April 20, 2009: President Obama at the Summit of the Americas

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY: 

The President speaks at the Summit of the Americas

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • President Barack Obama: First 100 Days PhotosCharlotte Observer
  • Poll shows 71% trust Obama to fix the economy: The Gallup survey also finds that 51% of respondents say they have confidence in Democratic congressional leaders when it comes to the economy. Thirty-eight percent felt that way about Republican leaders. That puts Obama ahead of some of the country’s leading economic experts: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke had a 49% rating in the poll and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner drew 47%…. – LAT, 4-14-09
  • Poll: Gov. Charlie Crist remains popular in state: Sixty-six percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Democrats and independents approve of the way he is handling his job, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. Crist is considering passing up a second term for the U.S. Senate seat held by Mel Martinez, who is stepping down… – Miami Herald, 4-15-09
  • Murphy on track to win special election: With all of the unchallenged absentee and overseas military ballots counted, Democrat Scott Murphy leads Republican Jim Tedisco by 273 votes and looks in extremely strong position to prevail in the New York special election. Murphy has 79,839 votes, while Tedisco has 79,566 votes. – Politico, 4-17-09
  • Murphy’s lead grows to 178 votes in House race: Democrat Scott Murphy widened his lead over Republican James Tedisco to 178 votes on Thursday in the too-close-to- call race for New York’s 20th Congressional District seat. The state Board of Elections reported that the latest unofficial tally showed Murphy with 79,452 votes to Tedisco’s 79,274. The lead has fluctuated almost daily since the special election was held on March 31, though Murphy has been ahead almost every day. On Wednesday, Murphy led by 86 votes. AP, 4-16-09

THE HEADLINES….

The Headlines…

  • White House: Obama to address credit card abuses: The White House says it will back congressional efforts to clamp down on credit card abuses. The House and Senate are considering legislation aimed at limiting credit card companies’ ability to raise interest rates on existing balances and require greater disclosure…. – AP, 4-19-09
  • Iran president urges full defense for US reporter: President Barack Obama said Sunday he was “gravely concerned” about Saberi’s safety and well-being and was confident she wasn’t involved in espionage. The U.S. has called the charges baseless and said Iran would gain U.S. goodwill if it “responded in a positive way” to the case. “She is an Iranian-American who was interested in the country which her family came from. And it is appropriate for her to be treated as such and to be released,” Obama said. Saberi’s case has been an irritant in U.S.-Iran relations at a time when Obama is offering to start a dialogue between the longtime adversaries. A few days before her sentence was announced, Ahmadinejad gave the clearest signal yet that Iran, too, was ready for a new relationship with the U.S. – AP, 4-19-09
  • Obama: Cuba has steps it can take right now: President Barack Obama says Cuba should release political prisoners, afford greater freedoms and reduce fees on money sent from the United States to Cuba…. – AP, 4-19-09
  • Obama defends greeting Hugo Chavez The president says Americans want him to interact with foreign leaders and that the U.S. has nothing to fear from Venezuela: Rebuffing criticism of the warm greetings he exchanged with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, President Obama said today that the United States, with its overwhelming military superiority and need to improve its global image, can afford to extend such diplomatic “courtesy.” Obama, in a news conference capping a three-day meeting of leaders from the Western Hemisphere, also said the U.S. must engage other countries through humanitarian gestures, not simply military intervention…. – LAT, 4-19-09
  • Chavez Vows To Restore Ambassador In U.S. At Summit, Venezuela Leader Sees “New Era” Of Relations; Ambassador Was Pulled In Sept.: Hugo Chavez said Saturday that he is restoring Venezuela’s ambassador in Washington, voicing hopes for a “new era” in U.S. relations after barely getting to know U.S. President Barack Obama at a regional summit. Venezuela’s socialist leader told reporters at the Summit of the Americas that he will propose Roy Chaderton, the South American nation’s current ambassador to The Organization of American States, as the new diplomat in Washington…. – CBS News, 4-18-09
  • Obama extends hands to Chavez, Ortega at summit: President Barack Obama offered a spirit of cooperation to America’s hemispheric neighbors at a summit Saturday, listening to complaints about past U.S. meddling and even reaching out to Venezuela’s leftist leader. While he worked to ease friction between the U.S. and their countries, Obama cautioned leaders at the Summit of the Americas to resist a temptation to blame all their problems on their behemoth neighbor to the north…. – AP, 4-18-09
  • What recession? Funds flow for Senate races: The recession shadowing the United States and draining Americans’ savings has hardly dented efforts by Senate candidates to raise cash for the 2010 elections, and Democrats appear ahead early in the game…. – Reuters, 4-18-09
  • Wanted: Computer hackers … to help government: Federal authorities aren’t looking to prosecute them, but to pay them to secure the nation’s networks. General Dynamics Information Technology put out an ad last month on behalf of the Homeland Security Department seeking someone who could “think like the bad guy.” Applicants, it said, must understand hackers’ tools and tactics and be able to analyze Internet traffic and identify vulnerabilities in the federal systems. – AP, 4-18-09
  • US to boycott United Nations racism meeting: The Obama administration will boycott “with regret” a U.N. conference on racism next week over objectionable language in the meeting’s final document that could single out Israel for criticism and restrict free speech, the State Department said Saturday. The decision follows weeks of furious internal debate and will likely please Israel and Jewish groups that lobbied against U.S. participation. But the move upset human rights advocates and some in the African-American community who had hoped that President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, would send an official delegation…. – AP, 4-18-09
  • Palin stands against abortion during Ind. speech: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, speaking at anti-abortion group’s dinner, criticized President Barack Obama for supporting abortion rights and challenged the idea that unplanned pregnancies are a nuisance that can be solved by abortion…. – AP, 4-17-09
  • Obama pledges help to slow US arms flow: Confronting a Mexican drug war that is “sowing chaos in our communities,” President Barack Obama signaled Thursday he will not seek renewal of a U.S. assault weapons ban but instead will step up enforcement of laws banning the transfer of such guns across the border…. – AP, 4-17-09
  • Obama Calls for Thaw in U.S. Relations With Cuba: President Obama, seeking to thaw long-frozen relations with Cuba, told a gathering of Western Hemisphere leaders on Friday that “the United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba,” and that he was willing to have his administration engage the Castro government on a wide array of issues….. “I know there is a longer journey that must be traveled in overcoming decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day,” Mr. Obama said, adding that he was “prepared to have my administration engage with the Cuban government on a wide range of issues — from human rights, free speech, and democratic reform to drugs, migration, and economic issues.” “Let me be clear,” Mr. Obama said. “I am not interested in talking for the sake of talking. But I do believe we can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction.” – NYT, 4-17-09
  • Obama ‘seeks a new beginning’ with Cuba, talks: Trading their warmest words in a half-century, the United States and Cuba built momentum toward renewed ties on Friday, with President Barack Obama declaring he “seeks a new beginning” — including direct talks — with the island’s communist regime. As leaders of the Americas gathered for a summit in this Caribbean nation, the head of the Organization of American States even said he’ll ask his group to invite Cuba back after 47 years. In remarks kicking off the weekend gathering of nations — of which Cuba was the only country in the region not represented — Obama repeated the kind of remarks toward the Castro regime that marked his campaign for the presidency. “The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba,” he said at the Summit of the Americas opening ceremony. “I know there is a longer journey that must be traveled to overcome decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day.”… – AP, 4-17-09
  • CIA objections slowed torture memos release: Four former CIA directors opposed releasing classified Bush-era interrogation memos, officials say, describing objections that went all the way to the White House and slowed release of the records…. – AP, 4-17-09
  • Obama won’t charge CIA officers for rough tactics: In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, CIA operatives were allowed to shackle, strip and waterboard terror suspects. Now, President Barack Obama has assured these operatives that they will not be prosecuted for their rough interrogation tactics…. – AP, 4-17-09
  • White House says Biden to speak at 3 graduations: Vice President Joe Biden will speak at graduations at Syracuse University, Wake Forest University and at the United States Air Force Academy…. – AP, 4-17-09
  • Pirate hostage captain praises SEAL ‘superheroes’: The unassuming ship captain who escaped the clutches of Somali pirates made a triumphant return home Friday, insisting he’s no hero, just an ordinary seaman. Richard Phillips said the U.S. Navy, which pulled off the daring high-seas rescue that ended his five-day captivity, deserves the credit. “They’re the superheroes,” a relaxed, hale-looking Phillips said upon his arrival at Burlington International Airport. “They’re the titans. They’re impossible men doing an impossible job, and they did the impossible with me. … They’re at the point of the sword every day, doing an impossible job every day.”… – AP, 4-17-09
  • US to fund research with some embryonic stem cells: When President Barack Obama eased limits on taxpayer-funded embryonic stem cell research, the big question became how far scientists could go. Friday, the government answered: They must use cells culled from fertility clinic embryos that otherwise would be thrown away. Draft guidelines released by the National Institutes of Health reflect rules with broad congressional support, excluding more controversial sources such as cells derived from embryos created just for experiments…. – AP, 4-17-09
  • Obama to Push to Ratify Treaty on Gun Trafficking: President Obama, vowing to confront drug cartels that are “sowing chaos in our communities,” called Thursday for the Senate to ratify a long-stalled treaty aimed at curbing illegal arms trafficking. But Mr. Obama also suggested that he would not press lawmakers to revive an expired ban on assault weapons. On the first day of a four-day swing through Latin America, Mr. Obama arrived here on Thursday afternoon for a visit that was intended to demonstrate what he called “a new era” in United States-Mexican relations and to show support for his Mexican counterpart, President Felipe Calderón. Stemming the rising tide of drug violence was the centerpiece of their agenda…. – NYT, 4-16-09
  • Obama outlines vision for high-speed rail network: President Barack Obama on Thursday outlined plans for a high-speed rail network he said would change the way Americans travel, drawing comparisons to the 1950s creation of the interstate highway system. Obama was careful to point out that his plan was only a down payment on an ambitious plan that, if realized, could connect Chicago and St. Louis, Orlando and Miami, Portland and Seattle and dozens of other metropolitan areas around the country with high-speed trains…. – AP, 4-16-09
  • Democrats: Texas gov should disavow secession talk: In a state that once was its own nation, a Republican governor who talked about secession without completely dismissing the idea has Democratic lawmakers in an uproar. Gov. Rick Perry, in comments following an anti-tax “tea party” Wednesday, never did advocate Texas breaking away from the United States but suggested that Texans might at some point get so fed up they would want to leave the union. That was enough to feed opinions for and against secession on Web sites, cable TV and talk radio across the nation….. – AP, 4-16-09
  • Obama to seek ratification of arms treaty: Confronting a security threat on the America’s doorstep, President Barack Obama arrived Thursday in Mexico for a swift diplomatic mission to show solidarity on drugs and guns with a troubled neighbor — and to prove the U.S. is serious about the battle against trafficking…. – AP, 4-16-09
  • Obama says Cuba should make next move on relations: President Barack Obama wants Havana to make the next move to improve U.S.-Cuba relations, saying Thursday that he needs to see signs of changes on the island before he makes any more overtures. Obama already has lifted restrictions on visits and money sent to Cuba by Americans with families there — steps he called “extraordinarily significant” for those families, and a show of good faith by the U.S. government that it wants to recast the relationship. But he reiterated that the U.S. won’t unilaterally end its trade embargo against Cuba, even though the policy is widely seen as a failure that has complicated U.S. relations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean…. – AP, 4-16-09
  • Vice president announces $4B in smart energy grid grants: Vice President Joe Biden used a visit to a mid-Missouri transformer factory Thursday to highlight how the federal economic stimulus package is propelling a new wind-energy project and spinning off jobs. Speaking from the factory floor of ABB Inc., Biden announced that the Department of Energy will award about $4 billion in grants under the stimulus package to improve the nation’s electric grid…. – AP, 4-16-09
  • For Gov. Palin, a Rough Return to the Day Job: Before Tina Fey and “Drill, baby, drill,” there was mud season here in the Alaskan capital. This soggy, socked-in spring has been no exception, but it sure has been different in other ways. For Gov. Sarah Palin, Republican meteor, getting back to governing has not been easy…. And then there is the pervasive sense among many lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, that a new political reality has overtaken this remote government seat. “The source of the greatest tension this year between the Legislature and the executive has been certainly the appearance that the executive is prioritizing her national image, her national brand, over the day-to-day operations of state government and the interests of the State of Alaska,” said Mike Hawker, the Republican co-chairman of the House Finance Committee…. – NYT, 4-16-09
  • McCain Criticized For Palin Snub: Mr. McCain is coming under fire for his conspicuous memory lapse when listing the names of Republican governors who could be the next in line to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012. Mrs. Palin did not make the cut. “We have, I’m happy to say, a lot of voices out there,” Mr. McCain told host Jay Leno before listing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Utah Gov. Jim Huntsman, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. “There are a lot of governors out there who are young and dynamic.” Recognizing his error, the Arizona senator added, “I’ve left out somebody’s name, and I’m going to hear about it.” That somebody was Mrs. Palin. By failing to mention Mrs. Palin’s name, some conservatives say Mr. McCain is fracturing a Republican Party that must start uniting now if it is going to topple Mr. Obama in 2012. – The Bulletin, 4-15-09
  • ‘Regular Joe’ plays a key White House role As vice president, Biden is yin to Obama’s yang. But he’s definitely no Cheney: Joe Biden leans into the microphone and tells the assembled Washington elites just how important he has become to his new boss, Barack Obama. “To give you an idea of how close we are,” the vice president says at the annual Gridiron dinner of journalists and politicos, “he told me that next year – maybe, just maybe – he’s going to give me his BlackBerry e-mail address.” Ba-da-boom. By many accounts, Vice President Biden is, in fact, a key player in the Obama White House, with a finger in most of the central issues of the day. Whether it’s going to Munich, Germany, to deliver the administration’s first major foreign-policy address or traveling around the country as head of the Middle Class Task Force and chief enforcer of stimulus spending or attending most of President Obama’s daily briefings, Mr. Biden appears to enjoy the confidence of the boss – and plenty of face time…. – CS Monitor, 4-15-09
  • Thousands rally with ‘tea parties’ on tax day: Whipped up by conservative commentators and bloggers, tens of thousands of protesters staged “tea parties” around the country Wednesday to tap into the collective angst stirred up by a bad economy, government spending and bailouts. The rallies were directed at President Barack Obama’s new administration on a symbolic day: the deadline to file income taxes. Protesters even threw what appeared to be a box of tea bags toward the White House, causing a brief lockdown at the compound…. – AP, 4-15-09
  • Tax Day Is Met With Tea Parties: Some people wore their tea bags hanging from umbrellas or eyeglasses. Others simply tossed them on the White House lawn. Wednesday’s deadline for filing income tax returns offered some Americans a timely excuse to vent their frustrations as demonstrators attended more than 750 Tax Day tea parties in cities like Boston, Washington, East Hampton, N.Y., and Yakima, Wash. The events were meant to protest government spending, particularly the Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus package and its $3.5 trillion budget…. – NYT, 4-15-09
  • Obamas report $2.7 million in income for 2008: President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, millionaires from his best-selling books, made $2.7 million last year and paid just under one-third of their adjusted income in federal taxes. While the income, mostly his, was far more than the U.S. median household income of about $50,000, it was quite a decrease from the $4.2 million the Obamas made in 2007…. –
  • Senator’s Ballot in Upstate Race Disputed: James N. Tedisco, the Republican candidate in the deadlocked race for Congress in New York’s 20th District, has been challenging absentee ballots right and left, his Democratic rival complains. But mostly left. On Tuesday, his lawyers challenged the ballot of one person they could be fairly certain had voted for Scott Murphy, Mr. Tedisco’s Democratic opponent: Kirsten E. Gillibrand, whose appointment to the Senate created the job opening. With Mr. Tedisco trailing Mr. Murphy by just 47 votes as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, every vote still up for grabs takes on heightened significance. But the move plays into Mr. Murphy’s accusations that Mr. Tedisco is systematically trying to disenfranchise Democratic voters. Mr. Murphy’s lawyers say Republicans have objected to hundreds of ballots mailed in from New York City or Florida, signed by voters with Jewish- or Hispanic-sounding surnames, or sent by students at Skidmore College…. – NYT, 4-15-09
  • Ruling Hampers Republican’s Chances in New York: A court ruling Wednesday on special election absentee ballot challenges dealt another setback to Republican Tedisco is counting on absentees to eke out a victory over Democrat Scott Murphy in New York’s 20th Congressional District. A justice in the Dutchess County branch of the Supreme Court ruled that some of the reasons the Tedisco camp has been using for for challenging absentee ballots are invalid…. – CQ Politics, 4-15-09
  • Obama tempers optimism with reality on economy: Aiming to assert control over the nation’s economic debate, President Barack Obama on Tuesday warned Americans eager for good news that “by no means are we out of the woods” and argued his broad domestic agenda is the path to recovery. In a speech at Georgetown University, Obama aimed to juggle his recent glass-half-full takes on the economy with a determination to not be stamped as naive in the face lingering problems. He summarized actions his administration has taken to steady the limping economy and coupled that with a fresh overview of his domestic goals…. – AP, 4-14-09
  • Republicans criticize report on right-wing groups: Republicans on Wednesday said a Homeland Security Department intelligence assessment unfairly characterizes military veterans as right-wing extremists. House Republican leader John Boehner described the report as offensive and called on the agency to apologize to veterans…. “To characterize men and women returning home after defending our country as potential terrorists is offensive and unacceptable,” said Boehner, R-Ohio. – AP, 4-15-09
  • Here’s Bo! Obamas show pooch with ‘star quality’: First pooch Bo got star treatment and his first backyard romp at the White House on Tuesday — and even presidential clearance to visit the Oval Office. But he better not get any inflated ideas about doggy sleeping arrangements. “Not in my bed,” declared Barack Obama. The nation got its long-awaited first look at Bo in action as the Obamas showed off the family’s new dog on the South Lawn. First lady Michelle Obama did most of the walking while the 6-month-old Portuguese water dog scampered about. Then daughter Malia took a turn, and Bo took off running…. – AP, 4-14-09 Bo’s First Day: WH Blog, 4-14-09
  • PROMISES, PROMISES: Is Obama dog a rescue or not?: Is Bo a rescued dog or not? Did President Obama keep or break a campaign promise in picking the purebred as the family’s new pet? The twists and turns of the Portuguese water dog’s route to the White House make for the kind of intrigue that political junkies and the highly opinionated dog world delight in…. – AP, 4-13-09 A page from Bo’s baby book: Baltimore Sun, 4-14-09
  • Ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich pleads not guilty: Ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich pleaded not guilty to racketeering and fraud charges Tuesday, defiantly embarking on a long journey to clear his name but facing serious money problems and without a team of lawyers in place. “I’m glad this process has finally begun,” the impeached former governor told the media throng that spilled into the street in front of the courthouse after he and his brother, Robert, were arraigned on corruption charges. “It’s the end of the beginning in one respect but it’s the beginning of another aspect” of the case, Blagojevich said. “That is the beginning of me being able to prove and clear my name and be vindicated of what are inaccurate allegations.”… – AP, 4-14-09
  • Report warns of rise of right-wing extremists: In a report made public today, the Department of Homeland Security warns that the recession and the election of President Obama are “fueling resurgence” of right-wing extremist groups that are seeking new recruits, especially returning veterans…. – USA Today, 4-14-09
  • Is the GOP Waving Bye-Bye to Sarah Palin?: Worse than Dan Quayle before her, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s bright star has fast faded in the eyes of Washington Republican officials and analysts, calling into question her efforts to become a national party figure ready to run for the White House. “She’s just not ready for prime time,” said a party strategist who has worked for former President Bush. “I mean, she’s starting to look like she’s having trouble being governor of Alaska.” At issue is her weak debut, hampered by the mishandling of her by Sen. John McCain’s campaign, and subsequent family issues such as the most recent tiff with Levi Johnston, the father of her first grandchild and ex-fiancé of her daughter Bristol…. – US News & World Report, 4-14-09
  • Coleman’s Senate appeal coming, but odds are long: Dealt a stinging loss in his election trial, Republican Norm Coleman must overcome some daunting challenges to find his way back to the U.S. Senate. He’ll have to convince the Minnesota Supreme Court that three veteran trial judges botched his lawsuit challenging Democrat Al Franken’s lead — now at 312 votes — and hope justices order more rejected absentee ballots to be counted. Then, Coleman needs those ballots to break disproportionately for him to vault him past Franken…. – AP, 4-14-09
  • Obamas host first White House egg roll: President Barack Obama welcomed thousands of children and families to the White House Easter Egg Roll Monday, calling it “one of the greatest White House traditions.” Obama and his wife, Michelle, appeared with on a balcony overlooking the South Lawn where thousands of children and families took a break from participating in the festivities to listen and cheer enthusiastically for the first family. The president’s daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama, were also there, along with his mother-in-law Marian Robinson. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, stood on the driveway beneath the balcony…. – Mrs. Obama reminded the participants of the event’s theme, “Let’s go play.” “Our goal today is just to have fun,” she said. “We want to focus on activity, healthy eating. We’ve got yoga, we’ve got dancing, we’ve got storytelling, we’ve got Easter Egg decorating; oh we’ve got basketball, a little soccer as well.” “We want everybody to think about moving their bodies,” she added. – AP, 4-13-09
  • Inside the Obamas’ Easter Egg Roll: The President and First Family welcome kids to the South Lawn of the White House for a day of play – People, 4-13-09
  • Dog-loving CEOs have a few tips for the Obamas and Bo: “They say, if you want a friend in Washington,” President Obama told Jay Leno, “get a dog.” The Obamas at last got theirs — a 6-month-old, black-and-white Portuguese water dog named Bo, expected to be officially introduced today — fulfilling the long-anticipated campaign promise to daughters Sasha and Malia…. – USA Today, 4-13-09
  • Murphy retains 20-vote lead over Tedisco: Democrat Scott Murphy leads by 20 votes over Republican James Tedisco in the 20th Congressional District race, according to the latest unofficial election results. As of Monday, Murphy had 77,944 votes and Tedisco had 77,924 votes in a race that has been a see-saw…. – Poughkeepsie Journal, 4-14-09
  • Minn. court declares Franken leading vote-getter: A Minnesota court confirmed Monday that Democrat Al Franken won the most votes in his 2008 Senate race against Republican Norm Coleman, who immediately announced plans to appeal the decision. Coleman has 10 days to appeal to the state Supreme Court. Once the petition is filed, it could further delay the seating of Minnesota’s second senator for weeks. “It’s time that Minnesota like every other state have two” senators, a jovial Franken said outside his Minneapolis townhouse with his wife Franni at his side. “I would call on Senator Coleman to allow me to get to work for the people of Minnesota as soon as possible.”… – AP, 4-13-09
  • Bush’s high road highlights contrasts with Cheney: When the most recent former president convenes 20 former aides for a brainstorming session today about the George W. Bush Policy Institute, one big figure will be missing, according to news reports. Former vice president Dick Cheney, the alleged Svengali of the eight-year Bush administration, will be absent, tending to his own affairs – which have recently included blistering attacks on the Obama administration for abandoning the interrogations of terrorism suspects that many people considered torture. Bush, by contrast, has taken the high road, refusing opportunities to criticize the new president even in the face of repeated jabs by members of the Obama administration, and Obama’s own frequent declarations about the sorry state of affairs he “inherited” from Bush. – Boston Globe, 4-13-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President's Weekly Address: Efficiency and Innovation

Political Quotes

  • To Learn from History, Not Be Trapped by It: All of us must now renew the common stake that we have in one another. I know that promises of partnership have gone unfulfilled in the past, and that trust has to be earned over time. While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms. But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. (Applause.) There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations; there is simply engagement based on mutual respect and common interests and shared values. So I’m here to launch a new chapter of engagement that will be sustained throughout my administration…. – WH Blog, 4-18-09
  • Obama: Like families, govt to make hard choices: Families are making tough decisions about their money and so too will their government, President Barack Obama said Saturday, promising that spending cuts are coming — and soon. “If we’re going to rebuild our economy on a solid foundation, we need to change the way we do business in Washington. We need to restore the American people’s confidence in their government — that it is on their side, spending their money wisely, to meet their families’ needs,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address, released while he attended the Summit of the Americans in Trinidad. “In the coming weeks, I will be announcing the elimination of dozens of government programs shown to be wasteful or ineffective,” he said. “In this effort, there will be no sacred cows and no pet projects. All across America, families are making hard choices, and it’s time their government did the same.” “That is why I have assembled a team of management, technology and budget experts to guide us in this work,” he said, “leaders who will help us revamp government operations from top to bottom and ensure that the federal government is truly working for the American people.” AP, 4-18-09 Transcript: WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Discusses Efforts to Reform Spending, Government Waste; Names Chief Performance Officer and Chief Technology Office
  • Sarah Palin’s Indiana speech: “You can see Russia from Alaska”: “Alaska is the only state in the nation with a negative tax rate,” she said. “No income tax, no state sales tax, no state property tax and I want to keep it that way because I believe our families and small business can spend the money they earn better than government she can.” “There just for a fleeting moment I thought, I knew, nobody knows me here. Nobody would ever know. I thought, wow, it is easy. It could be easy to think maybe of trying to change the circumstances. No one would know. No one would ever know.” But it was time, she said, to “walk the walk” in regards to her long-standing pro-life convictions. “I had just enough faith to know that trying to change the circumstances wasn’t any answer,” she said. “The moment he was born, I knew that moment my prayers had been answered,” Palin said. “Trig is a miracle. He is the best thing that ever happened to me and I want other women to have that opportunity.”…  She criticized the economic stimulus package as giving her heartburn proclaiming that “this isn’t free money, folks.” “Yes, you can see Russia from Alaska,” she said to much laughter. – CS Monitor, 4-18-09
  • McCain picked Palin from 26 possible VPs in ‘high risk, high reward’ move: Ronald Reagan’s former counsel A.B. Culvahouse was in charge of the candidate partner vetting process and helped the Arizona senator pare down the list. But McCain, Culvahouse revealed Friday, was intrigued by Sarah Palin, the 44-year-old Alaska governor and mother of five. That was understandable, the former presidential aide said. Even the most cynical of his 30 Washington, D.C., attorney vetters were impressed by her presence. “She fills up a room,” Culvahouse told a Washington meeting of the Republican National Lawyers Assn. (See video below.) Even difficult questions, he said, she knocked “out of the park” during the vice president interview process… – LAT, 4-18-09
  • McCain Strategist Warns GOP Risks Becoming ‘Religious Party’ Steve Schmidt urges Republicans to begin voicing more support for civil unions and gay rights: “If you put public policy issues to a religious test, you risk becoming a religious party,” he said. “And in a free country a political party cannot be viable in the long-term if it is seen as a sectarian party.” “If the party is seen as anti-gay, then that is injurious to its candidates” in Democrat-leaning and competitive states, he said. “I believe Republicans should re-examine the extent that we are being defined by positions on issues that I don’t believe are among our core values,” he said, while still calling social conservatives an “indispensable part of the conservative coalition.” “The rapid growth of the Hispanic-American population for instance could soon cost Republicans the entire southwest if we don’t recover our previous share of the vote,” he said. – Fox, 4-17-09
  • US, Cuba advance dizzying thaw in relations: “The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba,” he said at the Summit of the Americas opening ceremony, according to his remarks released in advance by the White House. “I know there is a longer journey that must be traveled in overcoming decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day.” “Let me be clear: I am not interested in talking for the sake of talking,” the president said. “But I do believe that we can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction.” – AP, 4-17-09
  • Towards the Summit: As we approach the Summit of the Americas, our hemisphere is faced with a clear choice. We can overcome our shared challenges with a sense of common purpose, or we can stay mired in the old debates of the past. For the sake of all our people, we must choose the future. Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors. We have been too easily distracted by other priorities, and have failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas. My Administration is committed to the promise of a new day. We will renew and sustain a broader partnership between the United States and the hemisphere on behalf of our common prosperity and our common security…. – WH Blog, 4-16-09
  • Day 85: Obama Talks Economy, Unveils Bo: On his eight-fifth day in office, President Obama took his argument for ambitious agenda to Georgetown University, where he lauded economic “glimmers of hope” while also warning that “by no means are we out of the woods.” “I absolutely agree that our long-term deficit is a major problem that we have to fix,” he said. “But the fact is that this recovery plan represents only a tiny fraction of that long-term deficit…the key to dealing with our deficit and debt is to get a handle on out-of-control health care costs – not to stand idly by as the economy goes into free fall.” – CBS News, 4-14-09
  • Obama urges patience, lower expectations on economy: President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy, Tuesday, April 14, 2009, at Georgetown University in Washington. He said that, “One of my most frequent questions in the letters that I get from constituents is, ‘Where’s my bailout?’ And I understand the sentiment. “But the truth is that a dollar of capital in a bank can actually result in $8 or $10 of loans to families and businesses.” Rebutting critics who want him to nationalize failing banks rather than bail them out, he said that could undermine confidence and end up costing taxpayers even more. Obama spoke of Washington’s typical “impatience,” of the 24-hour news cycle and desire for “instant gratification” and said the economy can’t be fixed within those confines. “I know how difficult it is for members of Congress in both parties to grapple with some of the big decisions we face right now,” he said. “It’s more than most Congresses and most presidents have to deal with in a lifetime. But we have been called to govern in extraordinary times.” Obama told of the Sermon on the Mount, and the house built on sand versus rock. “We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand; we must build our house upon a rock,” he said. He acknowledged “a criticism out there that my administration has somehow been spending with reckless abandon, pushing a liberal social agenda while mortgaging our children’s future.” The president countered: “If we don’t invest now in renewable energy or a skilled work force or a more affordable health care system, this economy simply won’t grow at the pace it needs to in two or five or ten years” and that “it won’t be long before we are right back where we are today.”… – Miami Herald, 4-14-09
  • First Lady Visits Department of Homeland Security: It was Mrs. Obama’s ninth visit to a cabinet level agency and she thanked employees for working hard to keep the nation safe. “One of the president’s greatest concerns and priorities is the safety and security of the American people,” Mrs. Obama said. “He couldn’t do it without you.” “You are standing watch every day over our borders and our skies, our ports and our transportation system,” she said…. – NYT, 4-14-09
  • John McCain-Sarah Palin rift grows wider, as Sen. leaves former running mate off list of GOP stars: On Monday’s “Tonight Show,” Jay Leno asked the Arizona Senator to name the new guiding lights of the Republican party, and McCain was quick to rattle off a list of “young, dynamic” governors around the country. Palin wasn’t one of them. McCain singled out Lousisana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Florida Gov. Charlie Christ, Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney, McCain’s chief rival for the Republican presidential nod in 2008. In case anyone missed his conspicuous omission of Palin, McCain then added, “And I’ve left out somebody’s name, and I’m gonna hear about it.” – NY Daily News, 4-14-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President Presents His Vision for High Speed Rail

Historians’ Comments

  • Robert Dallek: Despite Major Plans, Obama Taking Softer Stands: “If Obama is too timid, if the White House is too cautious,” said Robert Dallek, a presidential historian, “it is going to make him look too opportunistic. He made all these promises during the campaign, he talked so boldly, he stirred all our hopes, and now he is not following through.” On complex issues like health care, Mr. Dallek said, there is advantage in angling for the final say. “It’s kind of a technique to keep power in your hands,” he said. “Let these guys in the House, let the folks in the Senate battle with one another, battle it out. They are going to have to come to the president and have him adjudicate.” – NYT, 4-19-09
  • Julian Zelizer: Obama’s raised expectations overseas like Woodrow Wilson. Uh oh: One of the most dramatic moments during the 2008 campaign occurred when then-candidate Barack Obama traveled to Germany and spoke before an estimated crowd of 200,000 adoring Europeans. The enthusiasm for Barack Obama and what he promised was overwhelming, and was palpable to anyone who was watching. On the night of the election, there were numerous stories of people waiting for the returns all over the world, from Europe to Africa, celebrating the promise of a new chapter in America’s relationship with the world. The reception during the president’s most recent trip overseas was equally positive….. If Obama, who is naturally now focused on the economy, does not follow through on his campaign promises, it would be a profound disappointment for many in the world who saw this election as a democratic decision to seek out a new relationship with the world and to support, through diplomacy and economic assistance, the progressive forces in volatile areas of the globe who are seeking stability and peace as opposed to terrorism and war…. – Huffington Post, 4-17-09
  • Robert Cruickshank: “How California Benefits from Obama High Speed Rail Plan”: …He nailed it. This quote has it all – energy independence, job creation and long-term economic growth, and relieving congested airports and freeways. That case is made strongly and powerfully in the HSR strategic plan document. It is one of the best arguments for HSR that I’ve ever seen. This administration is serious about HSR. The plan includes a good overview of the history of rail funding in America, explaining that we have spent over $1 trillion on roads and airports in the last 50 years but have starved rail – even though, as the report makes clear, high speed rail is one of the best methods to move people over distances from 100 to 600 miles….. – California Progress Report, 4-17-09
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin “First Dog” Bo Meets His New Family at the White House: Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin says despite being first pet, it’s easy for people to relate to the Obama’s situation. “I think there is something that so many American people so many people around the world love dogs as pets that they can really imagine what it’s like to have a puppy running around the White House.” – First Coast News, 4-14-09
  • Julian Zelizer: “Commentary: Four tough questions for Democrats”: This week, Jews will conclude the eight-day celebration of Passover, a holiday that has often found its way into the political realm. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. frequently invoked the story of the liberation of the Jewish people from the Egyptians in his struggle against white oppression. President Obama made headlines last week when he hosted a Passover Seder in the White House…. Democrats must keep getting together, asking their own version of the four questions and insisting on internal debates. Although the discussions can become uncomfortable (as most Jews will recall from their Seders), this is a formula for making the strongest party possible. – CNN, 4-13-09
  • Carl Sferrazza Anthony: White House garden will cut the first family’s food bill: “The president has always had to pay for his own food,” says Carl Sferrazza Anthony, historian of the National First Ladies’ Library. President Bush had to buy the pretzel on which he choked while watching football at home in 2002. President Clinton was billed (bonus bad pun) for Big Macs he ordered in…. That wasn’t always the case. Up until the administration of William Howard Taft, US chief executives footed their own entertainment bill, says Anthony of the First Ladies’ Library. That financially ruined some, including Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. – CS Monitor, 4-16-09
  • H.W. Brands “Texas historian: Can Obama enlist public?”: H.W. Brands, the UT historian who last year published a one-volume biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt, said that to understand how FDR won over the public, he listened to FDR’s first fireside chat. And he did it in a way that many Americans did, to save on fuel costs, on that cold Sunday night in March 1933: in bed. “It was very much like a favorite uncle or maybe your father telling you a bedtime story,” Brands told a Texas Lyceum audience today, in remarks comparing Barack Obama and FDR. “There is this comforting voice … telling you … that everything’s going to be OK.”… But with that first FDR radio talk, he said, “Overnight, Roosevelt had established a level of trust with the American people.” Brands clearly doesn’t think Obama’s quite gotten to the same place — yet. “I can guarantee you Barack Obama’s [first] 100 days will not match Franklin Roosevelt’s 100 days in either the ambition or the extent of the legislation,” Brands said “The example of Franklin Roosevelt does have lessons for Barack Obama but they’re probably more political lessons than economic lessons,” he said. “The first lesson: Connect to your audience. With Barack Obama, it means he’s going to have to find his equivalent of radio, his way of getting the message out, of reassuring Americans, of getting them on his side. Because as Roosevelt said in that first fireside chat, and I’ll sort of change the wording a little bit: Barack Obama, with the support of the American people, can accomplish just about anything. Without the support of the American people, he’ll accomplish next to nothing.” – Dallas Morning News, 4-3-09
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April 13, 2009: The Obamas Introduce “Bo” The First Dog & Celebrate Passover & Easter at the White House

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President pets Bo

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • Obama’s Approval Tops Recent Presidents Bush, Clinton: Obama’s approval rating climbed to a high of 66 percent in an April 1-5 New York Times/CBS News poll. The poll follows recent surveys by the Gallup Poll, Quinnipiac University and the Pew Research Center showing that about six out of 10 Americans approve of the job the president is doing.
    A Gallup Poll taken in March gave Obama, a Democrat, a 64 percent approval rating. That compares with 56 percent for Republican George H.W. Bush, 52 percent for Democrat Bill Clinton and 53 percent for Republican George W. Bush at similar points in their presidencies. The last Bush left office with an approval rating of 34 percent, according to a Jan. 9-11 Gallup Poll…. – Bloomberg, 4-7-09
  • Obama’s Journey from Charismatic to Polarizing The president is facing strong resistance from Republicans and some conservative Democrats: ….Obama is facing an additional problem that has been little noticed by the media and little discussed by his own strategists, at least in public. He is turning out to be what he said he wouldn’t be: a polarizing figure. Each of his immediate predecessors was popular with core members of his own party—Bill Clinton with Democrats, George W. Bush with Republicans—but alienated the other side. That’s what’s happening to Obama as his ratings remain strong with fellow Democrats but slide with Republicans. Independents remain up for grabs…. – US News & World Report, 4-9-09
  • Republican in N.Y. House Race Up by 24 Votes: Republican Jim Tedisco is leading Democrat Scott Murphy by 24 votes in the latest count of a too-close-to-call special congressional election in New York state. The state Board of Elections reported Thursday that unofficial vote counts show Mr. Tedisco leads Mr. Murphy 77,201 to 77,177. That margin is up from a 17-vote margin Tuesday. The lead has fluctuated since the March 31 election in the 20th congressional district…. – AP, 4-9-09
  • Fox News poll (taken March 31 to April 1): Found that Mr. Obama’s job approval among independents has fallen to 52 percent, down nine points from the start of March and down 12 points from late January.
    Over the same period, the number of independents who disapprove of Mr. Obama’s performance has doubled to 32 percent from 16 percent. – Washington Times, 4-9-09

THE HEADLINES….

The President discusses Passover and Easter in his Weekly Address

White House Photo, 4/10/09, Lawrence Jackson

Weekly Address: Passover & Easter 4/11/09

This week the President discusses the
multitude of problems and opportunities
before the world through the prism
of Passover and Easter.

Watch the Video

President Barack Obama and staff in Europe

The Headlines…

  • For Easter worship, Obama picks Episcopal church: President Barack Obama opted for the safe choice for Easter Sunday, visiting the pale yellow church across from the White House where other presidents have worshipped. The pick puts off — for now — a decision on a new permanent congregation for the first family. Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters took Communion at St. John’s Church on Lafayette Square, where they heard a come-as-you-are sermon tailored to doubters and skeptics. The Rev. Luis Leon made no direct reference to the Obamas, who made their first trip to a Washington church since Inauguration Day under tight security and scrutiny…. – AP, 4-12-09
  • Kidnapped US captain freed; snipers kill 3 pirates: Navy SEAL snipers on the fantail of a destroyer cut down three Somali pirates in a lifeboat and rescued an American sea captain on Easter Sunday. The surprise nighttime assault in choppy seas ended a five-day standoff between a team of rogue gunmen and the world’s most powerful military. It was a stunning conclusion to an Indian Ocean odyssey that began when 53-year-old freighter Capt. Richard Phillips was taken hostage Wednesday by pirates who tried to hijack the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama. The Vermont native was held on a tiny lifeboat that began drifting precariously toward Somalia’s anarchic, gun-plagued shores. The operation, personally approved by President Barack Obama, quashed fears the saga could drag on for months and marked a victory for the U.S., which for days seemed powerless to resolve the crisis despite massing helicopter- equipped warships at the scene…. – AP, 4-12-09
  • Obama signed off on taking out pirates: President Barack Obama issued a standing order to use force against pirates holding an American captain hostage – including giving a Navy commander the authority to act if he believed the captain’s life was in danger, two senior defense officials said Sunday night. Navy snipers aboard the USS Bainbridge on Sunday shot and killed three of the pirates after the Bainbridge’s commander gave the order, when a pirate was spotted aboard the lifeboat pointing an AK-47 rifle at Capt. Richard Phillips, one defense official said. “The clear belief by the captain of the ship was that he was in imminent danger,” this official said…. – Politico, 4-12-09
  • Obamas ready to unveil first dog Bo: Black and white Portuguese water dog is gift from Ted Kennedy and named in reference to Michelle Obama’s father… – Guardian UK, 4-12-09
    WaPo, 4-12-09 Meet Bo, the First Dog, WH Blog, 4-12-09
  • Obamas Said to Choose a Portuguese Water Dog: It’s decided: the Obamas have chosen a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog to be the first pet. In what was one of the White House’s most tightly kept secrets, President Barack Obama’s daughters, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha, have settled on a black and white pup, a White House official speaking on the condition of anonymity told The Associated Press Saturday night. The dog, a gift from Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts who owns several Portuguese water dogs himself, will make his big debut Tuesday afternoon…. – AP, 4-12-09
  • Obama: World’s problems require global cooperation: Global cooperation is needed to tackle the financial meltdown, climate change, nuclear proliferation and other pressing problems, President Barack Obama said Saturday. Fresh from his first trip overseas as president, Obama used his radio and Internet address to ask people in the United States and around the world to focus on areas of common interest…. – AP, 4-11-09
  • The Bush Family Enjoys Their Quieter Life: As President Obama announced the current state of the nation, news that included anti-American sentiment, a struggling economy, and two wars, George W. Bush and his wife settled into a quiet dinner of chicken pot pie. It seems the couple is enjoying the slower pace: their issues aren’t global, but extend only as far as their lawn. The company they keep no longer includes foreign dignitaries, but neighbors in a supportive community…. – ToTheCenter.com, 4-11-09 WaPo, 4-11-09
  • Crashing the Republican Party: Turns out that a McCain did emerge from the 2008 election victorious — not the captivity-surviving, straight-talking, Palin-picking Republican senator from Arizona but his Bud Light-drinking, talk-show-appearing, insouciantly Twittering 24-year-old daughter. “My cab driver is totally vibing me out,” Meghan McCain Twittered to her online devotees Thursday evening. “Just asked me if my cheekbones are real? Wtf, u can have fake cheekbones???” Yep, that’s the one…. – Politico, 4-11-09
  • Obama has hundreds of important jobs still open: President Barack Obama doesn’t have time for a victory lap now that his Cabinet is finally largely in place. One level down, he faces gaping holes in the ranks he needs to fill if there is to be any hope of turning his ambitious agenda into action on health care, the environment and much more. After a spurt of recent activity that followed a problem-plagued start, Obama is outpacing George W. Bush and Bill Clinton on appointments. But Obama, like his two immediate predecessors, is bogged down in a system that has grown increasingly cumbersome over the years. And he’s added tougher-than-ever background checks and ethics rules…. – AP, 4-11-09
  • U.S. Stocks Gain, Capping Biggest Jump Since 1933 as Banks Rise: U.S. stocks rose for a fifth week, capping the steepest rally since 1933, as Wells Fargo & Co.’s higher-than- estimated earnings and speculation banks will pass government stress tests spurred optimism that the industry’s slump is ending. Bank of America Corp., American Express Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. helped drive a gauge of 80 financial companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to a 9.4 percent advance. Wells Fargo surged 20 percent after reporting record first-quarter profit. Lincoln National Corp. and Principal Financial Group Inc. jumped at least 37 percent as the Treasury considered bailouts for life insurers…. – Bloomberg, 4-10-09
  • Hillary Clinton Tries to Pay Down Debt by Raffling Off Day With Her Husband: The secretary of state’s long-shuttered presidential campaign is still trying to pay off a steep debt, and has launched a new fundraising pitch urging donors to give money and compete for the chance to win one of three “exclusive prizes.” One of those is a day with Bill Clinton…. – Fox News, 4-10-09
  • Iowa GOP head says state’s caucus position is safe: The Iowa Republican Party chairman said Friday he’s talked with national party leaders and is confident the state will retain its leadoff role in the presidential nominating process. “I’ve had that conversation already with (National Republican Chairman) Michael Steele,” said Matt Strawn. “I know we need to remain vigilant, but for 2012 we’re safe.”… – AP, 4-10-09
  • Obama releases Reagan records: President Barack Obama is ordering the release of nearly a quarter of a million pages of records from the Reagan White House that were kept from the public during a lengthy review by President George W. Bush. The Reagan documents – which include presidential briefing papers, speechwriting research materials and declassified foreign policy records — are expected to be released Monday…. – Politico, 4-10-09
  • Obama sees ‘glimmers of hope’ “We are starting to see progress,” President Obama said. Still, experts agree that another round of major government aid will be necessary: President Obama, walking a fine line between optimism and caution, said Friday that there were “glimmers of hope” for the economy but warned that substantial, potentially difficult government action was still necessary to ensure a healthy recovery.
    “We are starting to see progress,” Obama said after huddling with senior members of his economic team at the White House. But he warned that the country must not “flinch” at the difficult steps to come…. – LAT, 4-10-09
  • Biden says Bush didn’t lead; Rove says VP lies: Vice President Joe Biden said he gave then-President George W. Bush an earful in the Oval Office. Former Bush adviser Karl Rove says Biden’s version of that encounter is at best an exaggeration — at worst a lie — and part of a pattern. “It’s a habit he ought to drop,” Rove said. The tit-for-tat between Biden and Rove illustrates both the vice president’s colorful way of retelling stories and Bush-era aides’ effort to protect their former boss. The pair tussled during media interviews this week in a political game without an obvious goal: The unpopular Bush is gone from Washington and Biden operates under President Barack Obama. – AP, 4-10-09
  • McCain’s daughter slated to write book on politics: Sen. John McCain’s daughter will write a book about her experience as a progressive Republican. Meghan McCain, who campaigned for her father during the 2008 presidential race, will examine what it means to “love the Republican party, while not always fitting in,” says publisher Hyperion, which inked a deal with McCain. – AP, 4-10-09
  • Obama to seek $83.4 billion for Iraq, Afghan wars: Congressional aides say President Barack Obama is seeking $83.4 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into the fall. Once approved by Congress, the money would bring the total amount for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001 to almost $1 trillion…. – AP, 4-10-09
  • Obama urges families to refinance mortgages President also cautions against scams, con artists: Declaring “good news” in the midst of an economic meltdown, President Obama yesterday urged families to take advantage of near-record-low mortgage rates by refinancing their home loans. “We are at a time where people can really take advantage of this,” Obama said, seated with a handful of homeowners who have already lowered their bills. But he also warned people to watch out for scam artists, cautioning, “If somebody is asking you for money up front before they help you with your refinancing, it’s probably a scam.” – Boston Globe, 4-9-09
  • CIA abandons use of contract interrogators: The CIA has stopped using contractors to interrogate prisoners and fired private security guards at the CIA’s now-shuttered secret overseas prisons, agency Director Leon Panetta said Thursday. Panetta told agency employees in an e-mail message that the guards will be replaced with CIA officers at the sites, which President Barack Obama ordered closed on his second day in office. – AP, 4-9-09
  • US to attend group nuclear talks with Iran: The Obama administration said Wednesday it will participate directly in group talks with Iran over its suspect nuclear program, another significant shift from President George W. Bush’s policy toward a nation he labeled part of an axis of evil. The State Department said the United States would be at the table “from now on” when senior diplomats from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany meet with Iranian officials to discuss the nuclear issue. The Bush administration had generally shunned such meetings, although it attended one last year…. – AP, 4-9-09
  • Biden: Administration working ’round the clock’: Vice President Joe Biden says the Obama administration is working “round the clock” on hostage-taking incident involving a U.S.-flag ship. AP, 4-9-09

[Download High Resolution]

(President Obama hosts a traditional Seder dinner in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House on Thursday
night, April 9, 2009. Some friends and White House employees and their families joined the Obama family.
Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

  • Obama to host seder: President Obama will host a Passover seder Thursday evening in the White House. The president’s schedule for the rest of the week, released on Tuesday evening, said that Obama would mark the beginning of the holiday with a seder for friends and staff. No other information was provided. It is believed to be the first presidential seder held in the White House. William Daroff, vice president for public policy and director of the United Jewish Communities Washington office, said the seder was scheduled on the second night so as not to disrupt first night family seders and is “a testament to how far we have come as a Jewish people in America. “Jews are a vital component in the mosaic that is American culture and society,” he said. “Our welcome through the front door, and the dining room door, of the White House speaks to the inclusiveness of today’s America and of President Obama. This night is indeed different from all other nights.” – JTA, 4-8-09
  • Obama to tackle immigration reform this year: report: U.S. President Barack Obama plans to start addressing the thorny issue of immigration reform this year, including the search for a path to legalize the status of millions of illegal immigrants, The New York Times reported on Wednesday, quoting a presidential aide. Obama will speak publicly about the matter in May and bring together working groups including Democratic and Republican lawmakers over the summer to begin discussing possible legislation for as early as the fall, administration officials told the Times…. – Reuters, 4-9-09
  • 10 Holy Cross priests object to Obama invitation: Ten priests from the order that founded the University of Notre Dame say the school risks its “true soul” and could distance itself from the Roman Catholic Church by inviting President Barack Obama to campus next month. The members of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, which helps run the university, asked the Rev. John Jenkins, the Holy Cross priest who is Notre Dame’s president, and the university’s board of fellows to reconsider the invitation to Obama because he supports abortion rights…. – AP, 4-8-09
  • Holder tells prosecutors that justice top priority: Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday warned federal prosecutors of increased scrutiny in the wake of mistakes in the corruption case against former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. Holder told assistant U.S. attorneys for the District of Columbia that they must respond to negative perceptions of federal prosecutors by doing “the right thing.” “Your job as assistant U.S. attorneys is not to convict people,” Holder said. “Your job is not to win cases. Your job is to do justice. Your job is in every case, every decision that you make, to do the right thing. Anybody who asks you to do something other than that is to be ignored. Any policy that is at tension with that is to be questioned and brought to my attention. And I mean that.” – AP, 4-8-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President discusses Passover and Easter in his Weekly Address

Political Quotes

  • Obama: World’s problems require global cooperation: “These are challenges that no single nation, no matter how powerful, can confront alone,” Obama said. “The United States must lead the way. But our best chance to solve these unprecedented problems comes from acting in concert with other nations.”
    “With all that is at stake today, we cannot afford to talk past one another. We can’t afford to allow old differences to prevent us from making progress in areas of common concern,” Obama said. “We can’t afford to let walls of mistrust stand. Instead, we have to find — and build on — our mutual interests. For it is only when people come together, and seek common ground, that some of that mistrust can begin to fade. And that is where progress begins.”
    “These are two very different holidays with their own very different traditions. But it seems fitting that we mark them both during the same week,” Obama said. “For in a larger sense, they are both moments of reflection and renewal. They are both occasions to think more deeply about the obligations we have to ourselves and the obligations we have to one another, no matter who we are, where we come from, or what faith we practice.” – AP, 4-11-09
  • Weekly Address: Passover & Easter: WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Says Nations Must Unite To Overcome Global Challenges In his weekly address, President Barack Obama extended his best wishes to everyone celebrating this week’s Passover and Easter holidays and called on nations around the world to come together to solve the current trials facing the world. On the heels of his weeklong trip overseas, the President said he believes it is important to acknowledge no single nation can solve global problems like a recession, international terrorism, climate change, or nuclear proliferation. But, working with other nations, the United States can lead the way in overcoming these challenges…. – WH Blog, 4-11-09 Transcript
  • US to attend group nuclear talks with Iran: “We believe that pursuing very careful engagement on a range of issues that affect our interests and the interests of the world with Iran makes sense,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters. “There is nothing more important than trying to convince Iran to cease its efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon.” – AP, 4-9-09
  • George W. Bush attends Road 2 Recovery Locals thrilled by veterans’ visit: Bush joined U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, State Rep. Rob Orr, R-Burleson, Cleburne Mayor Ted Reynolds and other city officials Saturday morning at the Comfort Inn to rally the riders before they departed. Bush declined to publicize his appearance because he thought it might distract focus from the veterans and the importance of their bike ride.
    Bush joked about things he misses from his days as president, including tasks he now has to perform on his own, one of which involves walking, and picking up after, his dog.
    “You all remember Barney right?” Bush said. “The other day I took him for a walk through the neighborhood, something I hadn’t done in years and something Barney had never done. Well, I had the experience of using the little plastic bag, and it hit me that I was picking up what I spent eight years in office dodging.” What he most misses, Bush said, is serving as commander in chief of the U.S. Military. – Cleburne Times Review, 4-9-09
  • Bush Aides Challenge Biden’s Boasts of Oval Office Slapdowns: Aides to former President George W. Bush are challenging the veracity of Vice President Joe Biden’s claim this week of having privately castigated Bush. Fox News, 4-9-09
  • DIVISIVE FIGURE: “Mr. Obama has hastened the decline of Republican support with petty attacks on his critics and predecessor,” writes Karl Rove, former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, in the Wall Street Journal. “For a person who promised hope and civility in politics, Mr. Obama has shown a borderline obsessiveness in blaming Mr. Bush. Starting with his inaugural address and continuing through this week’s overseas trip, the new president’s jabs at Mr. Bush have been unceasing, unfair and unhelpful. They have also diminished Mr. Obama by showing him to be another conventional politician. Rather than ending ‘the blame game,’ he is personifying it. – Washington Times, 4-9-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

President Barack Obama confers with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke following their meeting at the White House, April 10, 2009
(President Barack Obama confers with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke following their meeting
at the White House, April 10, 2009. White House Photo/Pete Souza)

Historians’ Comments

  • Allan J. Lichtman, Professor of History, American University “Opportunity and danger for Obama”: President Obama’s overseas trip signals the arrival of an important new approach to American foreign policy. In contrast to the previous administration, he has adopted a more multilateral and cooperative approach to world affairs. Obama has gained support from foreign leaders and publics, which could pay future dividends later on. He has initiated a much needed outreach to the Muslim world, enhanced America’s standing in Turkey, and made a start in thawing relations with Russia and China. He has introduced a notable initiative on reducing nuclear arms and controlling nuclear testing. Obama has recognized that until the U. S. and other major powers make a real effort to reduce their nuclear arsenals, progress on non-proliferation is likely to be stalled. He did not get all he wanted on economic recovery and reform, but still gained some cooperation on economic stimulus programs and financial regulations.
    Obama has an opportunity to become a great or near great president. However, like another Democratic President Lyndon Johnson, his Achilles Heel could be an unwise and un-winnable foreign war: in this case Afghanistan. The objections of his base voters at home and the reluctance of America’s allies to support fully the war in Afghanistan should come as a loud and clear warning to the new president. – 4-8-09
  • Robert Weisbrot “What Obama’s Great Society challenge is, says Great Society historian”: Robert Weisbrot, co-author of “The Liberal Hour: Washington and the Politics of Change in the 1960s,” says the Great Society revolution was “tremendously liberating” for members of the most vulnerable groups in America.
    But historical circumstances won’t permit Obama to push through his own Great Society, Weisbrot says. “Obama is living in a different age,” Weisbrot said. “The circumstances won’t permit him to be another Lyndon Johnson.” – CNN, 4-7-09
  • Douglas Brinkley: Obama is America’s first global president: Barack Obama “is our first global president,” according to historian Douglas Brinkley. “Obama came of age, really, after the Cold War, with the Internet being the transformative engine of society, and he now takes his multicultural heritage and the geographical diversity of his upbringing” to the world, Brinkley said in an interview Tuesday as Obama wrapped up his first trip abroad. Brinkley, who has written about presidents from Teddy Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan, said Obama “is playing to the world right out of the gates, whereas most presidents have not.” – USA Today, 4-7
  • Julian Zelizer “Obama’s Approval Tops Recent Presidents Bush, Clinton”: “Bush’s popularity was so low it created an opportunity for Obama by contrast to win the hearts and minds of the country,” said Julian Zelizer, a history and public-affairs professor at Princeton University in New Jersey. “He has also consistently shown that magic quality that politician yearn for, the ‘it’ factor which leads people to like what you do.” – Bloomberg, 4-7-09
  • Thomas Whalen “Obama White House Faces ‘Unprecedented’ Onslaught of Domestic, Global Problems With the new administration stretched wafer thin, it’s questionable whether the Obama White House, or any White House, could be equipped to handle such an onslaught of problems.”: “North Korea, strangely enough, is the least of Obama’s foreign policy problems at this point — and that’s pretty bad,” said Thomas Whalen, a political historian and professor at Boston University. Whalen said the breadth of challenges facing Obama less than 80 days into his term is “unprecedented” for a new president. “FDR, he had the Great Depression, but it wasn’t until his third term until he really dealt with foreign policy issues,” he said. “This is … like it’s all coming at once.” Whalen said the magnitude and severity of challenges help explain why Obama is overseas seeking renewed support from European nations and restored relations with countries like Russia and China. Obama also is making fresh overtures to the Muslim world — on Monday, he declared before the Turkish parliament that the United States “is not and will never be at war with Islam” and called for a mutual respect between East and West. “He knows the United States can’t do it alone,” Whalen said. – Fox News, 4-6-09

Bo, the First Dog

March 24, 2009: President Obama’s Second Press Conference Focusing on the Economy & Budget

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

Doug Mills/The New York Times President Obama spoke in the East Room of the White House Tuesday.

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • President Barack Obama “Obama Defends Economic Recovery in News Conference”: “We will recover from this recession. But it will take time, it will take patience, and it will take an understanding that when we all work together; when each of us looks beyond our own short-term interests to the wider set of obligations we have to each other — that’s when we succeed.” – Newshour, PBS, 3-24-09
  • FACT CHECK: Obama Having It Both Ways on Economy?: President Barack Obama’s plea for patience in the economic turmoil Tuesday fits with the view of most economists that a turnaround will take some time. It doesn’t fit quite so neatly with his bullish budget. The president’s spending plans and deficit projections rest on the assumption that the economy will post solid growth next year after a mild, further decline this year. Many economists think that’s too rosy. Obama was more cautious than that in his prime-time news conference — possibly to the point of having it both ways…. – AP, 3-24-09
  • Obama Says Nation Judging Him on Work, Not Race: President Barack Obama says Americans are judging him by the job he’s doing, not the color of his skin. – AP, 3-24-09
  • CBS News Poll: Public Wants Government to Recover Bonus Funds: Only 13 percent agreed that A.I.G. had to pay their executives those bonuses, while 83 percent said they thought the company could have found a way not to pay them.
    And 71 percent disagreed that banks and other financial institutions need to pay large bonuses to hire and keep employees with essential skills.
    Half said they were angry about the bonuses that A.I.G. executives received, and 38 percent said that, while they were not angry, the bonuses “bothered” them. Only 12 percent said they were not bothered. – NYT, 3-24-09

THE HEADLINES….

The Headlines…

  • Obama Tries to Rally Nation to His Agenda: President Obama tried to rally the nation behind his ambitious agenda Tuesday night, hoping to channel outrage at Wall Street excess into support for changes in tax, health care and energy policy that face skepticism even within his own party in Congress…. – NYT, 3-24-09
  • Live Blog: Obama’s News Conference: The second prime-time press conference for Mr. Obama is in the books. Thirteen questions, but not one about Iraq or Afghanistan. That would have been impossible to imagine during his presidential campaign. So what’s the headline? “Hang on Americans, We’ll Get Through This.”…. – NYT, 3-24-09
  • Obama Defends Economic Recovery in News Conference: With the Obama administration set to take on one of its toughest battles yet over their proposed $3.6 trillion budget, the president took to the airwaves Tuesday night, defending his team’s efforts to combat the financial crisis and pledging better days to come…. – Newshour, PBS, 3-24-09
  • Obama’s uses news conference to stress patience and persistence as he tackles problems: President Obama this evening held his second prime-time Q&A since taking office two months ago…. – USA Today, 3-24-09
  • Obama expects strong support for regulatory powers: President Barack Obama says he expects strong support from Americans and Congress for his push for unprecedented regulatory authority over financial institutions…. – AP, 3-24-09
  • Obama sees support for financial wind-down powers: “We should have obtained it much earlier so that any institution that poses a systemic risk that can bring down the financial system, we can handle and we can do it in an orderly fashion, that quarantines it from other institutions. We don’t have that power right now, that’s what (Treasury) Secretary (Timothy) Geithner is talking about and I think there’s going to be strong support from the American people and Congress to provide that authority.” – Reuters, 3-24-09
  • Obama defends budget as essential to recovery: President Obama said Tuesday “there are no quick fixes” to pull the economy out of recession, but he insisted the country will recover…. –
  • Bill Schneider: Obama gives tough answer to CNN: President Obama gave a pretty tough answer to CNN’s Ed Henry when asked why he waited days to express outrage on the AIG bonuses. “It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak,” he said. It seemed to imply the question was impertinent. CNN, 3-24-09
  • Gloria Borger: Lack of foreign policy questions astonishing: It’s astonishing President Obama was not asked more about foreign policy. The president himself had to raise the issue of his Iran tape. There was some talk on Mexico and a tad on the Middle East, but NO Iraq and Afghanistan??? How can that be? And when was the last time a president had a press conference without mentioning those, or without being asked about those?…. – CNN, 3-24-09
  • Obama to focus on economy in news conference: President Barack Obama looked to steer the nation’s economic attention to the bigger picture Tuesday night and away from recent days’ micro-focus on outrage over executive bonuses, declaring signs of progress as his administration attacks the crisis “on all fronts.” “It’s a strategy to create jobs, to help responsible homeowners, to restart lending and to grow our economy over the long term,” Obama said in remarks released in advance of his prime-time news conference. – AP, 3-24-09
  • House Republicans miss Obama’s news conference: As President Obama prepared to hold his second prime time news conference, more than 1,200 Republicans gathered 12 blocks away to break bread at a multi- million dollar fundraiser and discuss the road back to power in the nation’s capital. – CNN, 3-24-09
  • Bleak Deficit Numbers Projected Under Obama’s Budget Plan: The Congressional Budget Office released figures Friday forecasting that President Barack Obama’s budget will produce $9.3 trillion worth of red ink over 2010-2019 and that the deficit for this fiscal year will rise to a record $1.8 trillion. – Newshour, PBS, 3-24-09
  • For Populism, a Return to Economic Roots: In selecting villains, politicians reflect the anxieties of their era. Today’s populist uproar reaches far beyond the American International Group — and may mark a turning point…. – NYT, 3-24-09
  • Geithner Seeks Broader Powers Over Financial Firms: The crisis surrounding the American International Group was a near-tragedy that underlines the need for broad new government authority to regulate or even take control of financial institutions other than banks, the government’s top fiscal officials told lawmakers on Tuesday…. – NYT, 3-24-09
  • Geithner seeks new powers over financial companies: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke sought broad new powers Tuesday to regulate tottering nonbank financial companies like insurance giant AIG, and President Barack Obama said he hopes “it doesn’t take too long to convince Congress” to grant them. – AP, 3-24-09
  • Democrats in Congress Are Ready to Pare Budget: Alarmed by rising deficit predictions, Congressional Democrats prepared Tuesday to pare spending in President Obama’s budget and limit some middle-class tax cuts even as Republicans stepped up their criticism of the plan as irresponsible…. – NYT, 3-24-09
  • Senate Democrats to scrap Obama’s $400 tax credit: A top Democrat in the Senate announced a budget blueprint Tuesday that would scrap Barack Obama’s signature tax cut after 2010 and blends sleight of hand with modest cuts to domestic programs to cut the deficit to sustainable levels. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., promises to reduce the deficit from a projected $1.7 trillion this year to a still-high $508 billion in 2014. But to do so, he assumes Congress will let Obama’s “Making Work Pay” tax credit delivering $400 tax cuts to most workers and $800 to couples will expire at the end of next year. Those tax cuts were included in Obama’s stimulus package. – AP, 3-24-09
  • Next Foreign Crisis Could Be Next Door: Mexico’s economy is being dragged down by the recession to the north. American addicts have turned Mexico into a drug superhighway, and its police and soldiers are under assault from American guns. Nafta promised 15 years ago that Mexican trucks would be allowed on American roads, but the Obama administration says they are too unsafe for that… – NYT, 3-24-09
  • Senate approves former Wash. governor for Commerce: The Senate confirmed former Washington Gov. Gary Locke as commerce secretary Tuesday, handing President Barack Obama an easy victory after his first two nominees for the post withdrew. Locke, 59, was the nation’s first Chinese-American governor, serving two terms from 1997 to 2005. He has promised to focus on job creation and to closely oversee the 2010 census. – AP, 3-24-09
  • Cheney helping or hurting GOP?: Former Vice President Dick Cheney has come back into the spotlight with his criticisms of President Obama’s plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center. But some Republicans wish he weren’t being so vocal…. – USA Today, 3-24-09
  • Bishop to skip Notre Dame commencement over Obama: The Roman Catholic bishop whose diocese includes the University of Notre Dame says he will boycott President Barack Obama’s commencement speech at the Catholic school because Obama’s policies on stem cell research and abortion run counter to church teaching. – AP, 3-24-09
  • NY Gov. orders 8,900 layoffs: Gov. David Paterson on Tuesday ordered layoffs that could total about 4 percent of state workers after unions refused concessions amid a staggering economic downturn that was projected to push the state’s deficit to $16 billion in the next year. AP, 3-24-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Political Quotes

  • Transcript: President Obama’s News Conference: Following is the transcript, as it becomes available, of President Obama’s prime-time press conference on March 24, as transcribed by Federal News Service. – NYT, 3-24-09
  • La. Gov. Jindal urges GOP to stand up to Obama: “We are now in the position of being the loyal opposition,” Jindal said at a Republican congressional fundraising dinner that only by coincidence fell on the same night as Obama’s news conference. “The right question to ask is not if we want the president to fail or succeed, but whether we want America to succeed.” Saying “the time for talking about the past is over,” Jindal said Republicans have begun to find their voice after back-to-back elections losses — motivated by what he called historic Democratic spending excess…. “They’re not allowed to show my speech at Gitmo anymore,” he said. “They’ve banned that.” – AP, 3-24-09
  • President Obama’s News Conference Excerpts:
    Now, it’s important to remember that this crisis didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t result from any one action or decision. It took many years and many failures to lead us here. And it will take many months and many different solutions to lead us out. There are no quick fixes, and there are no silver bullets. That’s why we’ve put in place a comprehensive strategy designed to attack this crisis on all fronts. It’s a strategy to create jobs, to help responsible homeowners, to restart lending, and to grow our economy over the long term. And we’re beginning to see signs of progress….
    You know, there was a lot of outrage and finger-pointing last week, and much of it is is understandable. I’m as angry as anybody about those bonuses that went to some of the very same individuals who brought our financial system to its knees, partly because it’s yet another symptom of the culture that led us to this point. Bankers and executives on Wall Street need to realize that enriching themselves on the taxpayer’s dime is inexcusable, that the days of outsize rewards and reckless speculation that puts us all at risk have to be over. At the same time, the rest of us can’t afford to demonize every investor or entrepreneur who seeks to make a profit. That drive is what has always fueled our prosperity, and it is what will ultimately get these banks lending and our economy moving once more….
    We’ll recover from this recession, but it will take time; it will take patience; and it will take an understanding that when we all work together, when each of us looks beyond our own short-term interest to the wider set of obligations we have towards each other, that’s when we succeed. That’s when we prosper. And that’s what is needed right now. So let’s look towards the future with a renewed sense of common purpose, a renewed determination, and, most importantly, renewed confidence that a better day will come….

    With respect to the American people, I think folks are sacrificing left and right. They — you’ve got a lot of parents who are cutting back on everything to make sure that their kids can still go to college. You’ve got workers who are deciding to cut an entire day and entire day’s worth of pay so that their fellow co-workers aren’t laid off. I think that across the board people are making adjustments, large and small, to accommodate the fact that we’re in very difficult times right now….

    Now, we never expected, when we printed out our budget, that they would simply Xerox it and vote on it. We assume that it has to go through the legislative process. I have not yet seen the final product coming out of the Senate or the House, and we’re in constant conversations with them. I am confident that the budget we put forward will have those principles in place….

    We are providing hundreds of additional personnel that can help control the border, deal with customs issues. We are coordinating very effectively with the Mexican government and President Calderon, who has taken on a(n) extraordinarily difficult task dealing with these drug cartels that have gotten completely out of hand…. One last point that I want to make about this. As I said, President Calderon has been very courageous in taking on these drug cartels….

    First of all, I suspect that some of those Republican critics have a short memory, because as I recall, I’m inheriting a $1.3 trillion deficit, annual deficit, from them. That would be point number one….

    QUESTION: So on AIG, why did you wait — why did you wait days to come out and express that outrage? … It seems like the action is coming out of New York in the attorney general’s office. It took you days to come public with Secretary Geithner and say, look, we’re outraged. Why did it take so long? PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak. (Laughter.) All right?…

    I think it is a realistic way for us to raise some revenue from people who benefitted enormously over the last several years. It’s not going to cripple them. They’ll still be well-to-do. And, you know, ultimately if we’re going to tackle the serious problems that we’ve got, then in some cases those who are more fortunate are going to have to pay a little bit more….
    I mean, if you look at the evidence — there’s very little evidence that this has a significant impact on charitable giving. I’ll tell you what has a significant impact on charitable giving is a financial crisis and an economy that’s contracting. And so the most important thing that I can do for charitable giving is to fix the economy, to get banks lending again, to get businesses opening their doors again, to get people back to work again. Then I think charities will do just fine….

    Well, the first thing I’d say is that I’m heartbroken that any child in America is homeless. And the most important thing that I can do on their behalf is to make sure their parents have a job. And that’s why the recovery package said, as a first priority, how are we going to save or create 3.5 million jobs? How can we prevent layoffs for teachers and police officers? How can we make sure that we are investing in the infrastructure for the future that can put people back to work right away? How do we make sure that when people do lose their jobs, that their unemployment insurance is extended, that they can keep their health care?…. Now, in the meantime, we’ve got to work very closely with the states to monitor and to help people who are still falling through the cracks….

    I think that the last 64 days has been dominated by me trying to figure out how we’re going to fix the economy, and that’s — affects black, brown and white. And you know, obviously, at the Inauguration I think that there was justifiable pride on the part of the country that we had taken a step to move us beyond some of the searing legacies of racial discrimination in this country, but that lasted about a day. And you know, right now the American people are judging me exactly the way I should be judged, and that is, are we taking the steps to improve liquidity in the financial markets, create jobs, get businesses to reopen, keep America safe?…
    What we do know is this; that the status quo is unsustainable. That it is critical for us to advance a two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in their own states with peace and security. And by assigning George Mitchell the task of working as special envoy, what we’ve signaled is that we’re going to be serious from day one in trying to move the parties in a direction that acknowledges that reality. How effective these negotiations may be, I think we’re going to have to wait and see….
    And what that tells me is that if you stick to it, if you are persistent, then — then these problems can be dealt with. That whole philosophy of persistence, by the way, is one that I’m going to be emphasizing again and again in the months and years to come, as long as I am in this office. I’m a big believer in persistence. I think that when it comes to domestic affairs, if we keep on working at it, if we acknowledge that we make mistakes sometimes and that we don’t always have the right answer, and we’re inheriting very knotty problems, that we can pass health care, we can find better solutions to our energy challenges, we can teach our children more effectively, we can deal with a very real budget crisis that is not fully dealt with in my — in my budget at this point, but makes progress….
    And I’m sure there’ll be more criticism and we’ll have to make more adjustments, but we’re moving in the right direction…. We haven’t immediately eliminated the influence of lobbyists in Washington. We have not immediately eliminated wasteful pork projects. And we’re not immediately going to get Middle East peace. We’ve been in office now a little over 60 days. What I am confident about is that we’re moving in the right direction, and that the decisions we’re making are based on, how are we going to get this economy moving? How are we going to put Americans back to work? How are we going to make sure that our people are safe? And how are we going to create not just prosperity here but work with other countries for global peace and prosperity? – Transcript

  • Jindal urges GOP to put ’08 in rear view mirror: “Let’s agree on this tonight, the time for talking about the past is now over,” Jindal told 1,200 people attending a House GOP fundraiser here in Washington. “It has been healthy for Republicans to look in the mirror. It has been healthy for us to realize and admit the mistakes of the past. We have done that quite a bit. I personally have done that quite a bit since the election last fall. It’s now been close to five months since the last election. He added, “It’s time to declare our time of introspection and navel gazing officially over. It’s time to get on with the business of charting America’s future. So as of now, be it hereby resolved, that we will focus on America’s future, and on standing up for fiscal sanity… before it is too late. “Thanks primarily to the Republicans in the House of Representatives, the Republican Party has once again decided to be the conservative party in this country,” Jindal said. – CNN, 3-24-09
  • Meghan McCain: ‘I support the president’: Larry King: [President Obama] is taking some criticism for smiling and laughing [during his “60 Minutes” interview.] Are you one of those critics?
    Meghan McCain: You know, I actually am not. I think anyone that would possibly think that the president is not taking the economy seriously — I just think it’s ridiculous. …
    King: [Is President Obama getting overexposed]?
    McCain: I think he is on the verge of it. I do think you have to be careful. But it is a different generation. [My] generation … we like our celebrities. And I think that he realizes that because he is very much a Generation Y president. However, he is on the risk of alienating his older followers.
    King: Does Obama seem like the same guy who ran against your dad? How do you view him?
    McCain: He’s our president and when the election was over and when President Obama won, all negative feelings were gone. I support the president. – CNN, 3-24-09
  • Aaron Shock: Republican stalked by gossip site like he’s a Hollywood starlet: “I didn’t know what was going on,” Schock said of his first encounter with TMZ. “I was on my way to the floor for a vote, I’m talking to a constituent literally on my cell phone and there’s some guy with a handycam in street clothes walking next to me. And, so, I didn’t know what to expect.”…. “I was actually surprised by how many text messages, e-mails, phone calls I got from stay-at-home mom’s that were watching the [TMZ] show,” Schock said on State of the Union on Sunday. “People that log onto their Web site I guess regularly and check out the news on TMZ. … People who watch TMZ or different mediums don’t expect to see their congressman on such a show. They’re used to seeing the Britney Spears or the movie star.” “Some of these alternative forms [of media] are important because it gets nontraditional voters engaged,” he said. “If they’re learning about me on TMZ or some of these other blogs and YouTube videos, then they’re recognizing my face and my name so that when I’m out on CNN or the other networks talking about issues, they’re going to maybe stop . . . and listen to what I have to say.”
    The young Republican was recently voted the hottest freshman in the current Congress by readers of the Huffington Post, a liberal Web site, and he has already received a fair amount of personal attention from President Obama — though it was not enough to convince Shock to support Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package. – CNN, 3-24-09
  • Why Obama Is Still Smiling: But Obama was so calm — even jolly — in his “60 Minutes” interview broadcast last night that anchor Steve Kroft asked him about it straight out: “You’re sitting here. And you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people gonna look at this and say, ‘I mean, he’s sitting there just making jokes about money.’ How do you deal with, I mean, explain the…mood and your laughter?…Are you punch drunk?”
    Obama replied with another laugh: “No, no. There’s gotta be a little gallows humor to get you through the day. You know, sometimes my team — talks about the fact that if — if you had said to us a year ago that — the least of my problems would be Iraq, which is still a pretty serious problem — I don’t think anybody would have believed it. But — but we’ve got a lot on our plate. And — a lot of difficult decisions that we’re going to have to make.”…

    “The one thing that — I’ve tried to emphasize, though, throughout this week, and will continue to try to emphasize during the course of the next several months as we dig ourselves out of this — the economic hole that we’re in — is we can’t govern out of anger. We’ve got to try to make good decisions based on the facts, in order to put people back to work, to get credit flowing again. And I’m not going to be distracted by — what’s happening day to day. I’ve gotta stay focused on making sure that — we’re getting this economy moving again.” – WaPo, 3-23-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Historians’ Comments

  • Julian Zelizer “AIG bonuses follow an American tradition”: In the explosion of outrage over the AIG executive bonus scandal, each party has hurled charges at the other. Both parties are blaming each other for rejecting measures that would have limited executive bonuses. A few Republicans have called for the resignation of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner — with efforts to paint him as the Michael Brown of this administration — and President Obama is promising that this week he will outline more stringent requirements for the financial world.
    These partisan accusations miss a bigger factor behind last’s week’s revelations — America’s middle-way in dealing with business-government relations. In many ways, the bonus scandal was utterly predictable and would likely have happened regardless of which party was in power. And if history is a guide, the populist outrage over the bonuses may not fundamentally change the federal government’s relationship to private business….
    As a result, like many of their predecessors, the White House and Congress allowed management the flexibility to make decisions, such as the bonuses, which have already come back to haunt them. During the next round of negotiations, the administration and Congress might rethink their earlier approach, indeed the approach we have taken to economic intervention since the progressive era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
    The federal government might place tighter regulations on the institutions receiving assistance (as it has with other recipients of government assistance, such as the poor) so that public support for the much needed interventions in this crisis doesn’t suffer more political blows. – CNN, 3-23-09
  • Joyce Appleby “Obama needs some FDR magic” In 1934, Franklin Roosevelt defied history and boosted his agenda by increasing Democrats’ strength in Congress. Can the current president do the same in 2010?: President Obama’s $3.55-trillion budget tackles the nation’s highest priorities while promising to cut deficits in the long run. Breathtakingly bold and refreshingly honest, the budget speaks louder than words about Obama’s confident leadership. But, alas, it only makes more acute the dilemma he faces….
    Does Roosevelt furnish a template for Obama? The two men share a lot. As president, both face the awesome task of reviving the economy. Obama’s personal popularity outstrips support for his party, as did FDR’s. Of necessity, Obama’s hope for matching Roosevelt’s successful record of reform and recovery is going to rest on his pulling off an electoral victory in 2010 like FDR’s 76 years ago. – LAT, 3-23-09
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