July 19, 2010: Congress Passes Financial Overhaul & Obama’s Maine Vacation

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President speaks on the news from the Gulf

White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 7/16/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 – Full text of the bill
  • Senate Vote 208 – Passes Financial Regulation Bill – NYT, 7-16-10
  • Senate Vote 206 – Final Senate Hurdle for Financial Regulation Bill – NYT, 7-15-10
  • Obama must listen to Bill Clinton to get re-elected: The news that Barack Obama is behind Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee in a new national opinion poll and even with Sarah Palin will surely give the White House much food for thought. How does President Huckabee sound to you? Or President Palin? If the election were held today they seem at least as likely as Obama to win. It signals a major reversal for the Democratic Party in the midterm election for one reason only — they are unable to get their message out starting at the top. In the era of the one-word sound bites, Republicans are outmaneuvering Obama and his fellow Democrats in the all- important message stakes…. – Irish Central, 7-18-10
  • Americans Disapproving Obama May Enable Republicans: Americans disapprove of U.S. President Barack Obama’s handling of almost every major issue and are deeply pessimistic about the nation’s direction, offering a bullish environment for Republicans in the November congressional elections. A majority or plurality disapproves of Obama’s management of the economy, health care, the budget deficit, the overhaul of financial market regulations and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a Bloomberg National Poll conducted July 9- 12. In addition, almost 6 in 10 respondents say the war in Afghanistan is a lost cause. The Senate is scheduled to begin voting on the financial regulation bill today. Almost two-thirds say they feel the nation is headed in the wrong direction, an even more sour assessment than in March when 58 percent felt that way. Two-thirds of independent voters are pessimistic, while just 56 percent of Democrats offer a vote of confidence…. – Bloomberg, 7-15-10
  • Harry Reid Jumps Out to a Lead Over Sharron Angle in New Nevada Senate Poll: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has regained a solid lead over his Republican opponent Sharron Angle in the Nevada Senate race, a new poll shows, after weeks of relentlessly portraying Angle as too extreme. Reid leads Angle 44 percent to 37 percent in the new Mason-Dixon poll, conducted for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Ten percent were undecided, and 5 percent chose “none of these candidates.”… – CBS News, 7-16-10
  • Obama White House tries to turn around bad poll numbers: The polls aren’t looking good for President Obama. ABC News says 51% would prefer to see a Republican Congress elected in November, as a check on Obama. A CBS News poll says only 13% of Americans say Obama’s economic plan has helped them personally…. – USA Today, 7-14-10
  • VP Favorable Ratings: Gore Down; Cheney, Biden Flat Americans more negative than positive toward Gore, Cheney: Americans’ current views of former Vice President Al Gore have become significantly more negative compared with three years ago, and are among the worst for him in more than a decade. The July 8-11 Gallup poll, finding 44% of Americans viewing Gore favorably and 49% unfavorably, was conducted after the announcement that he and his wife were separating, and amid a police investigation into allegations that he committed sexual assault in 2006. Gallup last measured Gore’s image in October 2007, after he was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, when 58% of Americans had a favorable view of him. All three party groups are less favorable toward Gore now compared with 2007, though his rating has declined more among Republicans (from 32% to 16%) and independents (from 57% to 43%) than among Democrats (from 79% to 72%)… – Gallop.com, 7-14-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama, Republicans get ready for new Wall Street battle: We’ve long had the political debate over the effectiveness of the stimulus bill; then this year came the battle over the impact of new health care law. Get ready for the political fight over the value of new Wall Street regulations. President Obama is set to sign the financial regulation bill next week, and he and the Republicans have started an argument that will last until the Nov. 2 congressional elections and beyond. The law will protect consumers, stop the “shadowy deals” that led to the financial crisis of 2008, and keep taxpayers from being “on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes,” Obama said last evening…. – USA Today, 7-17-10
  • Obama chides Republicans for thwarting jobless extension: President Barack Obama stepped up criticism of Republicans Saturday for blocking jobless aid, hammering home a Democratic election year attack line that casts the opposition as the party of the rich.
    “Too often, the Republican leadership in the United States Senate chooses to filibuster our recovery and obstruct our progress. And that has very real consequences,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. Senate Republicans have used the filibuster, a procedural hurdle demanding 60 votes in the 100-member chamber, to block at least three Democratic initiatives to extend unemployment insurance. Republicans cite the need to curb government spending amid a record budget deficit.
    “Think about what these stalling tactics mean for the millions of Americans who’ve lost their jobs since the recession began. Over the past several weeks, more than two million of them have seen their unemployment insurance expire,” the president said…. – LAT, 7-17-10
  • White House Memo Shifting Politics in Presidents’ Vacations: It has been 100 years, the local newspaper reports, since a sitting president chose this picturesque seaside village as his vacation spot. When William Howard Taft arrived in July 1910, he sprained his ankle playing golf, the captain of his yacht got “a terrible sunburn” and the townsfolk made such a ruckus about who would entertain him that Mr. Taft decided to give a speech from the bandstand on the village green. President Obama faces pressures of a different sort. Mr. Obama arrived here Friday for a summer weekend getaway with his wife, Michelle, and their daughters, Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9 — a precursor to a longer family vacation they are planning next month on Martha’s Vineyard. But what sounds like a much-needed family escape from the literal and political heat of Washington to some sounds like hypocrisy to others, given recent statements by both the president and first lady urging Americans to spend their vacation time and money along the shores of the oil-stricken Gulf of Mexico…. – NYT, 7-16-10
  • Senators Look for BP-Lockerbie Link: Just as BP stopped oil from flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, the company faces unwelcome attention from the U.S. Congress on another issue: whether it sought the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi to help get a $900 million exploration agreement with Libya off the ground. Soon after his release last year, BP acknowledged that it urged the British government to sign a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya, but stressed it did not specify al-Megrahi’s case. It reiterated that stance this week when four U.S. Democratic senators asked the State Department to investigate whether there was a quid pro quo for the Lockerbie bomber’s release…. – Fox News, 7-17-10
  • West Virginia Governor Picks Ex-General Counsel to Succeed Byrd: West Virginia’s governor, Joe Manchin III, announced on Friday that he had chosen Carte P. Goodwin, his former general counsel, to temporarily fill the Senate seat long held by Robert C. Byrd. Mr. Goodwin, 36, will serve until a special election is held, which will probably be later this year. Mr. Manchin has expressed interest in being a candidate in that race. At an event announcing his appointment in Charleston, Mr. Goodwin said it would be impossible to fill the shoes of Mr. Byrd, a Democrat who died last month after serving more than a half-century in the Senate…. – NYT, 7-17-10
  • Financial Overhaul Signals Shift on Deregulation: Congress approved a sweeping expansion of federal financial regulation on Thursday, reflecting a renewed mistrust of financial markets after decades in which Washington stood back from Wall Street with wide-eyed admiration. The bill, heavily promoted by President Obama and Congressional Democrats as a response to the 2008 financial crisis, cleared the Senate by a vote of 60 to 39, largely along party lines, after weeks of wrangling that allowed Democrats to pick up the three Republican votes to ensure passage. The vote was the culmination of nearly two years of fierce lobbying and intense debate over the appropriate response to the financial excesses that dragged the nation into the worst recession since the Great Depression…. – NYT, 7-16-10
  • Congress acts, but bank bill has work ahead: In the end, it’s only a beginning. The far-reaching new banking and consumer protection bill awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature now shifts from the politicians to the technocrats. The legislation gives regulators latitude and time to come up with new rules, requires scores of studies and, in some instances, depends on international agreements falling into place. For Wall Street, the next phase represents continuing uncertainty. It also offers banks and other financial institutions yet another opportunity to influence and shape the rules that govern their businesses…. – AP, 7-16-10
  • Obama Pushes Agenda, Despite Political Risks: If passage of the financial regulatory overhaul on Thursday proves anything about President Obama, it is this: He knows how to push big bills through a balky Congress. But Mr. Obama’s legislative success poses a paradox: while he may be winning on Capitol Hill, he is losing with voters at a time of economic distress, and soon may be forced to scale back his ambitions. The financial regulatory bill is the final piece of a legislative hat trick that also included the stimulus bill and the landmark new health care law. Over the last 18 months, Mr. Obama and the Democratic Congress have made considerable inroads in passing what could be the most ambitious agenda in decades… – NYT, 7-16-10
  • Ex-Manchin Aide Tapped For Byrd Seat, W.Va. Gov. Picks Former Aide Carte Goodwin To Fill Byrd’s US Senate Seat: Gov. Joe Manchin is tapping former chief counsel Carte Goodwin, a member of a prominent West Virginia family, to succeed the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, Democratic officials told The Associated Press on Friday. Manchin is scheduled to present his appointee at a Friday afternoon press conference at the Capitol.
    The 36-year-old Goodwin, a Charleston lawyer, would hold the seat until November. That’s when the governor wants general election voters to decide who will serve the final two years of Byrd’s term. The Legislature has begun a special session to consider a proposal from Manchin to allow for a fall vote…. – AP, 7-16-10
  • Financial reform bill another win for Obama, but will the public care?: Following the Recovery Act and health-care reform, the newly approved financial reform bill shows that President Obama is adept at getting his agenda through Congress. But the American public cares about one thing right now: the economy…. – CS Monitor, 7-16-10
  • Pelosi plays down tensions between White House, Democratic lawmakers: At her weekly news briefing Thursday, less than 48 hours after she and other House Democrats criticized Obama’s political operation at a private caucus meeting, she said she and her fellow leaders visited the White House on Wednesday to smooth over the tension and discuss the legislative agenda.
    “We had a very positive meeting with the president yesterday,” Pelosi said. “Our major focus was on jobs. . . . There is absolutely no reason to think that the White House has been anything but cooperative with us in terms of our political efforts to retain control of Congress.”
    The current flare-up was sparked by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs’s public comments over the weekend that the House majority was in doubt and that it would take “strong campaigns by Democrats” to avert dramatic losses. WaPo, 7-15-10
  • Obama to share electric vision at Holland stop Other agencies less optimistic on costs: President Barack Obama will hail a vision of low-cost, high-powered electric vehicles in Michigan today that other government agencies have suggested is overly optimistic, especially in its estimates of how much the cost of batteries can be reduced. The president’s trip to the groundbreaking for a battery plant in Holland will highlight the more than $5 billion the administration has committed toward boosting electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. White House officials said Wednesday that the programs would help lower the cost of some batteries by 70% and provide enough components to build 500,000 electric-drive vehicles a year in the U.S. by 2015…. – Detroit Free Press, 7-15-10
  • AZ immigration law gets first major court hearing: A federal judge is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday over whether Arizona’s new immigration crackdown should take effect later this month, marking the first major hearing in one of seven challenges to the strict law. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton also will consider arguments over Gov. Jan Brewer’s request to dismiss the challenge filed by Phoenix police Officer David Salgado and the statewide nonprofit group Chicanos Por La Causa…. – AP, 7-15-10
  • Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston reunite: What it means for Sarah Palin: Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston – former boyfriend and father of her son – have reconciled and could be married in six weeks. Politically speaking, is this good for Sarah Palin or Roger Clinton redux?… – CS Monitor, 7-15-10
  • Obama enlists Bill Clinton’s aid on economy: U.S. President Barack Obama sought on Wednesday to lift sagging confidence in his economic stewardship by enlisting the help of predecessor Bill Clinton, as a leading business group issued a scathing critique of the administration’s policies… – Reuters, 7-14-10
  • Major banking bill faces final vote this week: President Barack Obama on Tuesday secured the 60 votes he needs in the Senate to pass a sweeping overhaul of financial regulations, all but ensuring that he soon will sign into law one of the top initiatives of his presidency. With the votes in hand to overcome Republican delaying tactics, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday took steps to end debate on the bill Thursday, setting the stage for final passage perhaps later in the day. The House already has passed the bill.
    “This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses, it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he prodded the Senate to act quickly…. – AP, 7-14-10
  • White House Official: Recovery Act Has Created 3 Mln Jobs: The Obama administration’s stimulus push has saved or created about 3 million jobs and is on track to save an additional 500,000 by the end of the year, according to a new report by President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers…. – WSJ, 7-14-10
  • For Obama, more on legislative priorities: President Barack Obama is discussing legislative priorities with Democratic congressional leaders for a second day Wednesday. The president met with the Senate Democratic leadership on Tuesday. On Wednesday it’s the House Democrats’ turn. Obama is getting the meetings in before Congress takes its August break…. – AP, 7-14-10
  • Sarah Palin rebuts NAACP charge of Tea Party racism: Using her favored and unorthodox means of communicating with nearly 2 million followers via her Facebook page, Sarah Palin Tuesday night expressed sadness over an as yet unpublished NAACP convention resolution accusing Tea Party activists of tolerating racist elements in their midst. The former Republican governor of Alaska, who appears to be positioning herself for a possible run at the 2012 GOP presidential nomination using the disgruntled Tea Party’s concerns over expanding and fiscally irresponsible government as a major portion of her base, said:
    I am saddened by the NAACP’s claim that patriotic Americans who stand up for the United States of America’s Constitutional rights are somehow “racists.” The charge that Tea Party Americans judge people by the color of their skin is false, appalling and is a regressive and diversionary tactic to change the subject at hand. – 7-14-10
  • As NAACP aims to stay in national debate, charge of tea party racism draws fire: One thing is clear as the NAACP gathers this week for its 101st annual meeting: The civil rights organization is intent on being seen as still relevant. Even former Alaska governor Sarah Palin sent out a Twitter message and posted a statement on her Facebook page, helping to make the NAACP convention a hot topic on conservative Web sites. She condemned the organization’s passage of a resolution denouncing what it called “racist elements” within the “tea party” movement…. – WaPo, 7-14-10
  • Pelosi, White House Feud Over Gibbs’ House Prediction: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the driving force behind the Obama agenda in Congress, sharply criticized White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs during a closed-door House Democratic caucus meeting late Tuesday, according to Democratic sources.
    Pelosi, irked since Sunday by what she and other top Democrats considered Gibbs’ careless and dismissive comments that Democrats could lose their House majority this November, upbraided a top White House aide as she knocked Gibbs’ unwelcome handicapping of House races.
    “How could he [Gibbs] know what’s going on in our districts?” Pelosi said, according to Democrats who attended the meeting. “Some may weigh his words more closely than others. We have made our disagreements known to the White House.”… – Fox News, 7-14-10
  • Obama To Nominate Former Clinton Official To Head OMB: President Barack Obama plans to nominate a former Clinton administration official to head the Office of Management and Budget, which is grappling with how to best reduce a $1.4 trillion deficit while the economy is on shaky ground. Obama will nominate Jacob Lew, who ran OMB from 1998 to 2001 under former President Bill Clinton… WSJ, 7-13-10
  • Nelson ensures 60 votes for bank regulation bill: All but clearing the way for passage of financial regulations, conservative Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska said Tuesday he will vote for the sweeping overhaul of banking. His support ensures the legislation now has 60 votes to clear the Senate and land on President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature. The House passed the bill last month.
    “This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses , it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he announced his nomination of Jacob Lew to be the new director of the White House budget office…. – AP, 7-13-10
  • Senior Republican wins weeklong delay on Kagan: The Senate Judiciary Committee postponed scheduled action Tuesday to send Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate for confirmation, setting a panel vote for next week.
    Republicans insisted on the delay, saying they needed more time to review Kagan’s written answers to questions they posed to her after her confirmation hearings, and to inquire still further into how she would behave as a justice…. – AP, 7-13-10
  • NAACP to vote on controversial resolution condemning ‘tea party’ supporters: Members of the NAACP will vote Tuesday on a resolution that condemns what the group calls “explicitly racist behavior” by supporters of the “tea party.” The resolution, which is expected to pass, pits the civil rights group against the conservative grass-roots movement, which has repeatedly denied allegations of racism…. – WaPo, 7-13-10
  • Obama looks to Bush’s worldwide strategy on AIDS: President Barack Obama is trying to bring home some of the much-lauded strategies his predecessor used to fight AIDS around the world. The national strategy for combatting HIV and AIDS the Obama administration released Tuesday credits the Bush-era international campaign against AIDS for setting clear targets and ensuring a variety of agencies and groups worked together smoothly to achieve them…. – AP, 7-13-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Surprise SC Senate candidate makes first speech: In his first campaign appearance, South Carolina’s surprising U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene avoided any major gaffes Sunday as he hit his three major themes of jobs, education and justice. The speech started off with a joke and ended with Greene timidly waving, a shy smile spreading across his face as he got a standing ovation before a friendly audience in his hometown of Manning. Greene’s 6 1/2 minute speech at the local NAAP’s monthly meeting was mostly serious. Left out was any mention of his suggestion earlier this month that creating a line of action figures modeled after him could give South Carolinians jobs. In their place came platitudes familiar to anyone who has heard a stump speech.
    “Let’s get South Carolina and America back to work and let’s move South Carolina forward,” said Greene, one of about a dozen lines that got applause from the several hundred folks crammed into a sweltering junior high gymnasium…. – AP, 7-19-10
  • Obama foes Romney, Palin start to mix it up a little bit: President Obama and House Democrats have had their differences lately, but so have some of the Republicans who would like to replace Obama.
    An anonymous adviser to Mitt Romney went after Sarah Palin this week, telling Time magazine’s Mark Halperin that the ex-Alaska governor is “not a serious human being.” Another nameless Romney aide added about Palin: “If she’s standing up there in a debate and the answers are more than 15 seconds long, she’s in trouble.” Ouch!
    Politico ran those quotes by an equally anonymous Palin aide, who said the former Massachusetts governor’s team is violating Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican. “You’d think we’d all be working together toward a common goal — that being 2010 — and that should be the focus right now,” the aide said. “Those who try to claim the mantle of Reagan would be good to follow one of his most sacred tenets.”… – USA Today, 7-16-10
  • Can Republicans take back the Senate?: The kerfuffle caused by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs’ acknowledgment that there are enough seats in play to flip control of the House this fall has eclipsed another interesting political debate: Could Republicans win the Senate majority too? The answer? Yes — but it remains a significantly longer shot than the GOP taking over the House. Senate Republicans need a net gain of 10 seats, which, if history is any guide, will be difficult. The last time one party made double digit seat gains was in 1980 when Republicans defeated nine incumbents and won three more Democratic open seats for a 12-seat pickup. (Thank you Ronald Reagan!) Still, if the last few elections have taught us anything, it’s that history isn’t always determinative… – WaPo, 7-16-10
  • Palin’s Ground Game Spurs Campaign Buzz: Through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has burst back into the political spotlight this month, while her family life has once again become part of the broader American conversation. But it is Ms. Palin’s groundwork on behalf of candidates across the country, along with her continued fund-raising abilities, that has Republican leaders and political strategists wondering whether she is gearing up for a presidential bid in 2012. Ms. Palin’s intentions remain unclear, and unstated. She declined to comment through her political-action committee.
    But her influence is undeniable: On Sunday, SarahPAC disclosed contributions of at least $87,500 to Republican candidates she has endorsed, and a tantalizing $210,000 she has spent on consultants of her own. Ms. Palin also appears to have honed her pitch. Last week, SarahPAC posted a “Mama Grizzlies” video online aimed at reaching out to women voters. In the clip, women carried signs such as “I am not the ‘Angry Mob.’ I am an angry tax-bled ‘Hockey Mom.’ ” Political experts said the video—with its high production values…. – WSJ, 7-17-10
  • GOP Candidates Seize Funding Edge: Republican candidates for Congress have seized the fund-raising lead from Democrats in the closest House and Senate races. Republicans in a dozen of the closest Senate contests claimed 58% of the nearly $50 million in total contributions during the three-month period that ended June 30, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of financial reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. That is a change from the first fund-raising period of the year when Democrats brought in a slight majority of contributions in those races…. – WSJ, 7-17-10
  • Is Jim DeMint an Ace in the Hole for Barack Obama?: South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint , who once proclaimed that he’d rather have “30 Republicans in the Senate who believe in principles of freedom than 60 who don’t believe in anything,” continues to endorse Senate candidates and give leaders in his own party migraine headaches. But one politician must be smiling from ear to ear when he follows DeMint’s antics: President Barack Obama . That’s because, more than Florida’s Marco Rubio, Kentucky’s Rand Paul or Colorado’s Ken Buck — all endorsed by DeMint in GOP Senate primaries against the wishes of party strategists and insiders — the president stands to benefit the most, long term, from DeMint’s rhetoric and actions leading up to the 2010 midterm elections…. – Roll Call, 7-15-10
  • Outsider Wins Alabama GOP Gov Nomination: Self-described outsider Robert Bentley won Alabama’s Republican nomination for governor Tuesday night over establishment candidate Bradley Byrne with a strong showing in rural areas.
    In the unofficial count, Bentley had 56 percent of the vote to Byrne’s 44 percent with 83 percent of the precincts reporting. Bryne ran strong in the state’s four big counties, but Bentley outperformed Byrne in small counties, including areas where Tim James and Roy Moore did well when they ran third and fourth in the June 1 Republican primary…. – AP, 7-14-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Biden: Afghan withdrawal may start with ‘a couple of thousand troops’: As few as “a couple of thousand” U.S. troops may leave Afghanistan in the first phase of withdrawing forces from there beginning a year from now, Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview broadcast Sunday. “It could be as few as a couple of thousand troops; it could be more,” Biden told ABC’s “This Week.” Asked about a book that quotes him as saying the troop withdrawal would start with “a whole lot of people” leaving Afghanistan, Biden confirmed the comment but said he was responding to an assertion that there might be no withdrawal at all at that time. “I did say it,” Biden acknowledged, calling the July 2011 withdrawal date “the beginning of a transition” based on the ability of Afghanistan forces to provide security around the country…. – CNN, 7-18-10
  • Vice President Joe Biden defends Tea Party against ‘racist’ claims: Tea Partiers have gotten some support from an unlikely source — the Vice President of the United States. VP Joe Biden told ABC News’ Jake Tapper on Sunday that he doesn’t think the ultra-conservative group is “racist.”
    “I wouldn’t characterize the Tea Party as racist,” he said on Sunday’s “This Week.” But “there are individuals who are either members of or on the periphery of some of their things, their — their protests — that have expressed really unfortunate comments.”
    The remarks come on the heels of the NAACP’s move last week to demand that Tea Party leaders “repudiate it’s racist elements.”
    Sarah Palin was quick to defend the group.
    “I am saddened by the NAACP’s claim that patriotic Americans who stand up for the United States of America’s Constitutional rights are somehow ‘racists,'” she said via Facebook…. – NY Daily News, 7-18-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Says GOP Senate Leadership Choosing to “Filibuster Our Recovery and Obstruct Our Progress”
    Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House July 17, 2010:
    Now in the past, Presidents and Congresses of both parties have treated unemployment insurance for what it is – an emergency expenditure. That’s because an economic disaster can devastate families and communities just as surely as a flood or tornado.
    Suddenly, Republican leaders want to change that. They say we shouldn’t provide unemployment insurance because it costs money. So after years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, including a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, they’ve finally decided to make their stand on the backs of the unemployed. They’ve got no problem spending money on tax breaks for folks at the top who don’t need them and didn’t even ask for them; but they object to helping folks laid off in this recession who really do need help. And every day this goes on, another 50,000 Americans lose that badly needed lifeline.
    Well, I think these Senators are wrong. We can’t afford to go back to the same misguided policies that led us into this mess. We need to move forward with the policies that are leading us out of this mess.
    The fact is, most economists agree that extending unemployment insurance is one of the single most cost-effective ways to help jumpstart the economy. It puts money into the pockets of folks who not only need it most, but who also are most likely to spend it quickly. That boosts local economies. And that means jobs.
    Increasing loans to small business. Renewing unemployment insurance. These steps aren’t just the right thing to do for those hardest hit by the recession – they’re the right thing to do for all of us. And I’m calling on Congress once more to take these steps on behalf of America’s workers, and families, and small business owners – the people we were sent here to serve.
    Because when storms strike Main Street, we don’t play politics with emergency aid. We don’t desert our fellow Americans when they fall on hard times. We come together. We do what we can to help. We rebuild stronger, and we move forward. That’s what we’re doing today. And I’m absolutely convinced that’s how we’re going to come through this storm to better days ahead. – WH, 7-17-10
  • Obama: GOP blocking unemployed, small business aid: President Barack Obama says Senate Republicans are playing politics with bills that would extend benefits to the unemployed and increase lending to small businesses. Striking a deeply partisan tone in his weekly radio and online address, Obama said the GOP leadership has chosen to “filibuster our recovery and obstruct our progress” by blocking votes on agenda items the president says would breath life into the economic recovery.
    “These steps aren’t just the right thing to do for those hardest hit by the recession,” Obama said. “They’re the right thing to do for all of us.” The address was recorded at the White House before Obama flew to Maine on Friday for a weekend family vacation… – AP, 7-17-10
  • Wall Street Reform: Final Votes Approach: Remarks by the President in Selection of Jack Lew to be Director of OMB: Before I begin, I just want to note a breakthrough that we’ve had on our efforts to pass the most comprehensive reform of Wall Street since the Great Depression. Three Republican senators have put politics and partisanship aside to support this reform, and I’m grateful for their decision, as well as all the Democrats who’ve worked so hard to make this reform a reality, particularly Chairman Dodd and Chairman Barney Frank.
    What members of both parties realize is that we can’t allow a financial crisis like this one that we just went through to happen again. This reform will prevent that from happening. It will prevent a financial crisis like this from happening again, by protecting consumers against the unfair practices of credit card companies and mortgage lenders. It will ensure that taxpayers are never again on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes. And it will end an era of irresponsibility that led to the loss of 8 million jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth.
    Now, as we finish our work on Wall Street reform, we’re also mindful that we’ve got significant work to do when it comes to reforming our government and reducing our deficit.
    This reform is good for families. It’s good for businesses. It’s good for the entire economy. And I urge the Senate to act quickly so that I can sign it into law next week….. – WH, 7-13-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Why Obama’s poll numbers have sunk: President Obama’s supporters have been frustrated about the apparent paradox of this administration. With the recent passage of historic financial regulation legislation, many Democrats are having trouble grasping why his approval ratings still lag and why Democrats might lose control of the House in the fall elections. Supporters say the economic stimulus bill, education and health care reform, and now financial reform, should have Americans looking at the White House with the same admiration they had for President Roosevelt in the 1930s or President Johnson at the height of his success in 1964 and 1965. But according to a recent CBS News poll, just 40 percent of those polled approved of how the president was handling the economy. This was a drop of five percentage points since June….
    Rather than complain about what the public thinks or dismiss liberals as unrealistic, Obama would do better to be more responsive to public concerns, with joblessness at the top of his list. The president must give serious consideration to another stimulus package, and be willing to spend the kind of political capital that he used in pushing for health care and financial regulation. He must also be willing to look at some of the shortcomings of the first bill, such as insufficient funds for public works projects and for assistance to the states. – CNN, 7-19-10
  • Analysis: Dems enacted much of Obama’s agenda: Far-reaching legislation aimed at reining in Wall Street marks the latest and likely the last major achievement by President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress, an 18-month partnership that strove simultaneously to fix a battered economy and enact sweeping changes to health care, education and more. Whatever the longer term impact — the most far-reaching changes in the health care legislation won’t start until 2014 — the immediate aftermath is unemployment that scrapes double digits and deficits far deeper than Obama and his allies inherited in January 2009. The Republicans who worked ceaselessly to thwart the president’s agenda are emboldened, while Democrats who voted it into law brace for majority-threatening election losses…. – AP, 7-17-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton Gulf oil spill containment: Obama’s Katrina or turning point toward reelection?: When President Clinton responded to the Oklahoma City bombing, he did so forcefully, with an expansive legislative agenda to strengthen the nation’s ability to fight against domestic terrorism. Just because the Gulf Oil spill might finally have reached a turning point, there is no way to see victory for the administration. It is clear that administration policies allowed for this kind of off-shore drilling to take place, despite great doubts and concerns, and there is evidence the administration is still authorizing risky drilling to occur (see offshore drilling). The response has not been forceful and a huge amount of environmental damage has been caused as a result of this — damage that won’t be repaired…. – Politico, 7-16-10
  • DANIEL HENNINGER: Berwick: Bigger Than Kagan: If the American people want the health-care world Dr. Berwick wishes to give them, that’s their choice. But they must be given that choice…. – WSJ, 7-14-10
  • Allan Lichtman: Scholar’s “13 Keys” Predict Another Obama Win: Although the next presidential election is 28 months away, President Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012 is nearly guaranteed despite former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s prediction that Obama has only a 20 percent chance, according to American University Professor Allan Lichtman. Lichtman’s “13 Keys” system predicts the outcome of the popular vote based on the performance of the party and not the use of candidate preference polls, campaign tactics, or events…. – American University, 7-14-10
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July 12, 2010: Financial Regulation Overhaul Set to Pass & Obama meets with Benjamin Netanyahu

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President & Senate Democratic Leaders before final votes on Wall Street Reform, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 7/13/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Obama White House tries to turn around bad poll numbers: The polls aren’t looking good for President Obama. ABC News says 51% would prefer to see a Republican Congress elected in November, as a check on Obama. A CBS News poll says only 13% of Americans say Obama’s economic plan has helped them personally…. – USA Today, 7-14-10
  • After 18 months of Obama, Americans already feeling fonder of Dick Cheney, less so of Al Gore: The new Gallup Poll, released overnight, shows that a near-majority of Americans now views almost-president Gore unfavorably (49%), while 44% are favorable, down 14 points since his Nobel Prize glory days of 2007. As the most recent former White House No. 2, Cheney had the most to improve in favorable ratings. And, actually, he did improve the most in the opinion of surveyed Americans.
    Cheney’s robust unfavorable rating melted 11 points during the past 18 months of the Democrat duo of Obama-Biden to 52% now. While the Republican’s favorables surged from their low point of 30% all the way up to an impressive 36% now. That’s a stunning 20% improvement. LAT, 7-14-10
  • VP Favorable Ratings: Gore Down; Cheney, Biden Flat Americans more negative than positive toward Gore, Cheney: Americans’ current views of former Vice President Al Gore have become significantly more negative compared with three years ago, and are among the worst for him in more than a decade. The July 8-11 Gallup poll, finding 44% of Americans viewing Gore favorably and 49% unfavorably, was conducted after the announcement that he and his wife were separating, and amid a police investigation into allegations that he committed sexual assault in 2006. Gallup last measured Gore’s image in October 2007, after he was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, when 58% of Americans had a favorable view of him. All three party groups are less favorable toward Gore now compared with 2007, though his rating has declined more among Republicans (from 32% to 16%) and independents (from 57% to 43%) than among Democrats (from 79% to 72%)… – Gallop.com, 7-14-10
  • Poll finds Pennsylvania Senate race in dead heat: Pennsylvania’s Senate race is dead even, with Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak and Republican Pat Toomey both drawing 43% of support in a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
    At this point in the race, momentum appears to be on Sestak’s side. He was down 2 percentage points in May and 8 percentage points in an April survey by Quinnipiac.
    “Congressman Joe Sestak, a decided underdog who knocked off U.S. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary, has now closed an 8-point gap in the last three months to tie Pat Toomey,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement…. – USA Today, 7-14-10
  • Crist leads 3-way Senate race in Florida: Florida Governor Charlie Crist holds a narrow edge over Republican Marco Rubio in a three-way Senate race dominated by economic worries, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.
    Crist, who left the Republican Party to run as an independent after Rubio mounted a primary challenge against him, leads Rubio 35 percent to 28 percent. Democrat Kendrick Meek trails with 17 percent less than four months before the November election for the open Senate seat.
    Crist holds a similar 34 to 29 percent edge over Rubio in a three-way race against Democrat Jeff Greene, who is locked in a tough party primary fight with Meek. The Florida primary will be held August 24.
    In the race to succeed Crist as governor, Republican Rick Scott leads Democrat Alex Sink by 34 percent to 31 percent. But Sink leads slightly, 31 percent to 30 percent, when matched against Republican Bill McCollum. McCollum and Scott are waging a bitter Republican primary race…. – Reuters, 7-13-10

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Shakes Hand with Jacob Lew, His Nominee for OMB   Director

President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Jack Lew to replace Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Peter Orszag during a statement to the press in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House July 13, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

  • Obama enlists Bill Clinton’s aid on economy: U.S. President Barack Obama sought on Wednesday to lift sagging confidence in his economic stewardship by enlisting the help of predecessor Bill Clinton, as a leading business group issued a scathing critique of the administration’s policies… – Reuters, 7-14-10
  • Major banking bill faces final vote this week: President Barack Obama on Tuesday secured the 60 votes he needs in the Senate to pass a sweeping overhaul of financial regulations, all but ensuring that he soon will sign into law one of the top initiatives of his presidency. With the votes in hand to overcome Republican delaying tactics, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday took steps to end debate on the bill Thursday, setting the stage for final passage perhaps later in the day. The House already has passed the bill.
    “This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses, it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he prodded the Senate to act quickly…. – AP, 7-14-10
  • White House Official: Recovery Act Has Created 3 Mln Jobs: The Obama administration’s stimulus push has saved or created about 3 million jobs and is on track to save an additional 500,000 by the end of the year, according to a new report by President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers…. – WSJ, 7-14-10
  • For Obama, more on legislative priorities: President Barack Obama is discussing legislative priorities with Democratic congressional leaders for a second day Wednesday. The president met with the Senate Democratic leadership on Tuesday. On Wednesday it’s the House Democrats’ turn. Obama is getting the meetings in before Congress takes its August break…. – AP, 7-14-10
  • Sarah Palin rebuts NAACP charge of Tea Party racism: Using her favored and unorthodox means of communicating with nearly 2 million followers via her Facebook page, Sarah Palin Tuesday night expressed sadness over an as yet unpublished NAACP convention resolution accusing Tea Party activists of tolerating racist elements in their midst. The former Republican governor of Alaska, who appears to be positioning herself for a possible run at the 2012 GOP presidential nomination using the disgruntled Tea Party’s concerns over expanding and fiscally irresponsible government as a major portion of her base, said:
    I am saddened by the NAACP’s claim that patriotic Americans who stand up for the United States of America’s Constitutional rights are somehow “racists.” The charge that Tea Party Americans judge people by the color of their skin is false, appalling and is a regressive and diversionary tactic to change the subject at hand. – 7-14-10
  • As NAACP aims to stay in national debate, charge of tea party racism draws fire: One thing is clear as the NAACP gathers this week for its 101st annual meeting: The civil rights organization is intent on being seen as still relevant. Even former Alaska governor Sarah Palin sent out a Twitter message and posted a statement on her Facebook page, helping to make the NAACP convention a hot topic on conservative Web sites. She condemned the organization’s passage of a resolution denouncing what it called “racist elements” within the “tea party” movement…. – WaPo, 7-14-10
  • Pelosi, White House Feud Over Gibbs’ House Prediction: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the driving force behind the Obama agenda in Congress, sharply criticized White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs during a closed-door House Democratic caucus meeting late Tuesday, according to Democratic sources.
    Pelosi, irked since Sunday by what she and other top Democrats considered Gibbs’ careless and dismissive comments that Democrats could lose their House majority this November, upbraided a top White House aide as she knocked Gibbs’ unwelcome handicapping of House races.
    “How could he [Gibbs] know what’s going on in our districts?” Pelosi said, according to Democrats who attended the meeting. “Some may weigh his words more closely than others. We have made our disagreements known to the White House.”… – Fox News, 7-14-10
  • Obama To Nominate Former Clinton Official To Head OMB: President Barack Obama plans to nominate a former Clinton administration official to head the Office of Management and Budget, which is grappling with how to best reduce a $1.4 trillion deficit while the economy is on shaky ground. Obama will nominate Jacob Lew, who ran OMB from 1998 to 2001 under former President Bill Clinton… WSJ, 7-13-10
  • Nelson ensures 60 votes for bank regulation bill: All but clearing the way for passage of financial regulations, conservative Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska said Tuesday he will vote for the sweeping overhaul of banking. His support ensures the legislation now has 60 votes to clear the Senate and land on President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature. The House passed the bill last month.
    “This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses , it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he announced his nomination of Jacob Lew to be the new director of the White House budget office…. – AP, 7-13-10
  • Senior Republican wins weeklong delay on Kagan: The Senate Judiciary Committee postponed scheduled action Tuesday to send Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate for confirmation, setting a panel vote for next week.
    Republicans insisted on the delay, saying they needed more time to review Kagan’s written answers to questions they posed to her after her confirmation hearings, and to inquire still further into how she would behave as a justice…. – AP, 7-13-10
  • NAACP to vote on controversial resolution condemning ‘tea party’ supporters: Members of the NAACP will vote Tuesday on a resolution that condemns what the group calls “explicitly racist behavior” by supporters of the “tea party.” The resolution, which is expected to pass, pits the civil rights group against the conservative grass-roots movement, which has repeatedly denied allegations of racism…. – WaPo, 7-13-10
  • Obama looks to Bush’s worldwide strategy on AIDS: President Barack Obama is trying to bring home some of the much-lauded strategies his predecessor used to fight AIDS around the world. The national strategy for combatting HIV and AIDS the Obama administration released Tuesday credits the Bush-era international campaign against AIDS for setting clear targets and ensuring a variety of agencies and groups worked together smoothly to achieve them…. – AP, 7-13-10
  • US should better define, counter Islamic extremism: The Obama administration’s recent move to drop rhetorical references to Islamic radicalism is drawing fire in a new report warning the decision ignores the role religion can play in motivating terrorists. Several prominent counterterror experts are challenging the administration’s shift in its recently unveiled National Security Strategy, saying the terror threat should be defined in order to fight it. The question of how to frame the conflict against al-Qaida and other terrorists poses a knotty problem. The U.S. is trying to mend fences with Muslim communities while toughening its strikes against militant groups. In the report, scheduled to be released this week, counterterrorism experts from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy argue that the U.S. could clearly articulate the threat from radical Islamic extremists “without denigrating the Islamic religion in any way.” President Barack Obama has argued that words matter, and administration officials have said that the use of inflammatory descriptions linking Islam to the terror threat feed the enemy’s propaganda and may alienate moderate Muslims in the U.S…. – AP, 7-12-10
  • Congress returns from recess to even more of the same: Congress will return this week from the July 4th recess to a pile of unfinished business. Yes, the same might be said of every Congress returning from every recess since lawmakers wore wigs and tights. But this time it could be a big problem, especially for the party in power. When Barack Obama took office and the Democrats took control of Washington, they made ambitious promises about how much they’d get done, with or without Republican help. Now, with relatively few working days left before the November midterm elections (in part because lawmakers granted themselves another long break beginning at the end of July), they might not be able to convince skeptical, frustrated voters that they delivered — and that they deserve to stay in charge…. – WaPo, 7-11-10
  • U.S. might launch 2nd suit against Arizona immigration law, Holder says: 2nd lawsuit weighed on immigration law. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Sunday that if the federal government does not stop Arizona’s immigration law from taking effect, it might launch a second legal challenge to combat any racial profiling that occurs. The Obama administration is suing Arizona over the law, set to take effect July 29, which would make it a state crime for someone to be in the country illegally. During “lawful stops,” local law enforcement officers will be required to question people about their immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that they might be illegal immigrants. WaPo, 7-11-10
  • Governors: Obama’s Immigration Suit Is ‘Toxic’: Democratic governors expressed “grave” concerns to White House officials this weekend about the Obama administration’s suit against Arizona’s new immigration law, warning it could cost the party in crucial elections this fall, The New York Times reported late Sunday. The closed-door meeting took place at the National Governors Association in Boston on Saturday, according to two unnamed governors who spoke to the Times. “Universally the governors are saying, ‘We’ve got to talk about jobs, and all of a sudden we have immigration going on,'” Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a Democrat, was quoted as saying. “It is such a toxic subject, such an important time for Democrats.” The Arizona law, which is facing a U.S. Justice Department challenge, requires police to question people about their immigration status while enforcing other laws if there’s reason to suspect someone is in the country illegally….. – Fox News, 7-12-10
  • With votes looming, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan plays it cool: With committee and floor votes beginning this week on the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan, skeptical lawmakers could not resist the opportunity to search for a weak point that might provoke last-minute controversy. Six Republican senators submitted questions that produced 74 pages of written responses from Kagan. In ritual form, her answers — released Friday — were finely sanded to avoid any clamor. Kagan carefully hewed to the themes she struck at last month’s hearings: In cases in which she voiced opinion, she said, it was that of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she once worked…. – WaPo, 7-10-10
  • Obama changes VA rule to help vets get stress disorder aid: War-zone veterans will no longer have to submit specific evidence to get benefits and treatment for post-traumatic stress….- LAT, 7-11-10
  • PM: Israel-US alliance strong: “The alliance between Israel and the US is stable and strong. It has the support of the American administration and people,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting Sunday. Netanyahu said that he reiterated to Obama “Israel’s desire to proceed immediately to direct negotiations with the PA, with the goal being to advance the diplomatic process and try to reach a peace agreement.”… – JPost, 7-11-10
  • Governors avoid debate on Arizona’s immigration law: The topic’s not on their convention agenda, but it’s on everyone’s mind as demonstrators rally nearby…. – LAT, 7-11-10
  • No full Social Security benefits until age 70?: Young Americans might not get full Social Security retirement benefits until they reach age 70 if some trial balloons that prominent lawmakers of both parties are floating become law. No one who’s slated to receive benefits in the next decade or two is likely to be affected, but there’s a gentle, growing and unusually bipartisan push to raise the retirement age for full Social Security benefits for people born in the 1960s and after. The suggestions are being taken seriously after decades when they were politically impossible because officials – and, increasingly, their constituents – are confronting the inescapable challenge of the nation’s enormous debt…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 7-11-10
  • Obama turns a corner on Middle East peace: Two bits of good news emerged during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brief visit to Washington this week: First, that Netanyahu and President Barack Obama publicly reaffirmed the strength of U.S.-Israeli relations, and, second, that Netanyahu said he expects direct talks with the Palestinians to begin soon. Both items suggest a maturing of the Obama administration’s foreign policy as it relates to the Middle East, and may even portend real results soon. Israel has been participating in indirect negotiations with the Palestinians through former Sen. George Mitchell since Obama named him a special envoy last year…. – Detroit Free Press, 7-10-10
  • In spy swap, agents were pawns in a practiced game: In the rapid-fire spy swap, the United States and Russia worked together as only old enemies could. Less than two weeks after the FBI broke the spy ring in a counterintelligence operation cultivated for a decade, 10 Russian secret agents caught in the U.S. are back in Russia, four convicted of spying for the West have been pardoned and released by Moscow, and bilateral relations appear on track again. In describing how the swap unfolded, U.S. officials made clear that even before the arrests, Washington wanted not only to take down a spy network but to move beyond the provocative moment…. – AP, 7-10-10
  • U.S.-Russia spy swap is complete: The speed of the exchange has some wondering what was behind the deal…. – LAT, 7-9-10
  • Going Nuclear: Romney vs. Obama (and Kerry): Yesterday Mitt Romney blasted Barack Obama via a Washington Post op-ed denouncing Obama’s nuclear Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia as the president’s “worst foreign policy mistake yet.” Romney complains that the Russians “badly out-negotiated” Obama and came out with a decided strategic advantage in the treaty, including the power to walk away from the treaty if the U.S. presses too far ahead with missile defense systems. Today, John Kerry, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, hit back at Romney (also in the Post), calling his argument “baloney,” and tossing in some tart insults:
    I have nothing against Massachusetts politicians running for president. But the world’s most important elected office carries responsibilities, including the duty to check your facts even if you’re in a footrace to the right against Sarah Palin. More than that, you need to understand that when it comes to nuclear danger, the nation’s security is more important than scoring cheap political points…. – Time, 7-7-10
  • Relief well drilling ahead of schedule: While workers keep drilling the wells, the battle over President Barack Obama’s effort to suspend deepwater drilling moves Thursday to a federal appeals court in Louisiana. Oral arguments in a case that challenged the Obama administration’s six-month ban on deepwater drilling start in the afternoon in New Orleans. An advocacy group called Alliance for Justice made a pre-emptive strike against the court on Wednesday. It released a scathing report alleging that many appeals court judges have extensive ties to the oil industry, including the three-judge panel that will preside over the drilling ban hearing. As the case proceeds, others hope the seas will be calm enough for vessels to return to cleaning up the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. CNN, 7-8-10
  • Department of Justice seeks injunction against Arizona immigration law: In a lawsuit filed July 6 in federal court in Arizona, the U.S. Department of Justice made good on its promise to challenge Arizona’s immigration law. Arizona law S.B. 1070, due to take effect July 29, was challenged on the basis that it unconstitutionally interferes with the federal government’s authority to set and enforce immigration policy, accoridng to a July 6 news release from the Department of Justice.
    In the brief, the administration said that “the Constitution and federal law do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country,” the release said.
    The Department of Justice has requested a preliminary injunction to enjoin enforcement of the law, the news release said. The department believes law’s operation will cause irreparable harm, the release said.
    “Arizonans are understandably frustrated with illegal immigration, and the federal government has a responsibility to comprehensively address those concerns,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in the news release. “But diverting federal resources away from dangerous aliens such as terrorism suspects and aliens with criminal records will impact the entire country’s safety.” The Packer, 7-6-10
  • President Obama wants injunction to stall Arizona’s controversial new immigration law: The Obama administration sued Arizona on Tuesday to kill, or at least stall, the state’s hotly disputed new law allowing local cops to target suspected illegal immigrants. In seeking an injunction to block the law from going into effect July 29, Attorney General Eric Holder said he sympathized with Arizonans and others who are “frustrated with illegal immigration.”
    But “setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility,” Holder declared, and “seeking to address the issue through a patchwork of state laws will only create more problems than it solves.” His lawsuit said it’s also flat-out unconstitutional, usurping federal power to control the borders…. – NY Daily News, 7-7-10
  • Obama trying carrot, not stick, on Netanyahu: Netanyahu got off easy in Washington: He left strengthened by Obama and without having to make any real concessions. Haaretz, 7-7-10
  • Obama Bypassing Senate for New Medicare Chief: Obama to use a recess appointment to put a new director in place for Medicare and Medicaid… – ABC News, 7-7-10
  • Obama Returns to Missouri, Site of Slim 2008 Loss: For some in President Obama’s White House, Missouri remains the state that got away, nearly two years after his election. Mr. Obama was the first Democrat since 1964 to win Indiana and the first since 1976 to win North Carolina. But his loss in Missouri by the narrowest of slivers (fewer than 4,000 votes) was of special disappointment. After all, the state has sided with the winner of the presidential race in nearly every election in the past century. Who would wish to be remembered for breaking that sort of trend? Now, even as President Obama juggles a barrage of dire matters, relatively calm Missouri seems to continue to carry some particular attention for the White House. This week, Mr. Obama will be in the state again, raising money in a competitive Senate campaign in a challenging political season for Democrats…. – NYT, 7-6-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Outsider Wins Alabama GOP Gov Nomination: Self-described outsider Robert Bentley won Alabama’s Republican nomination for governor Tuesday night over establishment candidate Bradley Byrne with a strong showing in rural areas.
    In the unofficial count, Bentley had 56 percent of the vote to Byrne’s 44 percent with 83 percent of the precincts reporting. Bryne ran strong in the state’s four big counties, but Bentley outperformed Byrne in small counties, including areas where Tim James and Roy Moore did well when they ran third and fourth in the June 1 Republican primary…. – AP, 7-14-10
  • GOP candidate Angle rallies GOP against Reid: U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle on Friday denounced Majority Leader Harry Reid as a “desperate man” who was distorting her conservative record while ignoring a state that leads the nation in joblessness, foreclosures and bankruptcies. A day after President Barack Obama delivered a mocking indictment of her candidacy at a rally in Las Vegas, Angle accused the president and Reid of pushing billions of dollars in stimulus spending while Nevada struggles with “an economy that is a disaster.”… – AP, 7-10-10
  • Democrats digging harder than ever for dirt on Republicans: The Democratic Party is moving faster and more aggressively than in previous election years to dig up unflattering details about Republican challengers. In House races from New Jersey to Ohio to California, Democratic operatives are seizing on evidence of GOP candidates’ unpaid income taxes, property tax breaks and ties to financial firms that received taxpayer bailout money…. – WaPo, 7-6-10
  • Once a withdrawn teen, SC man now takes on senator: Alvin Greene earned the nickname “turtle” in high school — a quiet, withdrawn boy who was smart when he applied himself but rarely took a chance and tried to put himself in comfortable situations. Nearly four weeks ago, the 32-year-old unemployed military veteran turned South Carolina’s political scene upside down when he won the Democratic nomination for a U.S. Senate seat. And unlike that high school student, he’s taking a big chance: running against powerhouse Republican Sen. Jim DeMint…. – AP, 7-6-10
  • Poll: Meg Whitman, Jerry Brown in virtual tie: California’s race for governor is a dead heat, as Republican Meg Whitman’s massive advertising blitz coupled with Democrat Jerry Brown’s lo-fi campaign have raised doubts about Brown and cut his lead among Latino voters and other key Democratic constituencies, a Field Poll released today shows.
    Brown leads Whitman 44 to 43 percent in the poll, with 13 percent undecided, according to Field’s survey of 1,005 likely voters. The poll, conducted June 22 to July 5, has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.
    But billionaire Whitman’s relentless advertising campaign has helped sour voters’ views of Brown, with 40 percent holding an unfavorable opinion of him – up from 25 percent in March 2009. Still, 42 percent view him favorably…. – SF Chronicle, 7-6-10
  • Feingold faces unexpectedly tough race: Add Russ Feingold to the list of Senate Democrats who find themselves in unexpectedly tough races, the latest evidence of the GOP’s success in widening the playing field that President Barack Obama’s party has to defend.
    The Wisconsin Democrat faces a wealthy political newcomer with early backing from tea party activists in a state that has many independent voters and is known for doing its own thing. Likely GOP nominee Ron Johnson is running an outsider’s campaign in a year that seems to favor outsiders…. – AP, 7-6-10
  • McCain’s Immigration Shift: ‘Many’ Should Be Sent Back: A lot has changed since 2007, when John McCain was the #1 immigration compromiser in the U.S. Senate, leading the way with a large, bipartisan bill that would have given illegal immigrants an opportunity to become U.S. citizens while beefing up border security….
    Now, McCain finds himself in a different political situation, and so does the immigration issue. McCain lost the 2008 election, during which he was sharply criticized as an immigration liberal by his GOP primary rivals, and he’s facing a primary challenge from Tea-Party-style candidate J.D. Hayworth. As a national issue, immigration has heated up after Arizona passed its new law and as a drug war has raged in Mexico…. – The Atlantic, 7-6-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Pete Souza, 7/9/10

  • Wall Street Reform: Final Votes Approach: Remarks by the President in Selection of Jack Lew to be Director of OMB: Before I begin, I just want to note a breakthrough that we’ve had on our efforts to pass the most comprehensive reform of Wall Street since the Great Depression. Three Republican senators have put politics and partisanship aside to support this reform, and I’m grateful for their decision, as well as all the Democrats who’ve worked so hard to make this reform a reality, particularly Chairman Dodd and Chairman Barney Frank.
    What members of both parties realize is that we can’t allow a financial crisis like this one that we just went through to happen again. This reform will prevent that from happening. It will prevent a financial crisis like this from happening again, by protecting consumers against the unfair practices of credit card companies and mortgage lenders. It will ensure that taxpayers are never again on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes. And it will end an era of irresponsibility that led to the loss of 8 million jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth.
    Now, as we finish our work on Wall Street reform, we’re also mindful that we’ve got significant work to do when it comes to reforming our government and reducing our deficit.
    This reform is good for families. It’s good for businesses. It’s good for the entire economy. And I urge the Senate to act quickly so that I can sign it into law next week….. – WH, 7-13-10
  • President Obama & President Fernandez Meet on Trade, Drug-Trafficking, and HaitiWH, 7-12-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Announces Changes to Help Veterans with PTSD Receive the Benefits They Need
    Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address July 10, 2010
    …Today, we’ve made it clear up and down the chain of command that folks should seek help if they need it. In fact, we’ve expanded mental health counseling and services for our vets.
    But for years, many veterans with PTSD who have tried to seek benefits – veterans of today’s wars and earlier wars – have often found themselves stymied. They’ve been required to produce evidence proving that a specific event caused their PTSD. And that practice has kept the vast majority of those with PTSD who served in non-combat roles, but who still waged war, from getting the care they need.
    Well, I don’t think our troops on the battlefield should have to take notes to keep for a claims application. And I’ve met enough veterans to know that you don’t have to engage in a firefight to endure the trauma of war.
    So we’re changing the way things are done.
    On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs, led by Secretary Ric Shinseki, will begin making it easier for a veteran with PTSD to get the benefits he or she needs.
    This is a long-overdue step that will help veterans not just of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, but generations of their brave predecessors who proudly served and sacrificed in all our wars.
    It’s a step that proves America will always be here for our veterans, just as they’ve been there for us. We won’t let them down. We take care of our own. And as long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, that’s what we’re going to keep doing. WH, 7-10-10
  • Treasury Secretary Geithner on Wall Street Reform: “All Americans Have a Stake in Reforms”: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared on PBS NewsHour last night to discuss, among other items, the financial reform bill that is awaiting final passage by the Senate when they return from recess next week. In his conversation with NewsHour host Jim Lehrer, Secretary Geithner expressed confidence that the Congress will soon deliver a strong bill to President Obama’s desk… – WH, 7-7-10
  • Obama thanks Europe for renewing anti-terrorist financing program: The United States welcomes today’s decision by the European Parliament to join the Council and Commission of the European Union in approving a revised agreement between the United States and the European Union on the processing and transfer of financial messaging data for the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP). We look forward to the Council’s completion of the process, allowing the agreement to enter into force on August 1, 2010, thus fully restoring this important counterterrorism tool and resuming the sharing of investigative data that has been suspended since January 2010. The threat of terrorism faced by the United States and the European Union continues and, with this agreement, all of our citizens will be safer.
    The TFTP has provided critical investigative leads — more than 1,550 to EU Member States — since its creation after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. These leads have aided countries around the world in preventing or investigating many of the past decade’s most visible and violent terrorist attacks and attempted attacks, including Bali (2002), Madrid (2004), London (2005), the liquids bomb plot against transatlantic aircraft (2006), New York’s John F. Kennedy airport (2007), Germany (2007), Mumbai (2008), and Jakarta (2009).
    This new, legally binding agreement reflects significant additional data privacy safeguards but still retains the effectiveness and integrity of this indispensable counterterrorism program.
    Protecting privacy and civil liberties is a top priority of the Obama Administration. We are determined to protect citizens of all nations while also upholding fundamental rights, using every legitimate tool available to combat terrorism that is consistent with our laws and principles. – USA Today, 7-8-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Allan Lichtman: Scholar’s “13 Keys” Predict Another Obama Win: Although the next presidential election is 28 months away, President Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012 is nearly guaranteed despite former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s prediction that Obama has only a 20 percent chance, according to American University Professor Allan Lichtman. Lichtman’s “13 Keys” system predicts the outcome of the popular vote based on the performance of the party and not the use of candidate preference polls, campaign tactics, or events…. – American University, 7-14-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Sarah Palin likes government too: During a speech at an event called “Freedom Fest,” former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin warned Tea Party activists that while government spending was a bad thing, conservatives should not go too far and start calling for reductions in the military budget.
    While Palin told the crowd in Norfolk, Virginia, “Something has to be done urgently to stop the out-of-control Obama-Reid-Pelosi spending machine,” she also told them, “We must make sure, however, that we do nothing to undermine the effectiveness of our military.”
    Palin’s speech touched on a historic problem for the conservative movement. Ever since conservatives embraced a hawkish stance toward national security policy in the early Cold War in the late 1940s and started to challenge Democrats for not being tough enough, national security has always been the poison pill for anti-government conservatism.
    Despite all their rhetoric about the dangers of government intervention and the virtues of private markets, conservatives have rather consistently supported an expansion of the government when it comes to national security….
    But when it comes to Republicans, Palin’s recent comments at the conservative rally show why voters should take right-wing arguments about the dangers of government with a grain of salt. While conservative activists like to talk about a choice between big government and small government, the real debate is over what kinds of government we must have, what our priorities should be, and where our federal money should be directed…. – CNN, 7-12-10
  • The Bush Tax Cuts and the Deficit Myth: Runaway government spending, not declining tax revenues, is the reason the U.S. faces dramatic budget shortfalls for years to come…. – WSJ, 7-14-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton “Bringing down the House? Why is the White House warning of a Republican takeover of Congress?”: If the White House starts to talk about the other party gaining control of Congress or about how terrible midterms usually are, then they are trying to manage expectations. The White House has depended on the Democratic House to move its legislative agenda. Having votes on Capitol Hill is better than a foil and the perception of weakness…. – Politico, 7-12-10
  • Gil Troy: Obama’s ‘we’ philosophy collides with capitalism’s ‘me’: Business leaders accuse President of using failures of a few to justify expansion of government regulatory authority…
    For McGill University political historian Gil Troy, Mr. Obama’s attacks on business put him well within a presidential tradition that goes back at least as far as Andrew Jackson in the 1830s. But they also betray his particular world view and a career spent entirely outside the private sector.
    “Not only does Barack Obama lack corporate experience, but his defining experiences were as a community organizer, public interest lawyer and law lecturer,” Prof. Troy said in an interview. “That puts him ideologically, structurally and professionally in opposition to business.”
    Mr. Obama, Mr. Troy continued, is “trying to convince Americans of the efficacy of government. He’s enough of a [Ronald] Reagan baby to know that is not necessarily the easiest sell to make. So, if [the economic crisis] is not a God-given opportunity, it’s at least a Goldman Sachs-given opportunity to make that sell.”… – Globe & Mail, 7-9-10
  • Republicans should embrace Paul Ryan’s Road Map: For now, the road map has a relatively small but growing cheering section. A dozen House members have endorsed it. Sen. Jim DeMint praised it in his book “Saving Freedom.” Jeb Bush likes it. On CNN last week, economic historian Niall Ferguson called Ryan “a serious thinker on the Republican right who’s prepared to grapple with these issues of fiscal sustainability and come up with a plan.”… – Washington Examiner, 7-11-10
  • Kennedy’s clout could grow on high court: David Garrow, a Cambridge University historian who has written about the court, said the 74-year-old Kennedy already writes a disproportionate share of the court’s big decisions and will have even more chances to do so now because he can assign opinions to himself…. – AP, 7-11-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Senate bill to repeal health reform lacks backing from Republican leaders: “Unified party positions are better than divided party positions,” Julian Zelizer, a congressional expert at Princeton University, said in an e-mail. “When the GOP is not all on board with legislation,” he added, Democrats can argue “Republicans calling for repeal are on the wrong track.”
    “Equally important, in an age of party unity, when divisions like this emerge it suggests [what] pollsters are saying: there is support for the healthcare bill in red America,” he said. The Hill, 7-5-10

President Barack Obama Talks with President Leonel Fernandez of   the Dominican Republic Following Their Meeting in the Oval Office

President Barack Obama talks with President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic following their meeting in the Oval Office July 12, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

July 20, 2009: Obama Honors NAACP’s 100th and the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

(President Barack Obama makes remarks at the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP in New York, Thursday, July 16, 2009. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Is Obama losing his Midas touch among Dems?: Could it be that President Barack Obama’s Midas touch is starting to dull a bit, even among members of his own party? Conservative House Democrats are balking at the cost and direction of Obama’s top priority, an overhaul of the nation’s health care system…. – AP, 7-19-09
  • Poll: Obama approval rating dips under 60 percent – CNN, 7-17-09
  • Romney is GOP Favorite in new Gallup Poll: According to a new Gallup poll amongst GOP voters, Mitt Romney is the new front-runner for the 2012 presidential nominee. According to the poll of Republicans and Republican leaning independents, Romney garners about 26%, Palin gets 21% and Huckabee comes in a close third at 19%. What is also interesting about this poll is that Gallup also asked the same folks about favorable ratings. Here there is no contest, Palin enjoys a 72% favorable rating, Huckabee is at 59% and Romney comes in at 56%. A very revealing dichotomy. – Right Pundits,
  • Palin: Voters may not care she quit: It’s 43 percent favorable, 45 percent unfavorable, according to a Gallup poll taken from July 10-12. – CS Monitor, 7-16-09
  • Obama Makes Speech Number 200: The Economy & Stimulus Program – 48 speeches
    Revamping Health Care Coverage – 16
    Government Reform & Regulation – 11
    Energy and Climate Change – 10 – CBS, 7-13-09
  • Barack Obama’s Honeymoon Period May Be Nearing its End: Barack Obama’s job approval rating in Gallup’s latest three day rolling average is 57%. Approval has dropped among Independents and Republicans. Sean Hannity of Fox News says “Obama’s approval rating is now in a freefall”.
  • New Polls Reveal Big Problems for Obama: And recent polling in swing states like Ohio and Virginia also indicate that Americans are fed up with the direction that this country is headed in. As you can see on your screen, Mr. Obama’s approval has dropped almost 20 points in only five months.
    And the new Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll, presidential tracking poll, now shows that only 30 percent of those polled strongly approve of the president’s job performance. Now that is the lowest since he took office while 38 percent of those polled strongly disapprove, which is the highest that that has been since January 21st. – Fox News, 7-10-09
  • Q+A: Obama’s legislative agenda suffering setbacks: President Barack Obama’s core legislative agenda — overhauling healthcare and addressing climate change — has hit some stumbling blocks in the U.S. Congress…. – Reuters, 7-10-09
  • Obama Popularity Dropping – People Waking Up: Polling data show that Mr. Obama’s approval rating is dropping and is below where George W. Bush was in an analogous period in 2001. Rasmussen Reports data shows that Mr. Obama’s net presidential approval rating — which is calculated by subtracting the number who strongly disapprove from the number who strongly approve — is just six, his lowest rating to date.
    Overall, Rasmussen Reports shows a 56%-43% approval, with a third strongly disapproving of the president’s performance. This is a substantial degree of polarization so early in the administration. Mr. Obama has lost virtually all of his Republican support and a good part of his Independent support, and the trend is decidedly negative…. – Auburn Journal, 7-10-09
  • Voters’ Remorse — Is Baracklash on the Horizon? Since January Obama has failed to help many of his core supporters. Will they soon turn against him?: Call it Baracklash: so far, Barack Obama isn’t helping many people who voted for him in high percentages when he was elected president eight months ago…. – Fox News, 7-9-09

THE HEADLINES….

(President Barack Obama poses with Apollo 11 astronauts, from left, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, and Neil Armstrong, Monday, July 20, 2009, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

  • Many legal issues left out of hearings – USA Today, 7-19-09
  • Hatch: Too Rushed On Health Care GOP Senator Says Democrats’ Proposals Will “Kill a Lot of Jobs” CBS News, 7-19-09
  • First Lady Steps Into Policy Spotlight in Debate on Health Care – NYT, 7-18-09
  • Swaying court may be tougher than confimation: Sonia Sotomayor might find it was easier to disarm Republican senators who have one eye on Hispanic voters than to sway Supreme Court justices who have lifetime appointments. – AP, 7-18-09
  • Obama no longer stressing August deadline for passing health reform bill – Politico, 7-18-09
  • Obama pushes healthcare reform, critics slam cost: President Barack Obama’s far-reaching plan to guarantee all Americans healthcare ran into trouble on Friday over its more than $1 trillion price tag, forcing Democrats to look for ways to reduce costs as they moved the bill forward…. – Reuters, 7-17-09
  • Sotomayor wins GOP backers after smooth hearings: Three centrist Republicans announced they’d support Sotomayor even as the Senate’s minority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said he’d vote no. – AP, 7-17-09
  • Republicans Are Splitting on Sotomayor Confirmation: Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, announced Friday that he would oppose the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court even as new backing from other Republicans showed that her seat on the court was secured…. – NYT, 7-17-09
  • US House launches investigation into CIA program – Reuters, 7-17-09
  • Budget umpire: Health care bills would raise costs: Democrats’ health care bills won’t meet President Barack Obama’s goal of slowing the ruinous rise of medical costs, Congress’ budget umpire warned on Thursday, giving weight to critics who say the legislation could break the bank…. – AP, 7-16-09
  • Kennedy’s Absent Voice on Health Bill Resonates – NYT, 7-16-09
  • House Democrats muzzle GOP on sensitive issues: In their zeal to protect their members from politically hazardous votes on issues such as gay marriage and gun control, Democrats running the House of Representatives are taking extraordinary steps to muzzle Republicans in this summer’s debates on spending bills…. – AP, 7-16-09
  • Hillary Clinton rejects notion of diminished role: “I really stay focused on the work that I do. I broke my elbow, not my larynx. I have been deeply involved in the shaping and implementation of our foreign policy,” she told reporters. – – Reuters, 7-16-09
  • For Clinton, ’09 Campaign Is for Her Turf: When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stepped back to center stage here on Wednesday to present an ambitious blueprint for America’s role in the world, the State Department billed it as a major foreign policy address…. – NYT, 7-15-09
  • Sotomayor sidesteps on abortion, guns in grilling: Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor determinedly sidestepped volleys of Republican questions on abortion and gun rights Wednesday, keeping her demeanor cool and her opinions mostly private as she neared the end of a marathon Senate grilling on the road to all but sure confirmation…. – AP, 7-15-09
  • Senate panel OKs plan to revamp health care system: President Barack Obama achieved a milestone Wednesday when a Senate committee approved a plan to revamp the U.S. health care system. The Senate panel’s action, which attracted no Republican votes, came as the president’s campaign organization rolled out television ads to build support for his top domestic priority…. – AP, 7-15-09
  • SC gov’s official e-mails detail man of few words: Office e-mails from South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford show a man of few words, a stark contrast to the intensely personal messages he sent his Argentine mistress…. – AP, 7-15-09
  • Pitcher-in-chief gets sage advice from a pro: “Follow through”: Barack Obama made his presidential pitching debut on Tuesday at the All-Star Game in St. Louis, but not before getting a little practice and a bit of advice. “I’m telling him, ‘Follow through,'” said Willie Mays…. – Reuters, 7-14-09
  • Pressure grows for Obama to leap into healthcare fray: Largely avoids volatile debate on plan’s costs Even while delivering impassioned speeches and trying to light a rhetorical fire under Congress, President Obama has stayed away from the politically treacherous question of how to pay the nearly trillion-dollar cost of healthcare overhaul…. – Boston Globe, 7-14-09
  • Obama: Unemployment Rate Likely to Rise: President Says Job Loss Will Continue as the Economy Recovers – CBS, 7-14-09
  • GOP aims to paint Sotomayor as biased: The Supreme Court nominee’s confirmation hearing opens. Republicans acknowledge that she’s almost certain to win confirmation, but they hope to shape the public’s perception of her…. – LAT, 7-13-09
  • Obama’s teleprompter breaks in mid-speech: President Barack Obama had just started a spirited defense of his economic stimulus plan on Monday when one of his teleprompter screens came loose, crashed to the floor and shattered into pieces…. – AP, 7-13-09
  • McCain looks to cut funding for more F-22 jets: Sen. John McCain, in an unusual alliance with the Obama administration, moved Monday to eliminate $1.75 billion recently inserted into the proposed 2010 defense budget for more fighter jets from Lockheed Martin…. – AP, 7-13-09
  • From storm-tossed Ala. clinic to top doctor post, Obama Nominates Dr. Regina Benjamin for Surgeon General: “For all the tremendous obstacles that she has overcome, Regina Benjamin also represents what’s best about health care in America, doctors and nurses who give and care and sacrifice for the sake of their patients,” Obama said in the White House Rose Garden. – AP, 7-13-09
  • McCain opposes probe of interrogation practices: Sen. John McCain says he’s against opening a criminal investigation into whether CIA officers tortured detainees during the Bush administration. The Arizona Republican and former presidential candidate suggested that the fallout from embarking on a criminal investigation would provide a recruiting tool to terrorists…. – AP, 7-12-09
  • Obama Faces a New Push to Look Back: President Obama is facing new pressure to reverse himself and to ramp up investigations into the Bush-era security programs, despite the political risks. Leading Democrats on Sunday demanded investigations of how a highly classified counterterrorism program was kept secret from the Congressional leadership on the orders of Vice President Dick Cheney…. – NYT, 7-12-09
  • HBO’s ‘Teddy: In His Own Words’ The documentary is more a tribute than analysis: Produced by Peter Kunhardt and Sheila Nevins, HBO’s “Teddy: In His Own Words” is much more tribute than analysis, the sort of film that frankly most often shows up posthumously. (Kunhardt produced similarly named documentaries on Jack and Bobby Kennedy.) The “Own Words” are pulled from various interviews and speeches rather than any looking-back-type interview…. – LAT, 7-12-09
  • Republican pundits open fire on Sarah Palin: Their harsh views conflict with those of grass-roots GOP voters, revealing a serious split within the party…. – LAT, 7-12-09
  • She Broke the G.O.P. and Now She Owns It: In the aftermath of her decision to drop out and cash in, Palin’s standing in the G.O.P. actually rose in the USA Today/Gallup poll. No less than 71 percent of Republicans said they would vote for her for president. That overwhelming majority isn’t just the “base” of the Republican Party that liberals and conservatives alike tend to ghettoize as a rump backwater minority. It is the party, or pretty much what remains of it in the Barack Obama era…. – NYT, 7-12-09
  • Retracing Palin’s Long March to a Short-Notice Resignation – NYT, 7-12-09
  • Obama in Africa: Welcome Back, Son. Now Don’t Forget Us: On Friday, when President Obama stepped off Air Force One in Ghana for his first presidential visit to sub-Saharan Africa, it was clear he was stepping onto a continent of stratospheric expectations. He was mobbed at the airport by drummers and dancers and seemingly the entire Ghanaian government, as if his arrival were a long- awaited homecoming… – NYT, 7-11-09
  • Cheney linked to secrecy of CIA program: At the direction of the then-vice president, Congress was not notified of a highly classified counter-terrorism program for eight years, sources say…. – LAT, 7-11-09
  • AP source: Holder considering torture probe: Attorney General Eric Holder is considering whether to appoint a criminal prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration’s interrogation practices, a controversial move that would run counter to President Barack Obama’s wishes to leave the issue in the past…. – AP, 7-11-09
  • Have Palin and Sanford damaged the GOP brand?: Have episodes such as the recent ones with Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford affected the public image of the GOP? Or is the damage more likely to be local?… – LAT, 7-10-09
  • Obama’s Ghana Visit Highlights Scarce Stability in Africa: Mr. Obama says he chose Ghana to “highlight” its adherence to democratic principles and institutions, ensuring the kind of stability that brings prosperity. “This isn’t just some abstract notion that we’re trying to impose on Africa,” he told AllAfrica.com. He added: “The African continent is a place of extraordinary promise as well as challenges. We’re not going to be able to fulfill those promises unless we see better governance.” – NYT, 7-10-09
  • Obama set for emotional visits to Vatican, Ghana: President Barack Obama is ending three days of often-wonkish policy discussions with fellow world leaders to embark on two of the most photogenic and emotional events of his young presidency: meeting the pope at the Vatican and becoming the first black American president to visit a mostly black African country. He was throwing in a televised news conference from Italy for good measure…. – AP, 7-10-09
  • Presidential records a time capsule of Bush years: The gifts, documents and electronic records accumulated during Bush’s two terms have gone from the White House to a warehouse in suburban Dallas, just a few miles north of a turnpike named for his father. They will remain there until Bush’s $300 million presidential library — the nation’s 13th and the third in Texas — opens in 2013 on the Southern Methodist University campus near downtown Dallas. “It’s a wonderful eight-year time capsule,” said Jennifer M. Schulle, the registrar for the Bush library. “It’s everything that was going on — politically, personally and socially.”… – AP, 7-9-09

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Gillibrand raises $1M more than likely challenger: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., raised nearly $1 million more than her likely Democratic primary challenger in the recent fundraising quarter…. – AP, 7-15-09
  • Kirk to run for Obama’s old Ill. Senate seat: Republican Rep. Mark Kirk will announce Monday he’s running for the Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama that has been mired in controversy since Illinois’ former governor was accused of trying to sell it, an Illinois Republican told The Associated Press on Wednesday…. – AP, 7-15-09
  • Specter outraises likely Democratic challenger: During the fundraising quarter in which Sen. Arlen Specter switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, he raised about $1.7 million, his campaign said Tuesday. The five-term Specter now has about $7.5 million to spend. In comparison, his likely 2010 Democratic primary challenger, Rep. Joe Sestak from suburban Philadelphia, raised more than $1 million during the same period and has $4.2 million in cash…. – AP, 7-14-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President gives the Weekly Address

  • Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Man’s First Steps on the Moon: I also know that, as a consequence of the extraordinary work of NASA generally, that you inspired an entire generation of scientists and engineers that ended up really sparking the innovation, the drive, the entrepreneurship, the creativity back here on Earth. And I think it’s very important for us to constantly remember that NASA was not only about feeding our curiosity, that sense of wonder, but also had extraordinary practical applications. And one of the things that I’ve committed to doing as President is making sure that math and science are cool again, and that we once again keep the goal by 2020 of having the highest college graduation rates of any country on Earth, especially in the maths and science fields.
    So I think on this 40th anniversary, we are — all of us thank and grateful to all of you for what you’ve done, and we expect that there’s, as we speak, another generation of kids out there who are looking up at the sky and are going to be the next Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrins. And we want to make sure that NASA is going to be there for them when they want to take their journey. – White House, 7-20-09
  • Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address Saturday, July 18th, 2009: Right now in Washington, our Senate and House of Representatives are both debating proposals for health insurance reform. Today, I want to speak with you about the stakes of this debate, for our people and for the future of our nation.
    This is an issue that affects the health and financial well-being of every single American and the stability of our entire economy…. – White House, 7-18-09
  • Obama: Now is time to change health care: “I want to be very clear: I will not sign on to any health plan that adds to our deficits over the next decade,” the president said in his weekly address. “And by helping improve quality and efficiency, the reforms we make will help bring our deficits under control in the long-term,” he added…. – AP, 7-18-09
  • Barack Obama hails Walter Cronkite as an ‘icon’: “That’s why we loved Walter, because in an era before blogs and email, cellphones and cable, he was the news,” Obama said. “Walter invited us to believe in him and he never let us down. This country has lost an icon and a dear friend and he will be truly missed.” – CTV, 7-18-09
  • Obama to Congress: Don’t lose heart on health care: “Now, I realize that the last few miles of any race are the hardest to run, but I have to say now is not the time to slow down, and now is certainly not the time to lose heart,” he declared. – AP, 7-17-09

President Obama on Health Reform: We are Going to Get this Done

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE NAACP CENTENNIAL CONVENTION: …And yet, even as we celebrate the remarkable achievements of the past 100 years; even as we inherit extraordinary progress that cannot be denied; even as we marvel at the courage and determination of so many plain folk — we know that too many barriers still remain…. – White House, 7-16-09
  • Obama Tells Fellow Blacks: ‘No Excuses’ for Any Failure: “No one has written your destiny for you,” he said, directing his remarks to “all the other Barack Obamas out there” who might one day grow up to be president. “Your destiny is in your hands, and don’t you forget that. That’s what we have to teach all of our children! No excuses! No excuses!” – NYT, 7-16-09
  • Obama: Civil rights leaders paved way for him: “Make no mistake: The pain of discrimination is still felt in America,” the president said in honoring the organization’s 100th convention. – AP, 7-16-09
  • Biden challenges GOP on stimulus on Eric Cantor’s turf: “The very guys who are saying this is a terrible act want me to make sure you get high-speed rail. Isn’t that kind of funny,” he said…. – AP, 7-16-09
  • Obama says without action, health costs will rise: “The fact is, health care affects the financial security and well-being of every American, even those who have health insurance,” Obama said. “It affects the stability of our entire economy.”… “We have finally reached a point when inaction is no longer an option,” Obama said, his hoarse voice rising in volume and anger. “I will not defend the status quo.”…. It’s a path where our health care costs keep rising. … That’s not a future I accept,” Obama told the friendly audience. – AP, 7-16-09
  • Secretary Clinton: “A New Era of Engagement”: The question is not whether our nation can or should lead, but how it will lead in the 21st century. Rigid ideologies and old formulas don’t apply. We need a new mindset about how America will use its power to safeguard our nation, expand shared prosperity, and help more people in more places live up to their God-given potential…. – White House, 7-15-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE AMERICAN GRADUATION INITIATIVE Macomb Community College Warren, Michigan: But today I’m announcing the most significant down payment yet on reaching the goal of having the highest college graduation rate of any nation in the world. We’re going to achieve this in the next 10 years. (Applause.) And it’s called the American Graduation Initiative. It will reform and strengthen community colleges like this one from coast to coast so they get the resources that students and schools need — and the results workers and businesses demand. Through this plan, we seek to help an additional 5 million Americans earn degrees and certificates in the next decade — 5 million…. – White House, 7-14-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT URBAN AND METROPOLITAN POLICY ROUNDTABLE – White House, 7-13-09
  • Obama Prods Top Democrats to Pass Health-Care as Momentum Slows: “For those naysayers and cynics who think that this is not going to happen, don’t bet against us,” he said at the White House. “We are going to make this thing happen because the American people desperately need it.” – Bloomberg, 7-13-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN ANNOUNCEMENT OF U.S. SURGEON GENERAL Rose Garden: But for all that she’s seen and all the tremendous obstacles that she has overcome, Regina Benjamin also represents what’s best about health care in America — doctors and nurses who give and care and sacrifice for the sake of their patients; those Americans who would do anything to heal a fellow citizen. – White House, 7-13-09
  • Palin says Alaska needs new ethics policy: “The only saving grace in this recent episode is that it proves beyond any doubt the significance of the problem Alaska faces in the ‘new normal’ of political discourse,” Palin said in a release that was posted online through her Twitter account.
    “I hope this will be a wake-up call — to legislators, to commentators and to citizens generally — that we need a much more civil and respectful dialogue that focuses on the best interests of the state, rather than the petty resentments of a few,” Palin said. – AP, 7-11-09
  • AP Interview: Former CIA Director Gen. Michae Hayden denies Congress not informed: “One of the points I had in every one of the briefings was to make sure they understood the scope of our activity ‘They’ve got to know this is bigger than a bread box,’ I said,” said Hayden, who also previously headed the National Security Agency. “At the political level this had support,” said the one-time CIA chief, jumping foursquare into an escalating controversy that has caused deep political divisions and lingering debate on the counterterrorism policies of an administration now out of power…. – AP, 7-11-09
  • …I can promise you this: America will be with you. As a partner. As a friend. Freedom is your inheritance. Now, it is your responsibility to build upon freedom’s foundation. – White House, 7-11-09

President Obama’s Visit to Ghana

  • Text of Obama’s news conference on Friday Text of President Barack Obama’s news conference on Friday in L’Aquila, Italy, as provided by the White House:
    So right now, at this defining moment, we face a choice. We can either shape our future or let events shape it for us. We can let the stale debates and old disagreements of the past divide us, or we can recognize our shared interests and shared aspirations and work together to create a safer and cleaner and more prosperous world for future generations…..
    None of this will be easy. As we worked this week to find common ground, we have not solved all our problems. And we’ve not agreed on every point. But we’ve shown that it is possible to move forward and make real and unprecedented progress together. And I’m confident we’ll continue to do so in the months and years ahead…. – AP, 7-10-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President in Ghana

  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Stimulus is too low, too slow”: Vice President Joseph Biden has acknowledged that the $787 billion economic stimulus program has not yet had the impact that the White House was looking for.
    “We misread how bad the economy was,” Biden said during an interview.
    But Biden’s account downplays the damaging compromises that the administration made on the stimulus package back in February, as well as the problems that have emerged in implementing the program….
    Today, the Obama administration cannot afford to stand still on the stimulus. The time has come to correct what’s gone wrong with the existing program by speeding up spending and to consider the possibility of making a politically difficult request for more. – CNN, 7-14-09
  • Bob Hayden “Obama watch on Martha’s Vineyard”: “History is always being made on the island, and it will be again,” said Bob Hayden, a historian and author who leads the African American History Tour. “It’s going to be a spectacular summer.” – Boston Herald, 7-12-09
  • R. Scott Appleby “Ailing Kennedy sends letter to pope Obama hand-delivers missive to the Vatican”: Catholicism runs deep in the Kennedy clan, “as a cultural and ethnic identity,” said R. Scott Appleby, a historian at the University of Notre Dame, said, “Among individual members, the depth of commitment to the church itself varies, as with many Catholic families. It seems clear, and it is poignant and instructive, that Senator Kennedy seeks peace and reconciliation with ‘Holy Mother Church’ as he nears the end of his earthly life.” – Boston Globe, 7-11-09
  • Obama’s Secret Meeting With Historians: The president held a dinner at the White House for leading presidential scholars
    Obama held a dinner at the White House residence with nine such scholars on June 30, and it turned out to be what one participant described as a “history book club, with the president as the inquisitor.” Among those attending were Michael Beschloss, H. W. Brands, Douglas Brinkley, Robert Dallek, and Doris Kearns Goodwin. Obama asked the guests to discuss the presidencies that they were most familiar with and to give him insights into what remains relevant to the problems of today. – Kenneth T. Walsh in US News & World Report (7-10-09)
  • David Kennedy “FDR’s Lessons for Obama”: Alas for countless pundits and inspirational speakers, it is apparently not the case that the Chinese word for crisis is spelled by joining the characters for danger and opportunity. But that common fallacy nevertheless captures an important metaphorical truth: whatever the perils it brings with it, a crisis can be a grand opportunity. Among those who have understood that truth was Franklin D. Roosevelt…. – Time, 6-24-09

President Obama at the MLB All-Star Game

The President and Willie Mays

President Obama and Willie Mays on Air Force One

July 21, 2008: Focus on Race & Iraq

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH:HNN, July 21, 2008

The week that was….

  • July 20, 2008: Barack Obama is visiting Afganistan; he had breakfast with US troops there, and then met with President Hamid Karzai where he pledged continual aid to the country. This is the second day of Obama’s international tour which is meant to boost his foreign policy credentials.
  • July 19, 2008: Obama landed in Kabul, Afganistan, the first stop on his tour of war zones, which will also include a visit to Iraq. Officially Obama is visiting the regions as part of Congressional delegation, but it also a campaign tour and a response to Republican criticism, which claimed Obama has not visited the area in 900 days.
    The contraversay surrounding Texas Sen. Phil Gramm’s comments has ended; Gramm, who was McCain’s campaign co-chairman resigned from his position. Last week Gramm was criticized for calling “the United States had become a “nation of whiners” whose constant complaints about the U.S. economy show they are in a “mental recession.””
  • July 18, 2008: McCain launched a new TV ad that claimed that Obama changed his positions on Iraq to be elected President. The ad which is the most critical of Obama’s positions on Iraq comes just as he is embarking on a trip to Afganistan and Iraq. The 30-second ad starts by saying: “Barack Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan. He hasn’t been to Iraq in years. He voted against funding our troops. Positions that helped him win his nomination. Now Obama is changing to help himself become president.”
    A new AP-Yahoo News poll claims that Obama supporters are much excited than McCain’s; 38 percent to 9 percent.
    McCain pledged to help revive the auto industry that has been hit hard by the country’s economic woes.
    Obama will meet with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel on July 24, 2008.
  • July 17, 2008: Obama’s upcoming trip to Europe and the Middle East marks his his first “high profile” trip abroad Obama will visit Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and England, and possibly Iraq and Afghanistan in attempt to curb criticism that he does not have enough foreign policy credentials. Obama will give speeches in historic settings usually reserved to past presidents and will meet with foreign leaders.
    Christian Evangelicals according to a new AP-Yahoo News poll are less excited than they were for George W.Bush in 2004. Bush garned 78 percent of Evangelical support, while McCain only has 68 percent.
    In a new interview with Glamour magazine, Obama claimed that what angers him the most is when his wife Michelle is criticized. He called the attcks “infuriating,” adding “If they have a difference with me on policy, they should debate me. Not her.”
  • July 16, 2008: John McCain announces at the NAACP national convention that he supports vouchers for private schools
  • July 15, 2008: Obama announced that he does not believe that the war in Iraq is the best route for protecting the country, and and one of his top priorities would be ending the war “responsibly.”
  • July 14, 2008: In a New York Time Op-ed, Barack Obama outlined that he would consider sending 7,000 more troops/ two more brigades to Afghanistan to curb the resurgent Al-Quaida, while at the same time he would end the war in Iraq. The New Yorker debuts a contraversial caricature cover with Obama dressed as a Muslim, and his wife, Michelle dressed as an armed terrorist.

The Stats

  • July 17, 2008: According to a AP-Yahoo News poll, 30 percent view Michelle Obama favorably as opposed to 35 percent unfavorably. Although Cindy McCain garned a lower favorability rating, her unfavorable rating was also lower than Michelle Obama’s.
  • July 16, 2008: According to Evans and Novak the Electoral College results will be Obama 273, McCain 265 – Human Events
  • July 16, 2008: Obama still faces a racial gap according to a new New York Times/CBS News poll. 83 percent of black respondents had a favorable view of Obama, while only 31 percent of whites view Obama favorably.

Historians Comment

  • Tom Segev, Israel: Let’s Make a Deal:
    The senator may be surprised to discover how Americanized Israelis have become in recent decades: the American Dream is now a central element of their identity. Most Israelis feel deeply dependent on America and will not risk major policy differences with the United States. That means Obama may find them open to a new, more rational approach to the Middle East’s conflicts.
    Obama has declared his support for Israel, and most Israelis believe him: they assume that no one can get elected president of the United States today unless he or she is willing to put Israel’s security near the top of Washington’s list of priorities. For many years, however, U.S. politicians have confused “support for Israel” with support for the Israeli government. There’s a difference, and Obama may be surprised to discover that Israelis are actually much more reasonable than the hawkish parties who keep their coalition government in office—or than the inflexible pro-Israel lobby in Washington…. – Newsweek, 7-28-08
  • Timothy Garton Ash: U.K.: Help Unite Our States:
    First the good news: we are all Obamamaniacs now. In a recent Guardian/ICM poll, 53 percent of British respondents said Barack Obama would make the best U.S. president, compared with just 11 percent for John McCain. That means Obama is now the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat candidate for president. Then there’s the bad news: even in Britain, America’s linguistic motherland and staunchest ally, nearly eight years of George W. Bush have done huge damage to the United States’ reputation and authority. This distrust has reinforced a deeper historical trend. The old transatlantic West of the cold-war period is no longer cemented together by such an obvious common enemy as the Red Army in the heart of Europe. So enthusiasm for Obama personally is equaled by skepticism about his country. That means there’s a lot of ground for him to make up….
    If Obama truly wants a stronger Europe to forge a renewed strategic partnership with the United States in a world of rising giants like China and India, he will need to start getting that message across to the man who will likely be Britain’s next prime minister. If such a message comes from Obama, he might even listen. Only a charismatic American could persuade conservative Brits to become more European. – Newsweek, 7-28-08
  • Haider al-Mousawi, a history professor in the city of the holy city of Najaf on “What Iraqis Think of Barack”:
    “What is interesting is that a man who is not white is trying to be president. This is interesting because it is so unique,” says Haider al-Mousawi, a history professor in the city of the holy city of Najaf. “His second name, Hussein, is Arabic but that will make no difference because his father refused his religion and his name to get what he wanted. This is the height of pragmatism and is standard in the United States. The person’s interests are above all other things.” He continues: “Anyway, whether Obama or [Sen. John] McCain wins, the president is just the figure who works on strategies run by the institutions that run America. The president is like a middleman.” – Newsweek, 7-20-08
  • Mary Frances Berry, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania: McCain Challenges Obama’s Military Wisdom – NPR, 7-16-08
  • Julian Zelizer on “Romney’s stock rising as possible McCain VP”:
    “They are two very different kinds of people. There is clearly a lot of tension between the two. But that never stops anyone from joining into an alliance if they can win. And given the odds Republicans face and given the challenges that McCain faces in winning, if Romney brings him that one asset that changes his odds, I think McCain would be more than willing to enter into that alliance.” – Reuters, 7-15-08
  • Gil Troy on “The first lady tightrope walk Unlike earlier presidential spouses, Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain must emphasise both career and family to avoid criticism”:
    “Unfortunately for first ladies, the game is often more about un-favourability than favourability,” Gil Troy, a historian at McGill University and the author of Leading from the Centre: Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents, told me. “They rarely deliver votes, but they have much more of a track record of alienating voters or losing voters. So the first lady’s mission is to follow the political version of the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm.” – The Guardian, 7-15-08

On the Campaign Trail….

  • Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, John McCain’s campaign co-chairman upon to the Washington Times commenting about his resignation:
    “It is clear to me that Democrats want to attack me rather than debate Senator McCain on important economic issues facing the country,” Gramm said. “That kind of distraction hurts not only Senator McCain’s ability to present concrete programs to deal with the country’s problems, it hurts the country. To end this distraction and get on with the real debate, I hereby step down as co-chair of the McCain campaign and join the growing number of rank- and-file McCain supporters.” –
  • John McCain, July 18, 2008:
    “I believe that we can modify Iranian behavior. We need to exhaust every possible option before we can ever consider a military option. Americans have made great sacrifices and it has grieved us all.”
  • John McCain, Remarks to the 99th Annual NAACP Convention, July 16, 2008: “Democrats in Congress, including my opponent, oppose the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. In remarks to the American Federation of Teachers last weekend, Senator Obama dismissed public support for private school vouchers for low-income Americans as, “tired rhetoric about vouchers and school choice.” All of that went over well with the teachers union, but where does it leave families and their children who are stuck in failing schools?Over the years, Americans have heard a lot of “tired rhetoric” about education. We’ve heard it in the endless excuses of people who seem more concerned about their own position than about our children. We’ve heard it from politicians who accept the status quo rather than stand up for real change in our public schools. Parents ask only for schools that are safe, teachers who are competent, and diplomas that open doors of opportunity. When a public system fails, repeatedly, to meet these minimal objectives, parents ask only for a choice in the education of their children. Some parents may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private school. Many will choose a charter school. No entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and children that opportunity….Under my reforms, moreover, parents will exercise freedom of choice in obtaining extra help for children who are falling behind. As it is, federal aid to parents for tutoring for their children has to go through another bureaucracy. They can’t purchase the tutoring directly, without having to deal with the same education establishment that failed their children in the first place. These needless restrictions will be removed, under my reforms. If a student needs extra help, parents will be able to sign them up to get it, with direct public support….

    As much as any other group in America, the NAACP has been at the center of that great and honorable cause. I’m here today as an admirer and a fellow American, an association that means more to me than any other. I am a candidate for president who seeks your vote and hopes to earn it. But whether or not I win your support, I need your goodwill and counsel. And should I succeed, I’ll need it all the more. I have always believed in this country, in a good America, a great America. But I have always known we can build a better America, where no place or person is left without hope or opportunity by the sins of injustice or indifference. It would be among the great privileges of my life to work with you in that cause.

  • Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: 99th Annual Convention of the NAACP, July 14, 2008: And if I have the privilege of serving as your next President, I will stand up for you the same way that earlier generations of Americans stood up for me – by fighting to ensure that every single one of us has the chance to make it if we try. That means removing the barriers of prejudice and misunderstanding that still exist in America. It means fighting to eliminate discrimination from every corner of our country. It means changing hearts, and changing minds, and making sure that every American is treated equally under the law….That’s how we’ll truly honor those who came before us. Because I know that Thurgood Marshall did not argue Brown versus Board of Education so that some of us could stop doing our jobs as parents. And I know that nine little children did not walk through a schoolhouse door in Little Rock so that we could stand by and let our children drop out of school and turn to gangs for the support they are not getting elsewhere. That’s not the freedom they fought so hard to achieve. That’s not the America they gave so much to build. That’s not the dream they had for our children.That’s why if we’re serious about reclaiming that dream, we have to do more in our own lives, our own families, and our own communities. That starts with providing the guidance our children need, turning off the TV, and putting away the video games; attending those parent-teacher conferences, helping our children with their homework, and setting a good example. It starts with teaching our daughters to never allow images on television to tell them what they are worth; and teaching our sons to treat women with respect, and to realize that responsibility does not end at conception; that what makes them men is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one. It starts by being good neighbors and good citizens who are willing to volunteer in our communities – and to help our synagogues and churches and community centers feed the hungry and care for the elderly. We all have to do our part to lift up this country.That’s where change begins. And that, after all, is the true genius of America – not that America is, but that America will be; not that we are perfect, but that we can make ourselves more perfect; that brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand, people who love this country can change it. And that’s our most enduring responsibility – the responsibility to future generations. We have to change this country for them. We have to leave them a planet that’s cleaner, a nation that’s safer, and a world that’s more equal and more just.

    So I’m grateful to you for all you’ve done for this campaign, but we’ve got work to do and we cannot rest. And I know that if you put your shoulders to the wheel of history and take up the cause of perfecting our union just as earlier generations of Americans did before you; if you take up the fight for opportunity and equality and prosperity for all; if you march with me and fight with me, and get your friends registered to vote, and if you stand with me this fall – then not only will we help close the responsibility deficit in this country, and not only will we help achieve social justice and economic justice for all, but I will come back here next year on the 100th anniversary of the NAACP, and I will stand before you as the President of the United States of America.

  • Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Summit on Confronting New Threats, July 16, 2008:
    We cannot wait any longer to protect the American people. I’ve made this a priority in the Senate, where I’ve worked with Indiana’s own Republican Senator Dick Lugar to pass a law accelerating our pursuit of loose nuclear materials. And I’ll lead a global effort to secure all loose nuclear materials around the world during my first term as President….

    To protect our national security, I’ll bring together government, industry, and academia to determine the best ways to guard the infrastructure that supports our power. Fortunately, right here at Purdue we have one of the country’s leading cyber programs. We need to prevent terrorists or spies from hacking into our national security networks. We need to build the capacity to identify, isolate, and respond to any cyber-attack. And we need to develop new standards for the cyber security that protects our most important infrastructure – from electrical grids to sewage systems; from air traffic control to our markets….

    That is the task that lies before us. We must never let down our guard, nor suffer another failure of imagination. It’s time for sustained and aggressive action – to take the offense against new dangers abroad, while shoring up our defenses at home. As President, I will call on the excellence and expertise of men and women like the people here today. And I will speak clearly and candidly with the American people about what can be done – what must be done – to protect our country and our communities.

  • Barack Obama in the New York Times Op-ed “My Plan for Iraq,” July 14, 2008
    The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.

    The differences on Iraq in this campaign are deep. Unlike Senator John McCain, I opposed the war in Iraq before it began, and would end it as president. I believed it was a grave mistake to allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban by invading a country that posed no imminent threat and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Since then, more than 4,000 Americans have died and we have spent nearly $1 trillion. Our military is overstretched. Nearly every threat we face — from Afghanistan to Al Qaeda to Iran — has grown.

    …But this is not a strategy for success — it is a strategy for staying that runs contrary to the will of the Iraqi people, the American people and the security interests of the United States. That is why, on my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war.

    …Ending the war is essential to meeting our broader strategic goals, starting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and Al Qaeda has a safe haven. Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been. As Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently pointed out, we won’t have sufficient resources to finish the job in Afghanistan until we reduce our commitment to Iraq…

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