History Buzz April 12, 2010: Historians Weigh in on Congress Passing Health Reform & Confederate History Month

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

    This Week’s Political Highlights

  • Alan Brinkley concerned about “current surge of fear and loathing toward Obama”: “There was a lot of hatred in the 1930s,” says Alan Brinkley, the Columbia University historian and expert on populist movements. But the current surge of fear and loathing toward Obama is “scary,” he says. “There’s a big dose of race behind the real crazies, the ones who take their guns to public meetings. I can’t see this happening if McCain were president, or [any] white male.” – Newsweek (4-9-10)
  • Obama learning from LBJ, according to presidential historian Doris Kearns GoodwinNewsweek (3-26-10)
  • Pelosi may enter history as one of the great House speakers, according to scholars: “She may get a stellar entry in the history books, but that entry will not include the word ‘bipartisan,’ ” said John J. Pitney Jr., a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College….
    “There is nothing to strengthen a politician like a big victory,” said Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University…. – LA Times (3-23-10)
  • Republicans kick off repeal attempt, says Julian Zelizer: “You have a window where they can try to raise doubts about what’s about to happen,” says Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University in New Jersey…. “No one would have imagined the conservatives would be so energized a year after 2008,” says Mr. Zelizer. “Now we’re talking about a possible Republican takeover of Congress. And they almost killed Obama’s biggest program.” – CS Monitor (3-22-10)
  • States’ rights a rallying cry for lawmakers and scholars: “Everything we’ve tried to keep the federal government confined to rational limits has been a failure, an utter, unrelenting failure — so why not try something else?” said Thomas E. Woods Jr., a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a nonprofit group in Auburn, Ala., that researches what it calls “the scholarship of liberty.”… – NYT (3-16-10)

IN FOCUS:

  • Virginia governor amends Confederate history proclamation to include slavery: After a barrage of nationwide criticism for excluding slavery from his Confederate History Month proclamation, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) on Wednesday conceded that it was “a major omission” and amended the document to acknowledge the state’s complicated past. A day earlier, McDonnell said he left out any reference to slavery in the original seven-paragraph proclamation because he wanted to include issues he thought were most “significant” to Virginia. He also said the document was designed to promote tourism in the state, which next year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. However, Wednesday afternoon the governor issued a mea culpa for the document’s exclusion of slavery. “The proclamation issued by this Office designating April as Confederate History Month contained a major omission,” McDonnell said in a statement. “The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed.”… – WaPo, 4-7-10

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

HISTORY NEWS:

  • James McPherson: As Texas messes with history, worry that it’ll multiply: A lot of attention has been focused on Texas in recent weeks, because state officials decided to rewrite social studies curriculum and force kids to learn a distorted view of the country’s past….
    “One can only regret the conservative pressure groups and members of the Texas education board that have forced certain changes in high school history textbooks used in the state.”… – WaPo (4-5-10)
  • Some right-wingers ignore facts as they rewrite U.S. history: The right is rewriting history. “We are adding balance,” Texas school board member Don McLeroy said. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”…
    “History in the popular world is always a political football,” said Alan Brinkley , a historian at Columbia University… – McClatchy Newspapers (4-1-10)
  • Free Guide to Texas Social Studies Revision Process from University of Texas: The Center for History Teaching & Learning has published a simple and informative free guide to the ongoing K-12 social studies revision process. Texas Social Studies Simplified explains what is going on, why it matters, who is involved, and when the process will be done. It also corrects the many errors circulating in the media about the revision process…. – UTEP Center for History Teaching & Learning (3-31-10)
  • History Coalition Submits Congressional Testimony on FY 2011 NARA & NHPRC BudgetsLee White at the National Coalition for History (3-30-10)
  • Headed for Auction: Back-Channel Gloom on Revolutionary War: “Such a pittance of troops as Great Britain and Ireland can supply will only serve to protract the war, to incur fruitless expense and insure disappointment,” Burgoyne added in a letter in the collection that will be auctioned beginning next month by Sotheby’s in New York. “Our victory has been bought by an uncommon loss of officers, some of them irreparable, and I fear the consequence will not answer the expectations that will be raised in England.” NYT (3-22-10)
  • Niall Ferguson: ‘Rid our schools of junk history’: A leading British historian has called for a Jamie Oliver-style campaign to purge schools of what he calls “junk history”. Niall Ferguson, who teaches at Harvard and presented a Channel 4 series on the world’s financial history, has launched a polemical attack on the subject’s “decline in British schools”, arguing that the discipline is badly taught and undervalued. He says standards are at an all-time low in the classroom and the subject should be compulsory at GCSE.
    Ferguson makes the comments in an essay to be released this week. It begins: “History matters. Many schoolchildren doubt this. But they are wrong, and they need to be persuaded they are wrong.”… – Guardian (UK) (3-21-10)
  • Book by religion historian Wendy Doniger draws criticism by Hindus: Wendy Doniger, a professor of the history of religion at the University of Chicago, has drawn the ire of some Hindus who regard her scholarship as sacrilegious. During a lecture in London in 2003, someone in the audience threw an egg at Doniger to express disagreement with her interpretation of a passage in the Ramayana, a sacred epic… – Inside Higher Ed (3-17-10)
  • Students protest tenure denial to historian Ronald Granieri: On Monday night, nine College seniors in the final stages of writing their honors theses gathered on the third floor of Van Pelt Library. They wanted answers. The seniors are part of a 17-person History honors thesis class that is leading a charge to protest the tenure denial of their thesis seminar advisor, Ronald Granieri. An assistant professor of modern European history, Granieri was recently denied tenure in his second and last chance to apply for the standing. He originally applied last year in his sixth year of teaching at Penn…. – The Daily Pennsylvanian (3-16-10)

OP-EDs:

  • Bill Kovarik: Feudalism in Appalachia: Underground mining is inherently dangerous, but it’s more dangerous now than it needs to be. We don’t know yet the fully explanation for this week’s accident, but several themes are apparent in historic perspective…. – NYT, 4-7-10
  • Sean Patrick Adams: Tragedy’s Deep Roots: Coal mining has always been a dangerous endeavor, regardless of its historical context. The 19th-century coal miners that I study trudged through rat-infested shafts and through dirty pools of standing water to bore holes in coal seams, pack in black powder, and set off a controlled (hopefully) blast to loosen the coal…. – NYT, 4-7-10
  • Why do more people listen to economists than historians?: David Brooks wondered in his New York Times column last week if economists shouldn’t try to become more like historians. That was interesting to read, given that I had just spent time with a bunch of historians (and a few other humanities professors) who were wondering how they could become more like economists…. – Harvard Business Review (3-31-10)

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Making It Look Easy at The New Yorker: David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, is not one to waste an opportunity. After attending John Updike’s funeral in Massachusetts in February of last year, he stopped by Harvard Law School to interview some of President Obama’s old professors. Despite the exhaustive newspaper coverage of the 44th president, Mr. Remnick suspected he had something to add. “I wrote it simply to see if I could do it,” Mr. Remnick, 51, said in an interview. “Is it really going to interest me, or is it just going to feel like a guy that went to law school, big deal?” Mr. Remnick kept writing, and the result is his sixth book, “The Bridge,” due out Tuesday. The 672-page biography examines Mr. Obama’s life and racial identity, with strands on Kenyan politics, legal scholarship, his mother’s doctoral dissertation on Indonesian blacksmithing, even a transcript of a recording of the teenage Mr. Obama joking with his buddies…. – NYT, 4-5-10
  • Seeking Identity, Shaping a Nation’s: “The Bridge,” the title of David Remnick’s incisive new book on Barack Obama, refers to the bridge in Selma, Ala., where civil rights demonstrators were violently attacked by state troopers on March 7, 1965, in a bloody clash that would galvanize the nation and help lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. It refers to the observation made by one of the leaders of that march, John Lewis, that “Barack Obama is what comes at the end of that bridge in Selma” — an observation Congressman Lewis made nearly 44 years later, on the eve of Mr. Obama’s inauguration. And it refers to the hope voiced by many of the president’s supporters that he would be a bridge between the races, between red states and blue states, between conservatives and liberals, between the generations who remember the bitter days of segregation and those who have grown up in a new, increasingly multicultural America… – NYT, 4-6-10
  • Jonathan Yardley reviews “Anything Goes,” by Lucy Moore: ANYTHING GOES A Biography of the Roaring Twenties … If “Anything Goes” is anything, it’s a nitpicker’s delight. As history, it’s something else. – WaPo, 4-4-10
  • Book review: ‘Valley of Death,’ by Ted Morgan: VALLEY OF DEATH The Tragedy at Dien Bien Phu That Led America Into the Vietnam War Ted Morgan, a retired journalist who has written numerous works of history, has now given us two books in one: an intricate, compelling narrative of the horrifying battle of Dien Bien Phu, which raged from March 13 to May 7, 1954, near the Vietnamese-Laotian border, and a parallel account of deliberations among French, American and British leaders over the impending catastrophe and what to do about it while the battle raged, and of the Geneva negotiations that eventually created North and South Vietnam. The battle account draws mainly on reminiscences and primary sources, while the diplomatic one uses memoirs and secondary works effectively…. Morgan gives us military history of a very high quality at both the strategic and tactical levels…. – WaPo, 4-4-10
  • Historic moments in Dakotas by former SDSU professor: …In a new book, “Prairie Republic – The Political Culture of Dakota Territory, 1879-1889,” South Dakota native and historian Jon K. Lauck comes to Turner’s defense by chronicling what he calls the “genuine democratic moments” of thousands of settlers that he said were the seed and soil of statehood.
    In doing so, Lauck attempts to balance and challenge the themes of Yale historian Howard R. Lamar’s 1956 “Dakota Territory – 1860-1889, a Study of Frontier Politics.” Lamar’s work remains a seminal piece of American history, part of a critical examination of the American West during the mid- to late 20th century…. – Argus Leader (3-25-10)
  • Nominations for the least-accurate political memoir ever written: Has Karl Rove played fast and loose with historical fact in his new memoir “Courage and Consequence”? History will decide. But recollections invariably differ — perhaps never more so than in political memoirs. And Rove’s isn’t the first to spark debate over what is the true tide in the affairs of men. In that spirit, we asked a variety of people to name the least accurate political memoirs ever written…. –
    JAMES K. GALBRAITH, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of “The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too.”
    DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, professor of history at Rice University and author, most recently, of “The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America.” – WaPo, 3-19-10
  • Historic win or not, Democrats could pay a price, according to historiansWaPo (3-21-10)

FEATURES:

  • The historian Tony Judt says being paralysed by a wasting disease has made his mind sharper: “It’s not as though I could try being dumb and compare the two sensations,” he says. “But I have to assume it’s a blessing … [although] I’m not sure that it’s mental sharpness that has kept me going so much as sheer bloody-minded willpower — or else the sort of ego that adapts well to overachieving.”… – Times Online (UK) (4-4-10)
  • Pessimism back in fashion in historical circles: Niall Ferguson, one of the more important economic historians of our time, is projecting a fiscal disaster in the United States that will match the one Greece is facing at the moment. He says that, according to White House projections, gross public debt will exceed 100 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). That worries him a great deal… – Business Times (3-30-10)
  • Religion is now the hottest topic for American historians: The study of religion is too important to be left in the hands of believers. So claims David A. Hollinger, a professor of American history at the University of California at Berkeley, in his response to religion emerging as the hottest topic of study among members of the American Historical Association (AHA)…. – Christianity Today (3-11-10)

QUOTES:

  • Presidential unpredictability can be a good thing for the nation: Presidential historian Michael Beschloss says that Kennedy “feared that the changing political environment was making it more difficult for Americans to practice the kind of leadership that had shaped our past.” Kennedy meant that politics had become too expensive, mechanized and “dominated by professional politicians and public relations men.” – Scripps Howard, 4-5-10
  • Tom Mockaitis Historian of terrorism worried about rise in militia groups: “It doesn’t take a lot of fringe elements in a country this size to do an enormous amount of damage,” said Tom Mockaitis, professor of history and terrorism expert, DePaul University. “What worries me is not the lunatic fringe. It’s the larger core of soft support in which these fish can swim, and say they draw energy from this larger pool of anger,” said Mockaitis…. ABC News (3-30-10)
  • Historians ask which American war has been the longest: Host Bob Schieffer noted that milestone during the March 22, 2010, edition of CBS’ Face the Nation. “March 19th was the seventh anniversary of the Iraq invasion, which began our longest war,” he said. We wondered if it really has been America’s longest war…. – St. Petersburg Times (3-22-10)
  • Historians blast proposed Texas social studies curriculum: “The books that are altered to fit the standards become the best-selling books, and therefore within the next two years they’ll end up in other classrooms,” said Fritz Fischer, chairman of the National Council for History Education, a group devoted to history teaching at the pre-college level. “It’s not a partisan issue, it’s a good history issue.”…
    “I’m made uncomfortable by mandates of this kind for sure,” said Paul S. Boyer, emeritus professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of several of the most popular U.S. history textbooks, including some that are on the approved list in Texas… – WaPo (3-18-10)

INTERVIEWS:

  • Award-wining historian Natalie Zemon Davis talks to American Prospect: Natalie Zemon Davis will be awarded the 2010 Holberg International Memorial Prize on June 9 for the way in which her work “shows how particular events can be narrated and analyzed so as to reveal deeper historical tendencies and underlying patterns of thought and action.” Davis describes her work as anthropological in nature. Rather than tell the political story of a time and place, concentrating on an elite narrative, Davis’ work is often from the point of view of those less likely to keep records of their lives. TAP spoke with Davis, an 81-year-old professor emerita of history at Princeton University and current adjunct professor of history at the University of Toronto, about her innovative approach to history…. – The American Prospect (4-9-10)

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • New AHA Executive Director: Jim Grossman to Succeed Arnita Jones: The American Historical Association is pleased to announce that Dr. James Grossman, currently Vice President for Research and Education at Chicago’s Newberry Library, will succeed Dr. Arnita Jones as the Association’s Executive Director. Dr. Jones will retire at the end of August… – AHA Blog (3-19-10)
  • University of Toronto historian wins prestigious Holberg Prize: Natalie Zemon Davis, professor emerita from Princeton University and now a University of Toronto history scholar whose books have reached a wide audience, has won one of the world’s top academic prizes. The Holberg Prize – established by the Norwegian parliament in 2003 and worth $700,500 US – is awarded for outstanding scholarly work in the arts and humanities, social sciences, law or theology. Philosopher Ian Hacking, also of the University of Toronto, won the prize last year… – EurekAlert (3-16-10)

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • Major New Russian Archive for World War II: Head of Rosarkhiv Andrei Artizov has announced plans to create an enormous new archive to unite all Russian materials relating to the Second World War. Slated for completion by the 70th anniversary of victory, i.e. 2015, the new collection will include 13 million files…. – Dave Stone at the Russian Front (3-22-10)
  • Project to digitize Canada’s 1812 artifacts: Sarah Maloney has a passion for history. The Port Colborne resident, who has a master’s degree in history from the University of Western Ontario, was one of two people hired to by Brock University to carry out its 1812 Online Digitization Project.
    In the work carried out, Maloney and the other assistant on the project took more than 20,000 photos of artifacts and documents from RiverBrink Art Museum, Grimsby Museum, Jordan Historical Museum, Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum, Niagara Historical Society and Museum and Niagara Falls museums, which includes Lundy’s Lane Historical Museum. One thousand items revolving around the war will eventually be online at www.1812history.com and our ontario.caas well. More than 800 items can be seen on those websites now and the project wraps up at the end of the month…. – Welland Tribune (Canada) (3-15-10)
  • Princeton University: Symposium explores race and the Obama presidency Tuesday, April 13, 2010, 1 p.m. · Frist Campus Center, Multipurpose Room A: Princeton scholars in the fields of African American Studies, politics, religion, sociology and history will come together Tuesday, April 13, at the University for the symposium “Race, American Politics, and the Presidency of Barack Obama.” The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Multipurpose Room A of the Frist Campus Center on the Princeton campus, followed by a public reception.
    Speakers and panelists at the symposium will include Glaude; Larry Bartels, professor of politics and public affairs and director of Princeton’s Center for the Study of Democratic Politics; Daphne Brooks, associate professor of English and African American studies; Kevin Kruse, associate professor of history; Douglas Massey, professor of sociology and public affairs; Imani Perry, professor of African American studies; Jeffrey Stout, professor of religion; and Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs. – Princeton

ON TV:

  • HBO sought Easton professor’s expertise for ‘The Pacific’ war series: A simple question from his 6-year-old granddaughter inspired Easton historian Donald L. Miller to start writing about World War II. Miller, a Lafayette College history professor, has since written three books on the history of World War II. That led him to his latest project, as historical consultant and a writer for HBO’s “The Pacific.”…
    Miller says he was “very pleased” with how the series turned out. He describes it as “very violent, explosively emotional and tremendously gut-wrenching.” “What drew me into the study of war is people are at both their best and worst,” he says. “People do things they didn’t think they were capable of doing. There are tremendous acts of heroism and acts of barbarism.” – Allentown Morning Call (3-14-10)
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS American Experience: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • Simon Dixon: Catherine the Great, (Paperback) April 6, 2010
  • J. Todd Moye: Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, (Hardcover) April 12, 2010
  • Seth G. Jones: In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan (Paperback) April 12, 2010
  • Nick Bunker: Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History, (Hardcover) April 13, 2010
  • Dominic Lieven: Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace, (Hardcover), April 15, 2010
  • Timothy J. Henderson: The Mexican Wars for Independence, (Paperback) April 13, 2010
  • Hampton Sides: Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin, (Hardcover) April 27, 2010
  • Max Hastings: Winston’s War: Churchill, 1940-1945, (Hardcover) April 27, 2010
  • Bradley Gottfried: The Maps of Gettysburg: An Atlas of the Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 – July 13, 1863, (Hardcover) April 19, 2010
  • Kelly Hart: The Mistresses of Henry VIII, (Paperback) May 1, 2010
  • Mark Puls: Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution, (Paperback) May 11, 2010

DEPARTED:

  • James F, McMillan, Scottish historian of France, dies at 61: PROFESSOR James F McMillan, Richard Pares Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh, has died at the age of 61. He was an outstanding scholar, an inspirational teacher, a brilliant academic manager and a wonderful colleague: the word “collegial” might have been coined to describe him. The Scotsman (UK) (3-15-10)
  • Kenneth Dover, a Provocative Scholar of Ancient Greek Literature, Dies at 89: Kenneth Dover, an eminent scholar of ancient Greek life, language and literature who became known for his willingness to break longstanding taboos in print, from his frank descriptions of sexual behavior (both the Greeks’ and his own) to his baldly stated desire to bring about the death of a vexing Oxford colleague, died on Sunday in Cupar, Scotland. He was 89… – NYT (3-13-10)
  • Professor Jack Pole’s reassessment of American ‘exceptionalism’: Professor Jack Pole, the historian who died on January 30 aged 87, was a pioneering figure in the study of American political culture whose challenge to the notion of American “exceptionalism” ignited a debate that has yet to burn out… – Telegraph (UK) (3-13-10)
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September 9, 2009: President Obama’s Joint Address to Congress on Health Care Reform

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

A close shot of the address
(President Barack Obama speaks to a joint session of Congress on health care at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • FACT CHECK: Obama drops iffy line on health plan: The change was subtle, but significant. In his speech to Congress on Wednesday night, President Barack Obama gave a more accurate — and less reassuring — account of the impact of his proposed health care overall than he has done in the past. It went by in a blink…. – AP, 9-9-09
  • Obama disapproval on health care up to 52 percent: Public disapproval of President Barack Obama’s handling of health care has leaped to 52 percent, according to Associated Press-GfK poll that underscores the country’s glowering mood as the White House made a renewed pitch for an overhaul. Just 42 percent approve of the president’s work on the high-profile health issue. The survey was released Wednesday before his nationally televised effort to persuade Congress and voters to back his drive to reshape the nation’s $2.5 trillion-a-year medical system…. – AP, 9-9-09

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama was greeted by members of Congress as he entered the House chamber

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times President Obama was greeted by members of Congress as he entered the House chamber.

  • Obama hopes his pitch will sway health care debate: President Barack Obama’s leadership in the days ahead will determine whether his forceful health care address to Congress heralds the kind of sweeping change he promised while campaigning for the White House…. – AP, 9-9-09
  • The Congressman Who Cried ‘Lie!’: President Obama was halfway through his speech, trying to dispel what he called “bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform.” Then he ran into Rep. Joe Wilson’s agenda for the night. His plan would not insure illegal immigrants, said Obama. “You lie!” rang out in the chamber…. – WaPo, 9-9-09
  • Obama Vows to ‘Deliver on Health Care’: President Obama sought to reframe the contentious debate over health care on Wednesday, asking a critical Congress and a skeptical nation to reach consensus on legislation to expand coverage to millions of Americans and lower costs through a sweeping overhaul that has eluded lawmakers for generations.
    “I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last,” Mr. Obama told a joint session of Congress, adding, “Our collective failure to meet this challenge — year after year, decade after decade — has led us to a breaking point.”…
    “What we have also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have toward their own government. Instead of honest debate, we have seen scare tactics,” Mr. Obama said. “Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no hope of compromise. Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our opportunity to solve a long-term challenge.” He added, “And out of this blizzard of charges and counter-charges, confusion has reigned.” – NYT, 9-9-09
  • Live Blogging the President’s Speech: ….What was true then remains true today. I understand how difficult this health care debate has been. I know that many in this country are deeply skeptical that government is looking out for them. I understand that the politically safe move would be to kick the can further down the road – to defer reform one more year, or one more election, or one more term.
    But that’s not what the moment calls for. That’s not what we came here to do. We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it. I still believe we can act even when it’s hard. I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility, and gridlock with progress. I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test. – NYT, 9-9-09
  • On Brink, Obama Is Resolute and Clear: There was high drama in the setting and most of all in the timing. After a summer of chaos, criticism and confusion, President Obama stood before Congress on Wednesday night — with three major networks broadcasting live (Fox sat out the speech in favor of the season premiere of “So You Think You Can Dance”) — and tried to seize the last word on health care reform…. – NYT, 9-9-09
  • Obama: Time for ‘bickering’ is over on health care: Shaking off a summer of setbacks, President Barack Obama summoned Congress to enact sweeping health care legislation Wednesday night, declaring the “time for bickering is over” and the moment has arrived to protect millions who have unreliable insurance or no coverage at all…. – AP, 9-9-09
  • Obama Says Time Is Now for Health Reform: President Barack Obama sought to call Congress and the American public to action Wednesday night, in a prime-time speech aimed at resetting the terms of the debate over health care reform…. – PBS Newhour, 9-9-09
  • Obama: Claims of death panels are a ‘lie’: President Barack Obama says the charge that Democrats want to set up death panels as part of health care overhaul is a “lie, plain and simple.”… – AP, 9-9-09
  • Analysis: Obama gambles on making nice, no vetoes: Barack Obama faces the same obstacles that plagued former President Bill Clinton during a health care standoff 15 years ago. But Obama took a strikingly different path around them Wednesday night, choosing the promise of compromise over Clinton’s sharp-edged veto pen….
    “The time for bickering is over,” Obama told a joint session of Congress. “Now is the season for action.” – AP, 9-9-09
  • Baucus may move health bill without Republicans: The Democratic U.S. senator leading an effort to write a bipartisan healthcare reform bill said on Wednesday he was ready to move forward without Republican support, but still hoped for a deal…. – Reuters, 9-9-09
  • Obama tries to build momentum for health overhaul: Reaching for a game-changer, President Barack Obama is beset by conflicting goals in a prime-time address Wednesday expected to detail just how he wants to expand health care coverage and lower medical costs while signaling to a deeply divided Congress that he’s ready to deal. And show the public he’s in control…. – AP, 9-9-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

A wide shot of the address
(President Barack Obama speaks to a joint session of Congress on health care at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday,  Sept. 9, 2009.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT TO A JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS ON HEALTH CARE U.S. Capitol Washington, D.C. – WH, 9-9-09
  • Below is the text of the letter from Senator Edward M. Kennedy referenced by the President in tonight’s address to a Joint Session of Congress. – WH, 9-9-09
  • Full Text: Obama’s Health Reform Speech Following is the text of President Barack Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress Wednesday, as prepared for delivery, released by the White House and distributed to news organizations. – PBS Newshour, 9-9-09
  • Full Text: GOP Response to Obama Reform Speech Following is the text of Louisiana Rep. Charles Boustany’s GOP response to President Obama’s health reform address to a joint session of Congress Wednesday, as distributed to news organizations: “I read the bill Democrats passed through committee in July. It creates 53 new government bureaucracies, adds hundreds of billions to our national debt, and raises taxes on job-creators by $600 billion. The president had a chance tonight to take government-run health care off the table. Unfortunately, he didn’t do it.”… – PBS Newshour, 9-9-09

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian Zelizer “Obama’s speech: A simple message, a tough task”: Above all, he has to make sure he holds on to his liberal base, said Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University.
    “If he goes too far and the compromise is so meager that it’s almost like doing nothing, that could trigger a backlash from supporters,” Zelizer said. But he also has to be seen as effective and open to cooperation with opponents. Obama created his challenge by holding himself out as a transformational politician. “If he looks just like the people he ran against, that would be very damaging,” Zelizer said. – Philadelphia Inquirer, 9-9-09
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Commentary: Obama’s moment of truth: On Wednesday, President Obama will make the most important speech of his presidency. We hear this phrase so much that it has become a cliché. But, in this case, the cliché is accurate.
    President Obama suffered a politically brutal month in August. The opponents of health care dominated public debate about the legislation circulating in Congress. Public approval ratings for the president and his health care plan, as well as the Democratic Congress, have fallen. Democrats have become internally divided.
    It is possible Obama could end his first year in the White House without a major piece of legislation beyond the economic stimulus.
    For a president who began the year with his supporters talking about a transformative leader who would equal Presidents Lincoln or Roosevelt, this would be a major disappointment…. – CNN, 9-9-09
  • Reactions to the Speech: A Health Care Roundtable – NYT, 9-9-09

DESCRIPTIONAP With Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, left, and House Speaker Sam Rayburn, far right, President John F. Kennedy addresses a joint session of Congress in May 1961.

  • A Bit of History on Presidents and Joint Sessions: President Obama’s health-care speech tonight is officially an address to a joint session of Congress. Such addresses are somewhat out of the ordinary but not all that rare.
    Certain events take place routinely during a joint session — counting electoral votes, for example, or delivering a State of the Union message. (When a president is first inaugurated, he usually gives just an address at a joint session.)
    Joint sessions are not necessarily called for emergencies or moments of crises but often, as in the case of Mr. Obama tonight, to push certain policies…. – NYT, 9-9-09

History Buzz August 24 & 30, 2009: Historians Involved in the Health Care Reform Debate

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

  • It was Huckabee vs. Douglas Brinkley on O’Reilly Show about Health Care Reform: Well, it’s never a mistake for a Democratic president to raise the specter of FDR and Kennedy for his base. I think the Lyndon Johnson comments gets more to the crux of the difficulty the president’s having.
    As you know, the Great Society is what Ronald Reagan warned against. In fact, I edited “Reagan’s Diaries,” and he wrote one passage that said I voted four times for FDR and the New Deal, but I’m trying to roll back the Great Society. Medicaid and Medicare came through Lyndon Johnson, but so did a lot of other government programs that people, particularly conservatives, have been trying to role back some of the wealthier state programs. So there’s a suspicion on the American people that’s been really part of entire history, but we’ve — since 1980 in the Reagan revolution, of too much government.
    And so I think the problem this summer for President Obama is that he’s pushing health care after all that economic stimulus money, and there’s kind of a woe factor going on, saying this might be too much, too fast, too expensive…. – Fox News rush transcript (8-24-09)
  • Historian Betsy McCaughey battles with Jon Stewart over the Obama Health Care bill – Jon Stewart The Daily Show (8-17-09)
  • Betsy McCaughey: The historian behind the claim that Obama’s in favor of death panels – Historian Joshua Brown, illustrator, at his website, Life During Wartime (8-15-09)

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

IN THE NEWS:

OP-EDs & BLOGS:

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

    • Edward M. Kennedy: Books of The Times Kennedy’s Rough Waters and Still Harbors TRUE COMPASS A Memoir NYT, 9-4-09
    • Kennedy Memoir Doesn’t Ignore Lows – NYT, 9-3-09
    • Richard Slotkin: Treacherous Ground NO QUARTER The Battle of the Crater, 1864 NYT, 8-30-09
    • Richard Slotkin: NO QUARTER The Battle of the Crater, 1864, Excerpt – NYT, 8-30-09
    • J. Randy Taraborrelli: Such a Sad, Sad Story THE SECRET LIFE OF MARILYN MONROE WaPo, 8-30-09
    • Arthur Goldwag: POPULAR CULTURE Hearsay, You Say? CULTS, CONSPIRACIES AND SECRET SOCIETIES The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more – WaPo, 8-30-09
    • Erin Arvedlund, Andrew Kirtzman, Jerry Oppenheimer: Was Bernie Madoff an Evil Genius? That’s Just Half Right. TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff, BETRAYAL The Life and Lies of Bernie Madoff, MADOFF WITH THE MONEY WaPo, 8-30-09
    • Rich Cohen: An Imagined Nation ISRAEL IS REAL WaPo, 8-30-09
    • Janet Soskice: RELIGION A Sister Act of Perseverance THE SISTERS OF SINAI How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels WaPo, 8-30-09
    • Josh Neufeld: Graphic Memories of Katrina’s Ordeal A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge NYT, 8-23-09
    • Josh Neufeld: A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge NYT, 8-23-09
    • Tristram Hunt: Fox Hunter, Party Animal, Leftist Warrior MARX’S GENERAL The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels NYT, 8-19-09
    • Tristram Hunt: MARX’S GENERAL The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, Excerpt – NYT, 8-19-09
    • Adrian Goldsworthy: HISTORY Rome Wasn’t Destroyed in a Day Either HOW ROME FELL Death of a Superpower WaPo, 8-23-09
    • Adrian Goldsworthy: HOW ROME FELL Death of a Superpower, Excerpt – WaPo, 8-23-09
    • Ilaria Dagnini Brey: WORLD WAR II Guardians of History THE VENUS FIXERS The Remarkable Story of the Allied Soldiers Who Saved Italy’s Art During World War II – WaPo, 8-23-09
    • Peter C. Mancall: EXPLORATION Mutiny on the Hudson FATAL JOURNEY The Final Expedition of Henry Hudson — A Tale of Mutiny and Murder in the Arctic – WaPo, 8-23-09
    • Marc Wortman: CIVIL WAR The Work of Sherman THE BONFIRE The Siege and Burning of Atlanta WaPo, 8-23-09
    • Historian Bonnie J. Morris celebrates women’s studies in her latest book Revenge of the Women’s Studies Professor Michelle Finn writing at the website of H-Women (8-1-09)

    PROFILED & FEATURED:

    QUOTED:

    • CBS Historian Douglas Brinkley calls Ted Kennedy A ‘Martyr’ for ObamaCare: During the 2:00AM ET hour of CBS’s Up to the Minute on Wednesday, shortly after news broke of Senator Ted Kenney’s death, historian Douglas Brinkley exclaimed the Massachusetts Democrat was: “…going to be a – a martyr because of all that he’s done and he very well might help, in death, Obama get his health care plan.” MRC Newsbusters (Conservative Media Watchdog) (8-26-09)

    INTERVIEWED:

    HONORED, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

    SPOTTED:

    EVENTS CALENDAR:

    • Inaugural Semester-long seminar on Constitutional History offered at N-Y Historical Society this fall: Lincoln’s Constitution will be taught at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, on Thursday afternoons from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The seminar will be held on September 17 and 24 and on October 1, 15, 22, and 29, 2009. NYHS Press Release (7-20-09)

    ON TV:

    • BBC to launch new series on history of Christianity – Religious Intelligence, 6-19-09
    • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
    • PBS History Detectives: Mondays at 9pm
    • History Channel: Weekly Schedule
    • History Channel: “Titanic’s Final Moments: Missing Pieces” – Friday, September 4, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Cities Of The Underworld: Underground Apocalypse” – Saturday, September 5, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Nostradamus: 500 Years Later” – Saturday, September 5, 2009 at 5pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Decoding The Past: Doomsday 2012: The End of Days” – Saturday, September 5, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Next Nostradamus” – Saturday, September 5, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Nostradamus: 2012” – Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Manson” – Monday, September 7, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Last Stand of The 300” – Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Nostradamus: 2012” – Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Next Nostradamus” – Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 4pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Decoding The Past: Mayan Doomsday Prophecy” – Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT

    BEST SELLERS (NYT):

      NYT Non-Fiction Best Sellers List – September 6, 2009

    • #1 – Michelle Malkin: CULTURE OF CORRUPTION
    • #2 – Ronald Kessler: IN THE PRESIDENT’S SECRET SERVICE
    • #9 – Douglas Brinkley: THE WILDERNESS WARRIOR
    • #18 – C. David Heymann: BOBBY AND JACKIE
    • #22 – Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson: THE BATTLE FOR AMERICA, 2008
    • #33 – Doug Stanton: HORSE SOLDIERS

    COMING SOON BOOKS:

    • Richard C. Hoagland: Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA (Revised), September 1, 2009
    • Douglas Hunter: Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage That Redrew the Map of the New World, September 1, 2009
    • Noah Andre Trudeau: Robert E. Lee: Lessons in Leadership, September 1, 2009
    • Annette Gordon-Reed: The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (Paperback), September 8, 2009
    • Jon Krakauer: Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, September 15, 2009
    • Dean C. Jessee (Editor): The Joseph Smith Papers: Revelations and Translations, Volume 1: Manuscript Revelation Books, September 2009
    • James Patterson: The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King – A Nonfiction Thriller, September 28, 2009
    • Timothy Egan: The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America, October 19, 2009
    • Gil Troy, Vincent J. Cannato, eds.: Living in the Eighties, October 23, 2009
    • L. Fletcher Prouty: JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy, (Paperback), November 1, 2009
    • Edward Kritzler: Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for Treasure, Religious Freedom–and Revenge, (Paperback), November 3, 2009
    • Anthony Haden-guest: Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night (Paperback), December 8, 2009

    DEPARTED:

    August 24, 2009: Obama’s Poll Numbers Slip to Lowest Yet & Health Care Reform Debate Continues

    THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

    President Barack Obama addresses the annual VFW convention in Phoenix, AZ
    (President Barack Obama addresses the annual VFW convention in Phoenix, AZ on Monday, August 17, 2009.
    Official White House photo by Samantha Appleton)

    IN FOCUS: STATS

    • Obama Weekly Approval Average Now 52%, a New Low Approval among seniors, upper-income Americans has fallen below 50%: President Barack Obama’s most recent weekly job approval rating is 52% for the seven-day period ending on Sunday, similar to the 54% reading from the previous week but down significantly from 59% a month ago. His average disapproval rating during the past week is 41%…. – Gallop, 8-24-09
    • Public confidence in Obama drops, poll shows: Fifty-five percent see the nation heading on the wrong track, up from 48% in April. Opposition against a public healthcare option is also up…. The president’s overall approval rating stands at 57%, 12 points lower than its April peak, as disapproval has ticked up to 40%, its highest yet. On specific issues, Obama received more mixed marks. A majority, 53%, disapprove of his handling of the federal budget deficit, and his ratings on healthcare continue to deteriorate. On the economy, 52% approve of his actions, unchanged from June…. – LAT, 8-21-09
    • FACT CHECK: Health overhaul myths taking root: The judgment is harsh in a new poll that finds Americans worried about the government taking over health insurance, cutting off treatment to the elderly and giving coverage to illegal immigrants. Harsh, but not based on facts…. – AP, 8-21-09

    THE HEADLINES….

    • Gov’t extends deadline for clunkers paperwork: Car dealers will have a bit more time to get reimbursed for their Cash for Clunkers deals after the government extended the deadline for filing applications for the $3 billion government incentives into Tuesday…. – AP, 8-24-09
    • Health-Bill’s Pace Prompts Calls for Delay: President Barack Obama should re-evaluate his push to overhaul the nation’s health-care system and move more slowly, key senators in the debate said Sunday…. – WSJ, 8-23-09
    • Obama’s partisan reasons for ‘bipartisan’ healthcare: Obama needs to woo doubting conservatives in his own party even more than he needs to win over Republicans…. – CS Monitor, 8-23-09
    • The Obamas Arrive at the Vineyard: President Obama and his family arrived here Sunday afternoon, stepping off a helicopter under a clear, blue sky as they opened an eight-day vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. NYT, 8-23-09
    • Obama Team Lacking Most of Top Players: As President Obama tries to turn around a summer of setbacks, he finds himself still without most of his own team. Seven months into his presidency, fewer than half of his top appointees are in place advancing his agenda.
      Of more than 500 senior policymaking positions requiring Senate confirmation, just 43 percent have been filled — a reflection of a White House that grew more cautious after several nominations blew up last spring, a Senate that is intensively investigating nominees and a legislative agenda that has consumed both…. – NYT, 8-23-09
    • SCENARIOS-Passing healthcare reform in Congress: Democrats in the U.S. Congress hope to pass President Barack Obama’s overhaul of the country’s $2.5 trillion healthcare system amid mounting public skepticism and unified opposition from Republicans…. – Reuters, 8-21-09
    • The Reshaping of the GOP: The Most Fertile Ground for the GOP Is Independents and Young People – ABC News, 8-22-09
    • Ever the optimist, President Obama still hopeful for health care reform: By every obvious measure, health care reform is in deep trouble. But don’t tell that to the optimist in chief.
      In private, President Obama is even more bullish than his public posture – constantly rallying battle-fatigued aides with assurances that victory is inevitable.
      “Don’t get down,” he often tells them, repeating his admonition at a recent White House staff meeting where the frustration bubbled over. NY Daily News, 8-22-09
    • With Smiles, Obama Leaves Capital Behind: President Obama strode across the South Lawn of the White House shortly after lunchtime on Friday, climbed the steps to Marine One and officially opened his nine-day August vacation…. – NYT, 8-21-09
    • US to hike 10-year deficit forecast to nine trillion dollars: US President Barack Obama’s administration will raise its 10-year budget deficit forecast to about nine trillion dollars, up about two trillion from the previous forecast, a US official said Friday… – AFP, 8-21-09
    • Obama’s healthcare messages are backfiring, strategists say: The president’s range of abstract arguments for reform are leaving people confused, some Democrats contend. LAT, 8-21-09
    • Obama May Abandon Effort to Reach Health Deal With Republicans: President Barack Obama is likely in September to end Democratic efforts to work with Republicans on health-care legislation and press for a party-line vote if the stalemate on the issue in the U.S. Senate persists, a person close to the White House said…. – Bloomberg, 8-21-09
    • So what’s up with Obama’s talk about Washington being ‘wee-weed up’? LAT, 8-20-09
    • Analysis: Health care endgame near but uncertain: With hopes growing ever dimmer for a bipartisan accord, White House and Democratic leaders are considering a wide range of strategies for getting a health care bill passed when Congress returns from its summer recess. Some are blunt. Some are complex and technical. All are problematic…. – AP, 8-20-09
    • Ex-DHS chief links politics to terror alerts: Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge claims in a new book that he was pressured by other members of President George W. Bush’s Cabinet to raise the nation’s terror alert level just before the 2004 presidential election…. AP, 8-20-09
    • Bush Official, in Book, Tells of Pressure on ’04 Vote: Tom Ridge, the first secretary of homeland security, asserts in a new book that he was pressured by top advisers to President George W. Bush to raise the national threat level just before the 2004 election in what he suspected was an effort to influence the vote…. – NYT, 8-20-09
    • Kennedy asks Massachusetts to change successor rules: His letter to Gov. Deval Patrick and state lawmakers appears aimed at ensuring another Senate vote for healthcare reform if his cancer keeps him from being there. State Republicans are not impressed…. – LAT, 8-20-09
    • Warning: out of control summer for Obama and Hill Democrats: The 2010 Congressional elections are more than a year away, and much can change between now and then. But here is a troubling straw in the wind for President Obama and his supporters on Capitol Hill. Charlie Cook, one of the most respected political analysts in town (and no relation), has just fired off a memo to readers of The Cook Political Report, commenting that, “the situation this summer has slipped completely out of control for President Obama and Congressional Democrats.”… – CS Monitor, 8-20-09
    • Why Obama Is a Lame Duck Obama has made himself already irrelevant on many of the issues he ran on in 2008: Just seven months into his term — and 14 months before the 2010 midterm election — and could it be, is President Obama already a lame duck? With his passive management style — which inevitably led to overreaching and heavy-handedness by Congressional Democrats Obama has made himself largely irrelevant on many of the issues he ran on, from health care “reform” to “resetting” our foreign relations. Here are seven signs that Obama’s political suasion is waning…. – Fox News, 8-20-09
    • David Sirota: The Obama Double Standard – Huff Post 8-20-09
    • A Basis Is Seen for Some Health Plan Fears Among the Elderly: White House officials and Democrats in Congress say the fears of older Americans about possible rationing of health care are based on myths and falsehoods. But Medicare beneficiaries and insurance counselors say the concerns are not entirely irrational.
      Bills now in Congress would squeeze savings out of Medicare, a lifeline for the elderly, on the assumption that doctors and hospitals can be more efficient…. – NYT, 8-20-09
    • Latest myth on health reform: HAVING SUCCESSFULLY dispatched the fictional “death panels” from the health reform legislation making its way through Congress, conservative critics are aiming at another mythical target in the bill: “abortion mandates.”… – Boston Globe, 8-20-09
    • Obama team planning to wind down ‘clunkers’ program: The Obama administration is developing plans to wind down the popular cash for clunkers program and could announce by Friday when the incentives will no longer be available…. – AP, USA Today, 8-19-09
    • New Rx for Health Plan: Split Bill: The White House and Senate Democratic leaders, seeing little chance of bipartisan support for their health-care overhaul, are considering a strategy shift that would break the legislation into two parts and pass the most expensive provisions solely with Democratic votes.
      The idea is the latest effort by Democrats to escape the morass caused by delays in Congress, as well as voter discontent crystallized in angry town-hall meetings. Polls suggest the overhaul plans are losing public support, giving Republicans less incentive to go along.
      Democrats hope a split-the-bill plan would speed up a vote and help President Barack Obama meet his goal of getting a final measure by year’s end…. – WSJ, 8-19-09
    • Biden: I Know Bush, and He’s No Obama: Vice president jokes about former administration during a fundraising dinner when he responded to a suggestion that President Bush leaned heavily on Vice President Cheney for guidance.
      “He’s the president, I’m the vice president. We’ve got the pecking order in this administration right,” Biden said. “I know George Bush, and he’s no Barack Obama.”… – Fox News, 8-19-09
    • Obama to preach his healthcare message to religious leaders: The president will address more than 1,000 leaders of different faiths in two conference calls, hoping they will pass on his ideas about the overhaul to their parishioners. LAT, 8-18-09
    • Democrats Seem Set to Go Alone on a Health Bill: Given hardening Republican opposition to Congressional health care proposals, Democrats now say they see little chance of the minority’s cooperation in approving any overhaul, and are increasingly focused on drawing support for a final plan from within their own ranks…. – NYT, 8-18-09
    • Debate’s Path Caught Obama by Surprise Public Option Wasn’t Intended as Major Focus: President Obama’s advisers acknowledged Tuesday that they were unprepared for the intraparty rift that occurred over the fate of a proposed public health insurance program, a firestorm that has left the White House searching for a way to reclaim the initiative on the president’s top legislative priority…. – WaPo, 8-18-09
    • More Fake Letters to Congress on Energy Bill: Congressional investigators have uncovered five more letters sent to members of Congress that falsely claimed to be from charities expressing opposition to climate change legislation…. – NYT, 8-18-09

    ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

    • Survey: One in five would vote for Paterson: Fewer than one in five voters plan to support Gov. David A. Paterson in next year’s elections, according to a poll released Monday…. – Newsday, 8-24-09
    • Poll: Harry Reid faces formidable foes in 2010: A newspaper poll says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid faces formidable opposition next year when he seeks a fifth term. The poll, taken last week by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc., shows Reid lagging by as many as 11 percentage points against Danny Tarkanian. He had 49 percent to Reid’s 38 percent…. – AP, 8-23-09

    POLITICAL QUOTES

    • McCain: Obama must drop health care public option: Sen. John McCain says President Barack Obama will have to drop proposals for a government-run health insurance option if he hopes to reach congressional agreement on health-care reform…. – AP, 8-23-09
    • Sunday shows: McCain, Duncan, Mullen, Wen Jiabao – LAT, 8-23-09
    • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Debunks “Phony Claims” about Health Reform; Emphasizes Consumer Protections: “This is our chance to march forward. I cannot promise you that the reforms we seek will be perfect or make a difference overnight. But I can promise you this: if we pass health insurance reform, we will look back many years from now and say, this was the moment we summoned what’s best in each of us to make life better for all of us. This was the moment we built a health care system worthy of the nation and the people we love. This was the moment we earned our place alongside the greatest generations. And that is what our generation of Americans is called to do right now.” – WH, 8-22-09
    • Obama stands by belief a public option is viable: In an interview Thursday with Philadelphia-based radio talk show host Michael Smerconish, Obama said that “the press got excited and some folks on the left got a little excited” when the administration last weekend made statements indicating that a publicly-run health insurance option was just one of several alternatives.
      Obama said, “What we’ve said is that there are a number of components to health care.” The president also said that “the key is cost control” and that there are any number of ways to reach that objective…. – AP, 8-21-09
    • On defense, Obama woos right, left on healthcare: With control of the healthcare debate slipping from his grasp, President Barack Obama pitched his ambitious plan to conservative talk radio and his own liberal supporters Thursday — and denied a challenge from one backer that he is “bucklin’ a little bit” under Republican criticism…..
      “I guarantee you . . . we are going to get healthcare reform done. And I know that there are a lot of people out there who have been hand-wringing, and folks in the press are following every little twist and turn of the legislative process,” Obama told a caller to Philadelphia-based radio talk show host Michael Smerconish during a broadcast from the White House Diplomatic Reception Room. “You know, passing a big bill like this is always messy.”… – AP, 8-20-09
    • Pelosi: I Can’t Pass Bill Without Public Option: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will be unable to pass health-care legislation in her chamber if it doesn’t include a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers. “There’s no way I can pass a bill in the House of Representatives without a public option,” Pelosi said during a press conference in San Francisco…. – Bloomberg, 8-20-09
    • Biden: US closer than ever to health care reform: Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday the nation has never been closer to substantial health care overhaul despite “all the shouting and all the political turmoil” of recent weeks…. – AP, 8-20-09
    • GOP Chief Steele Dares Democrats to Pass Health Overhaul On Their Own: Michael Steele told reporters that he thinks if Democratic senators think they have the votes, they should try a tactic that would allow them to get around a bill-killing filibuster without the 60 votes usually needed. “Get it to the floor. Up or down, baby,” Steele said at a news conference at the state GOP headquarters. “Put it on the table. And if you don’t think you’ve got enough votes to get to 60, you’ve got the nuclear option. You’ve got 51.”
      “You want it done? Pass the bill,” Steele said. “But they know it’s poisonous and they know the American people will not tolerate it. They’re scrambling now and they’re beginning to turn on each other because they’ve got a big problem, a political one, and they can’t solve it.” Fox News, 8-20-09
    • Mitt Romney: Liberals given too much say in health care: Romney said that “if the president wants to get something done, he needs to put aside the extreme liberal wing of his party.” Romney, who ran for the Republican presidential nod last year, said Medicare and Medicaid already account for virtually half of health care and there shouldn’t be any greater federal role…. – AP, 8-20-09
    • Obama Calls Health Plan a ‘Moral Obligation’: President Obama sought Wednesday to reframe the health care debate as “a core ethical and moral obligation,” imploring a coalition of religious leaders to help promote the plan to lower costs and expand insurance coverage for all Americans.
      “I know there’s been a lot of misinformation in this debate, and there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness,” Mr. Obama told a multidenominational group of pastors, rabbis and other religious leaders who support his goal to remake the nation’s health care system….- NYT, 8-19-09

    HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

    • Steve M. Gillon “Saving the Obama Presidency”: In his book “The Pact,” historian Steven M. Gillon puts it this way: “Ironically, Gingrich’s revolution may have saved the Clinton presidency by freeing him from the control of his party’s more liberal base in Congress, giving him the opportunity to return to the moderate message that helped him win election in the first place. “It was Gingrich who changed the language of American politics and forced Clinton to play the game on his turf,” he writes. “But it was Clinton who ultimately got the credit and emerged as the decade’s most popular leader.” – WSJ, 8-24-09

    August 11, 2009: President Obama, Health Care Reform Debate Heats Up

    THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

    Health Insurance Reform Reality Check

    Reality Check – Health Insurance Reform

    There is a lot of misinformation being spread by defenders of the status quo. Find out what’s in health insurance reform for you, and what’s not in it at all.

    Learn More

    The President speaks at the town hall

    IN FOCUS: STATS

    • President Barack Obama’s approval rating down to 50 percent: poll: Exactly half of registered voters surveyed by Quinnipiac University said they approve of the job Obama is doing, compared with 42 percent who disapprove.That’s down from 57 percent approval and 33 percent disapproval in a poll taken in late June, according to results released Thursday…. – Ny Daily News, 8-7-09
    • A Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday found 52 percent of voters disapprove of Obama’s handling of healthcare while 39 percent approve. That was a shift from 46 percent approval against 42 percent disapproval in a July 1 survey…. – Reuter, 8-5-09
    • Obama’s approval rating back above 50 percent: President Barack Obama’s job approval has bounced back above 50 percent, in the latest Zogby International national poll. In a telephone poll of 1,005 likely voters, from July 31 to Aug. 4, 53 percent said they approve of Obama’s job performance, and 38 percent disapprove, with a 3.2 percent margin of error…. – Daytona Business Journal, 8-5-09

    THE HEADLINES:

    Health Insurance Reform Reality Check

    Reality Check – Health Insurance Reform

    There is a lot of misinformation being spread by defenders of the status quo. Find out what’s in health insurance reform for you, and what’s not in it at all.

    Learn More

    The President speaks at the town hall

    White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/11/09

    Health Reform Town Hall Portsmouth

    The President makes the case forcefully for health insurance reform, and calls out defenders of the status quo to debate on the merits — not blatant falsehoods.

    Learn More

    The President applauds Justice Sotomayor's confirmation

    • Obama takes the stand on healthcare: Reform won’t mean ‘death panels’ or rationed care, he tells a town hall in New Hampshire. The audience is polite, but Democrats elsewhere face hecklers…. – AP, 8-11-09
    • Lawmakers face angry crowds on health care: Jeers and taunts drowned out Democrats calling for a health care overhaul at town halls Tuesday, and one lawmaker said a swastika was spray-painted at his office as debate turned to noisy confrontation over President Barack Obama’s plan. The president himself was treated more respectfully. “You’ll be gone, by God the bureaucrats will still be here,” one man told Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., at a town hall in Lebanon, Pa…. – AP, 8-11-09
    • Senator Goes Face to Face With Dissent: More than 1,000 people showed up here Tuesday morning in this largely Republican town in central Pennsylvania for a town-hall-style meeting with Senator Arlen Specter, though the auditorium could seat only 250. Like many of the dozens of such meetings held by members of Congress over the last few weeks, this one was punctuated with rowdy moments, and interviews with many of those who showed up made it clear just how much underlying dissent motivated them…. – NYT, 8-11-09
    • Rove involvement in US attorney firing detailed: Former White House political adviser Karl Rove played a central role in the ouster of a U.S. attorney in New Mexico, one of nine prosecutors fired in a scandal in 2006 over political interference with the Justice Department, according to transcripts of closed-door testimony released Tuesday…. – AP, 8-11-09
    • In healthcare debate, ‘reality’ is in dispute: The White House launches an online ‘reality check’ to fight ‘myths’ about Democrats’ legislation. Republicans say the site is full of errors and worse… – LAT, 8-10-09
    • Obama pitching health care plan to the insured: President Barack Obama is switching his message on his overhaul of the nation’s health care system, readying a fresh pitch designed for those who already have insurance…. – AP, 8-11-09
    • Democrat Takes Heat During August Recess: Washington Post: Blue Dog Leader Baron P. Hill Feels the Pressure After Voting for House Health…. – WaPo, CBS News, 8-10-09
    • Alaska lawmakers override Palin veto: In a final spat with former Gov. Sarah Palin, the Alaska Legislature voted Monday to override her veto of $28.6 million in federal stimulus funds intended for energy efficiency projects…. – AP, 8-10-09
    • White House Adapts to New Playbook in Health Care Debate: The White House on Monday started a new Web site to fight questionable but potentially damaging charges that President Obama’s proposed overhaul of the nation’s health care system would inevitably lead to “socialized medicine,” “rationed care” and even forced euthanasia for the elderly…. – NYT, 8-10-09
    • It’s the Hillary & Bill show. Deal with it: The U.S. power couple is gloriously equal. Yet, when we’re not pitting Hill against Bill, we’re accusing them of planning a ‘shadow presidency’… – Globe and Mail, 8-9-09
    • Obama attending first US-Canada-Mexico summit – AP, 8-9-09
    • Obama Arrives in Mexico for Start of Summit: President Barack Obama began a summit meeting here Sunday night with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts that touched on a broad range of issues including climate change, the economic crisis, the swine flu pandemic and the battle against illegal drugs. NYT, 8-9-09
    • After July’s Turmoil, Obama Needs ‘a New Chapter’ in August: President Obama once looked to the August congressional recess as the moment to gain a decisive advantage in the fight to overhaul the nation’s health-care system. Instead, he needs to use the month to rebalance his presidency…. – WaPo, 8-8-09
    • A Jobs Bottom Another sign that a rebound is coming: Yesterday’s jobs report for July is undeniably good news, even if the economy did shed another quarter-million jobs for the month. The pace of job loss is slowing, confirming the view we expressed after last week’s GDP report that the economy is now poised for a rebound from its fall and winter depths…. – WSJ, 8-7-09
    • Health Care Debate Shifting Into Free Speech Battle: Both sides of the aisle are playing hardball. Though Democrats first accused Republicans of leading “mob rule” at health care meetings, health care reform supporters are responding in kind…. – Fox News, 8-7-09
    • ‘Cash-for-clunkers’ program gets $2B refill: Car shoppers caught up in the frenzy of the “cash-for-clunkers” program now have more time and a $2 billion reason to trade in their old gas guzzlers. President Barack Obama signed into law Friday a measure tripling the budget of the $1 billion incentive program that has drawn big crowds to formerly deserted showrooms. The Senate on Thursday passed the legislation extending the two-week-old program into Labor Day and preventing it from running out of money…. – AP, 8-7-09
    • Mitt Romney’s Big-Government Health Care Plan: The governor’s program is hardly a model for the nation–it’s a mess…. – Forbes, 8-6-09
    • White House Vows to Defend Democrats on Health Reform – WSJ, 8-6-09
    • Obama’s counter-terrorism advisor denounces Bush-era policies: John Brennan accuses the previous administration of promoting a ‘global war’ mind-set that served only to ‘validate Al Qaeda’s twisted worldview.’… – LAT, 8-6-09
    • Doubt Raised on Gitmo Closing Date: The Obama administration’s counterterrorism chief appeared to provide the first indication the administration may not make its January deadline for closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay in remarks Thursday that aimed to outline a new path for combating terrorism…. – WSJ, 8-6-09
    • Mitt Romney picks publisher, title, date for new book: St. Martin’s Press will publish, “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness.” It’s due out next March, just as mid-term election campaigns are heating up…. – Boston Herald, 8-6-09
    • Obama promises health overhaul with or without GOP: President Barack Obama said Wednesday he’s determined to get an overhaul of the health care system before the end of the year and, if necessary, without bipartisan support…. – AP, 8-5-09
    • GOP Gaining Traction Against Obama: The Republican Party seems to be gaining some traction in attacking President Obama’s agenda and pulling him down a peg or two in public esteem…. – AP, 8-5-09
    • GOP Sen. Gregg to vote for Sotomayor: Republican Sen. Judd Gregg says he’ll vote for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, breaking with most of his fellow Republicans…. – AP, 8-5-09
    • Funds Flow to Electric Cars: White House Unveils $2.4 Billion in Grants to Jump-Start an Electric-Vehicle Industry in Midwest – WSJ, 8-5-09
    • What are two Russian subs doing off the US coast?: The Pentagon doesn’t know. But it’s the first such incident in nearly 10 years, suggesting that the Russian military is flexing its muscle…. – CS Monitor, 8-5-09
    • Obama Setting Out to Put Brighter Face on Economy: The White House is making a major push this week to persuade Americans that President Obama’s policies are helping bring the nation out of recession. But a four-letter word — jobs — may well get in the way…. – NYT, 8-4-09
    • Dealers in neutral as Senate debates ‘clunkers’: As dealerships and car shoppers alike wait for the Senate to decide the fate of “cash for clunkers,” one question reigns: Deal or no deal? Many dealerships have stopped selling cars and trucks through the program while Washington decides whether to approve more money for it. In some cases, salesmen are only taking deposits and not letting customers drive new vehicles off the lot…. – AP, 8-4-09
    • Seniors defend Medicare plan Obama calls ‘wasteful’: One of the largest spending cuts Congress could rely on to pay for an overhaul of the nation’s health care system comes from a Medicare program President Obama has called a “wasteful” subsidy for the health insurance industry….A Gallup Poll last week found 20% of Americans over 65 say an overhaul will improve their health care — the lowest showing of three age groups…. – USA Today, 8-4-09
    • Does House Healthcare Bill Fund Abortion? Depends on Whom You Ask… – US News, 8-4-09
    • No middle-class tax increases, White House insists: ‘The president’s clear commitment is not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year,’ a spokesman says after Geithner and Summers suggested increases had not been ruled out…. – LAT, 8-3-09
    • Different US locations weighed for Gitmo trials: Staring at a January deadline, the Obama administration is debating between two dramatically different schemes for putting Guantanamo Bay detainees on trial: big-city courtrooms in the nation’s capital, New York and Virginia — or a one-of-a-kind superjail in the Midwest…. – AP, 8-3-09
    • Senate Democrats impatient with healthcare pace: With President Barack Obama’s political fortunes on the line, Democrats in Congress vowed on Monday to push healthcare reform through the Senate with or without Republican support…. – Reuters, 8-3-09
    • McCain to oppose Sotomayor (though she has the votes to prevail) – USA Today, 8-3-09
    • Proposed Tax Tests Obama on Campaign Vow: A proposed tax on generous health-insurance packages presents a challenge to President Barack Obama, who promised during his campaign not to raise taxes on the middle class. A plan under debate in Congress would impose a new tax on insurers or employers who provide so-called gold-plated health-care plans…. – WSJ, 8-2-09
    • Greenspan says no need yet to raise interest rates: Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says he doesn’t think the Fed should be considering raising interest rates to ward off inflation — at least not yet…. – AP, 8-2-09
    • Franken relishes policy role in new position: Just weeks into his Senate term, Al Franken’s portfolio compares favorably to any of the Senate’s freshman members. He loves policy. He has signed on as co-sponsor to a half dozen bills, asked thoughtful questions of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, and immersed himself in a thorny debate over health care reform…. – AP, 8-2-09
    • FACT CHECK: Distortions rife in health care debate: Confusing claims and outright distortions have animated the national debate over changes in the health care system. Opponents of proposals by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats falsely claim that government agents will force elderly people to discuss end-of-life wishes. Obama has played down the possibility that a health care overhaul would cause large numbers of people to change doctors and insurers. To complicate matters, there is no clear-cut “Obama plan” or “Democratic plan.” Obama has listed several goals, but he has drawn few lines in the sand…. – AP, 8-2-09
    • GOP: Dem healthcare plans ‘fall short’: Democratic healthcare reform proposals “fall short” in bringing down costs for U.S. families and small businesses, a Republican Party leader said Saturday.”Republicans want healthcare reform that works,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. said. “Reform that brings down costs for families and small businesses, and refor m that provides better care to more people. On all these points, the current proposals by the president and the … Democrat leadership in Congress fall short.” Thune claimed the Democratic plan would “spend more than $2 trillion and further increase our exploding deficit.”… – UPI, 8-1-09
    • Seniors uneasy over Medicare cuts in overhaul: Democrats are pushing for Medicare cuts on a scale not seen in years to underwrite health care for all. Many seniors now covered under the program don’t like that one bit….”Nobody is talking about reducing Medicare benefits,” Obama said. “Medicare benefits are there because people contributed into a system. It works. We don’t want to change it. What we do want is to eliminate some of the waste that is being paid for out of the Medicare trust fund that could be used more effectively to cover more people and to strengthen the system.”… – AP, 8-1-09
    • Obama, Cabinet meet for mid-year assessment: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, senior officials and Cabinet members were gathering away from the White House this weekend to discuss administration progress at the six-month mark and plot a course ahead…. – AP, 7-31-09

    ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

    • GOP officials: Heller won’t take on Reid: The GOP’s top choice to take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid next year has told party officials he’s decided against a run for the Senate…. – AP, 8-11-09
    • Maloney won’t challenge Gillibrand for NY Senate: U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whose appointment to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton angered some New York Democrats, cleared a major hurdle Friday when a potential primary opponent abandoned a promised challenge…. – AP, 8-7-09
    • Fla. GOP Sen. Martinez says he’s resigning early: Republican Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida said Friday he will step down from the Senate as soon as possible — more than a year before his term ends — adding fresh intrigue over who will fill the seat…. – AP, 8-7-09
    • Results of State Elections May Show How Obama Is Doing: President Obama has returned to the campaign trail. He is appearing in television advertisements in New Jersey this week on behalf of Gov. Jon S. Corzine, the embattled Democrat struggling to win a second term. And he campaigned on Thursday evening alongside R. Creigh Deeds, the candidate for governor fighting to keep Virginia in the Democratic column…. – NYT, 8-6-09
    • Rep. Sestak will try to unseat Sen. Specter of Pa.: Three years after he knocked off a veteran House incumbent, Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak will seek a bigger prize and challenge Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter for his long-held U.S. Senate seat…. – AP, 8-4-09
    • Conn. Senate race pauses for Dodd, who has cancer: The state’s senior U.S. senator, Christopher Dodd, has been heavily criticized for months, suffering from poor poll numbers and questions about discount mortgages he received. The criticisms stopped Friday, when the 65-year-old Democrat announced he’s been diagnosed with an early stage of prostate cancer and will have surgery soon…. – AP, 8-1-09

    POLITICAL QUOTES

    (President Barack Obama, center,  with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, and Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, right,  at the leader’s trilateral meeting at the Cabanas Cultural Center in Guadalajara,  Monday, August 10, 2009.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
    • To friendly crowd, Obama assails health care foes: Braced for a fight he never got, President Barack Obama went on the offensive in support of his health care plan Tuesday, urging a town hall audience not to listen to those who seek to “scare and mislead the American people.” “For all the scare tactics out there, what is truly scary is if we do nothing,” Obama told a friendly crowd of about 1,800 in a high school auditorium and a nationwide audience watching on cable television…. – AP, 8-11-09
    • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM TOWN HALL Portsmouth High School Portsmouth, New Hampshire – WH, 8-11-09
    • In a Tight Spot, Pelosi Calls Health Care Critics ‘Un-American’: It’s hardly the first time House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who earlier this year accused the CIA of lying to Congress and repeatedly has called Republicans unpatriotic, has employed some serious name-calling to characterize her opponents’ views….”Let the facts be heard,” they wrote. “These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.”… – Fox News, 8-10-09
    • Obama: Health overhaul key to economic recovery: “We’ve begun to put the brakes on this recession and … the worst may be behind us,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. He cited Friday’s Labor Department report that showed a dip in unemployment, but said, “We must do more than rescue our economy from this immediate crisis. We must rebuild it stronger than before.” He added: “We must lay a new foundation for future growth and prosperity, and a key pillar of a new foundation is health insurance reform.”… – AP, 8-8-09
    • Text: Obama calls health reform key to improving economy: In his weekly radio and Internet address, President Obama said healthcare reform could bolster an economy on the rebound. In the Republican response, Bob McDonnell, the GOP nominee for Virginia governor, noted that unemployment remains too high and criticized efforts to expand the federal government’s role in healthcare…. – LAT, 8-8-09
    • Palin says Obama’s health care plan is ‘evil’: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says in the America she knows, people won’t have to “stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care.” She says such a system is “downright evil.”… – AP, 8-8-09
    • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Calls Health Insurance Reform Key to Stronger Economy and Improvement on Status Quo – WH, 8-8-09
    • Obama vows to pass healthcare reform: “I promise you, we will pass reform by the end of this year because the American people need it,” Obama said in Wakarusa, Indiana, where he traveled to tout his economic initiatives. “We’re going to have to make it happen.”… – Reuter, 8-5-09
    • Hillary of Africa A welcome focus on failed governance: “The absence of strong, effective democratic institutions has permitted ongoing corruption, impunity, politically motivated violence, human-rights abuses and a lack of respect for the rule of law,” Mrs. Clinton said at a press conference. “These conditions helped fuel the post-election violence and they are continuing to hold Kenya back.”… Secretary Clinton was critical of the government decision not to appoint a tribunal that could hold those responsible for the election-related violence accountable. She acknowledged that prosecuting the perpetrators without igniting more unrest is “complicated” but said it’s no excuse for inaction. “There needs to be a beginning,” said Mrs. Clinton. “That’s what we’re looking for.”… – WSJ, 8-5-09
    • McCain saddened by Palin attacks but predicts resurrection: Regardless, McCain — appearing on CNN’s State of the Union said he was “…saddened by the fact that there are still such vicious attacks on her and her family.” “I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” he added…. “Sarah, I think, made, clearly, the best decision,” he added. “I think she will continue to contribute. I think she will continue to be a force.”… – CS Monitor, 8-2-09
    • Transcript: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Alan Greenspan: “This Week” Transcript with Treasury Secretary Tim Geither and former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan – ABC News, 8-2-09
    • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Says GDP Numbers Show Recovery Act Working; Long-Term Investments Still Needed: …But history shows that you need to have economic growth before you have job growth. And the report yesterday on our economy is an important sign that we’re headed in the right direction. Business investment, which had been plummeting in the past few months, is showing signs of stabilizing. This means that eventually, businesses will start growing and hiring again. And that’s when it will really feel like a recovery to the American people…. – WH, 8-1-09

    HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

    President Barack Obama speaks about the economy during a statement in the Rose Garden
    (President Barack Obama speaks about the economy during a statement in the Rose Garden of the  White House Friday, August 7, 2009.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
    • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: When interest groups go too far”: Last week, Americans saw some disturbing images. During town hall meetings about health care reform, legislators and citizens were loudly interrupted and intimidated by members of the audience who refused to let them speak. We don’t yet have solid evidence as to whether the protesters were local citizens simply expressing their genuine concerns about the cost of the health care proposals — concerns that have been showing up in recent polls — or whether they were people primarily recruited and sent into these meetings by such groups as FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, and Conservatives for Patients’ Rights…. – CNN, 8-11-09
    • Julian Zelizer “Another Clinton in the fold”: “When she became Secretary of State, the question was: ‘What is Obama going to do with Bill Clinton?'” said Julian Zelizer, a historian at Princeton University. “Now the answer seems to be that he is going to use Bill Clinton.” Some observers now wonder whether Bill Clinton, who heads a global charitable foundation, may get future sensitive diplomatic missions. He “got the Administration out of a difficult jam, and Obama will be happy to use him again,” Zelizer said. – Sydney Morning Herald, 8-11-09
    • Drug War, H1N1 Virus Top Mexico Summit Agenda: From drug violence to H1N1 flu, President Obama, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper tackled a long list of issues at a summit Monday…. – PBS Newshour, 8-10-09
    • Lawrence Powell “Katrina anniversary visit by President Barack Obama appears unlikely”: “Nationally, Katrina is old news, ” said Tulane University historian Lawrence Powell. “I think right now the president is more focused on the economy and health care.”… – Times-Piscayne 8-10-09
    • Julian Zelizer “Obama cautious despite unemployment cheer”: “The economy has stabilized, the markets have risen and we now have improved unemployment figures, but his best bet is to let voters connect the dots themselves,” said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University history professor. “If he and the administration boast too much, claiming credit for the good times, the danger is that bad numbers can appear in the coming months and he will hand Republicans the very argument they are looking for.”… – Reuters, 8-7-09
    • Stanley Karnow: US looks to Vietnam for Afghan tips: Top U.S. officials have reached out to a leading Vietnam war scholar to discuss the similarities of that conflict 40 years ago with American involvement in Afghanistan, where the U.S. is seeking ways to isolate an elusive guerrilla force and win over a skeptical local population. The overture to Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Stanley Karnow, who opposes the Afghan war, comes as the U.S. is evaluating its strategy there…. – AP, 8-6-09
    • Victor Davis Hanson: “Obama’s great race to change America”: Why does President Barack Obama want to implement all at once radical changes in American foreign policy, environmental policy, education, health care and the tax code? The answer is easy: If he does not achieve these initiatives soon, he never will. Almost none of Obama’s proposed policies any longer enjoy majority support among voters…. – Mercury News, 8-5-09
    • Richard Norton Smith “Happy Birthday, Mr. President: Obama Turns 48 In Country’s Most Stressful Job, Presidents Rarely Age Gracefully”: “All the presidents age in office. All you have to do is look at the photos at the beginning of their terms and the end,” said presidential historian and ABC News consultant Richard Norton Smith. “And they all age for pretty much the same reason. It’s the nature of the job. It’s the demands of the job. It’s a 24-hour job. I can’t think of another job that carries the same degree of responsibility; and if that’s true in peace time, it is exponentially greater in times of war.” ABC News, 8-4-09
    • Julian Zelizer: Commentary: Why Obama’s plans are stalled: The second hundred days of Barack Obama’s presidency have in many ways been more revealing than the first hundred days.We have learned a lot, not so much about Obama’s governing style or his policy agenda, but about the political environment in which he will have to operate — at least until the 2010 midterm elections…. – CNN, 8-4-09
    • DANIEL HENNINGER Why Obama May Fail If Obama can’t sell more government, no one can: A very long time ago, it was January. Barack Obama stood at the mountain top, bathed in the new light of a historic presidency and gazing down on a congressional lake afloat with contented Democrats. Those who spoke against him were vilified for not wanting this smart, vibrant president to “succeed.” How could he fail? Eight months into his presidency, Mr. Obama may do just that—fail…. – WSJ, 8-6-09
    • E.J. Dionne Jr.: Can Republicans escape their extremists?: Things are looking up for the Republicans, relatively speaking. President Obama’s poll numbers have dipped, GOP recruitment for the 2010 elections is going better than expected, and the heath care battle has been rough on the Democrats. On top of that, the surveys show Republicans now leading in this year’s two major governor’s races, in Virginia and New Jersey. There’s just one problem: The country still doesn’t like Republicans. – SF Gate, 8-1-09
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