May 4, 2009: President Obama’s Second 100 Days Begins & Dealing with H1N1

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President at his press conference

The President speaks on tax havens and unfair tax breaks

White House Photo, 5/4/09, Pete Souza

Tax Reform for Jobs at Home

The President unveils plans to curb tax havens and end tax incentives for companies shifting jobs overseas.

Watch the Video

The President discusses H1N1 Flu

White House Photo, 5/1/09, Samantha Appleton

H1N1 Flu

The President discusses the government’s response to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, from school closings to activating online social networks. He urges Americans to be calm but cautious.

Watch the Video

The President speaks on tax havens and unfair tax breaks

White House Photo, 5/4/09, Pete Souza

Tax Reform for Jobs at Home

The President unveils plans to curb tax havens and end tax incentives for companies shifting jobs overseas.

Watch the Video

The President discusses H1N1 Flu

White House Photo, 5/1/09, Samantha Appleton

H1N1 Flu

The President discusses the government’s response to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, from school closings to activating online social networks. He urges Americans to be calm but cautious.

Watch the Video

The President speaks on tax havens and unfair tax breaks

White House Photo, 5/4/09, Pete Souza

Tax Reform for Jobs at Home

The President unveils plans to curb tax havens and end tax incentives for companies shifting jobs overseas.

Watch the Video

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • RCP Poll: President Obama Job Approval: RCP Average: +30.7% Approve 61.6% Disapprove 30.9%
    Congressional Job Approval: RCP Average: -28.7% Approve 31.8% Disapprove 60.5%
    Direction of Country RCP Average: -7.4% Right Direction 42.6% Wrong Track 50.0%
  • Guests for the Sunday TV news showsAP, 5-2-09
  • White House joins Facebook, MySpace, Twitter: The official White House Blog calls it “WhiteHouse 2.0.” The administration is unveiling its membership in a trio of the social-networking leaders today: Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
  • WhiteHouse 2.0WH Blog, 5-1-09
  • Blacks match whites in voting rates in 2008: Nearly one-fourth of voters in last November’s election were minorities, the most diverse election ever, fueled by high turnout from black women and a growing Hispanic population, an independent research group found. The study by the Pew Research Center, released Thursday, also showed that for the first time blacks had the highest voter turnout rate of any racial or ethnic group among people ages 18 to 29. In 2008, about 65 percent of blacks went to the polls, nearly matching the 66 percent voting rate for whites. Black women had the highest rates of participation among all voters at 69 percent; they were followed by white women (68 percent), white men (64 percent) and black men (61 percent)…. – AP, 4-30-09

THE HEADLINES….
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gets to work

[Download High Resolution]

(The new Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, is briefed on the H1N1 flu by John Brennan, assistant to the President for Homeland Security, in the Situation Room of the White House on April 28, 2009.

Sebelius was sworn in moments earlier in the Oval Office.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The Headlines…

  • TIME: Bush Library raises $100 million in 100 days: George W. Bush often has said that historians will vindicate his presidency. And since he left office, he’s moving fast to give them the tools. Longtime financial backers of the 43rd president have raised more than $100 million for a presidential library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas that will house his official papers, sources close to Bush told TIME. Much of the money was collected in the 100 days or so since Bush left the White House, a pace much faster than that of his recent predecessors. At least so far, none of it has come from overseas, the sources said… – CNN, 5-4-09
  • It’s all on Obama now: In the span of a single week — from the day Arlen Specter turned Democratic to the moment Congress passed the White House’s budget blueprint and on through the opening of a spot on the Supreme Court — President Obama crossed a fateful line: From now on, it’s his country…. – LAT, 5-3-09
  • A President Goes Friending: President Obama will not twit, I have been authoritatively informed. Or should that be tweet? Unsure about the correct verb form for sending Twitter messages, I turned for guidance to my authoritative informer, Macon Phillips, the affable young Internet specialist in charge of the White House’s new-media office. He seemed unsure as well. “But I don’t think the president is the right person for this. There are better ways to engage the micro-blogging community,” he told me, explaining at another point: “We try to find the audiences where they are, and deliver the president’s message to them at the best delivery point.” That now includes Twitter, where the White House established an institutional presence last week…. – WaPo, 5-3-09
  • Is Obama president yet?: BARACK OBAMA was elected in November and inaugurated in January, and summer is coming into view. And yet some key posts in the new administration remain open. Vacancies at Treasury hinder the oversight of the vast government bailout of Wall Street. Meanwhile, as public health officials contemplate how to handle a swine flu outbreak, Obama’s choice for health and human services secretary, Kansas Governor Katherine Sebelius, was only confirmed Tuesday, and other top health jobs still need to be filled. One cause of such delays is the Obama team’s much-vaunted vetting process. Another is the maneuvering of conservative interest groups. Both are part of a larger problem: the reluctance of the American political system to end the campaign season and get on with governing…. – The Boston Globe, 5-3-09
  • John Edwards acknowledges federal probe: His once-prominent political career is buried and the turmoil of his marriage is playing out in public. Now, John Edwards is facing a federal inquiry. The two-time Democratic presidential candidate acknowledged Sunday that investigators are assessing how he spent his campaign funds — a subject that could carry his extramarital affair from the tabloids to the courtroom. Edwards’ political action committee paid more than $100,000 for video production to the firm of the woman with whom Edwards had an affair. – AP, 5-3-09
  • Feds investigating whether John Edwards used campaign cash to hush affair – AJC, 5-3-09
  • As a Professor, a Pragmatist About the Supreme Court: Many American presidents have been lawyers, but almost none have come to office with Barack Obama’s knowledge of the Supreme Court. Before he was 30, he was editing articles by eminent legal scholars on the court’s decisions. Later, as a law professor, he led students through landmark cases from Plessy v. Ferguson to Bush v. Gore. (He sometimes shared his own copies, marked with emphatic underlines and notes in bold, all-caps script.) Now Mr. Obama is preparing to select his first Supreme Court nominee to replace retiring Justice David H. Souter. In interviews, former colleagues and students say they have a fairly strong sense of the kind of justice he will favor: not a larger-than-life liberal to counter the conservative pyrotechnics of Justice Antonin Scalia, but a careful pragmatist with a limited view of the role of courts…. – NYT, 5-3-09
  • Specter the Defector to appear on two enchanting Sunday shows: Senator Arlen Specter will appear on Meet the Press and Face the Nation tomorrow morning to discuss his decision to change party affiliation. Vice President Joe Biden is not scheduled on any of the programs to discuss the flu…. – CS Monitor, 5-2-09
  • Jack Kemp, Dole’s Running Mate in 1996, Dies at 73: Jack Kemp, the former football star turned congressman who with an evangelist’s fervor moved the Republican Party to a commitment to tax cuts as the central focus of economic policy, died Saturday evening at his home in Bethesda, Md. He was 73…. – NYT, 5-2-09
  • Kidding aside, Biden plays key role for administration: Of his No. 2, Vice President Joe Biden, President Barack Obama has famously said, “Nobody messes with Joe.” That may be — except for Saturday Night Live, David Letterman, Jay Leno and Craig Ferguson…. But seriously, folks, despite the court-jester portrayals, Biden’s first months as vice president have hardly been a comic strip. Dubbed “the sheriff” by Obama, Biden, 66, is overseeing distribution of billions in stimulus money. He’s leading a White House task force on the middle class, whose success is a top priority for the administration. And he delivered the administration’s first major foreign policy speech in Munich, Germany, making headlines with his call to press “the reset button” with Russia…. – Deseret News, 5-2-09
  • GOP group launches listening tour to rebrand image: With its party struggling to define itself, a group of prominent Republicans launched a listening tour Saturday in a bid to boost the GOP’s sagging image and regroup for future elections. Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., held a town-hall style meeting at a pizza restaurant in the Democratic suburb of Arlington, Va., to hear about people’s concerns on issues from the economy and health care to the rising costs of college tuition…. – AP, 5-2-09
  • Resistance to Obama high court pick may be modest: Awaiting President Barack Obama’s first Supreme Court pick, activists expect a less-spirited nomination battle than would have been anticipated if a conservative justice had stepped down or Democrats held a slimmer edge in the Senate. Retiring Justice David H. Souter is part of the court’s liberal wing, and his replacement by a Democratic administration probably won’t change the ideological balance…. – AP, 5-2-09
  • US Sen Reid: Health Bill Easier To Pass Than Climate Change: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., expressed optimism Friday that the Senate could pass health care legislation, but sounded more cautious notes about writing legislation intended to address global climate change…. – WSJ, 5-2-09
  • Critics Say Obama’s Torture Ban Undermines Vow to Protect America: Obama has argued that any intelligence gained by methods his administration deems torture could have been obtained instead by methods that don’t violate American principles ideals…. President Obama’s vow to keep Americans safe is in conflict with his decision to limit interrogation techniques to the Army Field Manual, opponents of his anti-terror policies say. The Army Field Manual, which includes interrogation methods intended for captured soldiers rather than hardened terrorists, is “not useful at all,” David Rivkin, a former official in the Bush Justice Department, told FOX News. “In fact, the Army Field Manual is, let’s say, so anemic, that it goes below the level of coercion associated with police station level of interrogation.”…. – Fox News, 5-1-09
  • Clinton brags on 100-day accomplishments: She marks 100 days in office on Friday, and on Wednesday, Obama’s 100th day, the State Department posted on its website a lengthy recitation of her accomplishments so far…. State Dept. 100 Days Report, 5-1-09
  • Cue the fanfare: State trumpets Clinton’s 100 days: Friday marks Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 100th day as the top U.S. diplomat and the State Department is commemorating the occasion with a 13-page list praising what it considers her early achievements. The lengthy document posted on the department’s Web site this week extols the secretary of state’s hectic travel abroad and the appointments of four high-profile special envoys to deal with trouble spots and climate change…. – AP, 4-30-09
  • U.S. Republicans enlist Jeb Bush in party’s bid to rebuild: When national Republican leaders brainstormed about repairing their party’s image after the setbacks of the last two elections, it was only natural that they would turn to Jeb Bush…. “He’s really the perfect person to do it because he governed successfully for eight years in a swing state, a purple state, as a conservative and left office very popular,” said Justin Sayfie, a former Bush aide who last year started his own group called “Rebuild the Party.”… – Miami Herald, 5-1-09
  • Skepticism at the Court on Validity of Vote Law: A central provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, designed to protect minorities in states with a history of discrimination, is at substantial risk of being struck down as unconstitutional, judging from the questioning on Wednesday at the Supreme Court…. – NYT, 5-1-09
  • After his flu warning, Biden takes the train home: One day after saying he wouldn’t travel in tight quarters because of the swine flu scare, Vice President Joe Biden rode a train Friday from Washington to Delaware… – AP, 5-1-09
  • Analysis: Obama’s fate largely in Congress’ hands: As he starts his second 100 days as president, Barack Obama must yield much of his agenda’s fate to Congress. His biggest proposals, such as revising health care, energy and education policies, are in the hands of lawmakers who will debate, change and possibly reject them in the coming months. Obama obviously can influence lawmakers, but he has less control over his destiny than when he was unveiling new initiatives almost daily and filling out his Cabinet. In his news conference Wednesday night, Obama acknowledged the prod-and-wait role he now plays on many issues. For all his powers, he said, a president cannot “turn on a switch and suddenly, you know, Congress falls in line.” – AP, 4-30-09
  • Obama, post-100 days: Good morning from The Oval. At last, the 101st day of Barack Obama’s presidency has arrived. This is also a special day for the presidency itself; 220 years ago, George Washington took the oath of office as the nation’s first president…. – USA Today, 4-30-09
  • Analysis: What’s ahead for Obama in the next 100 days: President Obama’s next 100 days will be put under the microscope…. Democratic control of Congress will likely help Obama get his policies passed…. Foreign policy in war-torn areas and relations with Latin America will likely be critical
    After passing the 100 days benchmark, President Obama pushes on with a daunting task ahead of him: Tackling foreign and domestic issues while dealing with a Republican Party opposed to nearly all his major economic initiatives. The second 100 days will be a critical test of Obama’s power in getting key legislative priorities — such as economic recovery, health care, energy and immigration — passed…. – CNN, 4-30-09
  • Source: Justice Souter retiring: Justice David Souter has told the White House that he will retire from the Supreme Court at the end of the court’s term in June, a source familiar with his plans said Thursday night. Speculation that the 69-year-old justice will be stepping down has been fueled by his failure to appoint law clerks from the fall term…. – AP, 4-30-09
  • Ominous ad shows GOP still thinks security a winning issue: House Minority Leader Boehner releases Web ad attacking Obama on security…. The issue of national security is typically a strong point for Republicans…. Ad shows Obama hugging the Saudi king, an image of the Pentagon burning on 9/11…. Boehner’s spokeswoman defends using the 9/11 image. – CNN, 4-30-09
  • Official: White House communications chief named: A senior adviser on Barack Obama’s campaign has been named the president’s interim communications director, a White House official said Thursday. Anita Dunn, a veteran Democratic media consultant, is to take over duties from Ellen Moran, according to the official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the position had not been announced. Moran is leaving the post to become chief of staff to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke…. – AP, 4-30-09
  • Senate Democrats Balk at Specter Deal: Some Senate Democrats are upset over the deal Majority Leader Harry Reid made with Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter, allowing Specter to keep the seniority he earned as a Republican and bypass other Democrats on some of the most powerful committees…. – Fox News, 4-30-09
  • Senate defeats anti-foreclosure proposal: The Democratic-controlled Senate on Thursday defeated a plan to spare hundreds of thousands of homeowners from foreclosure through bankruptcy, a proposal that President Barack Obama embraced but did little to see through. A dozen Democrats joined Republicans in the 45-51 vote to scuttle the measure, which Obama had said was important to saving the economy and promised to push through Congress. But facing stiff opposition from banks, Obama did little to pressure lawmakers who worried it would encourage bankruptcy filings and spike interest rates…. – AP, 4-30-09
  • Obama pivots from first 100 days to rest of agenda: His first 100 days behind him, President Barack Obama expressed confidence about the next hundred and accelerated his drive toward contentious goals — sweeping health care overhaul, new rules to curb global warming and financial sector reform — even while working to end a recession and two wars…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • Bipartisanship didn’t last long in Obama’s first 100 days: There’s little debate that Democrats who run Congress mark President Obama’s 100-day milestone with some significant victories…. Slew of legislative achievements have come at the cost of bipartisanship…. Democrats: GOP making a political calculation to be the party of “no”…. Republicans say Democrats have shut them out…. Real reason for partisan divide may be genuine philosophical differences – CNN, 5-2-09
  • G.O.P. Debate: A Broader Party or a Purer One?: A fundamental debate broke out among Republicans on Wednesday over how to rebuild the party in the wake of Senator Arlen Specter’s departure: Should it purge moderate voices like Mr. Specter and embrace its conservative roots or seek to broaden its appeal to regain a competitive position against Democrats?… – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Live Blogging the President’s News ConferenceNYT, 4-29-09
  • Where Specter’s Big Switch Leaves the Senate: Senate associate historian Donald Ritchie says you have to go all the way back to the dawn of F.D.R.’s second term in 1937 to find a President aligned with a filibuster-proof Senate majority that has comparable cohesion and potential to pass significant legislation…. – Time, 4-29-09
  • Obama Welcomes Specter to the Party: President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. welcomed Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania to the Democratic fold at the White House on Wednesday morning, praising Mr. Specter warmly and telling him he can count on their support for re-election in 2010…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • White House Welcomes Specter: Senator Arlen Specter, the Republican-turned-Democrat, received a hearty welcome at the White House on Wednesday morning, flanked by President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in a high-level show of unity for the newest member of their caucus. In an unexpected calendar moment on the 100th day of Mr. Obama’s administration, the three officials all reminisced about their work together in the Senate just a short while ago. The vice president opened the embrace, noting that he and Mr. Specter had long talked over issues while riding the Amtrak trains together in their commutes to and from their respective homes in Delaware and Pennsylvania…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • House bill would provide gays new protections: Gay victims of violence would gain new federal protections under a revived and expanded hate crimes bill passed by the House on Wednesday over conservatives’ objections. Hate crimes — as defined by the bill — are those motivated by prejudice and based someone’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
    The bill, which passed 249-175, could provide a financial bonanza to state and local authorities, with grants for investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. The federal government could step in and prosecute if states requested it or declined to exercise their authority…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • Voting rights case at high court Wednesday: Congress’ decision to extend a key provision of the Voting Rights Act for 25 years is at the core of a case being argued before the Supreme Court. The justices are hearing the final arguments of their term Wednesday in a dispute from Texas. At issue is a requirement that all or parts of 16 states with a history of discrimination in voting get approval from the Justice Department before they implement even the smallest changes in the way elections are held… – AP, 4-29-09
  • Specter’s defection to Democrats roils Republicans: Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter is a Democrat again following a decades-long turn among Republicans, a defection that has the GOP warning about the perils of unchecked power only a few years after it controlled both the White House and Congress.
    “The threat to the country presented … by this defection really relates to the issue of whether or not in the United States or America our people want the majority party to have whatever it wants without restraint, without a check or balance,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Tuesday after Specter made his startling switch.
    The move left Democrats with 59 votes in the Senate, and hoping that Al Franken can finally win a marathon recount in Minnesota and become their 60th. That’s the number needed to overcome any Republican filibuster aimed at blocking President Barack Obama’s ambitious agenda. AP, 4-29-09
  • Senate Confirms Kansas Governor as Health Secretary: The Senate confirmed the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of health and human services on Tuesday, allowing President Obama to fill the last vacancy in his cabinet with a seasoned politician who will take charge of the fight against swine flu. The vote was 65 to 31. Among the nine Republicans who voted for Ms. Sebelius was Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who announced on Tuesday that he was becoming a Democrat…. – NYT, 4-28-09
  • Kan. gets new gov after Sebelius goes to HHS: Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, wooed from the Republican Party three years ago by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to become her running mate, became governor Tuesday when Sebelius resigned upon her confirmation as U.S. health and human services secretary. Parkinson, a 51-year-old former Republican legislator and party chairman, has said previously he did not expect to make major policy or staff changes, and that he won’t run for a full four-year term next year…. – AP, 4-28-09
  • Democrats pushing through compromise budget plan: With unusual speed, President Barack Obama’s allies in Congress are pushing through a compromise budget plan endorsing much of his ambitious agenda but falling short of his hopes for tax cuts and curbs on global warming….. – AP, 4-28-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President at a press conference
(President Barack Obama speaks at a press conference in the White House on April 29, 2009.
White House Photo/ Chuck Kennedy)

Political Quotes

  • Clinton returns to Oklahoma bombing site for tour: Bill Clinton recalled the profound impact of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing on the nation and his presidency during a private tour of a memorial and museum honoring the 168 people killed. “My life has been indelibly marked by the people I met here,” Clinton said Saturday in addressing about 200 museum supporters, bombing survivors and former rescue workers. “I came here, more than anything else, to say ‘Thank You.'” He added: “The memories I have here … have changed my life, and I think, fundamentally changed the lives of the nation.” – AP, 5-3-09
  • Weekly Address: Government Actions to Address the H1N1 Flu Virus: In his Weekly Address, the President discusses the government’s response to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, from school closings to activating online social networks. He urges Americans to be calm but cautious.
    “This is also why the Centers for Disease Control has recommended that schools and child care facilities with confirmed cases of the virus close for up to fourteen days. It is why we urge employers to allow infected employees to take as many sick days as necessary. If more schools are forced to close, we’ve also recommended that both parents and businesses think about contingency plans if children do have to stay home. We have asked every American to take the same steps you would take to prevent any other flu: keep your hands washed; cover your mouth when you cough; stay home from work if you’re sick; and keep your children home from school if they’re sick. And the White House has launched pages in Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to support the ongoing efforts by the CDC to update the public as quickly and effectively as possible.” – WH Blog, 5-2-09
    Transcript: WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Outlines Government Actions to Address the 2009 H1N1 Flu
  • CQ Transcript: Sen. Specter on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ – CQ, 5-3-09
  • GOP, Rep. Lynn Jenkins: Obama’s first 100 days all spending, taxing: Republicans say President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office can be summed up in three words: spending, taxing, borrowing.
    “The plans they’ve passed in the first 100 days will add more to our nation’s public debt than all previous presidents combined in 200-plus years/ They’ve taken away President Obama’s promised middle-class tax cut and paved the way for a new national energy tax to be paid by every American who dares to flip on a light switch.”…
    “This bill was supposed to be about jobs, but it’s gone off the rails in practically no time at all. It’s quickly turning into a symbol of everything wrong with Washington, D.C. — unchecked spending, no accountability and oversight.”…
    “Middle-class families and small businesses across America are tightening their belts and making sacrifices each and every day during this recession, and Republicans believe that it’s time for Washington to do the same.” “We offered a budget that curbs spending, creates jobs by cutting taxes, and controls the debt. We’ve also offered proposals to help rebuild your savings, revitalize the housing market, and create twice as many jobs as the Democrats ‘stimulus’ at half the cost.” – AP, 5-2-09
  • Jeb Bush GOP group launches listening tour to rebrand image: “You can’t beat something with nothing, and the other side has something,” Bush told a group of about 100 people at the Pie-Tanza pizza parlor. “I don’t like it, but they have it and we have to be respectful and mindful of that.” “I hope across the country people will be excited about the prospect of sharing their ideas to bring about a better America,” he said….. – AP, 5-2-09
  • Eric Cantor GOP group launches listening tour to rebrand image: Cantor said he wanted to focus the meeting on “bread and butter” issues such as the rising costs of education and health care, which resonate the most with Americans right now. “These are discussions that need to occur with the American people of any political stripe,” he said. “We need to make sure, the discussions, I believe, should be focused on the principles that have made America great — the principles of freedom and opportunity.” – AP, 5-2-09
  • Obama Pushes for ‘Empathetic’ Supreme Court Justices Conservatives and liberals are sharply divided on Obama’s pledge to tout empathy in selection of Supreme Court justices: “I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook; it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation,” Obama said. “I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.” – Fox News, 5-1-09
  • The President’s Remarks on Justice Souter: ….Now, the process of selecting someone to replace Justice Souter is among my most serious responsibilities as President. So I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity. I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book. It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives — whether they can make a living and care for their families; whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation.
    I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving as just decisions and outcomes. I will seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role. I will seek somebody who shares my respect for constitutional values on which this nation was founded, and who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply them in our time.
    As I make this decision, I intend to consult with members of both parties across the political spectrum. And it is my hope that we can swear in our new Supreme Court Justice in time for him or her to be seated by the first Monday in October when the Court’s new term begins. – WH Blog, 5-1-09
  • Clinton brags on 100-day accomplishments: In the first 100 Days of the Obama administration, Secretary Clinton and the State Department have made significant progress in advancing America’s national security goals and promoting America’s values around the world.
    Secretary Clinton is already the most traveled Secretary of State in a new administration. The Secretary’s trips have included her inaugural trip to Asia, the Middle East and Europe, Mexico and across the border to Texas, the Hague in the Netherlands, Europe with President Obama, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago with President Obama, and to Iraq and Kuwait.
    The work undertaken on these trips, the many bilateral and trilateral meetings hosted by Secretary Clinton, and the tireless efforts of others throughout the State Department have contributed to early and significant progress on the following priorities: Afghanistan/Pakistan policy, the Middle East, Iraq, Asia, Russia, North Korea, the Western Hemisphere, the climate crisis, engaging in public diplomacy, and other core issues…. – State Department 100-Day Report, 5-1-09
  • Chrysler succumbs to bankruptcy after struggle: After months of living on government loans, Chrysler finally succumbed to bankruptcy Thursday, pinning its future on a top-to-bottom reorganization and plans to build cleaner cars through an alliance with Italian automaker Fiat…. “It’s a partnership that will give Chrysler a chance not only to survive, but to thrive in a global auto industry,” President Barack Obama said from the White House…. – AP, 4-30-09
  • Biden’s swine flu remarks put White House on defensive: The day after President Barack Obama urged the flu-worried masses to stay calm, Vice President Joe Biden went off the rails, saying he has urged family members to avoid airplanes and subways. Biden, told NBC’s “Today” show Thursday that he’d tell family members to avoid traveling in “confined spaces.” “It’s not just going to Mexico, if you’re any place in a confined aircraft and one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft,” he told Matt Lauer. “That’s me. I would not be at this point, if they had another way of transportation, suggesting they ride the subway.” Biden’s statement sent federal officials into damage-control mode. Biden’s staff, along with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs, tried to clarify his remark by saying he meant only people who are sick should avoid traveling on planes and trains…. – Newsday, 4-30-09
  • Obama says abortion rights law not a top priority: President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he favored abortion rights for women but that passing a law guaranteeing those rights was not his top priority, trying to avoid inflaming divisions over the issue. “I believe that women should have the right to choose,” Obama told a news conference marking his first 100 days in office. “But I think that the most important thing we can do to tamp down some of the anger surrounding this issue is to focus on those areas that we can agree on…. I would like to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that result in women feeling compelled to get an abortion, or at least considering getting an abortion, particularly if we can reduce the number of teen pregnancies,” Obama said…. Asked about the Freedom of Choice Act at Wednesday’s news conference, Obama said it “is not the highest legislative priority…. My view on … abortion, I think, has been very consistent. I think abortion is a moral issue and an ethical issue.” – Reuters, 4-30-09
  • Michael Reagan “G.O.P. Debate: A Broader Party or a Purer One? “: “I’m not hurt by Arlen Specter walking away,” said Michael Reagan, the son of former President Ronald Reagan and a conservative talk show host. “At least now the party doesn’t waste money supporting someone who does not support the party….It’s interesting that people say the right has taken over the Republican Party — but no one can say what we’ve done. We’ve been closeted for the last eight years; it’s time for the right to come out of the closet.” – NYT, 4-30-09
  • Jill Biden: Celebrating our Teachers: It’s been a really inspiring week in Washington– because the teachers are in town! This week I had the true honor of welcoming some very special guests to Washington DC: the 2009 Teachers of the Year. 55 of them traveled to DC representing all of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense, American Samoa, the Marianna Islands, and the Virgin Islands. I’ve been a teacher for 28 years, so I know how hard these teachers work and was thrilled to meet them and welcome them to our home, the Vice President’s Residence…. – WH Blog, 4-30-09
  • Transcript President Obama’s 100th-Day Press Briefing: Following is a transcript of President Obama’s press briefing as he marks his 100th day in office, as transcribed by Federal News Service…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Obama addresses town hall meeting on 100th day: “I’ve come back to report to you, the American people, that we have begun to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, and we’ve begun the work of remaking America…. I’m confident in the future, but not I’m not content with the present. You know the progress comes from hard choices and hard work, not miracles. I’m not a miracle worker.”
    Obama acknowledged challenges of “unprecedented size and scope,” including the recession. These challenges, he said, could not be met with “half measures.” “They demand action that is bold and sustained. They call on us to clear away the wreckage of a painful recession, But also, at the same time, lay the building blocks for a new prosperity. And that’s the work that we’ve begun over these first 100 days…. There’s no mystery to what we’ve done; the priorities that we’ve acted upon were the things that we said we’d do during the campaign.” – CNN, 4-29-09
  • Day 99: Obama Offers Encouragement To FBI: On his ninety-ninth day in office, President Obama told FBI employees Americans “are counting on you.” He offered plaudits to the bureau and urged employees to stay “one step ahead of all who step outside of the law.” “With the attacks of 9/11, your mission became focused more than ever before on prevention, so that we have the capacity to uncover terrorist plots before they take hold,” he said. “With the spread of new technologies you increasingly confronted adversaries in unconventional areas, from transnational networks to cybercrimes and espionage.” In a letter, the president also asked Congress for $1.5 billion to fight swine flu as concerns about domestic infection rates grew. And he honored Teacher Of The Year Anthony Mullen in his first Rose Garden ceremony. “I’m a big fan of teachers because every single day in classrooms all across America, you are making a difference,” he said. “You don’t always get the recognition that you deserve. We don’t always value the teaching profession like we should.”… – CBS News, 4-28-09
  • Patrick Leahy: Voting Rights Act still has work to do for states Today the U.S. Supreme Court will consider a case challenging the constitutional authority of Congress to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Three years ago, the Senate and House of Representatives overwhelmingly reauthorized expiring provisions of this critical civil rights law. The challenge brought today before the nation’s highest court threatens to undermine one of the nation’s premier laws protecting the right to vote…. – AJC, 4-29-09
  • Clinton tells nations US acting on climate change: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that any agreement to combat global warming should require developing countries like India and China to reduce emissions, a position that prevented former President George W. Bush from signing an international pact.
    “There is no sense in negotiating an agreement if it will have no practical impact in reducing emissions to safer levels,” Clinton told the participants at the start of the two-day meeting. “So we all have to do our part, and we need to be creative and think hard about what will work in order for us to achieve the outcomes we hope for.”… – AP, 4-27-09
  • Clinton lends political clout to McAuliffe’s bid for governor: “Look, everyone knows he’s one of my closest friends,” the 42nd president said at a rally at a downtown farmer’s market. “So look, I’d be here regardless. Everyone knows that. “The press says, ‘Oh well, Terry McAuliffe has raised millions of dollars for Bill Clinton. He has to show up.’ And that’s absolutely true,” Clinton told the crowd. “… But here’s what I really want to tell you,” he said. “I am here today for reasons that go way, way beyond that.” “He was made for this moment,” Clinton said. “He’s been a great businessman. He’s been a tremendously effective political leader. He has energy, he’s creative, and he cares.”… – The Virginian-Pilot, 4-28-09
  • Reid says Obama told him, ‘I have a gift’: Everyone knows President Barack Obama can deliver a great speech, including the president himself, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The paperback version of Reid’s book, “The Good Fight,” is coming out May 5 with an epilogue called “The Obama Era.” Reid said he was impressed when Obama, then a freshman senator from Illinois, delivered a speech about President George W. Bush’s war policy. Reid, D-Nev., writes: “‘That speech was phenomenal, Barack,’ I told him. And I will never forget his response. Without the barest hint of braggadocio or conceit, and with what I would describe as deep humility, he said quietly: ‘I have a gift, Harry.'”… – AP, 4-27-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President discusses H1N1 Flu

Historians’ Comments

  • Paul Light “It’s all on Obama now”: “It is now absolutely his economy,” said Paul Light, a New York University professor who specializes in presidential transitions. “I don’t think that the public will continue to believe that this was all George W. Bush’s doing. And every day that goes by, it becomes more Obama’s than Bush’s.” – LAT, 5-3-09
  • SAM TANENHAUS: 100 Days in the Footsteps of F.D.R. and L.B.J.: In American politics, the symbolic and the concrete are seldom far apart. Consider the fanfare surrounding President Barack Obama’s 100th day in office…. For now, Mr. Obama seems tobe holding the New Deal and the Great Society models in careful balance. At his news conference on Wednesday, he struck a decidedly Rooseveltian note. When asked what he would do to help racial minorities, he replied, “Keep in mind that every step we’re taking is designed to help all people.” Although blacks and Latinos would benefit from his programs, it was only because they were the “most vulnerable” in bad economic times. But in an interview in The New York Times Magazine, published today, Mr. Obama sounded more like Johnson when he talked of making sure that “prosperity is spread across the spectrum of regions and occupations and genders and races.” These strains of liberalism are not incompatible. But they are not identical. The question is whether Mr. Obama will be forced to choose between them in the days ahead or be able to fuse them into a single vision. NYT, 5-3-09
  • Debbie Walsh “First 100 Days: Michelle Obama Has Big Shoes to Fill, But So Far is Walking in Stride” In her first 100 days as first lady, Michelle Obama has stayed busy, reaching out to military families, serving in soup kitchens, visiting Washington public schools and health care facilities and inviting children to the White House. But she has yet to decide her niche: “She has the potential to be a powerful voice for the issues that working families confront and the juggling that working parents have to do,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “There are a whole host of issues that go with working families. We have to see where that goes.” Walsh said Obama epitomizes how the role of first lady is evolving. “I think first ladies 50 or 60 years ago were lifelong helpmates,” she said, explaining that it was a reflection of the times when women traditionally stayed at home…. “I personally am willing to cut her slack if she hasn’t transformed the world for working families yet,” Walsh said. “She’s carving out a focus.” “It’s a let’s-wait-and-see mode, and every indication is she is planning to use her position as first lady to advocate for these positions.” – Fox News, 4-28-09
  • Myra Gutin “First 100 Days: Michelle Obama Has Big Shoes to Fill, But So Far is Walking in Stride” In her first 100 days as first lady, Michelle Obama has stayed busy, reaching out to military families, serving in soup kitchens, visiting Washington public schools and health care facilities and inviting children to the White House. But she has yet to decide her niche: “Hillary Clinton is kind of a special case,” said Myra Gutin, a first lady historian and professor of communications at Rider University. “She was the only first lady to have an office in the West Wing,” where she had 600 employees under her…. “Some of them have a long history,” Gutin said. “That’s not the case with Mrs. Obama.” Gutin said she believes Obama can achieve a lot by working with military families, a focus that will allow her to avoid more controversial subjects. “It would seem not to carry a lot of political risk for her husband,” she said…. Gutin said regardless of what Obama chooses, she thinks she is doing a “great” job so far. “I think she came from a place a year ago where we didn’t think she was going to do quite as well,” she said, referring to comments last year in which Mrs. Obama said she had not as an adult been proud of her country until she saw the public’s reaction to her husband’s candidacy. – Fox News, 4-28-09
  • Carl Anthony “First 100 Days: Michelle Obama Has Big Shoes to Fill, But So Far is Walking in Stride” In her first 100 days as first lady, Michelle Obama has stayed busy, reaching out to military families, serving in soup kitchens, visiting Washington public schools and health care facilities and inviting children to the White House. But she has yet to decide her niche: “It offends me, to tell you the truth,” said Carl Anthony, a historian at the National First Ladies’ Library. “I think it’s more endemic of a problem in our culture. It’s eating dessert and thinking it’s dinner.” Anthony said one of Obama’s biggest challenges may be to draw more attention to her substance “She’s a very powerful public speaker,” he said. “If she were to get out and speak with heart and get behind a particular issue, I think the media will focus on her substantive elements, other than the style.”… Some attribute her performance so far to her awareness of the significance of being the first black first lady. “I think as a result of that, she wanted to be very cautious,” said Anthony, of the first ladies library. “I think she’s wanted to really make sure she didn’t have one misstep.” – Fox News, 4-28-09
  • OLYMPIA SNOWE: We Didn’t Have to Lose Arlen Specter: IT is disheartening and disconcerting, at the very least, that here we are today — almost exactly eight years after Senator Jim Jeffords left the Republican Party — witnessing the departure of my good friend and fellow moderate Republican, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, for the Democratic Party. And the announcement of his switch was all the more painful because I believe it didn’t have to be this way…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Give Obama an ‘incomplete'”: When President Obama moved into the White House, press speculation immediately began about what his first 100 days would look like. Journalists as well as scholars looked to history to speculate about which models of presidential leadership he might follow. As we reach the end of the first 100 days this week, Obama remains much of a mystery. If we are talking grades, the best we can give him at this point is an “incomplete.”…
    We’ll have to see what happens in the second and third 100 days, which are perhaps more instructive in evaluating a presidency as the shine from the election fades and political tensions over the details of an administration’s agenda harden. It is then that we’ll gain a better sense of whether Obama will be able to sustain the momentum of the first 100 days as did FDR, culminating in the 1936 election landslide, or whether he will lose the political strength from these early days, as was the case with Carter. – CNN, 4-27-09
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April 2, 2009: Obama in Europe, Online Town Hall and Budget passed by House

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

Pool photo by John Stillwell President and Mrs. Obama with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh during an audience at Buckingham Palace

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • Poll: Dodd’s approval numbers drop to new lows: Slipping below a 50 percent approval rating is often considered a red flag for incumbents. Quinnipiac Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said Dodd’s 33 percent approval rating, a dip from 44 percent in a March 10 poll, is “especially devastating.” “A 33 percent job approval is unheard of for a 30-year incumbent, especially a Democrat in a blue state,” Schwartz said. – AP, 4-2-09
  • CNN POLL: Some 51 percent of Americans now oppose the Afghanistan war, and 64 percent of Democrats do. – CNN, 3-28-09
  • BRENT BOZELL III: Washington Polling Games: It has become almost amusing, watching how the so-called “news” media are manipulating their own polls to keep the political weather sunny for their hero. The Washington Post kicked off President Barack Obama’s European trip with the headline “Blame For Downturn Not Fixed on Obama.” Of course, what was “fixed” was the poll itself …. This is one important reason why newspapers are on shaky financial ground. Washington Post readers who are not completely on the Obama bandwagon should see the discrepancies described here and feel completely manipulated. The Post is loading on the bias, coming and going, manipulating the polls after it paints pretty presidential pictures on the front page. – Wall Street Journal, 4-1-09
  • Media: Obama’s London Sojourn Nothing Like Bush’s: President Obama’s European trip receives mostly positive coverage in this morning’s newspapers, with many articles contrasting his reception with that given to former President Bush in previous years….ABC World News, meanwhile, reported that “according to our ABC News/Washington Post poll, 43% of Americans say the country’s image abroad is improving under…Obama. That number was just 10% under President Bush.” The President “continues to get high marks at home, as well, 64% say they are confident the President’s programs will improve the economy.” – US News & World Report, 4-1-09
  • U.S. voters don’t blame Obama for economy: U.S. President Barack Obama benefits from a broadly held perception that others bear the bulk of responsibility for state of the U.S. economy, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll published on Tuesday…. – Reuters, 3-30-09
  • Experts: Bias didn’t skew NH polls against Clinton: olling that ended too early and other technical shortcomings — rather than undetected racial bias — are the likeliest reasons so many surveys incorrectly suggested Barack Obama would defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary, a report concluded Monday. Clinton defeated Obama 39 percent to 36 percent in the Jan. 8, 2008, contest, even though many pre-primary polls showed Obama with solid leads. Clinton’s victory gave her a badly needed burst of momentum just five days after Obama won a surprising victory in the Iowa caucuses, the year’s first presidential contest. – AP, 3-30-09

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown

White House Photo, 4/2/09, Chuck Kennedy

London G20

Read the President’s remarks on progress at the G-20 Summit, or watch his press conference with Prime Minister Brown beforehand.

Read the Remarks
Watch the Video

Vice President Biden in Latin America

White House Photo, 3/28/09, David Lienemann

Biden in Latin America

The Vice President returns from Latin America, where he urged a new era of cooperation.
Read his remarks and see the photos.

Learn more
Learn more

President Barack Obama delivers remarks about the American automotive industry in the Grand Foyer.

The Headlines…

  • House, in Party-Line Vote, Passes Obama’s Budget Democrats Make Some Changes to $3.6 Trillion Plan but Maintain President’s Priorities on Health Care, Energy: The House Thursday approved a 2010 budget that includes President Barack Obama’s biggest priorities, giving the president a significant victory as he tries to shift the government’s direction from the Bush era. Democrats made some changes in Mr. Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget, but like the Senate, which also moved to approve the budget Thursday night, the House kept intact Mr. Obama’s plans for major spending on health care, energy and education.
    The House vote Thursday was 233-196, with 20 Democrats dissenting. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) made a point of announcing the vote total herself. As with the economic stimulus package, no House Republican voted for the Democratic plan. – WSJ, 4-2-09
  • Obama’s star shines bright in London: Maybe it should have been called the O-20. Just over two months into his presidency, Barack Obama commanded center stage at this high-wattage gathering of the world’s industrialized nations, vacuuming up attention both inside the summit and throughout a sophisticated city not easily star-struck. Obama proclaimed at the end of the conference that his country would be more humble in the world, but there was nothing modest about the attention he received. His profile was so immense that it threatened to diminish both the global summit itself and the protests taking place on the streets of London. – Politico, 4-2-09
  • Obama turns to survey researcher for census post: President Barack Obama on Thursday selected Robert M. Groves to be the next census director, turning to a survey researcher who has clashed with Republicans over the use of statistical sampling to lead the high-stakes head count. The White House announced Obama’s intention to nominate Groves, a former Census Bureau associate director of statistical design from 1990-92. If confirmed by the Senate, Groves will take the helm less than a year before the census, which has been beset by partisan bickering and will be used to apportion House seats and allocate billions in federal dollars. – AP, 4-2-09
  • HHS nominee on track for confirmation by Senate: Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius stepped around potential land mines on abortion and her own tax errors Thursday as she testified at a hearing en route to her expected confirmation as health and human services secretary. – AP, 4-2-09
  • Obama issues warning as North Korea readies rocket: As North Korea fueled a multistage rocket Thursday for its threatened satellite launch, President Barack Obama promised a “stern” response and Japan vowed to press for an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council. Senior U.S. defense officials said that trailers and vehicles carrying rocket propellant were in place at North Korea’s coastal launch site and that fueling had begun…. – AP, 4-2-09
  • Key players in the indictment against Blagojevich: The federal indictment of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and five co-defendants charges they conspired to trade official government action for Blagojevich’s political or personal gain involve a variety of characters…. – AP, 4-2-09
  • Obama seems everywhere as he takes global stage: He talked nuclear threats with Russia’s president and gave an iPod to the queen. And that was only the beginning. It was an eventful first day on the world stage for President Barack Obama, launching new arms control talks, placing China ties on fresh footing and calming fears about the ailing U.S. economy — seemingly everywhere, relaxed and smiling all the while. While wife Michelle attracted breathless attention with every stop, fashionable outfit and sip of tea. AP, 4-1-09
  • On the White House Eyes of the World Are on Obama: The rapid political rise of Barack Obama can be gauged in many ways, but one of the best measures can perhaps be found in London, on the front stoop of No. 10 Downing Street…. That scene was magnified yet again on Wednesday. This time, after meeting for two hours inside No. 10 with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Mr. Obama held forth at a press conference that was televised live on both sides of the Atlantic…. – NYT, 4-1-09
  • Obama presents Queen Elizabeth II with an iPod: Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t the only one on President Barack Obama’s gift list Wednesday. He gave presents to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s wife, Sarah, and their two sons, too…. – AP, 4-1-09
  • Govt. seeks to reverse Ted Stevens’ conviction: Faced with embarrassing revelations about withheld evidence, the Justice Department on Wednesday moved to reverse the conviction of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who lost his bid for re-election just days after a jury found that he had lied about gifts and home renovations. – “I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. He said the department must ensure that all cases are “handled fairly and consistent with its commitment to justice.” – AP, 4-1-09
  • Absentees could decide House race in New York: A special election to fill a U.S. Congressional seat vacated after Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State was too close to call on Wednesday and will likely be determined by absentee ballots in the next few weeks. Seen by some as an early gauge of support for the policies of President Barack Obama, Tuesday’s contest pitted Democrat Scott Murphy, a venture capitalist, against Republican Jim Tedisco in a district in northeastern New York state that has traditionally been strongly Republican. The winner will fill the Congressional seat vacated by Kirsten Gillibrand, a conservative Democrat who was named U.S. Senator to succeed Clinton. Of the votes cast on Tuesday, Murphy, a political novice, led by between 59 and 65 votes, a figure being rechecked on Wednesday, a state Board of Elections spokesman said. Some 154,000 votes were cast. The board said 10,162 outstanding absentee ballots can be returned as late as April 13. – Reuters, 4-1-09
  • House passes new, weaker bill in AIG bonus flap: The House is taking another, albeit weaker, stab at trying to keep bailed-out financial institutions from paying their employees hefty bonuses after lawmakers had second thoughts about their vote two weeks ago to tax the bonuses away. A new bill, which passed 247-171 on Wednesday, would allow the bonuses if the Treasury Department and financial regulators determine they are not “unreasonable or excessive.” – AP, 4-1-09
  • Bidens: Stimulus aid is going out to small towns: About $1.8 billion in federal stimulus money was released Wednesday to help strengthen rural communities by supporting loan guarantees and loosening credit for small-town home buyers, Vice President Joe Biden said. Biden joined Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a daylong tour of eastern North Carolina in the White House’s latest effort to highlight the $787 billion federal stimulus package President Barack Obama signed earlier this year. – AP, 4-1-09
  • Obama, in Europe, Faces Big Challenges to His Agenda: For nearly 30 years, American presidents have arrived at economic summit meetings with nearly identical talking points: the solution to most ailments lies in more economic integration, unleashing free markets and using a light touch to tame capitalism. As President Obama landed here Tuesday night to attend the Group of 20 summit meeting, almost every one of those principles appeared up for debate. – NYT, 3-31-09
  • Desperate world leaders meet on economic woes: The President of the United States, Barack Obama, and first lady Michelle Obama, wave as they walk down the steps from Air Force One at London’s Stansted Airport, ahead of the G20 summit in London. President Obama has arrived in Europe, with a hefty economic and political agenda for his first journey across the Atlantic since taking office two months ago. Obama’s focus is a G-20 meeting of the world’s major economic powers and a NATO summit marking the 60 years since the alliance was founded to blunt Soviet aggression in Europe.
    Desperate but divided on ways to lift their nations from economic misery, world leaders converged for an emergency summit Tuesday holding scant hopes of finding a magic-bullet solution for the crisis that brought them hurrying to London. – AP, 3-31-09
  • Pakistani Taliban threatens attack on White House: Pakistan’s Taliban chief claimed responsibility Tuesday for a deadly assault on a police academy, saying he wanted to retaliate for U.S. missile attacks on the militant bases on the border with Afghanistan. Baitullah Mehsud, who has a $5 million bounty on his head from the United States, also vowed to “amaze everyone in the world” with an attack on Washington or even the White House…. – AP, 3-31-09
  • Today’s election could inspire high turnout: While special elections typically garner below-average turnout, today’s contest between candidates in the 20th Congressional District may buck the trend. After a 45-day campaign for the congressional seat vacated when Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate, Republican James Tedisco and Democrat Scott Murphy could see higher voter numbers because of a conflagration of state and national events. – Saratogian, 3-31-09
  • NYT, 3-31-09
  • In reversal, U.S. to join U.N. rights council: The United States will seek to join the U.N. Human Rights Council, reversing the U.S. policy of shunning the group. On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced it would participate in May elections for a seat on the 47-member council, prompting concern among some Jewish groups. The Bush administration had withheld U.S. membership from the Geneva-based council for its failure to confront human rights abusers and its singling out of Israel for condemnation. –
  • Sebelius admits errors, pays $7,000 in back taxes: Health and Human Services nominee Kathleen Sebelius recently corrected three years of tax returns and paid more than $7,000 in back taxes after finding “unintentional errors” — the latest tax troubles for an Obama administration nominee. The Kansas governor explained the changes to senators in a letter dated Tuesday that the administration released. She said they involved charitable contributions, the sale of a home and business expenses…. – AP, 3-31-09
  • US, Iranian diplomats break the ice at conference: In a cautious first step toward unlocking 30 years of tense relations, senior U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke had a brief but cordial meeting with Iran’s deputy foreign minister Tuesday at an international conference on Afghanistan… U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton cautioned that the talks between Holbrooke and Iranian diplomat Mehdi Akhundzadeh were promising but not “substantive.”… – AP, 3-31-09
  • Obama asserts gov’t control over the auto industry: President Barack Obama asserted unprecedented government control over the auto industry Monday, bluntly rejecting turnaround plans by General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, demanding fresh concessions for long-term federal aid and raising the possibility of quick bankruptcy for either ailing auto giant…
    “I am absolutely committed to working with Congress and the auto companies to meet one goal: The United States of America will lead the world in building the next generation of clean cars,” Obama said in his first extended remarks on the industry since taking office nearly 10 weeks ago. And yet, he added, “our auto industry is not moving in the right direction fast enough to succeed.” – AP, 3-31-09
  • Obama takes step over the line that separates government from private industry: His automaker bailout plan wades into ‘industrial policy,’ in which government officials, not business executives or the free market, decide what products a firm makes and how it charts its future…. – LAT, 3-30-09
  • Critics call Senate’s proposed cuts ‘devastating’: Education and health-care advocates decried the first budget out of the Legislature Monday, calling the Senate’s cuts to public schools, higher education and state health-care plans devastating…. – Seattle PI, 3-30-09
  • Congressional election in NY seen as economic test: The first U.S. Congressional election since President Barack Obama took office on January 20 will be held on Tuesday and may indicate what voters think of his handling of the financial crisis, political experts say…. – Reuters, 3-30-09
  • GOP gleeful at prospects for 2010: Republican strategists eager to rebuild the party and regain voter confidence see the comeback road running over a number of unpopular Democratic governorships on a playing field that favors making statehouse gains in traditionally Republican red states. – Washington Times, 3-30-09
  • Romney’s work puts him in 2012 political spotlight: Mitt Romney doesn’t have a job for the first time in his adult life. That hardly means he’s not working. In ways both subtle and overt, the 2008 Republican presidential contender, former Massachusetts governor, one-time Olympics chief and high-flying businessman is building toward a 2012 White House campaign by judiciously engaging and disengaging with the national debate. – AP, 3-30-09
  • Obama heads overseas to tackle world economy: After 10 weeks in office trying to save the U.S. economy, President Obama is ready to take on the world economy. Whether the world is ready for his remedy remains in doubt. Obama flies to London on Tuesday, then on to four other nations, for his first overseas trip since assuming office and with the global economy in shambles. It’s one of the most anticipated presidential trips since John Kennedy went to Berlin in 1963. – USA Today, 3-29-09
  • Merkel Is Ready to Greet, and Then Resist, Obama: Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, an avowed friend of the United States and the leader of the European Union’s biggest economy, is diplomatic about the coming visit by President Obama. But she is clear that she is not about to give ground on new stimulus spending, stressing the need to maintain fiscal discipline even as she professes to want to work closely with the new American president. – NYT, 3-29-09
  • Administration Delays Change to Military’s ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Policy: Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the military has too much on its plate right now to alter the policy of relieving openly gay service members from duty. – Fox News, 3-29-09
  • McCain: Let’s see who runs in 2012: Sen. John McCain isn’t committing to supporting his vice presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, if she runs for president in 2012. McCain — the GOP’s presidential nominee last year — says he wants to see who the other candidates are and what the situation might be. – AP, 3-29-09
  • GM CEO Wagoner to step down at White House request: General Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will step down immediately at the request of the White House, administration officials said Sunday. The news comes as President Obama prepares to unveil additional restructuring efforts designed to save the domestic auto industry…. – AP, 3-29-09
  • Obama seeks to rein in Wall Street, broaden agenda: President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are stepping through an economic minefield and sowing the ground with unprecedented initiatives that capitalize on the recession to rein in Wall Street and broaden government’s reach….
    “This budget is inseparable from this recovery, because it is what lays the foundation for a secure and lasting prosperity,” he said during his prime-time press conference Tuesday.
    Sen. Judd Gregg, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, used his party’s weekly radio address Saturday to slam Obama’s grand spending plans. “We believe you create prosperity by having an affordable government that pursues its responsibilities without excessive costs, taxes or debt.” said Gregg, R-N.H.- AP, 3-29-09
  • Seeking the inside track in bellwether race: Murphy, Tedisco stump amid signs of national interest in 20th contest… Democrat Scott Murphy and Republican Jim Tedisco attempted to energize their political bases Sunday in the sprint before Tuesday’s special election to fill Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand’s 20th Congressional District seat…. – Times Union, 3-29-09
  • Obama Will Face a Defiant World on Foreign Visit: President Obama is facing challenges to American power on multiple fronts as he prepares for his first trip overseas since taking office, with the nation’s economic woes emboldening allies and adversaries alike. Despite his immense popularity around the world, Mr. Obama will confront resentment over American-style capitalism and resistance to his economic prescriptions when he lands in London on Tuesday for the Group of 20 summit meeting of industrial and emerging market nations plus the European Union. – NYT, 3-28-09
  • Sen. Gregg no longer in Obama’s corner: Last month, New Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg agreed to join President Barack Obama’s cabinet as Commerce Secretary, but then he abruptly withdrew his name, saying he and the president were “functioning from a different set of views on many different items of policy.” Saturday, Gregg drove the point home when he warned that Obama is engineering an “extraordinary move of our government to the left.” – Kansas City Star, 3-28-09
  • Bank execs vow to work with Obama on recovery plan: Top executives of the nation’s biggest banks said Friday after meeting with President Barack Obama that they will work with the administration on its economic recovery plans, but want more specifics from the White House.
    In an interview with CBS News, Obama said his overarching message was this: “Show some restraint. Show that you get that this is a crisis and everybody has to make sacrifices. They agreed and they recognized it. Now, the proof in the pudding is in the eating.” – AP, 3-28-09
  • Classic Clinton Phrase Inspires New GOP Strategy to Regain Power: Republicans appear to be crafting their own version of Bill Clinton’s legendary campaign phrase in an effort to recapture both chambers in Congress next year: Sixteen years ago, Bill Clinton surged to an improbable presidential victory over incumbent George H.W. Bush, primarily on the strength of a snarky campaign phrase: “It’s the economy, stupid.” Now, Republicans appear to be crafting their own version in an effort to recapture both chambers in Congress next year. Their message: President Obama’s fiscal policy “spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much.” – – Fox News, 3-28-09
  • Obama calls major economies climate change meeting: President Barack Obama is launching a “Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate” to help facilitate a U.N. agreement on global warming, the White House said on Saturday. Leaders from 16 major economies have been invited to a preparatory session on April 27 and 28 in Washington to “help generate the political leadership necessary” to achieve an international pact to cut greenhouse gas emissions later this year, it said in a statement. – Reuters, 3-28-09
  • Obama moves to fill 3 more slots at Treasury: President Barack Obama on Saturday moved to fill three top Treasury Department positions, seeking to give Secretary Tim Geithner added manpower at an agency that has been slow to fill vacancies. Helen Elizabeth Garrett, a University of Southern California vice president for academic planning, is being nominated to be assistant secretary for tax policy. Also selected for slots were Michael S. Barr to be assistant secretary for financial institutions, and George W. Madison for general counsel. – AP, 3-28-09
  • Ire at Wall St. Bonuses Is Now Factor in House Race: The race for the 20th Congressional District seat has never been solely about the concerns of the residents of the 10 mostly rural counties in the district. Nationally, Republicans have sent in money and campaign workers, hoping to recapture the seat and post their first victory since November’s blowout election…. – NYT, 3-28-09
  • US health insurance mandate gains support: Support grew on Friday for insurance industry demands that all Americans be required to obtain coverage as part of a planned healthcare system overhaul, with a senior Senate Democrat and a coalition of business and … Reuters, 3-28-09
  • U.S. Expected to Give More Financing to Automakers: The Obama administration will probably extend more short-term aid to General Motors and Chrysler on Monday, but will impose a strict deadline for bondholders and union workers to make concessions that would help the ailing automakers become viable businesses and avert bankruptcy. – NYT, 3-27-09
  • Sources: More US troops for Afghan war: Confronting an inherited and faltering war, President Barack Obama plans to dispatch thousands more military and civilian trainers to Afghanistan by the fall on top of the 17,000 combat troops he has already ordered, senior administration officials said Thursday. Obama’s war strategy, which he plans to announce Friday, includes no timeline for withdrawal of troops. The war began more than seven years ago. – AP, 3-27-09
  • Financial overhaul plan draws GOP opposition: The Obama administration’s aggressive plan for strict scrutiny of hedge funds and other freewheeling investors, part of the biggest expansion of financial restraints since the Great Depression, is drawing instant opposition from Republican lawmakers and the rules’ targets. And skeptics are questioning whether the new rulebook would work anyway…. – AP, 3-27-09
  • Obama nominates ex-Miss. gov for Navy post: President Barack Obama has nominated former Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus (MAY’-bus) to be the secretary of the Navy. The White House made the announcement in a statement Friday. – AP, 3-27-09
  • Key Senate panel backs Obama’s budget blueprint: A key Senate panel stacked with allies of President Barack Obama approved his ambitious budget blueprint Thursday, giving the president a symbolic endorsement of efforts to boost clean energy, fight global warming and improve access to health care. Senate Budget Committee approval by a party-line vote sets the stage for floor debate next week, where moderate Democrats unhappy with deficits wield more influence. The Senate measure is a nonbinding road map for major legislation later this year on health care, energy and education. – AP, 3-26-09
  • Senate Democrats move ahead with budget plan: Senate Budget Democrats approve $3.41 trillion plan
    Republicans offer budget alternative with few details
    Senate budget panel rejects attempt to cut some spending
    Democrats in the U.S. Congress on Thursday pushed forward President Barack Obama’s $3.55 trillion budget proposal with minor changes, brushing aside Republican attempts to slash spending and taxes…. – Reuters, 3-26-09
  • Obama to meet bank CEOs to discuss economic crisis: President Barack Obama will quiz top U.S. bankers on Friday about developments in the economy and their businesses as his administration seeks broader authority to regulate the financial system…. – Reuters, 3-26-09
  • Obama seizes bully pulpit online to pitch budget: President Barack Obama seized the bully pulpit Thursday and reprised the best of his acclaimed campaign skills in an unprecedented Internet town hall from the White House — a direct sales pitch for Americans to get behind his $3.6 trillion budget and be patient as he tries to right the tottering economy. After an opening statement and declaring, “This isn’t about me, it’s about you,” Obama took up a microphone and strolled the ornate East Room, playing to an audience of 100 invited guests and what the White House said were an estimated 67,000 people watching him in cyberspace. – AP, 3-26-09
  • Obama Makes History in Live Internet Video Chat: The White House said more than 64,000 people watched President Obama answer questions on Thursday in the first live Internet video chat by an American president. But in declaring itself “Open for Questions,” on the economy, the White House learned it must be careful what it wishes for. “I don’t know what this says about the online audience,” Mr. Obama said, drawing a laugh from an audience gathered in the East Room, which included teachers, nurses and small-business people. “The answer is no, I don’t think that is a good strategy to grow the economy.” NYT, 3-26-09
  • Tough financial rules proposed — will they work?: The Obama administration’s aggressive plan for strict scrutiny of hedge funds and other freewheeling investors, part of the biggest expansion of financial restraints since the Great Depression, is drawing instant opposition from Republican lawmakers and the rules’ targets. And skeptics are questioning whether the new rulebook would work anyway…. – AP, 3-26-09
  • Congress OKs lands bill: After a long and twisted path through Congress, the House on Wednesday finally passed and sent to President Barack Obama a massive package of 170 public lands bills — including several affecting Utah — that would create 2 million acres of wilderness nationwide…. – Deseret News, 3-25-09
  • Obama Turns to Web to Bypass News Media: Call it Round Two of the news conference, with a big Internet twist. President Barack Obama took questions from the White House press corps on Tuesday in a prime-time, East Room session that represented the most formal and time-honored of president-and-reporter interactions. On Thursday, he is taking to that same room for another public grilling — this time by regular folks armed with questions submitted via the Internet and in person, as part of a political strategy to engage Americans directly. – AP, 3-26-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

President Obama and Prime Minister Brown at a Press Conference

(President Barack Obama is joined by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at a joint news conference Wednesday, April 1, 2009, at the Foreign Commonwealth Office in London.
White House Photo/Chuck Kennedy)

Political Quotes

  • The House Passes the Budget: “Tonight, the House of Representatives took another step toward rebuilding our struggling economy. This budget resolution embraces our most fundamental priorities: an energy plan that will end our dependence on foreign oil and spur a new clean energy economy; an education system that will ensure our children will be able to compete in the economy of the 21st century; and health care reform that finally confronts the back-breaking costs plaguing families, businesses and government alike. And by making hard choices and challenging the old ways of doing business, we will cut in half the budget deficit we inherited within four years. With this vote comes an obligation to pursue our efforts to go through the budget line-by-line, searching for additional savings. Like the families we serve, we must cut the things we don’t need to invest in those we do.” – WH Blog, 4-2-09
  • House, in Party-Line Vote, Passes Obama’s Budget Democrats Make Some Changes to $3.6 Trillion Plan but Maintain President’s Priorities on Health Care, Energy: “Have we inherited a mess? Yes,” said Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), the top Republican on the House Budget Committee. “The question is, are we making it better or are we making it worse? I would suggest that the budget before us makes it so much worse.” Like other Republicans, Mr. Ryan decried the Democrats’ budget for its spending and deficits. “This is reckless spending,” Mr. Ryan said. “We are spending like drunken sailors. Wait, I apologize to the drunken sailors of America for that comment.” – WSJ, 4-2-09
  • Huckabee says his remark made McAuliffe ‘break down and cry’: “As someone who served as a Governor for 10 years, I can say if these are the type of things Terry McAuliffe worries about and make him break down and cry, then he won’t last 10 days as Governor much less four years and he doesn’t deserve the people of Virginia’s vote,” Huckabee said in a statement to CNN. – CNN, 4-2-09
  • First lady greeted by shrieks, tears at school: “All of you are jewels, you are precious and you touch my heart,” she said, as she appeared to be trying to hold back tears. “And it is important for the world to know that there are wonderful girls like you all over the world.” Mrs. Obama stressed the importance of getting a good education and called the students the “women that will build the world as it should be.” “By getting a good education, you too can create your own destiny,” Mrs. Obama said. “I never cut class. I like being smart. I thought being smart was the coolest thing in the world.”… – CNN, 4-2-09
  • Barack Obama “A Turning Point”: Today, we’ve learned the lessons of history. I know that in the days leading up to the summit, some of you in the press, some commentators, confused honest and open debate with irreconcilable differences. But after weeks of preparation, and two days of careful negotiation, we have agreed on a series of unprecedented steps to restore growth and prevent a crisis like this from happening again.
    To prevent future crises, we agreed to increased transparency and capital protections for financial institutions. We’re extending supervision to all systemically important institutions, markets and products, including hedge funds. We’ll identify jurisdictions that fail to cooperate, including tax havens, and take action to defend our financial system. We will reestablish the Financial Stability Forum with a stronger mandate. And we will reform and expand the IMF and World Bank so they are more efficient, effective and representative. WH Blog, 4-2-09
  • Huckabee to Va. GOP backers: Flatten Dem voters’ tires: At the GOP event, Huckabee, grinning, told supporters they had two Election Day duties: “One, get all those people who are going to vote for Bob out to the polls and vote. If they’re not going to vote for Bob, you have another job. Let the air out of their tires and do not let them out of their driveway on Election Day,” Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, said with a wide grin as rising laughter is heard on the video. “Keep ’em home. Do the Lord’s work, my friend.” – AP, 4-2-09
  • How the G-20 Succeeded — And Why It Matters: “This is the day that the world came together to fight back against the global recession, not with words but with a plan for global recovery and for reform and with a clear timetable for its delivery,” declared the summit host, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. – AP, 4-2-09
  • How the G-20 Succeeded — And Why It Matters: Speaking of the agreements reached on tighter regulation of financial markets and institutions, French President Nicolas Sarkozy bigged up his own role in agitating for the measures: “That our Anglo-Saxon friends accepted all of this represents immense progress,” he said, adding that “while there were moments of tension, we never thought we’d obtain such a big deal.” – AP, 4-2-09
  • Morning in London: President Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown held a joint press conference following a working meeting: Well, I think if you pulled quotes from 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, from previous news reports, you might find similar contentions that America was on decline. And somehow it hasn’t worked out that way, because I think that there is a vibrancy to our economic model, a durability to our political model, and a set of ideals that has sustained us through even the most difficult times.
    Now, with respect to the current crisis, I think that there is no doubt that at a time when the world is fearful, that there is a strong tendency to look for somebody to blame. And I think that given our prominence in the world financial system, it’s natural that questions are asked — some of them very legitimate — about how we have participated in global financial markets.
    Having said that, I am absolutely confident that this meeting will reflect enormous consensus about the need to work in concert to deal with these problems. I think that the separation between the various parties involved has been vastly overstated. If you look at where there has been the biggest debate, and I think that the press has fastened on this as a ongoing narrative — this whole issue of fiscal stimulus. And the fact of the matter is, is that almost every country that’s participating in this summit has engaged in fiscal stimulus. The ones that are perceived as being resistant to fiscal stimulus have done significant fiscal stimulus. There has not been a dispute about the need for government to act in the face of a rapidly contracting set of markets and very high unemployment. – WH Blog, 4-1-09 Transcript
  • Obama administration takes lead in reshaping automakers: “I am absolutely committed to working with Congress and the auto companies to meet one goal,” Obama said: “The United States of America will lead the world in building the next generation of clean cars.” – Chicago Tribune, 3-31-09
  • Obama administration takes lead in reshaping automakers: “When did the president become an expert in strategic corporate management?” said Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.). “The federal government is famous for its mismanagement, yet this administration continues to demonstrate its certainty that Washington always knows best.” – Chicago Tribune, 3-31-09
  • Obama administration takes lead in reshaping automakers: Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) called it a “power grab” that “should send a chill through those who believe in free enterprise.” – Chicago Tribune, 3-31-09
  • RJC Executive Director Matthew Brooks: “In an in-depth article in the April 6, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, investigative reporter Seymour M. Hersh states that Carter has met with President Obama to discuss foreign policy, and that the administration was aware of Carter’s trip to Syria in December 2008. Carter is calling for broader U.S.-Syrian relations….
    “Former President Carter has never been perceived as a friend of Israel,” Brooks continued. “In the years since his presidency, Carter has been openly hostile to Israel and has shown a naïve grasp of the realities in the Middle East…. – 3-31-09
  • Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., quickly issued a statement supporting Sebelius: “Congress is going to need a strong partner at the Department of Health and Human Services to achieve comprehensive health reform this year, and we have that partner in Gov. Sebelius,” Baucus said. “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Gov. Sebelius has the political experience, determination, and bipartisan work ethic to get the job done with Congress this year. She’s the right person for the job.” – AP, 3-31-09
  • Meghan McCain: Is Schock the GOP’s Mr. Right?: “The first time I ever heard of Congressman Aaron Schock, I was hanging out with some friends during a girls’ night in, and one of my friends yelled to me from the other room: ‘Meghan, there’s a congressman on TMZ,'” Meghan McCain writes Tuesday in her latest blog post for the Daily Beast. “To which I answered: ‘Twenty bucks he’s a Democrat.’ Well, I was wrong.” “….At the end of the day, Congressman Schock is only three years older than me. Which means he can relay a message in ways my father never could,” she says. “As someone who has been personally attacked when I invited political discourse, I firmly believe that talking about our differences — instead of mudslinging — can only bring people closer to the Republican Party and force them to take a second look at their candidates,” she writes. McCain says the “congressman-turned-TMZ-hottie” may be the cure for what ails the GOP: “If nothing else, in an Obama-crazed land, he is getting people’s attention and putting another fresh face at the center of what it is too often perceived as an old-news, boring party.” – CNN, 3-31-09
  • GOP gleeful at prospects for 2010: “We strongly believe the way to revive the Republican Party is to pick up governorships, because the governors are the party leaders in the state and once voters learn they can trust Republicans to govern effectively, they will start voting for Republicans in federal elections as well,” said Mike Schrimpf, the Republican Governors Association’s communications director. – Washington Times, 3-30-09
  • Critics call Senate’s proposed cuts ‘devastating’: “It’s a budget that gets balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable people: Elderly people, low-income people, people who’ve lost their jobs,” said Rebecca Kavoussi, assistant vice-president of government affairs for the Community Health Network of Washington. – Seattle PI, 3-30-09
  • President Barack Obama announcing his new policy for Afganistan, 3-27-09: “So let me be clear. Al-Qaida and its allies — the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks — are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban, or allows al-Qaida to go unchallenged — that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.” – Salon.com, 3-30-09
  • Timothy Geithner on ABC’s “This Week” and NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “Treasury secretary says market won’t solve problem”: “We came through a period where people borrowed too much and we let our financial system take on much too much risk,” Geithner said. “And the consequences of those choices, made over years, were a huge boom. And that boom, the air is now coming out of that and that’s causing enormous damage.”…
    “It’s very important for people to understand that, you know, it took us a long time to get into this mess. It’s going to take us a while to get out of this,” he said. “Progress is not going to be even. It’s not going to be steady.”
    “The market will not solve this. And the great risk for us is we do too little, not that we do too much,” he said….
    “Will never happen. Because we have a strong, independent Fed, with a clear authority from the Congress to keep inflation low at — stable at low levels going forward,” he said.
    “And I knew we were going to face really tough choices,” he said. “We were going to have to do things that are going to be deeply unpopular, hard to understand. We’re not going to get it perfect everywhere. … This job, it comes with a lot of heat by definition and there’s nothing surprising in that.”…
    “I would not spend a penny on helping a bank for the purpose of helping a bank,” said Geithner, taking care with words that can move the markets. “Everything we’re doing is for the people that depend on this financial system. Every time we provide assistance to the financial institutions, it’s only because we need them to do a better job of getting credit to help reduce the risk of a deeper recession.” – AP, 3-29-09
  • President Obama Weekly Address: Crisis and Service: “In the Fargodome, thousands of people gathered not to watch a football game or a rodeo, but to fill sandbags. Volunteers filled 2.5 million of them in just five days, working against the clock, day and night, with tired arms and aching backs. Others braved freezing temperatures, gusting winds, and falling snow to build levees along the river’s banks to help protect against waters that have exceeded record levels.” – WH Blog, 3-28-09 Transcript
  • A New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan: “Today, I am announcing a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. And this marks the conclusion of a careful policy review, led by Bruce [Reidel], that I ordered as soon as I took office….” – WH Blog, 3-27-09
  • President Obama’s Face The Nation Interview: President Obama told Bob Schieffer Friday that he has no illusions about how difficult the task of securing Afghanistan and Pakistan from Al Qaeda influence will be for the United States.
    “This is going to be hard, Bob… I am under no illusions,” he said. “If it was easy it would already have been completed. We’re going to have to go with a strategy that is focused, that is narrowly targeted on defeating al- Qaeda,” the president said. Added Mr. Obama: “We think that if you combine military, civilian, diplomatic, development approaches, if we are doing a much better job coordination with our allies, that we can be successful.” – 3-27-09
  • President Obama’s online town hall: That’s a great question. You know, I had just an extraordinary honor — yesterday was Medal of Honor Day. And I went to Arlington National Cemetery, and we had a ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with a collection of Medal of Honor winners from all our various wars.
    And a special place of honor was a guy named John Finn, who had been present the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. He was on one of the ships, was shot by — was strafed by the fire from the planes coming in, and yet still had the presence of mind to shoot down a plane, and won the Medal of Honor — or was awarded the Medal of Honor for that. And it just reminds you that we wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for the sacrifices of earlier veterans. We would not — (applause) — we would not enjoy the same safety and security and liberty that we do.
    So when our veterans come home from Iraq and Afghanistan — and they have performed brilliantly, they have done everything that’s been asked of them, regardless of what your views are on these wars — they have earned these benefits that all too often we fail to give them.
    And that’s why in my budget we are increasing veterans funding by more than any time in the last 30 years. We’re going to make sure that we deal with the — (applause) — we’re going to make sure that deal with the backlog that too many veterans experience in terms of getting benefits. We’re going to make sure that homeless veterans are receiving housing and services.
    The homeless rate for veterans is multiple times higher than it is for non-veterans. That’s inexcusable. It means that we’re going to provide services for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, that we’re going to provide services for Traumatic Brain Injury that are the signature injuries of these recent wars. So we are going to significantly increase veterans spending…. – WH Blog, 3-26-09 Transcript
  • Clinton calls Mexico’s drug violence ‘intolerable’: “Today, (our) ties are being put to new tests. This situation is intolerable for honest, law-abiding citizens of Mexico, my country or of anywhere people of conscience live,” she said. “The United States recognizes that drug trafficking is not only Mexico’s problem. It is also America’s problem.”
    “The United States will be stepping up to help address the serious security challenges that Mexico is facing and Mexico, of course, must do its part as well,” she said.
    “We (in the U.S.) can worry about what’s coming north, but Mexican people are worried about what’s coming south: assault weapons, bazookas, grenades,” she said. “I mean, we’ve got to get together on this.” – AP, 3-26-09
  • Biden predicts Congress will back Obama on budget: “I’m confident that with the leadership of the speaker and Harry Reid we are going to get our budget with all the major elements intact,” Biden, flanked by Pelosi, told reporters. – Reuters, 3-25-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Todd Heisler/The New York Times President Obama and the first lady arrived in London for the Group of 20 economic summit.

Historians’ Comments

  • Scholars Discuss Black Power in the Age of Obama: The Black Power movement is not a vestige of the past, but a living didactical legacy that is as relevant now in the Obama era as it has ever been, said a group of scholars and activists during a two-day symposium dedicated to the impact of the Black Power movement on America.
    Panelists Dr. Gregory Carr, a professor of African-American studies at Howard University; Rhonda Williams, an associate professor of history at Case Western Reserve University; and Brazile painted a picture of a multifaceted movement orchestrated by various constituencies of Black America demanding to be heard after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. – Diverse Eucation. 4-1-09
  • Ian Reifowitz “Today’s election could inspire high turnout”: Ian Reifowitz, a professor of history and politics at Empire State College, said several factors will drive turnout. “There was so much attention surrounding the appointment of Rep. Gillibrand and Paterson’s handling of that, that there could be more interest in this race,” Reifowtiz said. He added that some voters will be drawn out by national events and the way the race’s narrative followed them. “People were following the stimulus package, and there were people wanting to know if Tedisco would support it. Then you had the same thing with the AIG bonuses,” Reifowitz said.
    The state’s budget, although seemingly not related to the congressional race, also might factor in voter’s minds, especially because it was constructed by Democrats, Reifowitz said. “That may help by not hurting,” he said. “If Democrats weren’t able to get it together, people would look at that as a reason to not vote for Murphy.” – Saratogian, 3-31-09
  • Robert Turner “Today’s election could inspire high turnout”: Robert Turner, an assistant professor of government at Skidmore College, said average voter turnout in special elections since 2007 has been 91,000 voters. “Voters are not as representative as they are in a general election. They’re more informed, more motivated and more educated,” he said, adding what many pundits have discussed in regard to this race, “This has become a bit of a referendum on the Obama presidency. A lot of pundits want to say ‘the honeymoon’s over.'” That message could drive higher turnout by bringing out people who feel strongly for or against Obama’s presidency, Turner said. “If the issue was just ‘business man’ or ‘career politician,’ that probably wouldn’t be enough,” he said. – Saratogian, 3-31-09
  • Menahem Blondheim “New Analysis: Netanyahu not likely to see more U.S. pressure”: “The change from Bush administration to the Obama administration is not a usual transition,” Menahem Blondheim, professor of American Studies at Hebrew University told Xinhua. “The economic problem is so dominant. Clearly everything will take shape according to the success and the momentum of the administration in terms of taking care of the economic problem,” he said. He noted that the Obama administration still had to establish a clear perspective and program concerning international affairs in general and the Middle East in particular. “Between economic and international policy, the proportion in terms of looking at economic matters is skewed and things are very much on hold,” Blondheim said.
    “There is a lot to the political circumstances built on the deep-seated affinities between America and Israel,” Blondheim said. “The support for Israel as a democracy and its national experience, which resonates ideologically and politically with Americans, is pretty fundamental.” He noted that the Obama administration did not represent a sweeping ideological transformation on the basis of which issues are addressed. “The systemic approach is different but the fundamental values that energize American politics cannot be revolutionized or dramatically transformed,” he said. – www.chinaview.cn, 4-1-09
  • Juan Cole: Obama’s domino theory The president sounds like he’s channeling Cheney or McCain — or a Cold War hawk afraid of international communism — when he talks about the war in Afghanistan.: President Barack Obama may or may not be doing the right thing in Afghanistan, but the rationale he gave for it on Friday is almost certainly wrong. Obama has presented us with a 21st century version of the domino theory. The U.S. is not, contrary to what the president said, mainly fighting “al-Qaida” in Afghanistan. In blaming everything on al-Qaida, Obama broke with his pledge of straight talk to the public and fell back on Bush-style boogeymen and implausible conspiracy theories….
    The Kabul government is not on the verge of falling to the Taliban. The Afghan government has 80,000 troops, who benefit from close U.S. air support, and the total number of Taliban fighters in the Pashtun provinces is estimated at 10,000 to 15,000. Kabul is in danger of losing control of some villages in the provinces to dissident Pashtun warlords styled “Taliban,” though it is not clear why the new Afghan army could not expel them if they did so. A smaller, poorly equipped Northern Alliance army defeated 60,000 Taliban with U.S. air support in 2001. And there is no prospect of “al-Qaida” reestablishing bases in Afghanistan from which it could attack the United States. If al-Qaida did come back to Afghanistan, it could simply be bombed and would be attacked by the new Afghan army. – Salon.com, 3-30-09
  • Allan Lichtman “Obama administration takes lead in reshaping automakers”: Obama’s actions are “consistent with the pattern of presidents acting during economic crises,” said Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University and an expert on the presidency. “And it’s absolutely consistent with patterns of presidents intervening to make sure major components of the economy don’t fail.” – Chicago Tribune, 3-31-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Big risks if Obama acts boldly on budget”: Americans are usually uninterested in legislative procedure. The technical rules that govern the House and Senate are of little concern to average citizens except for those rare moments when procedures become tied up with major policy battles….
    Congressional procedure is in the news once again. President Obama is thinking about using the budget reconciliation process, which prohibits a filibuster, to push through the Senate the many proposals that he introduced to Congress in last month’s address. Reconciliation would only require a majority vote in the Senate rather than the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster (the Democrats control at least 58 seats). Not only would the administration include tax and spending proposals in the legislation, but health care and possibly environmental measures as well. This would be a bold political move….
    Orszag added that history was on the president’s side: “Pretty much every major piece of budget legislation going back to April 1981, April ’82, April 1990, April 1993, the 1990 Act, the 2001 tax legislation, they were all done through reconciliation. Yet somehow this is being presented as an unusual thing.”
    But what are the risks for the administration? The first risk is that Republicans will become so furious with Obama’s use of this tactic that any chance of bipartisanship will disappear and in future Republicans will be even more willing to use dilatory tactics to block the administration’s priorities. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, warned that including health care in reconciliation would do “serious damage to our bipartisan effort.” Minority Whip John Kyl of Arizona warned that it would turn the bills into a “purely partisan exercise.”….
    The bigger risk has to do with Democrats themselves. Like Republicans, Democrats have remained relatively united since 2006. But by using reconciliation, the administration would be packaging together several bills, each of which has the potential to cause serious fissures within the party….
    The benefits of reconciliation are clear, and the risk of partisan anger should not be overstated. He might need to make this move if he wants to get such sweeping legislation given the partisan environment of Washington. Yet the president must move very carefully if he chooses this route and make certain that in the process of obtaining speed and efficiency, he does not cause excessive damage to the party he will lead in the next three years. – CNN, 3-30-09
  • R. Scott Appleby “Obama Visit to Notre Dame Provokes Debate”: “At Notre Dame there’s the audacity of hope that the president will make good on his promises to take these issues seriously and dialogue with his critics,” said R. Scott Appleby, a history professor at the university, who supports the invitation. “This visit is one occasion, among others, for Notre Dame and the entire Catholic community to find ways to deepen and extend the dialogue on life issues.”…
    Mr. Appleby, the history professor, said the long-range goal of such a discussion with Mr. Obama would be “to change hearts and minds” and move the country “toward a culture of life” that opposes abortion and embryonic stem-cell research and allows medical workers who oppose abortion rights to opt out of participating in certain procedures. “The question is, how can one who is so good and so insightful and so poised on issues of human dignity and human rights — how can that same person not engage fully and seriously in a debate on unborn life?” Mr. Appleby said. – NYT, 3-30-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Dodd’s Troubles Open Debate on Congress’ Ties With Special Interests”: Julian Zelizer, a professor of history at Princeton University and an expert on congressional matters, said most politicians are entangled with conflicts of interest — and they look bad when they’re revealed. “In terms of the financial bailout, this can bite,” he said. But Zelizer said Dodd should not have to sideline himself unless there is clear evidence of wrongdoing. “You have to penalize all of Congress if you started doing this,” he said, adding that long-term reform is needed for a more efficient system. – Fox News, 3-27-09
  • Mark Cauble “Gov. Palin focus of lecture for women’s history”: While Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has fallen out of the national spotlight, a lecture at Barstow Community College recognized the one-time vice presidential nominee as a woman of note during a lecture on women’s history month Wednesday. Palin was the subject of Professor Mark Cauble’s presentation, where the history and humanities professor talked about the governor’s rise in local politics and showed a portion of Palin’s nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Sept. 2008. – Desert Dispatch, 3-25-09
President Barack Obama engages the audience

(President Barack Obama engages the audience at an “Open for Questions” online townhall.
White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 3/26/09)

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