August 2, 2010: Obama on “The View” & WikiLeaks Scandal

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President at the convention of Disabled=

The President at the convention of Disabled American Veterans, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/2/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • USA Today poll puts Obama approval at 41%: Public support for President Obama’s Afghanistan war policy has plummeted amid a rising U.S. death toll and the unauthorized release of classified military documents, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows. Support for Obama’s management of the war fell to 36%, down from 48% in a February poll. Now, a record 43% also say it was a mistake to go to war there after the terrorist attacks in 2001. Only 41% of those surveyed Tuesday through Sunday approved of the way Obama is handling his job, his lowest rating in the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll since he took office in January 2009. In Gallup’s separate daily tracking poll, his approval was at 45% Monday…. – Gallop, USA Today, 8-3-10
  • President Obama and Vice President Biden’s Daily Public Schedules Now Online – WH Schedules
  • Fox News Poll: Republicans Garner 11-Point Lead in Midterms: With less than 100 days until the midterm elections, American voters would give the edge to Republicans by an 11 percentage-point margin if the Congressional election were today. Yet a majority doesn’t think a Republican takeover of Congress would lead to positive change.
    A Fox News poll released Thursday finds that if Americans were heading to the voting booth today, they would back the Republican candidate in their district over the Democrat by 47-36 percent. Two weeks ago the Republicans had a slimmer 4-point advantage (41-37 percent)…. – Fox News, 7-29-10
  • Obama would lose Presidential election to Republican – ANY Republican – if held today: poll: Two-plus years before the 2012 election, a Republican candidate — any Republican candidate — has a better chance of being President than current White House occupant Barack Obama does. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll , Americans would rather vote for an unnamed Republican than Obama in 2012 by a 39% to 36% margin.
    Obama’s approval rating is now at an all-time low. According to the poll, 44% of Americans approved of the president, while 48% disapproved. Just two months ago, 48% of voters approved while 43% did not.
    “It was a year ago, during the summer of 2009 that America’s love affair with President Barack Obama began to wane,” said Peter A. Brown., assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. And it is the confidence of those critical independent voters he is losing the most. “Today, his support among Democrats remains strong, but the disillusionment among independent voters, who dropped from 52% to 37% approval to 52% to 38% disapproval in the last 12 months, is what leads to his weakness overall when voters start thinking about 2012.”… – NY Daily News, 7-22-10

THE HEADLINES….

Obama-with-The-View-team-004

  • Obama: Officials shouldn’t ‘demagogue’ immigration issue: President Obama said today that public officials who “demagogue” the immigration issue are only making it harder to address “a national problem.”
    “I understand the frustration of people in Arizona,” Obama said. “But what we can’t do is demagogue the issue, and what we can’t do is allow a patchwork of 50 different states, or cities or localities, where anybody who wants to make a name for themselves suddenly says, ‘I’m going to be anti-immigrant, and I’m going try to see if I can solve the problem ourself.’ This is a national problem.”
    “We’ve got a lot of debt,” Obama said. “We’ve got a lot of deficit. Now the Republicans have said that this is their No. 1 concern. I’m going to call them on their bluff. I want to see their ideas for how we’re going to deal with these issues. I’m going to have a bunch of ideas.” USA Today, 8-1-10
  • Obama gives himself a grade of ‘incomplete’ after 18 months: It’s still too early to judge his administration, President Barack Obama says. In an interview broadcast on the CBS “Sunday Morning” program, Obama gave himself a grade of “incomplete” on the first 18 months of his presidency.
    While citing some accomplishments, Obama said the true measure of success will be when the economy has rebounded fully and people are feeling better about it.
    “We still have a long way to go,” Obama said…. – CNN, 8-1-10
  • Ethics trials highlight racial tensions in Congress: Proceedings slated for House members Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel could create a rift between the Congressional Black Caucus and other Democratic leaders…. – LAT, 8-1-10
  • Rangel using 3-way defense against ethics charges: To rebut a lengthy list of alleged ethical misdeeds, Rep. Charles Rangel is trotting out this three-way defense: I didn’t do it. I did it, but was inattentive. Others lawmakers were allowed to do the same thing without penalty. It’s an approach that nervous Democrats are watching closely in one of the most politically explosive cases in years. Should it go to a public trial this fall, smack in the middle of the election season, and should his defense fall short, that won’t help Democratic candidates forced to defend their party’s ethics against Republican campaign attacks…. – AP, 8-1-10
  • Obama to sell auto bailout good news in Michigan: President Barack Obama said Friday that the recent turnaround for U.S. automakers vindicated his unpopular decision to bailout the industry. With Americans facing a still-limping economy and potentially pivotal congressional elections in three months, Obama is seizing on the positive new trends in the auto industry as evidence of broader economic good news. He launched an intensive campaign to highlight the story as a concrete area of improvement with direct ties to his administration’s actions.
    “This industry is growing stronger,” Obama declared from the floor of Chrysler’s Jefferson North plant, which recently added a second shift of production to the tune of about 1,100 jobs. “You are proving the naysayers wrong.” AP, 7-30-10
  • NY reps. spar in House over 9/11 responder bill: The House’s rejection of bill that would have provided up to $7.4 billion in aid to people sickened by World Trade Center dust has opened a sharp rift between two New York congressmen, Republican Peter King and Democrat Anthony Weiner.
    The verbal jousting came on the House floor Thursday night as the vote neared. The results fell largely along party lines, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats supporting the measure, but it failed to win the needed two- thirds majority…. – AP, 7-30-10
  • Andy Griffith’s new role: pitching health care law: Actor Andy Griffith has a new role: pitching President Barack Obama’s health care law to seniors in a cable television ad paid for by Medicare. The TV star — whose role as sheriff of Mayberry made him an enduring symbol of small-town American values — tells seniors that “good things are coming” under the health care overhaul, including free preventive checkups and lower- cost prescriptions for Medicare recipients…. – AP, 7-30-10
  • Rangel to Stand Trial Before House Panel in Ethics Case: The House ethics committee laid out 13 charges of House rules violations against Representative Charles B. Rangel on Thursday, and began the process for a rare public trial on the charges.
    The move came after Mr. Rangel, a veteran congressman, failed to reach a settlement to avoid the rare and potentially embarrassing proceeding before the committee gathered at 1 p.m.
    Mr. Rangel’s lawyers continued to hope they could still settle the case.
    The charges against Mr. Rangel, a Democrat from Harlem, include multiple breaches of the House ban on accepting gifts of more than $50 and of the requirement that members act at all times in a way that reflects creditably on the House…. – NYT, 7-29-10
  • Senator says 6,600 Arlington graves may have been mismanaged: As many as 6,600 graves at Arlington Cemetery, the historic and hallowed burial place for fallen U.S. soldiers, may be “unmarked, improperly marked or mislabeled,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, said Thursday…. – CNN, 7-29-10
  • Ousted USDA employee Sherrod plans to sue blogger: Ousted Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod said Thursday she will sue a conservative blogger who posted a video edited in a way that made her appear racist…. – AP, 7-29-10
  • WikiLeaks controversy hovers, but House passes war funding bill: WikiLeaks documents barely made a dent in Congress’s decision to continue funding a surge of US forces into Afghanistan. The House passed the measure 308 to 114…. – CS Monitor, 7-28-10
  • Parts of Ariz. Immigration Law Blocked by Judge: U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton Blocks Controversial Sections of Arizona’s Immigration Law from Taking Effect… – CBS News, 7-28-10
  • Bush tax cuts: Keep some, allow others to expire: With the economy still struggling and worries about the deficit continuing, Congress must carefully evaluate and revise tax policy…. – LAT, 7-28-10
  • Jury gets case in Blagojevich corruption trial: Rod Blagojevich’s fate was in the hands of jurors Wednesday as they prepared to begin deciding whether the impeached Illinois governor tried to sell a nomination to President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat and schemed to use his political power for personal gain. Jurors, weighing evidence against the second Illinois governor in a row to be charged with corruption in office, first received lengthy instructions from the judge on how their deliberations should be conducted — including one instruction that they are not to consider the fact that Blagojevich did not testify. “I’m not expecting” a speedy verdict, Judge James B. Zagel said earlier…. – AP, 7-28-10
  • Obama to make history with appearance on ‘The View’: President Obama becomes the first sitting president to appear on a daytime talk show when he records a pre-taped interview with the ladies of The View on Wednesday. The interview will touch on topics including his administration’s accomplishments, jobs, the economy, the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster and family life inside the White House. The segment is scheduled to air Thursday… – CNN, 7-28-10
  • Obama on ‘The View’: ratings blockbuster or presidential epitaph?: Daytime talk show has political observers split over whether Obama on ‘The View’ will help or hurt his image.
    President Barack Obama’s chat with the ladies of ABC’s daytime talk show, “The View” – taped Wednesday for air on Thursday – has got more than a few media mavens, brand experts and public relations pros in a tizzy. Depending on your, well, viewpoint, Mr. Obama on “The View” is either committing political suicide, making a master marketing move, or contributing to the decline of western civilization, specifically, the United States…. – CS Monitor, 7-28-10
  • Paterson won’t face charges in aide’s incident: New York’s former chief judge says Gov. David Paterson shouldn’t face criminal charges for calling a woman who later dropped domestic violence charges against a key adviser. Retired Judge Judith Kaye said in a report Wednesday that the aide could still face prosecution. But she says the Democratic governor’s actions did not constitute witness tampering…. – AP, 7-28-10
  • Obama: Nothing new in leaked Afghan documents: President Barack Obama says he is concerned about the massive leak of sensitive documents about the Afghanistan war, but says the papers don’t reveal any concerns that were not already part of the debate. In his first public comments on the matter, Obama said the disclosure of classified information from the battlefield “could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations.” But he said the papers fail to generate any information that hadn’t already been explored as part of the White House’s revamped war effort. AP, 7-27-10
  • Obama says WikiLeaks disclosure is reason for concern but doesn’t reveal new issues: Gibbs: Leaked documents a potential threat The White House says the release of 91,000 secret military documents is a breach of federal law and a potential threat to U.S. military personnel. President Obama said Tuesday that the disclosure of “sensitive information from the battlefield” is reason for concern, but that the documents leaked this week about the Afghanistan war do not fundamentally reveal new issues. His remarks came as the Pentagon announced it is launching a criminal probe — led by the Army — to discover the source of the leak, in which 92,000 documents were posted on WikiLeaks.org…. – WaPo, 7-27-10
  • Obama says he still supports climate legislation: Despite setbacks on Capitol Hill, President Barack Obama said Monday he still supports the need for broad climate legislation. Speaking in the Rose Garden following a bipartisan meeting of congressional leaders, Obama said the energy bill making its way through Congress now is “an important step in the right direction.” But, he said, “I want to emphasize that it’s only the first step.” He pledged to keep pushing for passage of a comprehensive energy policy overhaul that addresses climate change. “Our current energy policy is unsustainable,” Obama said…. – AP, 7-27-10
  • Rangel, ethics panel lawyers talking settlement: New York Democrat Charles Rangel is making a last-minute effort to settle his ethics case and prevent a trial that could embarrass him and damage the Democratic Party. The House ethics committee chairman, Democrat Zoe Lofgren of California, says the secret talks are between Rangel’s attorney and the non-partisan staff of the committee. She heads the full ethics committee and also the panel that would decide in a trial whether charges of ethical misconduct could be proved…. – AP, 7-27-10
  • Closing arguments to begin in Blagojevich trial: Contrasting styles of the attorneys likely to produce fireworks… – LAT, 7-26-10
  • Dudley’s path followed unusual turns to CEO of BP: Bob Dudley’s sudden rise to the top at BP PLC shows how the Gulf oil spill has dramatically changed the fortunes of people from local fishermen to corporate executives. Seen as an unlikely candidate just a few months ago, Dudley is set to become the first American to lead the oil giant in its century long history. Dudley will become CEO on Oct. 1 and try to salvage the company’s reputation and investments in the United States. On a phone call with reporters on Tuesday, Dudley said he understands the complexity of rebuilding BP’s image and financial strength. He said BP will emerge as a slimmer but stronger company. Dudley believes the investigation will show “individual misjudgments” by experienced people and “multiple failures” of equipment involving several companies led to the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. “I think it is a very complicated industrial accident,” he said…. – AP, 7-26-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • GOP looks to erase Democrats’ comfy House majority: No fewer than 65 House seats across the country — an overwhelming majority held by Democrats — are at risk of changing political hands this fall, enough to bolster Republican hopes of regaining power. Even more races could become competitive as voters look to blame someone for the sluggish economy and take out their frustration on the Democrats who run the government. Already enough seats are in play that Republicans could gain the 39 they need to reclaim the House…. – AP, 8-1-10
  • Ed Rendell: Obama Could Get Primary Challenge in 2012: There has been plenty of speculation about which Republicans will enter the race to challenge President Obama in the 2012 presidential elections. But on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” yesterday, Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell threw a curveball into the discussion when he suggested that Mr. Obama could face a challenge from within his own party if he were to escalate U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. While the governor didn’t point to any specific potential primary challengers, he implied that Mr. Obama would need to keep his word on beginning to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in July 2011 to avoid a challenge from the left.
    “[A primary challenge] is really possible,” Rendell told Pat Buchanan. “It depends on how far it [the war in Afghanistan] deteriorates.” He added: “But if we start to begin to reduce our presence, I think that’s probably enough to keep an anti-war candidate out of the race.”… — CBS News, 7-28-10
  • Dems election strategy: Equate GOP and tea party: The Democrats’ national chairman on Wednesday trotted out his party’s fall election strategy to limit potential GOP gains, claiming Republican goals are inseparable from the tea party’s, from killing off Medicare to abolishing the departments of Education and Energy. Republicans brushed off Tim Kaine’s attack and struck back at the Democrats who run Washington, saying their “arrogant agenda” has so frustrated voters that they want a new party in charge…. – AP, 7-28-10
  • Could Palin survive a New Hampshire drubbing in ’12? A new poll suggests trouble for her in the first-in-the-nation primary state: PPP is out with a new poll that purports to show Sarah Palin dragging down the GOP’s top Senate prospect in New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte. Palin raised eyebrows recently by endorsing Ayotte, the party establishment’s preferred choice, and snubbing a candidate with more obvious Tea Party credentials in the September GOP primary. But PPP’s new data shows Ayotte, who has led the presumptive Democratic nominee, Rep. Paul Hodes, by wide margins all year, suddenly losing support among moderate voters, with her overall lead over Hodes dropping to three points…. – Salon.com, 7-27-10
  • Jeb Bush chided for attending Rand Paul event: A Kentucky Democrat running for U.S. Senate says former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is tarnishing his family legacy by appearing at a fundraiser on behalf of Republican Rand Paul. Bush is set to attend a fundraiser for Paul’s U.S. Senate campaign in Louisville on Monday, the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Jack Conway says Bush is helping a candidate that doesn’t fully support the act, which was signed into law by Bush’s father, former Republican President George H.W. Bush…. – WaPo, 7-26-10
  • Tancredo plans switch from GOP to run for Colo gov: Former GOP congressman Tom Tancredo plans to switch parties and run for Colorado governor on the American Constitution Party ticket, his spokesman said Monday. WaPo, 7-26-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

President Obama speaks to crowd at GM Auto Plant in Michigan

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at General Motors Auto Plant in Hamtramck, Michigan. The Hamtramck GM plant is one of nine that GM recently kept open during a scheduled summer shutdown in production. July 30, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

  • Weekly Address: President Obama Hails Successes of the Restructuring of the Auto Industry, Calls on GOP Leaders to Stop Blocking Aid for Small Businesses
    emarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Saturday, July 31, 2010 Detroit, Michigan

    Hello everyone. I’m speaking to you from the GM auto plant here in Detroit, Michigan, where a hopeful story is unfolding in a place that’s been one of the hardest hit in America….
    …There’s no doubt that we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do before folks here and across the country can feel whole again. But what’s important is that we’re finally beginning to see some of the tough decisions we made pay off. And if we had listened to the cynics and the naysayers – if we had simply done what the politics of the moment required – none of this progress would have happened.
    Still, even as these icons of American industry are being reborn, we also need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with America’s small businessmen and women, as well — particularly since they’re the ones who create most of the new jobs in this country.
    As we work to rebuild our economy, I can’t imagine anything more common-sense than giving additional tax breaks and badly-needed lending assistance to America’s small business owners so they can grow and hire. That’s what we’re trying to do with the Small Business Jobs Act – a bill that has been praised as being good for small businesses by groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business. It’s a bill that includes provision after provision authored by both Democrats and Republicans. But yesterday, the Republican leaders in the Senate once again used parliamentary procedures to block it. Understand, a majority of Senators support the plan. It’s just that the Republican leaders in the Senate won’t even allow it to come up for a vote.
    That isn’t right. And I’m calling on the Republican leaders in the Senate to stop holding America’s small businesses hostage to politics, and allow an up-or-down vote on this small business jobs bill.
    At a time when America is just starting to move forward again, we can’t afford the do-nothing policies and partisan maneuvering that will only take us backward. I won’t stand here and pretend everything’s wonderful. I know that times are tough. But what I also know is that we’ve made it through tough times before. And we’ll make it through again. The men and women hard at work in this plant make me absolutely confident of that.
    So to all the naysayers out there, I say this: Don’t ever bet against the American people. Because we don’t take the easy way out. That’s not how we deal with challenge. That’s not how we build this country into the greatest economic power the world has ever known. We did it by summoning the courage to persevere, and adapt, and push this country forward, inch by inch. That’s the spirit I see in this plant today, and as long as I have the privilege of being your President, I will keep fighting alongside you until we reach a better day. – WH, 7-30-10
  • Rosie O’Donnell, Sarah Palin disapprove of Obama’s ‘View’ visit: “I have mixed feelings about that,” said O’Donnell, 48, on her Sirius XM radio show Wednesday, the day before Obama’s episode aired. “I don’t really think sitting presidents should go do fluffy daytime TV shows. Maybe an hour on Oprah or something,” said O’Donnell, adding, “although I’m happy for them. That’s a good booking.”
    Sarah Palin also criticized the appearance. On Twitter yesterday, she wrote: “President w/no time to visit porous US/Mexican border to offer help to those risking life to secure us,but lotso’ time to chat on The View?” – USA Today, 7-30-10
  • Obama seeks his “mojo” on daytime TV’s “The View”: President Barack Obama tried to revive his common touch on Thursday with a mainly light-hearted appearance on daytime television where five women hosts grilled him about his Blackberry, Lindsay Lohan and the Afghan war.
    “If we get our mojo back over the next several months, then I am absolutely confident that we are going to be doing terrific, but we’re going to have to make some fundamental structural changes as we go along,” he said.
    “When you feel as if every single initiative that we’re doing is subject to Washington politics instead of ‘is this good for the country,’ that can be frustrating,” he said.
    “If you’ve got chaos … in this region where there’s no functioning government and warlords and terrorist affiliates are able to operate, that is going to be that much tougher for us to make sure that they are not attacking us,” Obama said.
    “I have a Blackberry, but only 10 people have (access to) it,” he said. “And I’ve got to admit it’s no fun, because they think it’s going to be subject to the presidential records act, so nobody sends me the juicy stuff.” – Reuters, 7-29-10
  • Obama defends education policies to critics: Challenging civil rights organizations and teachers’ unions that have criticized his education policies, President Barack Obama said Thursday that minority students have the most to gain from overhauling the nation’s schools. “We have an obligation to lift up every child in every school in this country, especially those who are starting out furthest behind,” Obama told the centennial convention of the National Urban League…. – WH, 7-29-10
  • America stands with Pakistan after plane crash: Obama: US President Barack Obama offered his “deepest condolence” on Wednesday to families and friends of the 152 people killed in a plane crash near Islamabad, which included two Americans. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those touched by this horrible accident,” Obama said in a statement. “The American people stand with the people of Pakistan in this moment of tragedy.”… – AFP, 7-28-10
  • Kerry plays down significance of leaked war documents: Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry said Tuesday the importance of Afghanistan war documents leaked by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.org should not be overstated.
    “I think it’s important not to over-hype, or get excessively excited about the meaning of those documents,” Kerry, D-Massachusetts, told the committee. The senator called the leak of the documents “unacceptable.” “It breaks the law and equally importantly it compromises the efforts of our troops, potentially, in the field and has the potential of putting people in harm’s way,” he said…. – CNN, 7-27-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian Zelizer: Afghan leaks hand Obama new political nightmare: “It makes Bush’s problems his problems. There is no way (Obama) can really separate himself from it,” said Julian Zelizer, professor of history at Princeton University.
    “People will have suspicions about what is going on now.”…
    “The political energy gets sucked out of your administration,” said Zelizer. “We are entering a politically difficult period for this president over the war.” – AFP,
  • Why Some Republicans Want to ‘Restore’ the 13th Amendment: No, it’s not about slavery; like so much of our politics these days, it’s about Barack Obama…. – Newsweek, 7-27-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Why Obama’s fate is tied to congressional Democrats: Last weekend, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke to the Netroots Nation convention, telling liberals to remain supportive of the Obama administration.
    Speaking of achieving landmark legislation on health care and financial regulation, Pelosi said, “The leverage has changed. This doesn’t happen in a Republican Congress. … Understand what is at risk when we go into these elections 100 days from tomorrow.”…
    The president has not been sensitive enough to the fact that his fate rests on the fate of congressional Democrats. Obama can’t separate himself from his party regardless of how much his agenda and political interests might differ from theirs. This is particularly true in an age of intense polarization, when winning bipartisan support is virtually impossible on most legislation….
    If the president can’t do more to improve economic conditions and continues to hand his party colleagues politically explosive bills over the coming years, bad feelings can become as big a problem for this White House as the opposition it faces from the other side of the aisle. – CNN, 7-28-10
  • Joe Klein: Democrats Are Different: It’s hard to imagine two prominent Republican pollsters slagging a sitting Republican President. And yet here we have Pat Caddell, who gave Jimmy Carter to the world, and Doug Schoen, who helped salvage a second term for Bill Clinton, disgorging an incendiary and outrageous argument against Barack Obama on the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page. (Actually, both Caddell and Schoen are more emeritus than active when it comes to polling, but no matter.)
    The argument is that Barack Obama is divisive. One reason he is divisive, they say, is that he supports immigration reform. George W. Bush supported immigration reform. The Wall Street Journal editorial page has supported immigration reform. Plenty of enlightened Republicans do–for moral reasons and, in the case of the Journal, for valid economic reasons. But Obama supports it–they aver, with zero evidence–solely for political reasons. He wants to gin up the Latino vote. One wonders–and I know I’m going out on a real limb here–if it is possible that the President supports immigration reform because it is the right thing to do. Caddell and Schoen don’t even mention the possibility…. – Time, 7-28-10

President Obama Speaks with Small Business Owners

President Barack Obama talks with small business owners, from left, Brian Bovio, Dave Thornton, and Catherine Horsburgh at the Tastee Sub Shop in Edison, N.J. The President is visiting Edison to discuss the economy and urge Congress to pass support for small businesses. July 28, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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May 10, 2010: Obama Nominates Kagan & Financial Overhaul Debates

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President, Vice President, and Elena Kagan

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

IN FOCUS: STATS

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

THE HEADLINES….

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

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

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

POLITICAL QUOTES

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

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

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

July 1, 2009: Are the Democrats too Liberal? Obama’s Climate and Health Care Reforms

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • More Americans See Democratic Party as “Too Liberal” More believe Democratic Party’s, rather than Republican Party’s, views are about right: A Gallup Poll finds a statistically significant increase since last year in the percentage of Americans who describe the Democratic Party’s views as being “too liberal,” from 39% to 46%. This is the largest percentage saying so since November 1994, after the party’s losses in that year’s midterm elections.
    Notably, there has been no change over the past year in the percentage of Americans who say the Republican Party is “too conservative,” though the 43% who say the party leans too far to the right matches the historical high mark set last year. – Gallop, 6-30-09
  • Poll: Crist has big lead in Fla. Senate race: A new poll shows Republican Gov. Charlie Crist has a sizable lead in his campaign for Senate. A Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. telephone survey taken June 24-26 shows Crist leading primary opponent Marco Rubio by a 51-23 margin. In a general election matchup with Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, Crist leads 48-26. – AP, 6-29-09
  • Healthcare Town Hall Tanked on the Tube: “The one-hour ABC News special ‘Primetime: Questions for the President: Prescription for America’ (4.7 million viewers, 1.1 preliminary adults 18-49 rating) had the fewest viewers in the 10 p.m. hour. The special tied some 8 p.m. comedy repeats as the lowest-rated program on a major broadcast network,” the Reporter noted.
    NBC’s “Inside the Obama White House” special on June 2, in contrast, won viewers ages 18-49 during its 9 p.m. airing, garnering 9.1 million viewers over all and making NBC the ratings winner for the evening.
    One possible explanation for the discrepancy comes from recent polls that show the president is more popular personally than his policies are…. – WaPo, 6-25-09
  • Palin popular among Republicans but polarizing according to poll: Nearly as many of the people surveyed said they have an unfavorable impression of Palin (44 percent) as have a favorable view of her (45 percent).
    But Palin had an overall higher favorability rating than any of the other three, with Romney in second at 40 percent. Romney’s unfavorables, though, were only at 28 percent and 32 percent said they didn’t know. – AP, 6-25-09
  • Poll: Specter’s numbers sink with party switch: The Franklin & Marshall College Poll released Thursday morning shows that the Republican Specter had 52% of voters’ approval in March, while that number was down to 34% for the Democratic Specter this month — a drop that pollsters called “startling.” Twenty-eight percent of voters say Specter deserves to be re-elected, compared with 40% who said that in March.
    In a matchup against possible primary challenger Joe Sestak, Specter beats the Democratic congressman 33%-13% among likely Democratic voters, but nearly half of those voters are undecided, according to the poll. Pollsters surveyed 580 Pennsylvania voters from June 16 to 21.
    Of course, poll results vary. Last week, we told you about a Rasmussen Reports poll that showed Specter defeating Sestak 51% to 32% in a Democratic primary and Specter beating likely Republican nominee Pat Toomey 50% to 39% in a general election. – USA Today, 6-25-09
  • Poll of Polls: Obama more popular than his policies: According to a CNN Poll of Polls compiled Tuesday, 60 percent say they’re happy with how Obama’s handling his duties as president. Thirty-one percent disapprove of his performance.
    While Obama’s overall approval rating remains basically unchanged, his marks on some specific issues have dropped over the past few months. “President Obama is more popular than his policies. Three-quarters of Americans like President Obama. But just over half approve of his policies,” says CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider. – CNN, 6-23-09

THE HEADLINES….

The President answers an online video question

The Headlines…

  • Emotion, few details, in Obama’s health care pitch: “We are going to try to find ways to help you immediately,” he told Smith as hundreds looked on at a community college forum — and countless others watched on television. But the nation’s long-term needs require a greater emphasis on preventive care and “cost-effective care,” he said… The health care changes that Obama called for Wednesday would reshape the nation’s medical landscape. He says he wants to cover nearly 50 million uninsured Americans, to persuade doctors to stress quality over quantity of care, to squeeze billions of dollars from spending. But details on exactly how to do those things were generally lacking in his hour-long town hall forum before a friendly, hand-picked audience in a Washington suburb. The lingering questions underscore the tough negotiations awaiting Congress, the administration and dozens of special interest groups in the coming months. Lawmakers will return to debating the issue when they return from a one-week recess on Monday…. – AP, 7-1-09
  • Sarah Palin: An “unholy amalgam”?: The latest issue of Vanity Fair isn’t even on newsstands yet and it’s already making headlines for a not-so-politely titled article, “It Came from Wasilla,” about Gov. Sarah Palin. William Kristol at the Weekly Standard is calling it a “hit piece,” taking writer Todd Purdum to task for his “dubious claims.” A blogger at the Atlantic writes that the article “paints a gruesome picture” of the governor. Politico’s Ben Smith mulls the “political fallout from the very tough piece.” Early in the almost 10,000-word article, Purdum describes Palin’s life as an “unholy amalgam of ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘Northern Exposure.'” Purdum has plenty of juicy quotes, but not a single source was willing to go on record…. – AP, 7-1-09
  • Schwarzenegger declares Calif. fiscal emergency: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a fiscal emergency to address California’s deficit and has ordered state offices closed three days a month to save cash. The Legislature will have 45 days to send him a plan to balance the state’s budget, which ended the fiscal year with a $24.3 billion deficit. The shortfall is expected to grow by $7 billion because the Legislature did not enact several stopgap measures Tuesday. If lawmakers fail to act within the 45 days, they cannot adjourn or act on other bills until they solve the crisis…. – AP, 7-1-09
  • Brown, Whitman raise most in Calif. governor race: State Attorney General Jerry Brown and former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman have raised the most campaign money this year for the 2010 California governor’s race, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday. Brown, a Democrat and former California governor, has collected $7.3 million through Tuesday, the end of the current reporting period. Whitman, a Republican, said her campaign brought in $6.5 million, on top of $4 million she contributed from her personal fortune…. – AP, 7-1-09
  • Obama pledges support for social innovators: President Barack Obama on Tuesday promised that the White House will do its part to support grassroots organizations that are successful in their efforts to improve communities. “Solutions to America’s challenges are being developed every day at the grassroots. And government shouldn’t be supplanting those efforts, it should be supporting those efforts,” Obama told representatives of nonprofit programs during a White House gathering…. – AP, 7-1-09
  • Adviser: Gillibrand gets Maloney primary challenge: New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney has decided to challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the state’s Democratic primary, setting the stage for a potentially costly and contentious fight that other congressional Democrats have avoided. The nine-term congresswoman believes New Yorkers need a “strong, experienced and independent leader,” according to a statement Wednesday by Paul Blank, director of Trippi & Associates, hired by Maloney to serve as a chief strategist. Blank said Maloney is putting together a campaign team and will make her announcement in two weeks…. – AP, 7-1-09
  • Democrat Franken wins protracted Minn. Senate race: Democrat Al Franken with his wife Franni at his side, speak with the media outside their home in Minneapolis, Tuesday June 30, 2009. Republican Norm Coleman conceded to Franken in Minnesota’s contested Senate race Tuesday, hours after a unanimous state Supreme Court ruled the former ‘Saturday Night Live’ comedian should be certified the winner.
    Franken’s victory over Republican Norm Coleman gives Democrats 60 Senate seats, the critical number needed to overcome Republican filibusters. When Franken is seated, which could come as early as next week, his party will have a majority not reached on either side of the aisle in some three decades…. – AP, 6-30-09
  • Court rulings loom on campaign funds, civil rights: The Supreme Court will have a new look — and perhaps a new member — but the same right-of-center tilt when the justices return in late summer to deal with unfinished business about money in campaigns. Some justices will change seats with the retirement of Justice David Souter, with the more senior justices closer to the center of the bench. But the conservatives still should be able to muster majorities in the areas of civil rights and campaign cash…. – AP, 6-30-09
  • Foes of Sotomayor emboldened by discimination case: Foes of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor celebrated the high court’s reversal of her decision in a reverse discrimination case. The 5-4 ruling Monday, backing of reverse discrimination claims by white firefighters, is unlikely to derail Sotomayor’s nomination — and it may not even sway a vote. Reaction to the decision fell almost purely along partisan lines, with Republicans cheering the decision and saying it raises serious concerns about the judge, and Democrats condemning the opinion and arguing that Sotomayor had acted appropriately. Still, the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Ricci v. DeStefano highlighted the competing ideological strains that will shape the debate over confirming Sotomayor…. – AP, 6-30-09
  • Obama team members to fan out on summer rural tour: President Barack Obama is dispatching top administration officials and Cabinet members on a “rural tour” this summer to explore ways to strengthen rural America…. – AP, 6-30-09
  • Obama pats his fundraisers on the back: Whether you’re working Chicago’s South Side or Beverly Hills, a good organizer knows that a pat on the back will coax another mile — or maybe another few thousand — out of the troops. Even so, local Democratic activists were pretty impressed when the president invited them to Washington on Monday for a dinner at the Mandarin Oriental hotel designed to thank members of the Obama National Finance Committee and other supporters, like the ones who helped make his recent national fundraising tour on behalf of the Democratic National Committee such a success. The star-studded evening last month at the Beverly Hilton was the tour’s crown jewel, so it was no surprise that a large contingent of longtime Obama supporters in Hollywood were invited back to Washington to accept the chief executive’s personal expression of gratitude…. – LAT, 6-30-09
  • Conservative Ire Rains on 8 Republicans Who Voted for House Climate Bill: In the wake of last week’s landmark passage of the House climate bill, conservatives have focused their fury on the handful of Republicans who voted in favor of the sweeping legislation. Conservative commentators are blasting the eight Republican “aye” votes as betrayers of GOP principles and, perhaps more important, holding them accountable for the bill’s seven-vote margin of passage, 219-212. The eight Republicans are Mark Kirk of Illinois; Mike Castle of Delaware; Mary Bono Mack of California; Dave Reichert of Washington; John McHugh of New York; and Frank LoBiondo, Leonard Lance and Chris Smith of New Jersey…. – NYT, 6-30-09
  • Administration sends Congress consumer legislation: President Barack Obama asked Congress on Tuesday to create a new agency to police the fine print on consumer products like credit cards and mortgages and determine what fees, penalties and interest rates are fair. The Consumer Financial Protection Agency would be in charge of regulating those products in the same way other government agencies regulate the safety of drugs, food and toys. Obama said Americans are demanding it. “Those ridiculous contracts with pages of fine print that no one can figure out — those things will be a thing of the past,” the president said in a statement accompanying the 152-page draft bill. “And enforcement will be the rule, not the exception.” – AP, 6-30-09
  • Iraqis celebrate US pullback but bombing kills 27: Not a single American soldier was in sight. Gone, too, were the American helicopters whose buzz has for years defined Baghdad’s background track. Left alone to protect the capital Tuesday were thousands of Iraqi troops and police manning checkpoints, with army tanks deployed at potential trouble spots and convoys of pickup trucks with machine guns roaming the streets. But it was elsewhere, 180 miles to the north, that militants delivered their first deadly challenge to Iraq’s security forces on a highly symbolic day after the formal withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from cities at midnight…. – AP, 6-30-09
  • Will the Republicans or the Democrats be the ‘Party of Growth’?: The single most-profitable franchise for the Republican Party is growth, the kind of growth that sustains the relative competitiveness of the U.S. Instead of being the GOP, the Republicans should become the POG, the Party of Growth. This growth franchise is Republicans’ for the taking because the Democratic Party leadership is in hot pursuit of other franchises — the green biz, civil rights and their dearest goal, more government health care. – Bloomberg, 6-30-09Business Week, 6-30-09
  • Reverse discrimination ruling leaves confusion: The Supreme Court ruling in favor of white New Haven firefighters who said they were victims of reverse discrimination will probably leave employers confused, civil rights advocates and labor attorneys say. The court ruled 5-4 Monday that the white firefighters were denied promotions unfairly because of their race, reversing a decision that high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor endorsed as a federal appeals court judge…. – AP, 6-29-09
  • Decision Reflects Court’s Deep Division: Sonia Sotomayor, the New York appellate judge President Barack Obama has nominated to the Supreme Court, has credited her success in part to postwar America’s efforts to correct centuries of racial discrimination. If, as expected, her nomination is confirmed, the self-described “affirmative-action baby” will join a court divided on that very topic…. – WSJ, 6-29-09
  • Obama Toughens Rules for Some Lighting: President Obama announced tougher energy efficiency requirements for certain types of fluorescent and incandescent lighting on Monday, the latest step in the administration’s push to cut the country’s energy use. “Now I know light bulbs may not seem sexy,” Mr. Obama said, “but this simple action holds enormous promise because 7 percent of all the energy consumed in America is used to light our homes and our businesses.”
    Of the two types of lighting covered by Monday’s announcement, the most important is “general service fluorescent lamps,” which commonly take the form of tubular office lights (but do not include the squiggly compact fluorescents commonly found in home lamps). The other type of lighting covered by the new rule is incandescent reflector lamps; these cone-shaped fixtures can often be found in track lighting. – NYT, 6-29-09
  • Obama Backs Zelaya as Honduran President After Ouster: President Barack Obama said today that Manuel Zelaya remains the president of Honduras and his ouster by that nation’s military “was not legal.” “All of us have great concerns” about the situation in Honduras, Obama said after meeting at the White House with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe…. – Bloomberg, 6-29-09
  • SC governor resolves to stay put despite scandal: South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford says he’s not quitting — though he considered it — despite intense scrutiny and criticism over his affair with a woman from Argentina. That woman, 41-year-old former television reporter Maria Belen Chapur, acknowledged Sunday that she had a relationship with Sanford and that the matter has been “very painful to me, my two children, my entire family and close friends.”… “I want to apologize to you for letting you down,” he told the state’s top financial officers before tackling an agenda focused on the state’s budget woes…. – AP, 6-29-09
  • Ex-Edwards Aide to Write Tell-All: A man who was one of former Senator John Edwards’s closest aides has a deal to write a book claiming that Mr. Edwards said he “would be taken care of for life” in return for falsely claiming he was the father of the baby carried by Mr. Edwards’s mistress, Rielle Hunter…. “‘You know how much I love you,’ Edwards said. ‘You know I’d walk off a cliff for you, and I know you’d walk off a cliff for me,'” Mr. Young wrote in the book proposal. “‘I will never forget this. And I will always be there for you.'” The proposal was shared with The New York Times by a book publishing industry executive. Portions of it were reported over the weekend by The Daily News of New York. – NYT, 6-29-09
  • Ruling in firefighters case fuels critics of Sotomayor: The Supreme Court’s reversal of a discrimination ruling by an appeals panel that included Sotomayor is seen by conservatives as a rebuke of her handling of the case…. – LAT, 6-29-09
  • Obama reassures gay rights activists: President Barack Obama is reiterating his support for gay rights causes, telling activists that he’s a friend who will fight for them and with them while in the White House. The president and first lady Michelle Obama are holding an East Room reception Monday afternoon to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the birth of the modern gay rights movement. – AP, 6-29-09
  • Obama’s double sworn in at Paris wax museum: Barack Obama’s wax double joined the pantheon of world leaders and stars at the Grevin Museum in Paris on Monday, after being unveiled at the foot of the Eiffel Tower…. – AFP, 6-29-09
  • White House Not Ruling Out Health Benefits Tax: In an appearance on ABC’s This Week, presidential adviser David Axelrod would not rule out taxing health insurance benefits as a means to pay for the administration’s healthcare reform proposal. Axelrod said, “The President had said in the past he doesn’t believe taxing healthcare benefits at any level, is necessarily the best way to go here. He still believes that. But there’s a number of formulations. And we’ll wait and see.” The Washington Post notes this morning that “under repeated questioning…Axelrod said the White House is open to ‘a lot of different formulations’ for paying for healthcare reform.” The Washington Times reports that “during the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama called [Sen. John] McCain’s insurance-tax proposal ‘the largest middle-class tax increase in history.” The AP also reports that “if…Obama compromises on that point, it would reverse a campaign tax promise.” – US News, 6-29-09
  • Obama champions energy bill but not its tariffs: The president calls the measure ‘an extraordinary first step’ toward a halt to global warming but sounds a cautionary note about its provision to penalize countries that don’t similarly crack down.
    “What seems contentious now is going to seem like common sense in hindsight,” he told a small group of reporters in the Oval Office…. – LAT, 6-28-09
  • Obama scoffs at Ahmadinejad’s demand for apology: President Barack Obama’s criticism of Iran escalated Friday into an unusually personal war of words. To Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s demand he apologize for meddling, Obama shot back that the regime should “think carefully” about answers owed to protesters it has arrested, bludgeoned and killed. “The violence perpetrated against them is outrageous,” Obama said. “We see it and we condemn it.” “I don’t take Mr. Ahmadinejad’s statements seriously about apologies, particularly given the fact that the United States has gone out of its way not to interfere with the election process in Iran,” Obama responded sternly. “I would suggest that Mr. Ahmadinejad think carefully about the obligations he owes to his own people,” he added. “And he might want to consider looking at the families of those who’ve been beaten or shot or detained. And, you know, that’s where I think Mr. Ahmadinejad and others need to answer their questions.”… – AP, 6-27-09
  • AP sources: Obama eyeing order for Gitmo detainees: Stymied by Congress so far, the White House is considering issuing an executive order to indefinitely imprison a small number of Guantanamo Bay detainees considered too dangerous to prosecute or release, two administration officials said Friday. No final decisions have been made about the order, which would be the fourth major mandate by President Barack Obama to deal with how the United States treats and prosecutes terror suspects and foreign fighters…. – AP, 6-27-09
  • For Republicans, a Narrowing List of Presidential Prospects Nevada Sen. John Ensign’s and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s extramarital affairs are the latest blow to the GOP as the Republican presidential herd thins fast — leaving many to wonder who will lead the party in its attempt to reclaim the White House: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels are the names now being whispered in Republican circles as potential winners — although observers admit political speculations can change overnight. – Fox News, 6-27-09
  • Economic View The Pitfalls of the Public Option: IN the debate over health care reform, one issue looms large: whether to have a public option. Should all Americans have the opportunity to sign up for government-run health insurance? President Obama has made his own preferences clear. In a letter to Senators Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Max Baucus of Montana, the chairmen of two key Senate committees, he wrote: “I strongly believe that Americans should have the choice of a public health insurance option operating alongside private plans. This will give them a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep insurance companies honest.” – NYT, 6-27-09
  • Climate Change Bill May Be Election-Year Issue: As Democrats strained to win over crucial holdouts on the way to narrow, party-line approval of global warming legislation, they were dogged by a critical question: Has the political climate changed since 1993? Veteran members of both parties vividly remember when many House Democrats, in the early months of the Clinton administration, reluctantly backed a proposed B.T.U. tax — a new levy on each unit of energy consumed — only to see it ignored by the Senate and seized as a campaign issue by Republicans, who took control of the House the next year…. – NYT, 6-27-09
  • Analysis: Obama shows flexibility on health care: The reversals, hints of concessions and politically dicey proposals on health care are piling up for President Barack Obama, whose appeal for bipartisan legislation carries risk with no guarantee of reward. By one definition, that’s called presidential leadership, flexibility first, meant to embolden others to do the same. By another, it’s political inconsistency that risks offending people on Medicare, liberals who favor government-run health care and union families with coverage negotiated by contract with employers…. – AP, 6-27-09
  • Obama and Congress Clash on How to Pay for Health Care: It has become the trillion-dollar question: can President Obama find that much in spending cuts and tax increases to keep his campaign promise to overhaul the health care system, without adding to already huge deficits? Mr. Obama and the Democrats running Congress are deeply split over the possibilities…. – NYT, 6-26-09
  • Senators claim $1 trillion health bill in reach: Senators working to give President Barack Obama a comprehensive health care overhaul said Thursday they had figured out how to pare back the complex legislation to keep costs from crashing through a $1 trillion, 10-year ceiling. The announcement from Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and other lawmakers amounted to a small, parting gift to Obama on his top domestic priority as Congress prepares to leave town for its weeklong July 4 recess. It moved Congress a bit closer to a deal on legislation to lower costs and provide coverage to nearly 50 million Americans who lack it…. – AP, 6-26-09
  • Climate-Change Legislation Clears U.S. House, Sent to Senate: The U.S. House passed legislation to impose the nation’s first-ever limits on greenhouse-gas emissions linked to global warming, handing President Barack Obama a win on one of his top policy priorities. The measure now faces what is expected to be a tough legislative battle in the Senate. Obama called yesterday’s House vote “a bold and necessary step that holds the promise of creating new industry and millions of new jobs.” The bill, he said, would usher in “a critical transition to a clean-energy economy without untenable burdens on the American people.” House Republicans, who formed the bulk of the opposition to the bill, disputed that characterization of it. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a statement, called the measure “an unrealistic approach that could further harm the economy and shed American jobs.” The close 219-212 House vote on it signaled the fight that lies ahead for the plan, which would create a market for trading pollution permits to curb emissions…. – Bloomberg, 6-26-09
  • Questions and answers about the US climate bill: Cap-and-trade? Offsets? Pollution credits? The climate bill passed Friday by the U.S. House of Representatives tackles global warming with new limits on pollution and a market-based approach to encourage more environmentally friendly business practices. But what exactly do the proposed rules mean, and how would they work?… – AP, 6-26-09
  • How Obama Handled Jackson’s Death: Though President Obama regards Michael Jackson as a “spectacular performer” and “a music icon,” the White House did not issue a formal written statement on his passing. Not every celebrity, even one as talented and widely-known as Jackson, merits a presidential tribute…. – CBS News, 6-26-09
  • Alaska’s Murkowski moves up in Senate GOP leadership: Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is moving into the Senate GOP’s inner circle. Her Senate Republican colleagues voted today to make her vice chairman of the Republican Conference. In that role, she’ll be in charge of spreading the Republican message, Murkowski said. “It’s not just an issue of pushing back, for instance, on a health care plan that doesn’t deliver what the president is seeking,” Murkowski said during a press conference announcing the election results. “We need to, as Republicans, be able to voice, be able to express what our solutions, what our plans, what our proposals are and how they truly fit in with the agenda, whether it is from Alaska to Maine or parts in between.”… – Miami Herald, 6-25-09
  • Obama’s Health Future Rationing, and not only withholding care from the elderly: President Obama’s TV health-care forum on Wednesday evening was useful, because revealing. Namely, Mr. Obama shared more than he probably intended about the kind of rationing that his health plan will inevitably impose…. – WSJ, 6-25-09
  • Obama and Congress Clash on How to Pay for Health Care: It has become the trillion-dollar question: can President Obama find that much in spending cuts and tax increases to keep his campaign promise to overhaul the health care system, without adding to already huge deficits? Mr. Obama and the Democrats running Congress are deeply split over the possibilities…. – NYT, 6-25-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

(President Barack Obama delivers remarks highlighting innovative non-profit programs from across the country, Tuesday, June 30, 2009, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Political Quotes

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN AN ONLINE TOWN HALL ON HEALTH CARE: Northern Virginia Community College Annandale, Virginia – White House, 7-1-09
  • Emotion, few details, in Obama’s health care pitch: “We are going to try to find ways to help you immediately,” he told Smith as hundreds looked on at a community college forum — and countless others watched on television. But the nation’s long-term needs require a greater emphasis on preventive care and “cost-effective care,” he said… The president would bar insurance companies from turning down applicants because of their “pre-existing conditions.” He would establish health care exchanges that would spread the costs of treating patients such as Smith over a large number of people. Obama called for shifting huge sums of money from current health care spending to new goals. About two-thirds of the overall new costs “will come from reallocating money that is already being spent in the health care system but isn’t being spent wisely,” he said. “The biggest thing we can do to hold down costs is to change the incentives of a health care system that automatically equates expensive care with better care,” the president said. He said the formula system drives up costs “but doesn’t make you better.” – AP, 7-1-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON COMMUNITY SOLUTIONS AGENDA East Room: And finally, I want to thank all of you here today for everything you’re doing to find new solutions to some of our oldest, toughest problems. I know what you do is not easy. I know that for many of you, the hours are long, the pay could be better — let’s face it. But I also know the difference that each of you make. I know the lives that you change every single day. You teach us that there’s no such thing as a lost cause if you’re willing to be creative, and challenge the conventional wisdom, and take some risks — if you’re willing to try, and fail, and then try again until you find something that works. And today, I want to recognize that pioneering spirit and thank you all for the contributions that you’re making to our communities…. The bottom line is clear: Solutions to America’s challenges are being developed every day at the grass roots — and government shouldn’t be supplanting those efforts, it should be supporting those efforts. Instead of wasting taxpayer money on programs that are obsolete or ineffective, government should be seeking out creative, results- oriented programs like the ones here today and helping them replicate their efforts across America…. – White House, 6-30-09
  • White House announces new lighting standards: Aiming to keep the focus on climate change legislation, President Barack Obama put a plug in for administration efforts to make lamps and lighting equipment use less energy. “I know light bulbs may not seem sexy, but this simple action holds enormous promise because 7 percent of all the energy consumed in America is used to light our homes and businesses,” the president said, standing alongside Energy Secretary Steven Chu at the White House…. – AP, 6-29-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON ENERGY Grand Foyer: So we’ve gotten a lot done on the energy front over the last six months. But even as we’re changing the ways we’re producing energy, we’re also changing the ways we use energy. In fact, one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to make our economy stronger and cleaner is to make our economy more energy efficient. And that’s something that Secretary Chu is working every single day to work through.
    The first step we’re taking sets new efficiency standards on fluorescent and incandescent lighting. Now I know light bulbs may not seem sexy, but this simple action holds enormous promise because 7 percent of all the energy consumed in America is used to light our homes and our businesses. Between 2012 and 2042, these new standards will save consumers up to $4 billion a year, conserve enough electricity to power every home in America for 10 months, reduce emissions equal to the amount produced by 166 million cars each year, and eliminate the need for as many as 14 coal-fired power plants…. – White House, 6-29-09
  • AP Interview: Snowe seeks bipartisan health bill: Sen. Olympia Snowe, a key figure in shaping federal health care legislation, said Monday that a government-run plan that would take effect if the private insurance market fails to deliver affordable coverage could bridge the partisan divide that threatens to derail President Barack Obama’s efforts to reform the system. Snowe, R-Maine, said she’s working with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to establish that kind of a framework in the bill expected to emerge next month from the Senate Finance Committee. In an Associated Press interview in Portland, Snowe said it would be unfair to include a government-run health insurance option that would take effect immediately…. – AP, 6-29-09
  • Rudy for Governor?: Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani appeared on CNN’s American Morning today and admitted, in a roundabout fashion, that he’s considering running for governor of New York in 2010. Giuliani said, “I don’t know if I am or if I’m not” entering the gubernatorial race, but disclosed that he’s been thinking about it. Incumbent Gov. David Paterson has been polling poorly for some time and would likely lose to Giuliani in a general election. But if Paterson doesn’t run, other Democratic contenders, such as Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, whose political heritage would serve him well, would be tougher competitors…. – Newsweek, 6-29-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Calls Energy Bill Passage Critical to Stronger American Economy: Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a historic piece of legislation that will open the door to a clean energy economy and a better future for America. For more than three decades, we have talked about our dependence on foreign oil. And for more than three decades, we have seen that dependence grow. We have seen our reliance on fossil fuels jeopardize our national security. We have seen it pollute the air we breathe and endanger our planet. And most of all, we have seen other countries realize a critical truth: the nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy. Now is the time for the United States of America to realize this too. Now is the time for us to lead…. – White House, 6-27-09
  • Obama pressures Senate on climate change measure: Hailing the House, President Barack Obama put pressure on senators Saturday to follow its lead and pass legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions, helping usher the U.S. into a new age of energy efficiency. “Now my call to every senator, as well as to every American, is this: We cannot be afraid of the future. And we must not be prisoners of the past,” the president said in his weekly radio and Internet address. “Don’t believe the misinformation out there that suggests there is somehow a contradiction between investing in clean energy and economic growth. It’s just not true.” – AP, 6-27-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE IMPORTANCE OF PASSING A HISTORIC ENERGY BILL Rose Garden: Right now, the House of Representatives is moving towards a vote of historic proportions on a piece of legislation that will open the door to a new clean energy economy…. Now is the time for the United States of America to realize this, as well. Now is the time for us to lead. The energy bill before the House will finally create a set of incentives that will spark a clean energy transformation of our economy. It will spur the development of low-carbon sources of energy — everything from wind, solar, and geothermal power to safe nuclear energy and cleaner coal. It will spur new energy savings like the efficient windows and other materials that reduce heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer…. – White House, 6-25-09
  • Quick-draw Sarah Palin takes long shot at John Kerry: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin didn’t wait long to jab back at U.S. Sen. John Kerry for his joke this week that it was too bad she hadn’t gone missing instead of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. Former GOP vice-presidential candidate Palin, in Kosovo visiting troops, said yesterday she wanted to reach out to the Bay State Democratic senator. “He looked quite frustrated and he looked so sad,” she told the troops in comments later posted on YouTube. “I just wanted to reach out to the TV and say: ‘John Kerry, why the long face?'” The soliders broke out in laughter at Palin poking fun at Kerry’s renowned lantern jaw. – Boston Herald, 6-26-09
  • Obama Tackles Health Care Concerns in ABC’s Questions for the President: President Barack Obama promoted what he called a “uniquely American” health care plan in a prime-time appearance devoted to questions about health-care reform….
    During the forum, which was moderated by ABC News’ Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson, the president said he understood apprehension about reforms. “[Americans] know they’re living with the devil. But the devil they know, they think may be better than the devil they don’t.” He also said government involvement would be essential to reform: “Unfortunately government, whether you like it or not, is going to already be involved,” he said. “We pay for Medicare, we pay for Medicaid. There are a whole host of rules, both at the state and federal level, governing how health care is administered,” Obama continued. “And so the key is for us to try to figure how to take that involvement … and to keep doing what works, and stop doing what doesn’t work.” He also said hurdles remain. “These things are going to be tough politically,” he said. “What’s lacking is political will. And that’s what I’m hoping the American people will provide.” – TV Guide, 6-25-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Historians’ Comments

  • Julian Zelizer “Franken as 60th Senate Democrat: How big a prize?” It’s better for Democrats than 59. But a Senate supermajority didn’t much help the last president to have one: Jimmy Carter….
    “Given how frequently the filibuster is used as a tool in party battles, it’s obviously better to have 60 votes than 59,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. “But if you follow divisions that have emerged on healthcare and energy, there are a lot of intraparty tensions within the Democratic Party. If Democrats splinter come October on such legislation, being able to block a Republican filibuster won’t mean much.” – CS Monitor, 7-1-09
  • James A. Morone and Lou Cannon: “From FDR to Obama, a fight for health care” “For people who know the boring details of health care, the debate is really deja vu all over again, although I’m not sure the general public picks up on all the echoes from previous debates,” says James A. Morone, co-author of “The Heart of Power,” a newly released history of health care and the presidency….
    “That wasn’t unusual for conservatives in those days, including Reagan,” says Reagan biographer Lou Cannon. “They would make an exception for something catastrophic by saying, `That’s a special situation.'” What they didn’t want was a cradle to grave system for the general public.” – AP, 7-1-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Obama Criticized as Mr. Nice Guy Toward Iran, Congress Critics argue Obama is too conciliatory in dealing with Iran, Republicans, and other adversaries”: “There is part of America that wants an assertive president, a president who will be tough on adversaries and who can, at least in theory, be scary in dealing with threats from overseas,” says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. So far, Obama doesn’t match up with that tough-guy profile, either at home or abroad. But Zelizer points out that there is another slice of the country that has an entirely different outlook, more in keeping with Obama’s style. “There’s part of America that wants a tempered president,” someone who will reach out to adversaries, avoid seeing issues and people in absolute terms, and avoid confrontation, Zelizer says. “Both are part of the American psyche.”… – US News, 6-30-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Polls don’t make a president”: President Obama continues to enjoy high approval ratings. Despite spending months navigating through one of the most treacherous economic crises in recent history and struggling with a Congress that is as partisan as ever, the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, released Monday, found that his approval rating stands at 61 percent.
    But approval ratings have rarely been a good predictor of presidential success. Some presidents have exited Washington with the public loving them but without the legislative record of success they wanted. At other times, presidents have watched their high approval ratings plummet within weeks….
    If Obama can achieve the same popularity in Congress this summer as he has achieved in national opinion polls, he might be able to defy the high odds of passing sweeping legislation in an era of polarized politics and start building the foundation for the transformative presidency that he desires. CNN, 6-30-09

Celebrating Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week.

(President Barack Obama meets with a group from the Helen Keller National Center in the Oval Office June 26, 2009.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

June 23, 2008: Campaign Financing & Future First Ladies in the Spotlight

Reprinted from HNN

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH:

    The week that was….

  • June 16, 2008: Former Vice President Al Gore endorses Barack Obama for the Democratic Nomination.
  • June 17, 2008: Obama reached the million mark in Facebook supporters. That is more supporters than any other page on the most popular social network site.
    A McCain adviser claims “Senator Obama is a perfect manifestation of a September 10th mind-set. … He does not understand the nature of the enemies we face.”
  • June 18, 2008: Barack Obama said in bring Osama bin Laden to justice he would not allow him to become a martyr. “First of all, I think there is an executive order out on Osama bin Laden’s head. And if I’m president, and we have the opportunity to capture him, we may not be able to capture him alive.”
    McCain disccussed energy issues and ways to reduce depency on foreign oil, which would include construction of 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030 and $2 billion “to make clean coal a reality.”
  • June 19, 2008: Barak Obama opted-out of the public campaign financing system. Previously Obama claimed he would use the system if Republican John McCain decided to use it. McCain visits flood ridden Iowa despite Gov. Chet Culver request to cancel the campaign visit.
  • June 20, 2008: Barack Obama is considering Former Senators John Edwards and Sam Nunn as potential running mates, former Vice-President Al Gore is also being mentioned.
  • June 21, 2008: Obama criticized McCain for opposing federal flood prevention programs and spending on levees. The issue is in the spotlight since areas of the Mid-West are still flooded from tornadoes and heavy rains that swept through the area. While McCain critized Obama’s opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
  • The Stats

  • A Quinnipiac University poll found that Obama leads in the three critical states; Florida (47 percent to 43 percent), Ohio (48 percent to 42 percent), and Pennsylvania (52 percent to 40 percent).
  • Michelle Obama is viewed more favorably by voters than Cindy McCain, 48 percent to 39 percent ABC News, 6-18-08
  • Unfavorable view by voters: Obama 29 percent vs. McCain 25 percent – ABC News, 6-18-08
  • Historians Comments:

  • Betty Koed, assistant historian of the Senate:
    Mr. Obama’s Washington He wants to change the culture there. But it’s hard to fix a place you’ve never really known. – Newsweek, 6-30-08
  • Victor Davis Hanson Obama promises to bring change — but what kind?
    By this point in the presidential campaign, the public knows that a charismatic Barack Obama wants sweeping “change.” While the national media have often fallen hard for the Illinois senator’s rhetoric — MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said he felt a “thrill going up my leg” during an Obama speech — exactly what kind of change can Obama bring if he’s elected in November?…

    Overall, Obama’s announced policies are sounding pretty much the same old, same old once promised by candidates like George McGovern, Mike Dukakis, Walter Mondale, Al Gore and John Kerry. Of course, a return to the standard big- government nostrums of the past may well be what the angry voters want after 20 years of the Bushes and Clintons.

    But it is not a novel agenda, much less championed by a post-racial, post-political emissary.

    So what are the Democrats thinking? That a mesmerizing, path-breaking African-American candidate — coupled with Bush exhaustion — will overcome past public skepticism of Northern presidential Democratic candidates, traditional liberal agendas and Obama’s own relative lack of experience.

    In other words, we should count on hope rather than change. – Fresno Bee, 6-22-08

  • John Hope Franklin Calls Obama Success “Amazing” – NPR, 6-20-08
  • John Hope Franklin on an Obama Presidency Esteemed historian reacts to a historic race, one he never believed he would witness in his lifetime:
    “Franklin reminisces about how his mother encouraged him as a youngster to tell people he wanted to become “the first Negro president of the United States.” He says the phrase then seemed “so far-fetched, so incredible that we used to really have fun just saying it.”

    “He has shown an ability to bridge the divides in our society and unite people behind his agenda for change,” he said in his mid April endorsement of Obama. – TheRoot.com, 6-19-08 Video of the Interview

  • Robert Mutch, a campaign-finance historian on “Obama Opts Out of Public Funding for His Campaign”:
    “I’m very much in favor of public financing. However, the existing public-financing law has been flawed from the start. The main problem with the public-financing system for nearly the last 30 years is that it became too easy to get around it.” – Christian Science Monitor, 6-19-08
  • Myra Gutin, a first lady historian at New Jersey’s Rider University and author of the 1989 book “The President’s Partner: The First Lady in the 20th Century” on ” Michelle Obama Makes Appeal to Women Voters, Co-Hosts ‘The View’ Potential First Lady Attempts to Soften Image as Husband Fights for Critical Votes “:
    “She needs to relax, show she has a sense of humor and is someone who can laugh at herself. I see Michelle Obama taking advantage of more of the opportunities of the White House, making speeches on causes important to her, and see Cindy McCain taking on a more traditional, supportive spouse role.” – ABC News, 6-18-08
  • Gil Troy, Professor of History, McGill University on “Race for first lady”: Top Picks : Race for first lady : CTV Newsnet: Gil Troy, presidential historian With five months till the presidential election, the spotlight is now on the political wives. Both Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama are trying to court the public but have stereotypes working against them. – CTV NewsNet, 6-18-08
  • Carl Sferrazza Anthony, a first ladies historian on “Michelle Obama preps for general election close-up”:
    Carl Sferrazza Anthony, a first ladies historian, said it’s important for Michelle Obama to define herself before others define her. “One comment made off-hand … might be easily misinterpreted by the opposition,” he said. – CNN, 6-18-08
  • Allan Lichtman: The (Non-Electoral) Case for the Obama-Clinton Ticket – Britannica Blog, 6-17-08
  • Bruce Bartlett: Election 2008: Obamacons: Conservatives That Support Obama – NPR, 6-13-08
  • On the Campaign Trail….

    Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland Predicting that Ohio and the Presidency will go to Barack Obama, June 21, 2008
    “Barack Obama is the nominee of our party. He is a bright, committed, energizing young leader. I met with him yesterday in Chicago and I pledged to him then, as I had previously, that I will work my heart out for him and that Ohio will work her heart out for him.”

    Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: A Metropolitan Strategy for America’s Future, June, 21, 2008 This is something of a homecoming for me. Because while I stand here today as a candidate for President of the United States, I will never forget that the most important experience in my life came when I was doing what you do each day – working at the local level to bring about change in our communities….

    And it’s precisely because you’re on the front lines in our communities that you know what happens when Washington fails to do its job. It may be easy for some in Washington to remain out of touch with the consequences of the decisions that are made there – but not you….

    And just the other day, Senator McCain traveled to Iowa to express his sympathies for the victims of the recent flooding. I’m sure they appreciated the sentiment, but they probably would have appreciated it more if he hadn’t voted against funding for levees and flood control programs, which he seems to consider pork. Well, we do have to reform budget earmarks, cut genuine pork, and dispense with unnecessary spending, as we confront a budget crisis left by the most fiscally irresponsible administration in modern times….

    But understand – while the change we seek will require major investments by a more accountable government, it will not come from government alone. Washington can’t solve all our problems. The statehouse can’t solve all our problems. City Hall can’t solve all our problems. It goes back to what I learned as a community organizer all those years ago – that change in this country comes not from the top-down, but from the bottom up. Change starts at a level that’s even closer to the people than our mayors – it starts in our homes. It starts in our families. It starts by raising our children right, by turning off the TV, and putting away the video games; by going to those parent-teacher conferences and helping our children with their homework, and setting a good example. It starts by being good neighbors and good citizens who are willing to volunteer in our communities – to keep them clean, to keep them safe, and to serve as mentors and teachers to all of our children.

    That’s where change begins. That’s how we’ll bring about change in our neighborhoods. And if change comes to our neighborhoods, then change will come to our cities. And if change comes to our cities, then change will come to our regions. And if change comes to our regions, then I truly believe change will come to every corner of this country we love.

    Communications Director Jill Hazelbaker in a statement for the McCain campaign on Barack Obama’s Decision not to use Federal Campaign Funding, June 19, 2008 “Today, Barack Obma has revealed himself to be just another typical politician who will do and say whatever is most expedient for Barack Obama. The true test of a candidate for president is whether he will stand on principle and keep his word to the American people. Barack Obama has failed that test today, and his reversal of his promise to participate in the public financing system undermines his call for a new type of politics.”

    Remarks By John McCain On Energy Security, June 17, 2008

    I first addressed this issue at the outset of my primary campaign. And in just that time — a little more than a year — the price of a barrel of oil has more than doubled. And the price of a gallon of gas in America stands at more than four dollars. Yesterday, a barrel of oil cost about 134 dollars. And various oil ministers and investment firms have confidently informed us that soon we can expect to pay 200 dollars for every barrel, and as much as seven dollars for every gallon of gas. That may come as good news in Moscow, Riyadh, or Caracas, where economic growth and rising oil prices are more or less the same thing. But their oil prosperity is our energy vulnerability. And the jobs, family budgets, and futures of the American people should not depend on the whims of foreign powers. Oil and gasoline are the most vital of all commodities in a modern economy. Their price affects the cost of things even more basic and essential. America’s dependence on foreign oil is a matter of large and far-reaching consequences — none of them good….

    The next president must be willing to break with the energy policies not just of the current Administration, but the administrations that preceded it, and lead a great national campaign to achieve energy security for America. So in the days ahead I plan to return to the subject in a series of discussions to explain my reform agenda. And I will set forth a strategy to free America once and for all from our strategic dependence on foreign oil.

Highlights of Election Night 2004 (Featuring Historians’ Commentary)

HISTORY ARTICLES

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HNN, 11-05-04

Highlights of Election Night (Featuring Historians’ Commentary)

By Bonnie Goodman

Ms. Goodman is a graduate student at Concordia University and an HNN intern

The Electoral College

• George W. Bush: 286, Number of States: 31
• John F. Kerry: 252, Number of States: 20

The Popular Vote

• George W. Bush: 59,459,765 (51% total) with 3.5 million more votes than his opponent.
• John F. Kerry: 55,949,407 (48% total)

The Congressional Results

The Senate:

• Republican: 55, a gain of 4
• Democrat: 44, a loss of 4
• Independent: 1

The House of Representatives (218 needed for House majority, 435 at stake, 3 undecided)

• Republican: 231, a gain of 4
• Democrat: 200, a loss of 3
• Indepdendant: 1

Governors (11 at stake, 1 undecided)

• Republican: 28; 23 seats not up
• Democrat: 21; 16 seats not up

The Historians

Douglas Brinkley (Director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies, University of New Orleans, NBC)

• “I think it will be decided by midnight on Election Night. I think there’ll be a lot of court cases and a lot of rumbling about ballot boxes that didn’t work properly, and chads that were dangling, but I think by and large there will be a clear victor. I don’t think it will be like four years ago.”
• “There are three big swing states: Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Whoever gets two out of three will win. I think Kerry will win Pennsylvania, Bush will win Florida, and whoever wins Ohio gets to be president.”
• “It’s because he used to be a heavy drinker and he still gives the impression that he’s a pickup-truck-driving Texas rancher/ZZ Top-listening kind of dude, which plays very well in the red states of the South. And it’s amazing if you look at the electoral map right now, you can see that the Republicans control the entire South. Every state that had slavery is for George W. Bush.”

Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

• “There is more skepticism about votes counting than in past presidential elections, because I think it is a belated reaction to the last presidential election. I don’t think the question of vote counting was raised in a massive way until 2000.”

Allan Lichtman (Presidential historian at American University)

• “Any election is a referendum on the party in power, and indeed the majority of Americans judge the record of the party in power…. including this president’s success in keeping America safe from terrorism over the last three years.”
• “This is the deepest cultural divide in the history of the country, with the exception of the Civil War.”
• “They (Democrats) need to rethink liberalism for the 21st century. They haven’t yet made the transition from Franklin Roosevelt. They’ve run from liberalism into empty space.”

Richard Norton Smith (Director of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum on PBS)

• “It’s a long standing tradition, in the nineteenth century, Ohio was called the mother of presidents. They were mostly forgettable presidents but they were presidents never the less. More recently Ohio is a microcosm of America, it’s agricultural, it’s industrial, it’s old ethnic, it’s new ethnic, it’s a remarkable snapshot, and it’s right in the middle of the country. In 1976 Gerald Ford lost the presidency by a whisker, he lost it in Ohio by 11,000 votes to Jimmy Carter, who did well for a Democratic in conservative rural Ohio that is the pattern that the Kerry people hope to repeat tonight.”
• “We’ve heard it over and over again no Republican has ever won without Ohio.”
• “This is a latter-day Wilson presidency,” invoking Woodrow Wilson’s impassioned intervention in World War I to make the world “safe for democracy. It’s going to matter, it’s going to be pointed to – pro and con – for a long time.”

Roger Wilkins (Clarence J. Robinson Professor of History and American Culture, George Mason University, Virginia, on PBS)

• “You got Cleveland in the North, you got Columbus in the central part of the state, and then you got Cincinnati in the southern part of the state. Cincinnati is the home of the Tafts, the really royal dynasty of the state, President William Howard Taft, then the great Senator Robert Taft. The conservative part of the state is in the south where as the formally industrial parts of the state where you had a union stronghold, and Democrats did well, is much weaker now. Cleveland is not the industrial heart it was, but the state is big, its got lots of people, and the mix makes a very interesting kinda neutral test.”

Ellen Fitzpatrick (Professor of history at the University of New Hampshire, on PBS)

• “It is interesting because Ohio has always been a tough one for the Democrats in many ways. When you think about the fate of Ohioans during theGreat Depression where you had unemployment rates of 80 percent in some cities in Ohio, terrible suffering, and the industrial workers of Ohio were reliable for the Democratic Party, but those days are long behind us, and part of it really reflects changes in the economy in the United States over the last thirty years. The Democratic Party cannot sincerely relay anymore on those kinds of votes in a place like Ohio, and we’ll see tonight.”

Michael Beschloss (Presidential historian, on ABC)

• “Well, you know the most fascinating thing in the ABC News exit polls I thought, was the number of people who voted for President Bush because of moral issues. I think the other thing is that when you have a president who is fighting a war that often times trumps everything else.”

Gil Troy (Presidential historian, professor of history, McGill University, on CTV)

• “The big headline from the 2004 election is that the essential dynamic from 2000 re-emerged. Once again, we have a near-deadlock. Once again, the future of the presidency hangs on a closely divided state, in a closely divided nation. Once again, we have a red-blue electoral equilibrium – the chardonnay sipping, quiche eating, New York Times-reading ‘blue states’ – and as the numbers suggest ‘blue people’ — balanced out by nearly equal numbers of the country-western listening, gun-toting, Bible-thumping ‘red states’ and red people – the colors have no inherent significance they just happened to have been used by the TV network mapmakers to signify Democratic and Republican states.”
•”The 2004 exit polls – which did a terrible job predicting state-by-state totals but do a good job reflecting attitudes – confirm this impression for today. Kerry proved most popular with women, the unmarried, Northeasterners, African-American,18 to 29 year-olds, gays and lesbians, first-time voters, and citizens most concerned with education, health care, and the economy. Bush proved most popular with men, married couples, Southerners, whites, the over-60-set, military veterans, evangelicals, gun-owners, and citizens most concerned with strong leadership and the fight against terror. Remarkably, this polarized nation produced a nasty campaign but a peaceful election day – a testament to a political maturity and a civic grandeur for which Americans rarely get credit these days.”
• “God bless America’s beautiful slogan, it’s not a real honeymoon, and I think the danger is that yes, he has 51 percent of the vote, which is relatively strong. Bill Clinton never broke 50 percent, he has the house, the Congress, he has a concentration of power, but not necessarily a broad mandate. He still has that electoral map of blue America and red America.”
• “Second term presidencies always promise a clean slate, a new start. The problem with second term presidencies is they often have emerged what I call the ‘the second term curse.’ Ronald Reagan ran into Iran-contra, Bill Clinton ran into Monica Lewinsky problems, Richard Nixon had Watergate. So what Bush wants to do is to a certain extant stay afloat, he has to watch the problem of becoming a lame duck.”

Stephen Hess (Brookings Institutution, interview with the Associated Press)

• “He may face a somewhat less contentious international community. They’re practical people. They may not like him, but if he’s the president, they have to figure out how to deal with him.”

Larry Sabato (Presidential historian, head of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia on CBS)

• “Just in recent times, I would say the 1964 Johnson/Goldwater race was one of the most negative presidential battles in all of American history, we’ve had a lot of negative races. We’re able to recover and go along a lot better and faster than we think.”
• “For one thing, every president in American history who had lost the popular vote had not been elected to a second term. The only other presidential father-son ticket, the Adams, both had one term.”

Eric Foner (DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University)

• “People who have power want to exercise it. He can do pretty much what he wants.”(On President Bush’s self-proclaimed mandate.)

Richard Reeves (Historian, on CBS)

• “Close to half the people in the country, maybe more, if you ask them what they are, they’re not gonna say either a truck driver, they’re gonna tell you ‘I’m a Christian. The Democratic Party has got to come to grips with that. It’s an important part of being an American, for at least half the country.”
• “I think that the country is divided, I think that the president is being given a chance to make good on his promise four years ago to be a uniter, not a divider. I think it’s a real tough job.”

President George W. Bush: Victory Address

• “We had a long night — and a great night. The voters turned out in record numbers and delivered an historic victory.”
• “Earlier today, Senator Kerry called with his congratulations. We had a really good phone call. He was very gracious. Senator Kerry waged a spirited campaign, and he and his supporters can be proud of their efforts. America has spoken, and I’m humbled by the trust and the confidence of my fellow citizens.”
• “With that trust comes a duty to serve all Americans, and I will do my best to fulfill that duty every day as your president. There’s an old saying, “Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for powers equal to your tasks.” In four historic years, America has been given great tasks and faced them with strength and courage. Our people have restored the vigor of this economy and shown resolve and patience in a new kind of war. Our military has brought justice to the enemy and honor to America. Our nation — our nation has defended itself and served the freedom of all mankind. I’m proud to lead such an amazing country, and I am proud to lead it forward.”
• “Reaching these goals will require the broad support of Americans, so today I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust. A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation. We have one country, one Constitution, and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America.”
• “A campaign has ended, and the United States of America goes forward with confidence and faith. I see a great day coming for our country, and I am eager for the work ahead.”

Senator John F. Kerry: Concession

• “In America, it is vital that every vote count and that every vote be counted. But the outcome should be decided by voters and not by a protracted legal process. I would not give up this fight if there was a chance that we would prevail. But it is now clear that when all the provisional ballots are counted — which they will be — there won’t be enough outstanding votes for us to win Ohio. And therefore we cannot win this election. I want to especially say to the American people you have given me an honour and gift, I will never forget you and I will never stop fighting for you.”
• “I did my best to express my vision and my hopes for America. We worked hard and we fought hard, and I wish that things had turned out a little differently. But in an American election, there are no losers, because whether or not our candidates are successful, the next morning we all wake up as Americans. That is the greatest privilege and the most remarkable good fortune that can come to us on Earth. With that gift also comes obligation. We are required now to work together for the good of our country. In the days ahead, we must find common cause. We must join in common effort, without remorse or recrimination, without anger or rancor. America is in need of unity and longing for a larger measure of compassion. I hope President Bush will advance those values in the coming years.
I pledge to do my part to try to bridge the partisan divide.”

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