December 11, 2008: Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich Arrested, Obama Handles the Scandal and Continues Filling his Cabinet


President-elect Barack Obama introduced former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle as Health and Human Services Secretary-designate on Thursday in Chicago. (Photo: Jim Wilson/The New York Times)

In Focus:

  • Name by name, Obama’s Cabinet taking shape 12-11-08

The Headlines…

Brian Kersey/Getty Images

Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich went to his office in Chicago on Thursday to work on the state budget, while state lawmakers worked on ways to remove him from office.

    President-Elect Barack Obama Transition office:

  • Inauguration agenda runs 4 days: President-elect Barack Obama plans four days of events to mark his inauguration, including a day of service to commemorate the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on the eve of the Jan. 20 swearing-in ceremony. Other activities include a public kickoff on Jan. 18 to welcome visitors to the nation’s capital and a prayer service on Jan. 21, the day after Obama takes the oath. – USA Today, 12-11-08
  • Officials say obstacle remains to auto aid deal – AP, 12-11-08
  • Panel blames White House, not soldiers, for abuse: The physical and mental abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was the direct result of Bush administration detention policies and should not be dismissed as the work of bad guards or interrogators, according to a bipartisan Senate report released Thursday. – AP, 12-11-08
  • Obama picks Daschle to spearhead healthcare: U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday chose former Sen. Tom Daschle to spearhead healthcare reform — putting a Washington veteran in charge of one of the most ambitious and expensive gambles of his administration. – AP, 12-11-08
  • Officials: Obama chooses Chu for energy secretary: President-elect Barack Obama intends to round out his environmental and natural resources team with a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and three former Environmental Protection Agency officials from the Clinton administration. – AP, 12-11-08
  • Illinois governor ignores Obama’s call to resign: His career in shreds, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich clung defiantly to power Wednesday, ignoring a call to step down from President-elect Barack Obama and a warning that Senate Democrats will not let him appoint a new senator from the state. – AP, 12-11-08
  • Clinton to earn about $4,700 less than Rice: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would make about $4,700 less as secretary of state than her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice. Congress late Wednesday lowered the salary for the nation’s top diplomat to keep Clinton’s nomination from running afoul of the Constitution. – AP, 12-11-08
  • Influential Democrat asks Obama to keep spy chiefs: President-elect Barack Obama should retain the Bush administration’s top spy chiefs, the U.S. House of Representatives intelligence committee’s Democratic chairman said. – AP, 12-11-08
  • Illinois First Lady Faces Scrutiny NYT, 12-11-08
  • Officials Say Jackson Was ‘Candidate 5’ in Blagojevich Case: Representative Jesse L. Jackson Jr., long seen here as someone who was willing, even happy, to clash with this city’s old power structure, found himself tangled up on Wednesday in the fallout from the arrest of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois — now a symbol of that old, unseemly political way. – NYT 12-11-08
  • Scandal Is an Early Test for Obama Team NYT, 12-10-08
  • La. Gov. Jindal: 2012 presidential bid unlikely: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Wednesday he’s not interested in a 2012 Republican presidential bid and will seek a second term as governor in 2011. – AP, 12-10-08
  • Obama hopes to reboot US image among Muslims: President-elect Barack Obama says he will try to “reboot America’s image” among the world’s Muslims and will follow tradition by using his entire name — Barack Hussein Obama — in his swearing-in ceremony. – AP, 12-10-08
  • Auto rescue bill in peril, opposed by GOP senators: mergency aid for the nation’s imperiled auto industry was thrown into jeopardy Wednesday, opposed by Republicans who were revolting against a hard-fought deal between Democrats and the Bush White House to speed $14 billion to ailing carmakers. – AP, 12-10-08
  • Jackson Jr. denies wrongdoing in Ill. gov scandal: Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. said Wednesday he openly sought appointment to Barack Obama’s Senate seat but denied offering favors in return to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and said he was not involved “whatsoever in any wrongdoing.” – AP, 12-10-08
  • Court: No review of Obama’s eligibility to serve: The Supreme Court has turned down an emergency appeal from a New Jersey man who says President-elect Barack Obama is ineligible to be president because he was a British subject at birth. The court did not comment on its order Monday rejecting the call by Leo Donofrio of East Brunswick, N.J., to intervene in the presidential election. – AP, 12-9-08
  • Cracks appear in Obama foreign policy team: As Secretary of State-pick Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.N. envoy-choice Susan Rice separately visited the diplomatic agency’s headquarters in Washington’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood, persons familiar with the transition said that Rice wants to install her own transition team inside the department. – AP, 12-9-08
  • Illinois Governor Arrested: Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois was arrested by federal authorities on Tuesday morning and charged with corruption, including an allegation that he conspired to profit from his authority to appoint President-elect Barack Obama’s successor in the United States Senate, prosecutors said. – NYT, 12-9-08
  • Obama meeting with Gore raises eyebrows: Former Vice President Al Gore is set to meet with President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden Tuesday, leading to speculation Obama is eyeing Gore for a slot in his administration. According to the Obama transition office, the meeting will focus on issues relating to energy and climate change, and how the new administration’s environmental policies can spur job creation. CNN, 12-8-08
  • In a New Tux, Obama Seeks the Proper Tone: President-elect Barack Obama has ordered his first new tuxedo in 15 years for his inaugural celebration. And he has invited the marching band from Punahou School, his high school in Hawaii, to join the parade. (Nearly 1,400 bands have applied; only a few dozen are chosen.) – NYT, 12-8-09
  • Congress sends White House $15B auto aid proposal: Congressional Democrats sent the White House an emergency $15 billion auto bailout plan Monday, complete with provision of a “car czar” to oversee the industry’s reinvention of itself. The Bush administration said there had been progress toward agreement but pressed further negotiations into the night. – AP, 12-8-08
  • Promises Promises: Obama budget cuts face hurdles: Barack Obama promises a line-by-line scrub of the federal budget to root out wasteful programs. But as a practical matter, entire chapters of the $3 trillion federal budget are off limits — and the president-elect’s Democratic allies in Congress are bracing to defend farm subsidies, weapons systems and home-state pork barrel projects. – AP, 12-8-08
  • Obama education pick sparks conflict: President-elect Barack Obama has not signaled what he will do to fix the country’s failing schools, but his choice of education secretary will say a lot about the policies he may pursue. – AP, 12-8-08

Robyn Beck/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado in August.

Political Quotes

  • A friendlier McCain visit with David Letterman: “I don’t want to talk about the bleeping campaign. Understand? If you think I’m going to go back to that bleeping situation, then bleep you.”…
    “She is extremely knowledgeable on the issues,” he said. “I think it’s a good team and I think it’s a very wise choice. And I would like to say that I think President-elect Obama has made a number of very wise choices which I think shows a centrist approach to government, which, obviously, the way America and the world is today, is necessary.”…
    “I applaud his selections.”…
    Letterman said that people consider Blagojevich either stupid or nuts. “What do you think?” Letterman asked. “I think it’s a rare combination of both,” McCain replied.
    “You know, you don’t get a lot of statues. At least before you die.” – AP, 12-11-08
  • The Obama Press Conference: I was as appalled and disappointed as anybody by the revelations earlier this week. I have never spoken to the governor on this subject. I’m confident that no representatives of mine would have any part of any deals related to this seat. I think the materials released by the U.S. attorney reflect that fact. I’ve asked my team to gather the facts of any contacts with the governor’s office about this vacancy so we can share them with you over the next few days.
    Finally, on this matter, let me say that this senate seat does not belong to any politician to trade. It belongs to the people of Illinois. They deserve the best possible representation. They also deserve to know that any vacancy will be filled in an appropriate way so that whoever is sent to Washington is going to be fighting for the people of Illinois. I hope and expect that the leaders of the legislature will take these steps to ensure that this is so.” NYT, 12-11-08 Complete Transcript
  • Illinois governor ignores Obama’s call to resign: “The president-elect agrees with Lt. Gov. Quinn and many others that under the current circumstances it is difficult for the governor to effectively do his job and serve the people of Illinois,” Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said in response to questions from The Associated Press. AP, 12-11-08
  • Representative Jesse L. Jackson Jr. — Jesse Jackson Jr.’s Press Conference Transcript: “I did not initiate or authorize anyone at any time to promise anything to Governor Blagojevich on my behalf. I never sent a message or an emissary to the governor to make an offer, to plead my case or to propose a deal about a U.S. Senate seat, period.” – NYT, 12-11-08
  • La. Gov. Jindal: 2012 presidential bid unlikely: “I think anybody who is even thinking of running would be well served to roll up their sleeves and support our new president. I told our people, ‘It doesn’t matter whether you’re Republican, Democrat or independent, it doesn’t matter whether you voted for him or not, President-elect Barack Obama is our president.'” – AP, 12-10-08
  • U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald “Illinois Governor Arrested”: This is a sad day for government. It’s a very sad day for Illinois government.
    We should also note that the governor talked about appointing himself to the Senate seat for reasons not having to do with the better welfare of the citizens of Illinois.
    He wanted to do it to avoid impeachment in the Illinois legislature for his conduct. He wanted to do it to have access to greater financial resources, if he were indicted. He wanted to do it to see if he could help his wife work as a lobbyist. He wanted to do it to remake his image to run for office in 2016, and he wanted to do it to see if he could generate speaking fees.
    At the end of the day, the conduct we have before us is appalling. What I do want to note is that, at the end of the day, it’s very, very important that how we proceed from here be the right way to proceed. – NYT, 12-9-08
  • Obama speaks out in his first newspaper interview The president-elect discusses Gov. Blagojevich, the economy, Islam and civil rights, among other topics. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted Tuesday in Chicago with President-elect Barack Obama. The interviewers were Peter Nicholas and Christi Parsons of our Washington bureau and reporter John McCormick of the Tribune.: Have you ever spoken to [ Illinois] Gov. [ Rod R.] Blagojevich about the Senate seat? I have not discussed the Senate seat with the governor at any time. My strong belief is that it needed to be filled by somebody who is going to represent the people of Illinois and fight for them. And beyond that, I was focused on the transition.Are you aware of any conversations between Blagojevich or [chief of staff] John Harris and any of your top aides, including Rahm [Emanuel]? Let me stop you there because . . . it’s an ongoing investigation. I think it would be inappropriate for me to, you know, remark on the situation beyond the facts that I know. And that’s the fact that I didn’t discuss this issue with the governor at all.

    Could you talk to the point of whether an appointment by Gov. Blagojevich would taint whoever your successor would be, given what we know? I think what the people of Illinois deserve is somebody they can trust, somebody that’s going to fight for them and, you know, I think we’ve got to make sure that whatever process emerges gives them that assurance. I haven’t examined all the options that are out there at this point.

    Given the state of the economy, has that forced any changes in your priorities and could you talk about what you would like to roll out in terms of sequencing of the things you would like to accomplish? You’ve got an interesting convergence between the circumstances that we find ourselves in and the agenda that I have set. Because we need to jump-start the economy, all the proposals that I put forward earlier are ones that are directly designed to put people to work and get the economy moving: a tax cut for 95% of working families — I think that’s needed more than ever — a serious investment in infrastructure that lays the foundation for a green-energy economy, that’s a job-creator and makes our economy more competitive. Investing in technologies that can reduce healthcare costs and error; that is needed more than ever. So what you’re seeing is, essentially, an effort on the part of my transition team to develop an economic recovery package that is good for the short-term, gets people back to work, gets money to the states and local communities, gets people working again, but is also laying the foundation for the kind of competitive economy that we need over the long-term. And, you know, there may be issues of sequencing and the need to get certain projects more quickly out the door than we would have expected, in order for a stimulus package to work more effectively. Now, I also think that the economic crisis is going to make the issue of our long-term fiscal problems more severe. You know there are some estimates that I’m already going to be inheriting a trillion-dollar deficit, even before we get started on any of this stuff. And if you look at the glide path that we are on with respect to healthcare spending and a whole host of other areas, we’ve got some big problems. So I think that it is critical that whatever we do this year, or the next, to deal with economic recovery, anticipate the fact that we are going to have to rationalize and reform the federal government, we’re going to have to cut spending that doesn’t work, we’re going to have to reform how the budget operates. . . . ”

    Are you prepared to give a speech in an Islamic capital? Would that send a message about inclusiveness and tolerance given the mutual suspicion that exists between these different faiths? This is something that I talked about doing in the campaign and it’s something that I intend to follow through on. What the time frame is, how we structure that, you know, is something that I will determine with my national security team in the coming weeks and months. But I think we’ve got a unique opportunity to reboot America’s image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular. So, we need to take advantage of that and the message I want to send is that we will be unyielding in stamping out the kind of terrorist extremism that we saw in Mumbai. We will be at the same time unrelenting in our desire to create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership with countries and peoples of goodwill who want their citizens and ours to prosper together. And I think that the world is ready for that message.

    Do you anticipate being sworn in as Barack Obama or Barack Hussein Obama? I think the tradition is that they use all three names, and I will follow the tradition, not trying to make a statement one way or the other. I’ll do what everybody else does.

    As the first black president, do you feel a special mission to fulfill the vision of the civil rights movement? And how can you use the office to make further progress in race relations? Obviously, I am honored and gratified to be part of this journey to change how race is viewed and dealt with in this country. But I think it’s important to understand, it’s not just me, or African Americans, that want to see better race relations. I think all Americans do. That’s part of the message that I delivered throughout this campaign. And so I think the burden is going to be on all of us to continue to make progress on these fronts. I think there are some specific things that we should do as a nation, some that are specific to civil rights. I think it’s important to make sure that our civil rights laws are enforced. You know, the Civil Rights Division [of the Justice Department] over the last eight years has had a lot of problems and really declining morale, and I want Eric Holder as the next attorney general to reinvigorate that office and its mission. I think it’s going to be important to make sure that on the criminal justice front that people have confidence that the laws are being evenly applied to everyone and that we are working with local and state as well as federal officials together to try to constantly improve, you know, the way we train people and how we think about the criminal justice system so that it gains confidence. But I think that the biggest challenges that we face right now in improving race relations have to do with the universal concerns of Americans across color lines. If we get a healthcare system that covers more people, is more affordable, reduces costs, emphasizes prevention, that’s going to be good for everybody. And it will be especially good for blacks and Latinos who are more likely to be uninsured and more likely to die of an early age of diseases that are preventable. If we are creating jobs throughout this economy, then, you know, African Americans and Latinos who are disproportionately unemployed, they’re going to be swept up in that rising tide. So, I think that more than anything is going to improve race relations, a sense of common progress, where everybody feels like they have a chance at the American Dream. If we can restore that sense, then I’m confident that the generation coming up behind me is going to be even more willing to embrace the diversity that makes America special.

    Do you expect to keep a long-term presence here [in Chicago]? You joked a couple weeks ago that it is a bad time to sell a house, but what really are your long-term expectations in terms of coming back here in four years or even coming back here in the summertime? Let me explain to you, my Kennebunkport is on the South Side of Chicago. We own one piece of property, and that is our home in Chicago. It is 10 minutes away from where Michelle grew up and where her mother still has a house. Our friends are here. Our family is here. And so we are going to try to come back here as often as possible. My expectation would be that, depending on what my schedule looks like, you know, we’re going to try to get back here at least once every six weeks or couple months.

    What’s it been for you to see Chicago in this national spotlight? It has to be sort of surreal for you to drive through the city and see your face painted on the sides of buildings and on lamp posts. What’s that like for you? You know, unfortunately, because I’m in this bubble, I don’t get to see all this stuff. It’s the hardest thing to adjust to about being president-elect. It was bad, you know, during the campaign and it got progressively worse the further along we got. And now it’s very tough. I don’t get a chance to wander around neighborhoods, interact the way I would like to interact. Probably the best moment I’ve had over these last two to three weeks was when we, on Thanksgiving, when we gave out that food, and then I had a chance to interact with those kids out at St. Columbanus [Catholic Church and school on Chicago’s South Side). Those kinds of interactions I really miss. I will say that the event in Grant Park [where he spoke on election night] was a wonderful symbol of what Chicago is all about. You know, you had people from everywhere converging and, you know, this incredibly peaceful and yet exuberant celebration. You know, I think that being broadcast around the world sent a pretty good message. And the fact that it was 65 degrees in November didn’t hurt. Maybe people will be fooled into thinking that’s our usual weather.

    Some of your more liberal supporters are concerned that you are being too centrist in putting together your administration. Look, I have chosen the people who I think are best equipped to carry out an agenda of change. And people haven’t been arguing somehow that my agenda has changed, because it hasn’t. You know, I want to change our tax code, so that it’s helping middle-class families. I want to get our troops out of Iraq in the 16-month time frame that I discussed during the campaign. I want to create a healthcare system that is affordable and works for all Americans. I want to have a energy transformation in this country so that we are reducing our independence on foreign oil. On all the promises I made during the campaign, there has been no sense that I’m backing off on them. What I’ve been putting in place is a Cabinet of extraordinarily qualified, competent people who would not have accepted my offer for them to join my administration unless they believed in my vision, and I think the proof of the pudding is going to be in what we get done.

    Does it make sense to shoot for those things in your agenda that are agreeable to a larger group of people and leave the harder stuff for later? Look, there’s always a strategy that has to be put in place in order to get things done, and so how we shape our agenda, how we time it, who we work with, how do we build the coalitions, how do we persuade the American people. I’m not going to spill all the beans now. But, yes, we’re sitting there, trying to plan out how to get all this stuff done. And, you know, we’re inheriting probably the most crowded agenda that any president has inherited in a very, very long time. So, yeah, we’re going to have to prioritize, but I don’t think people should make assumptions until they actually see what we do, what we’re going to be prioritizing and how we’re going to do it. – LA Times, Chicago Tribune, 12-10-08

  • Linda Douglass, a spokeswoman for Mr. Obama’s inaugural committee: “There’s no question that people are in tough times. But we hope that this will be an event in which we celebrate our common values and shared aspirations. What we are looking to achieve is a tone that is hopeful.” – NYT, 12-8-09

Historians’ Comments

  • Donald A. Ritchie: “Senate Vacancies Leave a String of Sordid Tales”: Inevitably, in this kind of situation, said Donald A. Ritchie, associate Senate historian, “the governor makes one friend and a lot of enemies.” – NYT, 12-11-08
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, presidential historian “Blagojevich Scandal Shakes Politics in Illinois and Beyond” “‘Even the most cynical’ shocked”: A little bit. And thank you for mentioning I’m a Chicago native. I was born there, grew up there. I’m a Chicagoan even on the bad days like this.
    I think maybe, at lower levels — I was having dinner last year with a former governor of Illinois, an honest one who did not go to prison, I said, you know, two governors did go to prison for things they did in office.
    Otto Kerner in the 1960s was governor. He went to prison for essentially trading favors for getting something back, money, racing dates, and an exit on an expressway near someone’s racetrack.
    And then George Ryan much later, a secretary of state and governor, went to prison for taking money for doing things like giving people truck driver’s licenses.

    He’s there now. And my governor friend said, you know, a lot of this — it happens at the local level. It’s bad enough, but then they become governor. They don’t realize they’re under a different level of scrutiny.
    But having said all of this, what Rod Blagojevich is accused of doing puts all of this into shame. No one ever in Illinois or other places in recent times had evidence of selling a Senate seat.
    One quick thing: The Constitution originally did not have direct election of senators. They said the states should choose senators by their legislatures.
    The reason why the 17th Amendment in 1913 changed all that was that the Senate was brought so many cases where people said, “This guy became a senator because of bribery and intimidation,” they felt you needed direct election. Interestingly, look what happened when you did not have direct election this week. – PBS Newshour, 12-10-08

  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, presidential historian “Blagojevich Scandal Shakes Politics in Illinois and Beyond” “The silver lining of a scandal”: I guess I should defend the honor of Chicago a little bit. It does happen in other places.
    Spiro Agnew, when he was governor of Maryland, you know, took a lot of cash both there and as vice president, later on had to resign to avoid going to prison. It does happen in other places.
    But we Illinoisans cannot get away from the fact that two of our governors went to prison for things they did in office. Also, Dan Walker, who served in the early 1970s, went to prison for things he did after he was governor.
    But, you know, Laura was talking about this being an atom bomb in Illinois politics. I think she’s totally right, and there’s a precedent for that, which is that Otto Kerner was sent to prison by a U.S. attorney named Jim Thompson, a Republican. Thompson himself ran for governor, won 1976. The Republicans owned the governorship of Illinois for almost 30 years.

    You know, for instance, President-elect Obama encouraged the state legislature of Illinois recently to pass an ethics law. It’s a very good thing.
    But the way that this kind of corruption has been reduced in Illinois has not been so much from laws but from prosecutors like Thompson, who scare politicians into thinking that they might not get away with this kind of stuff. And I think, if you had to look at a silver lining to what we’re seeing this week, that might be one of them. – PBS Newshour, 12-10-08

  • Myra Gutin “For first lady, free work but no free time”: Myra Gutin, first lady historian and professor of communication at Rider University in New Jersey, agreed, noting that while the role is “kind of a throwback and anachronistic,” it needn’t be a “straitjacket.” She estimated that the duties of being first lady probably consume 15 percent to 20 percent of the average presidential spouse’s time. “I think it is fair to say that we don’t expect the first lady to hide out in the White House,” she said. But the role needn’t be all-consuming, either. As to whether the first lady should draw a salary, Gutin demurred: “I’ve thought about it for years, and I still don’t know entirely how I feel about it.” – Politico, 12-9-08
  • Robert Dallek “In a New Tux, Obama Seeks the Proper Tone”: You want the appropriate symbolism that goes with the inauguration of a new president,” said the presidential historian Robert Dallek. “Obama impresses me as a very intelligent politician who has been so in tune with the mood of the country that I can’t imagine he would be so ham-handed as to be unmindful of this, but it would be a gross error to have some kind of huge celebration that seems profligate” – NYT, 12-8-09
  • Donald Ritchie “In a New Tux, Obama Seeks the Proper Tone”: “The importance of the inauguration is that the new president can provide a sense of unity after a divisive campaign,” said Donald Ritchie, an associate historian of the Senate. “So the trappings of the inaugural are useful for the national psyche. If you cut it down too drastically, you lose some of the opportunity that the inauguration affords.” – NYT, 12-8-09

Campaign Highlights: Obama Completes his Cabinet “A Team of Rivals”


Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

AT HIS RIGHT HAND Barack Obama and Valerie Jarrett getting lunch last week in Chicago. Ms. Jarrett took Mr. Obama under her wing nearly two decades ago.


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

The Headlines…

    President-Elect Barack Obama Transition office:

  • An Old Hometown Mentor, and Still at Obama’s Side – NYT, 11-24-08
  • Official: Richardson to be commerce secretary – AP, 11-23-08
  • Obama Books Dominate Political Best-Seller List – NYT, 11-22-08
  • Clearer picture emerges of Obama’s Cabinet: A picture of President-elect Barack Obama”s Cabinet became clearer Friday, with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson emerging as a likely pick for commerce secretary. As word spread Friday that Sen. Hillary Clinton was expected to accept the secretary of state position, senior Democratic officials said Obama intended to name Timothy Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve, as his Treasury secretary to confront the nation”s intense economic turmoil. – San Jose Mercury News, 11-21-08
  • Obama Tilts to Center, Inviting a Clash of Ideas: Now, his reported selections for two of the major positions in his cabinet — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state and Timothy F. Geithner as secretary of the Treasury — suggest that Mr. Obama is planning to govern from the center-right of his party, surrounding himself with pragmatists rather than ideologues. – NYT, 11-22-08
  • Geithner Is Said to Be Obama’s Pick for U.S. Treasury Secretary – Bloomberg, 11-21-08
  • ‘Amtrak Joe’ No More – NYT, 11-23-08
  • TYLER COWEN: The New Deal Didn’t Always Work, Either – NYT, 11-
  • Another Triumph for Clinton, Many Women Agree: Hillary Rodham Clinton, a first lady turned senator turned almost-president, is now transforming herself again, this time into the nation’s top diplomat. But she is also back to a role she cannot seem to shake: a canvas for women’s highest hopes and deepest fears about the workplace. – NYT, 11-21-08
  • Al Qaeda Coldly Acknowledges Obama Victory – NYT, 11-19-08
  • For ’60 Minutes,’ a Jump in Ratings – NYT, 11-19-08
  • Dem officials: Daschle accepts HHS Cabinet post – AP, 11-19-08
  • Democrats Gain as Stevens Loses His Senate Race – NYT, 11-19-08
  • Blogtalk: The Lieberman Vote: Today’s decision by Senate Democrats to let the Democrat-turned-independent keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee has only further frustrated the liberal blogosphere’s quest for decisive triumph over the moderate who emphatically backed Senator John McCain’s White House bid. – NYT, The Caucus, 11-18-08
  • White House Memo Obama Team Anything but Shy and Retiring: Whatever happened to Mr. No-Drama-Obama? – NYT, 11-18-08
  • Obama moves closer to key cabinet pick: A Democratic source said a conditional offer for the post of attorney general had been made to former Clinton administration official Eric Holder, making him the automatic front-runner for the nation’s top law enforcement position. – Reuters, 11-18-08
  • Clinton job for Obama may depend on Bill: If Sen. Hillary Clinton is to be picked by President-elect Barack Obama as his secretary of state, it may well depend on a review of the business activities of her husband, former President Bill Clinton. – Reuters, 11-18-08
  • Biden’s Guv Plans Midnight Swearing-in: ABC News has learned that Delaware’s newly elected Democratic governor is planning to take the oath of office at 12:01 a.m. ET on Jan. 20, 2009, making it possible for him to name Vice President-elect Joe Biden’s replacement to the United States Senate ABC News, 11-18-08
  • Cheney, Gonzalez Indicted in Texas Prison Case The indictment accuses Vice President Dick Cheney of a conflict of interest and “at least misdemeanor assaults” on detainees by working through prison companies: A South Texas grand jury has indicted Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on charges related to the alleged abuse of prisoners in Willacy County’s federal detention centers. – Fox News, 11-18-08
  • Senate Republicans postpone vote on Ted Stevens – Miami Herald, 11-18-08
  • Obama moves to defrost relations between White House, Congress – Miami Herald, 11-18-08
  • McCain Vows to Work With Obama: The bitter general election campaign behind them, President-elect Barack Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain met Monday to discuss ways to reduce government waste, promote bipartisanship and find other ways to improve government. – AP, 11-17-08
  • Obama Quits Senate, Names More Staffers President-Elect to Meet With McCain Today – WaPo, 11-17-08
  • Clinton Vetting Includes Look at Mr. Clinton – NYT, 11-16-08
  • Palin’s political potential: THE 2008 presidential campaign may be over, but Sarah Palin’s moment in the spotlight has yet to run its course. – Boston Globe, 11-16-08
  • Barack Obama links Israel peace plan to 1967 borders deal: Barack Obama is to pursue an ambitious peace plan in the Middle East involving the recognition of Israel by the Arab world in exchange for its withdrawal to pre-1967 borders, according to sources close to America’s president-elect. – The Sunday Times, 11-16-08
  • Absent Obama still a presence in the capital – AP, 11-15-08
  • Obama Team Decides on 2 for Top Posts: Gregory B. Craig as White House counsel, Ronald A. Klain, a former lobbyist and Clinton administration lawyer, as chief of staff to Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. – NYT, 11-16-08
  • Say Goodbye to BlackBerry? Yes He Can, Maybe: Sorry, Mr. President. Please surrender your BlackBerry. Those are seven words President-elect Barack Obama is dreading but expecting to hear, friends and advisers say, when he takes office in 65 days. – NYT, 11-16-08
  • President-elect Obama reaches out to former rivals: Presidents typically say they want to be surrounded by strong-willed people who have the courage to disagree with them. President-elect Barack Obama, reaching out to Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republicans, actually might mean it. – AP, 11-15-08

Political Quotes

  • Nov. 22, 2008: Barack Obama Delivers Weekly Address On YouTube – YouTube, 11-21-08
  • Gloria Steinem said in an interview: “Secretary of state is far superior to vice president, because it’s involved in continuously solving problems and making policy and not being on standby.” – – NYT, 11-21-08
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman said during a press conference: The resolution expresses strong disapproval and rejection of statements that I made about Senator Obama during the campaign. And in that regard, I said very clear, some of the statements — some of the things that people have said I said about Senator Obama are simply not true.
    There are other statements that I made that I wish I had made more clearly. And there are some that I made that I wish I had not made at all.
    And, obviously, in the heat of campaigns, that happens to all of us, but I regret that.
    And now it’s time to move on. – NYT, The Caucus, 11-18-08
  • An Obama campaign aide: “‘No-Drama Obama’ during the campaign meant that if you had something to say, you said it,” You didn’t go around people, or try to undermine people, you said what you thought. That’s how he’s going to run his administration.” – N”YT, 11-21-08
  • Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Obama’s transition spokeswoman: “He doesn’t put up with drama, but he encourages strong opinions and advice. In that environment of mutual respect, there tends to be little drama.” – N”YT, 11-21-08
  • Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn: “He said he’ll have our back. He’ll look out for House members. The idea is, we have his back, we do what Obama wants (and) he’ll do what we want. Something like that.” – Miami Herald, 11-18-08
  • Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.: “What happened this morning was in large measure due to him. We all know that Senator Obama has said that he doesn’t think anybody should hold a grudge, that we’ve got too much work to do.” Miami Herald, 11-18-08
  • Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees taxes, trade, pensions and health care, said that he’ll not be bound blindly by Obama proposals. : “My goal is to work with Republicans. My goal is to work with everyone. We all have to keep an open mind about this. There’s going to be a lot of knee-jerking on both sides, and my job will be to help stop the knee-jerking.” – Miami Herald, 11-18-08
  • McCain Vows to Work With Obama — Joint Statement after meeting: “At this defining moment in history, we believe that Americans of all parties want and need their leaders to come together and change the bad habits of Washington so that we can solve the common and urgent challenges of our time. It is in this spirit that we had a productive conversation today about the need to launch a new era of reform where we take on government waste and bitter partisanship in Washington in order to restore trust in government, and bring back prosperity and opportunity for every hardworking American family. We hope to work together in the days and months ahead on critical challenges like solving our financial crisis, creating a new energy economy, and protecting our nation’s security.” – AP, 11-17-08
  • Obama On Economic Crisis, Transition Also Discusses National Security, Iraq, And His Cabinet In 60 Minutes Interview – CBS News, 11-16-08
  • Sarah Palin at the Republican Governors Association meeting in Miami: “I had a baby; I did some traveling; I very briefly expanded my wardrobe; I made a few speeches; I met a few VIPs, including those who really impact society, like Tina Fey.”…. “The future is not that 2012 presidential race; it’s next year and our next budgets,” she said. – Boston Globe, 11-16-08
  • The feminist social critic Camille Paglia, a pro-choice Democrat, is appalled by the Democrats’ anti-Palin debauch, especially their attacks on her intelligence: “As a career classroom teacher, I can see how smart she is,” Paglia writes, “and, quite frankly, I think the people who don’t see it are the stupid ones, wrapped in the fuzzy mummy-gauze of their own worn-out partisan dogma.” – Boston Globe, 11-16-08
  • Nov. 15, 2008: Barack Obama Delivers Weekly Address On YouTube – YouTube, 11-14-08

Historians’ Comments

  • Doris Kearns Goodwin: “Clinton-Richardson: Benefits of a ‘Team of Rivals'”: In her book, Ms. Kearns Goodwin explained the essence of Lincoln’s approach: “That Lincoln, after winning the presidency, made the unprecedented decision to incorporate his eminent rivals into his political family, the cabinet, was evidence of a profound self-confidence and a first indication of what would prove to others a most unexpected greatness … It soon became clear … that Abraham Lincoln would emerge the undisputed captain of this most unusual cabinet, truly a team of rivals. The powerful competitors who had originally disdained Lincoln became colleagues who helped him steer the country through its darkest days.” By “rivals,” Ms. Kearns Goodwin meant not only the Republicans who contested Lincoln for the 1860 Republican presidential nomination, but also several pro-Union Democrats who supported his opponent in the 1860 general election. – Washington Times, 11-24-08
  • Paul Light “Bum nominations hard to avoid, history shows”: Historian Light said experience shows that the lure of a Cabinet appointment sometimes proves irresistible to people who should know better. “The ambition to be a presidential appointee is so great that somebody’s not going to tell the truth, no matter how hard you push the vetting process,” said Light. “It happens all the time. There have been some recent nominees who just flat-out lied when asked whether there was anything about their personal or financial history that might embarrass the president.” – AP, 11-20-08
  • Gil Troy “Michelle Obama’s fashion Wife of U.S. president-elect has a wardrobe that is colourful and accessible”: Historian Gil Troy, of McGill University, agrees, saying everything about the new First Family will be scrutinized and copied by an adoring public. “We’ve seen this thing before, with the Kennedys,” says the author of “Mr. and Mrs. President, from the Trumans to the Clintons.” “But the frenzy this time is going to be that much more intense.” The press, which shares a “vibe” with the intellectual, urban Obama, is giving him a bit of a free ride right now, says Troy, feeding the public’s appetite for information about his favourite snacks (Planter’s Trail Mix), preferred drink (Black Forest Berry Honest Tea) and favourite book (Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls). “This product placement is a boon for consumer manufacturers of all kinds.” The Obamas, Troy says, are clever at making decisions, such as what car to buy, and “turning it into political points.” Saying this couple “is very coached,” he points out Michelle Obama has replaced early complaints about her “stinky, snoring husband” with the traditional supporting role. “Michelle didn’t play well. She was being passive aggressive,” Troy says of the early days of the campaign. The couple has to give off an air of authenticity, Troy says. Any signs “that it is too faux, too calculating and on the make will cause a backlash.” Their White House style will fit in with the new era of austerity, predicts Troy, but will still have sparkle and energy. As he puts it, “They give great celebrity.” – Toronto Star, 11-21-08
  • Robert Watson “All eyes are on Michelle Obama”: “Michelle Obama has done the impossible” said Watson, director of American Studies at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.. “The age-old debate, can women do it all? The answer with Michelle Obama is, you bet. She’s been the breadwinner. She’s been a great mother. She’s also managed to keep her marriage together. Michelle Obama has been superwoman. So why shouldn’t the expectations be high?” – Kansas City Star, 11-21-08
  • Catherine Allgor “All eyes are on Michelle Obama”: Catherine Allgor, a history professor at the University of California-Riverside, said optimism surrounds the entire Obama family, “and I think it’s completely tied up with how bad things are and how great they (the family) seem to be.”
    First ladies have become larger-than-life embodiments of everything their husbands stand for, powerful figures in modern, media-driven times, Allgor said. Obama carries a lot on her shoulders into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Women in particular see themselves in her, said Allgor, author of Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government.
    She is not a governor’s wife or a vice-presidential spouse moving her family from one mansion into the next. She’s more the girl in the movies who wakes up one day to discover that she is really a princess, Allgor said. “She is the closest to a regular person to take on this role,” Allgor said. “She is really, literally, coming from a life that we are familiar with. To go from that to the White House … this is the ‘Princess Diaries.'”
    “While they were being lovely and gracious, they are going out and changing the world,” Allgor said. “I think she recognizes this,” Allgor said. “I think she will be very, very careful to couch the work that she will do under very traditional veils. My sense is that she’ll be working to correct inequities in class, race, gender. But she won’t say that. She’ll say, ‘I’m looking out for working moms and the health of our children.’ And she’s very smart to do that because she saw what happened to Hillary Clinton. “The other thing I would say, too, that is going to be easier for Michelle than Hillary, is that somehow we demand first ladies to be the women we are not. Because she has young children, it’s going to be much easier for her to use that role. “When you have young children, you end up doing things like carving pumpkins and making cookies, whereas Hillary had a 15-year-old. So I think with this young family and all of its needs, it’s going to make it much easier to present herself as nonthreatening.” – Kansas City Star, 11-21-08
  • Myra Gutin “All eyes are on Michelle Obama”: “The more official side of her life is putting people onto her staff in the East Wing, which is traditionally the first lady’s bailiwick. My guess is she’s flooded with resumes,” said Myra Gutin, author of The President’s Partner: The First Lady in the Twentieth Century. Obama will choose a chief of staff, press secretary and social secretary. In the past, first ladies have been drawn to people who have government experience. Choosing people with Washington smarts “is even more important for someone like the Obamas who really haven’t been in Washington very much,” said Gutin, a communications professor at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. – – Kansas City Star, 11-21-08
  • Don Ritchie “Clinton Would Leave Big Shoes to Fill Hillary Clinton is poised to be nominated as President-elect Obama’s secretary of state, leaving an empty seat in the Senate”: Senate historian Don Ritchie added that Bill Clinton is eligible for appointment to the seat because he is a New York resident. It is unclear though, if he would be interested. Ritchie cautions that anyone who is appointed faces a 50 percent chance of losing the next election. – Fox News, 11-21-08
  • Professor Eric Rauchway reviews the presidential electionCalifornia Aggie, 11-20-08
  • Ronald White “Can Lincoln’s playbook help Obama in the years ahead?”: Lincoln historian and author Ronald White said that both had a “tremendous trust in words and the power of language.” “And I think today, we come with a real kind of cynicism. … It’s only words. And yet I think underneath the words are the public’s perception of looking for someone with integrity and authenticity and not someone simply playing a role,” White said. White, author of the upcoming book “A. Lincoln: A Biography,” has lectured on Lincoln at the White House and the Library of Congress. “Both of them rose, in a sense, beyond their inexperience and in spite of their relative youth, the wings of their ability to use public language,” he added….
    White said Lincoln’s strategy was to surround himself with people who were equally strong. “And I think one of the comparisons to recent presidents is that they often have put in people from their own states who often are ‘yes people’ to them. Therefore, they have not been given the benefit of strong contending points of view,” he added…. “I think this is the great question. Would it be possible? I hope it is. I think it’s a more difficult task today,” White said. “The Civil War also helped kind of say, ‘we have to have kind of a unity government.’ This is a big challenge. I hope [Obama] can do it. I’m not sure he can.” – CNN, 11-19-08
  • Eric Foner “Can Lincoln’s playbook help Obama in the years ahead?”: But Columbia University history professor Eric Foner, also a Lincoln scholar, said people should take a step back from the comparisons. “Lincoln is a great man, and people should learn from him. But I think, as a historian, people ought to calm down a little about these comparisons,” he said. “They are entirely different situations, worlds, political systems. There aren’t I think a lot of exact direct lessons one can or should necessarily try to learn from Lincoln.” Foner, author of the new book “Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World,” said Lincoln has become something of a model for politicians on both sides of the aisle. “Lincoln is a Rorschach test. Everybody finds themselves in Lincoln. Everybody finds what they want to find in Lincoln. There are dozens of Lincolns out there. So saying ‘I’m reading Lincoln or modeling myself on Lincoln’ doesn’t really tell us a heck of a lot.”…
    “A lot of what has been said as a historian strikes me as a little misguided. [Obama], for example, is modeling himself after Lincoln by [possibly] putting Hillary Clinton in the secretary of state,” Foner said. “But, by the way, that was typical in the 19th century. Most presidents took a major figure of their own political party, often someone who wanted the job himself, and made him secretary of state. That was a fairly conventional thing to do.” – CNN, 11-19-08
  • Harold Holzer “Can Lincoln’s playbook help Obama in the years ahead?”: Harold Holzer, one of the country’s leading authorities on Lincoln and the Civil War, said the state of the nation today may be a major barrier to putting in place Lincoln’s playbook. “Sen. Obama could have never contemplated a state leaving the country in reaction to his election, which was pretty rough. Lincoln could have never imagined nuclear war, the kind of foreign challenges that occur,” Holzer said. Holzer’s new book, “Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861,” examines the period between his election and inauguration. But Holzer said that although the nation’s challenges may be different, “leadership comes not from experience alone or sometimes not from experience at all. It comes from a gravitas and self- deprecation and understanding of other people. It’s going to be a very interesting period.” – CNN, 11-19-08
  • Gil Troy “Winds of patriotism renewed Election brings a liberal zeal for Old Glory”: Gil Troy, a historian who teaches at McGill University in Quebec, said that while Democrats accuse Republicans of co-opting patriotism, they’re also guilty of giving it up. “One of the great failures of the Democratic Party … is how they have ceded God and the flag to the Republicans,” he said. “Even as many Democratic voters have continued to wave the flag, party leaders and elite liberal opinion leaders have equated patriotism with” rednecks “and deep faith with dangerous morons.” – McClatchy Newspapers, 11-23-08
  • H.W. Brands “Winds of patriotism renewed Election brings a liberal zeal for Old Glory”: H.W. Brands, a historian at the University of Texas at Austin, said that Democrats became uncomfortable with only a certain type of patriotism — the exclusive variety. Primal and powerful, it appears most forcefully during times of war, whipping up fervor through an us-versus-them mentality, squelching most dissent in the name of national unity. It was on broad display, Brands noted, in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. – McClatchy Newspapers, 11-23-08
  • JAMES OAKES “What’s So Special About a Team of Rivals?”: INSPIRED by the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, President-elect Barack Obama is considering appointing a “team of rivals” to his cabinet — if rumors about the nomination of Hillary Clinton to be secretary of state are true. But there’s more mythology than history in the idea that Lincoln showed exceptional political skill in offering cabinet positions to the men he had beaten in the race for the 1860 Republican nomination….
    There is little doubt that Abraham Lincoln was a great president. But not much of what made him great can be discerned in his appointment of a contentious, envious and often dysfunctional collection of prima donnas to his cabinet. – NYT, 11-19-08
  • Julian Zelizer “Can McCain be Obama’s friend in Congress?”: President-elect Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain will meet for the first time on Monday since the election. The meeting comes at an important time for McCain, who must decide what to do with remainder of his career in the Senate.
    With his reputation severely harmed as a result of the campaign — some Republicans furious at him for having lost the White House with a poor campaign and some Democrats furious with the negative tone that his campaign embraced in September and October — he will have an interest in building a positive legacy.
    McCain’s best bet would be to form a bipartisan alliance with Obama on as many issues as possible — perhaps with an economic stimulus bill, immigration reform, exiting Iraq and new regulations on Wall Street….
    But what McCain can do, as he has done in the past with campaign finance and ethics reform, is to team up with the opposition and get legislation through Congress. According to Congressional Quarterly, former Bush and McCain adviser Mark McKinnon has predicted that “Senator McCain’s interest after this election will be not any political ambition but a genuine desire to make his last chapter in Washington all about bipartisan healing.”
    Now he has a chance to enhance his mark in the history books, this time with the person who defeated him, and then his legacy would not be the failed political campaign of 2008. CNN, 11-17-08
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin “President-elect Obama reaches out to former rivals”: It so happens that Obama and New York Sen. Clinton share a reverence for “Team of Rivals,” Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book about how Lincoln brought foes into his fold. Clinton listed it during the campaign as the last book she had read. Obama, clearly a student of Lincoln, spoke of it several times. “I think it reflects a great inner strength on Obama’s part that he is seriously considering creating a team of rivals as Lincoln did,” Goodwin told The Associated Press on Friday. “By surrounding himself with people who bring different perspectives, he will increase his options, absorb dissenting views and heighten his ability to speak empathetically to people on different sides of each issue. The challenge, of course, is to ensure that the discussions do not become paralyzing, and that once a decision is made the inner circle accepts that the time for debate is over,” she said. Goodwin says a true team of rivals is exceptionally difficult to make work in these days of hyperpartisanship, scandal-hungry blogs and raw feelings between parties and factions of the same party from the often nasty campaign. Disharmony in Lincoln’s Cabinet was largely kept inside the meetings, exposed years later in memoirs, and that’s not how the world works anymore. Still, she said the even-keeled Obama displayed a temperament in the campaign that could help him pull it off. “And I believe the country would respond with great enthusiasm, recognizing the great contrast to recent times.” – – AP, 11-15-08

Aaron Tomlinson/CBS

The Obamas, interviewed by Steve Kroft for “60 Minutes.”

November 3, 2008: In the Last Week the Tide Turns….


The week that was….

  • November 1, 2008: Confident Obama asks supporters to ‘change the world,’ while McCain digs for last-minute upset … Palin, in prank call from fake French president, says she might make good president in 8 years … McCain pokes fun at his presidential campaign on ‘Saturday Night Live’ – AP
  • October 31, 2008: Obama goes for landslide, even campaigning in rival’s state; McCain says foe is too far left … Not so fast: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin might not be permitted to cash in on fame … Thousands of Colo. residents purged from voter registration rolls now allowed to cast ballots – AP
  • October 30, 2008: McCain says Obama’s economic policies are from the far left of US politics … Former top US diplomat says Palin not up to the task of presidency but could become ‘adequate’ … Don’t rush me: AP poll finds 1 in 7 likely voters still persuadable as Election Day draws near … McCain to appear on ‘Saturday Night Live’ just before election … Biden absent from re-election campaign, depending on surrogates – AP
    Economy reeling, Obama and McCain trade blame, fight for final votes in campaign homestretch … Campaign says Obama TV ads, one positive and one negative, offer their ‘closing argument’ … Biden says Obama will create jobs in hotly contested Missouri … Palin speaks to enthusiastic crowd in Cape Girardeau … Early voting means waiting, waiting and more waiting … NC elections board extends early voting hours on Saturday in wake of record turnout. – AP
  • October 29, 2008: Obama gets his normal cheering crowd at cold, outdoor rally … With polls showing Pa. slipping away, McCain says ‘it’s wonderful to fool the pundits’ … Biden urges early voting in Florida, says state could determine election … McCain calls for Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens to resign after felony convictions … Lines long for early voting in Ga.; polling place hours extended in Fla. due to record turnout. – AP….
    AP EXCLUSIVE: Obama ahead or tied in 8 battleground states, GOP worries about landslide … McCain proposes giving more revenue to coastal states that boost offshore oil production … Obama takes his case to the country with infomercial, broader TV blitz … Palin calls for break from Bush energy policies … Palin faces new ethics complaint … In a push for early voting in Fla., Biden urges supporters to promote Obama … Democrats dominate early voting, putting Republicans behind as Election Day approaches AP
  • October 28, 2008: Obama takes his case to the country with infomercial, broader TV blitz … In battleground of Florida, McCain links economy, security … Palin is still in charge with personal assistance from her Anchorage office – AP
  • October 27, 2008: Obama envisions no ‘red’ or ‘blue’ America, but getting elected is different … McCain takes running mate Palin on swing through conservative, rural areas of Pennsylvania … Michelle Obama says she wears J. Crew, expresses empathy over Palin’s $150,000 wardrobe – AP
    McCain says Bush tactic on economy is wrong; promises lid on government spending … Palin promises to work with Israeli ambassador, warns of Democratic monopoly in Washington … Obama offers closing argument in Ohio; vows to restore prosperity and higher national purpose … Biden compares Obama attacks to those lobbed against past presidents –
  • October 26, 2008: McCain says ‘I’m going to win it’ as Obama says the Republican is running out of time’ … McCain says Palin returned some of the $150,000 in clothing the Republican Party bought her … The Anchorage Daily News, Alaska’s largest newspaper, endorses Obama for president … – AP

The Stats

  • November 2, 2008: Obama keeps his lead in Ohio Final poll: Obama 52%, McCain 46% – Columbia Dispatch, 11-2-08
  • October 31, 2008: Democrat Barack Obama has an 8-percentage-point lead over Republican John McCain — 50 percent to 42 percent — among registered voters, according to the latest Gallup Poll daily tracking update. Obama’s lead on Wednesday was 9 points. – AP
  • October 27, 2008: Democrat Barack Obama has a 10-percentage-point lead over Republican John McCain — 52 percent to 42 percent — among registered voters, according to the latest Gallup Poll daily tracking update. – AP

In the News…

Campaign Bloopers

Historians’ Comments

  • Will This Election Be Stolen? As both parties battle over just how fraud could taint this election, two analysts with very different viewpoints look at voting abuses from the beginning of the republic to the present day. – WSJ, 11-1-08
  • Essay How to Read Like a President – NYT, 10-31-08
  • Arthur I. Cyr “History says not to count out McCain”: Another factor that may affect the outcome of this election is the so-called “Bradley Effect.” In 1982, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, an African-American, was defeated for governor of California even though polls showed him winning. This and other examples argue some voters are more included in opinion polls than in the voting booth to support a minority candidate. The 2008 presidential campaign has been remarkably free of appeals to racism, despite personal attacks by both sides. The fact that a major party ticket is headed by an African-American is enormously important — and positive. A Democratic victory, however, won’t be guaranteed until demonstrated by the electorate. – Scripps News, 10-31-08
  • Julian Zelizer “Obama Holds 6-Point Average Lead Over McCain in Polls”: “Obama’s is a campaign about gaining a lead and then holding it,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University in New Jersey. “McCain’s last two weeks have not changed this. Most important, the context of the election has remained the same — an economy in crisis — so it is hard to get those numbers to move.” — Bloomberg, 11-1-08
  • Devin Fergus “2008 Presidential Election Signals Transition”: First 100 days crucial: Regardless of who is elected president, similarities will be drawn between the first 100 days of the new administration and that of FDR, says 20th-century historian Devin Fergus. How the new president works with Congress in handling the economic and financial crisis will set the tone for the rest of the term. If Obama is elected as a post-racial candidate, he must balance the competing concerns of the investor class with those of working and middle-class voters. Obama’s advisers should look to what lessons could be learned from the successes and failures of the New Deal. – Market Watch, 10-31-08
  • Carl Anthony “Candidate wives a study in contrasts on the trail”: Indeed, Cindy McCain referred to that experience at a women’s event a year ago, says historian Carl Anthony, and suggested that she’d protect herself better this time. “She said, ‘You know what? I’m not going to put it all on the line again,'” says Anthony, of the National First Ladies Library. “‘It’s not the be-all and the end-all.'”… Candidates’ spouses have been an important campaign presence since 1920, when Florence Harding spoke to women’s groups from her front porch, says Anthony, the historian. Mamie Eisenhower was famous for her speeches from her husband’s whistle-stop train. Pat Nixon and Jackie Kennedy both wrote articles boosting their husbands, and Lady Bird Johnson struck out on her own through the Deep South in 1964. – AP, 10-31-08
  • Julien Vaisse “Misunderstanding of US underlies global Obama-mania: analysts”: For Julien Vaisse, a French historian at the Brookings Institution think-tank in Washington, one has to see Obama’s economic, political and social policies from an American perspective.”I’m not saying that he is not someone we can believe in. I am just speaking to the fascination that he gives rise to,” Vaisse said. “His charisma is undeniably similar to Bill Clinton’s, which made them (Europeans) forget that he is American.” – AFP, 10-31-08
  • Matthew Whitaker “Blacks’ emotions swell as Obama chases history”: At the local level, African-Americans have made some significant political gains lately, said Matthew Whitaker, a history professor at Arizona State University. In recent years, they have won seats on several school boards, city councils and town boards, often in mostly White communities. Those positions could serve as springboards for statewide offices, Whitaker said. – Arizona Republic, AZ, 10-31-08
  • Alex Keyassar “Anxious voters hurry up and wait 19 percent of Peoria voters cast ballots ahead of Tuesday election”: That effort was a public act of engagement and participation giving a sense of ownership in the process, according to Alex Keyssar, professor of history and social policy at Harvard University. “Early voting for us in our history is important because of the inadequacies of our voting system to handle high turnout,” he said. “Early voting is not as desirable as a functioning system.” Voting on a holiday or Sunday, as is the custom in many countries, is a worthwhile notion, he said. “Voting is an act of participation that gives people a sense of engagement and ownership over the process. It’s an important thing to do,” Keyssar said. “Because of the attraction of Barack Obama, turnout will be high. The significance of government is underscored. It is clear that only a national government remotely has the tools to deal with this current financial crisis. After eight years of what has been an ideological emphasis on less government and diminishing sense of the importance of government, the role of government is underscored and brought home.” – Peoria Journal Star, IL, 11-2-08
  • Myra Gutin: “Will next first lady be a Bess or an Eleanor?”: “Eleanor Roosevelt was the most active first lady of all time; Bess Truman was the least active of the 20th Century,” says Myra Gutin, an historian of first ladies and a communications professor at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. “We’ve not had a ceremonial first lady since Bess Truman. The position has continually evolved but not necessarily in a chronological development.” “Americans don’t exactly know what they want from a first lady,” Gutin says. “When Hillary Clinton was first lady, she had an office in the West Wing, which made a lot of people unhappy. But there are people who are unhappy with Laura Bush for not taking advantage of the White House podium. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”… “There seems to be a reserve about her (Cindy McCain),” Gutin says. “That kind of scrutiny is tough for anyone but for someone reticent, it can really be a challenge.”… Obama “is a very capable, articulate, bright woman and most likely is going to be an activist first lady,” Gutin says. “And she will be the first one to confront the issue of how to deal with very young children in the White House” since John F. Kennedy. – Detroit Free Press, 10-26-08
  • Carl Sferrazza Anthony: “Will next first lady be a Bess or an Eleanor?”: Why does it matter? Carl Sferrazza Anthony, historian for the National First Ladies Library in Canton, Ohio, says the role says as much about America as it does about those who inhabited it. “It opens a window on so many fascinating dialogues about our highly contradictory, highly individualist, unique American culture and the many contradictions we have about women and men,” he says… “It’s the mythological figure of the first lady, a summation of all of them or all the things we’ve liked or like to think we remember liking about them, and it’s somehow quite sacred,” Anthony says. “They take on relic- like status.” Then we “lock these women in a china closet.” – Detroit Free Press, 10-26-08

On The Campaign Trail…

  • November 2, 2008: John McCain in a rally at Strath Haven High School, PA Now let me give you a little straight talk about the state of the race today. There’s just two days left. We’re a couple of points behind in Pennsylvania. The pundits have written us off, just like they’ve done before….
    My friends, the Mac is back!
    The other night, Senator Obama said that if he lost, he would return to the Senate and try again in four years for the second act. That sounds like a great idea to me! Let’s help him make it happen….
    I think that Tom Ridge — and President Bush — deserve some credit for the fact there’s not been another attack on the United States of America since 9/11,’
  • November 2, 2008: Obama say he might be headed for a win Tuesday The past couple of days I’ve just been feeling good….You start thinking maybe we might be able to win an election on November 4.
  • November 2, 2008: Sarah Palin at a Ohio Rally: A little advice to Tina Fey. I want to make sure she’s holding on to that Sarah outfit. Because she’s gonna need it in the next four years.
  • November 2, 2008: : If you have not voted yet, it would be a shame for you to come to a rally and not vote. Go vote now. Do not delay!…. It won’t be easy, it won’t be quick, but you and I know it’s time to come together and change this country. We can’t let this slip away….
    Washington will have to tighten its belt and put off spending on things we don’t need. As President, I will go through the federal budget, line-by-line, ending programs that we don’t need and making the ones we do need work better and cost less.
  • October 31, 2008: Joe Biden to a gropup of reporters in Lima, Ohio: We’ve been down this road before. I felt awful good about this time, you know in the Kerry campaign and I felt good in the Gore campaign and so, so, this, that old joke, you know, it ain’t over till it’s over. I don’t, you know, I mean we feel good, we look good but it’s not over yet….Look, I’m a politician who has run scared in every single election. The fact of the matter is that I have, I have done relatively well in my own elections but I have never, never, before the polls close said, man, this is in the bag….
    We can’t get this done with just Democrats, even if we control, even if we’re lucky enough to get to 60 senators…. I don’t know. I hope it’s intact. I still admire him. I still like him. One of the things I’ve admired about John, and why I’ve considered him a friend, he never gives up. So I just hope when it’s over, win or lose, you walk up and you shake hands and say, “John, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
  • October 31, 2008: John McCain in Hanoverton, Ohio: The pundits have written us off, just like they’ve done before. But we’re closing my friends and we’re going to win in Ohio! My opponent is working out the details with speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise your taxes, increase spending and concede defeat in Iraq. He’s measuring the drapes. And as you noticed, the night before last, he gave his first address to the nation before the election. And this week he settled on a chief of staff!… Just four days left! The pundits have written us off, just like they’ve done before. But we’re closing my friends and we’re going to win in Ohio!…. My opponent is working out the details with speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise your taxes, increase spending and concede defeat in Iraq. He’s measuring the drapes. And as you noticed, the night before last, he gave his first address to the nation before the election. And this week he settled on a chief of staff! We’re a few points down, but we’re coming back and we’re coming back strong.
  • October 31, 2008: Barack Obama in Des Moines, IA: What you started here in Iowa has swept the nation. A whole new way of doing democracy started right here in Iowa and it’s all across the country now… A couple of elections ago, there was a presidential candidate who decried this kind of politics and condemned these kinds of tactics. And I admired him for it – we all did. I will not take the low road to the highest office in this land.’ Those words were spoken eight years ago by my opponent, John McCain, but the high road didn’t lead him to the White House then, so this time, he decided to take a different route. Now, I know campaigns are tough because we’ve got real differences about big issues and we care passionately about this country’s future. And make no mistake, we will respond swiftly and forcefully with the truth to whatever falsehoods they throw our way. The stakes are too high to do anything less.
    I don’t disagree with Senator McCain on everything, and I respect his occasional displays of independence. But when it comes to the economy, when it comes to the central issue of this election, the plain truth is that John McCain has stood with President Bush every step of the way.
    I won’t stand here and pretend that any of this will be easy – especially now. Washington will have to tighten its belt and put off spending on things we don’t need. As President, I will go through the federal budget, line-by-line, ending programs that we don’t need and making the ones we do need work better and cost less.
  • October 30, 2008: Palin says Obama infomercial short on specifics in Erie PA.: In times of economic worry and hardship — crisis that we’re in right now — someone is attempting to put those concerns aside on Election Day — national security issues. Obama “wrapped his closing message in a warm and fuzzy scripted infomercial intended to soften the focus in these closing days. He’s hoping that your mind won’t wander to the real challenges of national security, challenges that he isn’t capable of meeting.”… We’re fighting two wars … They think it’s the perfect time to radically reduce defense spending. What are they thinking?
  • October 30, 2008: John McCain, on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” referring to former President Clinton in defending his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
    “I would remind you again there was an obscure governor of a small state called Arkansas that everybody said wasn’t qualified. Well, I didn’t vote for him, but he got elected and re-elected.”
  • Joe McCain: As a historian, I’m a little less worried about things – I hope I’m not being rosy about it – because we’ve been here before. We’ve been through some eight to eleven economic crashes, depending on which economic historians you talk to….How well we come out of these times absolutely depends on whom we have as the captain of our ship of state…The man you want answering the phone at three in the morning is John McCain. – WTOP News, 10-31-08
  • October 29, 2008, Republican John McCain on his Democratic rival Sen. Obama is running to be redistributionist in chief. I’m running to be commander in chief.
  • October 28, 2008, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden: You can’t call yourself a maverick when all you’ve been the last eight years is a sidekick.
  • October 27, 2008: Sarah Palin told Ambassador Sallai Meridor, at a rally in Leesburg, VA: I look forward to hearing about your work with the Jewish Agency and all the plans that we have. We’ll be working together….
    If big government spenders control the House and the Senate and heaven forbid the White House, they will have a monopoly in Washington
  • October 27, 2008: Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden: New ideas and new leaders are often met with new attacks — almost always negative attacks built on lies which are the last resort of those who have nothing new to offer.
  • October 27, 2008, John McCain in Pottsville, Pa. If I’m elected, I’ll fight to shake up Washington. I’m not afraid of the fight, you’re not afraid of the fight and we’re ready for the fight.
  • October 27, 2008: Barack Obama, Canton Memorial Civic Center, Ohio & October 28, 2008: “The question in this election is not “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” We know the answer to that. The real question is, “Will this country be better off four years from now?”…
    In one week, we can choose hope over fear, unity over division, the promise of change over the power of the status quo. We can come together as one nation, and one people, and once more choose our better history. That’s what’s at stake.
    In one week, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election; that tries to pit region against region, city against town, Republican against Democrat; that asks us to fear at a time when we need hope.
    Government “should ensure a shot at success not just for those with money and power and influence, but for every single American who’s willing to work. John McCain calls this socialism, I call this opportunity.
  • October 27, 2008: John McCain in Cleveland, Ohio: The difference between myself and Senator Obama is our plan will create new jobs; his plan to raise taxes on small businesses, to impose insurance mandates on families and small businesses will cut jobs…. We both disagree with President Bush on economic policy. The difference is that he thinks taxes have been too low, and I think that spending has been too high…. That is what change means for the Obama campaign, the redistributor; It means taking your money and giving it to someone else.
  • “Barack Obama and I both have spent quite some time on the basketball court. But where I come from, you have to win the game before you start cutting down the net.” Sarah Palin
  • October 26, 2008: John McCain on Meet the Press, Discussing the Palins $150,000 Wardrobe Look, she lives a frugal life. She and her family are not wealthy. She and her family were thrust into this, and there was some — and some third of that money is given back, the rest will be donated to charity.
  • October 25, 2008: Barack Obama at the University of New Mexico to Hispanic Voters They’ll ask us is this a time when America lost its sense of purpose, when we lost our nerve, when we allowed the same divisions and fears to point us into a deeper recession or, will they say, is this one of those moments when America overcomes?…It’s time to build this economy by investing in the middle class again, and that’s what I’ll do as president.

Democratic Convention Day 1: August 25, 2008

Day 1 Schedule

    Barack Obama’s story is an American story that reflects a life of struggle, opportunity and responsibility like those faced by Americans everyday. The opening night of the Convention will highlight Barack’s life story, his commitment to change, and the voices of Americans who are calling for a new direction for this country.

    Monday’s headline prime-time speaker was Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama addressing the Democratic National Convention (NYT)

Michelle Obama addressing the Democratic National Convention (NYT)

    Other Monday night speakers include: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri; Barack Obama’s sister Maya Soetero-Ng and Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama’s older brother; Jerry Kellman, mentor and long-time friend of Barack Obama; Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr.; former Indiana Representative Lee Hamilton; Tom Balanoff, President of Illinois SEIU; Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America; NEA President Reg Weaver; AFT President Randi Weingarten; Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan; State Comptroller Dan Hynes; Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulis; Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle; and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. Monday night also featured a tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and a speech by the senator. –

Historians’ Comments

  • PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer: Historical Perspective A panel of historians, including NewsHour regulars Michael Beschloss and Richard Norton Smith, offers a historical perspective on this week’s Democratic event. – Mp3, RealAudio
  • Richard Reeves on “Kennedy passes the torch to Obama”: Others were wary of making too much the Kennedy-Obama link. The Kennedy magic was unique to its time, said Richard Reeves, author of a book on John Kennedy. The family legacy was in keeping with the spirit of the New Deal and grounded in the common generational experiences of the Great Depression and World War II. “Obama’s totally a new phenomenon,” Reeves said. “He represents totally different things.” – McClatchy Newspapers, 8-25-08
  • Thomas Whalen on “Ailing Kennedy refuses to miss big event”: “This may be Ted Kennedy’s final gift to the party,” said Thomas Whalen, a Boston University political historian who has written on the Kennedys. “This says that he feels this is the Democrats’ year and the party is not as unified as he’d like it to be. His appearance takes the headlines away from the Clinton faction.” “The greatest legacy Kennedy would want would be an Obama victory in November,” Whalen said. – USA Today, 8-26-08
  • Paula Giddings on “Michelle Obama as First Lady”: “People are trying to fit her somewhere in their minds and in this array of images we have in our culture about African-American women, as the vixen, or the mammy or the angry black woman,” said Paula Giddings, a black studies professor at Smith College. “But she doesn’t fit any of the molds so she is kind of unsettling to a lot of people. She is something new.” “Imagine seeing her in the White House. Just the picture of her on the lawn with her two girls,” Giddings said. “In deep ways and superficial ways, it would be a dramatic shift.” – Newsday, 8-25-08<
  • Myra Gutin on “Michelle Obama as First Lady”: “For some people she is supposed to represent a woman who is more traditional in her approach to the office of first lady and be somebody to do the requisite entertaining and look after her husband,” said Myra Gutin, a historian of first ladies. “But some feel like the first lady should be more of an activist in the model of Eleanor Roosevelt or Hillary Clinton.” But Monday night, Gutin said, Michelle Obama must first address some of the negative feelings she has generated, and show that she will be a good first lady. – Newsday, 8-25-08<
  • Jim Lorence on “UWMC History Professor Says Biden a Good Pick for Obama’s Running Mate”: Monday NewsChannel 7 spoke to Professor Jim Lorence of the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County about the importance of picking the right running mate for a presidential campaign. He gave us some insight past vice presidential candidates have influenced elections. “The campaign in which the vice presidency did make a difference was in 1960 when Lyndon Johnson was on the Kennedy ticket, and Johnson brought Texas into the democratic column.” Presidential candidate Barack Obama has already chosen his running mate, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, who has six terms in the Senate and 35 years of political experience. “He [Biden] may make people feel more comfortable with Obama because he brings that foreign policy expertise to the ticket.” Presidential hopeful John McCain is expected to announce his running mate by the end of this week. Rumors are circulating that it will most likely be a McCain-Romney ticket. “I think that Romney’s expertise in the area of foreign policy, or at least his background in the private sector and in business and on economic issues is going to be an important factor in the selection of a vice president,” says Professor Lorence. – WSAW, WI, 8-25-08
  • Sean Wilentz on “Obama Hope of Audacity Means Race Isn’t About Losing Liberals”: Obama has shown an “enormous ability to arouse the intense admiration and affection of his base,” says Sean Wilentz, a history professor at Princeton University. “Exactly what he means by change, hope and transformation — all the sort of big-payoff words that appear in his speeches — he has yet to clearly define.” – Bloomberg, 8-25-08
  • Fred Siegel on “Obama’s ideological elusiveness”: Some critics voice skepticism. They see an ambitious fellow who remains intentionally undefined. “His philosophy is ambition,” said Fred Siegel, a historian at the Cooper Union in New York. “I see him as having a rhetoric rather than a philosophy.” Senator, what is your view of the Supreme Court decision barring the execution of child rapists? The question was standard fare for a politician who has questioned the equity of the death penalty. But Obama’s answer set reporters to typing furiously. “I have said repeatedly that I think that the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances for the most egregious of crimes,” he said. “I think the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime.” – International Herald Tribune, 8-25-08
  • Vermont Gov. Madeline Kunin: Former governor and historian to speak at the Democratic National Convention – PolitickerVT, 8-25-08
  • Julian E. Zelizer on “Conventions now even timed for strategy”: Political conventions are no longer the venues where presidential candidates are selected and introduced to the nation’s voters, said Julian E. Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. That now happens during each party’s primary race, which begins early in the election year. “Basically conventions are now made for the media — carefully choreographed, staged events intended to promote the candidate and the party on the national stage as the real election season kicks off,” Zelizer said. “With their new function, it makes more sense to have them as close as possible to the general election.” – Daily Record, 8-24-08
  • Julian Zelizer on “Obama’s Pick Taking The Measure Of Joe Biden, The Longtime Senator And Democrats’ Choice For VP”: “The role of the attack dog is something he is quite comfortable with,” said Julian E. Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. – CBS News, 8-24-08

The Speeches…

  • Barack Obama on the Campaign Trail in Iowa: “I can’t wait to hear Michelle’s speech, I will tell you that I did get a little preview of the video they did of her, and she was extraordinary.”
  • Nancy Pelosi:
    This week is the culmination of an historic race that has brought millions of voters to the polls–many voting for the first time. All Democrats salute Senator Hillary Clinton for her excellent campaign. Our party and our country are strengthened by her candidacy.

    Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives addressing the Democratic National Convention (CNN)

    Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives addressing the Democratic National Convention (CNN)

    We meet today at a defining moment in our history. America stands at a crossroads, with an historic choice between two paths for our country. One is a path of renewing opportunity and promoting innovation here at home, and of greater security and respect around the world. It is the path that renews our democracy by bringing us together as one nation under God. But there is another path–it leads us to the same broken promises and failed policies that have diminished the American dream and weakened the security of our nation.

    We call this convention to order tonight to put America on the path begun by our founders–a path that renews America’s promise for a new century. We call this convention to order to nominate a new leader for our time– Barack Obama–the next President of the United States. Two years ago, the American people set our nation in a new direction–electing a new Democratic majority in Congress committed to real change….

    Barack Obama’s dream is the American dream. He gives us renewed faith in a vision of the future that is free of the constraints of the tired policies of the past–a vision that is new and bold and calls forth the best in the American people.

    Barack Obama’s change is the change America needs. Whether in Illinois or in Washington, Barack Obama has bridged partisanship to bring about significant reform. Barack Obama knew that to change policy in Washington you had to change how Washington works.

    That means restoring integrity to government by reducing the influence of special interests. I saw firsthand his strong leadership on one of the toughest issues: enacting the toughest ethics reform legislation in the history of Congress. This was only possible with Barack Obama’s leadership…..

    One hundred and fifteen years ago, a young woman named Katharine Lee Bates visited Denver. From the top of Pike’s Peak, she looked across Colorado–to the bountiful golden prairies to the east and to the majestic mountains to the west. That night she returned to her hotel room, opened her notebook, and the words of “America the Beautiful” spilled from her pen. My favorite verse is the fourth: O beautiful, for patriot dream, that sees beyond the years…

    Today, Barack Obama is a 21st century patriot who sees beyond the years. As president, Barack Obama will renew the American dream; Barack Obama is the leader for America’s future.

    Inspired by that same vision of “America the Beautiful,” Democrats will leave this Denver convention, unified, organized, and stronger than ever to take America in a new direction with Barack Obama and Joe Biden as President and Vice President of the United States! – Download, PBS

  • Caroline Kennedy:I am here tonight to pay tribute to two men who have changed my life and the life of this country: Barack Obama and Edward M. Kennedy. Their stories are very different, but they share a commitment to the timeless American ideals of justice and fairness, service and sacrifice, faith and family.Leaders like them come along rarely. But once or twice in a lifetime, they come along just when we need them the most. This is one of those moments. As our nation faces a fundamental choice between moving forward or falling further behind, Senator Obama offers the change we need….I have never had someone inspire me the way people tell me my father inspired them, but I do now, Barack Obama. And I know someone else who’s been inspired all over again by Senator Obama. In our family, he’s known as Uncle Teddy. More than any senator of his generation, or perhaps any generation, Teddy has made life better for people in this country and around the world.For 46 years, he has been so much more than just a senator for the people of Massachusetts. He’s been a senator for all who believe in a dream that’s never died. If you’re no longer being denied a job because of your race, gender or disability, or if you’ve seen a rise in the minimum wage you’re being paid, Teddy is your senator too….

    He is a man who always insists that America live up to her highest ideals, who always fights for what he knows is right and who is always there for others. I’ve seen it in my own life. No matter how busy he is, he never fails to find time for those in pain, those in grief or those who just need a hug. In our family, he has never missed a first communion, a graduation, or a chance to walk one of his nieces down the aisle.

    He has a special relationship with each of us. And his 60 great nieces and nephews all know that the best cookies and the best laughs are always found at Uncle Teddy’s. Whether he is teaching us about sailing, about the Senate or about life, he has shown us how to chart our course, take the helm and sail against the wind. And this summer, as he faced yet another challenge, he and Vicki have taught us all about dignity, courage and the power of love.

                                                  In this campaign, Barack Obama has no greater champion. When he is president, he will have no stronger partner in the United States Senate. Now, it is my honor to introduce a tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy. – Download, PBS

  • Senator Edward Kennedy: My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans, it is so wonderful to be here.And nothing — nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight.I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals, and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States.As I look ahead, I am strengthened by family and friendship. So many of you have been with me in the happiest days and the hardest days. Together we have known success and seen setbacks, victory and defeat.
    Senator Edward Kennedy addressing the Democration National Convention after a tribute given by his niece Caroline Kennedy

    Senator Edward Kennedy addressing the Democratic National Convention after a tribute given by his niece Caroline Kennedy

    But we have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world. And I pledge to you — I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate when we begin the great test.

    For me this is a season of hope — new hope for a justice and fair prosperity for the many, and not just for the few — new hope.

    And this is the cause of my life — new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American — north, south, east, west, young, old — will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.

    We can meet these challenges with Barack Obama. Yes, we can, and finally, yes, we will.

    Barack Obama will close the book on the old politics of race and gender and group against group and straight against gay.

    And Barack Obama will be a commander in chief who understands that young Americans in uniform must never be committed to a mistake, but always for a mission worthy of their bravery.

    We are told that Barack Obama believes too much in an America of high principle and bold endeavor, but when John Kennedy called of going to the moon, he didn’t say it’s too far to get there. We shouldn’t even try.

    Our people answered his call and rose to the challenge, and today an American flag still marks the surface of the moon.

    Yes, we are all Americans. This is what we do. We reach the moon. We scale the heights. I know it. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. And we can do it again.

    There is a new wave of change all around us, and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination — not merely victory for our party, but renewal for our nation.

  • And this November the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans, so with Barack Obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.
  • Michelle Obama: … every step of the way since that clear day, February, 19 months ago, when, with little more than our faith in each other and a hunger for change, we joined my husband, Barack Obama, on the improbable journey that has led us to this moment. But each of us comes here also by way of our own improbable journey.
    Michelle Obama rehersing her speech with younger daughter Sacha holding the convention gravel

    Michelle Obama rehersing her speech with younger daughter Sacha holding the convention gravel

    I come here tonight as a sister, blessed with a brother who is my mentor, my protector, and my lifelong friend. And I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president.

    And I come here as a mom, as a mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world. They’re the first things I think about when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about before I go to bed at night. Their future — and all our children’s future — is my stake in this election.

    And I come here as a daughter, raised on the South Side of Chicago…

    And, you know, what struck me when I first met Barack was that, even though he had this funny name, and even though he had grown up all the way across the continent in Hawaii, his family was so much like mine.

    He was raised by grandparents who were working-class folks just like my parents and by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills just like we did. And like my family, they scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities that they never had for themselves.

    And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: like, you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond; that you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them and even if you don’t agree with them.

    And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values and to pass them onto the next generation, because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for them…. And Barack stood up that day, and he spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about “the world as it is” and “the world as it should be.” And he said that, all too often, we accept the distance between the two and we settle for the world as it is, even when it doesn’t reflect our values and aspirations.
    But he reminded us that we also know what our world should like — look like. He said we know what fairness and justice and opportunity look like. And he urged us to believe in ourselves, to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be. And isn’t that the great American story?…

    … and the 45th anniversary — and the 45th anniversary of that hot summer day when Dr. King lifted our sights and our hearts with his dream for our nation.

    And I stand here today at the crosscurrents of that history, knowing that my piece of the American dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me, all of them driven by the same conviction that drove my dad to get up an hour early each day to painstakingly dress himself for work, the same conviction that drives the men and women I’ve met all across this country.

    People who work the day shift, they kiss their kids goodnight, and head out for the night shift, without disappointment, without regret, see, that goodnight kiss is a reminder of everything they’re working for.

    The military families who say grace each night with an empty seat at the table.

    The servicemen…

    The servicemen and women who love this country so much, they leave those they love most to defend it.

    The young people across America serving our communities, teaching children, cleaning up neighborhoods, caring for the least among us each and every day.

    People like Hillary Clinton…

    … who put those 18 million cracks in that glass ceiling so that our daughters and our sons can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher.

    People like Joe Biden…

    … who has never forgotten where he came from and never stopped fighting for folks who work long hours and face long odds and need someone on their side again.

    All of us driven by the simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do, that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.

    And that is the thread that connects our hearts. That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack’s journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope.

    And, you see, that is why I love this country….

    It’s what he’s done in the United States Senate, fighting to ensure that the men and women who serve this country are welcomed home not just with medals and parades, but with good jobs, and benefits, and health care, including mental health care.

    See, that’s why Barack’s running: to end the war in Iraq responsibly…

    … to build an economy that lifts every family, to make sure health care is available for every American, and to make sure that every single child in this nation has a world-class education all the way from preschool to college.

    That’s what Barack Obama will do as president of the United States of America….

    … millions of Americans who know that Barack understands their dreams, millions of Americans who know that Barack will fight for people like them, and that Barack will bring finally the change that we need.

    And in the end, and in the end, after all that’s happened these past 19 months, see, the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago.

    He’s the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital 10 years ago this summer, inching along at a snail’s pace, peering at us anxiously at — through the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands, determined to give her everything he’d struggled so hard for himself, determined to give her something he never had, the affirming embrace of a father’s love….

    … how this time — how this time we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming…

    … how this time, in this great country, where a girl from the South Side of Chicago can go to college and law school, and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House…

    … that we committed ourselves…

    … we committed ourselves to building the world as it should be.

    So tonight, in honor of my father’s memory and my daughters’ future, out of gratitude for those whose triumphs we mark this week, and those whose everyday sacrifices have brought us to this moment, let us devote ourselves to finishing their work, let us work together to fulfill their hopes, and let’s stand together to elect Barack Obama president of the United States of America.

    Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America.

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

Reprinted from HNN


    The week that was….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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