73rd day, I will rest,” he joshed…. In a dig at the press, Obama said: “We look for you for truth — even if it’s always an approximation.” Reuters, 5-10-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS’ ASSOCIATION DINNERWH, 5-9-09
  • Obama Delivers the Zingers at Journalists’ Dinner: Not Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: “The minute she got back from Mexico, she pulled me into a hug and said I should go down there myself.”… Not Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel: “This is a tough holiday for Rahm. He’s not used to saying the word ‘day’ after ‘mother.’ “… Not even, it turned out, himself: “During the second 100 days, we will design, build and open a library dedicated to my first 100 days.”… And: “My next 100 days will be so successful, I will complete them in 72 days. And on the 73rd day, I will rest.”… The routine brought mostly guffaws from the 2,500 journalists, politicians and celebrities jammed into the Washington Hilton ballroom for the press corps’ annual celebration of itself. The president acknowledged perceptions that he’s a media darling: “Most of you covered me; all of you voted for me. Apologies to the Fox table.” – WaPo, 5-10-09
  • Biden to grads: You have chance to shape history: “There is a much greater risk in accepting a situation we know we cannot sustain than in steeling our spine and embracing the challenge of change,” Biden said to students from Syracuse University and the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry…. “It is totally within your power to shape history. … This has been the journey of America since its inception,” said Biden, a 1968 graduate of Syracuse’s law school, speaking to more than 19,000 people in the Carrier Dome…. “All over this great country, a sense of hopelessness and helplessness began to take hold,” Biden said. “But as I walked across that stage, I never doubted for one instant that we could change that history, that we could rewrite the outcome we were careening toward, and we did,” he said. “It’s 2009. Now it’s your turn. You are graduating into a world of anxiety and uncertainty … ,” said Biden, pointing to a troubled economy, two wars and a planet in environmental peril. “These are the challenges you face. But these are the moments you can embrace. Throughout the span of history, only a handful of us ever get a chance to actually shape the course of history,” said the vice president, who received several standing ovations…. – AP, 5-10-09
  • Latino Town Hall: Full Video and Transcript: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT LATINO TOWN HALL: ….So I’m very proud of this first White House town hall meeting conducted entirely in Spanish. I am grateful — except for my part. (Laughter.) You know, I’m kind of messing up the whole thing. (Laughter.) I’m grateful for Univision for hosting us, and I’m happy to see that we’ve got officials from many different departments, including my Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis.
    So I want to let you continue with your conversation. I hope you learn something. Please ask questions — these folks are extraordinarily well informed — and then distribute the information that you learn from this town hall throughout your communities. And this is just the first of many, I hope, mechanisms for outreach that will improve the quality of service that the White House provides to the American people. – WH Blog, 5-9-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Calls on Congress to Pass Credit Card Reform Bill: Good morning. I want to briefly share some news about our economy, and talk about the work that we’re doing both to protect American consumers, and to put our economy back on a path to growth and prosperity.
    This week, we saw some signs that the gears of America’s economic engine are slowly beginning to turn. Consumer spending and home sales are stabilizing. Unemployment claims are dropping and job losses are beginning to slow. But these trends are far from satisfactory. The unemployment rate is at its highest point in twenty-five years. We are still in the midst of a deep recession that was years in the making, and it will take time to fully turn this economy around. We cannot rest until our work is done. Not when Americans continue to lose their jobs and struggle to pay their bills. Not when we are wrestling with record deficits and an over-burdened middle class. That is why every action that my Administration is taking is focused on clearing away the wreckage of this recession, and building a new foundation for job-creation and long-term growth…. – WH Blog, 5-9-09
  • Obama: Send me credit card legislation this month: “Americans know that they have a responsibility to live within their means and pay what they owe,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. “But they also have a right to not get ripped off by the sudden rate hikes, unfair penalties and hidden fees that have become all too common.” “You shouldn’t have to fear that any new credit card is going to come with strings attached, nor should you need a magnifying glass and a reference book to read a credit card application. And the abuses in our credit card industry have only multiplied in the midst of this recession, when Americans can least afford to bear an extra burden,” the president said. Obama wants to sign the legislation by Memorial Day. “There is no time for delay. We need a durable and successful flow of credit in our economy, but we can’t tolerate profits that depend upon misleading working families. Those days are over,” he said. Railing against what he said was “abuse that goes unpunished,” the president stressed the need “to strengthen monitoring, enforcement and penalties for credit card companies that take advantage of ordinary Americans.” “Instead of fine print that hides the truth, we need credit card forms and statements that have plain language in plain sight, and we need to give people the tools they need to find a credit card that meets their needs,” he said. – AP, 5-9-09
  • Cheney: Mistake for GOP to ‘moderate’: “This is about fundamental beliefs and values and ideas … what the role of government should be in our society, and our commitment to the Constitution and constitutional principles,” Cheney said in an interview with North Dakota radio host Scott Hennen Thursday, according to a transcript. “You know, when you add all those things up, the idea that we ought to moderate basically means we ought to fundamentally change our philosophy,” Cheney also said. “I for one am not prepared to do that, and I think most of us aren’t. Most Republicans have a pretty good idea of values, and aren’t eager to have someone come along and say, ‘Well, the only way you can win is if you start to act more like a Democrat.'” “I think periodically we have to go through one these sessions. It helps clear away some of the underbrush … some of the older folks who’ve been around a long time — like yours truly — need to move on and make room for that young talent that’s coming along,” he said. “We resorted … to waterboarding, which is the source of much of the controversy, with only three individuals. In those cases, it was only after we’d gone through all the other steps of the process,” he said. “The way the whole program was set up was very careful, to use other methods and only to resort to the enhanced techniques in those special circumstances.” “If anybody takes a look at the record, they’ll find that we had significant success as a result of these policies,” he said. “One way to nail that down is that there are two documents in particular that I personally have read and know about that are still classified in that National Archives,” he said. – CNN, 5-7-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON REDUCING SPENDING IN THE BUDGET: We’re doing everything that we can to create jobs and to get our economy moving while building a new foundation for lasting prosperity — a foundation that invests in quality education, lowers health care costs, and develops new sources of energy powered by new jobs and industries.
    But one of the pillars of this foundation is fiscal responsibility. We can no longer afford to spend as if deficits don’t matter and waste is not our problem. We can no longer afford to leave the hard choices for the next budget, the next administration — or the next generation.
    That’s why I’ve charged the Office of Management and Budget, led by Peter Orszag and Rob Nabors who are standing behind me today, with going through the budget — program by program, item by item, line by line — looking for areas where we can save taxpayer dollars….
    In addition, we’re going to save money by eliminating unnecessary defense programs that do nothing to keep us safe, but rather prevent us from spending money on what does keep us safe. One example is a $465 million program to build an alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. The Defense Department is already pleased with the engine it has. The engine it has works. The Pentagon does not want and does not plan to use the alternative version. That’s why the Pentagon stopped requesting this funding two years ago. Yet it’s still being funded.
    These are just a few examples. But the point to remember is that there are consequences for this kind of spending. It makes the development of new tools for our military, like the Joint Strike Fighter, more expensive — even prohibitively so — and crowds out money that we could be using, for example, to improve our troops’ quality of life and their safety and security. It makes government less effective. It makes our nation less resilient and less able to address immediate concerns and long-term challenges. And it leaves behind a massive burden for our children and grandchildren. – WH Blog, 5-7-09
  • Obama applauds Afghan and Pakistan cooperation: President Barack Obama is applauding Pakistan and Afghanistan for their commitment to helping the U.S. fight terrorists holed up in their territory, but he also is cautioning that the path to success is slow and unsure. “The road ahead will be difficult,” Obama said Wednesday after a series of meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari that yielded few announced new commitments. “There will be more violence, and there will be setbacks.” Obama added, “The United States has made a lasting commitment to defeat al-Qaida, but also to support the democratically elected sovereign governments of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. That commitment will not waver, and that support will be sustained.”… – AP, 5-7-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AFTER THE TRILATERAL MEETING WITH PRESIDENT KARZAI OF AFGHANISTAN AND PRESIDENT ZARDARI OF PAKISTAN: We meet today as three sovereign nations joined by a common goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their ability to operate in either country in the future. And to achieve that goal, we must deny them the space to threaten the Pakistani, Afghan, or American people. And we must also advance security and opportunity, so that Pakistanis and Afghans can pursue the promise of a better life.
    There is much to be done. Along the border where insurgents often move freely, we must work together with a renewed sense of partnership to share intelligence, and to coordinate our efforts to isolate, target and take out our common enemy. But, we must also meet the threat of extremism with a positive program of growth and opportunity. That is why my Administration is working with members of Congress to create opportunity zones to spark development. And that is why I’m proud that we’ve helped advance negotiations toward a landmark transit-trade agreement to open the Afghanistan and Pakistan border to more commerce.
    Within Afghanistan, we must help grow the economy, while developing alternatives to the drug trade by tapping the resilience and ingenuity of the Afghan people. We must support free and open national elections later this fall, while helping to protect the hard-earned rights of all Afghans. And we must support the capacity of local governments and stand up to corruption that blocks progress. I also made it clear that the United States will work with our Afghan and international partners to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties as we help the Afghan government combat our common enemy.
    Within Pakistan, we must provide lasting support to democratic institutions, while helping the government confront the insurgents who are the single greatest threat to the Pakistani state. And we must do more than stand against those who would destroy Pakistan – we must stand with those who want to build. That is why I have asked Congress for sustained funding for schools, roads, and hospitals. I want the Pakistani people to understand that America is not simply against terrorism – we are on the side of their hopes, and their aspirations. Because we know that the future of Pakistan must be determined by the talent, innovation and intelligence of its people…. – WH Blog, 5-6-09
  • Specter: Reid Promised Seniority, Eventual Judiciary Chairmanship: “When I talked to Senator Reid he assured me that my seniority would be as if I came in (as a Democrat) in 1980, and I relied . . . on his representation, and that’s the long and short of it,” Specter said in an interview in his Capitol “hideaway” office…. “There was no mention of the caucus when we talked. We talked more particularly about if Leahy became chairman of Appropriations, I would become chairman of the Judiciary. Ask him about that. That was the arrangement,” Specter said…. Assuming he wins that reelection, Specter is confident Reid will convince the Democrats to stand down from their concerns and give him his seniority back. “I think Senator Reid speaks for the caucus, he’s a very strong leader,” Specter said. – WaPo, 5-6-09
  • REMARKS OF FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA AT TIME 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE AWARDS: The idea is simple: to find the most effective programs out there and then provide the capital needed to replicate their success in communities around the country that are facing similar challenges. By focusing on high-impact, result-oriented non-profits, we will ensure that government dollars are spent in a way that is effective, accountable and worthy of the public trust….
    Careers focused on lifting up our communities – whether helping transform troubled schools or training workers for green jobs or helping low-income families access health care – are not always obvious. But, at a time when our nation is facing unprecedented challenges, encouraging careers in public service and social innovation are more important than ever…. – WH, 5-5-09
  • Good Jobs Here at Home REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON INTERNATIONAL TAX POLICY REFORM: So the steps I am announcing today will help us deal with some of the most egregious examples of what’s wrong with our tax code and will help us strengthen some of these other efforts. It’s a down payment on the larger tax reform we need to make our tax system simpler and fairer and more efficient for individuals and corporations.
    Now, it will take time to undo the damage of distorted provisions that were slipped into our tax code by lobbyists and special interests, but with the steps I’m announcing today we are beginning to crack down on Americans who are bending or breaking the rules, and we’re helping to ensure that all Americans are contributing their fair share.
    In other words, we’re beginning to restore fairness and balance to our tax code. That’s what I promised I would do during the campaign, that’s what I’m committed to doing as President, and that is what I will work with members of my administration and members of Congress to accomplish in the months and years to come…. – WH Blog, 5-4-09
  • Vanity, Karma Continue to Take Toll on Edwards: “I think the biggest problem we’re hearing from people when they talk about this case, aside from the criminal possibilities, is how angry a lot of people still are at John Edwards, not for his infidelity but for claiming the mantle of his wife’s illness as part of the reason for his running for president, and then while he was running for president engaging in this kind of conduct,” said Washington Examiner political editor Chris Stirewalt. “I think there’s going to be very little sympathy for the former senator as this goes forward. I mean, people are mad,” Stirewalt said. – FOX News, 5-4-09
  • Vanity, Karma Continue to Take Toll on Edwards: In a carefully worded statement issued Sunday, Edwards said none of the money Hunter received was wrongly paid. “I am confident that no funds from my campaign were used improperly. However, I know that it is the role of government to ensure that this is true. We have made available to the United States both the people and the information necessary to help them get the issue resolved efficiently and in a timely matter,” he said. – FOX News, 5-4-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President and the Russian Foreign Minister
(President Barack Obama meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office of the
White House May 7, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Historians’ Comments

  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: News can outlast newspapers”: Last week, Sen. John Kerry convened a discussion of the troubled state of journalism in America by way of a hearing by the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.
    In Kerry’s home state of Massachusetts, the Boston Globe is barely surviving. Several major metro papers have closed down, and there are indications that many more could soon follow. Experts have been warning in recent months that much of the newspaper industry may not survive.
    While the end of the metro newspaper would constitute a huge blow to journalism and the political system, realistically there might be nothing that we can do. The popularity of news on the Web and the potential of mobile devices such as the Kindle makes it difficult to see how we can sustain news in print — unless electronic delivery can produce enough revenue to support the cost of newspaper staffs.
    Sometimes technological innovations and consumer preferences cause changes that are irreversible. The industry has seen other important shifts in the way that Americans receive their news, such as the advent of television news in the 1950s and 1960s.
    But the real issue is not whether we can save the newspapers, but how we can create the best Internet news system possible. As Kerry said in his opening statement: “There also is the important question of whether online journalism will sustain the values of professional journalism, the way the newspaper industry has.”…
    The Internet can also combine written news with video and audio sources, as well as disseminate stories through social networking sites. Readers have the opportunities to interact with reporters and comment on stories.
    The death of the metro newspaper would be a huge loss. But rather than only focusing on lament, our best response would be to make the new medium of Internet news as strong as it can possibly be.
    We must address the major challenges by developing sites with the resources to edit, insisting on venues where the pursuit of objectivity remains a goal, and cultivating sites that help bring together different subject matter. If we do, the technological transition that we are living through can turn into a positive moment of advance for the media rather than a moment of decline. – CNN, 5-11-09
  • Conservative Historian Andrew Bacevich Warns Against Obama’s Escalation of War in Afghanistan and Intensifying Use of Air Power in Region: Well, I was invited to testify by Senator Kerry and thought it was appropriate for me to accept the invitation. I have been deeply disappointed by the direction of US policy in AfPak, as the Obama administration chooses to call it, ever since President Obama was inaugurated. I know, as do others, that when he was running for the office, he promised to reorient the US military effort from Iraq to Afghanistan. I had hoped that that was simply campaign talk to protect himself from the charge of being weak on national security. And therefore, I regret that it turns out that he’s serious on doubling down in Afghanistan and expanding US military efforts in Pakistan. I think both of those are mistaken…. – Democracy Now, 5-11-09
  • Robert Dallek “Obama Faces Mounting Challenges in His Next 100 Days With Iraq, Afghanistan, and the struggling economy, Obama is just getting started”: “He comes across as self-confident but not arrogant,” says historian Robert Dallek. “It reminds me of what Oliver Wendell Holmes said about Franklin Roosevelt—that he had a first-class temperament but a second-class intellect. Only with Obama, you have both a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect.” But Dallek adds that those personal traits will take him only so far. “The economy has to start coming back,” he says. “Patience will only last so long.” US News & World Report, 5-5-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Grateful Dead on health care”: All the stars seem to have aligned for the passage of national health care reform. Victory, supporters say, is inevitable. During the past week, two important developments excited health care proponents. First, President Obama and Senate Democrats included reconciliation instructions in the budget for health care. If a deal is not reached by October, congressional Democrats can use a process that prohibits a filibuster and allows passage of the bill with 51 rather than 60 votes in the Senate. And even if opponents of the bill attempted to stage a filibuster, the switch of Sen. Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party, combined with the likely victory of Al Franken as a senator from Minnesota, would provide Democrats with 60 votes to fight it off. Yet, as the Grateful Dead sang in one of their most famous songs, “When life looks like Easy Street, there is danger at your door.”…
    But some of the older pitfalls remain. The administration and congressional Democrats need to reach an agreement sooner rather than later about how these benefits will be financed, or they will be bogged down by the same kinds of internal conflicts over taxes. Once they have a plan in place, Democrats also need to think of an effective way to package it to the public in order to counteract attacks from Republicans who may characterize it as socialized medicine. If Democrats are able to achieve national health care reform, they will go into the 2010 and 2012 election with a major, concrete political achievement. If they fail, as Clinton’s experience reminds us, they might give Republicans the kind of issue that they have been looking for to recover from 2008. – CNN, 5-4-09
  • Allan Lichtman “Measuring Obama by FDR’s yardstick If the first 100 days mean anything, the president is looking a lot like Franklin Roosevelt. But recent history shows a lot can change after the early days of a presidency”: “He’s not a revolutionary; he’s a liberal,” said historian Allan Lichtman of American University. “Obama’s made big changes, but within the normal liberal-conservative arc. Yes, the pendulum has swung, but it’s swung from mainstream conservatism to mainstream liberalism.” One more thing, Lichtman noted: Obama is a fox, not a hedgehog. The phrase comes from British philosopher Isaiah Berlin, who quoted an ancient Greek poet: “The fox knows many things; the hedgehog knows one big thing.”… – LAT, 4-21-09
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May 4, 2009: President Obama’s Second 100 Days Begins & Dealing with H1N1

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President at his press conference

The President speaks on tax havens and unfair tax breaks

White House Photo, 5/4/09, Pete Souza

Tax Reform for Jobs at Home

The President unveils plans to curb tax havens and end tax incentives for companies shifting jobs overseas.

Watch the Video

The President discusses H1N1 Flu

White House Photo, 5/1/09, Samantha Appleton

H1N1 Flu

The President discusses the government’s response to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, from school closings to activating online social networks. He urges Americans to be calm but cautious.

Watch the Video

The President speaks on tax havens and unfair tax breaks

White House Photo, 5/4/09, Pete Souza

Tax Reform for Jobs at Home

The President unveils plans to curb tax havens and end tax incentives for companies shifting jobs overseas.

Watch the Video

The President discusses H1N1 Flu

White House Photo, 5/1/09, Samantha Appleton

H1N1 Flu

The President discusses the government’s response to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, from school closings to activating online social networks. He urges Americans to be calm but cautious.

Watch the Video

The President speaks on tax havens and unfair tax breaks

White House Photo, 5/4/09, Pete Souza

Tax Reform for Jobs at Home

The President unveils plans to curb tax havens and end tax incentives for companies shifting jobs overseas.

Watch the Video

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • RCP Poll: President Obama Job Approval: RCP Average: +30.7% Approve 61.6% Disapprove 30.9%
    Congressional Job Approval: RCP Average: -28.7% Approve 31.8% Disapprove 60.5%
    Direction of Country RCP Average: -7.4% Right Direction 42.6% Wrong Track 50.0%
  • Guests for the Sunday TV news showsAP, 5-2-09
  • White House joins Facebook, MySpace, Twitter: The official White House Blog calls it “WhiteHouse 2.0.” The administration is unveiling its membership in a trio of the social-networking leaders today: Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
  • WhiteHouse 2.0WH Blog, 5-1-09
  • Blacks match whites in voting rates in 2008: Nearly one-fourth of voters in last November’s election were minorities, the most diverse election ever, fueled by high turnout from black women and a growing Hispanic population, an independent research group found. The study by the Pew Research Center, released Thursday, also showed that for the first time blacks had the highest voter turnout rate of any racial or ethnic group among people ages 18 to 29. In 2008, about 65 percent of blacks went to the polls, nearly matching the 66 percent voting rate for whites. Black women had the highest rates of participation among all voters at 69 percent; they were followed by white women (68 percent), white men (64 percent) and black men (61 percent)…. – AP, 4-30-09

THE HEADLINES….
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gets to work

[Download High Resolution]

(The new Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, is briefed on the H1N1 flu by John Brennan, assistant to the President for Homeland Security, in the Situation Room of the White House on April 28, 2009.

Sebelius was sworn in moments earlier in the Oval Office.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The Headlines…

  • TIME: Bush Library raises $100 million in 100 days: George W. Bush often has said that historians will vindicate his presidency. And since he left office, he’s moving fast to give them the tools. Longtime financial backers of the 43rd president have raised more than $100 million for a presidential library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas that will house his official papers, sources close to Bush told TIME. Much of the money was collected in the 100 days or so since Bush left the White House, a pace much faster than that of his recent predecessors. At least so far, none of it has come from overseas, the sources said… – CNN, 5-4-09
  • It’s all on Obama now: In the span of a single week — from the day Arlen Specter turned Democratic to the moment Congress passed the White House’s budget blueprint and on through the opening of a spot on the Supreme Court — President Obama crossed a fateful line: From now on, it’s his country…. – LAT, 5-3-09
  • A President Goes Friending: President Obama will not twit, I have been authoritatively informed. Or should that be tweet? Unsure about the correct verb form for sending Twitter messages, I turned for guidance to my authoritative informer, Macon Phillips, the affable young Internet specialist in charge of the White House’s new-media office. He seemed unsure as well. “But I don’t think the president is the right person for this. There are better ways to engage the micro-blogging community,” he told me, explaining at another point: “We try to find the audiences where they are, and deliver the president’s message to them at the best delivery point.” That now includes Twitter, where the White House established an institutional presence last week…. – WaPo, 5-3-09
  • Is Obama president yet?: BARACK OBAMA was elected in November and inaugurated in January, and summer is coming into view. And yet some key posts in the new administration remain open. Vacancies at Treasury hinder the oversight of the vast government bailout of Wall Street. Meanwhile, as public health officials contemplate how to handle a swine flu outbreak, Obama’s choice for health and human services secretary, Kansas Governor Katherine Sebelius, was only confirmed Tuesday, and other top health jobs still need to be filled. One cause of such delays is the Obama team’s much-vaunted vetting process. Another is the maneuvering of conservative interest groups. Both are part of a larger problem: the reluctance of the American political system to end the campaign season and get on with governing…. – The Boston Globe, 5-3-09
  • John Edwards acknowledges federal probe: His once-prominent political career is buried and the turmoil of his marriage is playing out in public. Now, John Edwards is facing a federal inquiry. The two-time Democratic presidential candidate acknowledged Sunday that investigators are assessing how he spent his campaign funds — a subject that could carry his extramarital affair from the tabloids to the courtroom. Edwards’ political action committee paid more than $100,000 for video production to the firm of the woman with whom Edwards had an affair. – AP, 5-3-09
  • Feds investigating whether John Edwards used campaign cash to hush affair – AJC, 5-3-09
  • As a Professor, a Pragmatist About the Supreme Court: Many American presidents have been lawyers, but almost none have come to office with Barack Obama’s knowledge of the Supreme Court. Before he was 30, he was editing articles by eminent legal scholars on the court’s decisions. Later, as a law professor, he led students through landmark cases from Plessy v. Ferguson to Bush v. Gore. (He sometimes shared his own copies, marked with emphatic underlines and notes in bold, all-caps script.) Now Mr. Obama is preparing to select his first Supreme Court nominee to replace retiring Justice David H. Souter. In interviews, former colleagues and students say they have a fairly strong sense of the kind of justice he will favor: not a larger-than-life liberal to counter the conservative pyrotechnics of Justice Antonin Scalia, but a careful pragmatist with a limited view of the role of courts…. – NYT, 5-3-09
  • Specter the Defector to appear on two enchanting Sunday shows: Senator Arlen Specter will appear on Meet the Press and Face the Nation tomorrow morning to discuss his decision to change party affiliation. Vice President Joe Biden is not scheduled on any of the programs to discuss the flu…. – CS Monitor, 5-2-09
  • Jack Kemp, Dole’s Running Mate in 1996, Dies at 73: Jack Kemp, the former football star turned congressman who with an evangelist’s fervor moved the Republican Party to a commitment to tax cuts as the central focus of economic policy, died Saturday evening at his home in Bethesda, Md. He was 73…. – NYT, 5-2-09
  • Kidding aside, Biden plays key role for administration: Of his No. 2, Vice President Joe Biden, President Barack Obama has famously said, “Nobody messes with Joe.” That may be — except for Saturday Night Live, David Letterman, Jay Leno and Craig Ferguson…. But seriously, folks, despite the court-jester portrayals, Biden’s first months as vice president have hardly been a comic strip. Dubbed “the sheriff” by Obama, Biden, 66, is overseeing distribution of billions in stimulus money. He’s leading a White House task force on the middle class, whose success is a top priority for the administration. And he delivered the administration’s first major foreign policy speech in Munich, Germany, making headlines with his call to press “the reset button” with Russia…. – Deseret News, 5-2-09
  • GOP group launches listening tour to rebrand image: With its party struggling to define itself, a group of prominent Republicans launched a listening tour Saturday in a bid to boost the GOP’s sagging image and regroup for future elections. Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., held a town-hall style meeting at a pizza restaurant in the Democratic suburb of Arlington, Va., to hear about people’s concerns on issues from the economy and health care to the rising costs of college tuition…. – AP, 5-2-09
  • Resistance to Obama high court pick may be modest: Awaiting President Barack Obama’s first Supreme Court pick, activists expect a less-spirited nomination battle than would have been anticipated if a conservative justice had stepped down or Democrats held a slimmer edge in the Senate. Retiring Justice David H. Souter is part of the court’s liberal wing, and his replacement by a Democratic administration probably won’t change the ideological balance…. – AP, 5-2-09
  • US Sen Reid: Health Bill Easier To Pass Than Climate Change: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., expressed optimism Friday that the Senate could pass health care legislation, but sounded more cautious notes about writing legislation intended to address global climate change…. – WSJ, 5-2-09
  • Critics Say Obama’s Torture Ban Undermines Vow to Protect America: Obama has argued that any intelligence gained by methods his administration deems torture could have been obtained instead by methods that don’t violate American principles ideals…. President Obama’s vow to keep Americans safe is in conflict with his decision to limit interrogation techniques to the Army Field Manual, opponents of his anti-terror policies say. The Army Field Manual, which includes interrogation methods intended for captured soldiers rather than hardened terrorists, is “not useful at all,” David Rivkin, a former official in the Bush Justice Department, told FOX News. “In fact, the Army Field Manual is, let’s say, so anemic, that it goes below the level of coercion associated with police station level of interrogation.”…. – Fox News, 5-1-09
  • Clinton brags on 100-day accomplishments: She marks 100 days in office on Friday, and on Wednesday, Obama’s 100th day, the State Department posted on its website a lengthy recitation of her accomplishments so far…. State Dept. 100 Days Report, 5-1-09
  • Cue the fanfare: State trumpets Clinton’s 100 days: Friday marks Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 100th day as the top U.S. diplomat and the State Department is commemorating the occasion with a 13-page list praising what it considers her early achievements. The lengthy document posted on the department’s Web site this week extols the secretary of state’s hectic travel abroad and the appointments of four high-profile special envoys to deal with trouble spots and climate change…. – AP, 4-30-09
  • U.S. Republicans enlist Jeb Bush in party’s bid to rebuild: When national Republican leaders brainstormed about repairing their party’s image after the setbacks of the last two elections, it was only natural that they would turn to Jeb Bush…. “He’s really the perfect person to do it because he governed successfully for eight years in a swing state, a purple state, as a conservative and left office very popular,” said Justin Sayfie, a former Bush aide who last year started his own group called “Rebuild the Party.”… – Miami Herald, 5-1-09
  • Skepticism at the Court on Validity of Vote Law: A central provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, designed to protect minorities in states with a history of discrimination, is at substantial risk of being struck down as unconstitutional, judging from the questioning on Wednesday at the Supreme Court…. – NYT, 5-1-09
  • After his flu warning, Biden takes the train home: One day after saying he wouldn’t travel in tight quarters because of the swine flu scare, Vice President Joe Biden rode a train Friday from Washington to Delaware… – AP, 5-1-09
  • Analysis: Obama’s fate largely in Congress’ hands: As he starts his second 100 days as president, Barack Obama must yield much of his agenda’s fate to Congress. His biggest proposals, such as revising health care, energy and education policies, are in the hands of lawmakers who will debate, change and possibly reject them in the coming months. Obama obviously can influence lawmakers, but he has less control over his destiny than when he was unveiling new initiatives almost daily and filling out his Cabinet. In his news conference Wednesday night, Obama acknowledged the prod-and-wait role he now plays on many issues. For all his powers, he said, a president cannot “turn on a switch and suddenly, you know, Congress falls in line.” – AP, 4-30-09
  • Obama, post-100 days: Good morning from The Oval. At last, the 101st day of Barack Obama’s presidency has arrived. This is also a special day for the presidency itself; 220 years ago, George Washington took the oath of office as the nation’s first president…. – USA Today, 4-30-09
  • Analysis: What’s ahead for Obama in the next 100 days: President Obama’s next 100 days will be put under the microscope…. Democratic control of Congress will likely help Obama get his policies passed…. Foreign policy in war-torn areas and relations with Latin America will likely be critical
    After passing the 100 days benchmark, President Obama pushes on with a daunting task ahead of him: Tackling foreign and domestic issues while dealing with a Republican Party opposed to nearly all his major economic initiatives. The second 100 days will be a critical test of Obama’s power in getting key legislative priorities — such as economic recovery, health care, energy and immigration — passed…. – CNN, 4-30-09
  • Source: Justice Souter retiring: Justice David Souter has told the White House that he will retire from the Supreme Court at the end of the court’s term in June, a source familiar with his plans said Thursday night. Speculation that the 69-year-old justice will be stepping down has been fueled by his failure to appoint law clerks from the fall term…. – AP, 4-30-09
  • Ominous ad shows GOP still thinks security a winning issue: House Minority Leader Boehner releases Web ad attacking Obama on security…. The issue of national security is typically a strong point for Republicans…. Ad shows Obama hugging the Saudi king, an image of the Pentagon burning on 9/11…. Boehner’s spokeswoman defends using the 9/11 image. – CNN, 4-30-09
  • Official: White House communications chief named: A senior adviser on Barack Obama’s campaign has been named the president’s interim communications director, a White House official said Thursday. Anita Dunn, a veteran Democratic media consultant, is to take over duties from Ellen Moran, according to the official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the position had not been announced. Moran is leaving the post to become chief of staff to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke…. – AP, 4-30-09
  • Senate Democrats Balk at Specter Deal: Some Senate Democrats are upset over the deal Majority Leader Harry Reid made with Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter, allowing Specter to keep the seniority he earned as a Republican and bypass other Democrats on some of the most powerful committees…. – Fox News, 4-30-09
  • Senate defeats anti-foreclosure proposal: The Democratic-controlled Senate on Thursday defeated a plan to spare hundreds of thousands of homeowners from foreclosure through bankruptcy, a proposal that President Barack Obama embraced but did little to see through. A dozen Democrats joined Republicans in the 45-51 vote to scuttle the measure, which Obama had said was important to saving the economy and promised to push through Congress. But facing stiff opposition from banks, Obama did little to pressure lawmakers who worried it would encourage bankruptcy filings and spike interest rates…. – AP, 4-30-09
  • Obama pivots from first 100 days to rest of agenda: His first 100 days behind him, President Barack Obama expressed confidence about the next hundred and accelerated his drive toward contentious goals — sweeping health care overhaul, new rules to curb global warming and financial sector reform — even while working to end a recession and two wars…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • Bipartisanship didn’t last long in Obama’s first 100 days: There’s little debate that Democrats who run Congress mark President Obama’s 100-day milestone with some significant victories…. Slew of legislative achievements have come at the cost of bipartisanship…. Democrats: GOP making a political calculation to be the party of “no”…. Republicans say Democrats have shut them out…. Real reason for partisan divide may be genuine philosophical differences – CNN, 5-2-09
  • G.O.P. Debate: A Broader Party or a Purer One?: A fundamental debate broke out among Republicans on Wednesday over how to rebuild the party in the wake of Senator Arlen Specter’s departure: Should it purge moderate voices like Mr. Specter and embrace its conservative roots or seek to broaden its appeal to regain a competitive position against Democrats?… – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Live Blogging the President’s News ConferenceNYT, 4-29-09
  • Where Specter’s Big Switch Leaves the Senate: Senate associate historian Donald Ritchie says you have to go all the way back to the dawn of F.D.R.’s second term in 1937 to find a President aligned with a filibuster-proof Senate majority that has comparable cohesion and potential to pass significant legislation…. – Time, 4-29-09
  • Obama Welcomes Specter to the Party: President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. welcomed Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania to the Democratic fold at the White House on Wednesday morning, praising Mr. Specter warmly and telling him he can count on their support for re-election in 2010…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • White House Welcomes Specter: Senator Arlen Specter, the Republican-turned-Democrat, received a hearty welcome at the White House on Wednesday morning, flanked by President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in a high-level show of unity for the newest member of their caucus. In an unexpected calendar moment on the 100th day of Mr. Obama’s administration, the three officials all reminisced about their work together in the Senate just a short while ago. The vice president opened the embrace, noting that he and Mr. Specter had long talked over issues while riding the Amtrak trains together in their commutes to and from their respective homes in Delaware and Pennsylvania…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • House bill would provide gays new protections: Gay victims of violence would gain new federal protections under a revived and expanded hate crimes bill passed by the House on Wednesday over conservatives’ objections. Hate crimes — as defined by the bill — are those motivated by prejudice and based someone’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
    The bill, which passed 249-175, could provide a financial bonanza to state and local authorities, with grants for investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. The federal government could step in and prosecute if states requested it or declined to exercise their authority…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • Voting rights case at high court Wednesday: Congress’ decision to extend a key provision of the Voting Rights Act for 25 years is at the core of a case being argued before the Supreme Court. The justices are hearing the final arguments of their term Wednesday in a dispute from Texas. At issue is a requirement that all or parts of 16 states with a history of discrimination in voting get approval from the Justice Department before they implement even the smallest changes in the way elections are held… – AP, 4-29-09
  • Specter’s defection to Democrats roils Republicans: Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter is a Democrat again following a decades-long turn among Republicans, a defection that has the GOP warning about the perils of unchecked power only a few years after it controlled both the White House and Congress.
    “The threat to the country presented … by this defection really relates to the issue of whether or not in the United States or America our people want the majority party to have whatever it wants without restraint, without a check or balance,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Tuesday after Specter made his startling switch.
    The move left Democrats with 59 votes in the Senate, and hoping that Al Franken can finally win a marathon recount in Minnesota and become their 60th. That’s the number needed to overcome any Republican filibuster aimed at blocking President Barack Obama’s ambitious agenda. AP, 4-29-09
  • Senate Confirms Kansas Governor as Health Secretary: The Senate confirmed the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of health and human services on Tuesday, allowing President Obama to fill the last vacancy in his cabinet with a seasoned politician who will take charge of the fight against swine flu. The vote was 65 to 31. Among the nine Republicans who voted for Ms. Sebelius was Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who announced on Tuesday that he was becoming a Democrat…. – NYT, 4-28-09
  • Kan. gets new gov after Sebelius goes to HHS: Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, wooed from the Republican Party three years ago by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to become her running mate, became governor Tuesday when Sebelius resigned upon her confirmation as U.S. health and human services secretary. Parkinson, a 51-year-old former Republican legislator and party chairman, has said previously he did not expect to make major policy or staff changes, and that he won’t run for a full four-year term next year…. – AP, 4-28-09
  • Democrats pushing through compromise budget plan: With unusual speed, President Barack Obama’s allies in Congress are pushing through a compromise budget plan endorsing much of his ambitious agenda but falling short of his hopes for tax cuts and curbs on global warming….. – AP, 4-28-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President at a press conference
(President Barack Obama speaks at a press conference in the White House on April 29, 2009.
White House Photo/ Chuck Kennedy)

Political Quotes

  • Clinton returns to Oklahoma bombing site for tour: Bill Clinton recalled the profound impact of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing on the nation and his presidency during a private tour of a memorial and museum honoring the 168 people killed. “My life has been indelibly marked by the people I met here,” Clinton said Saturday in addressing about 200 museum supporters, bombing survivors and former rescue workers. “I came here, more than anything else, to say ‘Thank You.'” He added: “The memories I have here … have changed my life, and I think, fundamentally changed the lives of the nation.” – AP, 5-3-09
  • Weekly Address: Government Actions to Address the H1N1 Flu Virus: In his Weekly Address, the President discusses the government’s response to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, from school closings to activating online social networks. He urges Americans to be calm but cautious.
    “This is also why the Centers for Disease Control has recommended that schools and child care facilities with confirmed cases of the virus close for up to fourteen days. It is why we urge employers to allow infected employees to take as many sick days as necessary. If more schools are forced to close, we’ve also recommended that both parents and businesses think about contingency plans if children do have to stay home. We have asked every American to take the same steps you would take to prevent any other flu: keep your hands washed; cover your mouth when you cough; stay home from work if you’re sick; and keep your children home from school if they’re sick. And the White House has launched pages in Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to support the ongoing efforts by the CDC to update the public as quickly and effectively as possible.” – WH Blog, 5-2-09
    Transcript: WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Outlines Government Actions to Address the 2009 H1N1 Flu
  • CQ Transcript: Sen. Specter on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ – CQ, 5-3-09
  • GOP, Rep. Lynn Jenkins: Obama’s first 100 days all spending, taxing: Republicans say President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office can be summed up in three words: spending, taxing, borrowing.
    “The plans they’ve passed in the first 100 days will add more to our nation’s public debt than all previous presidents combined in 200-plus years/ They’ve taken away President Obama’s promised middle-class tax cut and paved the way for a new national energy tax to be paid by every American who dares to flip on a light switch.”…
    “This bill was supposed to be about jobs, but it’s gone off the rails in practically no time at all. It’s quickly turning into a symbol of everything wrong with Washington, D.C. — unchecked spending, no accountability and oversight.”…
    “Middle-class families and small businesses across America are tightening their belts and making sacrifices each and every day during this recession, and Republicans believe that it’s time for Washington to do the same.” “We offered a budget that curbs spending, creates jobs by cutting taxes, and controls the debt. We’ve also offered proposals to help rebuild your savings, revitalize the housing market, and create twice as many jobs as the Democrats ‘stimulus’ at half the cost.” – AP, 5-2-09
  • Jeb Bush GOP group launches listening tour to rebrand image: “You can’t beat something with nothing, and the other side has something,” Bush told a group of about 100 people at the Pie-Tanza pizza parlor. “I don’t like it, but they have it and we have to be respectful and mindful of that.” “I hope across the country people will be excited about the prospect of sharing their ideas to bring about a better America,” he said….. – AP, 5-2-09
  • Eric Cantor GOP group launches listening tour to rebrand image: Cantor said he wanted to focus the meeting on “bread and butter” issues such as the rising costs of education and health care, which resonate the most with Americans right now. “These are discussions that need to occur with the American people of any political stripe,” he said. “We need to make sure, the discussions, I believe, should be focused on the principles that have made America great — the principles of freedom and opportunity.” – AP, 5-2-09
  • Obama Pushes for ‘Empathetic’ Supreme Court Justices Conservatives and liberals are sharply divided on Obama’s pledge to tout empathy in selection of Supreme Court justices: “I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook; it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation,” Obama said. “I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.” – Fox News, 5-1-09
  • The President’s Remarks on Justice Souter: ….Now, the process of selecting someone to replace Justice Souter is among my most serious responsibilities as President. So I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity. I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book. It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives — whether they can make a living and care for their families; whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation.
    I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving as just decisions and outcomes. I will seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role. I will seek somebody who shares my respect for constitutional values on which this nation was founded, and who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply them in our time.
    As I make this decision, I intend to consult with members of both parties across the political spectrum. And it is my hope that we can swear in our new Supreme Court Justice in time for him or her to be seated by the first Monday in October when the Court’s new term begins. – WH Blog, 5-1-09
  • Clinton brags on 100-day accomplishments: In the first 100 Days of the Obama administration, Secretary Clinton and the State Department have made significant progress in advancing America’s national security goals and promoting America’s values around the world.
    Secretary Clinton is already the most traveled Secretary of State in a new administration. The Secretary’s trips have included her inaugural trip to Asia, the Middle East and Europe, Mexico and across the border to Texas, the Hague in the Netherlands, Europe with President Obama, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago with President Obama, and to Iraq and Kuwait.
    The work undertaken on these trips, the many bilateral and trilateral meetings hosted by Secretary Clinton, and the tireless efforts of others throughout the State Department have contributed to early and significant progress on the following priorities: Afghanistan/Pakistan policy, the Middle East, Iraq, Asia, Russia, North Korea, the Western Hemisphere, the climate crisis, engaging in public diplomacy, and other core issues…. – State Department 100-Day Report, 5-1-09
  • Chrysler succumbs to bankruptcy after struggle: After months of living on government loans, Chrysler finally succumbed to bankruptcy Thursday, pinning its future on a top-to-bottom reorganization and plans to build cleaner cars through an alliance with Italian automaker Fiat…. “It’s a partnership that will give Chrysler a chance not only to survive, but to thrive in a global auto industry,” President Barack Obama said from the White House…. – AP, 4-30-09
  • Biden’s swine flu remarks put White House on defensive: The day after President Barack Obama urged the flu-worried masses to stay calm, Vice President Joe Biden went off the rails, saying he has urged family members to avoid airplanes and subways. Biden, told NBC’s “Today” show Thursday that he’d tell family members to avoid traveling in “confined spaces.” “It’s not just going to Mexico, if you’re any place in a confined aircraft and one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft,” he told Matt Lauer. “That’s me. I would not be at this point, if they had another way of transportation, suggesting they ride the subway.” Biden’s statement sent federal officials into damage-control mode. Biden’s staff, along with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs, tried to clarify his remark by saying he meant only people who are sick should avoid traveling on planes and trains…. – Newsday, 4-30-09
  • Obama says abortion rights law not a top priority: President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he favored abortion rights for women but that passing a law guaranteeing those rights was not his top priority, trying to avoid inflaming divisions over the issue. “I believe that women should have the right to choose,” Obama told a news conference marking his first 100 days in office. “But I think that the most important thing we can do to tamp down some of the anger surrounding this issue is to focus on those areas that we can agree on…. I would like to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that result in women feeling compelled to get an abortion, or at least considering getting an abortion, particularly if we can reduce the number of teen pregnancies,” Obama said…. Asked about the Freedom of Choice Act at Wednesday’s news conference, Obama said it “is not the highest legislative priority…. My view on … abortion, I think, has been very consistent. I think abortion is a moral issue and an ethical issue.” – Reuters, 4-30-09
  • Michael Reagan “G.O.P. Debate: A Broader Party or a Purer One? “: “I’m not hurt by Arlen Specter walking away,” said Michael Reagan, the son of former President Ronald Reagan and a conservative talk show host. “At least now the party doesn’t waste money supporting someone who does not support the party….It’s interesting that people say the right has taken over the Republican Party — but no one can say what we’ve done. We’ve been closeted for the last eight years; it’s time for the right to come out of the closet.” – NYT, 4-30-09
  • Jill Biden: Celebrating our Teachers: It’s been a really inspiring week in Washington– because the teachers are in town! This week I had the true honor of welcoming some very special guests to Washington DC: the 2009 Teachers of the Year. 55 of them traveled to DC representing all of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense, American Samoa, the Marianna Islands, and the Virgin Islands. I’ve been a teacher for 28 years, so I know how hard these teachers work and was thrilled to meet them and welcome them to our home, the Vice President’s Residence…. – WH Blog, 4-30-09
  • Transcript President Obama’s 100th-Day Press Briefing: Following is a transcript of President Obama’s press briefing as he marks his 100th day in office, as transcribed by Federal News Service…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Obama addresses town hall meeting on 100th day: “I’ve come back to report to you, the American people, that we have begun to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, and we’ve begun the work of remaking America…. I’m confident in the future, but not I’m not content with the present. You know the progress comes from hard choices and hard work, not miracles. I’m not a miracle worker.”
    Obama acknowledged challenges of “unprecedented size and scope,” including the recession. These challenges, he said, could not be met with “half measures.” “They demand action that is bold and sustained. They call on us to clear away the wreckage of a painful recession, But also, at the same time, lay the building blocks for a new prosperity. And that’s the work that we’ve begun over these first 100 days…. There’s no mystery to what we’ve done; the priorities that we’ve acted upon were the things that we said we’d do during the campaign.” – CNN, 4-29-09
  • Day 99: Obama Offers Encouragement To FBI: On his ninety-ninth day in office, President Obama told FBI employees Americans “are counting on you.” He offered plaudits to the bureau and urged employees to stay “one step ahead of all who step outside of the law.” “With the attacks of 9/11, your mission became focused more than ever before on prevention, so that we have the capacity to uncover terrorist plots before they take hold,” he said. “With the spread of new technologies you increasingly confronted adversaries in unconventional areas, from transnational networks to cybercrimes and espionage.” In a letter, the president also asked Congress for $1.5 billion to fight swine flu as concerns about domestic infection rates grew. And he honored Teacher Of The Year Anthony Mullen in his first Rose Garden ceremony. “I’m a big fan of teachers because every single day in classrooms all across America, you are making a difference,” he said. “You don’t always get the recognition that you deserve. We don’t always value the teaching profession like we should.”… – CBS News, 4-28-09
  • Patrick Leahy: Voting Rights Act still has work to do for states Today the U.S. Supreme Court will consider a case challenging the constitutional authority of Congress to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Three years ago, the Senate and House of Representatives overwhelmingly reauthorized expiring provisions of this critical civil rights law. The challenge brought today before the nation’s highest court threatens to undermine one of the nation’s premier laws protecting the right to vote…. – AJC, 4-29-09
  • Clinton tells nations US acting on climate change: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that any agreement to combat global warming should require developing countries like India and China to reduce emissions, a position that prevented former President George W. Bush from signing an international pact.
    “There is no sense in negotiating an agreement if it will have no practical impact in reducing emissions to safer levels,” Clinton told the participants at the start of the two-day meeting. “So we all have to do our part, and we need to be creative and think hard about what will work in order for us to achieve the outcomes we hope for.”… – AP, 4-27-09
  • Clinton lends political clout to McAuliffe’s bid for governor: “Look, everyone knows he’s one of my closest friends,” the 42nd president said at a rally at a downtown farmer’s market. “So look, I’d be here regardless. Everyone knows that. “The press says, ‘Oh well, Terry McAuliffe has raised millions of dollars for Bill Clinton. He has to show up.’ And that’s absolutely true,” Clinton told the crowd. “… But here’s what I really want to tell you,” he said. “I am here today for reasons that go way, way beyond that.” “He was made for this moment,” Clinton said. “He’s been a great businessman. He’s been a tremendously effective political leader. He has energy, he’s creative, and he cares.”… – The Virginian-Pilot, 4-28-09
  • Reid says Obama told him, ‘I have a gift’: Everyone knows President Barack Obama can deliver a great speech, including the president himself, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The paperback version of Reid’s book, “The Good Fight,” is coming out May 5 with an epilogue called “The Obama Era.” Reid said he was impressed when Obama, then a freshman senator from Illinois, delivered a speech about President George W. Bush’s war policy. Reid, D-Nev., writes: “‘That speech was phenomenal, Barack,’ I told him. And I will never forget his response. Without the barest hint of braggadocio or conceit, and with what I would describe as deep humility, he said quietly: ‘I have a gift, Harry.'”… – AP, 4-27-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President discusses H1N1 Flu

Historians’ Comments

  • Paul Light “It’s all on Obama now”: “It is now absolutely his economy,” said Paul Light, a New York University professor who specializes in presidential transitions. “I don’t think that the public will continue to believe that this was all George W. Bush’s doing. And every day that goes by, it becomes more Obama’s than Bush’s.” – LAT, 5-3-09
  • SAM TANENHAUS: 100 Days in the Footsteps of F.D.R. and L.B.J.: In American politics, the symbolic and the concrete are seldom far apart. Consider the fanfare surrounding President Barack Obama’s 100th day in office…. For now, Mr. Obama seems tobe holding the New Deal and the Great Society models in careful balance. At his news conference on Wednesday, he struck a decidedly Rooseveltian note. When asked what he would do to help racial minorities, he replied, “Keep in mind that every step we’re taking is designed to help all people.” Although blacks and Latinos would benefit from his programs, it was only because they were the “most vulnerable” in bad economic times. But in an interview in The New York Times Magazine, published today, Mr. Obama sounded more like Johnson when he talked of making sure that “prosperity is spread across the spectrum of regions and occupations and genders and races.” These strains of liberalism are not incompatible. But they are not identical. The question is whether Mr. Obama will be forced to choose between them in the days ahead or be able to fuse them into a single vision. NYT, 5-3-09
  • Debbie Walsh “First 100 Days: Michelle Obama Has Big Shoes to Fill, But So Far is Walking in Stride” In her first 100 days as first lady, Michelle Obama has stayed busy, reaching out to military families, serving in soup kitchens, visiting Washington public schools and health care facilities and inviting children to the White House. But she has yet to decide her niche: “She has the potential to be a powerful voice for the issues that working families confront and the juggling that working parents have to do,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “There are a whole host of issues that go with working families. We have to see where that goes.” Walsh said Obama epitomizes how the role of first lady is evolving. “I think first ladies 50 or 60 years ago were lifelong helpmates,” she said, explaining that it was a reflection of the times when women traditionally stayed at home…. “I personally am willing to cut her slack if she hasn’t transformed the world for working families yet,” Walsh said. “She’s carving out a focus.” “It’s a let’s-wait-and-see mode, and every indication is she is planning to use her position as first lady to advocate for these positions.” – Fox News, 4-28-09
  • Myra Gutin “First 100 Days: Michelle Obama Has Big Shoes to Fill, But So Far is Walking in Stride” In her first 100 days as first lady, Michelle Obama has stayed busy, reaching out to military families, serving in soup kitchens, visiting Washington public schools and health care facilities and inviting children to the White House. But she has yet to decide her niche: “Hillary Clinton is kind of a special case,” said Myra Gutin, a first lady historian and professor of communications at Rider University. “She was the only first lady to have an office in the West Wing,” where she had 600 employees under her…. “Some of them have a long history,” Gutin said. “That’s not the case with Mrs. Obama.” Gutin said she believes Obama can achieve a lot by working with military families, a focus that will allow her to avoid more controversial subjects. “It would seem not to carry a lot of political risk for her husband,” she said…. Gutin said regardless of what Obama chooses, she thinks she is doing a “great” job so far. “I think she came from a place a year ago where we didn’t think she was going to do quite as well,” she said, referring to comments last year in which Mrs. Obama said she had not as an adult been proud of her country until she saw the public’s reaction to her husband’s candidacy. – Fox News, 4-28-09
  • Carl Anthony “First 100 Days: Michelle Obama Has Big Shoes to Fill, But So Far is Walking in Stride” In her first 100 days as first lady, Michelle Obama has stayed busy, reaching out to military families, serving in soup kitchens, visiting Washington public schools and health care facilities and inviting children to the White House. But she has yet to decide her niche: “It offends me, to tell you the truth,” said Carl Anthony, a historian at the National First Ladies’ Library. “I think it’s more endemic of a problem in our culture. It’s eating dessert and thinking it’s dinner.” Anthony said one of Obama’s biggest challenges may be to draw more attention to her substance “She’s a very powerful public speaker,” he said. “If she were to get out and speak with heart and get behind a particular issue, I think the media will focus on her substantive elements, other than the style.”… Some attribute her performance so far to her awareness of the significance of being the first black first lady. “I think as a result of that, she wanted to be very cautious,” said Anthony, of the first ladies library. “I think she’s wanted to really make sure she didn’t have one misstep.” – Fox News, 4-28-09
  • OLYMPIA SNOWE: We Didn’t Have to Lose Arlen Specter: IT is disheartening and disconcerting, at the very least, that here we are today — almost exactly eight years after Senator Jim Jeffords left the Republican Party — witnessing the departure of my good friend and fellow moderate Republican, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, for the Democratic Party. And the announcement of his switch was all the more painful because I believe it didn’t have to be this way…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Give Obama an ‘incomplete'”: When President Obama moved into the White House, press speculation immediately began about what his first 100 days would look like. Journalists as well as scholars looked to history to speculate about which models of presidential leadership he might follow. As we reach the end of the first 100 days this week, Obama remains much of a mystery. If we are talking grades, the best we can give him at this point is an “incomplete.”…
    We’ll have to see what happens in the second and third 100 days, which are perhaps more instructive in evaluating a presidency as the shine from the election fades and political tensions over the details of an administration’s agenda harden. It is then that we’ll gain a better sense of whether Obama will be able to sustain the momentum of the first 100 days as did FDR, culminating in the 1936 election landslide, or whether he will lose the political strength from these early days, as was the case with Carter. – CNN, 4-27-09
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