January 27, 2010: President Obama Gives First State of the Union Address

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President gives the State of the Union Address

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Live Blogging the President’s AddressNYT, 1-27-10
  • FACT CHECK: Obama and the ‘hatchet’ job: President Barack Obama, who once considered government spending freezes a hatchet job, told Americans on Wednesday it’s now part of his solution to the exploding deficit. He didn’t explain what had changed. His State of the Union speech skipped over a variety of complex realities in laying out a “common-sense” call to action…. – AP, 1-27-10
  • Americans Want Obama to Spend More Time on the Economy, Poll Finds: On the eve of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, voters think the president should be spending more time on the economy. According to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, 51% of Americans believe Mr. Obama has paid “too little attention” to the economy. Forty-four percent think he has paid “too much attention” to his proposed overhaul of health care. A plurality continues to think that Mr. Obama’s health-care plan is a bad idea…. – WSJ, 1-26-10
  • Obama: Most polarizing president in history?: The Gallup Poll people delivered an interesting report today: President Obama was the most polarizing first-year president in history. The average difference in Obama’s approval ratings between Democrats and Republicans turned out to be 65 percent — the highest first-year gap of any president so measured…. – USA Today, 1-25-10
  • Date for State of Union, January 27, 2010: President Obama will deliver his first State of the Union address on Jan. 27. The White House announced Monday that the president would speak to a joint session of Congress next Wednesday at 9 p.m. – NYT, 1-18-10

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama as he gave his State of the Union address.Doug Mills/The New York Times “Again, we are tested. And again, we must answer history’s call,” President Obama said.

  • Embattled Obama declares in speech, ‘I don’t quit’: Declaring “I don’t quit,” President Barack Obama fought to recharge his embattled presidency with a State of the Union vow to get jobless millions back to work and stand on the side of Americans angry at Wall Street greed and Washington bickering. Defiant despite stinging setbacks, he said he would fight on for ambitious overhauls of health care, energy and education…. – AP, 1-27-10
  • Republicans say nation can’t afford Dem policies: The nation cannot afford the spending Democrats have enacted or the tax increases they propose, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said Wednesday in the Republican response to the State of the Union address… – AP, 1-27-10
  • Obama Calls Jobs ‘Number One Focus’ President Obama delivered his State of the Union speech on Wednesday night: President Obama said Wednesday night that leaders in Washington face a “deficit of trust,” as he used his first State of the Union address to try to restore public confidence in his administration and to convince the American people that he is intensely focused on the issues that concern them most: jobs and the economy. In a nationally televised speech before a joint session of Congress, Mr. Obama appealed for an end to the “tired old battles” that have divided the country and stalled his legislative agenda. With his top priority, a health care overhaul, on hold in the wake of the recent Republican Senate victory in Massachusetts, he had a pointed warning for both Democrats and Republicans…. – NYT, 1-27-10
  • Obama Vows to Press Ahead With Agenda After ‘Difficult’ First Year: Acknowledging that his presidency has not yet lived up to his campaign vision, President Obama on Wednesday vowed to press ahead with his ambitious agenda in 2010 on everything ranging from health care reform to jobs creation to immigration reform…. – Fox News, 1-27-10
  • Republicans say Obama has done little to revive economy: In the GOP response to the president’s State of the Union address, newly elected Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell specifically criticized Obama’s stimulus plan for failing to curb unemployment…. – LAT, 1-27-10
  • NEWS ANALYSIS Obama strives to revive the spirit of 2009: His State of the Union address strikes a populist note, focusing on the familiar themes of change and bipartisanship. But he offers few concrete suggestions for achieving conciliation…. – LAT, 1-27-10
  • Obama’s State of the Union address: President acknowledges voters’ concerns: President Obama hit what will be one of the political themes that his administration has pushed to explain voters’ concerns: frustration and anger. Nowhere did that anger bubble up more than in Massachusetts, where the GOP captured what was once a solid Democratic seat and shifted the political process. The White House has argued that Obama rode that same wave of anger that goes back to the Bush years. But the biggest burr is how Wall Street has prospered with taxpayer help…. – LAT, 1-27-10
  • Bruised Obama’s new rallying cry: jobs, not healthcare: President uses first state of the union speech to make job creation overwhelming priority for coming year…. – Guardian UK, 1-28-10
  • Obama on healthcare: Encouragement, but no priority:President Barack Obama encouraged the U.S. Congress on Wednesday not to walk away from his stalled healthcare drive, but made it clear it would no longer be the focus of his legislative agenda. After six months of heated political battle on the issue he made his top domestic priority in 2009, healthcare was not mentioned in his State of the Union address until the halfway point and followed a long list of priorities led by job creation, financial regulatory reform and education. With Democrats clamoring for Obama to focus on job creation and the economy, Obama said lawmakers should let “temperatures cool” and then take a fresh look at his healthcare plan…. – Reuters, 1-28-10
  • Obama Invites Republicans to Share Burden of Fixing U.S.: Republicans have been taking plenty of shots at President Barack Obama. In his State of the Union address Wednesday night, one of the president’s main goals was to maneuver Republicans into taking some responsibility as well. In essence, the president’s message to the opposition party was this: You have taken back enough power to block me, but in turn you will have to share the blame if nothing happens in Washington this year. That represents a pretty obvious effort to turn the president’s big liability of the hour—his loss of a controlling super-majority in the Senate—into an asset. The main weapon at Mr. Obama’s disposal is voter anger, which is directed at Congress as well as the White House, Republicans as well as Democrats, and which he hopes can be used as a cudgel against the opposition party as much as the party in power….. – WSJ, 1-27-10
  • Democratic anger goes public in prime time: The Democrat-vs.-Democrat anger roiling the ranks of Congress is being wrapped in smiles and standing ovations Wednesday as President Barack Obama outlines the nation’s top priorities in his first State of the Union speech. But for most of the Democrats cramming the House chamber, there is no issue more pressing than getting re-elected in November. And it’s not clear that pursuing Obama’s priorities will help them achieve theirs…. – WaPo, 1-27-10
  • Alito’s State of the Union moment: Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. responded to President Obama’s criticism Wednesday night of a Supreme Court decision last week by appearing to mouth the words “not true.” Obama took issue with a ruling that overturned two of the court’s precedents and upended decades of restrictions on corporations being able to use their profits to finance campaigns for and against candidates. It proved to be a striking State of the Union moment: With six justices seated in their black robes directly in front of him in the House chamber, Obama said: “With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections.”… – WaPo, 1-27-10
  • GOP elated at yearly meet; Dems? Um, not so much: It’s that time of year. The state Democratic and Republican parties held their annual “Where do we go from here?” meetings in Phoenix on Saturday. And my, how quickly times change. A year ago, Democrats were ebullient after grabbing control of the White House and both houses of Congress. Anti-Republican backlash was at its peak. It didn’t take long for the bloom to come off that rose…. – Arizona Daily Star, 1-27-10
  • Congress Slows Down on Health Care Congressional leaders slow down health overhaul push, searching for answers on how to proceed: Congressional leaders are taking health care legislation off the fast track as rank-and-file Democrats, wary of unhappy midterm election voters, look to President Barack Obama for guidance in his State of the Union address. House and Senate leaders said Tuesday they need time to determine the best way forward on health care in the wake of last week’s special election loss in Massachusetts, which cost Democrats their filibuster-proof Senate majority. Obama is not expected to offer a specific prescription in Wednesday night’s speech, but Democrats want to hear him renew his commitment to the health care overhaul he’s spent the past year promoting as his top domestic priority…. – AP, 1-27-10
  • In State of the Union, Obama will try to revive message: President Barack Obama will try to pivot past rocky times for the nation and himself tonight in his first State of the Union address, offering a skeptical public repackaged plans to energize the economy, stem a tide of red ink and strengthen anti-terrorism defenses. He’ll also be trying to revive his own “yes we can” image…. – AP, 1-27-10
  • Obama’s State of the Union address will focus on economy: The president is expected to call for a change in Washington’s partisan climate as he tries to reassure Americans that he can lead the way to jobs and better times. But change may be hard to come by…. – LAT, 1-27-10
  • White House Memo In Speech, Obama to Admit Missteps in First Year: For all the questions circulating in Democratic quarters as President Obama tries to weather the worst storm of his administration, perhaps none is as succinct as this: Are the missteps at the White House rooted in message or substance?… When Mr. Obama presents his first State of the Union address on Wednesday evening, aides said he would accept responsibility, though not necessarily blame, for failing to deliver swiftly on some of the changes he promised a year ago. But he will not, aides said, accede to criticism that his priorities are out of step with the nation’s. NY”T, 1-26-10
  • Obama to Offer Aid for Families in State of the Union Address: President Obama will propose in his State of the Union address a package of modest initiatives intended to help middle-class families, including tax credits for child care, caps on some student loan payments and a requirement that companies let workers save automatically for retirement, senior administration officials said Sunday. By focusing on what one White House official calls “the sandwich generation” — struggling families squeezed between sending their children to college and caring for elderly parents — Mr. Obama hopes to use his speech on Wednesday to demonstrate that he understands the economic pain of ordinary Americans. The proposals also include expanded tax credits for retirement savings and money for programs to help families care for elderly relatives…. – NYT, 1-25-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

President Obama as he gave his State of the Union address.Doug Mills/The New York Times “We all hated the bank bailout,” Mr. Obama said to applause.
  • Text: Obama’s State of the Union Address: The prepared text of President Obama’s State of the Union address, delivered Jan. 27, 2010, as released by the White House…. – NYT, 1-27-10
  • Obama’s State of the Union Address, Excerpts: America prevailed, because we chose to move forward as one nation and one people….
    One year later, the worst of the storm has passed, but the devastation remains….
    I have never been more hopeful about America’s future than I am tonight. Despite our hardships, our union is strong. We do not give up. We do not quit….
    Our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there’s one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, it’s that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal….
    From the day I took office, I have been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious – that such efforts would be too contentious, that our political system is too gridlocked, and that we should just put things on hold for awhile. For those who make these claims, I have one simple question: How long should we wait?….
    I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy; and I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future – because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation….
    Now let’s clear a few things up: I didn’t choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn’t take on health care because it was good politics….
    I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, this process left most Americans wondering what’s in it for them….
    Do not walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people….
    Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, it’s time to try something new. Let’s try common sense – a novel concept….
    But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day. We cannot wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about their opponent – a belief that if you lose, I win. Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can. The confirmation of well-qualified public servants should not be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual Senators. Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how false, is just part of the game. But it is precisely such politics that has stopped either party from helping the American people. Worse yet, it is sowing further division among our citizens and further distrust in our government….
    To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills. And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that sixty votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it’s not leadership….
    We can argue all we want about who’s to blame for this, but I am not interested in re-litigating the past. So let’s put aside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough. Let’s reject the false choice between protecting our people and upholding our values….
    This year I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are….
    I campaigned on the promise of change – change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren’t sure if they still believe we can change – or at least, that I can deliver it.
    But remember this – I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I can do it alone. Democracy in a nation of three hundred million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That’s just how it is….
    We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us. We don’t quit. I don’t quit. Let’s seize this moment – to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more. – NYT, 1-27-10
  • Obama adds some humor to State of the Union speech: Referring to his struggles in getting a health care bill passed, Obama said dryly: “By now, it should be fairly obvious that I didn’t take on health care because it was good politics.” The lawmakers liked that one.
    When Obama introduced first lady Michelle Obama, she sat respectfully in the gallery while others applauded. The president poked a little fun, saying: “She gets embarrassed.”
    And when Obama announced he wanted to hold monthly meetings that included Republican leaders, he looked at them and said: “I know you can’t wait.” – AP, 1-27-10
  • Text The Republican Response to the State of the Union: The prepared remarks that Republican Gov. Robert F. McDonnell of Virginia is expected to say after President Obama delivers his State of the Union address, as released by the governor’s office… – NYT, 1-27-10
  • McDonnell hammers White House on spending, health care: Last year, we were told that massive new federal spending would create more jobs ‘immediately’ and hold unemployment below 8 percent….
    In the past year, over three million Americans have lost their jobs, yet the Democratic Congress continues deficit spending, adding to the bureaucracy, and increasing the national debt on our children and grandchildren….
    And our solutions aren’t thousand-page bills that no one has fully read, after being crafted behind closed doors with special interests….
    But this administration’s policies are delaying offshore production, hindering nuclear energy expansion, and seeking to impose job-killing cap and trade energy taxes,” we agree that victory there is a national security imperative….
    But we have serious concerns over recent steps the administration has taken regarding suspected terrorists. Americans were shocked on Christmas Day to learn of the attempted bombing of a flight to Detroit. This foreign terror suspect was given the same legal rights as a U.S. citizen, and immediately stopped providing critical intelligence….
    Government should have this clear goal: Where opportunity is absent, we must create it. Where opportunity is limited, we must expand it. Where opportunity is unequal, we must make it open to everyone. Our Founders pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to create this nation. Now, we should pledge as Democrats, Republicans and Independents–Americans all—to work together to leave this nation a better place than we found it. – Richmond Times Dispatch, 1-27-10
  • Reaction to the State of the Union addressCNN, 1-27-10
  • Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts): “I was pleased to hear President Obama acknowledge that our economy must be a national priority and I applaud him for taking some important first steps. But putting America back to work requires bold action. Bold action means broad-based tax cuts for families and businesses to create jobs and not merely targeted tax relief. Bold action also means major reform and restructuring to actually cut spending and not just freeze it. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the political aisle on far-reaching new initiatives that will put our economy back on track and get our fiscal house in order.” – CNN, 1-27-10
  • Sen. John McCain (R – Arizona): “In his State of the Union address, President Obama asked Congress to repeal the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. I am immensely proud of, and thankful for, every American who wears the uniform of our country, especially at a time of war, and I believe it would be a mistake to repeal the policy. “This successful policy has been in effect for over 15 years, and it is well understood and predominantly supported by our military at all levels. We have the best trained, best equipped, and most professional force in the history of our country, and the men and women in uniform are performing heroically in two wars. At a time when our Armed Forces are fighting and sacrificing on the battlefield, now is not the time to abandon the policy.” – CNN, 1-27-10
  • John McCain on the State of the Union: During his first year in office, President Obama and Congressional Democrats have amassed a $12.4 trillion deficit that is growing each day. While the President advocates increased federal spending, I have actively advocated tax cuts, reduced spending and earmark reform to get our economy back on track. The non-discretionary spending freeze announced by the President is a start, but what he also needs to do is promise to veto bills laden with pork barrel spending and begin creating jobs for the thousands of out-of-work Americans… – johnmccain.com, 1-27-10
  • Joe Wilson Responds to Obama, This Time on Facebook: “What the president proposed tonight would not truly create jobs. He is persisting on the wrong path of excessive spending.” Mr. Wilson did commend the president for advocating aid for Haiti and supporting American troops. But he called cap-and-trade legislation “a national energy tax” that “would kill jobs.” And he said the federal government should “be limited to doing what we cannot do for ourselves.” Discussing the Democratic health care reform proposal, Mr. Wilson said: “It almost sounded like everything for everyone for free. That’s not correct and it’s not truly in the interest of the American people.” – NYT, 1-27-10
  • Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee: “Somewhere along the line, the White House lost its way. Instead of focusing on solutions to help America’s families wade through the wreckage of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, Washington has wasted valuable time wrestling with partisan politics in an effort to rush through drastic reforms that do not directly address our most immediate needs. The president’s address has lent us all hope – hope that the administration is finally heeding our concerns. It’s about time.”
  • Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.: “We have to wait for the House of Lords to do their contemplating. We’re also not getting much guidance from the mother ship about what the White House really wants and what they’re prepared to push for.”
  • Readers respond to Obama’s State of the Union Question of who’s to blame for the political fighting gets mixed reactions: Msnbc.com readers had mixed reactions Wednesday to President Obama’s first State of the Union address, blaming everyone from Congress to the president for a ‘deficit of trust’ about how Washington works…. – MSNBC, 1-27-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

Members of Mr. Obama's cabinet, lawmakers from both the House and Senate, and Supreme Court justices were among the audience.Doug Mills/The New York Times Supreme Court justices, members of Mr. Obama’s cabinet and lawmakers from both the House and Senate are in attendance.
  • Peniel Joseph: The Annotated State of the Union: President Obama has gone on the offensive for his first major State of the Union speech. Not only does he insist that his embattled health care bill is part of an overall effort to jumpstart the economy, he has listed the tangible impact of last year’s controversial stimulus package….
    Obama continues to outline his commitment to bipartisanship here. Very similar to Ronald Reagan in 1982 who derided critics who said he could not get along with a Democratic Congress. It’s also a warning to both parties that the American people want them to pass important and meaningful legislation that is forged out of compromise. It remains to be seen if this will be enough, especially in an election year, to convince members of Congress that it’s in their own interest to pass legislation rather than simply stand in the way as obstructionists. Unlike Reagan, who had the support of a unified Republican Party and managed to peel off conservative Democrats, Obama has a fractured Democratic Party and a remarkably unified Republican opposition. – PBS Newshour, 1-27-10
  • Diane Ravitch: The Annotated State of the Union: President Obama is surely right that “we need to invest in the skills and education of our people.” Unfortunately the national competition that the Obama administration has launched — known as the “Race to the Top” does not match the rhetoric. What the administration is actually doing is embracing the Republican agenda of choice and accountability, thus continuing to promote the same failed approaches as the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind Act. There was a time, about a decade ago, when the Democratic agenda was equity and professionalization, as contrasted with the GOP agenda of choice and accountability. Sadly, the Obama agenda is no different from that of George W. Bush’s education agenda….
    This is not reform. This is a managerial and organizational scheme in which children are treated as numbers and schooling is reduced to data points. The only thing that matters is test scores in reading and math. Other subjects–the non-tested subjects–are ignored. America will not have a great education system if we systematically ignore science, the arts, history, literature, and foreign languages. – PBS Newshour, 1-27-10
  • Robert Kagan: The Annotated State of the Union: On the subject of foreign policy, the speech is very disappointing. Obviously, the president wanted the focus to be domestic, so the foreign policy and defense section is the dullest boilerplate. No new initiatives. No change in rhetoric. Indeed, practically no rhetoric at all. It is almost as if the president was turning the nation inward and stepping away from international involvement. There is no mention of Europe (except as a place where trains run fast), which Europeans will notice. No mention of Japan. And only one use of the word “allies,” in the context of Afghanistan. The perception that the Obama administration is pulling away from our allies, which is becoming widespread, will be strengthened by this speech. As to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the speech is about withdrawal, not commitment. As for Iran, there is no mention of the Iranian opposition, the illegitimate Iranian elections, and only the briefest of references to human rights in Iran. Perhaps the world will understand that Obama felt he had to focus on the domestic issues. But it will be hard to avoid the perception that Obama, having little to show for his foreign policy efforts in the first year, has decided to downplay foreign policy. This is worrying. – PBS Newshour, 1-27-10
  • Michael Beschloss: The Annotated State of the Union: Obama eloquently tried to do tonight what JFK did in his speech to Congress after the Bay of Pigs failure in 1961 and what Bill Clinton did in 1995 after losing both Houses of Congress: reframe the way Americans see his presidency after suffering some setbacks. This speech will no doubt help, but he is the first to know that his fate will rest a lot more on the outcome of his efforts to bring American jobs and what happens in two American wars and the struggle against terrorism. – PBS Newshour, 1-27-10
  • Recapping the President’s Speech: The New York Times’ Adam Nagourney, Jeff Zeleny, Helene Cooper and David Sanger offer their views on President Obama’s State of the Union…. NYT, 1-27-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: When liberals revolt: “It could leave him without any strong base of support and fuel the perception that he is an ineffective leader, something else independent voters don’t tend to appreciate,” he wrote. “If the president backs too far away from the issues that animated his supporters in 2008, he could find himself facing even stronger challenges from liberals and depressing the base of support that he will very much need going into 2012.” – CNN, 1-26-10
  • Julian Zelizer: State of the Union speech unlikely to ease worries, analysts say: “While not quite as dramatic as Bill Clinton’s announcement in his 1996 State of the Union address that the ‘era of big government is over,’ Obama is signaling that he wants to appeal to centrist voters concerned about government spending,” said Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian and CNN.com columnist. CNN.com, 1-26-10
  • Douglas Brinkley: State of the Union speech unlikely to ease worries, analysts say: Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, said Obama needs to “sell jobs, jobs and more jobs” in his speech. “It’s essential that, like Clinton, he lets the American people know he feels their pain,” Brinkley said. “And he needs to use fierce Reaganesque language about smashing al Qaeda. Due to the Christmas bomber debacle, Obama must explain in detail new innovative ways his administration is protecting U.S. citizens from terrorist attacks.”…. – CNN.com, 1-26-10
  • David Frum: State of the Union speech unlikely to ease worries, analysts say: “The president will respond as he always does to emergencies: with a speech. In this case, it’s his State of the Union address,” said David Frum, a CNN contributor and former speechwriter to President George W. Bush. “The Obama team always assumes the best remedy for any Obama difficulty is more Obama.” Frum said Obama’s new populist tone, which he said emerged after the Democrats’ surprising loss in the Massachusetts special Senate election, might work short-term if he uses it in Wednesday’s speech, but it won’t work over the long haul. “If so, it would be a big mistake. It may win the president an immediate bounce in the polls by exciting downcast liberals and progressives,” Frum said in a CNN.com commentary. “But that bounce will prove limited and short- lived, and it will come at the expense of more trouble not very far down the road.” – CNN.com, 1-26-10 ‘Obama the populist’ doesn’t ring true, CNN, 1-25-10
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin “Political Stakes are High with State of the Union Address”: “He’s got to make the American people feel that Main Street and job creation is at the center of his priority. When you see a poll that 60 percent say they feel he spent more time thinking about the big banks than the problems of the middle class, he has to shift that perception,” historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said. WBAY, 1-27-10

Pres. Obama’s First State of the Union Address

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) Responds to State of the Union

Advertisements

September 18, 2009: President Obama, Joe Wilson & Health Care

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:


(President Barack Obama speaks about the financial crisis on the anniversary of the
Lehman Brothers collapse Monday, Sept. 14, 2009, at Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York City. 
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • New Yorkers Want a Giuliani-Cuomo Face-Off in 2010: For months, the polls have been a ski slope for New York Gov. David Paterson – all downhill. The 2010 gubernatorial match-up that most New Yorkers want to see is Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on the Democratic side and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for the Republicans. And, in that contest, Cuomo leads 53 percent to 43 percent, with 4 percent undecided, according to a Marist Poll conducted Sept. 8-10. The margin of error for that result is 3.5 points. – Politics Daily, 9-16-09

THE HEADLINES….

President Barack Obama speaks about the U.S. missile defense in Europe
(President Barack Obama speaks about the U.S. missile defense in Europe during a statement in the Diplomatic
Reception Room of the White House, Sept. 17, 2009.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Dems unhappy with proposed tax in health care bill: Unhappy Senate Democrats on Thursday found plenty to complain about in the fine print of the latest health overhaul bill, particularly a tax provision they fear would hit hard at middle-class Americans, from coal miners in West Virginia to firefighters in New York.
    The opposition sprang up a day after Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., unveiled long-delayed legislation that would transform the nation’s health care system, requiring almost everyone to buy insurance, making insurance companies cover people with pre-existing medical conditions and reining in spiraling health care costs.
    The bill has given fresh momentum to President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority of extending health coverage and controlling costs…. – AP, 9-17-09
  • Rockefeller Stands Up for Liberals on Health Care: On Tuesday, John D. Rockefeller IV, a leading Senate liberal on health issues, said he would oppose a new Democratic proposal intended to win elusive Republican support to remake the health system. On Wednesday, he was summoned to a private meeting with President Obama…. – NYT, 9-17-09
  • Dueling ‘racist’ claims defuse once powerful word: Everybody’s racist, it seems. Republican Rep. Joe Wilson? Racist, because he shouted “You lie!” at the first black president. Health care protesters, affirmative action supporters? Racist. And Barack Obama? He’s the “Racist in Chief,” wrote a leader of the recent conservative protest in Washington. But if everybody’s racist, is anyone? The word is being sprayed in all directions, creating a hall of mirrors that is draining the scarlet R of its meaning and its power, turning it into more of a spitball than a stigma. – AP, 9-17-09
  • House bill would boost Pell Grants: The House voted Thursday in favor of the biggest overhaul of college aid programs since their creation in the 1960s — a bill to oust private lenders from the student loan business and put the government in charge.
    The vote was 253-171 in favor of a bill that fulfills nearly all of President Barack Obama’s campaign promises for higher education: The measure ends subsidies for private lenders, boosts Pell Grants for needy students and creates grant programs to improve community colleges and college graduation rates, among other things…. – AP, 9-17-09
  • Obama Is Pushing Israel Toward War President Obama can’t outsource matters of war and peace to another state: Events are fast pushing Israel toward a pre-emptive military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, probably by next spring. That strike could well fail. Or it could succeed at the price of oil at $300 a barrel, a Middle East war, and American servicemen caught in between. So why is the Obama administration doing everything it can to speed the war process along? At July’s G-8 summit in Italy, Iran was given a September deadline to start negotiations over its nuclear programs. Last week, Iran gave its answer: No…. – WSJ, 9-15-09
  • President Is to Appear on ‘Late Show With David Letterman’: After recording interviews for five Sunday political talk shows, President Obama will sit down with David Letterman on Monday night. Mr. Obama will be the sole guest on “Late Show,” CBS announced on Tuesday…. – NYT, 9-15-09
  • Senate Health Bill Due Wed, But Bipartisan Deal Elusive: Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., will release a long-awaited health-care bill Wednesday, but his Republican counterpart decried an “artificial deadline” for coming to agreement on the bill and appears to be withholding his support for it.
    Baucus told reporters that he will continue negotiations on the bill after he releases it Wednesday, expressing optimism that he will attract bipartisan support for the measure before the Finance Committee votes on it. The Finance Committee is expected to take up the bill as soon as next week…. – WSJ, 9-15-09
  • Jimmy Carter: Wilson comments ‘based on racism’: Former President Jimmy Carter says Congressman Joe Wilson’s outburst to President Barack Obama last week was an act “based on racism.” Carter says Wilson’s comment was part of an “inherent feeling” of some in this country who feel that a black man should not be president. Carter called Wilson’s comment “dastardly” and said the president should be treated with respect…. – AP, 9-15-09
  • House Vote of Disapproval on Rep. Joe Wilson: The 240-179 roll call Tuesday by which the House passed a resolution of disapproval against Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., for Wilson’s “You lie!” shout during President Barack Obama’s health care address to a joint session of Congress.
    Voting yes were 233 Democrats and 7 Republicans. Voting no were 12 Democrats and 167 Republicans. Voting present were 5 Democrats…. – AP, 9-15-09
  • Candidates Await Results as Polls Close: As the New York City primary election came to a close, candidates settled in and prepared to watch returns come in. At stake are the Democratic nominations for three citywide races — mayor, comptroller and public advocate — and for Manhattan district attorney. There are primary elections in 32 of the 51 City Council districts. Most incumbents seeking re-election were favored to win. NYT, 9-15-09
  • Jody Powell, who was White House press secretary and among the closest and most trusted advisers to President Jimmy Carter, died Monday of a heart attack. He was 65. AP, 9-14-09
  • Kennedy Senate race shaped by those not running: With the clock running on a shortened election calendar, the campaign to succeed Sen. Edward Kennedy has become notable for who’s not running, instead of who is.
    Not his wife, Vicki Kennedy. Not his nephew Joseph P. Kennedy II. Not Martin Meehan, a former congressman with a mother lode of $5 million in the bank. Not Andrew Card, a former White House chief of staff with the capacity to raise millions himself.
    On Monday, Rep. John Tierney said he wouldn’t run because he was more valuable to the state as a House veteran than as a Senate freshman. That was the same rationale his fellow Democrat, Rep. Edward J. Markey, gave Friday when he bailed on a campaign.
    So far, the field includes an attorney general not three years into her first statewide term, a state senator and a town selectman. Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling has talked about running, and Stephen Pagliuca, co-owner of the Boston Celtics, is said to be weighing a campaign…. – AP, 9-14-09
  • Obama, Clinton eat Italian after Obama’s NY speech: President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton met privately for about 90 minutes on Monday, discussing the global economy over a meal in Manhattan…. – AP, 9-14=09
  • Rules on Wilson’s outburst open to interpretation: Republican Rep. Joe Wilson may have violated good taste when he yelled “You lie!” at President Barack Obama last week, and Democrats are moving forward with a resolution scolding him for it. But did he break any specific House rules? The answer is more complicated than it seems, and the rules that some initially cited don’t appear to apply…. – AP, 9-14-09
  • For Obama, a Chance to Reform the Street Is Fading: President Obama on Monday sternly admonished the financial industry and lawmakers to accept his proposals to reshape financial regulation to protect the nation from a repeat of the excesses that drove Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy and wreaked havoc on the global economy last year.
    “We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess at the heart of this crisis,” President Obama said.
    But with the markets slowly healing, Mr. Obama’s plan to revamp financial rules faces a diminishing political imperative. Disenchantment by many Americans with big government, along with growing obstacles from financial industry lobbyists pressing Congress not to do anything drastic, have also helped to stall his proposals…. – NYT, 9-14-09
  • Obamas to hold event for Chicago Olympic bid: White House gathering on Wednesday will include Mayor Richard Daley, bid backers, athletes and schoolchildren… – Chicgo Tribune, 9-14-09
  • Dems seek to play down role of public option idea: The White House and its Democratic allies on Sunday tried to play down the role of a government insurance option in health care legislation as the party in power worked to reclaim momentum on President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.
    His spokesman described the public option as just one way to achieve Obama’s goal of providing coverage to the estimated 45 uninsured Americans without insurance. His senior adviser contended the White House was not ready to accept that Congress would reject the idea, though he, too, said it was an option, not a make-or- break choice… – AP, 9-13-09
  • Key group of lawmakers nearing healthcare deal: A key group of U.S. senators was “very close” to agreement on healthcare reform, one of its members said on Sunday, suggesting Congress was nearer to meeting President Barack Obama’s goal of passing a reform bill this year.
    “We think we are very close to an agreement,” said Senator Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and part of the “Gang of Six” bipartisan group that is trying to forge consensus, on “Fox News Sunday.”… – Reuters, 9-13-09
  • Election trouble brewing for House Dems in 2010: Despite sweeping Democratic successes in the past two national elections, continuing job losses and President Barack Obama’s slipping support could lead to double-digit losses for the party in next year’s congressional races and may even threaten their House control…. – AP, 9-13-09
  • Lawmaker Says No New Apology for Outburst: Representative Joe Wilson said Sunday that he would not apologize again for his outburst on Wednesday night, when he shouted “You lie!” to President Obama during Mr. Obama’s speech about health care legislation before a joint session of Congress. – NYT, 9-14-09
  • Wilson funds reach $1 million after ‘you lie’ cry, aide says – CNN, 9-12-09
  • Obama rallies Minneapolis crowd for healthcare reform: Drawing on the spirit of his presidential campaign, he likens the battle over the overhaul to that over Social Security under FDR.
    “I have no interest in having a bill get passed that fails,” Obama said.
    “I intend to be president for a while, and once this bill passes, I own it,” he continued. “And if people look and say, ‘You know what? This hasn’t reduced my costs. My premiums are still going up 25%, insurance companies are still jerking me around’ — I’m the one who’s going to be held responsible.”…. – LAT, 9-12-09
  • In Health Care Battle, a Truce on Abortion: “And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up: Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortion, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.”
    Did that apparently unqualified statement by President Obama to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday guarantee that health care overhaul, whatever its other travails, will not fall victim to the seemingly intractable moral battle over abortion? Of course not… – NYT, 9-12-09
  • Commemorating 9/11, Obama renews resolve in terror fight: The president vows to ‘do everything in our power to keep America safe.’ He also notes Sept. 11’s ‘greatest lesson’: the spirit of service.
    Remembering those who died eight years ago in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, President Obama on Friday pledged to “do everything in our power to keep America safe.” “Let us renew our resolve against those who perpetrated this barbaric act and who plot against us still,” Obama said Friday. “In defense of our nation we will never waver. In pursuit of Al Qaeda and its extremist allies, we will never falter.”
    This week, Obama circulated a memorandum to Congress that said: “The terrorist threat that led to the declaration on Sept. 14, 2001, of a national emergency continues.” Despite his stated resolve, however, a Gallup poll released Friday found that Republicans had an edge over Democrats — 49% to 42% — when Americans were asked which party would better protect the U.S. from terrorism and military threats…. – LAT, 9-11-09
  • Healthy Minnesota offers Obama model for nation: President Barack Obama will be in one of the nation’s healthiest states Saturday, where most people have health insurance, medical care tends to be cost-effective and providers like the Mayo Clinic have made a name far beyond the Upper Midwest. AP, 9-11-09
  • Senate committee tackles illegal-immigrant healthcare concerns: Drafters of overhaul plans had been considering the issue for months, and it gained new attention during Obama’s healthcare speech to Congress. But enforcement is fraught with its own problems…. – LAT, 9-12-09
  • Olympics-Michelle Obama to urge IOC to pick Chicago for 2016: U.S. President Barack Obama is sending his wife Michelle to Copenhagen next month to urge Olympics organisers to select Chicago to host the 2016 Games…. – Reuters, 9-11-09
  • Census Bureau Drops Acorn From 2010 Effort: The Census Bureau on Friday severed its ties with Acorn, a community organization that Republicans have accused of voter-registration fraud.
    “We do not come to this decision lightly,” the census director, Robert Groves, wrote in a letter to Acorn that was obtained by The Associated Press…. – AP, 9-11-09
  • Former Bush aide Card not seeking Kennedy seat: Former Bush White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said Friday he will not seek the Senate seat left vacant last month by the death of Edward Kennedy… – AP, 9-11-09
  • Obama faces skeptics in Congress over Afghan war: Carl Levin, the influential chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was the latest top Democrat in Congress to voice opposition to a fresh military build-up in Afghanistan, as the White House weighs deploying yet more troop combat troops…. – AFP, 9-11-09
  • The voices behind Joe Wilson: The South Carolina congressman is representative of the GOP’s talk-radio-led wing…. – LAT, 9-11-09
  • Obama’s healthcare speech helps unify Democrats: Conservatives in the party praised the president’s pledge to ensure that an overhaul would not add to the government’s debt, and liberals cheered his endorsement of a government-run insurance plan…. – LAT, 9-10-09
  • Senators pay tribute to Kennedy ‘One of a kind’ lawmaker lauded: Senators from both parties spent more than five hours yesterday paying bittersweet tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, recalling their late colleague as the chamber’s generous elder statesman, a passionate liberal, and a fierce, well-schooled politician who never shied away from a political fight.
    But when the legislative skirmishing was over, his fellow senators recalled, Kennedy never held a grudge and knew the difference between an adversary and an enemy. And, they noted, he had nearly as many close friends among Republicans as he did among his Democratic allies…. – Boston Globe, 9-10-09
  • Abortion foes aren’t buying Obama’s assurances: They continue to campaign against healthcare reform, contending that federal money will go toward abortions if the president has his way…. – LAT, 9-10-09
  • Congress Faces Backlash Whether Overhaul Passes Or Not: When American political discourse has reached the point where a congressman shouts “You lie!” at the president during a nationally televised address, it must be a sign that the stakes are running pretty high.
    And so they are in the great health debate. Most analysis, though, has focused on only one side of the political poker game now under way: Will lawmakers pay a political price if they vote for a health bill that proves unpopular?
    There’s also a flip side to that question, which is about to get a lot more attention: Will lawmakers also pay a political price if nothing gets done — that is, if the effort to pass a health bill collapses in failure?… – WSJ, 9-10-09
  • Obama to deliver speech in N.Y. on financial crisis: President Obama will give what the White House called a major speech on the financial crisis on Monday, timed to the first anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse that precipitated the meltdown. At Federal Hall in New York City, Obama “will discuss the aggressive steps the administration has taken to bring the economy back from the brink, the commitment to winding down the government’s role in the financial sector, and the actions the United States and the global community must take to prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again,” the White House announced yesterday. – USA Today, 9-10-09
  • Obama advisers: 1M jobs saved or created: President Obama’s economic advisers estimated Thursday that the economic stimulus package has saved or created about 1 million jobs, drawing immediate criticism from Republicans.
    Christina Romer, the head of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, said her team consulted other economists for its report to Congress on the likely effects of the $787 billion package of tax cuts, government spending and aid to states. The administration’s million-job estimate, while preliminary and uncertain, was “in the middle of the plausible range” of estimates made by independent experts, she said.
    “An economy that was in free-fall with a tremendous amount of downward momentum” is now improving in part because of the stimulus package, Romer said. – USA Today, 9-10-09
  • US troops in Afghanistan run to remember 9-11: U.S. troops in Afghanistan donned shorts and laced up sneakers Friday to run in memory of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, as they fight a war that was born of that day but which has seen waning public support. More than 1,000 service members ran 9.11 kilometers (about 5 1/2 miles) at the main U.S. base to commemorate the anniversary and remember troops who have died in nearly eight-years of fighting. AP, 9-10-09
  • Outrage over Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst isn’t dying down: Although President Obama accepted the Republican congressman’s apology for his ‘You lie’ remark, Democrats are calling for a public mea culpa and using the incident in fundraising appeals….
    “I’m a big believer that we all make mistakes,” Obama said in acknowledging the apology from Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.). The lawmaker’s shout of “You lie!” during the president’s speech on healthcare was a significant break in decorum. “I do think that, as I said last night, we have to get to the point where we can have a conversation about big important issues that matter to the American people without vitriol, without name-calling, without the assumption of the worst of other people’s motives,” Obama said. – LAT, 9-10-09
  • Sex scandal further damages lawmakers’ reputation: A scandal involving a family-values legislator caught boasting about his sexual escapades with his lobbyist mistresses created an embarrassing distraction for lawmakers Thursday, further diverting attention from California’s major policy issues in the crucial final days of their session. Republican Mike Duvall resigned Wednesday after a videotape surfaced in which he described to a colleague in lurid detail his sexual conquests, including a spanking fetish, the skimpy underwear of one mistress and his carrying on two affairs simultaneously. He sought to deny the affairs on Thursday…. – AP, 9-10-09

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • GOP hope for 2010: Voters nervous about Obama spending: Republican strategists see an opening in the fact independent voters like President Obama but are nervous about his economic policies. The Republican advocacy group Resurgent Republic conducted five focus groups in August among independents who voted for Mr. Obama in the presidential election but were undecided about whether to support a Republican or Democrat in the 2010 congressional race…. – CS Monitor, 9-14-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The crowd at the rally

  • Book: Bush dissed Obama, Palin (and Hillary’s behind): President George W. Bush’s former speechwriter Matt Latimer reveals that Bush considered Barack Obama unfit for the White House and predicted that vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin would be a disaster for the GOP.
    “After one of Obama’s blistering speeches against the administration, the president had a very human reaction: He was ticked off,” Latimer writes in his forthcoming book, “Speech-Less: Tales of a White House Survivor,” which has been excerpted in the October issue of GQ.
    “He came in one day to rehearse a speech, fuming. ‘This is a dangerous world,’ he said for no apparent reason, ‘and this cat isn’t remotely qualified to handle it. This guy has no clue, I promise you.'”… – KC Star, 9-15-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON FINANCIAL RESCUE AND REFORM Federal Hall New York, New York: While full recovery of the financial system will take a great deal more time and work, the growing stability resulting from these interventions means we’re beginning to return to normalcy. But here’s what I want to emphasize today: Normalcy cannot lead to complacency. … So what we’re calling for is for the financial industry to join us in a constructive effort to update the rules and regulatory structure to meet the challenges of this new century. That is what my administration seeks to do. We’ve sought ideas and input from industry leaders and policy experts, academics, consumer advocates, and the broader public. And we’ve worked closely with leaders in the Senate and the House, including not only Barney, but also Senators Chris Dodd and Richard Shelby, and Barney is already working with his counterpart, Sheldon [sic] Bachus. And we intend to pass regulatory reform through Congress.
    And taken together, we’re proposing the most ambitious overhaul of the financial regulatory system since the Great Depression. But I want to emphasize that these reforms are rooted in a simple principle: We ought to set clear rules of the road that promote transparency and accountability. That’s how we’ll make certain that markets foster responsibility, not recklessness. That’s how we’ll make certain that markets reward those who compete honestly and vigorously within the system, instead of those who are trying to game the system. …. – WH, 9-14-09
  • Obama Pledges to ‘Own’ Health-Care Bill: President Barack Obama, continuing his push to secure support for a health-care overhaul, reiterated his willingness to address the issue of medical malpractice suits, a Republican priority. But the president suggested that his desire for a bipartisan bill wouldn’t trump his ultimate goal of passing legislation this year.
    “We’re not going to get a better opportunity to solve our health-care issues than we have right now,” he said in an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes…. – WSJ, 9-13-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Highlights New Treasury Report on Instability of Health Insurance in America: “In the United States of America, no one should have to worry that they’ll go without health care – not for one year, not for one month, not for one day. And once I sign my health reform plan into law – they won’t.”… – WH, 9-12-09

<object width=”480″ height=”295″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/y3YSOf6sFPM&hl=en&fs=1″></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/y3YSOf6sFPM&hl=en&fs=1&#8243; type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”480″ height=”295″ allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true”></embed></object>

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT WREATH-LAYING CEREMONY AT THE PENTAGON MEMORIAL The Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen and members of the Armed Forces, fellow Americans, family and friends of those that we lost this day — Michelle and I are deeply humbled to be with you.
    Eight Septembers have come and gone. Nearly 3,000 days have passed — almost one for each of those taken from us. But no turning of the seasons can diminish the pain and the loss of that day. No passage of time and no dark skies can ever dull the meaning of this moment.
    So on this solemn day, at this sacred hour, once more we pause. Once more we pray — as a nation and as a people; in city streets where our two towers were turned to ashes and dust; in a quiet field where a plane fell from the sky; and here, where a single stone of this building is still blackened by the fires.
    We remember with reverence the lives we lost. We read their names. We press their photos to our hearts. And on this day that marks their death, we recall the beauty and meaning of their lives; men and women and children of every color and every creed, from across our nation and from more than 100 others. They were innocent. Harming no one, they went about their daily lives. Gone in a horrible instant, they now “dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”
    We honor all those who gave their lives so that others might live, and all the survivors who battled burns and wounds and helped each other rebuild their lives; men and women who gave life to that most simple of rules: I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper… – WH, 9-11-09

<object width=”480″ height=”295″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/WKEtXtIrPeU&hl=en&fs=1″></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/WKEtXtIrPeU&hl=en&fs=1&#8243; type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”480″ height=”295″ allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true”></embed></object>

  • Dems answer Obama’s call for action on health care: Democratic leaders wrestling with health care legislation are confronting a host of knotty issues such as medical malpractice, abortion, illegal immigrants and Medicaid, all the while predicting passage of sweeping health care legislation within a few months.
    “That’s the legislative process,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said as she and other Democrats shifted from praising President Barack Obama’s health care speech this week to the less glamorous task of trying to negotiate a bill that will pass muster with a host of opposing factions.
    “As issues emerge, let’s drill down on the public option, let’s drill down on what this means to small business, let’s drill down on what this means to seniors,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday…. – AP, 9-11-09

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

The President records the Weekly Address

  • Stephen Hess “Change the channel Sunday, you’ll still see president”: On Sunday, Obama is scheduled to appear on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” ABC’s “This Week,” NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CNN’s “State of the Union” programs, according to the shows’ websites and the White House. He will sit for an interview on the Spanish-language network Univision to air that day as well. Obama also is booked for “Late Show With David Letterman” on Monday night.
    “He’s pulling out all the stops, and why not,” said Stephen Hess, a presidential historian at George Washington University in Washington. “The answer to why not is that he’s overbooked or that he becomes an old story. I don’t think that cuts the ice. Those stories are written by people who watch everything.” – Bloomberg News, 9-16-09
  • Gil Troy “‘He’s a black man’ What lies beneath the Obama backlash? A Democratic stalwart cries racism, igniting a fiery debate”: Gil Troy, a professor of U.S. history at McGill University, said he sees little difference between the treatment of Mr. Obama and the way opponents attacked his predecessors, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
    He pointed out that Mr. Clinton spent much of his presidency dealing with personal political attacks, while Mr. Bush was often branded a liar over his decision to invade Iraq.
    “When Obama was elected, everyone was talking about how it was a sign of Americans’ political maturity,” Prof. Troy said. “To immediately start playing the race card the first time he runs into trouble is a mark of his supporters’ immaturity.”
    If nothing else, the controversy makes it clear that Mr. Obama’s political honeymoon is over, he added.
    “His supporters are trying to demonize and marginalize normal politics. Conservatives do it to liberals. This time liberals are doing it to conservatives.” – Globe & Mail, 9-17-09
  • Julian E. Zelizer “Commentary: Why the shock about Joe Wilson?”: When Rep. Joe Wilson interrupted President Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress by yelling “You lie!” a livid House Speaker Nancy Pelosi looked as if she was about to jump out of her seat and give her colleague a five-minute “time out” for misbehavior.
    Majority Whip Jim Clyburn warned that he supports reprimanding Wilson unless he goes to the well of the House and apologizes. Many pundits and politicians have subsequently lamented that the incident has revealed a new level of incivility in Congress.
    And certainly this was an embarrassing moment for the GOP, which looked more like the party of Joseph McCarthy than Ronald Reagan. This has been a summer when some members of the Republican Party outside of Congress have chosen a strategy of yelling and screaming, rather than debating and legislating…. – CNN, 9-14-09
  • Stephen Hess: Unplugged: LBJ Had Unique Talent to Pass Medicare: Johnson “was the president of the United States who knew the Senate and the Congress better than any president in history,” Hess, a presidential historian, told CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson. “It would be love to have somebody else who had that capacity to twist arms, but there ain’t no Lyndon Johnson around.” (I dont get what the part in read means, is the quote right?) – CBS News, 9-16-09
  • Stanley Kutler “Afghanistan: Doubt grows over another distant war”: “Americans aren’t conscious of Afghanistan,” says historian Stanley Kutler, editor of The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War. “You couldn’t help but be conscious of Vietnam because of the draft,” he said. But in Afghanistan, “The alleged reasons for going there have completely left the public consciousness.”… – AP, 9-10-09
  • Rick Shenkman “Pelosi rates Obama’s speech one for the ages”: Historians will wait for the outcome of those fights and whether Mr. Obama wins before deciding whether his oratory was truly “great,” said Rick Shenkman, a presidential historian at George Mason University.
    “I don’t know what Nancy Pelosi was thinking,” he said, questioning what criteria she used to rate Mr. Obama’s forensic skills.
    He said Mr. Obama “got off a few good lines, I thought, but none that people are going to be quoting 50 years from now — let alone five months from now.”… – Washintton Times, 9-11-09
  • Fred Beuttler “Heckling of president is rare in American history”: Presidents didn’t even address Congress between 1800, when John Adams held the job, and 1913, says Fred Beuttler, deputy historian at the House of Representatives, who calls the Wilson incident “highly unusual, if not unique.” “Occasionally, members of the opposing party have been known to boo and jeer as expressions of dissent on a specific point,” says Beuttler, citing instances during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. But before Wednesday, he says, “expressions of individual opposition of members to a president’s speech had not been recorded.” – AP, 9-11-09
  • Jack Bass, humanities professor, College of Charleston, Lacy K. Ford Jr., historian, University of South Carolina: Over the Line in South Carolina – NYT, 9-10-09
  • Julian E. Zelizer “Commentary: Liberals’ passion for public option”: President Obama was caught off guard by the frustration that liberals expressed at the suggestion he might drop the public option from health care reform.
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that, “There’s no way I can pass a bill in the House of Representatives without a public option.”
    The proposal for the government to offer Americans health insurance as one of their options had excited many Democrats.
    But the White House insists that the public option was not central to its original plan. One senior adviser complained to the Washington Post, “I don’t understand why the left of the left has decided that this is their Waterloo.” Still, the administration responded to its critics and again expressed support for the public option…. – CNN, 8-25-09
  • David M. Kennedy: Could Afghanistan Become Obama’s Vietnam?: “The analogy of Lyndon Johnson suggests itself very profoundly,” said David M. Kennedy, the Stanford University historian. Mr. Obama, he said, must avoid letting Afghanistan shadow his presidency as Vietnam did Mr. Johnson’s. “He needs to worry about the outcome of that intervention and policy and how it could spill over into everything else he wants to accomplish.” – NYT, 8-23-09
%d bloggers like this: