Political Highlights January 24, 2011: Obama & the State of the Union — Chinese President Visits White House — House Votes to Repeal Health Care Bill

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:

STATS & POLLS

  • Who is Obama? Pragmatism makes him tough to define: A socialist? A steady hand? A sellout? Halfway through his first term — or only term, if Republicans can eject him in the 2012 elections — President Obama’s leadership style has made him something of a political enigma. His health care law ushered in the most sweeping social legislation since the 1960s, but he abandoned the government-sponsored coverage he embraced during his campaign. His tax-cut compromise with Republicans to extend unemployment benefits and provide relief to the middle class discarded a key campaign promise to roll back Bush-era tax cuts for top earners. His Wall Street bailouts alienated some of the Main Street workers he said he was trying to help. His soaring rhetoric from the campaign often dried up during debates on health care and jobs, but it re-emerged powerfully this month as he honored the victims of the mass shooting in Tucson.
    Two years into his presidency, who is Barack Obama? Ronald Reagan stood firm for limited government and against communism. Bill Clinton stayed focused on the economy. George W. Bush launched a post-9/11 war on terrorism. Obama’s political North Star is harder to define…. – USA Today, 1-18-11
  • Obama’s job approval rebounds in latest polls, but can it last?: The latest polls show Obama’s job approval back up to 50 percent. His response to Tucson and the bills passed by the lame-duck Congress are credited, but the economy remains a challenge.
    On the second anniversary of his inauguration – and days before his State of the Union address next Tuesday – President Obama is on the rebound with the American public. A slew of major polls now show Mr. Obama with more public approval than disapproval of his job performance, many of them putting him over the 50 percent mark. A survey of the latest polls by RealClearPolitics shows Obama averaging 50 percent approval versus 45 percent disapproval. The last time the positive outweighed the negative was in July. The last time that gap was at least 5 percentage points was a year ago…. – CS Monitor, 1-20-11
  • President Obama’s approval rating surges at midpoint of term: Several polls note a rise in public approval for Obama. The bump comes after his Tucson shooting speech and a productive lame-duck congressional session.
    The same polling shows that although new Speaker of the House John Boehner is getting favorable reviews early on, Americans don’t expect that much from the new Congress.
    A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released Wednesday night showed Obama’s job-approval rating at 53%, an eight-point jump from mid-December and his highest rating since July 2009. Surveys from CNN/Opinion Research and ABC News/Washington Post also put Obama’s approval rating above the 50% threshold.
    An aggregation of polling data by Real Clear Politics shows Obama with a net approval rating of 5%, a jump of 8% from mid-December and at the highest level since January 2010…. – LAT, 1-20-11
  • Poll shows high marks for Obama on Tucson, low regard for political dialogue: Evaluations of President Obama’s handling of the Jan. 8 tragedy are highly positive across the political spectrum, with nearly eight in 10 giving him high marks for his response to the incident. A robust 71 percent of Republicans say they approve of his leadership following the shootings.
    The strong reviews of the president’s response to the Arizona incident – which included giving a prime-time eulogy at a memorial service for the victims – have helped boost Obama’s overall approval rating to its highest point since last April. Fully 54 percent of all Americans now approve of the way he is handling his job as president, while 43 percent disapprove…. – WaPo, 1-17-11

2011 STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

The President gives the 2010 State of the Union Address
  • State of the Union – NYT
  • The State of the Union and You: On Tuesday, January 25, at 9 p.m. EST, President Obama will deliver the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol. We have been working on a number of ways citizens can get involved in the State of the Union and ask their questions of President Obama and senior Administration officials. You can find all the details on the brand new State of the Union page.
    Here’s the lineup of events next week. Be sure to tune in to watch the speech live at 9 p.m. on Tuesday and find a way get involved.
    Tuesday at 9 PM: Live Stream of the State of the Union Watch the live stream of the State of the Union Address on WhiteHouse.gov.
    Tuesday Immediately After the Speech: Open for Questions Immediately following the State of the Union Address, stay tuned for a live Open For Questions event where Senior White House officials will answer your questions about key issues addressed in the speech live from the White House…. – WH, 1-21-11
  • Obama’s speech will expose partisan divide on spending: President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech will emphasize “winning the future” for America by strengthening the nation’s ability to compete in a changing world, according to White House talking points provided Monday by a Democratic source. Tuesday night’s annual speech to Congress, a nationally televised event considered the president’s biggest address of the year, brings together the three branches of government for an assessment of where America stands and where it is heading.
    “The president will lay out a plan to win the future by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world,” said the White House talking points. “He will talk about the need to take responsibility for our deficits, by investing only in what makes America stronger and cutting what doesn’t, and reforming our government so that it’s leaner and smarter for the 21st century.”… – CNN, 1-24-11
  • State of the Union: It’s the economy, again: Standing before a nation clamoring for jobs, President Barack Obama will call for targeted spending to boost the economy but also for budget cutting in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, his first in a new era of divided political power.
    To a television audience in the tens of millions, Obama will home in on jobs, the issue of most importance to the public and to his hopes for a second term. Though war and other concerns bid for attention, the president has chosen to lean heavily on the economy, with far less emphasis on Afghanistan and Iraq, terrorism and foreign affairs.
    Specifically, Obama will focus on improving the education, innovation and infrastructure of the United States as the way to provide a sounder economic base. He will pair that with calls to reduce the government’s debt — now topping a staggering $14 trillion — and reforming government. Those five areas will frame the speech, with sprinklings of fresh proposals.
    Yet no matter how ambitious Obama’s rhetorical reach, his speech at the halfway point of his term will be viewed in the context of his new political reality…. – AP, 1-24-11
  • Obama to Press Centrist Agenda in His Address: President Obama will outline an agenda for “winning the future” in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, striking a theme of national unity and renewal as he stresses the need for government spending in key areas and an attack on the budget deficit.
    “My No. 1 focus,” he said, “is going to be making sure that we are competitive, and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future.”
    “These are big challenges that are in front of us,” Mr. Obama also said in the video, sent to members of Organizing for America, his network of supporters from the 2008 campaign. “But we’re up to it, as long as we come together as a people — Republicans, Democrats, independents — as long as we focus on what binds us together as a people, as long as we’re willing to find common ground even as we’re having some very vigorous debates.”… –
    NYT, 1-23-11
  • Tensions rise between Supreme Court, politicians: The moment lasted about 20 seconds. But its political reverberations have endured for a year and exemplify today’s knotty confluence of law, politics and public perception.
    At last year’s State of the Union speech Jan. 27, with six Supreme Court justices in attendance, President Obama denounced a recent campaign-finance ruling, saying it reversed a century of precedent and warning that it would “open the floodgates” for corporate spending on elections. Justice Samuel Alito shook his head and mouthed “not true.” That tense moment has been viewed on youtube.com more than 650,000 times in the past year. It was singularly controversial but not the only headline-grabbing interaction between members of the political branches and the Supreme Court in the past twelve months.
    A series of events, most recently Justice Antonin Scalia’s acceptance of an invitation to speak to Tea Party members, has made clear that against the backdrop of an increasingly polarized Washington and the 24-hour media frenzy, interactions between justices and the two elected branches have become more politicized…. – USA Today, 1-24-11
  • State of Union Near, Republicans Draw Line on Spending: Congressional Republicans, seeking to recapture the debate over the country’s economic recovery in advance of President Obama’s State of the Union address, warned Sunday that they would oppose any new spending initiatives and press ahead with their plans for budget cuts in every realm of government, including the military…. – NYT, 1-23-11
  • State of the Union speech to focus on jobs: Obama: President Barack Obama said on Saturday he would use his annual State of the Union address to urge both parties to act to lift U.S. growth and create more jobs.
    “My number one focus is going to be making sure that we are competitive, that we are growing, and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future,” he said in a video e-mailed to members of his Organizing for America grassroots movement.
    Obama’s speech on Tuesday to a joint session of the U.S. Congress will show how he plans to rise above the political gridlock that marked his first two years in the White House, shaping his 2012 re-election prospects…. – Reuters, 1-22-10
  • Obama touts U.S. innovation in State of the Union preview: In his weekly address, Obama hails American economic potential and efforts to ‘win the future.’ In their response, Republicans focus on the repeal of the healthcare overhaul law.
    President Obama hailed the economic potential of increased American exports and green technology Saturday, previewing themes expected to be at the heart of his second State of the Union address Tuesday night. In his weekly address, Obama referred to Wednesday’s state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao and his own trip to a General Electric plant in New York on Friday as examples of how innovation and opening new overseas markets to American products will help “win the future.”
    “Countries around the world are upping their game and giving their workers and companies every advantage possible. But that shouldn’t discourage us,” he said. “We just have to make sure we’re doing everything we can to unlock the productivity of American workers, unleash the ingenuity of American businesses, and harness the dynamism of America’s economy.”
    Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, a doctor, pressed the Democrats who still control the Senate to bring a repeal bill up for a vote in the chamber. “We are now one step closer to victory in the fight for a healthcare policy that puts Americans first — not Washington,” he said. “Our job won’t be done until we repeal and replace this bad law.”… – LAT, 1-22-10
  • A ‘state of the union’ fight ahead over US government spending: How furiously to cut government spending is likely to be a major point of departure between Obama, who gives the State of the Union address on Tuesday, and congressional Republicans…. – CS Monitor, 1-22-10
  • Obama’s economic agenda: Boost US competitiveness: Under pressure to energize the economy, President Barack Obama will put job creation and American competitiveness at the center of his State of the Union address, promoting spending on education and research while pledging to trim the nation’s soaring debt.
    Obama hopes this framework will woo Republicans as he searches for success in a divided Congress and will sway a wary private sector to hire and spend money it’s held back. The economy is on firmer footing than when he took office two years ago, and his emphasis on competitiveness signals a shift from policies geared toward short-term stabilization to ones with steady and long-term growth in mind.
    Obama will speak to a Congress shaken by the attempted assassination of one of their own. Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head two weeks ago during an event in her district in Tucson, Ariz.
    The president has appealed for more civility in politics, and in a nod to that ideal, some Democrats and Republicans will break with tradition and sit alongside each other in the House chamber Tuesday night during a joint session of Congress…. – AP, 1-22-10
  • In this year’s State of Union, seating could blur party lines: Flash-forward now to the Congress of today, the Era of I-Hate-Your-Guts-And-Want-To-Rip-Your-Lungs-Out-You- Unpatriotic-Jerk. Weary of a climate that has grown so toxic that Congress should earmark money for a political Hazmat team, some lawmakers have a solution. When President Barack Obama comes to Capitol Hill Tuesday night to deliver the State of Union speech to a joint session of Congress, Democrats and Republicans should sit together, not in opposing camps of red and blue. The opposing camps idea has been the tradition since 1913, when Woodrow Wilson became the first president since Thomas Jefferson to personally deliver the annual speech to Congress…. – Miami Herald, 1-21-11
  • Obama’s Tuesday speech to stress economy, civility: President Barack Obama, midway through his term and mindful of positioning himself for next year’s re-election campaign, will use the annual State of the Union address Tuesday night to recast himself to voters and regain the confidence of centrists and independents. Expect the economy to serve as the major focus of the speech, both short-term job creation and his plans for long- term stability, with a secondary theme being a call for civility and compromise.
    “The great majority of the speech will be on the steps that the president believes our country has to take to continue that economic recovery,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs…. – Miami Herald, 1-21-11
  • GOP taps Paul Ryan to give rebuttal to Obama’s speech: House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a rising Republican star who’s stirred controversy with his approach to budget-cutting, will give the GOP response Tuesday to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. The choice is aimed at showcasing the commitment of Republicans, who earlier this month took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in four years, to deficit reduction.
    Previous Republican responses to Obama’s State of the Union addresses were given by governors, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Bob McDonnell of Virginia.
    Ryan, 39, a seventh-term Wisconsin Republican, is known for his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” a plan for reducing federal budget deficits that includes permitting younger workers the option of setting aside Social Security tax payments for “personal retirement accounts.”
    In addition, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., a favorite of the tea party movement, will deliver a separate reaction to Obama’s speech on behalf of the Tea Party Express, one of the movement’s largest groups. The broadcast, following Obama and Ryan, will be broadcast on live streaming video at http://www.TeaPartyExpress.org or at http://www.TeaPartyHD.com…. – Miami Herald, 1-21-11
  • Scenarios: Possible themes in Obama’s State of Union speech: President Barack Obama faces a new political reality when he gives his State of the Union address on Tuesday: greater Republican power in Congress that will hamper his ability to make sweeping policy proposals. So the president, a Democrat, will make an even greater attempt to highlight areas of common ground with the opposition party on areas that are priorities for both sides such as boosting the economy and reducing the deficit. Here are a few potential areas he may touch upon…. – Reuters, 1-21-11

REMEBERING SARGENT SHRIVER: PEACE CORPS FOUNDER, DIES AT 95

https://i0.wp.com/multimedia.heraldinteractive.com/images/20110118/7dae46_Shriv_01192011.jpg
  • R. Sargent Shriver has died: Robert Sargent Shriver, the former Peace Corps director and vice-presidential nominee, has passed away.
  • Sargent Shriver, former Peace Corps director, Dies — NYT Slideshow
  • Sargent Shriver eulogized at funeral Mass in Maryland: Maria Shriver, the former NBC reporter and wife of former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said her family took comfort in ‘knowing that Daddy is in heaven with God and with Mummy.’… – LAT, 1-22-10
  • Sargent Shriver remembered at star-studded funeral: Maria Shriver and husband Arnold Schwarzenegger helped carry the casket of Sargent Shriver today at a funeral mass at Our Lady of Mercy Parish, the Shriver family’s church in Potomac, Md. President Bill Clinton, First lady Michelle Obama, U2’s Bono and Oprah Winfrey attended the funeral. Others on the guest list included Muhammad Ali, Clint Eastwood and congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, reports AP. Wyclef Jean played piano and sang All the Ends of the Earth as guests including the Shriver family clapped along. Later, Vanessa Williams sang Soon and Very Soon.
    At a wake held for Shriver on Friday, some of Washington’s most notable figures extended condolences to the family. Shriver, the husband of Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, died Tuesday at age 95…. – USA Today, 1-22-

Smiling at the Life of R. Sargent Shriver at His Funeral Mass

  • R. Sargent Shriver remembered for heritage, hugs: R. Sargent Shriver was honored Saturday as much for his passion for helping others as his loving hugs and enjoyment of baseball. Shriver, who fulfilled his brother-in-law John F. Kennedy’s campaign promise by starting the Peace Corps, developed the aid organization into an international force. Philanthropists and politicians who have worked to help others through charities were among hundreds honoring Shriver at a funeral Mass at Our Lady of Mercy Parish, the Shriver family’s church in Potomac, Md.
    Former President Bill Clinton, first lady Michelle Obama, U2 frontman Bono and singer Wyclef Jean were among those in attendance, along with members of the Kennedy and Shriver families.
    One by one, some of Shriver’s 19 grandchildren read short remembrances about their grandfather, recalling his passion for helping people, his hugs and his love of baseball.
    Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington told Shriver’s grandchildren to live with the same courage and fortitude of Shriver and his late wife, Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Wuerl spoke of Shriver’s legacy and belief that the world could be filled with peace, compassion and love. “Ask your parents to tell you stories. Read what your grandfather has written,” Wuerl said. “When you think of him, rejoice in the heritage he has given you.”… – AP, 1-22-10

  • Sargent Shriver’s family, veterans of social programs honor his life at wake: On Friday, Koskin was among hundreds who stood in a long but fast-moving line outside Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown to pay tribute to R. Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps. Shriver died Jan. 18 at age 95. Koskin met Shriver a couple of times and has fond memories. “I’m here to celebrate a man who was an extraordinary role model for anyone who values what a just and civilized society should be,” said Koskin, an Arlington County resident who works in the Treasury Department’s inspector general’s office. “If you go to the Peace Corps building, his spirit is very much alive. You feel an incredible optimism for what is possible. Anyone who ever worked in that building comes away with an intolerance for the word ‘No.’ ” Mourners included dowagers in full-length fur coats, Special Olympians, civil servants and young college students who said Shriver inspired them to aim for a life in public service. Former Peace Corps volunteers, who formed the largest contingent at Friday’s wake, said they carried their idealism into middle age. A funeral Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac. Cardinal Donald Wuerl will deliver the homily…. – Washington Post, 1-21-11
  • R. Sargent Shriver, Peace Corps Leader, Dies at 95: R. Sargent Shriver, the Kennedy in-law who became the founding director of the Peace Corps, the architect of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty, a United States ambassador to France and the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1972, died on Tuesday in Bethesda, Md. He was 95. Mr. Shriver was found to have Alzheimer’s disease in 2003 and on Sunday was admitted to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, where he died. He had been in hospice care in recent months after his estate in Potomac, Md., was sold last year.
    White-haired and elegantly attired, he attended the inauguration of his son-in-law, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the Republican governor of California in the fall of 2003. Mr. Schwarzenegger is married to Maria Shriver, a former NBC News correspondent. But in recent years, as his condition deteriorated, Mr. Shriver was seldom seen in public. He emerged in one instance to attend the funeral of his wife of 56 years, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a sister of John F. Kennedy; she died in 2009 in Hyannis, Mass., at the age of 88…. – NYT, 1-18-11
  • ‘Sarge’ Shriver, founder of Peace Corps, dead at 95: Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., founder of the Peace Corps and husband of the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, died yesterday after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
    The 95-year-old former vice-presidential candidate, known fondly as “Sarge,” “went to heaven to join the love of his life,” the family said in a statement.
    Shriver died at a Maryland hospital surrounded by his five children — Bobby, Maria, Tim, Mark and Anthony — their spouses and 19 grandchildren. His death came less than two years after his wife died in August 2009 at age 88.
    “He was a man of giant love, energy, enthusiasm and commitment. He lived to make the world a more joyful, faithful and compassionate place,” the family statement read. “We will miss him forever.” – Boston Herald, 1-18-11
  • Sargent Shriver, founding director of Peace Corps, dies at 95: Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., husband of the late Eunice Kennedy and father of five children, spent more than seven decades in public service.
    R. Sargent Shriver, who was tapped to create the Peace Corps by his brother-in-law John F. Kennedy and crafted 1960s-era programs that remain cornerstones in the federal government’s efforts to combat poverty, died Jan. 18 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, a family spokesman said. He was 95 and had Alzheimer’s disease.
    A Yale-educated lawyer from a prominent Maryland family, Mr. Shriver was a businessman and aspiring political leader when he married Eunice Kennedy in the early 1950s. He served in three presidential administrations, including a stint as U.S. ambassador to France, and ran for president and vice president. His ambitions were as much propelled as they were frustrated by his connection to his in-laws, the powerful political dynasty from Massachusetts.
    When the family received word in 1964 that President Lyndon B. Johnson was considering Mr. Shriver as a running mate, Eunice balked. “No,” she reportedly said, and then invoked her brother Robert’s name. “It’s Bob’s turn.” Kennedy aide Ken O’Donnell was more straightforward, telling Mr. Shriver that if any of the inner circle were to run, it would be Bobby – not “half a Kennedy.”
    Still, it was Mr. Shriver’s status as an almost-Kennedy that landed him the role for which he is perhaps best known, as the leader of the Peace Corps during its infancy…. – WaPo, 1-18-11
  • Shriver family gave voice to ‘silent epidemic’ Public figure’s battle with Alzheimer’s helped normalize disease: Battling Alzheimer’s disease is often a private struggle, with few champions who speak on behalf of patients and their loved ones. But the family of R. Sargent Shriver, who died Tuesday, helped shed light on the disease and spur support and research for its causes.
    Since his diagnosis in 2003, the family of the influential public servant and founder of the Peace Corps had sought to change the public perception of people with Alzheimer’s so they would not be viewed as victims, said geriatrician William Thomas, professor at UMBC’s Erickson School of Aging.
    “Instead, he was a person living with Alzheimer’s, and that’s an absolutely crucial distinction,” Thomas said. “What the Shrivers were about were sort of normalizing this disease. It is important for people of stature, like the Shrivers, to step into the light and to be seen and to tell their story, because so many other people feel like they can’t do that.”… – LAT, 1-18-11
  • Statement by the President on the Passing of Sargent Shriver: I was deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Sargent Shriver, one of the brightest lights of the greatest generation. Over the course of his long and distinguished career, Sarge came to embody the idea of public service. Of his many enduring contributions, he will perhaps best be remembered as the founding director of the Peace Corps, helping make it possible for generations of Americans to serve as ambassadors of goodwill abroad. His loss will be felt in all of the communities around the world that have been touched by Peace Corps volunteers over the past half century and all of the lives that have been made better by his efforts to address inequality and injustice here at home. My thoughts and prayers are with Robert, Maria, Tim, Mark, and Anthony, and the entire Shriver family during this sad time. – WH, 1-18-11

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN RETIRING IN 2012

  • Joseph I. Lieberman’s Life and Career, NYT Slideshow
  • Joe Lieberman to retire in 2012: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) will retire in 2012, according to two Democratic sources familiar with the decision. Lieberman is expected to announce his decision tomorrow.
  • For Lieberman, an Exit Forged in Alienation: Mr. Lieberman barely alluded to this in his speech, saying only that “I have not always fit comfortably into conventional political boxes — Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative.”
    The senator looked past the bad blood with Democrats, back all the way to John F. Kennedy, who he said had inspired him to pursue public service. He said Kennedy’s principles — “service to country, support of civil rights and social justice, pro-growth economic and tax policies, and a strong national defense” — were still his politics.
    “So maybe that means J.F.K. wouldn’t fit neatly into any of today’s partisan political boxes either,” Mr. Lieberman ventured. To his supporters, that is precisely the point: the party left Mr. Lieberman behind, not the other way around… – NYT, 1-20-11
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman says he will retire in 2012:Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut announced Wednesday that he will not seek a fifth term, ending a political career spanning four decades in which he evolved from a reliably Democratic state legislator into an independent U.S. senator who backed the war in Iraq and the Republican candidate for president. While Lieberman’s supporters lamented his decision not to run in 2012, many constituents, especially Democrats, said they were pleased because the “Joe” they knew as a state lawmaker and activist state attorney general is already long-gone.
    With his extended family standing behind him, Lieberman announced his intentions to retire before a crowd of several hundred supporters at a downtown Stamford hotel, near the site of his childhood home. While he acknowledged that he’d likely face a difficult re-election campaign, Lieberman, 68, downplayed speculation he was backing down from a tough race.
    He invoked a Bible verse from Ecclesiastes in explaining his decision: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.” “At the end of this term, I will have served 24 years in the U.S. Senate and 40 years in elective office. For me, it is time for another season and another purpose under heaven,” he said.
    Lieberman said he’s had a history of winning tough political battles since the 1970s, including the 2006 race where he lost the Democratic primary, only to win the general election as an independent. “I know that some people have said that if I ran for re-election, it would be a difficult campaign for me. So what else is new,” Lieberman said…. – AP, 1-19-11
  • Joe Lieberman Quips: When Regis Retires, I Retire: Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut confirmed on Wednesday that he will not seek another term. When he addressed a crowd of supporters and press at a Marriott hotel in Stamford, the politician said his wife Hadassa once asked him how long he was going to stay in the Senate and he came up with this response: “I promise you, that when Regis leaves television, I’ll leave the Senate,” he quipped. “And here we are.”
    Lieberman first became a Senator in 1988. Al Gore picked him as his running mate in 2000, and since then, Lieberman’s relationship with the Democratic party has been a little rocky. TV personality Regis Philbin announced his retirement from his long-running daytime show on Tuesday.
    “I have not always fit comfortably into conventional political boxes,” he said Wednesday. “Maybe you’ve noticed that.”… – WNYC, 1-19-11
  • Joe Lieberman’s approach out of step with the times: By the geriatric standards of the Senate, the retirement of 68-year-old Sen. Joe Lieberman comes at a relatively young age. But Wednesday’s news that the Connecticut Democrat plans to leave the stage in 2012 surprised no one: It was clear the role he played was outdated and even clearer that he was thoroughly unsuited for the modern political era.
    The circumstances surrounding Lieberman’s decision not to seek reelection attest to that. In the span of just a decade, he went from celebrated vice-presidential nominee—he was the first Jewish candidate on a major party ticket in American history—to near-pariah status within his own party. The speed and arc of his political decline is stunning: In 2000, Lieberman won reelection to a third Senate term in a landslide, even as he spent the bulk of his time campaigning outside his home state as Al Gore’s running mate. By 2006, Lieberman couldn’t even win the Democratic nomination for his own seat. He was forced to run as a third-party candidate, winning with a bare 50 percent of the vote.
    The pendulum swung so far for Lieberman that he got a serious look to be Republican Sen. John McCain’s running mate in 2008. Both Gore and McCain saw in Lieberman the same thing, in mirror image: a moderate-to-conservative grown-up, whose very presence would signal to voters that the man at the top of the ticket wasn’t as extreme as he might appear at first blush, either to the left or to the right.
    But these days, at a time when most politicians prefer to pledge devotion to bipartisanship while not actually practicing it, a man with a foot in two parties really has no party. And therefore, really, no political future…. – Politico, 1-19-11
  • Norton: Lieberman’s exit a loss for the District: With Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) announcing Wednesday that he will not run for reelection in 2012, plenty of members of his old party and liberal commentators are happy to see the Democrat-turned-Independent go. But at least one Democrat is sorry to hear the Connecticut lawmaker’s decision — Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.).
    “The people of the District of Columbia have no senator of their own, but they have had in Senator Joe Lieberman an unfailing champion of their rights,” Norton said in a press release. “Senator Lieberman has been the lead sponsor of virtually every bill for our rights since I have been a Member of the House. As conditions allowed, he was always there for this city, first for statehood, then for seats in the House and Senate, and finally for the House vote. Beyond sponsorship, Joe Lieberman has been our chief advocate and strategist in the Senate.”… – WaPo, 1-19-11
  • No Fifth Term for Lieberman: Mr. Lieberman, 68, whose term is up in January 2013, has chosen to retire rather than face a difficult campaign for re-election, according to aides and others who spoke to the senator on Tuesday.
    “He believes that if he were to run for re-election it’d be a tough fight,” said Marshall Wittmann, a member of Mr. Lieberman’s Senate staff. “He’s confident he could’ve won that fight. He’s had tough fights before. But he wants to have a new chapter in his life.”
    News of Mr. Lieberman’s plans surfaced on the same day that Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, announced he would retire.
    Democrats say the decision by Mr. Lieberman, which his office declined to confirm, increases the likelihood that their party will capture his seat next year. Among other things, Democrats noted that President Obama, who won Connecticut overwhelmingly in 2008, would be on the ballot in 2012…. – NYT, 1-18-11
  • Lieberman Decision Could Set Off a Wild Race: Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut plans to announce Wednesday he will not seek a fifth term in office, setting the stage for what will likely be a wide-open Democratic primary and perhaps another deep-pocketed campaign by former wrestling executive Linda McMahon.
    Mr. Lieberman’s decision would end a remarkable and unusual political career when his current term expires in January 2013. His independence has made him an important factor in close Senate votes, but it has not endeared him to the Democrats and left-leaning independents in his state…. – WSJ, 1-18-11

GABRIELLE GIFFORDS: SHOOTING IN TUCSON, ARIZONA

  • Updated rehab aims to give Giffords her life back: She inspired the nation with her fairy-tale recovery. Now Rep. Gabrielle Giffords must inspire herself through the ordeal of rehabilitation, and doctors say it’s likely to be the hardest work she’ll ever do. Just a couple of decades ago, rehab was little more than physical therapy for shuffling stroke victims and wheelchair-bound quadriplegics, a last resort after doctors had done all they could.
    Now it’s a sophisticated science at the forefront of treating people like Giffords, who was shot in the forehead two weeks ago while meeting constituents in Tucson. An early start on rehab is key to limiting permanent damage, and the Houston hospital where she will be treated uses high-tech tools to push the brain to rewire itself.
    The Arizona congresswoman arrived Friday at the Texas Medical Center, where she is expected to spend a few days in intensive care before moving to TIRR Memorial Hermann rehab hospital. Instead of doctors making you well, rehab means “teaching you how to help yourself” to get your life back, said Dr. William Donovan, a former medical director of the rehab hospital who still works there part-time…. – AP, 1-22-11
  • Doc: Giffords heard cheers leaving Ariz., smiled: She heard them, smiled, and tears welled up in her eyes. The caravan carrying Rep. Gabrielle Giffords swept past cheering crowds Friday as she left the hospital in Tucson, Ariz., where she dazzled doctors with her recovery from being shot in the head two weeks ago, and was moved to Houston for rehabilitation….
    By Friday afternoon, after a 930-plus-mile trip that doctors said went flawlessly, Giffords was in an intensive care unit at Texas Medical Center, where a new team of doctors planned to start her therapy immediately. After several days of evaluation, she will be sent to the center’s rehabilitation hospital, TIRR Memorial Hermann. Giffords has “great rehabilitation potential,” said Dr. Gerardo Francisco, chief medical officer of Memorial Hermann…. – AP, 1-21-11
  • Doctor: Giffords felt sunshine from hospital deck: Gabrielle Giffords on Thursday felt the sunshine on her face for the first time since she was shot, as doctors prepared her to leave behind the Arizona hospital where she dazzled them with her rapid recovery. Her next stop will be a Houston rehab center, where she will face an even more arduous task: Getting life back to normal.
    Her husband said he’s hoping she’ll make a full recovery, calling her “a fighter like nobody else that I know.”
    The doctors who will help her offered a more sober outlook. “Not everyone always gets 100 percent restoration, but we help them to get to a new normal,” said Carl Josehart, chief executive of the rehab hospital that will be the Arizona congresswoman’s home for the next month or two…. – AP, 1-20-11
  • Federal grand jury indicts Ariz. shooting suspect: A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted the suspect in the deadly Arizona shooting rampage that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The indictment against Jared Loughner, 22, accuses him of attempting to assassinate Giffords and trying to kill two of her aides. It does not include two murder charges listed in an earlier criminal complaint for the deaths of Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, 30, and U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63. Those are potential death penalty charges. A statement from the U.S. attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke, said those require a more painstaking process under Justice Department rules. Burke said the initial indictment issued by a grand jury in Tucson was just the beginning of federal legal action against the 22-year-old Tucson resident…. – AP, 1-19-11
  • Giffords to relearn basic skills in Houston rehab: Less than two weeks after surviving a bullet through the brain, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is to be moved to Houston to begin an arduous journey of intensive mental and physical rehabilitation. She’ll have to relearn how to think and plan. It’s unclear if she is able to speak or how well she can see. And while she is moving both arms and legs, it’s uncertain how much strength she has on her right side. Her swift transition from an intensive care unit to a rehab center is based on the latest research, which shows the sooner rehab starts, the better patients recover. Giffords’ family hopes to move the Arizona congresswoman on Friday to TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston, where her husband lives and works as an astronaut. The exact day of the move will depend on her health.
    “I am extremely hopeful at the signs of recovery that my wife has made since the shooting,” Mark Kelly said in a statement released by Giffords’ congressional office. The staff at University Medical Center in Tucson “has stabilized her to the point of being ready to move to the rehabilitation phase.”… –
  • Giffords stands with assistance, may move to rehab center Friday: A federal grand jury indicts Jared Lee Loughner on charges of attempted murder… Giffords has the strength to stand and lift her head… Giffords is to be moved to TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston… Her husband, Mark Kelly, says Giffords feared for her safety… – CNN, 1-19-11
  • The congresswoman and the astronaut: A love story: STORY HIGHLIGHTS: The world has gotten a glimpse into the love affair of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly… The pair met in China in 2003, wed in 2007… Friends say Kelly is Giffords’ “rock” and they are devoted to each other… – CNN, 1-19-11
  • In Tucson, a Staff Mourns While Asking, ‘What Would Gabby Do?’: They still greet every visitor. They still help veterans file for disability benefits and retirees sign up for Medicare. They still send out press releases, though now they are signed by the chief of staff instead of the boss. There is an empty desk where a key aide of Representative Gabrielle Giffords sat inside Suite 112 of a modest stucco building here. And though the boss herself is not returning anytime soon, the rest of the staff is struggling every day to adapt to what one of them called “the new normal.” Ms. Giffords’s aides opened Suite 112, the congresswoman’s district office, two days after the shooting that left her with a severe bullet wound to the head, and the office has stayed open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday since. It has been one of the staff’s few constants since a gunman opened fire at a community event on Jan. 8, killing six people and wounding the congresswoman and 12 others. Staff members have dived into their jobs as a means of coping with the tragedy. The mantra has been “What Would Gabby Do?” and the answer has been clear — keep working…. – NYT, 1-18-11
  • Gabrielle Giffords responds well to skull surgery, doctors say: Physicians in Tucson say they repaired damage to Gabrielle Giffords’ eye sockets on Saturday, and that she has responded well. They are still unsure about her ability to speak…. – LAT, 1-17-11
  • More Progress Reported for Giffords: Doctors at the University Medical Center said on Monday that the condition of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who was shot through the head Jan. 8, continued to improve, and that she appeared to be focusing her eyes, a sign of progress in her recovery.
    At a news conference at the hospital, doctors told reporters that Ms. Giffords had made it through the most dangerous period as far as potential swelling of her injured brain was concerned, but that she still faced the risk of serious complications, including infection.
    Her husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, a naval officer and astronaut, said in a television interview that Ms. Giffords had rubbed his back for 10 minutes, which doctors said was another positive sign. “It does imply that she is interacting, perhaps, in a more familiar way with him,” said Dr. G. Michael Lemole Jr., the chief neurosurgeon at the hospital…. – NYT, 1-17-11
  • Will Gabrielle Giffords keep her House seat?: It’s unclear when or if the Arizona congresswoman recovering from gunshot wounds might return to work, but her staff is keeping her offices running, and not even political opponents are talking about vacating her seat.
    Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University, said a decision on vacating the seat would probably be as much about emotions as the law. “It would still be very tough for someone to move to declare her seat vacant,” Zelizer said. “She has become a symbol to much of the nation, a symbol for the nation for hope about the political process.”… – LAT, 1-18-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama vows to ‘unlock the productivity’ of Americans: US President Barack Obama expressed his determination Saturday to “unlock the productivity” of American workers to make the country more competitive in a technology-driven economy.
    “I know we can out-compete any other nation on Earth,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “We just have to make sure we?re doing everything we can to unlock the productivity of American workers, unleash the ingenuity of American businesses, and harness the dynamism of America?s economy,” he added.
    The president also referred to a raft of trade deals worth $45 billion the United States and China announced Wednesday as the two powers tried to narrow disputes by tethering their economic fortunes…. – AFP, 1-22-10
  • Hawaii law bars release of Obama birth info: A privacy law that shields birth certificates has prompted Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie to abandon efforts to dispel claims that President Barack Obama was born outside Hawaii, his office says.
    State Attorney General David Louie told the governor that privacy laws bar him from disclosing an individual’s birth documentation without the person’s consent, Abercrombie spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said Friday.
    “There is nothing more that Gov. Abercrombie can do within the law to produce a document,” said Dela Cruz. “Unfortunately, there are conspirators who will continue to question the citizenship of our president.”
    Abercrombie, who was a friend of Obama’s parents and knew him as a child, launched an investigation last month into whether he can release more information about the president’s Aug. 4, 1961 birth. The governor said at the time he was bothered by people who questioned Obama’s birthplace for political reasons. But Abercrombie’s attempt reached a dead end when Louie told him the law restricted his options… – AP, 1-22-10
  • Obama pays short visit to House Democratic retreat: Lawmakers who gathered here for the annual House Democratic retreat may have been disappointed to get no preview of the State of the Union address from President Obama when he paid a quick visit tonight. They were treated, however, to a display of the president’s dance moves. Obama met with more than 130 House Democratic lawmakers and their spouses for about 90 minutes, entering the first-floor ballroom at the plush Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay shortly before 7:30 p.m. Democrats have been at the sprawling bayside resort since Thursday afternoon, discussing their strategy and messaging after a midterm shellacking that saw their party lose 63 seats in the House. The resort is the same one that hosted House Republicans after they lost the majority in 2006…. – WaPo, 1-21-11
  • The reality of death panels ObamaCare’s end-of-life planning comes down to economics: SUPPORTERS OF President Obama’s health care reform law have relentlessly derided Sarah Palin’s notion of “death panels’’ as a vulgar rhetorical technique, with no basis in reality, devised merely to scare a gullible, uneducated citizenry into rallying to repeal the law. The death panel notion persists, however, because it denotes, in a pithy way, the economic realities of scarcity inherent in nationalizing a rapidly developing, high-technology industry on which people’s lives depend in a rather immediate way. G.K. Chesterton once wrote that vulgar notions (and jokes) invariably contain a “subtle and spiritual idea.’’ The subtle and spiritual idea behind “death panels’’ is that life-prolonging medical technology is an expensive, limited commodity and if the market doesn’t determine who gets it, someone else will…. – Boston Globe, 1-21-11
  • Sasha Obama spoke Chinese to who?: Nine-year-old First Daughter Sasha Obama has been learning Chinese in school, but who does she speak to outside the classroom? The answer might surprise you. China’s President Hu Jintao is introduced to nine-year-old Sasha Obama by US President Barack Obama as they greet the crowd during an official south lawn arrival ceremony for Hu at the White House in Washington Jan. 19.
    President Barack Obama’s nine-year-old daughter, Sasha, wanted to test her developing Chinese skills this week while Hu Jintao was in town.
    Just whom did she want to practice them with? The Chinese president himself, according to a White House official who recounted the story on Thursday after a formal state dinner the previous night.
    “The president pointed out last night at the state dinner that his daughter, Sasha, is a very young girl but her class is studying Chinese,” Ben Rhodes, a White House deputy national security adviser, told a video conference with Chinese bloggers. “She’s under 10 years old and they’re studying Chinese, and she wanted to have the chance to practice her Chinese with President Hu.”
    Sasha attended Hu’s welcoming ceremony on the White House lawn on Wednesday morning with friends and could be seen waving a Chinese flag excitedly as her father and Hu walked around the grounds. The two presidents paused to visit when they reached the nine-year-old and her friends behind the rope line…. – CS Monitor, 1-21-11
  • Liberal group fights campaign finance decision opposed by Obama: The liberal advocacy group Common Cause has asked the Justice Department to investigate what it says are potential conflicts involving two Supreme Court justices whose votes helped clear the way for unlimited campaign spending by corporations, unions and others. President Obama cricized the ruling when it was rendered last January. Now Common Cause, in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, says Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas participated in strategy sessions with corporate leaders who benefitted by the decision inCitizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The advocacy group referred to political retreats sponsored by Koch Industries, a Wichita, Kan.-based energy company owned by brothers Charles and David Koch. Common Cause says the Koch Industries political action committee spent $2.6 million in the 2010 elections…. – USA Today, 1-20-11
  • Campaign finance ruling: Should Supreme Court justices have recused themselves?: The liberal group Common Cause asks the Justice Department to investigate whether Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Thomas should have stepped aside in a major campaign finance reform case a year ago.
    The liberal advocacy group Common Cause announced on Thursday that it has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether two US Supreme Court justices should have recused themselves from consideration of a major campaign finance reform case last year.
    Common Cause President Bob Edgar said the group has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to examine whether Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas should have stepped aside rather than vote in the Citizens United case.
    The case, handed down a year ago on Friday (Jan. 21), struck down a portion of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law that had barred corporate expenditures for political advertisements during campaign season…. – CS Monitor, 1-20-11

Photo courtesy of White House

  • Summit yields gains for both China and U.S.: Chinese President Hu Jintao’s just-concluded summit with President Obama was a win both for the Communist Party and for Hu himself, demonstrating once again the Chinese government’s reliance on ceremony to bolster its standing among its people. China’s state-run newspapers ran enormous photographs of Hu with Obama, a not-so- subtle message that China is now the United States’ equal on the world stage.
    For the Obama administration, the meeting went smoothly and yielded some progress on difficult issues – but it also served as a reminder that the U.S.-China relationship will continue to be among Washington’s most nettlesome.
    “The most important thing they did was, for the time being, put a floor under the relationship after a very bad year,” said Michael Green, a former National Security Council senior official. “No one expected a transformational summit, but if you graded it pass-fail, I say they passed.”… – WaPo, 1-20-11
  • Business Leaders Make Cut at State Dinner With Hu: Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter made the cut. So did Bill Clinton and his wife, the secretary of state. The heads of Microsoft, Boeing, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Boeing and Walt Disney were on the list. So were the singer Barbra Streisand, the ice skater Michelle Kwan, the violinist Yo Yo Ma, the architect Maya Lin and the fashion designer Vera Wang. But Fred Hochberg, the chairman of the Export-Import Bank, didn’t make it to President Obama’s state dinner for President Hu Jintao of China, even though trade was a major theme of the day. Neither did Aris Candris, the CEO of Westinghouse Electric, who attended a business leaders’ meeting with the two leaders, or Jim Sasser, the former ambassador to China, whose invitation to a State Department lunch with Mr. Hu might have served as a consolation prize.
    The 225 guests at Wednesday night’s glittering White House affair were, in a certain sense, survivors. All made it through an intense winnowing-down process by a White House confronted by some of the most intense jockeying for invitations in recent memory. The White House was intensely private about the planning, for fear of offending the Chinese. The theme for the evening was “quintessentially American,” with a menu that featured farm-fresh vegetables, poached Maine Lobster, dry aged rib eye with buttermilk crisp onions, topped off by old fashioned apple pie with ice cream. The entertainment, in the White House East Room, was the most quintessential of American music – a parade of jazz greats, including Herbie Hancock…. – NYT, 1-19-11
  • With Obama, Hu concedes China’s rights need help: In a rare concession on a highly sensitive issue, Chinese President Hu Jintao used his White House visit on Wednesday to acknowledge “a lot still needs to be done” to improve human rights in his nation accused of repressing its people. President Barack Obama pushed China to adopt fundamental freedoms but assured Hu the U.S. considers the communist nation a friend and vital economic partner.
    Hu’s comments met with immediate skepticism from human rights advocates, who dismissed them as words backed by no real history of action. Hu contended his country has “made enormous progress” but provided no specifics.
    Still, his remarks seemed to hearten and surprise U.S. officials, coming during an elaborate visit that centered on boosting trade and trust between the world’s two largest economies.
    More broadly, Hu and Obama sought to show off a more mature and respectful relationship, not the one often defined by disputes over currency, sovereignty and freedoms. Hu said he wanted even closer contact with Obama; Obama sought again to embrace China’s rise, and the two men shared some unexpected laughs…. – AP, 1-19-11
  • Obama’s day: Dealing with China: On this day in 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower first agreed to something that is now essential to White House life: A news conference filmed for television. It’s a day of high level diplomacy for President Obama, as he summits with President Hu Jintao of China. After Vice President Biden greeted Hu at the airport yesterday, the Chinese president and Obama held a small private dinner at the White House. Today, it’s down to work…. – USA Today, 1-19-11
  • U.S. Shifts Focus to Press China for Market Access: A year ago, the fight over how China’s cheap currency was hurting American companies in marketplaces at home and abroad was shaping up to be the epic battle between the world’s biggest power and its biggest economic rival.
    But when President Hu Jintao walks into the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with President Obama on Wednesday to face a group of 18 American and Chinese business leaders, much of the clash will be about a new economic battlefield — inside China itself…. – NYT, 1-18-11

112TH CONGRESS

John Boehner talks with reporters as he makes his way to his office from the House floor after the repeal of the Healtch Care Reform Act passed. | John Shinkle/POLITICO

  • Lawmakers’ soft words hide spending cuts’ pain: Terms like “cutting spending” and “raising taxes,” though they sound straightforward enough, are becoming battlegrounds in the Republicans’ and Democrats’ bids to frame the debate over how to cope with the growing national debt. Newly empowered congressional Republicans are playing down the big impact their proposed spending cuts would have on millions of Americans, according to Democrats and some bipartisan groups…. – AP, 1-21-11
  • House Republicans Plan Their Own Health Bills: Less than 24 hours after voting to repeal the new health care law, House Republicans said Thursday that they would pass discrete bills to achieve some of the same goals, but with more restraint in the use of federal power. At the same time, the speaker, John A. Boehner, said House Republicans would push for much stricter limits on abortion in federal programs, including those created by the new law. By a vote of 253 to 175, the House on Thursday directed four committees to draft legislation that would replace the health care law. The directive sets forth 13 objectives…. – NYT, 1-20-11
  • House panel announces investigation into healthcare reform: A day after the House voted to repeal the healthcare reform law, a powerful House committee is launching a probe of the Obama administration’s efforts to implement the law. Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee are flexing their new oversight powers by calling on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to explain why some groups were given waivers to a key requirement of the reform law and why the department recently reorganized an office created just months ago.
    The health department’s power to provide temporary exemptions to certain groups on annual insurance-limit requirements included in the reform law is “troubling,” according to a letter from Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and investigations subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.). The committee is asking the department to provide a list of every individual, organization, business, state or other entity that requested a waiver, obtained a waiver, or has been denied a waiver for any part of the reform law. The probe seeks “all documents” relating to the granting of waivers or exemptions for any reform law requirement…. – The Hill, 1-20-11
  • House votes to repeal Obama’s health care law: Swiftly honoring a campaign pledge, newly empowered Republicans pushed legislation to repeal the nation’s year-old health care overhaul through the House Wednesday night, brushing aside implacable opposition in the Senate and a veto threat from President Barack Obama. The 245-189 vote was largely along party lines, and cleared the way for the second phase of the “repeal and replace” promise that victorious Republicans made to the voters last fall. GOP officials said that in the coming months, congressional committees will propose changes to the existing legislation, calling for elimination of a requirement for individuals to purchase coverage, for example, and recommending curbs on medical malpractice lawsuits. Republicans also intend to try to reverse many of the changes Democrats made to Medicare Advantage, the private alternative to the traditional government-run health care program for seniors. Like the repeal bill itself, these other measures will require Senate approval and a presidential signature to take effect, and the prospect is for months of maneuvering on the issue. AP, 1-19-11
  • House votes to repeal health care law against long odds: McConnell pledges Senate vote… Democrats Boren, McIntyre and Ross voted for repeal… “It’s a promise kept,” a leading Republican says… The repeal bill is unlikely to survive the Senate, however…
    The House of Representatives voted to repeal the Obama administration’s signature health-care legislation Wednesday evening, a vote the newly elected Republican majority called a fulfillment of their No. 1 campaign promise. The bill, dubbed the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” passed 245-189. Three Democrats joined a unanimous Republican caucus on the vote.
    The legislation is unlikely to make it past the Democratic-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he won’t bring it to the floor for a vote. And even if it did, it would face a certain veto by President Barack Obama. But Rep. Mike Pence, a leading GOP conservative, dismissed Democratic criticism that Wednesday’s vote was a “gimmick.” “We have another term for it on our side of the aisle: It’s a promise kept,” he said. “And House Republicans are here to stand with the American people and say with one voice, ‘We can do better.’ We can do better than their government takeover of health care.”… – CNN, 1-19-11
  • Health care: Now comes the really hard part: The vote passed Wednesday 245-to-189 — with unanimous GOP support, plus three Democrats. But the repeal bill is destined to die in the Senate, so Republicans will use their newly acquired power in the House to wage a long-term campaign to weaken the law.
    The next steps — hearings, testimony from administration officials, funding cuts — lack the punch of a straight repeal vote, but Republicans said they will keep at it, hoping the end result is the same: stalling implementation of the $900 billion law.
    Republicans promise to hold a series of hearings and oversight investigations into the law, attempt to repeal individual provisions and craft an alternative health care plan. Some of the first issues they will tackle are the cost of the law, the mandate on larger employers to provide coverage and the impact of the legislation on the states.
    But the GOP is expected to be thwarted at every turn by the Democratic-controlled Senate — and ultimately President Barack Obama, who has said he is willing to “improve” the law but “we can’t go backward.”
    “This is not symbolic,” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said on the floor. “This is why we were sent here, and we will not stop until we put a president in a position in the White House who will repeal this bill. … Make no mistake, we are here to stay and our resolve is firm.” Politico, 1-19-11
  • Debate To Repeal Health Care Law Begins: The house of representatives gets back to work on capitol hill for the first time since the Tucson shooting that left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the hospital.The first item of business – repealing the new healthcare law. Debate unfolded on the house floor and in a series of news conferences.Republicans showed off piles of petitions from Americans demanding a repeal. While democrats showcased the personal stories of people who say repealing the law will negatively affect them.
    Rep. Tom Price says: “In our pledge to America, we said we would do in our pledge to America, we said that if given the privilege of leading once again, one of the things we would do would be to vote in the House of Representatives to repeal Obamacare. “Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz says: “Why we are doing this other than playing to the vanity of extremely conservative right wing of the Republican party, is beyond me.”
    The repeal is expected to sail through the house. But it’s not expected to get through the democratic senate or the president’s veto. A final vote is expected Wednesday afternoon or early evening. – Fox News 12, 1-18-11
  • Congress tones down the rhetoric after shootings: Born of bloodshed, a self-proclaimed Age of Civility dawned in Congress on Tuesday. Republicans and Democrats of the House spoke without angry shouts and debated legislation to repeal the nation’s year-old health care law without rancor. By unspoken agreement, manners mattered, although there were few overt references to the reason — the shooting rampage in Arizona 10 days ago that left six dead, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords wounded and lawmakers of both parties stunned.
    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said no directives had gone out to rank-and-file lawmakers cautioning them about their behavior as the House convened to debate a highly controversial bill. “We expect the debate to ensue along policy lines,” he said, suggesting one that did not stray from the merits of the legislation itself.
    Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking Democrat, agreed. “My expectation is that members will heed their own advice and will address the issues in a way that will deal with them on the merits,” he said. In the past, he added, too much of the public debate was “about incitement rather than informing . about making people angry, disrespecting the … point of view of the other side.”
    The change in tone was evident from the opening moments of the debate about a bill Republicans promised in last fall’s campaign to make an early 2011 priority…. – AP, 1-18-11
  • GOP set to assail healthcare law and seek alternatives: Civility gets its first test in the House since the Tucson shootings in a debate over repeal of Obama’s healthcare overhaul…. – LAT, 1-17-11
  • House set for health care repeal vote: The House of Representatives is set to vote on a repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul this week, fulfilling a campaign promise of congressional Republicans and setting up a clash with the White House and Senate Democrats.
    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has scheduled a floor debate on the measure for Tuesday and a vote on Wednesday. The new GOP majority, in keeping with its “repeal and replace” mantra, will instruct various House committees to craft alternatives to the law.
    “Repealing the job crushing health care law is critical to boosting small business job creation and growing the economy,” Boehner wrote online Monday…. – CNN, 1-17-11
  • Some House rivals spar — cautiously — on eve of health care repeal vote: House Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.) noted that during last year’s debate over the health care law, he had argued that the overhaul amounted to the Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century.
    “We’re hearing some of the same rhetoric around patients’ rights that we heard around voting rights,” Clyburn said. “But does this mean that some changes should not be made? Absolutely not. When the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, it did not cover public employees. When the Voting Rights Act became law in 1965, it did not cover congressional redistricting. The Fair Housing Law wasn’t perfect when it was passed, and bipartisan changes were made to all of these to improve the measures.” Clyburn added that as the House debates repeal, “I hope we can look at bipartisan changes and modifications that would increase efficiency and effectiveness but do not repeal this fundamental right.”A few minutes later, however, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) had some stronger words for Republicans’ efforts to repeal the entire law.
    “Every minute that we spend fruitlessly debating the repeal of health care reform — which we know is ultimately not going to happen — is one less minute that we are spending creating jobs and focusing on getting people back to work and turning this economy around,” Wasserman Schultz said. “Why we are doing this other than playing to the vanity of the extremely conservative right wing of the Republican Party is beyond me.”

    At their weekly pen-and-pad briefings with reporters, both House Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that leaders had not given any specific instructions to members of their caucuses to soften their rhetoric.
    “There’s been no discussion about acceptable language or non-acceptable language,” Cantor said. “What we’ve said, and the speaker has said, is this: We’re about a policy-oriented debate here. This is an issue of policy that was hotly debated over the last Congress, something that has great consequences for this country and deserving of a civil discourse in the House of Representatives, and that’s what we expect.”
    Repeal HealthCare Act Chairman Ken Hoagland, who also spoke at the event, called the petitions “an example to the rest of the world how even dramatic change in public policy can be effected through peaceful means.” “There is no room in our country for violent tactics to change public policy,” Hoagland said. “Our founding fathers left us every tool we need to change public policy peacefully, and that is what we intend to do. Now are the people who signed this petition angry? Yes, they are. … To suggest that that axiomatically leads to violence is just a wrong conclusion.” WaPo, 1-18-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • Ala. governor apologizes for remarks on Christians: Two days after being sworn in as Alabama governor, Robert Bentley apologized Wednesday for proclaiming to a Baptist church audience that only Christians were his brothers and sisters and vowed to work for people of all faiths and colors. His comments Monday shocked and offended some believers of other faiths, but the backlash didn’t seem to be a serious political wound for the retired dermatologist and Southern Baptist deacon. In a conservative state with some of the highest levels of church attendance in the country, some Christian leaders defended the remarks and the Republican will likely get a fair chance to pursue his agenda in the coming legislative session.
    “If anyone from other religions felt disenfranchised by the language, I want to say I am sorry. I am sorry if I offended anyone in any way,” he told reporters Wednesday after meeting with leaders of other faiths in his new office. After he took the oath of office at the Alabama Capitol on Monday, Bentley headed across the street to a service honoring Martin Luther King Jr. at King’s first church, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. During his speech, he remarked: “Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.”… – AP, 1-18-11

CHICAGO MAYORAL CAMPAIGN

  • Emanuel Raises $10 Million in Mayoral Bid: Rahm Emanuel, the former White House Chief of Staff, has raised more than $10 million in his quest to become mayor of Chicago. Filed with state election officials on Thursday, the campaign reports of Mr. Emanuel and his opponents offer a first real look at the financial side of this city’s first competitive race for mayor in years. In addition to the money he collected by the start of this year, Mr. Emanuel, who formerly served in Congress, also moved $1.1 million from a federal campaign fund into his mayor’s effort for a total of $11.7 million; he has already spent $3.4 million, the report showed…. – NYT, 1-20-11
  • Bill Clinton to campaign in Chicago for Emanuel: Former President Bill Clinton is coming to Chicago Tuesday to campaign for mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel, but his visit is the cause of some controversy. While the former White House chief of staff hopes Clinton can persuade voters to cast their ballots for him Feb. 22, a former mayoral contender has warned that Clinton is risking his popular standing with the African American community by backing Emanuel rather than a black candidate.
    Clinton is scheduled to appear with Emanuel at the Chicago Cultural Center Tuesday morning. The candidate touted the visit in his campaign mailings over the weekend, mixed with an appeal for campaign donations. “I’m honored to have President Clinton’s support,” Emanuel told supporters in the e-mail on Sunday. “I’m excited to show President Clinton the great Chicagoans who’ve made this campaign possible.”… – WaPo, 1-17-11

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • Obama could survive some bumps on road to 2012 reelection: Two years later, though, many analysts and observers have forgotten the breadth of Obama’s victory in the wake of the devastating and across-the-board (not to mention down-the-ballot) losses the Democratic Party suffered in the 2010 midterms. And yet, a detailed examination of the national map heading into 2012 suggests that the president still sits in a strong position for reelection – able to lose half a dozen (or more) swing states he carried in 2008 and still win the 270 electoral votes he needs for a second term…. – WaPo, 1-23-11
  • Evangelical/Romney supporter calls for new litmus test: Mark DeMoss, a well-connected figure in the evangelical community and Mitt Romney supporter, sent a memo last week to Christian conservatives urging them to consider “a new litmus test” beyond traditional cultural issues
    1. Who is most capable of winning the Republican nomination?
    2. Who is most capable of mounting the kind of campaign (raising money, recruiting staff and volunteers, presenting a clear message) necessary to upset a sitting president?
    3. Who is most capable of actually being the president of the United States—governing and serving as the CEO of the largest enterprises on the planet?
    Romney, argued DeMoss, was well-positioned financially and in the polls to meet the electability standard and, because of his background in business, is up for the job… – Politico, 1-23-11
  • Mitt Romney easily wins New Hampshire Republican poll: Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney easily won a poll of several hundred Republican delegates Saturday about whom they would choose to take on Democrat Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. Also at the meeting, conservative Tea Party activist Jack Kimball beat Juliana Bergeron to be New Hampshire’s new state Republican Party chairman — an outcome that could influence presidential campaigning in the state.
    Romney won 35 percent of the poll, trouncing Texas Congressman Ron Paul, with 11 percent, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, with 8 percent, and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who took 7 percent. Some 20 names were listed on the poll, including Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York…. – Reuters, 1-22-10
  • Republican hopefuls lay groundwork for 2012: Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and other potential presidential candidates have been stockpiling cash as they test the waters for a run. Nobody’s making anything official yet…. – LAT, 1-21-11
  • Poll: Mike Huckabee Takes Lead Among Potential GOP Presidential Picks: While Mike Huckabee has been cagey about whether he’ll make another run for the White House, a new poll out Friday finds the former Arkansas governor leading the pack among potential GOP presidential candidates for 2012. The Public Policy Polling survey has Huckabee with a solid 24 percent support among respondents, ahead of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney, the ex-governor of Massachussetts, who are tied at 14 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich comes in third with 11 percent, followed by Tim Pawlenty, the ex-governor of Minnesota, with 8 percent.
    PPP called Huckabee “the big winner” in this poll, citing his increased appeal to both moderates and conservatives within the Republican Party. Romney isn’t so lucky, according to PPP. He’s not particulary popular among conservative voters, who give him only a 55 percent favorability rating. That’s compared to 74 percent favorability from conservatives for Huckabee and 73 percent for Palin…. – Politics Daily, 1-21-11
  • Bachmann ‘encouraged’ after Iowa visit: Michele Bachmann of Minnesota says the reactions she received in her Friday meetings with Iowa Republican leaders and conservative activists in the leadoff presidential caucus state have encouraged her to explore running for president.
    “I am very encouraged by what I heard and the level of support that I saw today,” Bachmann told The Des Moines Register after a gauntlet of meetings in Des Moines.
    Bachmann’s visit stirred up the quietly developing race for the 2012 Republican presidential caucuses in Iowa, a little more than a year away.
    Bachmann spoke Friday night at a reception for Iowans for Tax Relief, an influential advocacy and political group with roughly 55,000 conservative and Republican-leaning members across the state. “It is not too late to change course and save this great nation,” Bachmann told her audience at a downtown Des Moines hotel. “I believe we can save America. I believe we can preserve this exceptional nation — this land of promise — for our children and grandchildren.”… – USA Today, 1-21-11
  • Palin Inches Toward 2012 in Iowa, Nevada: Sarah Palin may be inching toward a presidential run in 2012 as she heads next week to Nevada for two speeches and her advisers quietly begin talking to Republican activists in Iowa. Both states will be key to winning the Republican nomination, and Ms. Palin’s advisers are determined to do the groundwork necessary should she decide to jump into the campaign. The informal conversations in Iowa, reported by the Web site Real Clear Politics, are the first baby steps in what would have to become a much more elaborate turnout effort if Ms. Palin, the former Alaska governor, decides to run.
    And her speeches in Nevada to two outdoors groups — including one on the same night that President Obama delivers his State of the Union speech in Washington — give her a platform to talk about hunting and guns in the wake of the shootings in Arizona this month.
    “There are a lot of Republican activists who want the governor to run and want to get involved and want to help,” said Tim Crawford, the treasurer of Ms. Palin’s political action committee, SarahPAC…. – NYT, 1-20-11
  • Obama Will Move Political Operations to Chicago: President Obama will close the office of political affairs at the White House in preparation for the establishment of his re-election headquarters, which will open its doors in Chicago by late March to concentrate on building a national fund-raising and grass-roots operation to rival his first campaign, aides said.
    The president has signed off on the plan to set up his campaign headquarters away from Washington, a first for a modern-day presidential re-election campaign. To avoid turf battles, chaotic communications and duplicated efforts, aides said, a significant realignment is under way in the West Wing, with the duties of the political office being taken up by the Democratic National Committee.
    Mr. Obama intends to make a formal declaration of his candidacy in about two months by filing papers with the Federal Election Commission, aides said. That step would allow him to raise money and hire a team of advisers, who would seek to make Mr. Obama follow Bill Clinton as the second Democrat since Franklin Delano Roosevelt to be elected twice to the White House…. – NYT, 1-20-11
  • Pence urged to enter race for president in 2012: An independent campaign to draw GOP Rep. Mike Pence into the 2012 presidential race is under way, with a veteran of the Reagan White House launching a petition drive on Monday urging him to enter the primary contests.
    Ralph Benko, a deputy counsel to Ronald Reagan, announced the America’s President Committee to encourage a Pence- for-president bid. Former Rep. Jim Ryun, R-Kan., is also helping the campaign to collect signatures from conservatives and tea party activists.
    “Mike Pence extraordinarily exemplifies the optimistic, pro-growth, pro-job creation Reagan-Kemp wing of the GOP. Grass-roots conservatives, Republicans, the tea party and populists are looking for a man or woman of principle who can champion and unite the newly energized and engaged citizenry,” Benko said. “Mike Pence is the best choice to lead us into a new era of peace and prosperity.”… – AP, 1-17-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address
  • Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader on “Fox News Sunday.”: “With all due respect to our Democratic friends, any time they want to spend, they call it investment, so I think you will hear the president talk about investing a lot Tuesday night. This is not a time to be looking at pumping up government spending in very many areas.”
  • Sen. John McCain praises Obama: ‘Doing a Lot of the Right Things’: Speaking on Face the Nation, Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain praised President Obama, saying the first-term president has done “a lot of the right things.” “The president, I think, has learned a lot in the last two years as any president does. He is a very intelligent man. I think he’s doing a lot of right things,” he said.
    “I’m told already that the Democrats may agree with us on some changes,” Mr. McCain said. “There needs to be a lot more changes than what they’re willing to agree to. It has to be the subject of a national debate.” – The State Column, 1-23-11
  • Weekly Address: “We Can Out-Compete Any Other Nation”: Remarks of President Barack Obama The White House January 22, 2011: Here’s the truth about today’s economy: If we’re serious about fighting for American jobs and American businesses, one of the most important things we can do is open up more markets to American goods around the world.
    That’s why I met with China’s President Hu Jintao at the White House this past week. We’re now exporting more than $100 billion a year to China in goods and services. And as a result of deals we completed this week, we’ll be increasing U.S. exports to China by more than $45 billion, and China’s investments in America by several billion dollars. Most important, these deals will support some 235,000 American jobs. And that includes a lot of manufacturing jobs.
    That goal is why I fought so hard to negotiate a new and better trade deal with South Korea – a deal with unprecedented support from business and labor – that will support more than 70,000 American jobs. And that’s why I traveled to India last fall to help pave the way for $10 billion in new deals for American businesses and more than 50,000 new American jobs.
    Now, these may just sound like statistics. But yesterday, I saw what that means firsthand when I traveled to a GE plant in Schenectady, New York. This plant is manufacturing steam turbines and generators for a big project in India that resulted from a deal we announced around that trip – a project that’s helping support more than 1,200 manufacturing jobs and more than 400 engineering jobs in Schenectady. Good jobs at good wages, producing American products for the world.
    At the same time, GE has also been investing in innovation, building a clean energy center, an advanced battery manufacturing plant, and other state-of-the-art facilities in Schenectady that are resulting in hundreds of new American jobs and contributing to America’s global economic leadership.
    Leading the world in innovation. Opening new markets to American products. That’s how we’ll create jobs today. That’s how we’ll make America more competitive tomorrow. And that’s how we’ll win the future.
    While I was in Schenectady, I announced that Jeff Immelt, GE’s CEO and one of the most imaginative and visionary business leaders in America, has agreed to head up our new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The purpose of this council is to help us find ways to grow our economy by investing in our businesses here at home. And under Jeff’s leadership, I’m confident that they’ll generate good ideas about how we can spur hiring, educate our workers to compete in the 21st century, and attract the best jobs and businesses to America rather than seeing them spring up overseas.
    We’re living in a new and challenging time, in which technology has made competition easier and fiercer than ever before. Countries around the world are upping their game and giving their workers and companies every advantage possible. But that shouldn’t discourage us. Because I know we can win that competition. I know we can out-compete any other nation on Earth. We just have to make sure we’re doing everything we can to unlock the productivity of American workers, unleash the ingenuity of American businesses, and harness the dynamism of America’s economy. Thanks everyone, and have a nice weekend. – WH, 1-22-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Watch Live: The China State Visit: The President hosts Hu Jintao, President of the People’s Republic of China, at the White House for a State Visit, marking the third State Visit of the Obama Administration. President Hu’s visit highlights the importance of expanding cooperation between the United States and China on bilateral, regional, and global issues, as well as the friendship between the peoples of our two countries. The President, who visited China in November 2009, looks forward to welcoming President Hu to Washington to continue building a partnership that advances our common interests and addresses our shared concerns. Watch the Arrival Ceremony, State Dinner toasts, and more on WhiteHouse.gov…. – WH, 1-19-11
  • State Dinner with President Hu of China: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host President Hu of China at a State Dinner at the White House. January 19, 2011…. – WH, 1-19-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • President Obama Welcomes President Hu of China to the White House: At a time when some doubt the benefits of cooperation between the United States and China, this visit is also a chance to demonstrate a simple truth. We have an enormous stake in each other’s success. In an interconnected world, in a global economy, nations — including our own — will be more prosperous and more secure when we work together.
    The United States welcomes China’s rise as a strong, prosperous and successful member of the community of nations. Indeed, China’s success has brought with it economic benefits for our people as well as yours, and our cooperation on a range of issues has helped advance stability in the Asia Pacific and in the world.
    We also know this: History shows that societies are more harmonious, nations are more successful, and the world is more just, when the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld, including the universal rights of every human being.
    Mr. President, we can learn from our people. Chinese and American students and educators, business people, tourists, researchers and scientists, including Chinese Americans who are here today —- they work together and make progress together every single day. They know that even as our nations compete in some areas, we can cooperate in so many others, in a spirit of mutual respect, for our mutual benefit.
    What Deng Xiaoping said long ago remains true today. There are still great possibilities for cooperation between our countries. President Hu, members of the Chinese delegation, let us seize these possibilities together. Welcome to the United States of America. Hwan-ying. (Applause.)… – WH, 1-19-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Palin explains ‘blood libel’ comment: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, defending herself against criticism following the Tucson, Ariz., shootings, said Monday that she used the term “blood libel” to describe comments made by those who falsely tried to link conservatives to the assassination attempt against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Speaking out for the first time since she used the term in a video, Palin said on Fox’s Sean Hannity show that the term referred to those “falsely accused of having blood on their hands.” Some Jewish groups strongly protested her use of the term, which historically was used to accuse Jews of using blood of Christians in religious rituals. “I think the critics again were using anything that they could gather out of that statement,” she said. “You can spin up anything out of anybody’s statements that are released and use them against the person who is making the statement.” Palin, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2012, said the criticism won’t stop her from speaking out and accusing Democrats of taking the country in the wrong direction. “They can’t make us sit down and shut up,” she said…. – AP, 1-17-11
  • Cheney: Obama has Learned that Bush Policies were Right: President Obama has “learned from experience” that some of the Bush administration’s decisions on terrorism issues were necessary, according to former Vice President Dick Cheney. In his first interview since undergoing major heart surgery last July, Cheney said he thinks Obama has been forced to rethink some of his national security positions now that he sits in the Oval Office…. – Fox News, 1-17-11
  • Tom Daschle to Barack Obama: Meet, eat with GOP leaders: As Washington begins another period of divided government, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle urged President Obama to reach out to Capitol Hill by holding more regular meetings with congressional leaders of both parties.
    “I would love to see the President of the United States hold a weekly breakfast with the four leaders, two Republican and two Democratic,” Daschle said in a recent interview with POLITICO. The former South Dakota Democrat, one of Obama’s earliest supporters and still an outside adviser, suggested the president and congressional leaders alternate venues. “I think it would be refreshing to have the President come down to Capitol Hill and meet down there,” he said…. – Politico, 1-17-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: What Obama can learn from Clinton, Reagan: Many political analysts are urging President Obama to give a State of the Union Address that is conciliatory toward Republicans and that acknowledges that voters are unhappy with the direction of his policies.
    Ever since he agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts in a compromise with Republicans, his poll numbers have been improving, and Obama has filled several key positions in his administration with moderate Democrats. There is reason to think that the president will continue this path….
    He can use this opportunity to answer some of the big questions surrounding his presidency. He can explain how and when the government can solve certain problems better then markets. He can explain to Americans how his health care bill will help contain costs for citizens. He can share with the country how he balances concerns over the deficit with the need to stimulate the economy and what exactly is the path he envisions toward a stronger economy.
    By tackling these and other questions, Obama has to use this opportunity to explain himself and his presidency, providing voters a stronger understanding of who he is and what policies he will defend as he enters into discussion with a Republican House…. – CNN, 1-24-11
  • ‘State of the Union’ Could Mark Turning Point for Obama, Historian Says: President Barack Obama’s Tuesday night State of the Union address comes at a critical moment in his presidency and could set the tone in Washington for years to come, says a presidential historian at the University of Indianapolis. This won’t be the first State of the Union delivered amid economic woes and stiff partisan opposition, Associate Professor Edward “Ted” Frantz says. Previous examples include Bill Clinton in 1995, Ronald Reagan in 1983 and Franklin Roosevelt in 1935.
    “The fundamental challenge for Roosevelt was getting business interests to trust him, and they never did,” Frantz says. In that case, however, Roosevelt was able to continue his New Deal economic reforms with the help of large Democratic majorities in Congress, an advantage Obama does not have…. – Newswise, 1-24-11
  • Reagan and Kennedy Are Role Models for Obama Obama’s message in Tucson was the kind of speech Kennedy and Reagan would have given: But historian Robert Dallek says both Kennedy and Reagan retain a grip on the popular imagination for similar reasons. “Kennedy and Reagan are the darlings of the public,” he says. “People remember them as inspirational voices. They gave people hope.” Dallek recalled a comment by historian Richard Hofstadter that Theodore Roosevelt, another iconic leader, was “the master therapist of the middle class.” Kennedy and Reagan played the same role. “Kennedy and Reagan made people feel good,” Dallek adds. “Kennedy and Reagan have become mythological figures, iconic figures.”… – US News, 1-21-11
  • What Would Ronnie Do?: Obama starts the second half of his term with a set of obstacles similar to those that bedeviled Ronald Reagan. On Reagan’s centennial, the president is looking to the past for inspiration…. – Newsweek, 1-23-11
  • Ari Berman: Obama: Triangulation 2.0?: Immediately following the Democrats’ 2010 electoral shellacking, a broad spectrum of pundits urged President Obama to “pull a Clinton,” in the words of Politico: move to the center (as if he wasn’t already there), find common ground with the GOP and adopt the “triangulation” strategy employed by Bill Clinton after the Democratic setback in the 1994 midterms. “Is ‘triangulation’ just another word for the politics of the possible?” asked the New York Times. “Can Obama do a Clinton?” seconded The Economist. And so on. The Obama administration, emphatic in charting its own course, quickly took issue with the comparison. According to the Times, Obama went so far as to ban the word “triangulation” inside the White House. Politico called the phrase “the dirtiest word in politics.”…. – The Nation, 2-7-11
  • House votes to repeal health-care reform: What happens now?: Though the House has repealed health-care reform, it won’t be repealed by the Senate, meaning the effort is virtually dead. But House Republicans can still try to dismantle the law by other means.
    “We have a bill that expanded coverage, put new regulations in place, but it’s not clear it cuts the cost of health care,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. “That’s a criticism you saw from left, right and center.” “If the debate moves in that direction, there’s room to form some kind of bipartisan support for more stringent cost controls,” he adds. “But on the other hand, both parties also have a stake in posturing going into 2012 elections.”… – CS Monitor, 1-19-11
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Can Boehner’s GOP deliver on promises?: Following a traumatic week for the nation in the wake of the Arizona shootings, Congress will get back to business this week. As House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s spokesperson announced, “It is important for Congress to get back to work, and to that end we will resume thoughtful consideration of the health care bill.”
    On Capitol Hill, Republicans find themselves in a position that seemed inconceivable a few years earlier, even to most conservatives. Although Democrats retain control of the White House and Senate, many Republicans were elated when they won control of the House and had the votes to elect John Boehner as speaker….
    The ways in which the Republican Party responds to these challenges will play an important role in defining what kind of political party Republican candidates will be able to champion in 2012 — and what kind of party President Obama will be able to attack on the campaign trail…. – CNN, 1-17-11
  • ‘Historian’ Douglas Brinkley: Obama ‘like’ Martin Luther King, Douglas Brinkley, presidential historian: “I thought President Obama did a wonderful job this evening. I thought that he really brought people together. I mean, when he, in the middle of the speech, said, ‘Gabby opened her eyes, Gabby opened her eyes,’ & you could almost hear a Martin Luther King-like inflection — And he carried that throughout a lot of the speech. “I was, like David Gergen earlier, a little put off by the atmospherics, 14,000 cheering people. But the president, I think, worked his way into that atmosphere. So, by the end of it, you could almost feel people hugging in the excitement, in the warmth & the love in the arena.”… – CNN, 1-13-11
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Senator Joseph Lieberman Retiring in 2012

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.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN RETIRING IN 2012

  • Joe Lieberman to retire in 2012: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) will retire in 2012, according to two Democratic sources familiar with the decision. Lieberman is expected to announce his decision tomorrow.
  • No Fifth Term for Lieberman: Mr. Lieberman, 68, whose term is up in January 2013, has chosen to retire rather than face a difficult campaign for re-election, according to aides and others who spoke to the senator on Tuesday.
    “He believes that if he were to run for re-election it’d be a tough fight,” said Marshall Wittmann, a member of Mr. Lieberman’s Senate staff. “He’s confident he could’ve won that fight. He’s had tough fights before. But he wants to have a new chapter in his life.”
    News of Mr. Lieberman’s plans surfaced on the same day that Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, announced he would retire.
    Democrats say the decision by Mr. Lieberman, which his office declined to confirm, increases the likelihood that their party will capture his seat next year. Among other things, Democrats noted that President Obama, who won Connecticut overwhelmingly in 2008, would be on the ballot in 2012…. – NYT, 1-18-11
  • Lieberman Decision Could Set Off a Wild Race: Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut plans to announce Wednesday he will not seek a fifth term in office, setting the stage for what will likely be a wide-open Democratic primary and perhaps another deep-pocketed campaign by former wrestling executive Linda McMahon.
    Mr. Lieberman’s decision would end a remarkable and unusual political career when his current term expires in January 2013. His independence has made him an important factor in close Senate votes, but it has not endeared him to the Democrats and left-leaning independents in his state…. – WSJ, 1-18-11

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

November 14, 2008: The Obama Transition Continues, Bipartisanship & the Historical Moment

POLITICS & PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION WATCH:

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Stats:

  • A timeline of the Obama campaign – Newsday
  • Get to know the Obamas: Bios of Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha – Newsday

The Headlines…

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

  • Hillary Clinton emerges as US State dept candidate: Sen. Hillary Clinton emerged on Thursday as a candidate to be U.S. secretary of state for Barack Obama, months after he defeated her in an intense contest for the Democratic presidential nomination. – Reutera, 11-14-08
  • Obama resigns Senate seat effective Sunday – Reuters, 11-13-08
  • Palin stars at Republican governors meeting – Reuters, 11-13-08For Obama and Family, a Personal Transition – NYT, 11-13-08
  • Obama inauguration in January – but D.C. travel rush underway: Barack Obama won’t be sworn in as the nation’s 44th president for two months, but his historic election has already set off a frenzied scramble for inauguration tickets, hotel rooms and flights to Washington. – San Francisco Chronicle, 11-13-08
  • Crowd of 1 million could attend Obama inauguration: AP, 11-13-08
  • US general urges Obama to keep missile defense – AP, 11-12-08
  • Cheney, Biden to meet privately at VP residence – AP, 11-12-08
  • Obama to pioneer Web outreach as president: Transition officials call it Obama 2.0 — an ambitious effort to transform the president-elect’s vast Web operation and database of supporters into a modern new tool to accomplish his goals in the White House. If it works, the new president could have an unprecedented ability to appeal for help from millions of Americans who already favor his ideas, bypassing the news media to pressure Congress. – AP, 11-12-08
  • Obama taps veteran Dems for DoD, State handovers: President-elect Obama has hired former Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sam Nunn to help shepherd his Pentagon transition, a spokeswoman said Tuesday. Similarly, a senior administration official said former Secretary of State Warren Christopher would advise Obama on his State Department transition. – AP, 11-11-08
  • Catholic bishops will fight Obama on abortion – AP, 11-11-08
  • Bush wistfully salutes veterans on Intrepid in NYC: President Bush wistfully saluted the nation’s veterans Tuesday as he prepares to hand two ongoing wars over to his successor, saying he’ll “miss being the commander in chief of such a fabulous group.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • Pelosi calls for emergency aid for auto industry – AP, 11-11-08
  • Obama wants Lieberman to stay with Senate Dems – AP, 11-11-08
  • Bush, Obama discuss economy, foreign policy – AP, 11-10-08
  • Obama, Bush complete historic White House meeting: The Bushes welcomed the Obamas to the White House on Monday, visiting for nearly two hours and offering the nation a glimpse of a new first family at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. President-elect Obama and President Bush met in the Oval Office, their first substantive one-on-one session, while first lady Laura Bush and Obama’s wife, Michelle, talked in the White House residence. – AP, 11-10-08
  • DNC Chairman Howard Dean will not seek second term: Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean plans to step down from his post when his term expires in January, wrapping up a tenure in which the party heavily invested in all 50 states for a payoff that helped elect Barack Obama president. – AP, 11-10-08
  • Senator asks sites not to sell inaugural tickets – AP, 11-10-08
  • Obama plans US terror trials to replace Guantanamo: President-elect Obama’s advisers are crafting plans to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and prosecute terrorism suspects in the U.S., a plan that the Bush administration said Monday was easier said than done. – AP, 11-10-08

President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush and President-elect Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama pause for photographs Monday, Nov. 10, 2008, after the Obama's arrival at the South Portico of the White House. White House photo by Chris Greenberg

President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush and President-elect Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama pause for photographs Monday, Nov. 10, 2008, after the Obama’s arrival at the South Portico of the White House. White House photo by Chris Greenberg

Political Quotes

  • Barack Obama resigns Senate seat effective Sunday: “It has been one of the highest honors and privileges of my life to have served the people of Illinois in the United States Senate…. In a state that represents the crossroads of a nation, I have met so many men and women who’ve taken different journeys, but hold common hopes for their children’s future. It is these Illinois families and their stories that will stay with me as I leave the United States Senate and begin the hard task of fulfilling the simple hopes and common dreams of all Americans as our nation’s next president.” — Reuters, 11-13-08
  • Edwards speaks about Obama, Clinton but not affair: “In many ways, Barack Obama symbolizes what’s possible in America… That long, drawn-out, tough process played a role in making him a better candidate. He was well-prepared for this general election campaign.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • George W. Bush to CNN: Obama scoped daughters’ bedrooms after visit: “One of things President-elect Obama was interested in — after we had our policy discussions — was his little girls. How would they like the White House? It was interesting to watch him go upstairs, and he wanted to see where his little girls were going to sleep….
    I said ‘Bill, I’m getting ready to meet with the new president and I remember how gracious you were to me,’ ‘I hope I can be as gracious to President-elect Obama as you were to me.’….
    Clearly, this guy is going to bring a great sense of family to the White Hous. I hope Laura and I did the same thing, but I believe he will and I know his girls are on his mind and he wants to make sure that first and foremost he is a good dad. And I think that’s going to be an important part of his presidency….
    I’m not sure what to expect. I know I’ll miss certain things about the presidency. I also know I’m looking forward to getting home, so I’ve got mixed emotions.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • Bush wistfully salutes veterans on Intrepid in NYC: “Today we send a clear message to all who have worn the uniform: Thank you for your courage, thank you for your sacrifice, and thank you for standing up when your nation needed you most. I will miss being the commander in chief of such a fabulous group of men and women, those who wear the uniform of the United States military.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • Vice President Dick Cheney marked Veterans Day by solemnly placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. Cheney then offered a glowing tribute to the U.S. armed forces: “No single military power in history has done greater good, shown greater courage, liberated more people, or upheld higher standards of decency and valor.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • McCain says Palin didn’t hurt presidential bid to Jay Leno during an “Tonight Show” interview taped for broadcast Tuesday night: “I’m so proud of her and I’m very grateful she agreed to run with me. She inspired people, she still does. I couldn’t be happier with Sarah Palin….
    I think I have at least a thousand, quote, top advisers. A top adviser said? I’ve never even heard of … a top adviser or high-ranking Republican official.
    “The people were very excited and inspired by her. That’s what really mattered, I think. She’s a great reformer.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pa.: Catholic bishops will fight Obama on abortion: “I cannot have a vice president-elect coming to Scranton to say he’s learned his values there when those values are utterly against the teachings of the Catholic Church….
    They cannot call themselves Catholic when they violate such a core belief as the dignity of the unborn. – AP, 11-11-08
  • Palin blames Bush policies for GOP defeat: “I’m like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I’m like, don’t let me miss the open door,” Palin said in an interview with Fox News on Monday. “And if there is an open door in ’12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plow through that door.”…
    “I did not order the clothes. Did not ask for the clothes,” Palin said. “I would have been happy to have worn my own clothes from Day One. But that is kind of an odd issue, an odd campaign issue as things were wrapping up there as to who ordered what and who demanded what.”….
    “It’s amazing that we did as well as we did. I think the Republican ticket represented too much of the status quo, too much of what had gone on in these last eight years, that Americans were kind of shaking their heads like going, wait a minute, how did we run up a $10 trillion debt in a Republican administration? How have there been blunders with war strategy under a Republican administration? If we’re talking change, we want to get far away from what it was that the present administration represented and that is to a great degree what the Republican Party at the time had been representing,” Palin said in a separate interview with the Anchorage Daily Newspublished Sunday. – AP, 11-10-08
  • Obama plans US terror trials to replace Guantanamo: At the White House, spokeswoman Dana Perino said Monday that President Bush has faced many challenges in trying to close the prison. “We’ve tried very hard to explain to people how complicated it is. When you pick up people off the battlefield that have a terrorist background, it’s not just so easy to let them go,” Perino said. “These issues are complicated, and we have put forward a process that we think would work in order to put them on trial through military tribunals.” – AP, 11-10-08

President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama walk the Colonnade to the Oval Office Monday, Nov. 10, 2008, as the President and Mrs. Laura Bush welcomed the President-elect and his wife, Michelle, to the White House. White House photo by Eric Draper
President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama walk the Colonnade to the Oval Office Monday, Nov. 10, 2008, as the President and Mrs. Laura Bush welcomed the President-elect and his wife, Michelle, to the White House. White House photo by Eric Draper

Historians’ Comments

  • ERIC FONER “What it meant In the great national narrative, where will Obama’s election really fit? Five historians answer”: MOST PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS do not fundamentally alter the American political landscape. Even when the party in power changes, the basic assumptions governing policy generally remain the same. But in a few critical elections, the advent of a new president is a transformative moment that reshapes American public life for a generation or more….
    Obama has the bad luck to come to power in the midst of an economic crisis. He has the good luck to do so in a country yearning for strong leadership and a renewed sense of political possibility. No president can perform miracles. But if, like his most successful predecessors, Obama seizes the occasion by striking out boldly, articulating forcefully a new philosophy of governing at home and relating to the rest of the world, we will add 2008 to the very short list of elections that have truly transformed American life. – Boston Globe, 11-9-08
  • STEVEN F. LAWSON “What it meant In the great national narrative, where will Obama’s election really fit? Five historians answer”: IT HAS TAKEN 43 years since passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which extended the right to vote to the majority of African-Americans, for a black candidate to become president of the United States. The significance of this achievement rises further when we remember that it has been nearly 90 years since women received the suffrage and that no woman has been elected president or even chosen by the two major parties to run.
    Barack Obama’s election confirms the faith that the civil rights movement placed in the power of the right to vote. In becoming commander in chief, Obama has inherited the legacy of countless civil rights warriors who risked their lives and many who lost theirs, to gain the right to vote, not as an empty symbol, but as a genuine tool for freedom and equality. He stands on the shoulders of John Lewis, Medgar Evers, Amzie Moore, Ella Baker, and Martin Luther King Jr., among many others….
    And, remember, Obama’s triumph does not guarantee the election of another African-American any time soon. John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic to win election to the presidency in 1960 and remains the only Catholic president to date. In fact, unless Americans become racially blind, which has not happened through 500 years, it will become harder for African-Americans to win the White House again. Demography is working against them, as Hispanic-Americans have now become the nation’s largest minority group. – Boston Globe, 11-9-08
  • THOMAS J. SUGRUE “What it meant In the great national narrative, where will Obama’s election really fit? Five historians answer”: ON ELECTION NIGHT, Barack Obama addressed nearly 200,000 supporters in Chicago’s Grant Park – the place where, just 40 years earlier, antiwar protesters, hippies, yippies and black radicals clashed with police during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Alternative visions of America had collided on Chicago’s streets: dissent versus “America love it or leave it” patriotism, militancy versus law and order, sexual libertinism versus family values. Obama’s Grant Park celebration – just like the election of 2008 – exorcized the ghosts of 1968, perhaps forever….
    Generation Obama has its own issues: global warming, worldwide epidemics, the threat of terrorism, and the collapse of the financial markets, to name a few. McCain’s evocations of small-town values, of dissent and the silent majority and campus radicalism, left those problems unaddressed. Obama’s rhetoric of unity – of common purpose and common cause – threw the dated politics of division and resentment into the dustbin of history. The cultural warriors, fighting over law and order, God, guns, and family values, will not be silent during the Obama administration, but they are increasingly relics of the past. – Boston Globe, 11-9-08
  • JACQUELINE JONES “What it meant In the great national narrative, where will Obama’s election really fit? Five historians answer”: NOW THAT HALF a century has passed since the election of President Barack Obama, we can begin to place that watershed event into historical perspective.
    Those of us who witnessed the turbulent campaign of ’08 recall that, at the time, many pundits, scholars, and politicians argued that “racial progress” constituted the true significance of Obama’s election. Certainly his success at the polls that year was a great symbolic victory; less than a century and a half earlier, the vast majority of Americans of African descent were enslaved, and as late as 1965, the vast majority of rural black Southerners were disenfranchised. Obama’s election then was a triumph on two fronts: Many white Americans repudiated centuries of pervasive racial prejudice and discrimination to vote for a black man, and at the same time, President Obama represented the integration of blacks into the highest echelons of American elective office. The night of the election, Obama’s supporters joyfully celebrated what many considered to be the elimination of racial barriers to black people’s full participation in American political and social life….
    In time-honored fashion, many Americans searched for scapegoats to blame as the long era of freewheeling spending came to an abrupt halt; and in the years after 2008, those scapegoats were likely to be African-Americans and undocumented immigrants. In hindsight we know that contemporary observers who celebrated Obama’s victory as a new era in American “race relations” were sadly mistaken. – Boston Globe, 11-9-08
  • JOHN DITTMER “What it meant In the great national narrative, where will Obama’s election really fit? Five historians answer”: FIFTY YEARS FROM now historians will look back on the election of 2008 as a watershed. Transcending the issue of his race, Barack Obama assembled a new progressive coalition, galvanized by the young and minorities, that successfully challenged the conservative consensus that had defined American political life for more than a quarter century….
    On Election Day, men and women who had once fought for the right to vote stood in line for hours to elect a black president. At the Obama victory rally, when asked to explain the tears running down his cheek, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said he was thinking of all the martyrs who had given their lives to make the moment possible. Television footage from across the country showed people crying and hugging each other, evoking images of the spontaneous celebrations at the end of World War II. A new day seemed to be dawning. Once again America was leading by example, giving hope to all who believe in the possibilities of democracy. – – Boston Globe, 11-9-08
  • John Hope Franklin “In Obama’s victory, America comes to terms with past”: “This is one of the most historic moments, if not the most historic moment in the history of this country,” said 93-year-old John Hope Franklin, professor emeritus of history at Duke University. Franklin, one of the nation’s most accomplished historians, said Wednesday that he was confident that Obama could reach this historic milestone. “I knew that it would come sooner or later,” Franklin said. “I had the chance to meet and talk with him, so I was not shocked or terribly surprised because he is a winner.” – Kansas City Star, 11-13-08
  • Horace Huntley “In Obama’s victory, America comes to terms with past”: “I’ve taught for 35 years and I always tell my students, ‘When race comes into play, logic has a way of exiting.’ But I may have to revise that thinking after this,” said Horace Huntley, a historian and the director of oral history at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. “Now it appears that logic may be overtaking the illogical. It appears there’s a groundswell of sensibility.”
    To a generation of young blacks who never experienced overt racism, many can’t fully appreciate the magnitude of Obama’s victory. That’s mainly the fault of black parents and schools that don’t make civil rights history mandatory, Huntley said. – Kansas City Star, 11-13-08
  • Clarence Williams “In Obama’s victory, America comes to terms with past”: Clarence Williams, a history professor at the University of California at Davis, was equally pessimistic about Obama’s chances, saying he never thought he’d see a black president in his lifetime. “Because I think of the United States, historically, as a deeply and pervasive racist country,” Williams said. “It may have changed a bit in some ways, but in some ways it has not. And I have no shame about saying that to you.” Williams, who describes his feelings about America as “critical patriotism,” said that he, too, was heartened by the widespread support that Obama got from nonblack voters who gravitated to his positive message. “This notion of giving people hope is a very important thing,” he said.
    Williams warned, however, that Obama’s victory doesn’t mean that America is or ever will be colorblind. “But what it does is suggest we have taken another gigantic step forward with our racial problem,” Williams said.
    “We attempted to coddle our children and protect them from the harshness of the past rather than teach them what had taken place,” Huntley said. As a result, many young blacks “have put a diesel engine on an oxcart and raced away from their past,” Williams said. – Kansas City Star, 11-13-08
  • Nell Painter: “In Obama’s victory, America comes to terms with past”: Nell Painter, a history professor emeritus at Princeton University, also was taken by the country’s ability, in the end, to judge a black candidate based on his ideas rather than skin color. “The idea that we can vote for a black person for president just really makes me feel good about the United States, given our history,” Painter said. “It’s like we’re saying ‘Look, we’re not these bad old people any more. We’re fair-minded.’ It’s a powerfully positive statement about the United States turning its back on its evil ways.”
    “The breaking down of segregation made possible what we’re seeing today in Barack Obama,” Painter said. “This could not have happened in a segregated America. Too many white people would have found it impossible to vote for him.” – Kansas City Star, 11-13-08
  • Gil Troy “Obama’s “Historic” Triumph: Did He Win or was it a GO George – Get Out George W. victory by default?”: Historians have to navigate carefully when entering the strange, alluring world of media commentary. To maintain our integrity, we need boundaries. Presumably, those of us who comment believe that offering historical perspective even as history unfolds can elevate public debate, using current events as “teachable moments.” But most of the time journalists want us – especially on television – to do things we should not do, namely predict the future or determine the historical meaning of fleeting events as they unfold. Even on the air, historians should dodge certain questions. We should never predict. And we should sidestep premature queries such as “Is George W. Bush the worst president ever,” halfway through his term. Anyone who survived oral exams should be able to handle it. During last week’s remarkable redemptive moment as Barack Obama won the presidency, it seemed that most of the media wanted to trot out historians to certify that this election was indeed “historic.” — HNN, 11-13-08
  • Gil Troy “How Generation Y became Obama’s political animal”: “This is not a generation of enduring loyalty,” said Gil Troy, a presidential historian at McGill University. “They have quicksilver loyalties compared to their parents. At some point, there’ll be a confrontation between hope and government.” – Globe and Mail, 11-11-08
  • Allan Lichtman “‘President Obama’ Will Be Greeted By A Stack Of Problems”: Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University in Washington, D.C., said like great presidents of the past, however, Obama seems suited to the task of navigating the country through its current morass. “He’s very cool, very unruffled; he doesn’t panic and he’s retained his good humor, like Ronald Reagan, and that’s going to be very critical,” Lichtman explained. “Also, he’s been very inspirational and that’s an important quality because it helps bring people along with you and the only way to counter wealthy, special interests is the power of the people. That’s how Teddy Roosevelt countered special interests in his administration.”
    “I think it’s a return to a kind of liberalism that we have not seen since the 1960s, early 1970s,” said Lichtman. “Ther’s a much greater faith in government, a less militaristic approach to foreign policy and a much more multilateral approach compared to the Bush administration….there’s less of an emphasis on supporting the wealthy.”
    “Obama can take good lessons from Franklin Roosevelt, who came into office during a financial crisis, and that is bold, persistent determination and a willingness to try lots of different things. There is no one silver bullet for this economic problem.”
    “He’s shown tremendous willingness to experiment and change and try to do new things and not just walk down the line in Democratic orthodoxy,” he said.
    “Race is a sore spot,” said Lichtman, the American University historian. “He’ll have to tread softly but not back down, and he’s shown his ability to do that. The best way to defuse the issue of race is for Obama to show he can be president of all people and to govern well, and governing well means solving problems.” – Seattle Medium, 11-12-08
  • Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said she was hard-pressed to find a similar moment in history when the tone had changed so drastically, and so quickly, among so many people of such prominence. “The best answer I can give you,” said Goodwin, “is they don’t want to be on the wrong side of history.” – Star Tribune, 11-13-08
  • Douglas Brinkley, the best-selling author and professor of history at Rice University: “Monumental … a major shift in the zeitgeist of our times.”
  • Joan Hoff, a former president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency: “I can’t think of another election where the issues were two wars and a crashed economy. There just isn’t any historical precedent for this.”
  • James McPherson, author and professor emeritus of history at Princeton University: “It’s an historic turning point … an exclamation point of major proportions to the civil rights movement that goes back to the 1950s.”
  • Douglas Brinkley says Obama Could Permanently Ban ANWR Drilling: “I think what they’re trying to do is in the Obama administration, start pointing out some clear divot spots where they’re going to deviate from the Bush administration –things like Guantanamo, things that, ‘No, we are not going to be for drilling around parks.’ I wouldn’t be surprised in the coming year if you see someplace like ANWR in Alaska turn from being a wildlife refuge run by U.S. Fish and Wildlife and turn over to becoming a National Monument where you couldn’t drill. So you’re going to be, and that’s because you’re going to have to do some things sort of on the cheap. – http://www.businessandmedia.org, 11-12-08
  • Edna Greene Medford “Obama’s victory a ‘renewed hope'” Howard University history professor Edna Greene Medford said President-elect Barack Obama’s historic victory is “a symbol” to blacks, but “we don’t expect much because we know we’re not going to get much.” A Lincoln historian, Mrs. Medford said Mr. Obama, like Lincoln, is offering hope but black voters are “smart enough to know” that the 44th president is only one man and his election “does not mean that life is going to get better for me.” Mrs. Medford made her comments, which were disputed by Obama transition team officials, during a heady meeting of the Trotter Group of black columnists at Howard. – Washington Times, 11-12-08
  • Daryl Scott “Obama’s victory a ‘renewed hope'” 20th-century historian Daryl Scott, echoed the sentiment that Mr. Obama “ran a campaign on helping the middle class;” not the poor, who disproportionately are minorities and women. “There will be nothing done for the poor in the name of the poor, nothing done for blacks in the name of blacks,” Mr. Scott said. “Obama will do what Lincoln did – give them nothing but freedom.” – Washington Times, 11-12-08
  • Michael Honey, MLK historian, reflects on Obama presidency: “It took an African-American to really follow through on what freedom means. We have elected a leader whose insight comes from his own historical roots. He is trying to make freedom real for everybody.”…
    In 30 years, people of color will be in the majority in the United States. The U.S. is about inclusive equality and freedom. But a certain portion of the electorate is holding on to the old America. The old idea of white men running things doesn’t fit the reality of the country any more. It’s like we’ve been trying to build America while excluding a big part of America. We have had so much trouble [with racial issues]. But now that Obama has been elected, I feel like we’re finally dealing with our own history. We’re not living in unreality anymore. – http://www.tacomadailyindex.com, 11-10-08
  • Shelby Steele: ‘Why Obama Can’t Win’ Author Defends Analysis: “My feeling is that I stand by every word of the analysis — what is between the covers of the book. For the year I have had to apologize for the stupid, silly subtitle that was slapped on to the book.” – NYT, 11-10-08
  • Harold Holzer & James McPherson ask: WWLD? (What would Lincoln Do?): So, what lessons can Obama learn from what Lincoln did—and didn’t do—in the time between his election and inauguration? To find out, the Tribune asked two Lincoln scholars, Harold Holzer, author of the newly published “Lincoln President-elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861,” and James McPherson, author of the classic Civil War history tome “Battle Cry of Freedom” and “Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief,” published in October. – Chicago Tribune, 11-9-08
  • Timothy Garton Ash: Obama must show the way to a goal set by Russell, Einstein – and Reagan – Guardian (UK), 11-13-08
  • Alonzo Hamby: Why liberals now call themselves progressives Conservativenet, 11-12-08
  • Julian Zelizer: What Obama should do with Biden CNN, 11-10-08
  • Beverly Gage: Do Rookies Make Good Presidents? – Time Magazine, 11-5-08
  • Andrew Doyle: 2-minute Tuesday: Andrew Doyle, Associate professor of history at Winthrop University – Herald Online, 11-4-08

November 10, 2008: The Obama Transition & Historians Weigh in on the Moment

POLITICS & PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION WATCH:

Barack Obama before his news conference on Friday. (Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times)

Stats:

  • A Breakdown of the Obama Vote:
    • 66 percent of voters under age 30.
    • 66 percent of Hispanic voters.
    • 68 percent of first-time voters.
    • 95 percent of Black voters.
  • A timeline of the Obama campaign – Newsday
  • Get to know the Obamas: Bios of Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha – Newsday

The Headlines…

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

  • Obama Team Weighs What to Take On First – NYT, 11-9-08
  • Economy won’t stop Obama’s priorities, aides say – AP, 11-9-08
  • Obama already holds bully pulpit He’s moving fast to build his governing team, but wants to avoid endorsing the policies of President Bush, whom he visits Monday. – Christian Sciene Monitor, 11-9-08
  • Obama to use executive orders for immediate impact: President-elect Obama plans to use his executive powers to make an immediate impact when he takes office, perhaps reversing Bush administration policies on stem cell research and domestic drilling for oil and natural gas. – AP, 11-9-08
  • Transition, too, for Michelle Obama to first lady – AP, 11-9-08
  • Quotes by clergy members about Obama’s election – AP, 11-9-08
  • Obama likely to tap fresh faces, old hands – San Fransico Chronicle, 11-8-08
  • Like Lincoln and FDR, Obama faces nation in crisis – AP, 11-8-08
  • Palin Calls Criticism by McCain Aides ‘Cruel and Mean-Spirited’ – AP, 11-8-08
  • Obama, in His New Role as President-Elect, Calls for Stimulus Package – 11-7-08
  • President-elect Obama assembled his economic team Friday and soberly told the nation that strong action is needed to confront “the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime.” In his first news conference since being elected Tuesday, Obama called on Congress to extend unemployment benefits and pass a stimulus bill. But his more ambitious remedies, he said, must wait until he takes office Jan. 20. – AP, 11-7-08
  • Byrd will voluntarily give up chairmanship – AP, 11-7-08
  • Live Blogging the Obama News Conference – NYT, The Caucus, 11-7-08
  • Obama to center stage, promises action on economy: Inheriting an economy in peril, President-elect Obama warned on Friday that the nation faces the challenge of a lifetime and pledged he would act urgently to help Americans devastated by lost jobs, disappearing savings and homes seized in foreclosure. But the man who promised change cautioned against hopes of quick solutions. AP, 11-7-08

Political Quotes

  • John Podesta on Fox News Sunday: “Across the board, whether it’s national security; the economy; the senior leadership that will manage healthcare, energy, and the environment, [Obama] intends to move very quickly.” – Fox News, 11-9-08
  • Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urges GOP to move beyond ideology: The governor told CNN’s John King that Republicans should not “always just say, ‘This is spending. We can’t do that.’ No, don’t get stuck with that. We have heard that dialogue. Let’s move on.” Schwarzenegger says it is important for his party to regroup and support spending on programs Americans want. – “I think the important thing for the Republican Party is now to also look at other issues that are very important for this country and not to get stuck in ideology,” the governor said in an interview broadcast on CNN this morning. “Let’s go and talk about healthcare reform. Let’s go and . . . fund programs if they’re necessary programs and not get stuck just on the fiscal responsibility.”….
    They should not “always just say, ‘This is spending. We can’t do that.’ No, don’t get stuck with that. We have heard that dialogue. Let’s move on.”…
    “I was touched by it,” he said. “Democrats and Republicans should do everything they can to help this man and his administration to be successful.” – LA Times, 11-9-08
  • Obama Apologizes for ‘Seances’ Remark: “President-elect Barack Obama called Nancy Reagan today to apologize for the careless and off-handed remark he made during today’s press conference. The President-elect expressed his admiration and affection for Mrs. Reagan that so many Americans share and they had a warm conversation,” said Stephanie Cutter, transition team spokeswoman.”In terms of speaking to former presidents, I’ve spoken to all of them that are living,” Mr. Obama said, before zeroing in on that fact that he had been asked whether he had spoken to living people. “Obviously, President Clinton — I didn’t want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any séances.” – NYT, The Caucus, 11-7-08
  • President-Elect Barack Obama’s First News Conference: Transcript
    We are facing the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime, and we’re going to have to act swiftly to resolve it….. A new president can have an enormous impact. I do not underestimate the enormity of the task that lies ahead.
    Immediately after I become president, I will confront this economic challenge head-on by taking all necessary steps to ease the credit crisis, help hardworking families, and restore growth and prosperity. Some of the choices that we’re going to make are going to be difficult. It is not going to be quick. It’s not going to be easy for us to dig ourselves out of the hole that we are in.” But he said he was confident the country could do it. I think that the plan that we’ve put forward is the right one, but obviously over the next several weeks and months, we’re going to be continuing to take a look at the data and see what’s taking place in the economy as a whole.
  • Robert Byrd “Byrd will voluntarily give up chairmanship”:
    To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. Those Biblical words from Ecclesiastes 3:1 express my feelings about this particular time in my life…. I have been privileged to be a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee for 50 years and to have chaired the committee for ten years, during a time of enormous change in our great country, both culturally and politically. I have learned that nothing is quite so permanent as change. It is simply a part of living and should not be feared.

Historians’ Comments

  • Michael Beschloss: Presidential Historian: President Obama will face critical early decisions: Obama will quickly have to decide if he’s going to tackle the economy with a single-minded focus or puruse the agenda he and the Democrats laid out during the campaign, Beschloss said.
    “I can’t tell you what way he’ll go,” said Beschloss,recently named NBC News’ presidential historian.”In one year we will know the answer.”
    Beschloss said the greatest presidents made decisions they knew would be unpopular, citing George Washington’s decision to sign a treaty with Great Britain shortly after the Revolutionary War and Abraham Lincoln’s siging of the Emancipation Proclamation at a time he faced a tough re-election challenge. – The Jersey Journal, 11-9-08
  • Allan J. Lichtman “Americans will be looking to Obama to transform their country”: “I think the potential for Obama to be a transformative president is very great,” said Allan J. Lichtman of American University, author of several books on presidential history…. “Strike when you still have the mandate,” Lichtman said, citing Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. “Think big. Experiment. Don’t govern from the middle.”… “I think it’s riskier to opt for the middle of the road,” Lichtman said. “We remember … the bold presidents.” – Kansas City Star, 11-9-08
  • Gil Troy “Americans will be looking to Obama to transform their country”: “The crisis increases the chance for a transformative presidency,” said author and presidential historian Gil Troy….
    Troy: “Working against him are inexperience, a potentially arrogant Democratic Congress, and a series of foreign and domestic challenges that could crush him.” Kansas City Star, 11-9-08
  • John Baick “Obama’s campaign inspires U.S., but how long will it last?”: “Will they stay involved? Become town councilmen? Join their school boards? That will be the test,” said history Professor John Baick of Western New England College. “That happened with Kennedy. If it happens again, then you have a real movement. If not, you probably don’t.”…
    Historian Baick says the young people who voted for President Kennedy made a difference because they stuck around. They became part of the “political culture.” “We did not see that with either President Bush or President Clinton,” he said. But, Baick said, the Obama campaign already has made progress by directly communicating with this generation. “He has created, in 20 months, a new generation of networked and politically active people,” Baick said. “It will be normal for them to be involved in politics. They are getting e-mails and text messages from Barack Obama. That’s their normal.” – Arizona Republic, 11-9-08
  • Douglas Brinkley, the best-selling author and professor of history at Rice University “Historians, too, call Obama victory ‘monumental'”: “Monumental … a major shift in the zeitgeist of our times.”…
    Brinkley, the historian who edited the private White House diaries of Ronald Reagan, agrees that Tuesday’s vote marks “the beginning of a new era” in American politics not seen since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1932, or Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society in 1964. With Obama’s lopsided victory, and the wave that swept more Democrats into both houses of Congress, “a chapter has been closed on the Reagan era, meaning the days of rolling back the Great Society are over,” he says. “A new kind of progressivism will now be taking root.” “A Great Society ‘light,”‘ Brinkley postulates. “It won’t be quite as ambitious and sweeping as Lyndon Johnson’s, but it will probably focus on one or two big things, such as universal health care and major incentives for ‘green’ business.” — USA Today, 11-9-08
  • Joan Hoff, a former president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency in New York City “Historians, too, call Obama victory ‘monumental'”: “I can’t think of another election where the issues were two wars and a crashed economy. There just isn’t any historical precedent for this.”….
    In a globalized world with many newly emerging powers, “We may have to downsize our estimation of ourselves,” Hoff says, “and along with it goes a downsizing of our economic and military power.” That would mean the end of a “Cold Warrior” mentality that has existed in the White House since Harry Truman. Will Americans grasp such thinking? Will other nations? Ultimately, how Obama handles this will be, Hoff says, “what will really make this election unprecedented.” — USA Today, 11-9-08
  • James McPherson, the renowned author and professor emeritus of history at Princeton University “Historians, too, call Obama victory ‘monumental'”: “It’s an historic turning point … an exclamation point of major proportions to the civil rights movement that goes back to the 1950s.”…
    “Whether an Obama victory means that it will close the book on the Reagan era — I think it may be true, but I think it’s too soon to conclude that,” McPherson says. — USA Today, 11-9-08
  • Doris Goodwin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, historian and political commentator: “The racial milestone will be much larger than we’ve even imagined in the course of these last couple of years,” says Doris Goodwin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, historian and political commentator. Compared with other milestones that students of history read in American textbooks — Booker T. Washington causing a national uproar for having lunch at the White House with Teddy Roosevelt, Marian Anderson singing at the Lincoln Memorial after being barred from Constitutional Hall, Joe Louis knocking out Nazi Germany’s Max Schmeling for the heavyweight boxing crown — the concept of an African-American holding the nation’s highest office “is just enormous,” she says. –
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin “Harsh Words About Obama? Never Mind Now “: The presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said she was hard-pressed to find a similar moment when the tone had changed so drastically, and so quickly, among so many people of such prominence. “I don’t think that’s happened very often,” Ms. Goodwin said. “The best answer I can give you is they don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, and they recognize how the country saw this election, and how people feel that they’re living in a time of great historic moment.” – NYT, 11-9-08
  • Catherine Allegor “Michelle Obama blazes a new trail”: “This is an incredible rebirth of her life,” said Catherine Allegor, a first ladies expert and a history professor at California’s Claremont McKenna College. “I think she’s only limited to her imagination.” “If she said, ‘I’m going to fight against gender inequality,’ some people wouldn’t like that,” Allegor said. “So she says ‘working mothers’ and everyone’s OK with it.” Chicago Tribune, 11-9-08
  • John Sides “On Historic Day, Political Scientists Take the Long View”: “The models were correct in that they predicted an Obama victory, a Democratic victory, and that’s what resulted. So in that sense, given the state of the economy, given the popularity of the incumbent, you’d expect a Democrat to win,” said John Sides, a professor of political science at George Washington University. For all the talk about Hillary Clinton’s supporters shifting over to John McCain, for example, or McCain losing support within the Republican Party, both candidates ended up with roughly equal support within their parties. “We live in an era of very strong party loyalty, and this election is really no different,” Sides said. – Inside Higher Ed, 11-5-08
  • Taylor Branch disputes NYT’s rosy view of Obama’s election: “It’s a great milestone,” but it’s not an “explicit achievement or accomplishment in race relations in the lives of everyday Americans….I hope we don’t get into a tailspin where everyone calls this the racial promised land.”…”I am thrilled to tears. The resonance of it to me is enormous.” – NPR, 11-5-08
  • Manning Marable “Obama Sails To Sweeping, Historic Victory”: “It’s possible that he will be the reverse Reagan,” says Columbia University historian Manning Marable. Like Reagan, Marable says, Obama is a charismatic leader whose appeal transcends partisan politics. He says Obama has built his support on a “three-legged stool” made up of African-Americans, Hispanics and young voters of all races. – NPR, 11-5-08
  • Richard Norton Smith and Peniel Joseph Historians Answered Your Questions on Obama’s Win, 2008 Campaign:
    Sen. Barack Obama will become the country’s first black leader after a campaign season that broke records and saw female candidates break new ground. Historians Richard Norton Smith and Peniel Joseph answered your questions on this historic election. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
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