Political Highlights March 7, 2011: Obama Congress Budget Showdown, Chaos in Libya, and Wisconsin War over Unions

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

The President on Libya
White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 3/3/11

STATS & POLLS

  • Over Half of Americans Give President Obama a Bad Job Rating: President Obama has a full plate. There’s the battle over the budget, which could shutdown the government if it goes badly. Labor union issues are cropping up across the country. Conflict and chaos are popping up left and right overseas and the decision to intervene weighs heavy. And, his 2012 reelection team is gearing up.
    But there’s another issue at hand: his falling approval ratings. 58% of Americans reported having a negative option of the President’s job so far, according to the Harris Poll conducted during the third week of February. This is a two percent rise over last month’s 56%. Some of the disapproval may be directly caused by partisanship. 90% of Republicans gave the President a thumbs down, while 73% of Democrats approved. Independents followed the overall trend with 60% disapproval…. – All Newswire, 3-5-11
  • A Deep Dive Into President Obama’s Public Approval Ratings: In January, President Obama had the biggest improvement in his public approval rating of his entire presidency. In February, Obama consolidated and built on his January “bump,” by posting his second-most-improved month ever. This turnaround has set the clock back for Obama over a full year (in terms of his overall polling numbers), to roughly where he was in December, 2009. All in all, not a bad month for the president…. – Business Insider, 3-3-11
  • President Obama’s 2010 Approval Ratings, State-by-State: Hawaii and Washington, D.C., approved of the president most last year, while Wyoming and Idaho thought the least of him
    President Barack Obama’s new home district and old home state liked the president best last year, according to Gallup daily tracking from January to December 2010. District of Columbia residents gave Obama an average approval rating of 84.4 percent, and Hawaii gave 65.9 percent. Wyoming and Idaho thought the least of the president, giving him an average approval rating of 27.6 percent and 31.6 percent, respectively. The biggest change came from Residents of Vermont, who dropped their average annual approval of the president 15.2 percentage points from 2009 to 52.6 percent in 2010. The ratings are based on nearly 179,000 interviews throughout the year…. – US News, 3-1-11

REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: LIBYA IN TURMOIL

President Barack Obama addresses the Situation in Libya During a Joint Press Conference with President Felipe Calderon of Mexico

President Barack Obama addresses the situation in Libya at the start of a joint press conference with President Felipe Calderón of Mexico, left, in the East Room of the White House, March 3, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

  • New York Times Topic: Libya — The Protests (2011)NYT
  • Arab and Middle East protestsGuardian UK
  • Libya protests: live blog of the latest developmentsGuardian UK
  • AP INTERACTIVE: Libya uprising: A look at the state of play in Libya, including a timeline, the latest news, recent photos, key players and an AP expert’s analysis. AP, 3-1-11
  • Five myths about the Muslim Brotherhood: Myth #1: The Muslim Brotherhood is a global organization — Globally, the Brotherhood is more a school of thought than an official organization of card-carrying members. Attempts to create a more formal global structure have failed…. – WaPo, 3-4-11
  • US increases pressure on Sri Lanka over slain civilians: The United States is increasing pressure on Sri Lanka to investigate the deaths of thousands of civilians at the end of its civil war. Rights groups contend a Sri Lankan government commission has demonstrated no intent of doing it…. – AP, 3-5-11
  • In Libya, Kadafi’s forces launch assault on rebel-held city: Forces led by one of Moammar Kadafi’s sons battle to regain control of Zawiya, west of the capital. Dozens of civilians are killed, witnesses say, as is a leading rebel commander…. – LAT, 3-5-11
  • Qaddafi Brutalizes Foes, Armed or Defenseless: Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi counterattacked with brutal force on Friday, battling rebel forces on two fronts, firing on unarmed protesters in front of international news media and leaving the rebels seeking his ouster in disarray.
    Rebels gathered in Brega before pushing west to Ras Lanuf on Friday. A government brigade surrounded the rebel-controlled town of Zawiyah and opened fire with mortars, machine guns and other heavy weapons, witnesses said, in two skirmishes. More Photos »
    His militia’s actions seemed likely to stir renewed debate over international intervention to limit his use of military power against his own citizens, possibly by imposing a no-flight zone…. – NYT, 3-4-11
  • Libyan rebels, Gaddafi forces battle for oil sites: Libyan rebels prepared for further attacks by forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi on Friday as both sides struggled for control of a strategic coast road and oil industry facilities…. – Reuters, 3-4-11
  • Gaddafi investigated for ‘crimes against humanity’: The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has said he will investigate Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, his sons and senior aides for crimes against humanity…. – BBC News, 3-4-11
  • Libyan rebels push back assault by Gaddafi forces in port city of Brega: Libyan rebels repelled an assault by troops backing Moammar Gaddafi in a key oil port Wednesday. The battle in the town of Brega lasted for hours until the attackers beat a retreat…. – WaPo, 3-2-11
  • Khadaffi’s jets, troops attack foes: Moammar Khadaffi’s forces struck back on three fronts yesterday, using fighter jets, special forces units, and regular army troops in an escalation of hostilities that brought Libya closer to civil war… – Boston Globe, 3-1-11
  • US, Europe intensify efforts to isolate Gadhafi: The United States and European allies intensified efforts to isolate Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on Monday, redoubling demands for him to step down, questioning his mental state and warning that those who stay loyal to him risk losing their wealth and being prosecuted for human rights abuses. Europe, which buys most of Libya’s oil exports, outlined fresh sanctions to force the dictator to stop attacks on civilians and step down after 42 years of iron-fisted rule. The European Union issued travel bans and an asset freeze against senior Libyan officials, and ordered an arms embargo on the country…. – AP, 2-28-11
  • Battle for Libya Rages as Qaddafi Strikes Back – NYT, 2-28-11
  • Libyan historian Ya’akov Hajaj-Lilof, how will the anti-Gadhafi protests end?: Historian Ya’akov Hajaj-Lilof, 69, is the director of the Institute for the Research and Study of Libyan Jewry and a member of the board of the World Organization of Libyan Jews. In recent days, he has been closely following the reports from Tripoli, Benghazi and the other locations in Libya where there has been political unrest against the regime of Muammar Gadhafi, who has been in power since 1969 and is considered the longest ruling non-royal leader in the world. Hajaj-Lilof believes that if there is a successful revolution against Gadhafi, it will be much more difficult and prolonged than those in Tunisia and Egypt.
    Who is behind the demonstrations in Libya? Who forms the opposition to Gadhafi? I attach great importance to the hatred and antagonism that exists between the two parts of that country – between the region of Cyrenaica which covers a little more than one half of the area of Libya and has Benghazi as its capital, and the region of Tripolitania with its capital, Tripoli. The focus of the unrest is in Cyrenaica where they still remember that Gadhafi overthrew King Idris I who was born in the region…. – Haaretz, 2-21-11

THE HEADLINES….

The President joins Jeb Bush in Florida
White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 3/4/11
  • White House jabs GOP diplomat who may run in 2012: The White House is praising a departing U.S. ambassador for supporting the administration and working closely with President Barack Obama. Not much news there. Except the diplomat — former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman — is a potential GOP opponent for Obama in 2012. And his ties to a Democratic president might not go over too well with Republican activists who play a large role in selecting the party’s nominee…. – AP, 3-6-11
  • National focus on debate on Muslim radicalization: Muslims in the America aren’t cooperating enough with law enforcement to counter the radicalization of young followers by al-Qaida-linked groups, said a House leader on terrorism issues, renewing debate about religion’s role in motivating extremists and what the U.S. can do without alienating the Islamic world.
    Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, asserted that al-Qaida terrorists are targeting Muslim youth in this country, previewing his hearing Thursday on the extent of the problem and the Muslim community’s response.
    “The overwhelming majority of Muslims are outstanding Americans, but at this stage in our history there’s an effort … to radicalize elements within the Muslim community,” he said in an interview broadcast Sunday. “It’s there and that’s where the threat is coming form at this time,” King said…. – AP, 3-6-11
  • NYC rally planned against hearing on US Muslims: A coalition of over 100 interfaith, nonprofit and governmental organizations plans to rally in New York City against a planned congressional hearing on Muslims’ role in homegrown terrorism. The coalition says Thursday’s hearing will send the wrong message to U.S. Muslims by “demonizing” them…. – AP, 3-6-11
  • Obama’s Choice: To Intervene or Not in Libya: For President Obama, who told Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi last week that it was time to quit, the bloodshed and terror in Libya have posed a dilemma that sooner or later confronts every modern American president: whether, and how, to intervene with military force in a distant conflict.
    This time, the choice has been made even tougher by history, geography and the peculiar circumstances of Libya’s upheaval: a famously ruthless and unpredictable leader willing to do anything to cling to power, in a conflict that seems as much an African civil war as an Internet-fueled youth revolt of the kind that forced out Arab dictators in Egypt and Tunisia.
    Mr. Obama’s blunt call last Thursday for Colonel Qaddafi to leave office, coupled with a threat to leave all military options on the table if he doesn’t, made it clear that the president believes the United States cannot stand by while Libyan jets bomb civilians. But his reluctance to talk about the most obvious measure — a no-flight zone over the country — reveals his qualms about thrusting the United States into a volatile situation in a region where foreign intervention is usually viewed as cynical neo-colonialism…. – NYT, 3-5-11
  • Obama offers deeper cuts, appeals for budget deal: President Barack Obama says he’s willing to make deeper spending cuts if Congress can compromise on a budget deal that would end the threat of a government shutdown. Obama’s appeal for common ground came Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address, but lacked specifics on how to bridge the $50 billion gulf that divides the White House and Democratic budget proposal from the deeper reductions offered by Republicans…. – AP, 3-5-11
  • SPIN METER: Competing, misleading claims on budget: It sounds like a pretty good starting point for negotiations: The White House and Capitol Hill Democrats say they’re ready to meet the GOP halfway in the latest round of budget talks, offering $50 billion in cuts compared with Republicans’ proposed $100 billion worth of reductions. “The White House has been willing to move halfway to where they are,” said Gene Sperling, director of the White House National Economic Council. “Talking about negotiation and compromise, that’s very important.”… – AP, 3-4-11
  • Romney seeks to address health care woes: Call it an attempt to address an obvious political vulnerability. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Saturday derided President Barack Obama’s health care law — modeled in some ways after one the ex-governor signed in Massachusetts — as a misguided and egregious effort to seize more power for Washington.
    “Obamacare is bad law, bad policy, and it is bad for America’s families,” Romney declared. “And that’s the reason why President Obama will be a one-term president.” He vowed to repeal it if he were ever in a position to do so, and drew hearty cheers from his Republican Party audience…. – AP, 3-5-11
  • Obama praises Jeb Bush on education reform: In his first year as Florida governor, Jeb Bush was vilified by Democrats as a “radical” for an education agenda they argued would undermine public schools. So it was a striking moment when, 12 years later, a Democratic president came here Friday to hail the Republican as a “champion of education reform.”
    It was even more striking to consider that President Obama, introduced by Bush for a speech at a Miami high school, was teaming up with the younger brother of the man he replaced in the White House – a predecessor he has been quick to blame for many of America’s troubles. And even more intriguing to think that, if only his last name were not Bush, Jeb would probably be the Republican Party’s best hope of beating Obama next year.
    Yet there they were, warmly shaking hands, exchanging laughs and declaring themselves brothers in arms when it comes to fixing the country’s schools.
    “I’ve gotten to know Jeb because his family exemplifies public service,” Obama said, declaring that he was “grateful to him for the work that he’s doing.”
    Bush was more muted, withholding direct praise for Obama but adding: “Mr. President, as you have said, educational achievement is not a Republican or Democrat issue.”… – WaPo, 3-4-11
  • Obama, With an Unlikely Co-Star, Pushes Bipartisanship on a Miami Visit: President Obama, road-testing his new message of bipartisan cooperation here on Friday, promoted his education agenda with Jeb Bush, the former Republican governor, and then used his first stump speech of the 2012 season to call on Democrats to “find common ground.”
    Florida will be a critical state for Mr. Obama in 2012, and Mr. Obama used his visit here to continue his effort to reposition himself toward the political center. But while he has tried to remain above the political fray in Washington, employing the classic Rose Garden strategy here in Florida seemed a bit trickier.
    His appearance with Mr. Bush seemed awkward at best. And his strikingly nonpartisan campaign speech, at back-to- back fund-raisers for Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, and other Democrats, left some in his party a bit puzzled.
    “There are times when we’re were among family, we’re among Democrats where we want to talk about being Democrats,” Mr. Obama began his speech at the first of the two fund-raisers, at the Fontainebleau hotel. “But today I want to talk to you a little about being an American, I want to talk about those things that bring us together as opposed to the things that drive us apart.”
    He went on to say that he had just visited a high school with Mr. Bush. The crowd booed and hissed. Mr. Obama pressed on, saying he knew that the name Bush was one that might not ordinarily be heard at a Democratic fund- raiser. “Even though Governor Bush and I disagree on a range of issues,” the president said, “we agree on the importance of education to America”… – NYT, 3-4-11
  • Gabrielle Giffords shooting suspect charged with murder: Gabrielle Giffords shooting suspect: Jared Lee Loughner has been charged with the murders of US District Judge John Roll and Gabrielle Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, as well as causing the deaths of four others…. – CS Monitor, 3-4-11
  • Good News on Many Economic Fronts; Oil, Housing Still Threaten Recovery: A new report shows U.S. employers added 192,000 jobs in February and the jobless rate fell to 8.9 percent. Jeffrey Brown discusses the numbers and recovery prospects with former Labor Department Chief Economist Lisa Lynch and Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight…. – PBS Newshour, 3-5-11
  • Big Jump in Private Jobs Bolsters Recovery Hopes: In all, the nation added 192,000 jobs in February, a big jump from the 63,000 added the previous month, the Labor Department reported on Friday… – NYT, 3-4-11
  • John Edwards tipster breaks silence amid federal probe: As John Edwards’ legal fight enters its final phase, the woman who tipped the National Enquirer to his affair spilled the details Thursday in The Huffington Post…. – Miami Herald, 3-3-11
  • Attorneys Seek Court Order to Press John Edwards on Sex TapeABC News, 3-3-11
  • Obama, Calderon reach trucking accord at US summit: The accord comes at a sensitive time. Mexico President Felipe Calderon has said US efforts in the fight against Mexican drug cartels haven’t curbed US demand or stemmed the flow of arms to Mexico…. – LAT, 3-3-11
  • Obama Authorizes Airlift of Refugees From Libya: President Obama called again on Thursday for the immediate resignation of the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, and said he had authorized American military airlifts to help transport refugees fleeing from Libya back to their home countries in the region.
    “The U.S. and the entire world continues to be outraged by the appalling violence against the Libyan people,” Mr. Obama said after a White House meeting with President Felipe Calderón of Mexico. “Muammar el-Qaddafi has lost the legitimacy to lead, and he must leave.” …. – NYT, 3-3-11
  • Obama insists every option under review for Libya: Wary that Libya’s bloody crisis could devolve into humanitarian chaos, President Barack Obama on Thursday insisted he is considering every intervention option, including military might, along with America’s allies. To Moammar Gadhafi, he declared: “Step down from power and leave.”
    Obama made clear he has not ruled out establishing a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent Gadhafi’s air forces from bombing rebels. His broad assurance came one day after his defense chief, Robert Gates, said bluntly that a no-fly zone would amount to an act of war and warned about too much “loose talk” of U.S. military intervention in Libya.
    “I don’t want us hamstrung,” Obama said in defending his approach. “There is a danger of a stalemate that, over time, could be bloody,” Obama said in an appearance with visiting Mexican President Felipe Calderon. “And that is something that we’re obviously considering. So what I want to make sure of is, is that the United States has full capacity to act — potentially rapidly — if the situation deteriorated in such a way that you had a humanitarian crisis on our hands.”… – AP, 3-3-11
  • Obama: No plans to step into NFL labor dispute: The football fan in the White House said Wednesday he expects wealthy NFL team owners and players can figure out for themselves how to share the billions of dollars that their sport generates.
    “I’ve got a lot of other stuff to do,” President Barack Obama said at a news conference, making clear he had no plans to intervene…. – AP, 3-3-11
  • Bush back in Washington to unveil Frist portrait: Tap-tap-tap went George W. Bush’s feet under his chair in the Old Senate Chamber Wednesday as he waited through a speech by his longtime friend, heart surgeon and one-time majority leader Bill Frist. The former president, invited for the unveiling of Frist’s Senate portrait, shifted in his chair. He crossed his legs. He fidgeted. “I’ll speed it up, Mr. President,” Frist said over his shoulder.
    The two could not wait to leave the place — Frist voluntarily in 2007, Bush at the end of his second presidential term, in 2009. “It takes a really good friend to get me to come back to Washington,” Bush told the crowd…. – AP, 3-2-11
  • Jewish leaders say Obama meeting was positive: Jewish organizational leaders rejected the notion that their meeting with President Obama was negative in any way. A JTA article this week reported that President Obama, in a meeting Tuesday with members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, reaffirmed American support for Israeli security and discussed U.S. policy in the Middle East in a spirit of cordiality and respect.
    But the article also noted negative reactions to the president’s view that Palestinians are prepared for a deal but that supporters of Israel ought to “search your souls” over the Jewish state’s seriousness about making peace.
    The Conference of Presidents issued a clarification late Wednesday that, notwithstanding “certain public reports,” Obama has conducted the meeting “in an atmosphere of warmth, friendship and openness and there as no expression of hostility toward Israel or its government.” “The President articulated his expectations of all parties with respect to the Middle East peace process,” conference leaders said. “The President underscored the unprecedented security cooperation with and support for Israel. He asserted his commitment to maintaining Israel’s qualitative edge and to sustaining foreign aid to Israel. The President asserted that efforts to delegitimize Israel would be met with a firm response.”… – JTA, 3-3-11
  • Less Drama in White House After Staff Changes: A new order and a calmer management style have prevailed since William M. Daley took over as chief of staff from Rahm Emanuel and David Plouffe succeeded David Axelrod…. – NYT, 3-3-11
  • Obama condemns assassination in Pakistan: President Barack Obama on Wednesday condemned the assassination of the only Christian member of Pakistan’s government, calling the slaying of Shabaz Bhatti a “horrific act of violence.” Republicans and Democrats in Congress echoed Obama’s outrage, hours after Bhatti was gunned down outside his mother’s home. His slaying came just weeks after the killing of liberal politician Salman Taseer. The two men had pushed to change laws that impose the death penalty for insulting Islam…. – AP, 3-2-11
  • Fed survey: Economy expands throughout US: The U.S. economy expanded in January and early February in all parts of the country, but businesses reported they are under pressure to raise their prices. A Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday showed that all 12 of the Fed’s regions reported growth at a “modest to moderate pace” and it pointed to a pickup in job creation in each…. – AP, 3-2-11
  • GOP governors and Obama at impasse over Medicaid: Strained state budgets and a new crew of Republican governors have combined to reopen the debate over Medicaid, the health care program for the poorest and sickest Americans. GOP governors want control of the purse strings and leeway to rewrite coverage and payment rules. So far President Barack Obama has turned them down, but he may be forced to give some ground if negotiations to reduce federal debt get serious later this year…. – AP, 3-2-11
  • Obama condemns shooting of US troops in Germany: President Barack Obama says he’s “saddened and outraged” by the shooting in Frankfurt, Germany, that killed two U.S. Air Force personnel and injured two others. The president says the U.S. will spare no effort in finding out how the “outrageous” act took place and will ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice. It happened on a bus outside the Frankfurt airport on Wednesday. Obama called it a tragedy…. – AP, 3-2-11
  • Senate to send Obama a stopgap GOP spending bill: In an early victory for Republicans, the Democratic Senate is voting to send President Barack Obama a GOP-drafted measure that cuts $4 billion in spending as the price for keeping the government open for an additional two weeks. Sweeping bipartisan support is expected Wednesday for the measure, which passed the House on Tuesday by a 335-91 tally. More than 100 Democrats broke with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California to support it… – AP, 3-2-11
  • Gov’t shutdown averted as House votes $4B cuts: The House passed emergency short-term legislation Tuesday to cut federal spending by $4 billion and avert a government shutdown. Senate Democrats agreed to follow suit, handing Republicans an early victory in their drive to rein in government. The bill that cleared the House on a bipartisan vote of 335-91 eliminates the threat of a shutdown on March 4, when existing funding authority expires. At the same time, it creates a compressed two-week timeframe for the White House and lawmakers to engage in what looms as a highly contentious negotiation on a follow-up bill to set spending levels through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year…. – AP, 3-2-11
  • House approves two-week funding measure, putting Congress on track to avert government shutdown: The House on Tuesday approved a stopgap measure that would keep the federal government funded through March 18 and cut $4 billion in spending by targeting programs that President Obama has already marked for elimination. The measure, which passed the House on a 335 to 91 vote, now goes to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that the measure is likely to be approved in the Senate within the next 48 hours. If Congress does not pass a funding resolution by Friday, the federal government would be forced to shut down, but the apparent agreement between the two chambers seems likely to avert that possibility in the short-term. – WaPo, 3-1-11
  • Streep, James Taylor among cultural medalists: President Barack Obama honored 20 artists, scholars and writers — from James Taylor to Quincy Jones, from Philip Roth to Joyce Carol Oates — in a salute to the arts and humanities that embraced both celebrity and quiet achievement. The president and first lady Michelle Obama filled the East Room of the White House Wednesday with an array of talent that transcended generations and reached into the worlds of letters and music, history and dance, criticism and film.
    “One of the great joys of being president is getting a chance to pay tribute to the artists and authors, poets and performers who have touched our hearts and opened our minds,” Obama said, adding with a knowing look, “or in the case of Quincy Jones and James Taylor, set the mood.”… – AP, 3-2-11
  • Geithner wants housing overhaul bill in 2 years: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is telling Congress that the Obama administration wants Congress to approve legislation overhauling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the nation’s troubled housing finance giants, within two years… – AP, 3-1-11
  • Politics and bedfellows: President Obama on Monday made favorable mention of Mitt Romney’s role in expanding health-care coverage in Massachusetts, highlighting what has become a giant political liability for the former governor and likely 2012 Republican candidate…. – Philadelphia Inquirer, 3-1-11
  • Obama to Back Easing Health Law Rules for States: The announcement is the first time the president has called for changing a central component of his signature health care law.
    The president plans to tell governors on Monday that he supports letting states opt out of parts of the health plan earlier than is currently permitted… – NYT, 2-28-11
  • Health care reform: How big is Obama’s concession?: On Monday, President Obama offered to let states design their own health systems, as long as they meet the overall goals of the national health care reform plan…. – CS Monitor, 2-28-11
  • Obama: Flexibility OK, but health care law remains: Anxious to ease deepening political tensions with the states, President Barack Obama on Monday told governors he wants to speed up their ability to enforce his signature health care law on their own terms. But his concession goes only so far: He warned he won’t allow states to weaken the law. He also told them not to vilify their own states’ public workers while struggling with spending cuts.
    Hosting governors of both parties on his own turf, Obama offered them what they often request: more flexibility as they cope with painful budget dilemmas. Declaring that he would “go to bat for whatever works,” Obama supported letting states propose their own health care plans by 2014 — three years faster than the current law allows…. – AP, 2-28-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • House Republicans Move to Uphold Marriage Act: House Republicans quietly moved Friday to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages, saying they would step in to argue for the measure’s constitutionality after the Obama administration’s decision to stop defending it. Republican leaders had the option of inserting themselves in the case by introducing a resolution on the House floor and allowing members to speak out on the issue. Instead they released a statement of their intent on a Friday afternoon when the House was out of session…. – NYT, 3-5-10
  • Speaker launches effort to defend gay marriage ban: House Speaker John Boehner said Friday the House may go to court to defend the federal law against gay marriage, which President Barack Obama’s administration has concluded is unconstitutional…. – AP, 3-5-11
  • Capitol ceremony for WWI vet blocked in Congress: West Virginia’s two Democratic senators blamed House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday after their hopes of having the remains of World War I veteran Frank Buckles honored in the Capitol Rotunda were dashed, at least for now. Buckles died Sunday on his farm in Charles Town, W.Va., at the age of 110. He had been the last surviving American veteran of World War I. The episode turned what West Virginia lawmakers had hoped would be easy approval for the rare honor for Buckles into a finger-pointing dispute with partisan overtones…. – AP, 3-4-11
  • Democrats unveil counteroffer easing GOP cuts: Senate Democrats unveiled a detailed counteroffer Friday seeking to undo tens of billions of dollars in cuts Republicans would make to education, housing and other domestic programs. With the two parties maneuvering for advantage in their budget clash, the Democratic plan conforms to President Barack Obama’s opening gambit to cut another $6.5 billion from domestic agencies. But neither it nor the $61 billion in cuts passed by House Republicans is expected to survive test votes next week in the Senate…. – AP, 3-4-11
  • Economic recovery colors federal budget debate: Would a partial government shutdown – or the spending cuts needed to avoid it – risk the nation’s economic recovery and nascent job creation?… – USA Today, 3-4-11
  • Senate Republicans push to oust Medicare chief: Unable to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, Republicans are trying to oust the official who is quarterbacking the overhaul of the nation’s medical system. In a letter released Thursday, 42 Republican senators asked the president to withdraw the nomination of Dr. Donald Berwick as Medicare administrator, saying his experience isn’t broad enough and past statements raise fundamental questions about his views on policy…. – AP, 3-3-11
  • Republican McCarthy Says U.S. Budget Will Tackle Entitlements: U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy, third-ranking Republican in the House, places politicians in two camps, “thermometers” and “thermostats.” He says President Barack Obama is playing “thermometer” to Republicans. “He’s letting everything take its course, and he’s just standing out, telling you what the temperature is after everybody already knows it,” McCarthy, of California, said during a Bloomberg Breakfast with reporters in Washington yesterday.
    The Republican leadership, McCarthy said, “takes the temperature of the room, but tells you where you need to get to, and it may be uncomfortable.’ His party plans to heat things up soon: McCarthy said House Republicans will introduce a spending plan in April that will address cuts in entitlement programs representing 40 percent of the federal budget “We will be different than the president,” he said. “We will address entitlements.”… – Bloomberg, 3-3-11
  • House votes to end unpopular new business tax rule: An unpopular tax filing requirement for businesses tucked into the new health care law would be repealed under a bill overwhelmingly passed by the House Thursday.
    The filing requirement is so unpopular in Congress that it is unlikely to ever take effect. The House voted 314 to 112 Thursday to repeal the filing requirement, with 76 Democrats joining all Republicans in voting to pass the bill. The Senate passed a similar measure last month, and attached it to an unrelated bill to help modernize the nation’s air traffic control system…. – AP, 3-3-11
  • GOP wins first budget skirmish, bigger fight looms: Republicans won an early round Wednesday in their fight to shrink the government, pushing $4 billion in spending cuts through Congress in a bill that puts off the possibility of a government shutdown for two weeks.
    The Senate cleared the temporary spending measure by an overwhelming 91-9 vote after the House passed it with a large bipartisan vote Tuesday. Obama signed it Wednesday afternoon…. – AP, 3-2-11
  • House taking up stopgap GOP spending bill: Republicans controlling the House are moving quickly to pass stopgap legislation to avoid a partial shutdown of the government when temporary funding runs out Friday…. – AP, 3-1-11

COURT AND LEGAL NEWS:

  • Judge: States must continue with health overhaul: A federal judge who declared President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul unconstitutional ruled Thursday that states must continue implementing it while the case makes its way through the courts. U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson was responding to a request from Obama administration attorneys who sought to ensure Florida and 25 other states follow the law until their challenge to it is resolved…. – AP, 3-4-11
  • Professor calls Supreme Court ruling victory for free speech: An ASU professor who specializes in the research of First Amendment court cases said Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling, which favored a radical church’s picketing of a 2006 military funeral, was a victory for free speech… – The State Press, 3-3-11
  • Supreme Court: Anti-gay funeral picketers allowed: The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a grieving father’s pain over mocking protests at his Marine son’s funeral must yield to First Amendment protections for free speech. All but one justice sided with a fundamentalist church that has stirred outrage with raucous demonstrations contending God is punishing the military for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.
    The 8-1 decision in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., was the latest in a line of court rulings that, as Chief Justice John Roberts said in his opinion for the court, protects “even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”… – AP, 3-2-11
  • Court: Victim’s dying words may be used at trial: Prosecutors may use victim statements given at the crime scene even if the victim dies before testifying at trial, the Supreme Court ruled Monday…. – WaPo, 3-1-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • Who had the Worst Week in Washington? Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa: Who watches the watchers? That existential question is not one that Republican Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had hoped to be asking himself just a few months into his job as the self-declared lead investigator of the Obama administration.
    But that was before a young Issa press aide named Kurt Bardella agreed to share private correspondence between himself and reporters covering his boss with New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich, who is writing a book on the culture, such as it is, of Washington…. – WaPo, 3-4-11
  • New governors may outshine White House hopefuls: What’s wrong with this picture? While half a dozen current and former Republican governors weigh bids to challenge President Barack Obama, the party’s lightning and thunder are coming from a different handful of governors, who threaten to overshadow those potential candidates. Republicans drawing the most national attention in recent weeks are first-term Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Chris Christie of New Jersey. Many conservatives love them for battling public-sector unions in the name of cutting government spending…. – AP, 3-2-11

WISCONSIN GOVERNOR-UNION WARS

  • Unions winning battle for public opinion in Wisconsin: According to a new Pew Poll, Forty-two percent of people said they favor unions, while 31 percent take Walker’s side and another nine percent take neither side in the skirmish. WaPo, 3-1-11
  • Supporters of Wisconsin anti-union bill hold rally: About 700 people have rallied in support of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his plan to take away collective bargaining rights from public workers have rallied in Madison. The Sunday rally at a Madison arena was organized by the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity…. – AP, 3-6-11
  • Michael Moore rallies Wis. pro-union protesters: Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore urged Wisconsin residents Saturday to fight against Republican efforts to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights, telling thousands of protesters that “Madison is only the beginning.” “We’re going to do this together. Don’t give up. Please don’t give up,” filmmaker Michael Moore told the Wisconsin protesters, who have swarmed the Capitol every day for close to three weeks. Moore told the crowd they’ve galvanized the nation against the wealthy elite and compared their fight to Egypt’s revolt…. – AP, 3-5-11
  • Wis. governor warns of layoffs, talks to Democrats: Thousands of Wisconsin state workers were bracing for layoff notices Friday as Republican Gov. Scott Walker and absent Democrats remained in a standoff over a budget balancing bill that would also strip public workers of their collective bargaining rights.
    Walker said he would issue 1,500 layoff notices Friday if at least one of the 14 Senate Democrats doesn’t return from Illinois to give the Republican majority the quorum it needs to vote. Senate Republicans voted Thursday to hold the missing Democrats in contempt and force police to bring them back to the Capitol. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald canceled Friday’s floor session, saying in a statement that Republican senators want time to allow law enforcement to adjust their staffing levels and “help the Capitol to return to something of a sense of normalcy.”… – AP, 3-4-11
  • In Midwestern union strongholds, residents torn over proposals to curb union benefits, powers: There once was a time when Harry and Nancy Harrington _ their teenage children in tow _ walked the picket line outside the nursing home where she was a medical aide, protesting the lack of a pension plan for the unionized work force. But those days of family solidarity are gone…. – AP, 3-5-11
  • Wisconsin governor begins process to lay off 1,500: 57 percent of likely voters in Wisconsin disapprove of the job Walker is doing, while 43 percent approve. Of those who disapprove, 48 percent strongly disapprove…. – WaPo, 3-5-11
  • Protesters leave Wis. Capitol after 17-day sit-in: Pro-union protesters who had been camping out at the Wisconsin Capitol for 17 days vacated the building peacefully late Thursday after a judge ordered the building closed at night but ruled the state was wrong to restrict access to the building during the day. With a group hug, and singing “Solidarity Forever,” about 50 protesters grabbed their sleeping bags, pillows and drums and left through two rows of Democratic state lawmakers and others who thanked them for their efforts…. – AP, 3-3-11
  • Wisconsin Senate votes to detain absentee DemocratsCNN, 3-3-11
  • RNC ad links Obama to ‘union bosses’: The Republican National Committee on Wednesday began airing a television ad in Wisconsin that blames President Barack Obama and “union bosses” for standing in the way of economic reform.
    The ad is an effort to bolster Republican Gov. Scott Walker as he tries to push through a measure that would take away most collective bargaining rights for state employees.
    Obama has not been to Wisconsin since the protests began. But he has called Walker’s proposal an assault on unions and urged other governors not to vilify public workers. Obama’s political arm at the Democratic National Committee also helped mobilize demonstrators in coordination with unions…. – AP, 3-2-11
  • AFL-CIO leader: Wisconsin fight energizing unions: In trying to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights from state workers, Wisconsin’s governor may have unintentionally given the American labor movement the lift it needed after years of decline.
    “We’ve never seen the incredible solidarity that we’re seeing right now,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters Tuesday at the federation’s headquarters. “People are giving us another look now,” he said. “It’ll be up to us to keep it going and continue defining ourselves in ways the American public will support.”… – AP, 3-2-11
  • Wisconsin governor to lay out budget: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s explosive proposal to take nearly all collective bargaining rights away from most public workers represents just one piece of his vision for the state’s future…. – AP, 3-1-11
  • Rallies support fight against Wis. anti-union billAP, 2-27-11
  • Volunteers help Wis. protesters keep up the fightAP, 2-26-11
  • By keeping his distance, has Obama played Wisconsin right?: With the battle of Wisconsin reverberating in union halls across the country, Obama has refrained from weighing in forcefully on a core Democratic issue. Analysts say he has played it right… – CS Monitor, 2-25-11
  • Wisconsin GOP wins Round 1 over unions, but final victory still eludes: The Wisconsin GOP-led Assembly approved a bill Friday to sharply curtail the power of public employee unions. But the battle for public opinion, in Wisconsin and the nation, goes on, with the state Senate yet to vote…. – CS Monitor, 2-25-11
  • Some Republicans soften tough talk on unionsAP, 2-24-11
  • State troopers sent to find Wisconsin DemocratsAP, 2-24-11
  • Wis. Democrats filibuster to halt anti-union billAP, 2-23-11
  • Wisconsin: Ground zero in battle over clout of labor unions in US: At stake in the fight between unions and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is the perception of public-sector unions and how much clout they’ll retain in an era of tight budgets for state and local government…. – CS Monitor, 2-19-11
  • State budget fights fire up union; Obama involved: Organized labor is trying to re-energize and take advantage of the growing backlash from the wave of anti-union sentiment in Wisconsin and more than a dozen other states. President Barack Obama and his political machine are offering tactical support, eager to repair strained relations with some union leaders upset over his recent overtures to business…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • Rosemary Feurer: Wisconsin’s Legacy of Labor Battles: One of the key authors of that federal legislation was the chief of labor relations at Allis-Chalmers, a Milwaukee-area farm equipment and machine manufacturing company that had fended off an epic strike earlier that year. Now the nation is watching to see which side wins in the battle between Mr. Walker and the flood of unions, local and national, that has surrounded the Capitol to fight him.
    “The play by the governor is part of a longer history and a longer struggle over ideas and social policy,” said Rosemary Feurer, a labor historian at Northern Illinois University. “When I see this I think, history doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme.”
    In her book, “Radical Unionism in the Midwest, 1900-1950,” Professor Feurer recounts how companies in the electrical industry in St. Louis started a network known as the Metal Trades Association in the first part of the 20th century to fight union organizing. The association had been alarmed by union protests that erupted violently with the Haymarket Square riot in 1886 and the demands for an eight-hour day, which started with the 1894 Pullman strike in Illinois — an early effort by Eugene V. Debs, the former Indiana legislator and future Socialist Party candidate for president.
    “That left a legacy of the 1930s and ’40s for employers to form deep right-wing networks,” Professor Feurer said.
    That network, she argues, was the precursor to the Midwestern groups that have now been assisting the fight against the unions in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana: the Bradley Foundation, based in Milwaukee, and Koch Industries, based in Wichita, Kan. David H. and Charles G. Koch, the billionaire brothers behind the energy and manufacturing conglomerate that bears their name, have been large donors to Mr. Walker in Wisconsin, as has their advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, which first opened an office in Wisconsin in 2005…. – NYT, 3-6-11
  • Julian Zelizer: By keeping his distance, has Obama played Wisconsin right?: “The biggest danger in some ways was for him to be consumed by this issue,” says Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “That hasn’t happened.”… – CS Monitor, 2-25-11

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • Republican presidential hopefuls join battle to face Barack Obama in 2012: The race to take on the Democratic president has begun in earnest as potential contenders head for the key battleground of Iowa… – Guardian UK, 3-6-11
  • Gates Ratchets Up His Campaign of Candor: This is the season when defense secretaries typically sit for hours, hat in hand, before Congressional committees to plead for more money and then journey to the military academies to give perfunctory speeches about patriotism before young cadets. But this year, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has not followed the script…. Mr. Gates’s independence is a reminder that if he leaves this year — as he has insisted he will — his departure will kick off a search that will help define the administration. Will the president choose someone as outspoken, with a bipartisan pedigree that allows him to criticize the conduct of combat and makes him acceptable to Republicans?… – NYT, 3-5-11
  • Unions wary of Dems’ convention plans in NC: With the American labor movement newly energized by its most serious threat in years, the Democratic Party’s decision to hold its 2012 convention in the least union-friendly state is causing friction with a key constituency. The Democratic National Committee selected Charlotte to show confidence in the party’s ability to win crucial swing states in the South, including North Carolina, that President Barack Obama carried in 2008. But the choice isn’t sitting well with some union leaders. “I think the Democratic Party is in crisis and they’re trying to figure out who are they really going to represent,” said Angaza Laughinghouse, president of the North Carolina Public Service Workers Union…. – AP, 3-4-11
  • Gingrich: I expect to be ‘in the race’: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he expects to be a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012…. – AP, 3-4-11
  • Gingrich Tests 2012 Presidential Support: Newt Gingrich on Thursday became the first major Republican to begin raising money for the 2012 presidential race, but he stopped short of declaring his candidacy until he finishes delivering paid speeches this month and distances himself from a web of business ventures that would interfere with a campaign.
    In an afternoon visit to the State Capitol here, Mr. Gingrich smiled broadly as he entered the governor’s formal briefing room, with his wife, Callista, at his side. He said they had decided, after months of deliberation, to move forward and see if he could find enough support among Republican primary voters to compete seriously for the party’s nomination.
    “We believe that America’s best years are actually ahead of us,” said Mr. Gingrich, 67, who won his first bid for elective office 33 years ago as a Georgia congressman. “We believe that it is possible through the right policies, with the right values, to create dramatically more jobs with dramatically higher incomes.”… – NYT, 3-4-11
  • Newt Gingrich: Return of the Mack: This week, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives (1995 to 1999) and de facto face of the House Republican Revolution of the nineties, launched a new website to explore “whether there is sufficient support for my potential candidacy for President of this exceptional country.” The website features a large picture of Gingrich with his third wife, Callista, but little else aside for a place for supporters to sign up and leave a comment.
    Republicans are split on him. A recent survey by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center showed 41 percent of people who identified as Republican viewed him favorably but 39 percent view him unfavorably. Those ratings were much higher among those Republicans who also identified as conservative, but conversely lower among those who identified as moderate. Overall, however, he only pulled support form seven percent of those polled, trailing far behind the other candidates…. – WYNC, 3-4-11
  • Huckabee Slams Natalie Portman For Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancy: Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and a potential 2012 presidential candidate, went after the actress Natalie Portman for getting pregnant before she was married…. – NYT, 3-4-11
  • Why is Mike Huckabee criticizing Natalie Portman? (Poll): “You know Michael, one of the things that’s troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, ‘Hey look, you know, we’re having children, we’re not married, but we’re having these children, and they’re doing just fine,'” Huckabee said. “But there aren’t really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie. And I think it gives a distorted image that yes, not everybody hires nannies, and caretakers, and nurses. Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job, and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that’s the story that we’re not seeing, and it’s unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of children wedlock [sic].”
    Huckabee’s argument isn’t an unfamiliar one for conservatives, but the example is somewhat odd. Portman is, after all, marrying the father of her child. She didn’t practice abstinence, as Huckabee advocates, but neither do scores of other celebrities. By embracing motherhood and marriage, she’s taking a more conservative position than many of her peers.
    In a statement, Huckabee called Portman “an extraordinary actor, very deserving of her recent Oscar trophy” and said “I am glad she will marry her baby’s father.” He said he wasn’t attacking her, only arguing that “it’s unfortunate that society often glorifies and glamorizes the idea of having children out of wedlock.”… – WaPo, 3-4-11
  • Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and the spotlight-chasing candidates of 2012: “Don’t you think it’s fair also to ask [Barack Obama] . . . how come we don’t have a health record, we don’t have a college record, we don’t have a birth cer – why, Mr. Obama, did you spend millions of dollars in courts all over this country to defend against having to present a birth certificate. It’s one thing to say, I’ve – you’ve seen it, goodbye. But why go to court and send lawyers to defend against having to show it? Don’t you think we deserve to know more about this man?”
    “I would love to know more. What I know is troubling enough. And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya. . . .”… – WaPo, 3-4-11
  • Gingrich Appearance in Georgia to Give 2012 U.S. Presidential Race a Nudge: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich today moves closer to jumping into the 2012 Republican presidential race, appearing in his home state of Georgia to discuss his White House aspirations and announce fundraising efforts.
    Gingrich, 67, will make his comments during a visit to the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta. Though aides say he is stopping short of announcing formation of a presidential exploratory committee, his remarks will nudge forward a Republican primary race that so far has been marked by prospective candidates biding their time.
    Joe Gaylord, one of Gingrich’s longest-serving advisers, said he expects him to launch a challenge to President Barack Obama…. – Bloomberg, 3-3-11
  • Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii won’t seek re-election: Democratic U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii announced Wednesday he won’t run for re-election next year after 22 years in the Senate. The 86-year-old Akaka — the third oldest member of the Senate — becomes the seventh recent senator to announce plans to retire.
    “It was a very difficult decision for me. However, I feel that the end of this Congress is the right time for me to step aside,” Akaka said in a statement. “I have always strived to serve the people with much love and aloha.”… – AP, 3-2-11
  • Gingrich announces website to explore GOP bid: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he is launching a website to explore a run for president…. – AP, 3-2-11
  • Rove groups plan $120 million campaign in 2012: A pair of political action committees organized by GOP strategist Karl Rove and demonized by Democrats said Tuesday it plans to raise $120 million ahead of the 2012 elections to help make President Barack Obama a one-term leader and elect Republicans. American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS told supporters they look to raise the massive sum to combat unions, which spent a combined $400 million to help elect Obama and Democrats in 2008. With eyes on Wisconsin and Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s showdown there with Democrats over union rights, the conservative committees hope to attract donors and attention early. “These resources will fund advocacy efforts to compete with the torrent of outside money from unions and left- leaning groups,” said Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for the effort. “Our first fundraising goal in 2010 was $52 million, but we ended up raising $71 million. There’s more time to raise money, there’s more at stake and we have a proven brand now. We’ve spoken with all of our donors — they’re sticking with us, and most plan to come in at a significantly higher level than last time.”… – AP, 3-2-11
  • GOP hopefuls cheer for a spending showdown: Easy for them to say: Cut spending, no matter what. Don’t let the government borrow any more. Shut it down if you have to. While the cast of potential White House contenders tells Congress to get tough, drawing lines in the sand is risky for lawmakers who have to live with the consequences. Many remember what happened more than two years ago when House conservatives bolted from their Republican president and leadership to defeat a $700 billion rescue bill for the nation’s financial system. The Dow Jones industrials plunged 777 points, the most ever for a single day. Lawmakers had second thoughts, and four days later 58 of them, including 25 Republicans, switched sides to pass it…. – AP, 2-28-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address at Miami Central High School, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 3/4/11
  • Weekly Address: Both Parties Must Come Together on a Budget that Cuts Wasteful Spending Without Sacrificing Investments in the Future: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery, Miami, Florida March 5, 2011: I’m talking with you from Miami, Florida, where I’m visiting Miami Central High School, a school that’s turning itself around on behalf of its kids. And I came here with Jeb Bush, former governor of this state, because he and I share the view that education isn’t a partisan issue – it’s an American issue.
    But in a larger sense, this is a moment when we’ve all got to do what the students and teachers are doing here. We’ve got to step up our game.
    Our top priority right now has to be creating new jobs and opportunities in a fiercely competitive world. And this week, we received very good news on that front. We learned that the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level in nearly two years as our economy added another 222,000 private sector jobs last month.
    Now, we have a lot more work to do, not just for the Americans who still don’t have a job, but for the millions more who still don’t have the right job or all the work they need to live out the American Dream. But the progress we’re seeing says something about the determination and ingenuity of our people and our businesses. What’s also helping to fuel this economic growth are the tax cuts that Democrats and Republicans came together to pass in December and I signed into law – tax cuts that are already making Americans’ paychecks bigger and allowing businesses to write off their investments, freeing up more money for job creation.
    Just as both parties cooperated on tax relief that is now fueling job growth, we need to come together around a budget that cuts spending without slowing our economic momentum. We need a government that lives within its means without sacrificing job-creating investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure.
    The budget I sent to Congress makes these investments, but it also includes a 5-year spending freeze, and it will reduce our deficits by $1 trillion over the next decade. In fact, the cuts I’ve proposed would bring annual domestic spending to its lowest share of the economy under any president in more than 50 years.
    Over the last few weeks, Members of Congress have been debating their own proposals. And I was pleased that Democrats and Republicans in Congress came together a few days ago and passed a plan to cut spending and keep the government running for two more weeks. Still, we can’t do business two weeks at a time. It’s not responsible, and it threatens the progress our economy has been making. We’ve got to keep that momentum going.
    We need to come together, Democrats and Republicans, around a long-term budget that sacrifices wasteful spending without sacrificing the job-creating investments in our future. My administration has already put forward specific cuts that meet congressional Republicans halfway. And I’m prepared to do more. But we’ll only finish the job together – by sitting at the same table, working out our differences, and finding common ground. That’s why I’ve asked Vice President Biden and members of my Administration to meet with leaders of Congress going forward.
    Getting our fiscal house in order can’t just be something we use as cover to do away with things we dislike politically. And it can’t just be about how much we cut. It’s got to be about how we cut and how we invest. We’ve got to be smart about it. Because if we cut back on the kids I’ve met here and their education, for example, we’d be risking the future of an entire generation of Americans. And there’s nothing responsible about that.
    We’ve got to come together to put America back on a fiscally sustainable course – and make sure that when it comes to the economy of the 21st century, our children and our country are better-prepared than anyone else in the world to take it on. Our future depends on it. That’s not a Democratic or a Republican challenge – that’s an American challenge. And I’m confident it’s one we’ll meet. – WH, 3-5-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • “I’m Not Willing to Give Up on Any Child In America:” The President’s Trip to Miami Central High School: We are at a pivotal turning point. We just came through a tough recession that’s taken a big toll on families here in Florida and all across the country. And to accelerate our recovery in the short term we took some essential steps to spur hiring and economic growth, including tax cuts that are making Americans’ paychecks bigger and letting businesses write off their investments –- and I am proud — I’m proud that Republicans and Democrats came together to get that done.
    And you’re already seeing those steps make a difference. This morning we learned that the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in nearly two years. (Applause.) Our economy added another 222,000 jobs in the private sector. (Applause.) That’s the 12th straight month of private sector job growth. So our economy has now added 1.5 million private sector jobs over the last year. And that’s progress. (Applause.)
    But we need to keep building on that momentum. And in a world that’s more competitive, more connected than ever before, that means answering some difficult questions
    Now, turning around these schools isn’t easy. A lot of people used to argue, well, all they need is more money. But money is not alone going to do the job. We also have to reform how things are done. It isn’t easy to turn around an expectation of failure and make that into an expectation of excellence. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things you can do. And there is always plenty of naysayers out there who will say it’s not even possible. Who say that turning around a failing school means just throwing good money after bad. Who say too many of these schools are beyond repair. Who say we ought to give up on those schools and focus on places that have more breaks and have a little more going for them.
    Here’s what I say. I say I am not willing to give up on any child in America. (Applause.) I say I’m not willing to give up on any school in America. (Applause.) I do not accept failure here in America. (Applause.) I believe the status quo is unacceptable; it is time to change it. And it’s time we came together — just like Jeb and I are doing today -– coming from different parties but we come together not as Democrats or Republicans, as Americans –- to lift up all of our schools — (applause) — and to prepare students like you for a 21st century economy. (Applause.) To give every child in America a chance to make the most of their God-given potential…. – WH, 3-5-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul: Standing up to EPA’s war on coal Coal is a vital sector of Kentucky’s economy. More than 200,000 jobs in the state depend on it, including more than 18,000 coal miners, and half the country’s electricity comes from coal. And yet, as we’re faced with a weakened economy and high unemployment, an overreaching Environmental Protection Agency in Washington is blocking new… jobs for Kentuckians by waging a war on coal…. – Kentucky.com, 3-5-11
  • Clinton backs Al-Jazeera, criticizes US news media before Senate: A decade ago the U.S. government attacked Al-Jazeera as a propagator of anti-American propaganda. Now Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is citing the network for fine news coverage _ and tweaking the U.S. media in the process…. – AP, 3-4-11
  • President Obama on the Tragic Events In Germany: I want to take a brief moment just to say a few words about a tragic event that took place earlier today in Frankfurt, Germany.
    I’m saddened and I am outraged by this attack that took the lives of two Americans and wounded two others. I think the American people are united in expressing our gratitude for the service of those who were lost. Michelle and I have their family and their friends in our thoughts and prayers and we are praying for a speedy recovery for those who were injured.
    I want everybody to understand that we will spare no effort in learning how this outrageous act took place and in working with German authorities to ensure that all of the perpetrators are brought to justice.
    We don’t have all the information yet, and you will be fully briefed as we get more information. But this is a stark reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our men and women in uniform are making all around the world to keep us safe, and the dangers that they face all around the globe.
    So I think it’s fair to say that on behalf of the American people we want to extend our deepest condolences to these families. And we will give you further updates as we get more information about it. – WH, 3-2-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • STATEMENT BY SENATORS MCCAIN AND LIEBERMAN REGARDING THE SITUATION IN LIBYA: We strongly support President Obama’s declaration yesterday that Colonel Qaddafi must go. The President is correct that Qaddafi and those loyal to him—by unleashing horrific violence against the Libyan people—have lost the legitimacy to remain in power, and we agree that the United States must consider the full range of options to stop the bloodshed taking place in Libya now.
    We also applaud the measures adopted by the United States and our partners so far to ratchet up the pressure on the Qaddafi regime, including the imposition of both unilateral and multilateral sanctions, the regime’s eviction from the UN Human Rights Council, its suspension from the Arab League, and the referral of its case to the International Criminal Court.
    However, we remain deeply concerned about the situation in Libya. Despite the measures adopted by the international community, the Qaddafi regime still appears to be entrenched in Tripoli, and news reports indicate that Qaddafi’s forces are carrying out a campaign of terror against Libyan civilians. We are also deeply concerned that Qaddafi’s forces have launched offensives, including the use of airpower, against the opposition in the liberated areas of Libya.
    It is stated U.S. policy that Qaddafi must go, so now it is critical for the United States, together with our friends and allies, to ensure that he does go – as quickly as possible. A protracted and bloody stalemate in Libya would not only be an unnecessary humanitarian disaster, with the potential to destabilize a critical region. It could also create space for al Qaeda and its extremist allies to exploit the chaos. We agree with Secretary Clinton about the danger that a prolonged Libyan civil war could result in another Somalia. Moreover, if Qaddafi is able to remain in power, it would send a dangerous message that dictators should respond with brutal violence to the peaceful protest movement for universal rights that is sweeping the region and beyond…. – Lieberman Senate, 3-4-11
  • The President on Libya: “The Violence Must Stop; Muammar Gaddafi Has Lost the Legitimacy to Lead and He Must Leave”: The United States, and the entire world, continues to be outraged by the appalling violence against the Libyan people. The United States is helping to lead an international effort to deter further violence, put in place unprecedented sanctions to hold the Qaddafi government accountable, and support the aspirations of the Libyan people. We are also responding quickly to the urgent humanitarian needs that are developing.
    Tens of thousands of people—from many different countries—are fleeing Libya, and we commend the governments of Tunisia and Egypt for their response, even as they go through their own political transitions. I have therefore approved the use of U.S. military aircraft to help move Egyptians who have fled to the Tunisian border to get back home to Egypt. I’ve authorized USAID to charter additional civilian aircraft to help people from other countries find their way home. And we’re supporting the efforts of international organizations to evacuate people as well.
    I have also directed USAID to send humanitarian assistance teams to the Libyan border, so that they can work with the United Nations, NGOs and other international partners inside Libya to address the urgent needs of the Libyan people.
    Going forward, we will continue to send a clear message: the violence must stop; Muammar Gaddafi has lost the legitimacy to lead and he must leave; those who perpetrate violence against the Libyan people will be held accountable; and the aspirations of the Libyan people for freedom, democracy and dignity must be met. – WH, 3-3-11
  • Presidential Proclamation: Women’s History Month: During Women’s History Month, we reflect on the extraordinary accomplishments of women and honor their role in shaping the course of our nation’s history….
    As we prepare to write the next chapter of women’s history, we must carry forward the work of the women who came before us and ensure our daughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements, and no remaining ceilings to shatter…. – WH, 3-1-11
  • Presidential Proclamation: 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps: In 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order establishing the Peace Corps, forever changing the way America sees the world and the world sees us…. On its 50th anniversary, the United States Peace Corps remains an enduring symbol of our nation’s commitment to encouraging progress, creating opportunity, and fostering mutual respect and understanding throughout the world…. – WH, 2-28-11
  • President Obama’s Plan to Cut Red Tape, Give States Flexibility, and Save Money: President Obama issued a memorandum to executive departments and agencies to work with state, tribal, and local governments to reduce unnecessary regulatory and administrative burdens in order to focus resources on achieving better outcomes at lower cost…. – WH, 2-28-11
  • John Boehner: The House just voted to repeal ObamaCare’s job-destroying 1099 paperwork mandate, a major source of uncertainty for job-creators grappling w/ the costs of the government’s takeover of health care. Having run a small business, I can tell you Washington mandates like this destroy jobs by increasing costs, creating uncertainty, & burying employers in paperwork. The Senate should pass this bill without delay. –
  • First Lady Michelle Obama & Dr. Jill Biden to America’s Governors: Support Our Military Families: Yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden addressed the National Governors’ Association and talk about their initiative to support America’s military families….
    Because in the end, this is something that I think we can all agree on, no matter where we come from, no matter what we might think about any other issue. We all know that this issue — this is not a Democrat issue, this is not a Republican issue. This is an American issue. And more importantly, this is an American obligation. It truly is.
    It’s about showing our gratitude to that very small group of Americans who make such a tremendous contribution and sacrifice to this country. And it’s about serving the people who sacrifice so much to serve us. – WH, 2-28-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • President Obama and Vice President Biden Address National Governors Association: The President announces a proposal to move up the date when states are allowed to implement their own health care plans as long as they meet the standards for affordability and coverage under the Affordable Care Act…. – WH, 2-28-11
  • President Obama to America’s Governors: “The Flexibility That You Need to Find Your Own Innovative Ways Forward”: You see, part of the genius of our Founders was the establishment of a federal system in which each of our states serves as a laboratory for our democracy. Through this process, some of the best state ideas became some of America’s best ideas. So whether it’s through Race to the Top, or improving the Affordable Care Act, or reforming the way that we approach social programs by ensuring that spending is tied to success, our approach has been to give you the flexibility that you need to find your own innovative ways forward…. – WH, 2-28-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Barbour says Obama cheers for higher gas prices: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a potential presidential contender, accused the Obama administration Wednesday of favoring a run-up in gas prices to prod consumers to buy more fuel-efficient cars.
    “This administration’s policies have been designed to drive up the cost of energy in the name of reducing pollution, in the name of making very expensive alternative fuels more economically competitive,” Barbour said during a U.S. Chamber of Commerce breakfast across the street from the White House…. – AP, 3-2-11
  • Mitch McConnell: U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following comment on the Senate floor Monday regarding the need to reduce Washington spending. ‘Americans have been telling lawmakers for two years that business as usual simply will not cut it anymore. They want us to get our fiscal house in order and to start to create the right conditions for private sector job growth. Democrats have an opportunity this week to show they get it. They have an opportunity to show that the status quo on spending and debt is no longer an option.’… – The Hill, 2-28-11
  • Rep. Eric Cantor: Cutting spending will grow the economy: America is at a tipping point, and Republicans have begun to take action. Last week, the House passed unprecedented legislation reducing discretionary spending this fiscal year by more than $100 billion. In addition, we made clear that our long-term budget, to be unveiled in the spring, will address the entitlement crisis that threatens to bankrupt our country – a long overdue move that politicians for too long have kicked down the road. This show of fiscal restraint represents not merely a clean break with Congress’ free- spending past, but a rededication to economic growth and a laser-like focus on job creation.
    It’s important to recognize the link between cutting spending and growing the economy. Like the gardener pruning the tree, we do not cut for the sake of cutting, but out of necessity. It’s the only way to restore economic health and free up the private capital necessary for new growth. Put simply, less government spending equals more private sector jobs…. – Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2-26-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Dukakis on Obama, Palin and what might have been: …”You make the effort,” he says, “and if folks just don’t want to sit down and come to a reasonable conclusion, you just go out and say, ‘The single most important priority is getting this economy back on track and getting people back to work, and what these guys are doing is going to have a profound effect on that.”
    Of course, this isn’t to say that Obama shouldn’t also begin defining the Republican opposition now in advance of next year’s presidential race. Dukakis suggests that Obama steal a page from the playbook of Clinton, who began running television ads in the summer of 1995.
    “I mean, [Clinton] had poor Dole on the floor, bleeding, a year in advance,” Dukakis says. “I think, given the opposition he’s likely to face, the corporate money pouring in, I’d make it an issue. I’d make the Koch brothers an issue — where’s that money coming from? I’d turn that into a plus, and early.”
    Ask him about the Tea Party and the woman who is arguably its most prominent public face — Sarah Palin — and Dukakis reacts with bewilderment…. – Salon, 3-6-11
  • Julian Zelizer: Obama steers clear of ‘doctrine’ as Arab tumult rages: “The closest we have to a policy is to allow the different revolutions to take place at their own pace, based on the timing of the people involved and intervening only through general statements of support,” said Julian Zelizer of Princeton University. “Other than that I don’t think there is any consistent principle.”
    “It can push you into wars where you should not be because you want to follow the logic of the doctrine,” said Zelizer. “Vietnam is a great example of where presidents from (Dwight) Eisenhower to (Lyndon) Johnson were following the logic of the ideas set out by Truman but in a war that really wasn’t that necessary and many realized they shouldn’t be in.” – AFP, 3-5-11
  • For Reagan, Gadhafi Was A Frustrating ‘Mad Dog’: America’s long, complicated history with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi goes back three decades. During Ronald Reagan’s presidency, Gadhafi was public enemy No. 1 — just as President John Kennedy’s nemesis had been Cuba’s Fidel Castro. “I find he’s not only a barbarian but he’s flaky,” Reagan said of Gadhafi. Some U.S. allies — even a few officials within his own administration — thought Reagan was too fixated on Gadhafi, that he was building Gadhafi up. But the president bristled at the Libyan leader’s support for terrorist groups and revolutionaries. And he coined a nickname for him: the “mad dog of the Middle East.” Gadhafi’s goal, Reagan said, was “a Muslim fundamentalist revolution.”… – NPR, 3-4-11
  • Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton And are two-week budgets the new normal?: It is a very effective strategy for Republicans. The longer this stopgap figure is in place, the easier it is for Republicans to claim that this is the new normal when it comes time to pass the budget. Through the stopgap they lower the bar as to how much money Congress needs to spend and place Democrats in the position of defending perceived increases in spending (rather than the reality, where they are preventing budget cuts). – Politico Arena, 3-3-11
  • Obama’s ‘Where’s Waldo?’ presidency: For a man who won office talking about change we can believe in, Barack Obama can be a strangely passive president. There are a startling number of occasions in which the president has been missing in action – unwilling, reluctant or late to weigh in on the issue of the moment. He is, too often, more reactive than inspirational, more cautious than forceful. Each of these instances can be explained on its own terms, as matters of legislative strategy, geopolitical calculation or political prudence. Yet the dots connect to form an unsettling portrait of a “Where’s Waldo?” presidency: You frequently have to squint to find the White House amid the larger landscape…. – WaPo, 3-1-11
  • Liberal tradition is under assault: In one of the unexpected moments from the past few weeks, some defenders of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s attack on public unions have pointed to President Franklin Roosevelt.
    Patrick McIlheran of the Journal Sentinel wrote, “Somewhere, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is grinning past his cigarette holder at Wisconsin’s governor. They are on the same page regarding government unions.”
    These commentators have noted that Roosevelt’s doubts about public sector unions suggest that today’s conservatives are more in touch with his positions than the Democrats…. – CNN, 2-28-11
  • Julian Zelizer: By keeping his distance, has Obama played Wisconsin right?: “The biggest danger in some ways was for him to be consumed by this issue,” says Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “That hasn’t happened.”… – CS Monitor, 2-25-11
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May 10, 2010: Obama Nominates Kagan & Financial Overhaul Debates

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President, Vice President, and Elena Kagan

White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 5/10/1

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Polls say Sestak now leads Specter in U.S. Senate race: U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter’s once seemingly insurmountable lead in the polls is gone. Reflecting a trend that developed over the last month, two new polls released Monday showed Mr. Specter trailing his challenger for the Democratic Senate nomination, U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, a suburban Philadelphia congressman. Polls by Rasmussen Reports and the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion each showed Mr. Sestak with the support of 47 percent of likely Democratic voters and Mr. Specter with 42 percent. They come a week after a Quinnipiac University poll showed Mr. Specter’s lead had been cut from 21 percentage points in early April to 8 points early last week… – Scranton Times Tribune, 5-10-10
  • Poll: Lincoln, Boozman leading Ark. Senate race: A new poll shows incumbent U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas holding an edge over Lt. Gov. Bill Halter as both seek the Democratic nomination for the post. The Mason-Dixon poll of likely voters released Friday showed Lincoln with 44 percent support among likely voters and Halter next with 32 percent. Among eight Republicans, Congressman John Boozman led the pack with 48 percent support…. – AP, 5-7-10
  • Crist Holds 6-Point Lead as Independent in Florida Senate Race, Poll Shows: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is holding a six-point lead in his state’s Senate race, according to a poll conducted after Crist left the Republican Party to run as an independent last week. The poll showed Crist with 38 percent support, compared with 32 percent for Rubio and 19 percent for Meek. Eleven percent were undecided. Pollster Brad Coker told the Orlando Sentinel that since most of Crist’s supporters are Democrats a large bloc of his support could abandon him as Meek raises his profile in the race. The poll showed 48 percent of Crist’s supporters were Democrats…. – Fox News, 5-6-10
  • Poll: Tea party platform fares best among GOP conservatives: The conservative “tea party” movement appeals almost exclusively to supporters of the Republican Party, bolstering the view that the tea party divides the GOP even as it has energized its base. That conclusion, backed by numbers from a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, also suggests that the tea party may have little room for growth. Most Americans — including large majorities of those who don’t already count themselves as supporters — say they’re not interested in learning more about the movement. A sizable share of those not already sympathetic to the tea party also say that the more they hear, the less they like the movement.
    Overall, the tea party remains divisive, with 27 percent of those polled saying they’re supportive but about as many, 24 percent, opposed. Supporters overwhelmingly identify themselves as Republicans or GOP-leaning independents; opponents are even more heavily Democratic. The new movement is also relatively small, with 8 percent of supporters claiming to be “active participants” — about 2 percent of the total population…. – WaPo, 5-4-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Kagan fits Obama’s vision for the Supreme Court: With his second Supreme Court nomination in as many years, President Barack Obama has laid down clear markers of his vision for the court, one that could prove to be among his most enduring legacies….
    Kagan, 50, the solicitor general named to replace outgoing liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, would not immediately alter the ideological balance of the bench. But her addition would almost certainly provide a lasting, liberal presence, and administration officials hope she would, in the words of one, “start to move the court into a different posture and profile.”….
    Rep. Lamar Smith of San Antonio, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said Kagan will have to show “that she was not chosen by the president as a political ally who will rubber-stamp his agenda — but as an impartial jurist who will uphold the Constitution’s limits on the proper role of the federal government and defend the liberties of everyday Americans.”…. – WaPo, 5-10-10
  • Republican senators pressing to end federal control of Fannie, Freddie: The total price tag for mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie MacFannie will be $145 billion, easily becoming the costliest element of the government’s rescue of the financial system.
    As the Senate resumed debate Monday on legislation to overhaul financial regulation, leading Republican lawmakers are pushing an amendment that would wind down the government-controlled mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The proposal by Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Richard C. Shelby (Ala.) and Judd Gregg (N.H.) calls for the government to end its control of the companies within two years. Under the amendment, Fannie and Freddie would have to reduce the size of their mortgage portfolios and begin paying state and local sales taxes…. WaPo, 5-11-10
  • Obama Is Said to Select Kagan as Justice: President Obama will nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the nation’s 112th justice, choosing his own chief advocate before the Supreme Court to join it in ruling on cases critical to his view of the country’s future, Democrats close to the White House said Sunday. After a monthlong search, Mr. Obama informed Ms. Kagan and his advisers on Sunday of his choice to succeed the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. He plans to announce the nomination at 10 a.m. Monday in the East Room of the White House with Ms. Kagan by his side, said the Democrats, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the decision before it was formally made public…. – NYT, 5-10-10
  • A Climb Marked by Confidence and Canniness – NYT, 5-10-10
  • Holder Backs a Miranda Limit for Terror Suspects: The Obama administration said Sunday it would seek a law allowing investigators to interrogate terrorism suspects without informing them of their rights, as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. flatly asserted that the defendant in the Times Square bombing attempt was trained by the Taliban in Pakistan. Mr. Holder proposed carving out a broad new exception to the Miranda rights established in a landmark 1966 Supreme Court ruling. It generally forbids prosecutors from using as evidence statements made before suspects have been warned that they have a right to remain silent and to consult a lawyer…. – NYT, 5-10-10
  • Oil executives face U.S. Congress on Gulf spill: Big oil goes under the spotlight on Tuesday when U.S. lawmakers grill top executives on a drilling rig explosion and oil spill that threatens an environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.
    The hearings come during a desperate race against time to stem the oil gushing from a well ruptured after an explosion last month that killed 11 workers, sank the rig and set in motion the unfolding economic and ecological disaster…. – Reuters, 5-11-10
  • Reid seeks to fast-track financial overhaul bill Network News: ….”We have had a big day in the Senate,” Reid said, his voice oozing sarcasm. “Because of my Republican friends, we have been able to accomplish almost nothing — not quite, but almost nothing.”… While his frustration seemed genuine, Reid’s scolding in the empty chamber was part political theater, aimed at speeding up a top policy priority for President Obama. His remarks presaged a week in which the Senate moved forward on the landmark legislation in brief spurts of action during long periods of procedural delays and partisan bickering.
    Republicans have warned against pushing ahead too quickly with the far-reaching legislation, arguing that such haste could lead to unintended consequences that harm the very people that lawmakers are trying to help…. – WaPo, 5-10-10
  • US warns Pakistan over Times Square bomb attempt: The United States has delivered a tough new warning to Pakistan to crack down on Islamic militants or face severe consequences after the failed Times Square bombing. In a meeting on Friday between Stanley McChrystal, the US military commander in Afghanistan, and Pakistani military commander General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, General McChrystal urged Pakistan quickly to begin a military offensive against the Pakistani Taleban and al-Qaeda in North Waziristan, according to the New York Times newspaper…. – Times Online, 5-9-10
  • GOP loses consumer plan vote in Senate: Prodded by President Obama, the Senate rejected a Republican consumer protection plan yesterday that would have diluted a central element of the administration’s financial regulation package. Democrats and the president argued that the GOP proposal would have gutted consumer protections. The vote was 61 to 38, with two Republicans — Senators Olympia Snowe of Maine and Charles Grassley of Iowa — joining Democrats to defeat the GOP measure…. – Boston Globe, 5-7-10
  • Walter Hickel, former Alaska governor and Nixon Cabinet Member Walter Hickel dies at 90: Former Alaska Gov. Walter Hickel, who was Richard Nixon’s interior secretary until he was fired after criticizing the handling of Vietnam protests, has died at age 90. Longtime assistant Malcolm Roberts says Hickel died Friday night at Horizon House, an assisted living facility in Anchorage. – AP, 5-8-10
  • Origin of Wall Street’s Plunge Continues to Elude Officials: A day after a harrowing plunge in the stock market, federal regulators were still unable on Friday to answer the one question on every investor’s mind: What caused that near panic on Wall Street? Through the day and into the evening, officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission and other federal agencies hunted for clues amid a tangle of electronic trading records from the nation’s increasingly high-tech exchanges. But, maddeningly, the cause or causes of the market’s wild swing remained elusive, leaving what amounts to a $1 trillion question mark hanging over the world’s largest, and most celebrated, stock market…. – NYT, 5-8-10
  • New Justice to Confront Evolution in Powers: As President Obama prepares to nominate somebody to succeed Justice John Paul Stevens, his administration appears to be on a collision course with the Supreme Court in legal disputes that will test the limits of executive power. Those disputes — involving issues like detainee rights and secrecy — throw into sharp relief the differences in the records of several leading contenders for the nomination, including Solicitor General Elena Kagan and two appeals court judges, Merrick B. Garland and Diane P. Wood. While any plausible Democratic nominee would probably rule the same way Justice Stevens would have in many areas of law, including abortion rights and the new health care law, executive power may be an exception. Justice Stevens was a critical vote in a five-justice faction that rejected expansive assertions of executive authority by former President George W. Bush. If his successor is more sympathetic to the vantage point of the Obama White House, the balance could shift to a new bare majority that is far more willing to uphold broad presidential powers… – NYT, 5-8-10
  • Pressure on Pakistan amid fresh terror links: Alleged links between the Times Square plot and extremist networks are adding to perceptions of Pakistan as a global exporter of terrorism and increasing pressure on its military to crack down on extremists along the Afghan border.
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that Pakistan has become far more helpful in battling extremists over the past year but that cooperation could be improved.
    She also warned that the Obama administration has made it clear there will be “severe consequences” if an attack on U.S. soil is traced back to Pakistan. Clinton spoke in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” to air this weekend AP, 5-8-10
  • Faithful mark prayer day at Capitol after judge’s ruling: Congress established the National Day of Prayer in 1952. But last month, a federal judge in Wisconsin declared that the government’s observance of the event is unconstitutional, calling it “an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function.” The ruling angered many in the faith community. The Obama administration has decided to appeal the ruling. And as he did last year, President Obama issued a National Day of Prayer proclamation: “I call upon the citizens of our Nation to pray, or otherwise give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings.”…. – WaPo, 5-6-10
  • “Joe the Plumber” Wins Local GOP Elected Office: Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher became famous in 2008 when the John McCain presidential campaign heralded him as an average small business owner. Now, he is an elected official himself. Wurzelbacher won one of nearly 400 seats on the Republican Party committee for northwest Ohio’s Lucas County, the Associated Press reports. The group only meets a few times a year to elect the county chairman and sets the party agenda…. – CBS News,
  • Republicans want to lift bank swaps ban: senator: Banks would be allowed to keep their lucrative swaps-trading desks under a softened set of regulations for the $450 trillion derivatives market proposed by U.S. Senate Republicans on Wednesday… – Reuters, 5-6-10
  • Financial regulations still face delays, disputes: A tentative agreement in hand, Democrats and Republicans still face an array of hurdles and uncertain timing over a Senate bill that would rein in financial institutions. While Democrats agreed to jettison a $50 billion fund to liquidate large, failing firms, disputes over consumer protections, Federal Reserve oversight and regulation of complex securities are for the moment beyond compromise. Democrats and Republicans were preparing to fight those issues out on the Senate floor.
    “They’re stalling everything we do,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid complained Tuesday evening. He called for the bill to be completed by the end of next week.
    Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell had a different timetable in mind. “I must tell you, I don’t think this is a couple-of-weeks bill,” he said. “It’s not that we don’t want to pass it, but we do want to cover the subject.”… – AP, 5-5-10
  • Chicago judge interviewed for Supreme Court vacancy: Diane Wood, a Chicago federal appeals court judge, was interviewed by President Obama on Tuesday about replacing retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court, a source told the Chicago Sun-Times. Wood had a second interview with Vice President Joe Biden about the upcoming vacancy. Stevens, a Chicago native, was in Chicago on Monday to speak at a 7th Circuit lawyers and judges conference where another person in the running to replace him — Solicitor General Elena Kagan — was also on the program. Wood and Obama know each other from the days when he taught law at the University of Chicago…. – Chicago Sun Times, 5-5-10
  • Barack Obama extends US sanctions against Syria US president accuses Damascus of supporting terrorist groups and pursuing weapons of mass destruction: President Barack Obama extended US sanctions against Syria, saying yesterday it supported terrorist organisations and pursued weapons of mass destruction and missile programmes. Syria’s actions and policies “pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States”, Obama said in a statement…. – Guardian.co.uk, 5-4-10
  • Obama administration discloses size of U.S. nuclear arsenal: Shattering a taboo dating from the Cold War, the Obama administration revealed Monday the size of the American nuclear arsenal — 5,113 weapons — as it embarked on a campaign for tougher measures against countries with hidden nuclear programs. The figure was in line with previous estimates by arms-control groups. But Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton emphasized that it was the very disclosure of the long-held secret that was important. “We think it is in our national security interest to be as transparent as we can about the nuclear program of the United States,” she told reporters at a high-level nuclear conference in New York, where she announced the change in policy. “We think that builds confidence.”… –  WaPo, 5-3-10
  • Voting begins in Senate on Wall Street reform: The U.S. Senate will cast its first votes on Tuesday on a sweeping Wall Street reform bill, with passage of a handful of uncontroversial amendments expected and a key procedural question still unsettled. Democratic leaders had not yet determined as of late Monday whether amendments will need 50 or 60 votes to pass. The difference is important because Democrats control 59 votes in the 100-member chamber, versus the Republicans’ 41 votes…. – Reuters, 5-4-10
  • Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens silent on his replacement in speech Justice bypasses court discussion, instead talks about his beloved Cubs: In one of his last public speeches before retiring, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on Monday bypassed talk of the court’s deep ideological divide and the battle to replace him and instead talked to a Chicago legal group about his beloved Cubs. The Chicago native recalled one of his most precious boyhood memories — watching Babe Ruth hit his famous “called shot” for the New York Yankees in the 1932 World Series with the Cubs… – Chicago Tribune, 5-4-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Outside groups fuel heated Ark. Senate race: Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter of Arkansas recently complained about a Senate campaign ad in which Indian-American actors thanked him for allegedly outsourcing jobs to India. (Americans for Job Security via Associated Press); For Arkansas voters, the names on the ballot in the Democratic Senate primary election next week will be well known: US Senator Blanche Lincoln, the two-term incumbent, and her opponent, Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, the father of the state’s lottery. But the campaign they have waged is like nothing Arkansas has seen before.
    In a state known for face-to-face politics where candidates make the rounds of small-town events such as the Gillett Coon Supper and the Slovak Oyster Supper, the race for Lincoln’s Senate seat has been overwhelmed by a multimillion-dollar, televised proxy battle among some of the nation’s largest interest groups for supremacy in the Democratic Party…. – Boston Globe, 5-10-10
  • Ohio Democrats respond to racy GOP ad: Ohio Democrats have released a political ad full of shirtless workers. It’s the party’s answer to a sexually suggestive GOP ad that depicted a bare-chested U.S. Senate candidate. The original ad, created by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, features an image of a shirtless Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher in a provocative pose….- AP, 5-10-10
  • National Democrats pull out of Hawaii: National Democrats pull their money out of Hawaii’s special election and local Republicans are rejoicing over the end of their opponent’s smear tactics. Even the local Democrats say they are pleased the national Democrats are leaving saying the negative ads didn’t play well in Hawaii. Voters won’t be getting anymore recorded calls from President Obama either…. – HawaiiNewsNow, 5-10-10
  • Paul may not vote for McConnell as floor leader: Front-runner Rand Paul said in a U.S. Senate debate Monday night that he may not support Kentucky’s other senator, Mitch McConnell, for minority floor leader if he’s elected. “I’d have to know who the opponent is and make a decision at that time,” Paul said in a sometimes testy televised debate, the final face off in what has become an increasing acrimonious race to replace Sen. Jim Bunning…. – AP, 5-11-10
  • Veteran Democrat faces anti-incumbent challenge: Democratic Rep. Alan Mollohan has delivered for his West Virginia district for nearly three decades — steering millions of dollars in projects that have helped an anemic economy.
    His rival in Tuesday’s primary is state Sen. Mike Oliverio, who has criticized the agenda of President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. In a state where Republican presidential nominee John McCain won handily in 2008, that criticism has helped the 46-year-old financial adviser attract the support of some of West Virginia’s tea party supporters as well as former Mollohan allies. “I think the voters in northern West Virginia have simply lost confidence in Congressman Mollohan,” Oliverio said… – AP/USA Today, 5-9-10
  • Some Palin Facebook fans unhappy with endorsement: Ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has outraged some of her fans with an endorsement of former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina in the GOP’s U.S. Senate primary in California…. In the Thursday posting, Palin called Fiorina a “Commonsense Conservative” who has the potential to beat “liberal” Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in November…. – AP, 5-8-10
  • Last weeks of GOP Senate primary race focus on Boxer Tom Campbell and Carly Fiorina face the challenge of drawing attention from Republicans Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman in race for governor. LAT, 5-8-10
  • Bennett out; GOP delegates reject 18-year Senate veteran Delegates reject 18-year Senate veteran; Bridgewater and Lee move to June primary: Three-term Sen. Bob Bennett became the first victim this year of a wave of voter anger toward Washington in a defeat that will likely send a jolt through incumbents everywhere. Businessman Tim Bridgewater finished first in the final round of balloting, beating attorney Mike Lee 57 percent to 43 percent, meaning they will face off in a June 22 primary battle. “I always think I’m going to win. I met 2,700 delegates. I knew where the delegates were,” Bridgewater said. “I feel like I can relate to people from all walks of life in this state.”…. – The Salt Lake Tribune, 5-8-10
  • Suddenly, Rubio likes Arizona’s immigration law: Facing a media throng recently in West Miami that included Spanish-language television, U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio left no doubt where he stood on a contentious new immigration law in Arizona.
    “I think the law has potential unintended consequences, and it’s one of the reasons why I think immigration needs to be a federal issue, not a state one,” Rubio said at the April 27 event, where he signed the official papers to be on the 2010 ballot. “That’s how I felt when I was in the Florida House.” Rubio added at the West Miami event: “Everyone is concerned with the prospect of the reasonable suspicion provisions where individuals could be pulled over because someone suspects they may not be legal in this country,” he said. “I think over time people will grow uncomfortable with that.”… – Miami Herald, 5-8-10
  • Bush backs Rubio, rips Crist in speech: In one of his first political campaign appearances since he left the Florida governor’s office, and an indication of his political re-emergence, former Gov. Jeb Bush endorsed Marco Rubio in a speech to a gathering of Tampa Bay area Republicans on Friday.
    “I’m a little rusty; I don’t speak that much to partisan crowds these days. I haven’t been on the stump that much,” Bush said at the Pasco County Republican Party’s annual fundraising dinner…. – TBO, 5-8-10
  • Last weeks of GOP Senate primary race focus on Boxer: Tom Campbell and Carly Fiorina face the challenge of drawing attention from Republicans Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman in race for governor…. – LAT, 5-8-10
  • GOP Senate candidates spar in first face-to-face debate: Campbell, DeVore and Fiorina tussle over immigration, the Wall Street bailout and taxes at L.A.’s Museum of Tolerance. The debate will air in California on ABC stations on Sunday…. – LAT, 5-7-10
  • Case ties himself to Obama in new ad: In a last-ditch attempt to gain momentum, former congressman Ed Case is latching himself to President Obama in his latest television ad – even though the White House hasn’t publicly backed him in the three-way special election taking place in Hawaii. “Only one candidate is strong enough to stand with the president: Ed Case,” a narrator says in the ad. “The White House believes Ed Case has the best chance of beating Djou and moving America forward. Ed Case, President Obama – putting Hawaii first.” The ad also accuses Republicans of wanting Obama to fail in office, and is using Republican Charles Djou, a Honolulu city councilman, to achieve that goal.??… – Politico, 5-6-10
  • Sen. DeMint endorses Paul in US Senate race in Ky.: U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint put himself at odds with Kentucky’s Sen. Mitch McConnell on Wednesday by endorsing an antiestablishment candidate for U.S. Senate in Kentucky. DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, gave his support to political outsider Rand Paul, one day after Minority Floor Leader McConnell endorsed establishment candidate Trey Grayson. “I’m endorsing Rand Paul because he’s a true conservative who will stand up to the Washington establishment,” said DeMint, who released a written statement saying he still supports McConnell as floor leader even though the two disagree on Kentucky’s Senate race. “Rand has been running on the issues that matter since the beginning of this campaign, DeMint said in the statement. “He’s a strong advocate for balanced budgets. He wants to end the culture of earmarks. He supports term limits. And he’s 100 percent pro-life.”… – AP, 5-5-10
  • Bennett appeals to GOP to let him keep Senate seat: Sen. Bob Bennett abandoned Washington this week, spending his days in Utah pleading with Republicans until he was hoarse to let him keep his job — in Washington. The three-term conservative is in serious danger of losing at a GOP state convention Saturday, tripped up by anti- incumbent sentiment and Utah’s quirky nomination system. His only hope is to win over enough delegates to force the party to hold a primary in June. He has until Saturday morning to pitch some 3,500 die-hard GOP convention delegates, who tend to be more conservative than Utah Republicans overall. Polls show Bennett trailing in third place…. – AP, 5-6-10
  • Obey retirement gives GOP hopeful opening in Wis.: Democratic U.S. Rep. David Obey’s unexpected retirement has thrust a conservative former cast member of MTV’s “The Real World” into position to capture a Wisconsin seat held by a leading liberal for four decades. It also left several Democrats pondering the legacy of Obey, at 71 the third longest-serving current member of the House, and weighing whether to get in the race…. – AP, 5-6-10
  • Jeb Bush endorses Marco Rubio in Fla. Senate race: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is endorsing Marco Rubio’s campaign for U.S. Senate. Bush, still popular and influential with Florida Republicans, has long been rumored to be a Rubio backer, but his endorsement comes less than a week after Gov. Charlie crist decided to run as an independent rather than face Rubio in the GOP primary. Bush says Rubio is a passionate, principled leader who wouldn’t change his views when political winds shift… – AP, 5-5-10
  • Cohen hits campaign trail for governor Former lieutenant governor candidate who quit amid political scandal is launching independent bid: Pawnbroker Scott Lee Cohen announced his independent candidacy for governor Monday, trying to leap back into the political fray that chewed him up and spit him out in February. Cohen said he was still searching for a running mate, and he was vague on details about how he would circulate enough petitions by June 21 to secure the 25,000 signatures needed for a spot on the ballot. But he claimed that polling he conducted in March suggested he was a viable candidate. “I am not perfect, but I am honest,” Cohen said at a news conference in the plaza outside the Thompson Center. “Illinois needs honesty more than perfection.”… – Chicago Tribune, 5-3-10
  • Union: Ads chiding Ark. Senate candidate ‘racist’: A Virginia-based advocacy group began airing television ads in Arkansas on Monday in which Indian actors “thank” Democratic Senate candidate Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, claiming he outsourced jobs overseas. The ad, which features Indian-American actors thanking Halter while superimposed in front of various street scenes in India, was denounced by Halter’s campaign and that of his Democratic rival, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, as offensive. The Arkansas chapter of the AFL-CIO, which has endorsed Halter, called it “horribly racist.” The spot has been criticized as playing up stereotypes of India because it features actors with Indian accents and uses the street scenes…. – AP, 5-3-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Weekly Address: Health Reform Starts to Kick In WH, 5-8-10
  • Education vital to U.S. success, Obama tells Hampton University graduates: President Obama delivered a strong argument Sunday on the importance of education, telling the new graduates of the historic black university here that “all of us have a responsibility, as Americans, to change” the comparatively low academic achievement of African Americans in this country.
    Before an audience of more than 12,000 students, family members and guests at Hampton University’s commencement, Obama said the nation must “offer every single child in this country an education that will make them competitive in our knowledge economy.”
    “But I have to say, Class of 2010, all of you have a separate responsibility. To be role models for your brothers and sisters,” Obama told the 1,072 students receiving undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees on the cool but lovely spring morning. “To be mentors in your communities. And, when the time comes, to pass that sense of an education’s value down to your children, a sense of personal responsibility and self-respect.”… – WaPo, 5-10-10
  • President Obama says health law benefits already being felt: “Already we are seeing a health care system that holds insurance companies more accountable and gives consumers more control,” Obama said during his weekly radio address. “For too long, we have been held hostage to an insurance industry that jacks up premiums and drops coverage as they please,” he said. “The new health care law has also begun to end the worst practices of insurance companies,” he said… – NY Daily News, 5-9-10
  • Kerry, Lieberman press climate bill without Graham: The leading sponsors of a long-delayed energy and climate change bill said Friday they will press ahead despite losing the support of their only Republican partner. Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass, and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said they plan to introduce a bill on Wednesday. The pair made the announcement just hours after Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said it’s impossible to pass the legislation now because of disagreements over offshore drilling and immigration reform.
    “Regrettably, in my view, this has become impossible in the current environment,” Graham said in a statement. “I believe there could be more than 60 votes for this bipartisan concept in the future. But there are not nearly 60 votes today and I do not see them materializing until we deal with the uncertainty of the immigration debate and the consequences of the oil spill.”
    Kerry and Lieberman said they plan to introduce the bill on Wednesday — two weeks after they first pledged to unveil it. “We are more encouraged today that we can secure the necessary votes to pass this legislation this year in part because the last (few) weeks have given everyone with a stake in this issue a heightened understanding that as a nation, we can no longer wait to solve this problem which threatens our economy, our security and our environment,” Kerry and Lieberman said. “We look forward to … passing the legislation with the support of Senator Graham and other Republicans, Democrats and independents this year,” they said…. – AP, 5-7-10
  • Obama: ‘Our obligations to our troops don’t end on the battlefield’: President Obama signed legislation today designed to help keep severely wounded troops in their homes by providing aid to family members who care for them. “Keeping faith with our veterans and their families is work that is never truly finished,” Obama said before signing the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act. The law increases health benefits for veterans, and provides new assistance to family members who care for loved ones injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We’re forever mindful that our obligations to our troops don’t end on the battlefield,” Obama said…. – USA Today, 5-5-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian Zelizer: Gov. Daniels: GOP’s best hope for 2012?: Conservative pundits are in love with a candidate for 2012, and it is not Sarah Palin. If you ask many top Republicans their favorite pick for the presidential campaign, they will answer Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels….
    Certain Republicans find Daniels attractive because they realize the 2012 campaign will not only be a mandate on President Obama; the GOP will undertake its campaign in the long shadow of President Bush, who ended his presidency with historically low approval ratings and a demoralized party.
    Daniels could help Republicans reclaim the mantel of fiscal conservatism. The skyrocketing federal deficit has emerged as a significant political issue. Concerns about how European countries will handle their debt have amplified fears within the United States….
    If Daniels decides to run, and he says he does not want to, his fate within the party would tell us a lot about the direction the Republican Party is heading. It is clear that there are other candidates, such as Palin or Romney or former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who might be an easier and more predictable choice for the GOP.
    Yet it is not clear whether any of them are candidates, as Daniels might be, who could help Republicans win back suburban and independent voters who went blue in 2008. – CNN, 5-9-10
  • Is Gulf oil spill Obama’s Katrina moment?: “The Obama administration has done nothing wrong,” said Katrina historian Douglas Brinkley. “This has been British Petroleum not having a Plan ‘A’ or Plan ‘B’ or Plan ‘C’ or Plan ‘D.” – CNN, 5-7-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Arizona law foes’ best weapon is dollars: In response to Arizona’s law cracking down on illegal immigration, pro-immigration and Hispanic organizations have launched a national protest campaign…..
    Pro-immigration groups have started a national boycott against Arizona. The boycott promises to be substantial in scale and scope. San Francisco, California, Mayor Gavin Newsom has announced that he will ban city employees from traveling to the state. Los Angeles officials are considering doing the same. There is growing pressure on Major League Baseball to pull next year’s all-star game out of Phoenix if the law is not changed. In other words, Arizona has a potentially big economic problem on its hands.
    The economic boycott has been a powerful tool in the struggle for social rights. During the civil rights era, African-American activists used boycotts to create pressure for social change and to draw national attention to their cause…. – CNN, 5-4-10
  • Douglas Brinkley: White House Expects Battle Over Supreme Court Nominee Advisers say Obama’s pick will draw controversy no matter who he chooses: “There’s no ‘Kumbaya’ going on—it’s gotten harsh and bitter,” says historian Doug Brinkley. He traces the acrimony to President Nixon’s controversial and unsuccessful high court nominations of Clement Haynsworth and Harrold Carswell in 1969 and 1970, respectively, and later, the defeat of Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork in 1987, and the divisive but successful nomination of Clarence Thomas by George H.W. Bush in 1991. “Now it’s almost par for the course,” Brinkley says. The pattern is for opponents to dredge up everything they can to harm a nominee, including books checked out of a library and movies rented from a video store. “We live in glass houses,” he says, and the result too often is a media circus. US News & World Report, 4-29-10

March 15, 2010: Obama Administration Health Care, Education & Israel

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President delivers the Weekly Address

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Poll: Republican resurgence among young adults: A new poll shows 18- to 29-year-old Republicans are more politically energized than young Democrats and are more inclined to vote in this fall’s elections. Young adults are also extremely concerned about the economy.
    Forty-one percent of young Republicans say they plan to vote in November, compared with 35 percent of Democrats and 13 percent of Independents, according to the poll conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics (IOP), a nonpartisan group. Fifty-three percent of those who voted for Sen. John McCain (R) of Ariz., in 2008 say they will definitely vote in midterm elections, compared with 44 percent of those who voted for President Obama…. – CS Monitor, 3-9-10
  • Poll: Financially pinched, young adults lose faith: Young adults are financially anxious, worried that they can’t meet their educational, housing and health care needs, according to a new poll that exposes a growing pessimism about achieving the American Dream. The poll by Harvard’s Institute of Politics found that six out of 10 of those surveyed worry they may not meet their current bills and obligations. Nearly half of those attending college wonder whether they will be able to afford to stay in school. And more than eight out of 10 said they expect difficulty finding a job after graduation. Fewer than half said they believe they will be better off than their parents when they reach their parents’ age…. – AP, 3-9-10
  • Poll: U.S. has lost global standing under Obama: A majority of Americans say the United States is less respected in the world than two years ago and believe President Obama and other Democrats fall short of Republicans on the issue of national security, according to a poll by two left-leaning groups.
    The Democracy Corps-Third Way survey released Monday finds that by a 10-point margin – 51 percent to 41 percent – Americans think the standing of the United States has dropped during the first 13 months of Mr. Obama’s presidency.
    “This is surprising, given the global acclaim – and Nobel peace prize – that flowed to the new president after he took office,” the pollsters said…. – Washington Times, 3-9-10
  • New poll spells potential trouble for Democrats: A new poll on Monday found signs of trouble ahead for President Barack Obama and his Democrats on national security issues such as the handling of terrorism suspects. The poll was conducted jointly by Democratic Corps, a Democratic organization, and Third Way, a progressive non-profit organization. It was done mainly to gauge voters’ views on Democrats’ handling of national security.
    The poll found 60 percent of Americans believe the United States is on the wrong track. It also found that people rated Democrats at about the same level as Republicans, in what amounted to an erosion of the advantage Democrats have held.
    “We would not want the election to be held today, with this poll,” said Democracy Corps’ chief pollster Stan Greenberg. “If the election were held today, this would be a ‘change’ election.”… – Reuters, 3-8-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Agencies lag in following Obama’s openness order: President Barack Obama is having difficulty getting all federal agencies to follow his order to deliver “a new era of open government,” according to a study of how they administer the Freedom of Information Act. The National Security Archive, a private group that publishes declassified government information and uses the act and lawsuits to pry out official records, found a decidedly mixed record in an audit of how 90 agencies responded to Obama directives to open more records, and the guidelines and training sessions that followed from the Justice Department…. – AP, 3-14-10
  • Catholic hospitals support health care bill: A group representing Catholic hospitals is rallying behind President Barack Obama’s health care bill. Support from the Catholic Health Association could help persuade anti-abortion lawmakers to provide critical votes in the House for the overhaul. The group’s chief executive, Carol Keehan, writes on the association’s Web site that the legislation isn’t perfect, but is “a major first step” toward covering all Americans and would make “great improvements” for millions of people….- AP, 3-13-10
  • Reports: U.S. Pressuring Israel to Scrap Building Plan: The controversial plan to build 1,600 apartments was approved during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to the region last week…. – AP, 3-15-10
  • GOP Lawmaker: White House Job Offer to Sestak Would Have Been a ‘Crime’: A GOP lawmaker says that the White House committed a “crime” if it offered Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak a federal job in exchange for dropping his primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa…. – FOX News, 3-13-10
  • Obama promise: Brighter education futures for kids: President Barack Obama is promising parents and their kids that with his administration’s help they will have better teachers in improved schools so U.S. students can make up for academic ground lost against youngsters in other countries.
    A plan to overhaul the 2002 education law championed by President George W. Bush was unveiled by the Obama administration Saturday in hopes of replacing a system that in the last decade has tagged more than a third of schools as failing and created a hodgepodge of sometimes weak academic standards among states.
    “Unless we take action — unless we step up — there are countless children who will never realize their full talent and potential,” Obama said during a video address on Saturday. “I don’t accept that future for them. And I don’t accept that future for the United States of America.”
    In the proposed dismantling of the No Child Left Behind law, education officials would move away from punishing schools that don’t meet benchmarks and focus on rewarding schools for progress, particularly with poor and minority students. Obama intends to send a rewrite to Congress on Monday of the law…. – AP, 3-13-10
  • Coffee vs. Tea: A political movement is brewing: The new Coffee Party movement deemed its official kickoff Saturday a “huge success,” with dozens of talks held at coast-to-coast coffee shops as members came together to discuss the issues most important to them.
    Billed by many as an answer to the conservative Tea Party movement, the Coffee Party was born on Facebook just six weeks ago. While the group has become an instant hit online — it boasts more than 141,000 Facebook fans as of Saturday — gauging the success of this weekend’s coffee meetups was predicted to be an indicator of the group’s strength…. – CNN, 3-13-10
  • Democrats move toward grouping health reform with student-aid bill: Democratic leaders said Thursday that they were increasingly inclined to release a final health-care bill that could accomplish two of President Obama’s top domestic priorities: guaranteeing coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans and vastly expanding federal aid for college students…. – WaPo, 3-12-10
  • Health Care Bill ‘Still a Jump Ball,’ White House Official Says: Passage of health care reform bill is “still a jump ball,” official tells Fox News, as Democratic leaders point to progress…
    The prospects for Democratic victory on health care reform, the president’s signature domestic initiative, have improved, but “it’s still a jump ball,” a top White House official intimately involved in the ongoing health care negotiations with House and Senate Democrats told Fox News late Friday. That assessment confirms that the White House and Democratic leaders so far lack the votes to pass health care in the House. And it undercuts somewhat the declaration Friday from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that President Obama finally feels the wind at his back on the issue…. – Fox News, 3-12-10
  • Obama prepares for showdown on health care: This time, the President acts as if he has set a deadline he can believe in… – Globe & Mail, 3-12-10
  • Clinton Rebukes Israel for Housing Announcement: In a tense, 43-minute phone call on Friday morning, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel’s plan for new housing units for Jews in East Jerusalem sent a “deeply negative signal” about Israeli-American relations, and not just because it spoiled a visit by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
    Such blunt language toward Israel is very rare from an American administration, and several officials said Mrs. Clinton was relaying the anger of President Obama at the announcement, which was made by Israel’s Interior Ministry and which Mr. Netanyahu said had caught him off guard…. – NYT, 2-12-10
  • Scott Brown to give GOP rebuttal to President’s weekly radio address: US Sen. Scott Brown, who was elected on a wave of opposition to current health care reform plans, will give the GOP rebuttal to President Obama’s weekly address as the White House ramps up their reform efforts. The high-profile address comes as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) announced yesterday he would push to pass the reforms through reconciliation…. – Boston Herald, 2-12-10
  • Senators give Obama a bipartisan plan on immigration: The president is encouraged, but healthcare politics could jeopardize the proposal…. – LAT, 3-12-10
  • At U.N., Clinton rallies for more women’s opportunities worldwide: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told government delegates and activists here Friday that violence against women remains a “global pandemic” and that their “subjugation” constitutes “a threat to the national security of the United States.” Speaking on the final day of a two-week U.N. conference on women’s rights, Clinton urged U.N. member states to expand opportunities for women and end practices that subject them to discrimination and violence…. – WaPo, 3-12-10
  • Dems look to health vote without abortion foes: House leaders have concluded they cannot change a divisive abortion provision in President Barack Obama’s health care bill and will try to pass the sweeping legislation without the support of ardent anti-abortion Democrats. A break on abortion would remove a major obstacle for Democratic leaders in the final throes of a yearlong effort to change health care in the United States. But it sets up a risky strategy of trying to round up enough Democrats to overcome, not appease, a small but possibly decisive group of Democratic lawmakers in the House…. – AP, 3-12-10
  • Dems Abandon Abortion Deal, Ready Health Vote: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel emerged from a meeting in the Capitol with top Democratic lawmakers Thursday night saying, “We made a lot of decisions. We’re getting towards the end.”… – AP, Fox News, 3-12-10
  • Obama Lists Who Will Get Prize Money From Nobel: President Obama has made good on a promise to give his $1.4 million in Nobel Peace Prize money to charity, releasing on Thursday the names of the organizations that will benefit.
    “These organizations do extraordinary work in the United States and abroad helping students, veterans and countless others in need,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “I’m proud to support their work.”
    Mr. Obama put Fisher House, an organization that provides housing for the families of those being treated at major military and Veterans Affairs medical centers, at the top of the list with a $250,000 donation. Fisher House was followed by the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, the project his two immediate predecessors are running to raise money for relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti, which will get $200,000… – NYT, 3-11-10
  • Senate approves $138-billion spending bill: The legislation, which must be reconciled with the House version, would extend jobless benefits and tax measures created to boost the economy, and help states pay for Medicaid…. – LAT, 3-11-10
  • Key senators balk at adding student loan overhaul to health-care legislation: As they push to finish health-care legislation by the end of the month, Democratic leaders in Congress are weighing whether to add another of President Obama’s priorities to the package: a popular proposal to overhaul the federal student loan program. The move could clear the way for Obama to claim victory on two of his most significant domestic initiatives in a single signing ceremony. Administration officials and House leaders have pressed aggressively for the addition in recent days. But key senators are objecting to the move, arguing that political resistance in the Senate and the rapidly rising cost of the education measure could jeopardize efforts to push health-care reform to final passage…. – WaPo, 3-11-10
  • It’s Obama vs. the Supreme Court, Round 2, over campaign finance ruling: Roberts calls scene at State of the Union ‘very troubling’ In remarks during a question-and-answer session with law students at the University of Alabama, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. protested the timing of President Obama’s State of the Union disapproval of the court’s decision in a major campaign finance case.
    President Obama and the Supreme Court have waded again into unfamiliar and strikingly personal territory. When Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. told law students in Alabama on Tuesday that the timing of Obama’s criticism of the court during the State of the Union address was “very troubling,” the White House pounced. It shot back with a new denouncement of the court’s ruling that allowed a more active campaign role for corporations and unions…. – WaPo, 3-11-10
  • Bill Clinton, Bill Gates unite in foreign aid plea: Former president Bill Clinton and Microsoft founder Bill Gates called Wednesday on US lawmakers to boost foreign aid to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria in the world’s poorest nations. The leading philanthropists went to Capitol Hill to boost support for the so-called Global Health Initiative (GHI) and promote a crucial health aid budget bill proposed in 2009 by President Barack Obama’s administration.
    “I hope you will pass this bill,” Clinton said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It is a very good bill, I think, and I think it is the next logical step” in US efforts to boost global health care… – AFP, 3-10-10
  • Obama Gets Tough on Health Care Fraud: President Obama continued his drive for a health care overhaul on Wednesday, ordering a crackdown on Medicare and Medicaid waste and fraud, while in Washington, House leaders said they hoped to have a completed bill to present to rank and file members Thursday morning….
    “The health care system has billions of dollars that should go to patient care, and they’re lost each and every year to fraud and abuse and massive subsidies that line the pockets of insurance company executives,” Mr. Obama told about 500 mostly supportive local residents in the gymnasium of St. Charles High School here…. – NYT, 3-10-10
  • Obama backs bipartisan crackdown on healthcare cheats: President Barack Obama, making a final push for healthcare reform, will back bipartisan plans to stamp out waste in government-run medical programs for the old and needy, the White House said on Tuesday… – Reuters, 3-9-10
  • Mitt Romney: Tea Party movement is great as long as they vote Republican: Mitt Romney is supportive of the Tea Party movement but draws the line when it comes to a third party. CS Monitor, 3-9-10
  • Ex-Congressman Massa says groping wasn’t sexual: Former Rep. Eric Massa, a New York Democrat who resigned his seat Monday amid a sexual harassment investigation, goes on TV to defend himself…. – LAT, 3-10-10
  • Obama takes hard-sell health pitch to Pa.: President Obama stepped up pressure Monday on his fellow Democrats to retool the nation’s health care system, decrying those who put politics above policy. Saving his harshest rhetoric for the insurance industry, Obama began his latest attempt to pass his 10-year, $950 billion measure by declaring, “The issue here is not the politics of it.”
    “It’s hard for some members of Congress to make this vote. There’s no doubt about that,” Obama said. In contrast, he said, “What’s hard is what millions of families and small businesses are going through because we allow the insurance industry to run wild in this country.”,…. – USA Today, 3-8-10
  • Obama hails contributions of ‘daring’ women: Crediting their role in the American story, President Barack Obama on Monday praised the nation’s “daring, indomitable” women — including the one-time political rival who is now his secretary of state. “Women like Hillary Rodham Clinton, who, throughout her career, has put millions of cracks in America’s glass ceiling,” Obama said in the grand East Room packed mostly with women. “It’s because of them — and so many others, many who aren’t recorded in the history books — that the story of America is, ultimately, one of hope and one of progress, of an upward journey.”
    “We’re doing all of this not only because promoting women’s empowerment is one of the best ways to promote economic development and economic success,” Obama said. “We are doing it because it’s the right thing to do. I say that not only as a president, but also as the father of two daughters, as a son and a grandson, and as a husband.” – AP, 3-8-10
  • Joe Biden in Israel to press Mid-East peace talks: US Vice-President Joe Biden has arrived in Israel to promote a new round of Middle East peace talks more than a year after they stalled. Mr Biden – the highest-ranking Obama administration official to visit the region – will meet both Palestinian and Israeli officials. Iran’s nuclear intentions are expected to be at the top of Israel’s agenda…. – BBC News, 3-8-10
  • Pa. Sen. Arlen Specter is penning a book: Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, who switched to the Democratic Party last year, is writing a book about his experiences… – USA Today, 3-8-10
  • Healthcare overhaul comes down to Pelosi and Obama: A bill’s fate depends on whether the House Speaker can land enough votes – and whether the president can take control of the debate, which Democrats complain he has not done…. – 3-8-10
  • Democrats Voice Health-Bill Doubts: Some House Democrats wavering over whether to back a health-care overhaul questioned whether it would effectively curb the country’s health costs, highlighting a difficult issue that the White House and congressional leaders must address in the final negotiations on the measure. The issue is one of several that have been raised by Democrats over the bill, which President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders are pushing to pass by the end of March. Conservative Democrats have raised questions over the bill’s language on abortion and tax increases, while liberals are unhappy with its failure to include a government plan that would compete with private insurers…. – WSJ, 3-8-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Voter turnouts for primaries ‘a concern’: The red-hot race in Texas earlier this month between Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison for the Republican gubernatorial nomination helped drive the state to its biggest primary turnout in 20 years. And just how many people showed up for the election? About 1.5 million Texans cast ballots in the March 2 GOP primary for governor, according to the secretary of State’s office. That means only about 1 in 10 of the 15.3 million Texans 18 and older who were eligible to vote actually cast a ballot, according to Curtis Gans at American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate… – USA Today,
  • McCain campaigns for NH Senate candidate: Arizona Sen. John McCain told New Hampshire voters Saturday that if the current health care bill passes, opponents will immediately launch a nationwide movement to repeal it.
    “We can repeal it, but I would hate to have to have that task; obviously because there’s still the same resident of the White House,” he said at a town hall meeting reminiscent of those he held during his two presidential campaigns.
    On Saturday, McCain was stumping for fellow Republican Kelly Ayotte, a former state attorney general who is seeking the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Judd Gregg…. – Boston Globe, 3-12-10
  • Bush keeps Crist in his gun sights: Former Gov. Jeb Bush has been increasingly critical of Gov. Charlie Crist, but his election endorsement is still pending. There’s been a lot of speculation about when Jeb Bush will finally make his preference official and endorse Marco Rubio for the Senate. But it strikes us that Rubio is better served for now with the popular ex-governor continuing with his current role: ostensibly neutral and taking increasingly tough shots at Charlie Crist from the sidelines…. – St. Peterberg Times, 3-14-10
  • GOP nominates newcomer to succeed Murtha: Republicans last night selected a political newcomer who has never sought elected office as their nominee in the special election to succeed the late U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha. Tim Burns, a self-made millionaire from Eighty Four, Washington County, and a native of Mr. Murtha’s hometown of Johnstown, handily defeated Bill Russell, who mounted a strong challenge to Mr. Murtha in 2008…. – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3-12-10
  • Palin will make an appearance at fundraiser for Bachmann: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will bring her star power and fundraising prowess to Minnesota next month to help U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann with reelection. Bachmann announced Thursday that Palin will host a fundraising dinner April 7 at a Minneapolis hotel. There will be a private reception and photo opportunity at 4:30 p.m., a general reception at 5 p.m. and a dinner at 6 p.m. It’s not known how much tickets will cost…. – Star Tribune, 3-11-10
  • Cuomo Hands Paterson Case to an Ex-Judge: Facing growing political pressure, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday appointed an independent counsel to take over his office’s investigation into the Paterson administration’s response to a domestic violence case. Mr. Cuomo said Judith S. Kaye, the former chief judge of New York, would lead the inquiry, along with an investigation into whether the governor lied when he was questioned by the State Commission on Public Integrity about his office’s solicitation of Yankees World Series tickets…. – NYT, 3-11-10
  • With a huge lead in Florida polls, Rubio dazzles crowd: The second poll in a week shows him more than 30 points ahead of Gov. Charlie Crist…. – Jacksonville.com, 3-11-10
  • Romney Ties Decision on Presidential Bid to Outcome of November Elections: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney suggested Sunday that his decision on whether to run again for president may hinge on the outcome of the November midterm elections….
    “I don’t really have the pros and cons laid out yet,” he said. “It’s something which we won’t have to decide until some time after the November elections. My guess is after those elections are over and we see where the country is, and we see the features in our own lives that may affect a decision like that, we’ll sit down and make a decision.”… – Fox News, 3-8-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) Delivers Weekly GOP Address on Health Care: In the Weekly Republican Address, newly-elected Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts explains that the Democrats running Washington have their priorities all wrong. Sen. Brown says Americans “told me that they want their President and Congress to focus on creating jobs and reviving Americas economy. Instead, for more than a year now, we have seen a bitter, destructive, and endless drive to completely transform Americas health care system.”
    “Somehow,” Sen. Brown notes, “the greater the public opposition to the health care bill, the more determined they seem to force it on us anyway. Their attitude shows Washington at its very worst the presumption that they know best, and theyre going to get their way whether the American people like it or not.”
  • Sen. Brown says, “I havent been here very long, but, I can tell you this much already: Nothing has distracted the attention and energy of the nations capital more than this disastrous detour. And, the surest way to return to the peoples business is to listen to the people themselves: We need to drop this whole scheme of federally controlled health care, start over, and work together on real reforms at the state level that will contain costs and wont leave America trillions of dollars deeper in debt.” – You Tube, 3-13-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama to Send Updated Elementary and Secondary Education Act Blueprint To Congress on Monday Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address March 13, 2010: Under the leadership of an outstanding Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, we launched a Race to the Top, through which states compete for funding by committing to reform and raising standards, by rewarding good teaching, by supporting the development of better assessments to measure results, and by emphasizing math and science to help prepare children for college and careers.
    And on Monday, my administration will send to Congress our blueprint for an updated Elementary and Secondary Education Act to overhaul No Child Left Behind. What this plan recognizes is that while the federal government can play a leading role in encouraging the reforms and high standards we need, the impetus for that change will come from states, and from local schools and school districts. So, yes, we set a high bar – but we also provide educators the flexibility to reach it…. – WH, 3-13-10
  • The Conscience of a Florida Conservative: “They voted for somebody they’d never heard of in Barack Obama because he ran on the platform of a very devoted centrist.” That’s the answer from Marco Rubio when asked about his stunning rise to national prominence as a Republican challenger to a popular Republican officeholder in the key electoral state of Florida. Underlying this strange political season, says Mr. Rubio, is the president’s rapid uncloaking in office as anything but the postpartisan that voters thought they had elected. “Within weeks,” says Mr. Rubio, “he began trying to implement what appears to everyone else to be the left-of-center politics of the last 50 years, but in a much more aggressive way, using the excuse of a severe economic downturn as justification for growing and in essence redefining the role of government in America.”… – WSJ, 3-15-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Tevi Troy: Health Care: A Two-Decade Blunder: …Fast-forward 19 years: it is the Democrats who are now faced with divining the results of another underdog’s victory. In January, a little-known state senator named Scott Brown defeated Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in a special election for the United States Senate. Universal health care was once again on center stage. This time around, though, the Republican seized on widespread antipathy to what has come to be seen as an incoherent Democratic scheme for an unworkable federal takeover of health care…. – Commentary Magazine, 4-10
  • Tevi Troy: Nerd is another word for smart Republicans have long been viewed as those who get gentleman’s “C” in the national classroom. In fact, it is almost a liberal trope to call Republican presidents “dumb.”
    Democrats, in contrast, are usually cited as the smart ones in American politics….
    But this simplistic analysis of smart Democrats contrasted with dumb Republicans does not fit reality. – Politico, 3-12-10
  • Fred Greenstein: Obama Gets High Scores on Leadership Report Card: That’s according to presidential historian and author Fred Greenstein, professor of politics emeritus at Princeton University. The author of the new Inventing the Job of President has just updated his initial Obama report card and declared the president a “rare political leader.”
    In a scholarly paper, Barack Obama: The Man and His Early Presidency, Greenstein looks at six key leadership qualities and seems to find that the nation’s first African-American president is up to snuff. “Barack Obama is a fascinating political specimen,” writes Greenstein, whose books include The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to Barack Obama; The Hidden-Hand Presidency: Eisenhower as Leader; and How Presidents Test Reality: Decisions on Vietnam, 1954 and 1965.
    “Indeed,” adds Greenstein, “he may turn out to be the rare political leader who is marked by both a first-rate temperament and a first-rate mind.”… – US News, 3-12-10
  • Julian Zelizer: GOP health care refusal could backfire: Most Republicans have opposed President Obama’s health care bill from the first day he proposed reform. If the House passes the Senate bill in the next few days, it will probably do so without any Republican support.
    Regardless of whether the legislation passes, Republicans can already claim a victory, given that the struggle for legislation has lasted more than a year and tied up the rest of the Democratic agenda….
    Yet Republicans should be wary about celebrating too much. The strategy of obstruction poses significant risks….
    A recent leaked document from the Republican National Committee suggests that the party is planning to base its 2010 campaign on fear and negative attacks, rather than hope and ideas. Sometimes, in the enthusiasm over a battle, armies can lose sight of the war.
    Republicans might have regained their fighting spirit over health care, but the strategy could prove to be costlier than they expect. – CNN, 3-8-10

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

January 13, 2009: Leading up to the Inauguration & the Bush Legacy

POLITICS & PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION WATCH:

IN FOCUS: The Bush Presidency

President Bush met in the Oval Office on Wednesday with President-elect Barack Obama and former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. (Photos: Doug Mills/ The New York Times)

In Focus:

  • Bush, issue by issue: A look at the ups and downs of George W. Bush’s presidency on some of the biggest issues of the day – AP, 1-10-09
  • Bush endures stormy present, counting on history’s judgment: George W. Bush leaves office on Jan. 20 as one of the most vilified presidents in American history. Battered by an unpopular war and an economic collapse, Bush has racked up the longest streak of negative job-approval ratings in the history of polling. His end-of-term scores are worse than any modern president except Richard Nixon, who resigned in disgrace….
    “We have, by any polling measure, the most unpopular president in American polling history,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff. San Antonio Express, 1-10-09
  • A presidential welcome for USS George H.W. Bush: It’s the perfect gift for an old Navy flier: 1,092 feet of flattop. “What do you give a guy who has been blessed and has just about everything he has ever needed?” asked President George W. Bush from aboard the Navy’s newest ship. “Well, an aircraft carrier.” – AP, 1-10-09
  • Analysis: Bush’s personality shapes his legacy: President George W. Bush will be judged on what he did. He will also be remembered for what he’s like: a fast-moving, phrase-mangling Texan who stays upbeat even though his country is not. – AP, 1-3-09

THE HEADLINES….

The Headlines…

    President-Elect Barack Obama Transition office: http://change.gov/

  • All the Pageantry, Just Without the President NYT, 1-11-09
  • GOP chooses Rep. Kevin McCarthy as chief deputy whip: The Bakersfield lawmaker assumes a leadership position after one term in Congress. ‘He puts a friendly face on the party,’ one analyst says. – LAT, 1-11-09
  • Obama’s Cheney Dilemma: Cheney pushed for expanded presidential powers. Now that he’s leaving, what will come of his efforts? The new president won’t have to wait long to tip his hand. – Newsweek, 1-10-09
  • Obama’s inaugural luncheon fit for President Lincoln: Barack Obama had better like shellfish. The first course at his inaugural luncheon on Jan. 20, a seafood stew, consists of lobster, scallops and shrimp – all personal favorites, apparently, of Obama’s fellow Illinois politician, Abraham Lincoln. In fact, the 2009 inaugural luncheon has been designed to commemorate the bicentennial of the birth of Lincoln (Feb. 12, 1809), the 16th president. Newsday, 1-10-09
  • Obama to honor McCain on inauguration eve – AP, 1-11-09
  • Paterson and Kennedy Meet to Discuss Senate: Gov. David A. Paterson met with Caroline Kennedy on Saturday for their first formal discussion about her interest in being appointed to the United States Senate, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting, which may suggest that the long and at times circuslike selection process may be drawing toward an end. – N”YT, 1-11-09
  • Lifting veil of privacy, friends discuss Kennedy: In a series of interviews with The Associated Press, friends and colleagues of Kennedy painted a picture of a reserved but intelligent and tenacious woman who writes her own speeches and who, despite her vast wealth, still takes the subway…. – AP 1-10-09
  • Obama advisers: Plan would create up to 4.1M jobs: President-elect Barack Obama countered critics with an analysis Saturday by his economic team showing that a program of tax cuts and spending like he’s proposed would create up to 4.1 million jobs, far more than the 3 million he has insisted are needed to lift the country from recession. – AP, 1-10-09
  • Ill. House impeaches governor, who vows to fight: Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached Friday by Illinois lawmakers furious that he turned state government into a “freak show,” setting the stage for an unprecedented trial in the state Senate that could get him thrown out of office. – 1-9-09
  • Democrats criticize Obama’s proposed tax cuts: President-elect Barack Obama’s proposed tax cuts ran into opposition Thursday from senators in his own party who said they wouldn’t do much to stimulate the economy or create jobs. – AP, 1-8-08
  • Ill. House panel recommends governor’s impeachment: An Illinois House committee has unanimously recommended that Gov. Rod Blagojevich be impeached for abuse of power. – AP, 1-8-09
  • Senate Democrats yield to Obama, retreat on Burris: Senate Democrats beat a hasty retreat Wednesday from their rejection of Roland Burris as President-elect Barack Obama’s successor, yielding to pressure from Obama himself and from senators irked that the standoff was draining attention and putting them in a bad light. Burris said with a smile he expected to join them “very shortly.” – 1-8-09
  • Obama taps spending watchdog, eyes Social Security: Pointing with concern to “red ink as far as the eye can see,” President-elect Barack Obama pledged Wednesday to tackle out-of-control Social Security and Medicare spending and named a special watchdog to clamp down on other federal programs — even as he campaigned anew to spend the largest pile of taxpayer money in history to revive the sinking economy. – AP, 1-8-09
  • Obama hails ‘extraordinary’ moment with presidents: Confronting a grim economy and a Middle East on fire, Barack Obama turned Wednesday to perhaps the only people on the planet who understand what he’s in for: the four living members of the U.S. presidents’ club. In an image bound to go down in history, every living U.S. president came together at the White House on Wednesday to hash over the world’s challenges with the president-elect. There they stood, shoulder-to-shoulder in the Oval Office: George H.W. Bush, Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. – AP, 1-7-09
  • End to Minn. Senate race pushed even further out: Republican Norm Coleman filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging Democrat Al Franken’s apparent recount victory, likely keeping one of Minnesota’s two U.S. Senate seats unoccupied for weeks or even months. – AP, 1-7-09
  • Richardson adviser worked for firm feds probing: One of Gov. Bill Richardson’s close friends and advisers worked as a consultant for the California firm at the center of a federal pay-to-play probe that derailed the governor’s appointment as commerce secretary. – AP, 1-7-09
  • Ex-Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush won’t run for Senate in 2010: Former Gov. Jeb Bush announced Tuesday that he won’t run for the U.S. Senate in 2010 to replace the retiring Mel Martinez, saying that it was not the right time to return to elected office. – AP, 1-6-08
  • CNN: Gupta approached about surgeon general post: President-elect Barack Obama has approached CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, about becoming the country’s next surgeon general, the cable network said Tuesday. – AP, 1-6-09
  • Democrats’ opposition to Burris begins to crackAP, 1-6-09
  • Obama’s CIA pick unlikely to face Senate challenge: President-elect Barack Obama had to do a little fence-mending Tuesday with the new Congress controlled by his own party — apologizing to a key Senate Democrat for failing to consult on his decision to name veteran Washington hand Leon Panetta CIA director. – AP, 1-6-09
  • Obama’s intel picks short on direct experience: President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of an old White House hand to head the CIA shows a preference for a strong manager over an intelligence expert. Obama’s decision to name Leon Panetta to lead the premier U.S. intelligence agency surprised the spy community and signaled the Democrat’s intention for a clean break from Bush administration policies. – AP, 1-6-09
  • Richardson withdraws bid to be commerce secretary: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson on Sunday announced that he was withdrawing his nomination to be President-elect Barack Obama’s commerce secretary amid a grand jury investigation into how some of his political donors won a lucrative state contract. – AP, 1-4-09
  • Denver schools chief named to fill Senate vacancy: Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter on Saturday named Denver’s public schools superintendent Michael Bennet as his choice to fill a Senate vacancy that will be created by the promotion of Sen. Ken Salazar to interior secretary in the Obama administration. – AP, 1-3-09
  • Obama’s team polishing economic stimulus measure: President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team is putting the finishing touches on an economic recovery plan that could run from $675 billion to $775 billion. Briefings for top congressional Democratic officials are likely this weekend or on Monday, a senior transition official said Friday. Obama is slated to meet Monday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in a session likely to focus on the economic recovery package. – AP, 1-2-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

Political Quotes

  • Bush Calls on Republican Party to Be Inclusive: “Look, obviously we got whipped in 2008, and there will be a new wave of leadership arriving on the scene,” Mr. Bush said. “But it’s very important for our party not to narrow its focus, not to become so inward-looking that we drive people away from a philosophy that is compassionate and decent.”
    “We should be open-minded about big issues like immigration reform, because if we’re viewed as anti-somebody — in other words, if the party is viewed as anti-immigrant — then another fellow may say, well, if they’re against the immigrant, they may be against me.”
    “Listen, the man is obviously a charismatic person, and the man is able to persuade people that they should trust him. And he’s got something — he’s got a lot going for him.”
    “I would hope that the team that is, has the honor of, serving the country will take a hard look at the realities of the world and the tools now in place to protect the United States from further attack,” Mr. Bush said. “They will find that with a considerable amount of care and concern for civil liberties, for example, that I have put in place procedures that will enable the professionals to better learn the intentions of Al Qaeda, for example.”
    “During the darkest days of Iraq people came to me and said, you’re creating incredible political difficulties for us. And I said, oh, really, what do you suggest I do? Some suggested, retreat, pull out of Iraq,” he said. “I didn’t compromise that principle for the sake of trying to bail out my political party, for example.” NYT, 1-11-09
  • Obama in his weekly radio and YouTube broadcast address: “These numbers are a stark reminder that we simply cannot continue on our current path. If nothing is done, economists from across the spectrum tell us that this recession could linger for years and the unemployment rate could reach double digits — and they warn that our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and standing in the world,” he said. – AP, 1-10-09
  • Palin: Is Kennedy getting ‘kid glove’ treatment? “I’ve been interested to see how Caroline Kennedy will be handled and if she will be handled with kid gloves or if she will be under such a microscope.” “… we will perhaps be able to prove that there is a class issue here also that was such a factor in the scrutiny of my candidacy versus, say, the scrutiny of what her candidacy may be.”
    “I wasn’t believed that Trig was really my son,” she said. She called it a “sad state of affairs.” “What is the double-standard here? Why would people choose to believe lies? What is it that drives people to believe the worst, perpetuate the worst? When did we start accepting as hard news sources bloggers, anonymous bloggers especially?”
    “I was not commenting at all on Caroline Kennedy as a prospective U.S. senator, but rather on the seemingly arbitrary ways in which news organizations determine the level and kind of scrutiny given to those who aspire to public office. In fact, I consider Ms. Kennedy qualified and experienced, and she could serve New York well.” – AP, 1-10-09
  • Cheney says no one saw financial crisis coming: Cheney said that “nobody anywhere was smart enough to figure it out.” He said Bush doesn’t need to apologize because he has taken “bold, aggressive action.” – 1-9-09
  • Obama: Congress must act boldly and now on economy: “If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years,” with unemployment reaching double digits, Obama said in a speech at George Mason University in suburban Virginia. “A bad situation could become dramatically worse.” AP, 1-8-09
  • Evan Thomas – An Interview with Barack Obama: NEWSWEEK: Going back to the period where you were deciding whether to run or not, I’m very curious about what you wanted to hear when you sat around with your friends and advisers. What were you looking for in terms of what you hoped to hear from them?
    Barack Obama: Well, the first question was, could I win? And I think that’s something that I needed to get some very objective assessments of, because one of the things that I’ve always been suspicious of is the hype that surrounded my entry into the U.S. Senate. I wanted to make sure that we hadn’t fallen prey to hype and believing our own press, so I wanted to test in very concrete terms and push very hard on the question of whether we could win. Since we assumed that we had a strong field, including Sen. Clinton and John Edwards.
    The second question, which had more to do with conversations between Michelle and myself on which we needed some feedback from the staff who had been through a presidential election, was how it would have an impact on our family. And that actually was the most important question, but unless we crossed the threshold where we could win, the second one became moot, because I had no interest in running if I didn’t think we could win. I wasn’t interested in setting myself up for four years from now because to some degree I was very fortunate; I already had a very high profile. I stood to lose more than gain in a presidential race if I wasn’t successful. So the second question was: how it would affect our family? And then thinking about schedules and workloads and the rhythm of a campaign, the nature of the scrutiny involved, how it would alter our daily round, and how would we, how effectively could we shield our families, our girls?
    And then the third question, which was the most profound question, and one where probably … in the end I had to answer all by myself was: should I win? Just because you can win doesn’t mean you’re the person who’s best for the country at this moment in time, and I, I, I actually believe my own rhetoric when I say I think we’re in a defining moment. It’s very difficult to think back to a time where we had a bigger series of choices, and obviously World War maybe, and then the immediate aftermath of WWII, the Great Depression, and before that, the Civil War . . . but the country has a lot of issues that it’s got to deal with. And so I don’t, I didn’t think it was sufficient for me to run just because of my own ambition or because I thought this was my time. I felt as if there had to be at least the possibility that I could do something that no other candidate in the race could do, whether it was bringing the country together more effectively, [or] building a consensus, [or] reinvigorating the American people’s interest in government. So that was a series of questions that had to be raised, and those questions were probably the ones that were least amenable to quantification. I mean, we can do some polling and sort of figure out, “Alright, can we win this thing or not?” It’s a lot harder to gauge whether you are what the country needs at this point in time. – Newsweek, 1-8-09
  • President Bush Welcomes President-Elect Obama, Former President Clinton, Former President Bush and Former President Carter to the White House:
    PRESIDENT BUSH: I want to thank the President-elect for joining the ex-Presidents for lunch. And one message that I have and I think we all share is that we want you to succeed. Whether we’re Democrat or Republican, we care deeply about this country. And to the extent we can, we look forward to sharing our experiences with you. All of us who have served in this office understand that the office transcends the individual. And we wish you all the very best. And so does the country. PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA: Thank you. I just want to thank the President for hosting us. This is an extraordinary gathering. All the gentlemen here understand both the pressures and possibilities of this office. And for me to have the opportunity to get advice, good counsel and fellowship with these individuals is extraordinary. And I’m very grateful to all of them. But, again, thank you, Mr. President, for hosting us.
  • Ex-Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush won’t run for Senate in 2010: “I can play a role in helping to reshape the Republican Party’s message and focus on 21st century solutions to 21st century problems. Not running does not preclude me from being involved in these things and I will be.” “One of the benefits of being governor is people get to know you and I think people know I love this state. While I’m proud of my brother and I love my brother … people know that I’m Jeb Bush and I don’t think that would have been a problem.” – AP, 1-6-08
  • Obama says his plan with tax cuts to get quick OK: “The economy is very sick. The situation is getting worse. … We have to act and act now to break the momentum of this recession. The reason we are here today is because the people’s business cannot wait. I expect to be able to sign a bill shortly after taking office. By the end of January or the first of February.” AP, 1-5-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Historians’ Comments

  • Doris Kearns Goodwin and Harold Holzer “Obama’s challenge From the economy to war, this president faces crises unimagined since Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Delano Roosevelt”: “The real challenge will come once he gets in there,” said Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. “The crisis is pretty large, and I don’t think until you become president that you really absorb how big it is. … We will see what inner resources Obama can draw on.”
    Goodwin believes Obama has shown evidence of that ability. “It certainly seems so, from the way his campaign was run and how little dissension bubbled out into the public — his staffers were not jockeying against one another, there were not people leaving, though in other campaigns people were fired, people left, people were dissenting,” she said. “Great leaders create a climate of respect for one another, in that group around you, so there’s a reservoir of good feeling. I’m sure when the memoirs are written, we’ll learn of the dissenting views about what to do at various moments during the campaign, but obviously those things got settled during the campaign.” – The News Journal, 1-11-09
  • Harold Holzer “Obama’s challenge From the economy to war, this president faces crises unimagined since Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Delano Roosevelt”: “The world is so divided and fractured — in ways that Lincoln could never have imagined,” said Harold Holzer, who is the author of 30 books, including the 2008 “Lincoln President-Elect,” and the co-chair of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. “And there is every bit as much fear and concern.”
    Lincoln wanted the strongest, most able leaders in the country working with him, Goodwin said. Though he had no pro-slavery voices in his circle of advisers, he had a “great range of opinions” about how to handle slavery, she said.
    “They were contentious internally, disputatious with each other, there were plots and schemes for power,” he said. “But were they critics? I don’t necessarily agree that they were critics. They may have been doubters, but I think it’s more a team of rivals for Obama. … None of Lincoln’s rivals ever debated him, criticized him or ran against him. Obama, though, has been appointing a team of rivals — and all were pretty blunt in their criticism of Obama. That is heartening.”
    “Lincoln was gregarious sometimes, morose at other times,” Holzer said. “But at his heart, he was a no-drama person as well. He was a very calm and collected person. He stood before Confederate sharpshooters outside Washington once. He was the only president to actually come under enemy fire. He had great physical courage. … And few saw the emotion that was beneath the surface.” – The News Journal, 1-11-09
  • Eric Rauchway “Obama’s challenge From the economy to war, this president faces crises unimagined since Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Delano Roosevelt”: Obama does not inherit a 25 percent unemployment rate, as Roosevelt did at his first inauguration, arriving as it did at the nadir of the Great Depression. Half of those who had jobs in 1933 were working only part time, said Eric Rauchway, professor of history at the University of California-Davis and director of the Center for History, Society and Culture.
    “We’re already talking about fiscal stimulus, which Roosevelt didn’t get around to until 1938,” he said. “One of the problems everyone agrees we have is the health insurance of this country — the great unpassed New Deal reform,” he said. “They took it out of the Social Security law because they thought they couldn’t get it through and we’re still stuck with the problem, these 75 years later. Public health insurance increases the mobility of workers, who won’t quit a job because they don’t have health insurance. It can be an economic stimulus.”
    Rauchway sees no big effect of the 24-hour news cycle — “people who want news get news, whether in 1933 or now” — but he does see a parallel in the way Roosevelt and Obama delivered their messages to the American people.
    “The new media of Roosevelt’s day — radio and newsreels — some would say this is really critical to turning the corner on the Depression, and I suppose it is,” he said. “It’s very intangible. But with Roosevelt coming to the American people in the intimate way radio can provide, you get a sense of why this was good. He spoke in plain language, but he didn’t oversimplify the problems they were dealing with. It was not dumbed down, but in pretty plain English. It’s too soon to say, but we have some indication that Barack Obama is the same way. His infomercial before the election was a lot of Barack Obama talking directly to the people.” – The News Journal, 1-11-09
  • Douglas Brinkley Analysis: Bush legacy _ grim times, gloomy nation: “He put everything into his campaign for Iraqi democracy,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian and professor at Rice University. “The results seem to be quite painful for the United States, not just in terms of more than 4,000 dead soldiers, but the ideological fervor instead of a cool-headed pragmatism.” AP, 1-11-09
  • Gil Troy “BALLOT BOX BLUES – Votes for sale: Political candy replaces ideas and ideals”: “If ever there was a moment where we needed a candidate who could come out with a big idea, we just experienced it, in the Canadian and American elections,” says Gil Troy, a political historian at McGill University. “This was a real leadership moment. But as the stock markets imploded, the candidates just went small bore rather than embracing big ideas.” “I didn’t hear anything from (Stephen) Harper or (Stephane) Dion that was particularly illuminating,” he says. “There was no inspiration and no insight. It was deeply disappointing.” Dion had tried to campaign on a big idea, but his Green Shift was so poorly explained, and so quickly overshadowed by the unfolding economic crisis, says Troy, that if anything it proved ideas don’t work in election campaigns anymore. – Canwest News, 1-11-09
  • Robert Dallek “For Bush and His Staff, a Season of ‘the Lasts'”: “They’re working hard to build their historical reputations,” said the presidential historian Robert Dallek. “Generally, presidents don’t spend the last days and weeks in office defending their record. They produce a memoir, they write a volume. “To spend your waking hours on a defense of yourself speaks volumes about how, in a sense, defeated they’ve been.” – NYT, 1-11-09
  • Allan Lichtman “Obama’s Vision: Only Government Can End Economic Woes”: “Ronald Reagan in 1980 began the new conservative era in America. And 2008 is 1980 in reverse,” said Allan Lichtman, an expert on the presidency at American University in Washington. “Reagan famously said government is not the solution, it’s the problem,” Lichtman said. “Obama is saying government is the solution and, in fact, the only real solution to the crisis we’re experiencing today. It’s not just a matter of fixing the economy. It’s a matter of fundamentally moving the economy in a new direction. And government, not private enterprise, has to take the lead.” – San Jose Mercury News, 1-8-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Shape of the Office: Obama and Executive Power” – “The notion that there’s some magic formula he can achieve within a month or two is unfair,” said Julian Zelizer, a political historian at Princeton University. “There are many components to the crisis, many things that deal with financial regulation, and it will be hard for Obama to deal with this on his own.” For this reason, Zelizer and other scholars expect Obama to begin his term with a flurry of high-profile, somewhat symbolic actions — say, closing Guantanamo — then throttle back and begin the trickier task of managing everyone’s expectations. – Congressional Quarterly, 1-10-09
  • Julian Zelizer “The Ultimate Power Lunch”: As Princeton historian Julian Zelizer told CBS News, ” Diplomatic funerals overseas actually are often the way presidents get together, or the death of a former president but this is not that kind of meeting. This is not ceremonial. This really almost a think tank.” – CBS News, 1-7-09
  • Douglas Brinkley “The Ultimate Power Lunch”: Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley told the CBS News Early Show that at least for today, “Obama’s making a real statement that I’m going to be seeking counsel and advice from all of the ex-presidents.” – CBS News, 1-7-09

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